Sunday, November 11, 2007

Fake facts about tanning and cancer

Post below lifted from Free students. See the original for links

Here's an example of how wrong "facts" get into the popular culture and are used to increase the levels of government regulation. The London Times is one of the premier newspapers in the world and they recently ran an article about new things that the Nanny state will most likely ban. Included in the list was a ban on teens using tanning beds. They mentioned how one politician in Scotland has already introduced legislation to ban tanning beds -- something the UN's World Health Organization is pushing. In this article the Times claims: "An estimated 100 people die in Scotland each year of skin cancers caused by the use of sunbeds."

The Progressive-Vision blog notes that no source is given for this claim. And they looked at the actual numbers. It turns out that this claim is totally bogus. The total number of skin cancer deaths in Scotland for individuals of all ages, from all causes, is 158. As they note "This would require two-thirds of all skin cancer deaths to be caused by tanning beds which is highly unlikely." In fact most people with skin cancer are the elderly. And I can't imagine (nor want to) the geriatric set in their bikinis and Speedos down at the tanning salon.

The truth is that most these people have skin cancer because of decades of exposure to the sun. The Skin Cancer Foundation says that more than 90% of all skin cancer is caused "by sun exposure". Apparently one of the most prestigious newspapers in the world repeated this "fact" without bothering to verify it. And no doubt others will repeat the claim as a result.

Both conventional and "alternative" back pain therapy is ineffective - study

GOING to a chiropractor or a physiotherapist to treat lower back pain may be a waste of time, according to research that shows having your spine manipulated does not speed recovery. A study by the University of Sydney has shown that expensive and potentially risky treatments, such as spinal manipulation and the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as diclofenac or ibuprofen, are no more effective than paracetamol.

Current guidelines for acute lower back pain recommend as the first line of care that GPs advise patients to remain active and avoid bed rest, and that paracetamol be prescribed. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and spinal manipulative therapy are recommended as a second-tier option to speed recovery. But the study found that neither diclofenac nor spinal manipulative therapy significantly reduced the number of days until recovery, when compared with a placebo drug or placebo manipulative therapy.

The 240 patients in the study were put into four treatment groups and given either 50 milligrams of diclofenac twice daily and placebo manipulative therapy; a placebo drug and spinal manipulative therapy; diclofenac and manipulative therapy; or placebo manipulative therapy and a placebo drug.

Chris Maher, of the back pain research group at the university, said half of those who underwent the active manipulation therapy completely recovered after 15 days and half of those who had placebo manipulation treatment also recovered after 15 days. "The active treatment didn't shorten recovery time," said Associate Professor Maher, a co-author of the study published in The Lancet. "It means that for most people with back pain it is a sensible option to start with advice from your doctor and paracetamol."

Overtreating lower back pain can be expensive and risky. Spinal manipulation costs from $50 to $70 a treatment and often requires multiple sessions, while non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have been linked with gastric disturbance and, in some cases, heart attacks.

Associate Professor Maher said people tended to take paracetamol incorrectly, choosing to pop a pill until pain eased, instead of continuing treatment. "Try to take [paracetamol] in the same way you would take antibiotics - take the whole course until it is finished," he said.

A spokesman for the Chiropractors' Association of Australia, Patrick Sim, said paracetamol reduced pain but did not address the source. "We are particularly concerned if people are drugging themselves to stop pain," he said. "Chiropractors will look at why the pain is there in the first place, and fix that."



Just some problems with the "Obesity" war:

1). It tries to impose behavior change on everybody -- when most of those targeted are not obese and hence have no reason to change their behaviour. It is a form of punishing the innocent and the guilty alike. (It is also typical of Leftist thinking: Scorning the individual and capable of dealing with large groups only).

2). The longevity research all leads to the conclusion that it is people of MIDDLING weight who live longest -- not slim people. So the "epidemic" of obesity is in fact largely an "epidemic" of living longer.

3). It is total calorie intake that makes you fat -- not where you get your calories. Policies that attack only the source of the calories (e.g. "junk food") without addressing total calorie intake are hence pissing into the wind. People involuntarily deprived of their preferred calorie intake from one source are highly likely to seek and find their calories elsewhere.

4). So-called junk food is perfectly nutritious. A big Mac meal comprises meat, bread, salad and potatoes -- which is a mainstream Western diet. If that is bad then we are all in big trouble.

5). Food warriors demonize salt and fat. But we need a daily salt intake to counter salt-loss through perspiration and the research shows that people on salt-restricted diets die SOONER. And Eskimos eat huge amounts of fat with no apparent ill-effects. And the average home-cooked roast dinner has LOTS of fat. Will we ban roast dinners?

6). The foods restricted are often no more calorific than those permitted -- such as milk and fruit-juice drinks.

7). Tendency to weight is mostly genetic and is therefore not readily susceptible to voluntary behaviour change.

8). And when are we going to ban cheese? Cheese is a concentrated calorie bomb and has lots of that wicked animal fat in it too. Wouldn't we all be better off without it? And what about butter and margarine? They are just about pure fat. Surely they should be treated as contraband in kids' lunchboxes! [/sarcasm].

And will "this generation of Western children be the first in history to lead shorter lives than their parents did"? This idea emanates from a much-cited editorial in a prominent medical journal that said so. Yet this editorial offered no statistical basis for its opinion -- an opinion that flies directly in the face of the available evidence.


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