Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Some bullets

* This surprised me a bit, but a high quality trial finds that reducing salt intake over just a few years has a big impact on cardiovascular risk. I say it surprises me because I had been under the impression that only a minority of people are really salt sensitive -- but this shows a big benefit at the population level. The difficulty for those of us in the rich countries is that we get most of our salt from bread and other processed foods, not from the salt shaker. (As Francesco Cappuccio points out in an accompanying editorial.) In the category of processed foods we include staples like canned beans and vegetables, and tomato sauce. Most of literally cannot substantially reduce our salt intake unless we start baking our own bread, making all of our meals from scratch, and stop eating in restaurants. Cappuccio calls for legislation to force the food industry to reduce salt content. Not likely here in the land of the free and the home of the portable oxygen supply.

* Updating my previous posts about abstinence only sex education, here, and here, in which I described it as a case of "thinking backwards" from the conclusion to the justification, we now have the thinking forward version of the truth, starting with the evidence and following it where e'er it will take us. (Scroll down a bit and it's the top publication on the left. I didn't want to give you the direct link to the PDF because it's a big file.) A long-term, prospective study of more than 2,500 students, starting at age 11 or 12 and following them for up to six years, found that abstinence only sex education does not result in abstinence. It does not cause a delay in sexual activity, or a reduction in the number of sexual partners. So, whether you think teenagers should have sex or not, if you support abstinence only sex education, you support wasting taxpayer dollars. That may be faith based, but it's also stupid.

* Remember the Canadian Medical Association firing the editors of its journals because they published a study that upset its pharmacist sponsors? Revenge is a dish best served cold. More than a year later, the former staff have started an open access journal called, appropriately enough, Open Medicine. So take that, CMA, drug companies, corruption and elitism. Knowledge is power, and open access publishing is power to the people. And guess what? There's already news you can use in the first issue, about DTC advertising, and prostate cancer screening, and medical reporting. So go there and give them a high five. And of course, they're going on the sidebar here.

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