Monday, September 20, 2010

More on Monavie and other "Super Juices"

A Skeptoid episode from Brian Dunning that discusses the validity of the claims of these juices, most often sold through Multi-Level Marketing or MLM.

Pyamid Schemes and Multi-Level Marketing

Thinking about getting involved with a MLM?

Penn And Teller  Bullshit episode  Easy Money

Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs-the dangers (possibly)

Fluorescent bulbs have an interesting history starting with French astonomer Jean Picard noting a faint glow coming from his mercury barometer whenever he moved it.  Francis Hauksbee, forty years later, showed that when liquid mercury rubs against glass it produced a static electrical charge which in turn caused mecury vapour to glow.  Daniel MacFaralan Moore, who worked for Thomas Edison, started up a competing company manufacturing fluorescent tubes containing carbon dioxide (it riddled with problems but is the first example of fluorescent lights).  P. Cooper Hewitt demonstrated that mercury vapour was superior to other gases for producing light.  Unfortunately it produced a blue-green light.  Jacques Risler, in 1926, applied a coating to the inside the tubes that absorbed the ultraviolet light and re-emitted it as a nice visible light.  Compact Fluorescent bulbs were introduced in 1973 due to the energy crisis cause by the Middle East War at the time.

  Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFLs) are green.  They use 75 percent less power than incandescent bulbs.  This adds up to a savings of about $30/bulb and also less carbon dioxide emissions.  If every home in North America used one CFL it would be the equal to taking a million cars off the road. 

It is true that CFLs do contain mercury and is a possible source of pollution.  However, consider that coal-fired power plants put out mecury in the air.  If less energy is required, less coal is burned and therefore less mercury is released.   CFLs usually contain less than 5 milligrams (the size of a period on this page) of mercury (in comparison with the older type thermometers containing 500 milligrams).  So the amount in CFLs is hardly significant.

There have been many viral emails suggesting that when they break, CFLs require a special clean up crew.  This is false, and can end up costing one a lot of money (reports of $2000 have surfaced).  It is true that care needs to be exercised when cleaning a broken CFL.  The bulbs are disposed of at toxic waste depots as opposed as with ordinary household trash.  The mercury in the bulbs is actually recycled.  Clean up according to some sources:
  1. Ventilate the area
  2. Wear Gloves, dust mask and older clothing that covers the skin.
  3. Collect the larger pieces into a sealed container
  4. Collect the dust using a dust pan and small broom or two sheets of stiff paper (spill kits are also commercially available).  Use a vaccum for carpets.  Put inside sealed container
  5. Pat the area with the sticky side of duct or masking tape and then clean area with a damp cloth.
  6. Put all material used to clean up (clothes, rags, paper, tape) into a plastic bag.
  7. Label waste as Universal Waste-Broken Lamp and check with your locality for disposal requirements.
Other health concerns have arised as well due to CFLs.  They do flicker and that can cause migraines and eye strain.  Some people have claimed elecromagnetic sensitivity to them.  Thus far though, double blind tests have shown people who do claim electrosensitivity to not be able to identify when they are being subjective to an EMF.

Britian's Health Protection Agency investigated UV radiation from single and double envelope bulbs.  Single are the ones where the coils are visible where the double look almost like regular incandescent bulbs.   It was found that the double emitted almost no UV light while the single bulbs did emit enough to cause skin reddening, but only when exposure was continuous at a distance of less than 25 centimetres.  This poses little threat to the general population.  However, with certain diseases like Lupus, which increases the sensitivy to UV light, the single CFLs can be a problem.  It can cause rashes and serious skin lesions.

So CFLs are relatively safe and do no pose a great risk.  Some of the concerns do have their merits, as noted above, but are not at the level at which some viral emails suggest.  Just follow the clean-up (search for more detailed instructions) if required and choose the bulb best suited for your lifestyle and activities.

Science, Sense and Nonsense--Joe Schwarcz
Voodoo Science--Rober Park

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A cause of Autism

Well it's rare that I post something and not note it's "scammy ness" but this is in relation those who continue to say that autism is caused by vaccines.

Breast Cancer Myths....Or Are They?

There are some good facts and opinions in this piece
but there is also a lot of bunk. I will dissect each myth they propose and are against (which is an opinion as they state) one at a time.

Myth 1: Breast Cancer is not preventable
First, I didn't realise that people thought it wasn't preventable (to a degree). There are things we can do to reduce the risk of, not only breast cancer, but other forms as well. The article then mentions that the breast cancer industry "has so far refused to teach women even basic cancer prevention strategies"
Shows that the reality is quite different.

Myth 2: Pink ribbon products are sold to raise money to support breast cancer victims.
It falsely claims that 100% is used for recruitment of more patients.
The myth article writer then goes on to say that not a single grant has been provided for nutritional education (preventing by Vitamin D, anti-cancer herbs, supplements or to avoid dangerous cancer-causing food ingredients like sodium nitrite, MSG and chemical sweeteners.). I would assume this is because, as the American Institue of Cancer Research says "Most – if not all – of the purported links between MSG and cancer or other health scares are based on anecdotal evidence." Studies have been done for decades and it has been shown to be safe as a food additive.

