Monday, March 10, 2014

Passive smoking 'dramatically increases' the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth and ectopic pregnancy

The usual rubbish.  Smoking is correlated with IQ.  High IQ people are much less likely to smoke.  And high IQ people have fewer health problems.  We are looking at the effect of IQ here, not smoking.  Dumb people tend both to smoke and have dumb families

Passive smoking increases the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, and ectopic pregnancy, new research warned.

And the more women are exposed to second hand smoke, the greater the risk, a study in the British Medical Journal reported.

Although it was known smoking while pregnant increases the risk of miscarriage and birth complications, what was less understood was the effect of passive smoking.

The researchers analysed historical data from a large sample of more than 80,000 women who had gone through the menopause, and been part of the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) study.

Just over 5,000 of the women - 6.3 per cent - were current smokers, just under 35,000 – 43 per cent - were ex-smokers, who had smoked at least 100 cigarettes, and just under 41,000 - 50.6 per cent - were non-smokers.  All had been pregnant at least once.

The group of non-smokers was then categorised according to the level of second-hand smoke they had been exposed to during childhood, as an adult at home, and as an adult at work.

The pregnancy outcomes showed that almost one in three of the entire sample - 32.6 per cent - said they had miscarried at least once.  Some 3,552 - 4.4 per cent - had experienced a stillbirth, while 2,033 - 2.5 per cent - had had a tubal ectopic pregnancy.

Younger and better educated women were less likely to miscarry or have birth complications while women of black and minority ethnic backgrounds, and those who were overweight, were more likely to do so.

The study published online in Tobacco Control found women who had never smoked were less likely to miscarry, have a stillborn child or an ectopic pregnancy than either current or former smokers, the data showed.

Compared with non-smokers, women who had smoked during their reproductive years were 16 per cent more likely to miscarry, 44 per cent more likely to have a stillborn child, and 43 per cent more likely to have an ectopic pregnancy.

And these associations were also evident for non-smokers who had breathed in other people's cigarette smoke compared with non-smokers who had not been similarly exposed.

The longer the period of exposure, the greater was the risk for non-smokers.

Those who had experienced the highest levels of lifetime exposure, including more than 10 years as a child, or more than 20 years as an adult at home, or more than 10 years in the workplace, were 17 per cent more likely to miscarry.

They were 55 per cent more likely to give birth to a stillborn child, and 61 per cent more likely to have an ectopic pregnancy.


A tax on sugar would punish the poor for the 'sin' of enjoying the odd Mars bar

By Brendan O'Neill

Remember that 1990 movie Crazy People, in which Dudley Moore and a bunch of mental patients take over an advertising firm? (Ah, the days before political correctness!) The lunatic asylum inhabited by Moore and his mates starts churning out brutally honest, sometimes bawdy adverts, free of the euphemisms and exaggerations PR men normally use to hawk their wares and campaigns. Their slogan for a Greek travel agency, for example, is: "Forget Paris. The French can be annoying. Come to Greece. We're nicer." Who could argue with that?

I often find myself wondering what slogans these mental patients cum spin-free PR men might come up with for modern-day campaigns. How about the current drive to slap a tax on sugary foods, this week endorsed by the chief medical officer, Dame Sally Davies. There are a lot of impressive-sounding scare words attached to this sugar-taxing frenzy (apparently it's about stalling an obesity epidemic), and science (or science-ish, as I think we should call it) has also been marshalled to the cause of hiking up the price of tasty sweet grub.

But if we were to strip away all the fear-fuelled, science-tinged lingo, if we were to opt instead to promote this initiative in the plain speaking of the crazy people of Crazy People, what might the sugar taxers' slogan be? Simples. It would be: "Poor people are really fat. Let's make them less fat by making Mars bars too expensive for them to buy."

That is the euphemism-free motivation of the urge to tax sugary stuff. In fact, every sin tax, as the great John Stuart Mill referred to artificial hikes in the price of stimulants that have “the sole purpose of making them more difficult to be obtained”, has a disproportionate effect on the poor. Of course they do.

The poor have less disposable income. So if you make cigarettes and alcohol, and now, perhaps, chocolate, more expensive, on the moralistic grounds that consuming such things is bad for you, then you are either going to price the poor out of these pleasurable pastimes or, more likely, make their lives that bit harder by leaving them with less cash at the end of the week once they’ve bought all their sin-taxed stimulants and foods.

If, as experts suggest, a 20pc tax is added to sugary foods, and the cost of a Mars bar rises from 60p to 72p and a can of Coke from 70p to 84p, it won’t affect Dame Sally Davies; it will affect the less well-off, who, every time they buy a Mars, will feel precisely what the fun-allergic finger-waggers of the modern nannying’n’nudging state want them to feel – guilt, concern, panic about what they might have to cut from their weekly shopping list in order to spare that quid for chocolate.

The adman-style finery that has been draped over this campaign to make poor people less fat by making it harder for them to buy Mars bars really deserves to be stripped away. It’s nonsense. So Dame Sally’s claim that “we have a generation of children who, because they are overweight and lack activity, may not live as long as my generation” runs completely counter to the hard scientific fact that life expectancy continues to rise.

When Dame Sally was born in 1949 (sorry to reveal that, Sal), people could expect to live to about 65; those born today are more likely to make it to 80. A boy born in 1949 had a 7.7pc chance of making it to 100; a boy born today has a 26pc chance of hitting that milestone.

It’s just not true to say that the new generation will live for fewer years than older generations. As to Dame Sally’s claim that there is an obesity epidemic – hmm, not so much. Childhood obesity levels are actually declining. They peaked in 2004/2005, when 18pc of boys and 19pc of girls were recorded as obese; in 2012, 14pc of both boys and girls were categorised as obese. The campaign to tax sugar comes with as much stuff and nonsense as any sexed-up advert; it needs a Crazy People-style takedown.

Where is the outrage over this campaign to make it harder for poor people to buy certain foods? At a time when commentators and campaigners bang on about “food poverty” and the spread of food banks, where are the voices of dissent over a proposal to make delicious foods too expensive for oiks to consume?

They’re silent. And it isn’t hard to work out why. It’s because when charity-sector worthies talk about “food poverty”, they don’t mean the inability of the poor to enjoy such wicked things as chips, chocolate or Coke; they mean the poverty of education within certain sections of society that has led whole generations to think it is acceptable to eat fast food, when apparently it isn’t.

The conceit of Crazy People is that the real crazy people are not the mental patients but the admen they elbow aside. So it is with the war on sugar. The crazy ones aren’t those who think it’s acceptable, and fun, to eat a bar of chocolate – it’s the killjoy classes who spin nonsense about an obesity epidemic and slap a Scrooge-like tax on sweets all in the name of making it harder for poor people to indulge in a bit of pleasurable eating.


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