September 22nd, 2009 14:23 EST
Snus Ads, Clinton on Screening, Mutations, Second-Hand Facts, Trans-Fats
By Curtis Porter
Censoring Harm Reduction
An article in the New York Times explains how R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company is marketing its smokeless snus product without reference to its harm-reduction potential: Andrew Romeo, a former executive at tobacco companies..., says he believes "snus is a much safer alternative to cigarettes` but understands why R. J. Reynolds is not marketing snus as safer. "It is worse for public health to put snus across as a complementary product instead of a reduced-harm product, but for R. J. Reynolds it makes total sense,` said Mr. Romeo " "they`re just trying to sell you this other product to fill your day with tobacco goodness.` "
This is another example of how an ill-advised regulatory scheme is doing more harm than good, " says ACSH`s Dr. Gilbert Ross. Reynolds--nor any other marketer of smokeless tobacco products-- cannot say anything about harm reduction since it violates the FDA dicta on the subject by making a health claim. So it appears to the consumer that snus is just another tobacco product on the market. Of course, if the writer had tried just a little, he could have gotten the truth about the low risks of snus and the potential for using such smokeless products as an aid to quitting lethal cigarettes -- harm reduction. "
Clinton on Breast Cancer Screening
Bill Clinton made an appearance today on ABC`s Good Morning America. Among the many things he discussed was his optimism for the outlook on cancer research, citing knowledge of genetic predictors of breast cancer and an imperative to get young girls tested for them in order to anticipate future treatment.
There`s been a lot of activity on Twitter about what Clinton said regarding screenings, " says ACSH`s Jeff Stier. It`s a little convoluted, but it goes back to the issue of how screening in young girls can cause more harm than good. We saw this with the E.A.R.L.Y. Act in Congress and the overwhelming opposition to it from breast cancer experts. "
Dr. Ross agrees: It`s well-known among epidemiologists that screenings don`t necessarily equate to lives saved, but it contradicts many people`s intuition on cancer. "
Mutations and Misstatements
According to an Associated Press report, The swine flu virus hasn`t mutated into a more deadly strain but there are early signs it is developing resistance to vaccine, the World Heath Organization`s chief said Monday " The vaccine is highly effective against the swine flu virus, though there were a small number of instances " about 25 in the world " of a vaccine-resistant flu. "
That is an bizarre misstatement, " says Dr. Ross. It`s good news that the new virus hasn`t mutated, but can someone tell me what a vaccine-resistant flu is? Vaccines are not antibiotics, and viruses don`t develop resistance to them. Surely, some people who get vaccinated get the flu anyway. That doesn`t mean the virus is `resistant` -- it`s more likely the person only mounted a reduced immune response from the vaccine, or that the antigens in the vaccine did not match the virus. "
A study published in the journal Circulation yesterday concludes that smoking bans in public places reduce the risk of heart attacks by as much as 36%. This report is a meta-analysis, " says Dr. Ross, which to my mind makes it even less rigorous or valid than doing such a study in a city, where similar studies have already been done and proven useless epidemiologically. They claim that avoiding second-hand smoke has more effect on heart disease rates than statin drugs, exercise, or even quitting actual smoking. It makes no sense. "
Stier has addressed claims like these before. [T]he evidence does not support the claim " that acute, transient exposure to [environmental tobacco smoke] increases heart-attack risk in healthy individuals, " he wrote in a 2007 piece in the New York Post. The lack of evidence hasn`t stopped Commissioner Thomas Frieden at the city Health Department, which is buying ads in The New York Times claiming that "just 30 minutes of exposure to second-hand smoke produces some of the same physical reactions that would occur from long-term smoking, and increases the risk of heart disease in non-smokers.` "
Thomas Frieden, who was behind this junk science back then, is now the head of the CDC, " adds Stier.
For more information, see ACSH`s publication on environmental tobacco smoke.
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Baltimore City on the Bandwagon
Baltimore City has joined the ranks of those who have banned trans fats in all food establishments. Trans fats are about as dangerous as any other saturated fat, " says Dr. Ross. The government intrusion to ban trans fats is completely unnecessary and unproductive. "