October 2011

Vaccine Reduces Malaria Deaths By Half

"It's not a cure-all: only half of all recipients of the vaccine have been able to fight off the disease so far."

I can respect anyone who works at the same thing for a quarter of a century. I haven't even spent 24 years being alive, let alone focusing on a singular task, but Joe Cohen has put that much time into one goal: to rid the world of malaria. And this month, he finally saw his work pay off. 

Should You Take the Season Flu Vaccination?

"I want proof that I can see with my own eyes with the people that I personally know and I certainly haven't seen that yet!"

This is always a controversial subject that is debated every year around this time when the medical community starts asking if you'd like a flu shot or if you want to give one to your child or you elderly loved one.


Personally, I am not a fan and I'll tell you why. First, I know from my informal survey among my Grandmother's friends that they often actually make you sick. I have personally known several elderly people who ended up being hospitalized from taking a flu shot. When I weigh the potential benefits to this, the flu shot loses out in my book.


Second, even doctors admit the flu shot doesn't work all the time. In fact, they claim it works in only about 60% of the cases. I'm betting it is lower than that because how do they really measure this? Plus, I've personally observed too many people who get the flu after getting a flu shot.

Do I Really Need A Tetanus Shot?

"Tetanus, of course, is a very serious and horrible disease. It is fatal in about 10% of cases."
This morning I accidentally jabbed myself with a rusty nail while I was out at the firewood pile getting firewood. It was still pretty early, and I hadn't had enough coffee, and it was cold and I was tired, and I just wasn't paying attention. 
It was just a little jab. A tiny drop of blood welled up. Hardly even deserving of the name "injury"! Surely it didn't require a tetanus shot, I told myself. Come on, it's not that big a deal!
But I know better, and I was well overdue for a shot anyway. So that's how I spent my morning: waiting in line at the Walgreen's pharmacy. (Incidentally, a lot of pharmacies offer tetanus immunizations these days. Much faster and cheaper than going to a full-on appointment at the doctor's office!)

Time to Clear Out the Medicine Cabinet for "National Prescription Drug Take Back Day"

Whether over-the-counter or prescription, old medications should typically not be thrown in the trash, tossed in the sink, or flushed down the toilet.

Chances are you have medications lurking in your medicine cabinet dating back to 2006 or older. Even if you don't have any meds dating back that far, you probably have one or two that are expired. If so, you're in luck because Saturday, October 29, 2011 is the National Take Back Initiative day sponsored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). On Saturday, the DEA will be collecting expired and unneeded medications so that they can dispose of them in a safe and environmentally-friendly way.

In addition to disposing of medications in a safe and responsible way, the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day serves as a a public safety and public health message. Because millions of individuals in the U.S. suffer from prescription drug abuse, the initiative is a reminder of high prescription drug abuse rate. A vast number of abused prescription drugs come from friends and family. Many of these come from home medicine cabinets -- both knowingly and unknowingly.

Drug Shortages are Killing Americans

You might think with all of these iPhones and iPads and Snuggies and The Clapper there would be complete perfection when it comes to the stuff that we actually need in the first place—you know, things like water and food and medicine. It turns out that it’s not the case at all. This year, the United States is facing a drug shortage so drastic that at least 15 people have died from not receiving their medication.

CLA: The Newest Health Fad?


Dr. Oz recently profiled conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) on his show, and even though he advocated caution, I suspect that CLA is going to be this year's miracle cure. (Forget goji berries! Take CLA!)
CLA is a kind of super "good fat." For the most part, it is only found in dairy and meat - specifically those from animals which have eaten grass. CLA is found in the meat of grass-fed animals at up to 300-500% more than grain-fed animals. (Strike a blow for the "grass-fed and pasture-raised beef" industry!)

The Bedbug Situation: Not As Contagious As You Think


Slate has an article which I for one, as a victim of needless bedbug panic, have found very soothing. Authors Dave Johns and Amy L. Fairchild took an epidemiological look at bedbug trajectories, and have found it wanting.
This is a balm for the seemingly endless reports of bedbug hysteria. Heck, I'll be the first to tell you that one reason I love my Kindle so much is that eBooks don't give you bedbugs. Whereas several libraries have had to be shut down for bedbug fumigation over the last ten years.

Extract Brains, Cure Diabetes

Neural stem cells may hold the key to ending this widespread disease


Isn't it neat when the secrets to medical science lie in obvious but overlooked places? In the latest example, the cure for diabetes may have been rattling around in our own noggins this whole time. Or at least, it seems to have been hidden in the brains of rats. Researchers at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Tsukuba Science City in Japan (they have science cities in Japan? I want to go) have found that neural stem cells can be manipulated to convince the pancreas to work the way it should again.