Myth #3: The only proven treatments for breast cancer are chemotherapy and radiation
The article says the chemotherapy doesn't work and that the radiation causes cancer.
It does admit there is evidence that chemo shrinks tumors, but claims that the size doesn't matter. OK, some part truths here and some part misinformation. Reducing the size of the tumor does decrease it's ability to continue it's "cancerous" ways. Regardless though, there are other treatments

Myth #4: Chemotherapy is safe and doesn't cause permanent damage to your health
Ok, I think we all know it can cause problems such as hair loss and vomiting. Interesting though it doesn't mention this which is readily made available as a side effect

Myth #5: Regular mammograms are the best way to detect cancer
Claims that Mammograms harm 10 women for every one woman they help. By harm they claim that 10 would undergo unnecesary treatments. The study they mention does mention this, but it also mentions "Screening is likely to reduce breast cancer mortality. " You can see the whole paper here

Note too, that there are other ways to help with detection as well, including breast examination and also genetic testing. All 3 methods when working together help increase the detection and the reduces the false positives.
Shows a list of growing alternatives to x-ray mammorgrams.

Myth #6: BRCA-positive women should consider mastectomies to prevent cancer
Website claims: Cruciferous vegetables target BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, preventing cancer with nutrition.
It mentions "superfoods" which really there is no such thing. Now there is some current studies being done with Anti-angiogenics. You can see a talk about the works here:

Myth #7: The cancer non-profits are searching for a cure for cancer
It claims that Even if one was found, they would never allow a cure to be publicized: It would destroy the cancer treatment industry.
Let's think about this for one moment. A cure would mean money. And as you saw above, things are being publicized. Also see this:

Myth #8: There is no cure for breast cancer
They claim that There are MANY natural cures for breast cancer available right now
If you view the William Li's video above, you'll see that it's not exactly at a "cure" level yet, but more of a management. I won't get into too much about "natural" and "herbal" dangers because that is covered elsewhere, but quickly will say that a lot has not been shown to work. Most just has anecdotal evidence.

Myth #9: If my mother had breast cancer, I'll get it too
They claim Breast Cancer is not caused by bad genes; it's caused by bad diets
Well, we already established that genetic testing is viable. It has found that 5-10% is due to genetic or hereditary factors.

Myth #10: Sunlight causes cancer
They claim Sunlight generates Vitamin D in your skin, which prevents 78% of ALL cancers
So much miswording. Visible light does not cause cancer, but Sunlight also includes Ultra-Violet rays which is a known carcinogen. UV, Gamma, X-rays are all over 480kJ/mol which has enough energy to break covalent bonds which can cause problems obviously. Vitamin D can only do so much. As we all know, extended exposure increases risk.

This is just the tip of the iceberg as I could go into more detail about each of their points, but suffice to say, they are spouting a lot of misinformation which is dangerous.

September 29th add on:

Found this and thought it related nicely to the above.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Vaccine Ingredients

A New InFact video from Brian Dunning about one of our favourite topics

Pam Cooking Oil

 I was forwarded a disturbing link about Pam containing Butane and Propane. Well of course, like a good skeptic and scambuster, I did some quick research. First looking at the link I saw that the picture showing the ingredients was actually ISOBUTANE and Propane as propellants. Yes isobustane is different from butane.
Propane is actually odourless and colourless in it's natural state (they add the smell for safety reasons for the barbeques). It is also non-toxic and used as a propellant in a lot of "aerosol" cans.

Obviously if one ingests or more appropriately inhales it directly there are potential problems of increased heart rate, dizzyness, headaches.... Ingested, it might induce vomiting, nausea, internal hemorrhaging. Again, you have to consider the dosage and this is only through large dosing of propane by itself.

Isobutane is used a food additive and propellant as well. Relatively harmless. It is flammable. Also do not inhale (like a druggy) as it may cause dizzyness, irregular heartbeat, asphyxiation. Of course too, this is direct inhalation (of the gas itself...not Pam). Using a one second burst on a pan is perfectly safe as the exposure is so minimal with it being away from the nose, the duration of the spray, and the well ventilated space.

This link is a MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) which is a document about the risks of substances (see WHMIS).

In other words, this is some of the best information you can have about the dangers of a substance.

So relatively speaking, Pam is very safe. There does seem to be some valid concern over the use of Pam on pots and pans in regards to it building up over time and therefore reducing the non-stickness of the pans.

Pam is also good for less calorie intake.

I don't use cooking sprays myself as I have found them not to my liking in regards to performance over time and taste. But this choice is not made because of any health concerns or supposed dangers.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Oh Oprah!

A very interesting article about Oprah and some of her guests. I'll be honest and say, that I had some trouble getting through this article. I was appalled at some of the misinformation that it says that Oprah is spreading on her show.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

How to Make a Difference--Responsible Vaccine advocacy

Another article mentioning pertussis and the importance of herd immunity.

Whooping cough comeback

It would appear, according to this article, that whooping cough is on the rise again. Reading the article, it does mention the anti-vaccination movement but also links to the fact that the vaccine is not 100 percent effective and thusly the necessity for the "herd" to be immunized to help reduce the number of cases.