Drying hands, spurious cancer cures, weight loss, and more…

FSM Friends news and articles

 Air Dryers vs Paper TowelsWhich hand drying method is the best, air or paper towel? The answer is more complicated than you might think – but do wash your hands.


Nearly half of Americans think alternative medicine can cure cancer. It can’t“Many Americans hold the misguided view that alternative therapies alone can cure cancer, even though such methods are not proven to be effective in treating cancer, according to a new survey. “The survey, known as the National Cancer Opinion Survey, found that nearly 40 percent of Americans said they believed that cancer could be cured solely through alternative therapies, such as oxygen therapy, or use of certain diets, vitamins and minerals.

“However, experts stress that these therapies are not recommended as a sole treatment for cancer, as there is little evidence to support their benefit. For example, a 2017 study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that cancer patients who used only alternative medicine were 2.5 times more likely to die during a five-year period, compared with those who used standard cancer treatments such as surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and hormone-based therapies.”

Research Check: can you cut your cancer risk by eating organic? “So, if you don’t want to buy organic produce or can’t afford it, it’s fine to buy conventionally grown plant foods, especially if this means you eat more fruit and veg.” Its not unexpected that people who choose organic have slightly lower cancer rates, however the huge number of factors that affect food choices make it difficult to know if the study has been appropriately controlled – though it seems the researchers did control for as many variables as possible. Linking consumption of a particular pesticide or component in non organic food would strengthen findings, but it is still abundantly clear that the impact of eating fruit and veg in the first place is far higher than the impact of the organic vs non organic choice.

Deaths due to tainted herbal medicine under-recorded: Studies have found some herbal remedies have been adulterated with approved or banned drugs and even toxic heavy metals. Adulterants have been linked to a range of side effects of varying severity including hyper tension, heart problems, psychiatric disorders and in some instances even deaths. 

“The composition of many of these products is uncertain, there may be contaminants and pharmaceutical additives, and their interaction with prescription medications is unpredictable,” says Professor Byard. “However, the potential role and impact of herbal medicines, and possible adulterants within them, is usually not considered in medicolegal cases. Forensic facilities may be missing the presence of harmful or toxic substances when carrying out post mortem assessments not because the substances aren’t there but because pathologists may not be looking for them. When considering cases in which a person has died after taking herbal medicines sourced from overseas, forensic pathologists need to take extra care to consider the possibility that adulterants have played a role in the person’s demise,” says Professor Byard.

Cervical smear scandal – why the HPV vaccine is the best choice: “The narrative pushed by the anti-vaccine religion is that the HPV vaccine is worthless because cervical smears catch “most” cervical cancers early. There is so much wrong with this narrative. It’s more important to prevent cancer than to get a diagnosis – anyone who has had a cancer diagnosis would embrace that without too much thought.”

Is exercise still important to weight loss? Absolutely, a doctor says: “For 10 years, I have been studying the epidemic of failed weight loss attempts and researching the phenomenon of hundreds of millions of people embarking on weight loss attempts – then quitting. In the meantime, exercise remains the most common practice among nationally tracked persons who are able to maintain weight loss over time. In fact, 90 percent of people who lose significant weight and keep it off exercise at least one hour a day, on average. Many studies have shown that exercise changes your body’s composition, improves your resting metabolism and alters your food preferences. These plain and simple facts have stood the test of time, but go largely unnoticed compared to most sensationalized diet products (change through exercise over time is a much tougher sell than a 5-day “cleanse”). Moreover, many people consider one hour a day for exercise to be unreasonable or undoable, and find themselves looking elsewhere for an easier fix.”

Abused Health Concept

Medical exemptions for vaccines after California SB277 – article review: In California, all belief based exemptions to vaccines have been removed, resulting in vaccination rate improving to 95%. At the same time however, medical exemptions have increased to 0.7%, with some dodgy doctors charging up to $300 for a vaccine exemption. Schools are require to check exemptions, but who there is expert to challenge the word of a medical doctor? A potential solution to this is to make medical exemption subject to expert review. This would be far more more likely to spot an inappropriate medical certificate, and would also take the burden of checking the paperwork off the schools.

Great moments in Health and Science

 World Health Day 2013 – A short history of sphygmomanometers and blood pressure measurement: Nowadays a less-than-a-minute test, blood pressure monitoring in the healthcare setting has important implications for long-term and short-term health.