February 2, 2012
The Money Cage
By Larry Bartels
That’s the message I take from a recent book by James Gilligan, a psychiatrist at New York University. In Why Some Politicians Are More Dangerous than Others, Gilligan documents a striking statistical connection between changing rates of violent death in the United States over the past century and the party of the president. He concludes that Republican administrations are “risk factors for lethal violence,” and that the only reason they have not produced “disastrously high epidemic levels” of suicides and homicides is that Democrats have repeatedly undone their damage. (I’ve added handsome hand-coloring to Gilligan’s key figure in order to highlight the partisan pattern.)
Gilligan found that, over the 108 years covered by his analysis (1900-2007), the age-adjusted suicide rate increased by an average of 9.7 per million over each Republican four-year term but decreased by an average of 11.1 per million over each Democratic term. The age-adjusted homicide rate increased by an average of 3.6 per million over each Republican term but decreased by an average of 4.2 per million over each Democratic term.
These differences may sound small, but they are not. According to the CDC’s latest National Vital Statistics Report, there were 37,793 suicides in the U.S. in 2010 (122 per million population) and 16,065 homicides (52 per million population). Applying Gilligan’s figures to those baseline levels (and assuming 1% population growth per year) implies a projected total of 213,000 violent deaths over the next four years under a Democratic president, but 236,000 under a Republican—a difference of 23,000 lives. (These estimates reflect my calculations based on Gilligan’s data; even they greatly understate the long-run implications of the partisan differences he identifies, since a higher or lower death rate at the end of one term becomes a higher or lower baseline for subsequent fluctuations.)
October 18, 2011
By: Ethan A. Huff
Overuse and overprescription of antibiotic drugs has become a widely known culprit in causing the emergence of antibiotic-resistant “superbugs,” as well as the onset of digestive and other health problems, caused by the elimination of beneficial gut flora. But a new review published in the journal Nature suggests that such gut flora alterations could be permanent.
Professor Martin Blaser from New York University’s (NYU) Langone Medical Center has been studying the long-term effects of antibiotics on gut flora, which has already confirmed a definitive link between antibiotics and the disruption of beneficial bacteria in the digestive system. But what his research also seems to confirm is the possibility that such disruption might be permanent, at least in some individuals, and thus carry with it lifelong health consequences.
“Early evidence from my lab and others hints that, sometimes, our friendly flora never fully recover,” writes Blaser in his shocking editorial. “These long-term changes to the beneficial bacteria within people’s bodies may even increase our susceptibility to infections and disease. Overuse of antibiotics could be fueling the dramatic increase in conditions such as obesity, type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, allergies and asthma, which have more than doubled in many populations.”
Blaser suggests that, even at this preliminary stage, restrictions be put in place to clamp down on the rampant overprescription of antibiotics to young children and pregnant women, a misguided practice that is likely responsible for causing each new generation to “[begin] life with a smaller endowment of ancient microbes than the last.”
If antibiotics truly are responsible for causing a permanent imbalance of gut microbiome in some people, then supplementation with probiotics may also be necessary throughout such individuals’ entire lives in order to simply maintain a normal, healthy balance.
At this point in time, vastly reducing the prescription rates of antibiotics to people of all ages — and particularly to young children and pregnant mothers — is of first priority. Along with this is a much-needed ban on the use of growth hormones and antibiotics in conventional cattle-raising operations, which end up in the food products eaten by millions of Americans every single day.
September 20, 2010
The Raw Story
By Raw Story
Extra labeling only confuses the consumers – biotech spokesman says
That the Food and Drug Administration is opposed to labeling foods that are genetically modified is no surprise anymore, but a report in the Washington Post indicates the FDA won’t even allow food producers to label their foods as being free of genetic modification.
In reporting that the FDA will likely not require the labeling of genetically modified salmon if it approves the food product for consumption, the Post‘s Lyndsey Layton notes that the federal agency “won’t let conventional food makers trumpet the fact that their products don’t contain genetically modified ingredients.”
“This to me raises questions about whose interest the FDA is protecting,” House Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) told the Post. Kucinich has repeatedly introduced bills in the House that would require the labeling of genetically modified foods.
David Edwards, director of animal biotechnology at the Biotechnology Industry Organization, told the Post that “extra labeling only confuses the consumer. … It differentiates products that are not different. As we stick more labels on products that don’t really tell us anything more, it makes it harder for consumers to make their choices.”
The Post notes that the debate over genetically modified salmon, which will be decided at an FDA advisory panel meeting this week, “comes at a time when Americans seem to want to know more about their food – where it is grown, how it is produced and what it contains.”
“The public wants to know and the public has a right to know,” New York University nutrition professor Marion Nestle told the Post. “I think the agency has discretion, but it’s under enormous political pressure to approve [the salmon] without labeling.”