Chipping away at our health

The Trump administration has quietly reshaped enforcement of air pollution standards in recent months through a series of regulatory memos. The memos are fulfilling the top wishes of industry, which has long called for changes to how the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) oversees the nation’s factories, plants and other facilities. The EPA is now allowing …

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The crisis among young British youths

Yesterday, my colleague, Owen Bell, wrote a post about millennials and their attitudes. Today I would like to comment on the group coming up behind them, teenagers of both genders. More than 100,000 children aged 14 in the UK are self-harming, with one in four girls of this age having deliberately hurt themselves, according to …

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Over-diagnosis in medicine

Sometimes it can be better to do nothing. Some in the American medical profession are concerned about the dangers of overzealous medicine. There has been a trend towards detecting health problems too early, convincing healthy people they are sick, and treating them too aggressively. The latest research, published in December in the Journal of the …

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The US health industry gets ever spookier

The health insurance industry has joined forces with data brokers to vacuum up personal details about hundreds of millions of Americans. The companies are tracking race, education level, TV habits, marital status, net worth, postings on social media, slowness paying bills, and what you order online. Complicated computer algorithms then produce predictions about how much …

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Late to rise, early to die

Night owls tend to die slightly earlier than early risers – possibly because they’re so often forced to defy their body clocks. Researchers from Britain and America tracked about 430,000 people who were asked whether they preferred mornings or evenings. Over a six-and-a-half-year period, those who said they were “definite” evening types were 10% more …

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So much for the ‘Mediterranean diet’

Children in Italy, Greece and Spain are now the fattest in Europe. More than 40% of boys and girls aged nine are either overweight or obese. Sweets,junk food and sugary drinks have displaced the region’s traditional diet based on fruit and vegetables, fish and olive oil. (World Health Organisation) One study suggests that your bank …

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Fraud in the American healthcare system

The FBI estimates that fraud, private and public, accounts for 10% of US healthcare expenditure. $350 billion out of the total of $3.54 trillion is pocketed by crooks. Why is this an Epicurean concern? Because that £350 million has to be made up for somehow, and is taken from honest citizens by insurance companies in …

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Scary? The African conundrum

“By the year 2030,Africa will represent about one quarter of the world’s workforce. By 2050 the African population is expected to double to more than 2.5 billion people, with 70% of them under the age of 30”. ( Rex Tillerson, American Secretary of State, quoted in the Washington Post, March 8, 2018). The above statistics …

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Baby milk

The milk formula business is worth more than $45 billion globally, and projected to increase by over 50% by 2020 owing to rapid expansion in Asia. The report* by Changing Markets Foundation reviewed more than 400 infant milks for babies less than one year old made by Nestlé, Danone, Mead Johnson Nutrition, and Abbott. It …

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Opioid antidotes and the huge profits they generate

In 2016, 36 states joined a lawsuit against Reckitt Benckiser Group that alleged that the company had profited from the opioid crisis and siphoned money from Medicaid. The drug company allegedly worked to preserve its monopolistic hold on profits drawn from its control of addiction treatment drug Suboxone. The 2016 lawsuit in Philadelphia has received …

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Prescription drugs in the US (a bit long, but you must read the conclusion)

Congress is under pressure to reduce drug prices, but the obstacles are legion. Current federal regulations protect drug makers from competition and restrict the government’s ability to negotiate bulk prices for large purchases from manufacturers. The nation’s drug distribution system is complex, opaque, short on data, and little understood by consumers. And the huge money …

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Is do-it-yourself gene editing wise and ethical?

CRISPR, the cheap and easy technique for making precise changes to DNA, has researchers around the world racing to trial its use in treating a host of human diseases. But this race is not confined to the lab. Last month, Josiah Zayner, a biochemist who once worked for NASA, became the first person to edit …

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One reason American healthcare is so expensive

Five months after Hurricane Maria barrelled through Puerto Rico, much of the island remains “largely unliveable”, says emergency medicine physician Jeremy Samuel Faust. One knock-on effect of this is that America is drastically short of a staple item of hospital equipment: intravenous fluids for use in drips. The shutdown of several Puerto Rican factories that …

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