Non-carcinogens, denialism, smoking, and more…


The 2019 flu shot isn’t perfect – but it’s still our best defence against influenza: With a belter of a flu season upon us, it’s still worth considering getting vaccinated if you haven’t yet – flu cases peak in late July or August so the worst might still be yet to come. So far evidence shows our vaccine is a decent match for the circulating strains, though we won’t know the full story until the end of the season.

How do you assess if a chemical causes cancer? Years of testing shows glyphosate isn’t carcinogenic. Why can’t we believe it? I think there are several reasons why people won’t believe the safety of glyphosate. Primarily, a lot of people have had it in for Monsanto for a long time, so it is easy for them to believe it is an evil corporation bent on profit at all costs (n.b. all corporations are bent on profit at all costs). Next, many people have a profound need to find the agents out there that are causing cancer. This has been a recurring theme over many years. Explaining that carcinogens are not the main cause of cancer tends to fall on deaf ears: people know better than a collection of Big Chemical and Big Pharma shills. I think this is not the time to be dumping use of the most common pesticide in use in the world today. This is not the time to be handing out billion dollar settlements for a chemical that cannot be proven to cause cancer. Dioxin causes cancer, we learned that from Agent Orange. Roundup has been on shelves for over 40 years, I think it would have been evident long before now if it was a problem.

Two tactics effectively limit the spread of science denialism: It can be challenging to try to find the right balance of providing information and/or rebuttals to counteract science denialism, and deciding when or when not to engage. Articles like this one provide interesting perspective on the issue.

No. “Big Data” does not support chiropractic care for infants: “This study adds nothing of value to our understanding of infant medicine. It took a highly selective population of mothers likely already sold on the benefit of chiropractic care of infants and asked for subjective perceptions of subjective symptoms. All of the complaints involved in the questionnaires are likely to resolve over time without intervention, and are very likely to seem improved when non-specific placebo effects are involved. And I have to wonder how statistically significant would these results have been if the 1,000 mothers lost to follow-up had completed their surveys.”

Majority support for “No Jab, No Pay“: “What we see in Australia is right across the political spectrum, people seem to accept this as a role for the government”.

Smoking at record low in Australia, but the grim harvest of preventable heart disease continues: Smoking rates in Australia are at an all-time low. And yet, nearly 11,500 people are hospitalised from smoking-related cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) disease each year, while almost 6,500 die as a result. And it’s not just older people dying from their addiction. More than one-third of deaths from cardiovascular disease, such as heart attack or stroke, in people under the age of 65 in Australia can be attributed to smoking.

A recent publication of the largest and most comprehensive study of smoking and cardiovascular disease in Australia is a reminder we can’t be complacent. The study, published this week in BMC Medicine, found current smokers have a five-fold increase in the risk of peripheral vascular disease, such as gangrene. Smoking also doubles the risk of heart attack, stroke and heart failure and triples the risk of dying from these diseases. This is compared to people who have never smoked. The study’s authors said the findings suggest that if a smoker has a heart attack or a stroke, it’s highly probable smoking caused it.

Great Moments in Health and Science

Who Invented the Smoke Detector? Often taken for granted, smoke alarms are an important and ever-present safety feature of modern houses.