Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Beer Raped Your Daughter and Gave Her Gonorrhea. Again

The Washington Post claimed near-supernatural powers for a tiny beer tax on Monday. A booze tax, write Lloyd I. Sederer and Eric Goplerud, will pay for health care reform. But that's not all!: "Research indicates that a 10 percent increase in current alcohol excise taxes-that is a penny for a beer-would result in less drinking, especially among underage drinkers, reducing rape, robbery, domestic violence and liver disease. A tax increase of 3 cents per beer would cut youth gonorrhea by 9 percent."

I'm going to pull out that last line one more time in case you, like me, sometime skim over blockquotes too quickly: "A tax increase of 3 cents per beer would cut youth gonorrhea by 9 percent."

Look at the lovely young lady above. If only a three cent tax on that Budweiser could have saved her from the heartbreak of VD.

Messrs. (Drs.?) Sederer and Goplerud have taken the fine art of vaguely claiming that "studies show..." to a new level. Obviously, the argument here is that lots of beer makes people more likely to rape, pillage, etc. and that pricier beer means less consumption. A quick Google reveals that they're pulling from 2000 study that looked at beer taxes and gonorrhea rates in various states. Reason, of course, tore this study a new one back when first made the rounds. Key passage: "[David Murray of the Statistical Assessment Service, a non-profit think tank in D.C.] does yeoman's work pointing out the junk reasoning at the root of so much junk science. This one was a high, hanging curve for Murray, who said the CDC's thinking was on the level of "the sun goes down because we turn on the street lights."

The really interesting thing is that the CDC, in effect, agrees with that criticism. It buries its assent, however, in an editorial note that says the findings "do not prove a causal relation between higher taxes and declining STD [sexually transmitted disease] rates."

There are parallels to the outlandish claims made for a 3 cent soda tax. It will end obesity! Pay for health care reform! Make dentists obsolete! A handy review of the bad math behind the idea that small soda taxes will take a significant dent out of obesity here.

UPDATE: A alert reader writes: "Of course, it's probably safe to say that obese teenagers are less likely to be sexually active and therefore less likely to contract STDs. So really, supporters of 'obesity' taxes are really just supporting the infliction of STDs upon America's youth (which in turn drives up health care costs). That's just common sense."


Nanoparticles may be used to help kill tumours

Greenies and food freaks hate nanoparticles so this might help stop further attacks on them

BRITISH scientists are developing ways to use nanoparticles as tiny magnets that can heat up and kill cancer cells without harming healthy cells around them. The researchers have found that iron-oxide nanoparticles can be attached to cancer-seeking antibodies, or injected into cancer-seeking stem cells, which take them straight to the tumours they need to kill.

Heating the cells to just 5 or 6 degrees Celsius above body temperature, in a new device called a magnetic alternating current hyperthermia, or MACH, machine, can kill the cancer cells. The researchers said the MACH device was like a microwave, heating only targeted cells. "This offers a new way to treat cancer," the team from University College London said. "If we get the magnetic particles to migrate to cancer cells, we can kill only the cancer cells, leaving the healthy cells unharmed – the ultimate targeted therapy."

The scientists said the work was at an early stage and no tests had yet been done on humans. They predicted another decade of developing, refining and testing the techniques before they could be licensed to treat cancer. "We are aiming to be ready to go to clinical trials at the end of three years," said Professor of Physics Quentin Pankhurst.

The scientists said they had already seen the stem cell delivery technique work in mice. Mark Lythgoe, director of the university's centre for advanced biomedical imaging, said he and colleagues had shown in a study due to be published soon that certain cells, called mesenchymal stem cells (MSC), when loaded with magnetic nanoparticles, would take them direct to secondary lung tumours, or lung metastases. "We have now just started the trial where we put those animals into the heating system... to see whether it has killed the lung metastases," he said.

Two other methods were also showing promise, one using cancer-seeking antibodies to carry nanoparticles to head and neck tumours, and another using magnetic fields to steer the tiny magnets to specific parts of the body which need treatment. "The idea is that we could use these three guided techniques to get the cells to go to the tumour," said Mr Lythgoe. "Then when you've got them there, you put the patient into the MACH system, it heats up the iron oxide particles like a microwave."

Heat is known to kill cancer cells but scientists are seeking ways to target the heat more specifically so healthy cells are not destroyed. Research presented last month by German scientists showed that heat-treated tumours responded better to chemotherapy, meaning the technique could allow chemotherapy doses to be reduced in the future, reducing toxic side effects.


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