nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Some Doom-and-Gloom...But Light-hearted

Physician recommends limited use of cell phones to minimize cancer risk, other health problems.

The AP (7/27, Yates, Borenstein) reports that Ronald Herberman, M.D., director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, "issued an unprecedented warning to his faculty and staff Wednesday: Limit cell phone use because of the possible risk of cancer." This warning "is contrary to numerous studies that don't find a link between cancer and cell phone use, and a public lack of worry by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration."

Still, the UPI (7/24) quotes Dr. Herberman as saying, "Recently, I have become aware of the growing body of literature linking long-term cell phone use to possible adverse health effects, including cancer. ... Although the evidence is still controversial, I am convinced that there are sufficient data to warrant issuing an advisory to share some precautionary advice on cell phone use."

Doc D: This comes up about once every three years. I’m not aware of any “literature linking …cell phone use” to health problems. There are anecdotal reports: when summarized, they mostly say “I (he/she) got cancer and the only thing I can think of as a cause is the cell phone.” Make up your own mind, but consider the biology—what could be the mechanism involved? We’ve done tissue studies with frequencies, and at power levels, used by cell phones and it appears that there’s no measureable penetration of the skin. No matter how often you hold it up to your head, nothing gets in.

I admit that it’s a little scary to be surrounded by so much radiative energy, from radio, tv, phones, wifi, microwaves, satellites. I feel like a pincushion. But it’s trivial next to the amount of natural radiation that zips through our bodies all day, every day. If this bothers you, wear a hat: it won’t do any good, but you’ll feel like you did something.

House passes resolution allowing lawmakers to avoid considering President's Medicare proposals.

The AP (7/25, Freking) reports, "Congressional efforts to deal with growing Medicare spending will be set aside for another year under a rule change approved by the House on Thursday." President Bush previously "proposed having wealthier beneficiaries pay higher monthly premiums for the program's prescription-drug benefit, as well as limiting punitive damages awarded in medical malpractice cases." The proposed changes aimed "to keep general revenues from covering more than 45 percent of overall Medicare costs through at least 2013." But, the "resolution that the House passed on Thursday suspends" the requirement for the House "to consider the President's recommendations on an expedited basis."

Doc D: The “Do-Nothing” Congress continues on the same path. The problem is that the present rate of spending on federally funded programs cannot be sustained. The three major entitlement programs now account for over 50% of the federal budget, about double what the percentage was in 1965 (27%). Turn that around: we have less than half the budget to deal with everything else: energy, labor, justice, commerce, foreign affairs, defense, environment, education, community development, agriculture, transportation, etc.

This is not a budget deficit issue: The deficit has been falling for the last four years (413B to 162B) and we’re on a course that it will reach zero in ~4yrs. The war ain’t the problem: defense spending as a part of GDP has increased by only ~0.5% since ‘03. (This is all Budget Office data. You can see it http://www.cbo.gov/ if you’ve got the time to dig through it.)

I’m willing to bet any of you that, no matter who gets elected President, there will be no fundamental reform. The thousands of competing interests will make it impossible. Oh, sure, whoever is in office will accomplish something small that sounds really high-minded, and will then declare victory. The people who voted for him will buy into it, those who didn’t won’t. The Talking Heads on TV will make millions off our consternation.

AMA to investigate feasibility of offering incentives for organs.

On its website, MSNBC (6/25, Aleccia) reported that "[m]ost people who donate organs after death need no reward beyond altruism, but others could use a little nudge, according to the nation's doctors." But, according to the AMA, it is unclear "what kind of incentives -- and in what amounts -- might encourage potential organ donors and their family members to follow through…. During a recent meeting, the AMA "voted to move forward with plans to amend the law to allow pilot studies to settle the incentive issue." ….’studying incentives for donation after death should be acceptable in a nation where nearly 100,000 people remain on a waiting list for organs, and nearly 10 percent die before a transplant becomes available."

Doc D: If it’s my organs that are being donated, I don’t think I’m going to be enticed by an incentive….Clearly I won’t need them (the organs, that is) as I will have left the Corporate Plane (or This Vale of Tears, if you prefer). So, what could be a good incentive for me to donate? A new car? A Timeshare? A toaster?

Opinions are entirely my own. Quotations from AMA Morning Rounds (© U S News Custom Briefings)

Doc D

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