October 2009

H1N1 Vaccine Dangers - The Latest Updates

Now that the swine flu vaccine is being shipped, we have answers to some of the questions raised over the summer.

Adjuvants will not be used in the H1N1 swine flu vaccine.  The issue of adjuvants was raised a few weeks ago, when some believed that vaccines in the United States would be shipped with these additives due to shortages of the vaccine.  This turned out not to be the case.

Many people believe that the adjuvants may be toxic.  To help allay these fears, and because we were able to produce enough vaccine for the country, flu vaccines this season will not contain adjuvants.

Germany's 2-Tier Swine Flu Vaccine Policy

While I am a firm believer in public health care, I am not a fan of Germany’s new two-tier policy when it comes to the Swine Flu vaccine. According to a recent Time Magazine article, the government is offering two Swine Flu vaccines: a new and improved vaccine for those working for the government and a “riskier” vaccine for the remainder of the population.

The Pandemrix vaccine being offered to the general population of Germany  can’t be used on pregnant women or children and has more side effects than the alternative Celvapan. Roughly 26,000 people have had the Swine Flu in Germany; however, there have been only three deaths. Germany is gearing up for more cases of the flu, but I have two questions.

Cancer: Not Always Bad

I found this article in the New York Times interesting, because it looks like there is scientific proof now behind something that a crackpot once told me.  This was years ago, when I was commuting to a job in downtown Seattle by bus.  The crackpot plunked himself down in the seat next to me and wouldn't shut up.  I had my headphones on, so I just pretended that I couldn't hear him.  But he went on at length regarding his personal theory that we actually get cancer all the time, and recover from it without ever having known that it happened.

Walking While Distracted

Via the NYT.

I’ve heard of “Driving While Distracted”, but never realized the impact cell phones have on those who are merely “Walking While Distracted”. At the University of Washington, an informal study was conducted to see how many people would notice a guy cycling around in a clown suit on a unicycle, which trust me, is not necessarily a typical Seattle scene.

What You Need to Know About Tachycardia and How to Treat a High Heart Rate

We often hear about heart disease in its various forms and to help us in being heart healthy we have a lot of information on cholesterol and high blood pressure. However, tachycardia, or a rapid heart beat, is a condition that effects hundreds of people and can range from mild to severe and dangerous. Here is a brief overview of what you need to know about tachycardia and how to treat it.

What is Tachycardia?

Food Safety: Why Do People Keep Getting E Coli?

The New York Times is carrying a high-profile article about a woman who was paralyzed from an e. coli infection.  Reading the article I once again wondered what I had so many times before: why do people keep getting sick from hamburger?  Aren't we all cooking our hamburgers pretty well these days? Granted the manufacturer is absolutely the one to blame for putting the e. coli in the burger in the first place - but don't consumers carry some of the responsibility for cooking their meat properly?

A New Way to Fight Depression

Is the Mediterranean diet better for depression than Prozac or another anti-depressant? In the land of the good and plenty here in the good ole US of A, we are inundated with advertisements for pharmaceuticals on tv and in magazines. The simple solution to our health problems always seems to be a pill. This is especially true in the case of mental illnesses, including depression, which can be caused by life circumstances, biological factors, stress, and more. Diet and exercise seem to be the last treatment of choice for many Americans, but a recent study has indicated that changes in diet can very well the first line of defense against depression.

Where Is The American Mad Cow Epidemic?

I recently ran across an article online that mentioned "mad cow disease" tangentially, and it got me wondering.  Weren't we in the United States supposed to have a massive outbreak of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) by now?

The prion disease which is called Bovine Spongiform Epilepsy (BSE) in cattle and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) in people was a media darling in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but it has largely faded from view.  (Not least because a more lethal form of e. coli has developed in cattle, which presents a far more pressing medical issue. If you're a journalist looking to scare people, e. coli is where it's at these days.)