I’ve been enjoying reading The Los Angeles Times online for their well-researched health articles. A couple of recent examples include:
“Poring over facts about milk: cow’s, goat’s, soy, almond, rice and hemp”. Elena Conis has put together a fair piece about the pros and cons of the different types of milk. This mightn’t seem unusual but the majority of articles to end up in the press of late tend to be rabidly pro or anti soy or cow’s milk. Conis manages to present a full spread of the facts. Has anyone seen hemp seed milk on sale in Australia? Leave me a comment if you have.
A “chronic fatigue” virus?. One of the biggest issues for Chronic Fatigue Sufferers is the lack of an identifiable marker to diagnose the illness. This article breaks the news about xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV) that researchers have isolated in a significant number of cases.
A note on XMRV and CFS. This virus is a retrovirus and has also been linked with about a quarter of prostate cancer cases. While the link with CFS looks promising with 67% testing positive for the virus, it is a small sample and needs to be reproduced in a much larger group to prove a connection. But what then? The most obvious pharmacological route is anti-retroviral drugs (such as in the treatment of HIV), which must be getting big pharma very excited about expanding its market. Anti-retrovirals in HIV are doing amazing things, though the side effects some cases are extreme. I’m wondering if this will be tolerated in a community where the disease though very debilitating and life altering, is not usually life threatening?
“Does the Vaccine Matter?” With flu season hitting the northern hemisphere the H1N1 vaccine has become extremely controversial. A recent in-depth article in The Atlantic covers the story from an unusual angle. It includes the work of a respected researcher who dared question the accepted statistics regarding the efficacy of the seasonal flu vaccine and the response of the medical science community to her line of thought. For anyone with a love of science, let alone an interest in the recent flu pandemic, this makes fascinating reading.
A new study published in the BMJ claims more than half of sudden unexplained infant deaths occur while the infant is sharing a bed or a sofa with a parent. But while this appears to damn the practice of co-sleeping, an article in the BBC news health section (another excellent health resource) digs deeper beneath the controversial headlines. Groups who have challenged the research question the validity of the sample, as the majority of “cot deaths” occurred when the parents were smoking, taking drugs or alcohol and involved the adults falling asleep on the couch with their infant. This is quite a different set of circumstances to majority of parents who make a conscious choice to co-sleep with their infants.
The Editorial in the latest BMJ takes into account the two different groups and sets out a more realistic appraisal of the risks.