Vitamin supplements, flu, magnets, and more …



New guidelines to prevent falls, fractures in older adults: Overall, unintentional falls result in about 33,000 deaths of older adults in the U.S. each year. In an effort to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities in the elderly, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has issued new recommendations to prevent falls and fractures in older adults. While exercise was noted to be of importance, the report recommend against low doses of calcium and vitamin D supplements as ineffective, and also against higher doses as potentially harmful. “I think it’s a safe statement to say that it’s important people get enough calcium and vitamin D in their diet and through daily activity with getting an appropriate amount of sunlight,” he said, “but taking it as a pill, at least from what we can see at a lower dose, it doesn’t seem to help”

Rise in ‘predatory publishers’ has sparked a warning for scientists and researchers: Senior Australian academics have issued a warning about the rise of so-called ‘predatory journals’, saying they threaten the credibility of real scientific and medical research.

Thinking about getting your child the flu vaccine? Here’s what you need to know: “Flu vaccines are expected to be widely available from mid April or early May. They are available at your GP surgery, community clinic and pharmacy, depending on your age and state or territory program. Children aged under nine years who have not been vaccinated before require two doses in their first year. In young children previously vaccinated, only one dose is required. Children less than six months are not recommended to receive the influenza vaccine: the most effective way to protect those too young to be vaccinated is by vaccinating mothers during pregnancy.”


Today’s Abused Health Concept

Conflict of Interest: ‘Cult’ universal medicine practices promoted by researchers, UQ launches investigation: It can be very tempting for academics or researchers to become involved in research or paper on topics that they care about. However, if a researcher get reward from the topic, or has a strong commitment to the area, or is directly involved in organisations in question, it becomes likely that their work can become skewed due to personal bias. In science it is very important to try to isolate such bias, and an important step is to report conflicts of interest, giving context and allowing reviewers to check the quality of work fairly.

Members of faculty at UQ have been involved with a cult that promotes alternative medical modalities, all made up by a bankrupted tennis coach. Despite being involved to the point of actively promoting the cult, they did not report conflicts of interest when submitting research papers on the topic. Other authors also had unreported financial conflicts of interest.


Great moments in health and science

The History of the Thermometer: Before it could ever be used in health practice, the thermometer was preceded by the thermoscope – a device that showed changes in temperature but had no scale.


Thanks to Science

Prostate cancer: Big data unlocks 80 new drug targets: Genetic technology has allowed identification of over 80potential targets in prostate cancer. The study used whole genome sequencing of 112 prostate cancer samples, comparing it with 930 datasets from other studies, and found a suite of new potential targets, including 11 for which there are already effective drugs. This work could lead to the development of new prostate cancer treatments and also inform a personalised medicine approach, where each patients tumour is screened for mutations which indicate susceptibility to treatment. This approach may also be replicated in other cancers.


Did you know?

Magnet Therapy: One of the great alternative medicine crazes sweeping society today is magnet therapy. Admittedly, this is a fairly harmless bit of nonsense that, at worst, syphons money from unsuspecting people while actually doing no harm. Except in the case of claiming “supermagnets” hung around the neck can cure cancer, then it becomes very serious. The interesting thing about magnet therapy is that it has no scientific basis whatsoever. Proponents engage in elaborate hand-waving about magnetic fields, life forces and blood flow, all of which a high school physics student could see through and of course, the inevitable use of anecdote that gains traction when a famous athlete or actor comes to the party and claims magnets changed their life. And for those who would like a deeper dive into the shonky world of magnet therapy, visit Silly Beliefs which presents an exhaustive critique of magnet therapy and its practitioners:

Health check: why do we get muscle cramps? “The recent reviews suggest what is called the altered neuromuscular control hypothesis to explain cramps. Here, the protective reflex action is disrupted, which usually happens when the muscle is tired. So, in this instance, the muscle contracts, but the usual signal to the spinal cord for it to relax is inhibited. There is now no protective relaxing of the muscle that follows, meaning it contracts for longer than you want it to.”