Health and Medicine

Preempting the annual misrepresentation of NZ dental health data by anti-fluoride activists - Open Parachute

Ken Perrott Jan 23, 2019

The latest NZ school dental service data again confirms that community water fluoridation is effective. The data show benefits of up to about 30% improvement in oral health. But, anti-fluoride activists will, once again, reject this evidence and instead cherry-pick the data to support their claims. The NZ Ministry of Health (MoH) has posted the latest summary of child dental … Read More

Strongest opponents of GM think they know best but actually know the least - Code for life

Grant Jacobs Jan 17, 2019

A study just out shows that the strongest opponents of GM (genetic modification) think they know the subject well, but in fact know the least. What does this means for science communication? Especially contentious topics. Doubly so where deliberate misinformation is being offered. Similarly are their lessons for politicians? In New Zealand politicians seem too timid to try correct … Read More

Fluoridation: Another study shows stopping fluoridation bad for child tooth decay - Open Parachute

Ken Perrott Dec 20, 2018

  Stopping community water fluoridation in Alaska’s capital city, Juneau, caused an increase in child tooth decay In the last week, Windsor in Ontario, Canada, voted to reinstate community water fluoridation (CWF) 5 years after it was stopped because of opposition. This time the City Council was swayed by the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit’s Oral Health 2018 Report which found the percentage … Read More

Genome-edited babies – what’s the worry? (#1) - Code for life

Grant Jacobs Dec 03, 2018

He Jiankui’s[1] experiment has brought the world’s first deliberately gene-edited babies into the world, twins nicknamed Nana and Lulu. He edited the DNA of their embryos, hoping to make them resistant to infection by HIV. I see a lot of people writing comments like, “Genome-edited babies – what’s the worry? We’re going to start it sometime. We can start here.” … Read More

Artificially sweetened beverages: What does the latest evidence tell us on health benefits versus harm? - Public Health Expert

Public Health Expert Nov 29, 2018

Dr Cristina Cleghorn, Dr Amanda Jones, Dr Andrea Teng, Professor Tony Blakely, Professor Nick Wilson Reducing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) is an important current policy issue internationally. One suggested strategy is for people to swap to artificially sweetened beverages (ASBs). But there are multiple concerns about potential health risks of ASBs – although limited evidence and hard data. This … Read More

Human gene-edited babies: hold the horses - Code for life

Grant Jacobs Nov 28, 2018

Time moves on; this story has too. Readers might like to try my more recent piece, Genome-edited babies – what’s the worry?, which covers the biological aspects of what was done. For those following the news that a Hong Kong-based researcher claims to have brought to term human gene-edited babies: hold the horses. I’ve been trying to put a story on … Read More

Protection of teeth by fluoride confirmed – yet again - Open Parachute

Ken Perrott Nov 26, 2018

The protective role of fluoride in teeth has been confirmed, yet again. A new study nicely demonstrates how incorporation of even a small amount of fluoride into the surface layer of teeth protects them from the acid attack which leads to tooth decay. Researchers measured the ablation, or loss of surface material from hydroxyapatite before fluoridation and after fluoridation. It … Read More

Glyphosate and TIME magazine: writer employed by advocacy group a dubious choice - Code for life

Grant Jacobs Nov 24, 2018

TIME magazine has a story on DeWayne ‘Lee’ Johnston who took Monsanto to court claiming RoundUp caused his non-Hodgkin lymphoma.[1] The story has obvious appeal, but is crying out for balance and it’s provenance is, to be kind, awkward. I’d love to read his account of his experiences since the trial — but from a source I … Read More

The Ethical Quandary of Human Infection Studies - Guest Work

Guest Author Nov 22, 2018

Linda Nordling In February of last year, 64 healthy adult Kenyans checked into a university residence in the coastal town of Kilifi. After a battery of medical tests, they proceeded, one by one, into a room where a doctor injected them with live malaria parasites. Left untreated, the infection could have sickened or even killed them, since malaria claims hundreds … Read More