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Home Allergy Awareness Leads Some To Question The Campaign’s Real Intentions

The NHS Choices Behind the Headlines project in the UK analyzes claims that there is an epidemic of home allergies. Excerpt:

At least 12 million Britons now suffer from allergies caused by dust mites, The Independent has today reported. The newspaper says that a report by the charity Allergy UK has revealed an epidemic of “home fever”, a range of symptoms caused by dust mites and other triggers around the home.

The report has been published as part of Indoor Allergy Week, which is intended to raise awareness of the kind of steps that can be taken to remove allergy triggers, or ‘allergens’, from the home. A survey in the report suggests that, currently, around two-thirds of people with allergies experience symptoms such as sneezing and itchy eyes caused by allergens including dust mites, chemicals, pets and mould.

This new report raises lots of questions, such as Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Gary Schwitzer's HealthNewsReview Blog*

Is Prince Charles Overstepping His Role By Promoting Alternative Medicine?

Prince Charles is a big supporter of “natural” medicine, which in practice means unscientific and ineffective medicine. He has no particular expertise in this area, and there is absolutely no legitimate reason why he should have any influence over the practice of medicine in the UK. But he is the Prince of Wales, and he has chosen to use that celebrity to promote CAM.

Prince Charles has also recently been criticized for his credulous support for medical nonsense. The Telegraph recently reported that Simon Singh, co-author with Edzard Ernst of Trick or Treatment, and exposer of CAM pseudoscience, spoke about Prince Charles at the recent Hay Festival in India. Singh had some sharp criticism, including:

He only wants scientific evidence if it backs up his view of the natural treatment of health conditions…

We presented evidence that disputes the value of alternative medicine and despite this he hasn’t changed his mind…

Singh’s point is that Prince Charles is Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Science-Based Medicine*

Will A Tax On Breast Implants In The UK Drive People Away?

The British HM Revenue and Customs is planning to impose a tax on cosmetic surgeries by slapping VAT on any artificial enhancements and procedures. According to the new guidelines by the department responsible for collecting UK’s taxes, doctors performing more invasive procedures will have to register for VAT and pass the charge on to their patients. The guidelines suggest that patients having such cosmetic procedures will have to pay the tax unless they can persuade the doctor that the operation is being carried out for “therapeutic” reasons. Although the move is being considered to help plug the deficit in Britain’s public finances, but Fazel Fatah, president of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), said that this could harm many patients.

The government in the UK seeks to hasten the movement of cosmetic surgery business out of the country it seems. That will likely be the effect of the planned extension of the VAT tax to cosmetic surgery. It is already less expensive for British citizens to leave the country for their cosmetic surgery. The care in most cases is not equivalent. The reason to consider it just got 20% more persuasive however. That is a huge tax!

Here in the US, Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Truth in Cosmetic Surgery*

Researchers Identify Faulty Gene Associated With Ovarian Cancer Development

British researchers identified a faulty gene associated with a one-in-11 chance of developing ovarian cancer, and they think drugs for breast cancer might also work in these women.

Ovarian carcinoma, from ACP's book Practical GynecologyResearchers from England’s Institute of Cancer Research reported that they compared DNA from women from 911 families with ovarian and breast cancer and to a control group of 1,060 people from the general population.

They found eight gene faults in theRAD51Dgene in women with cancer, compared with one in the control group. TheRAD51Dgene repairs damaged DNA, and when it’s faulty, cells are more likely to turn cancerous.

Results appear Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

The Rise In Cancer Rates May Not Mean More Cancer

Several newspapers in the UK reported this week that cancer rates have risen over the past two decades. That set into motion an analysis by the excellent “Behind the Headlines” service offered by the NHS Choices website. They found this in newspapers:

“Cancer rates in the middle-aged “have jumped by almost a fifth in a generation”, according to The Daily Telegraph, which says that the increase “is thought to be mainly due to better detection of cancers rather than people adopting more unhealthy lifestyles”. The Sun takes the alternate view, saying that doctors are “blaming the rise on obesity and home boozing”. The Daily Mail similarly suggests that lifestyle changes are to blame.”

You don’t have to live in the UK to learn from their analysis.

They wrote:

“One factor contributing to these increases is likely to be higher rates of detection due to the NHS breast cancer screening programme and the PSA test for prostate cancer. The raw data behind these stats also needs to be placed into context: these particular cancer diagnosis rates are drawn from the datasets for England from the Office of National Statistics and similar datasets from registries in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. The ONS urges caution when interpreting its data, particularly when looking at trends across time, or differences across regions.

For example, Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Gary Schwitzer's HealthNewsReview Blog*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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