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Published:September 27th, 2009 11:23 EST
Fat, plus Flu in the Hand, Arm, and Nose

Fat, plus Flu in the Hand, Arm, and Nose

By SOP newswire2

By Curtis Porter

ACSH staffers welcome Vicki McKenna`s listeners who are joining us at our breakfast table. We got a huge response from Vicki and Jeff`s on-air offer to sign people up for our Morning Dispatch (MD) during their visit yesterday. MD relays insights from ACSH staffers during our morning meeting, at which we discuss current public health issues. Click here to catch up with some of our most recent Dispatches.

Morbidly Overestimated

ACSH`s staffers were disappointed by an Associated Press article reporting on a study by European researchers that predicts obesity will soon be the leading cause of cancer among women in Western countries.

This article is rife with falsehoods and misleading statements, " says ACSH`s Dr. Gilbert Ross. Obesity is responsible for "up to 20%` of cancers in the U.S.? I don`t know how you even get a study published with numbers as imprecise as these. It`s just not scientific. "

Now people are going to be saying obesity is more important than smoking in terms of death, and it`s not, " says ACSH`s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan. They say that obesity accounts for 8% of cancers in Europe. I`m not going argue with that, but we`re still looking at 36% or 37% caused by smoking. This is not to say that the impact of obesity on many diseases, including many cancers, isn`t considerable. But we don`t trust this study. "

This type of speculation doesn`t help us address public health priorities, " says ACSH`s Jeff Stier. We prefer relying on the data. And we`ve compiled that data and arranged it for you in an interactive and fun webpage called the Riskometer. "

For more information, see ACSH`s publication on obesity and its health effects.

Washing Hands: Vanity and Striving After Wind

Infectious disease experts are saying that washing hands may not be effective against the transmission of the H1N1 flu virus.

The same could easily be said about the seasonal flu virus, " says Dr. Ross. I`m pretty certain that there`s no difference in the way H1N1 and H3N2 viruses spread, but we never see stories like this for the seasonal flu, which kills thirty to forty thousand Americans every year. Maybe this will be good for raising awareness of the flu in general. "

There may be some controversy about the efficacy of hand washing when it comes to the flu, " says Stier. That it may not be as effective at preventing H1N1 as we`d have hoped does not diminish its importance as a public health measure. "

Vaccine Rumors

A study out of Canada is causing some concern by suggesting that those who received a flu vaccine last year are at a substantially increased risk of contracting the H1N1 flu virus.

First of all, this study has not been published, though it supposedly will be, " says Dr. Ross. Second, this signal has not been detected in other countries, notably Britain, the U.S., and Australia, which have looked for this connection but have not found evidence of any such thing. Of course, this is not to mention the fact that there`s absolutely no biological hypothesis as to what might explain this connection. "

In other vaccine news, healthcare officials revealed that the seasonal flu shot is twice as effective as the nasal spray vaccine in preventing infection, though they are unsure if the same principle holds for the H1N1 flu. We do not know what outcome will be for H1N1, " says Dr. Ross. Experts theorize that the nasal spray will be as effective for H1N1 as the shot. "

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