July 29th, 2009 17:09 EST
Organ Donation, More Flu, and E-Cigarettes
By Curtis Porter
The recent arrest of Levy Izhak Rosenbaum of Brooklyn for allegedly trafficking in human organs has revived media dialogue over the subject of organ donation in the United States. ACSH advisor and American Enterprise Institute Fellow Dr. Sally Satel writes in today`s Wall Street Journal, "That it could happen in this country is so shocking,` said Dr. Bernadine Healy, former head of the Red Cross. No, it isn`t. When I needed a kidney several years ago and had no donor in sight, I would have considered doing business with someone like Mr. Rosenbaum. "
ACSH`s Jeff Stier wrote in Friday`s edition of the UK`s The Guardian that this is too often the case for those in need of a transplant: The current American system of organ donations, which forbids any incentives for donation, has created a niche market for just this type of crook " a practical and ethical government-regulated donor compensation system would put people like Rosenbaum out of business. "
Hyperbolic Flu Talk
According to an article from the Associated Press, health officials with the CDC are projecting that up to 40 percent of Americans could get swine flu this year and next and several hundred thousand could die without a successful vaccine campaign and other measures. "
They`re postulating a worst case scenario, " says ACSH`s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan. It seems to me to be hyperbole. We don`t need this kind of hype. " ACSH`s Dr. Gilbert Ross agrees: `Up to` is the key phrase here. The CDC has no business saying things like this because it will hit the headlines like this. Also, they`re talking about the next two years here, which is not emphasized in the article, so the story is designed to be alarmist. "
Health officials are already addressing the approaching flu season by encouraging people to get vaccinated against the seasonal flu, including children. The first step is to be immunized against seasonal flu, " says Dr. Whelan. You don`t want to get both flu viruses at the same time. " Dr. Ross adds, As far as diagnosis and treatment, if we get everyone immunized against the seasonal flu, there will be far less diagnostic uncertainty. That would help when it comes to recognizing which virus they are dealing with. A further benefit of the new CDC recommendation to include schoolchildren among those getting flu shots is to protect their parents and grandparents from the more severe consequences of influenza, as I`ve been advocating for some time. "
More E-Cigarette Bashing
ACSH staffers were disappointed to see Liz Szabo of USA Today jumping on the bandwagon against e-cigarettes over the weekend. Ms. Szabo`s piece was completely biased, " says Stier. She talks about how health advocates are concerned about the product`s safety, but she never even mentioned the possibility that it could help people quit smoking until the end, when she quotes an e-cigarette manufacturer. "
The article appeared on the heels of the FDA`s announcement that they were suspicious of e-cigarettes as possibly containing dangerous chemicals. It`s bad enough when the FDA lies by simply ignoring facts, " says Dr. Ross. Then medical and science writers pick up the story and you would expect them to have some consideration of risk-benefit analysis. It`s horribly irresponsible reporting. "
It also encourages people to continue smoking, " says Dr. Whelan, since it scares them away from the alternatives. They could have easily pointed out that e-cigarettes are untested and go from there. The concept of a non-combustion product is sound, and since nicotine is what smokers crave and is not what kills them, these should be given a chance. I don`t know how many people use these, but when I go on websites I see smokers raving about it as their first chance to get off of cigarettes. "
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