"It is true, and thus the question of whether it is sad or happy has no meaning whatever."
Bernhard Schlink

Science is best when discussed: leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Ups and Downs 

Sometimes, especially in health, stuff designed to make things better don't work that well. The FDA has approved the first vaccine for avian (H5N1) flu, but some are concerned that it's only effective in about 45% of people. The prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, given to many men to check for prostate cancer, is not very good at predicting benign versus malignant tumors. The problem there is that treatment for prostate cancer is expensive, painful, and usually has unpleasant after-effects (like impotence), and you don't want to do it unnecessarily. And then there ethanol-fueled cars.

Hailed as an eco-friendlier source, ethanol might just be better left in drinks: ethanol-fueled cars might cause a dramatic rise in ground-level ozone. I don't really buy this study, as it fails to account for why the outcome hasn't been seen in Brazil, which has a major ethanol-based fuel economy, but I also don't buy ethanol-as-fuel as a good solution to our energy woes, so...

On the upside, there's good news for those who like "natural" and herbal remedies! It seems that older women who breastfeed are less likely to develop breast cancer. So using your breasts is good for them. (insert 12-year-old snickering here) On the herbal front, it appears that the Ayurvedic blend triphala is a potent killer of pancreatic tumors, and Hopkins researchers have developed a class of oxidising compounds which mimic Artemisinin's malaria-killing powers, only much more strongly. OK, not precisely herbal, but based-on.

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