To place children with two gay men when an adoptive mother and father are available, just to uphold a brutal dogma, is a sickening assault on family life

Right, just to justify another mention of the redoubtable Melanie (although, in my defence, she’s been extremely busy recently), I’ll start with the conclusion of her column and work my way backwards:

“The underlying agenda behind gay adoption, as it is behind the whole gay rights movement, is nothing to do with protecting the rights of gay people. Were it really so, there would be no objection. No-one should be discriminated against simply on the grounds of his or her sexuality.

That does not mean, however, that gay lifestyles must be regarded as of equal value to heterosexual households when it comes to the raising of children. To say that anyone who makes such a distinction is prejudiced is to turn reality on its head.

But that is indeed the whole point of the gay rights movement – to destroy the very notion of heterosexual norms of sexual behaviour and the definition of the family so that gay lifestyles can present themselves as ‘normal’.”

Which is an opinion.

So how did we reach this bold conclusion? Well, via

“The reason why adoption is so successful at raising healthy, well-adjusted children is that it replicates as far as possible the biological mother and father whose presence in the family is so crucial to the well-being of their children.

The prevailing argument that all types of family are as good as each other as far as the children are concerned simply isn’t true. While some children emerge relatively unscathed from irregular households, children need to be brought up by the two people ‘who made me’ – or, in adoptive households, in a family which closely replicates that arrangement.

Where that does not happen, the child’s deepest sense of his or her identity as a human being is at some level damaged.”

Now I like my sub-Freudian rhetoric about concept formation in the young as much as the next man, but sometimes I find myself yearning for something a little more substantial. Doesn’t Melanie have anything more compelling to hang her conclusion on? Well, as it happens, there is this:

“Such people routinely claim that research shows there are no adverse outcomes for children from same-sex adoption. These claims are totally untrue. The fact is that there are virtually no studies of children adopted by gay couples – or raised by male same-sex couples. In general, studies of same-sex child rearing are in turn extremely thin on the ground and methodologically too unsound to be authoritative.”

Now here is the crux. This is an empirical question – there is a right answer and a wrong answer. Or, if we’re picky, answers which have more support from evidence and answers which have less. Your average person on the street, although they have access to the evidence to make this judgement, tend not to have the time. We could find out, but we have lives to lead. Instead we rely on authority. A comparable example would be a war abroad – in principal we could find out what’s going on ourselves, but we’re busy. You can see where this is leading. Newspapers, surely, are there to inform. On matters of opinion it’s all well and good to say ‘there is an editorial line – we are pro-X and anti-Y’, but on matters of fact you’re either informing or misinforming. Leaning as we do on the authority of those who have the time and inclination to look at the evidence, we should be able to expect, at the very least, that newspapers debating fact have looked at the evidence.

Which is why I get worried when the Mail routinely denies climate change, ignoring bodies of evidence and scientific studies. Or, as now, when Melanie ignores scientific data en route to telling the non-homosexual members of her readership that the Left is marginalising them and their way of life in favour of reprobates¹. If Melanie tells us there’s no evidence for healthy children from same-sex relationships and we know no better, we assume she probably knows better than we do. She has the evidence, we don’t.

Except she doesn’t. She denies that there is any, then speculates on what she believes is probably true. As it happens, she’s wrong. As one set of researchers puts it, this is a “growth industry” (Stacey and Biblarz, 2001). I thought I’d start with something nice and small scale – a single, peer reviewed study from an academic journal. A quick straw poll of journals with likely sounding names dredged up Brewaeys et al. (1997), who concluded “These results, like those of prior research (Steckel, 1987; Patterson, 1994, 1995; Flacks et al., 1995) indicate that child and family development in lesbian mother families is similar to that of heterosexual families.”. Feeling that this might just be a lucky stab, I tried to find a multi-article review² in a peer reviewed journal, instantly alighting on Patterson (2006) (“Does parental sexual orientation have an important impact on child or adolescent development? Results of recent research provide no evidence that it does. In fact, the findings suggest that parental sexual orientation is less important than the qualities of family relationships. “)

There was still a risk of lucky picking, so I went one further – are there any serious medical/psychological associations who have voiced an opinion on the matter? As it happens, yes – the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association and even the American Psychoanalytic Association support adoption by same-sex couples, to name but three. I have not found any serious organisation with a position on the matter who are against it.

This is not hard. This information is readily available with only the lightest searching. Melanie and the fact-checkers at the Mail have no excuse for not knowing that when she says “These claims are totally untrue”, her claim is, in fact, totally untrue. A newspaper isn’t just a throwaway item – if it weren’t able to influence they wouldn’t be wasting their time with it.  They have a responsibility to come down on the right side of factual arguments, whatever the position they want to take in debates on ‘morality’ or ‘standards’. To do otherwise is to cheat and fool their audience into believing that their bigotry carries the weight of scientific fact.


¹ And just while we’re thinking of the Left; surely Melanie has her left/right distinctions wrong – human rights are, and always are, libertarian matters. They are about what people cannot do to you. When we talk about the right to adopt, we’re not talking about granting homosexuals a boon, we’re talking about not standing in their way. Which is what she’s talking about when she conjures her evidence that same-sex partnerships harm children – there is a reason, she feels, to stand in the way, to annul what would be a right in the natural scheme of things. She’s totally upside-down, the Right should be rallying to the cause of the individual, not weighing itself down with tradition and small-c-consevatism.

² When originally published, this said ‘meta-analysis’. I corrected it because it wasn’t a meta-analysis, and I wanted to look like less of an idiot. Apologies for the mistake.³

³ Although, if you want a meta-analysis, try one which informed the decision of the American Academy of Pediatrics (above): Allen and Burrell (1997) Comparing the Impact of Homosexual and Heterosexual Parents on Children: Meta-Analysis of Existing Research Journal of Homosexuality 32:19-35

Strange Ontology: week beginning 19th January 2009

The Leistikow et al. (2008) (presented by the Mail as brand new, by a guy with a differently spelt surname) is open access. In the ‘sunbeds are actually OK’ piece, the author mentions studies in the abstract, so I’ve picked some examples which he may have been considering, indicating them with an eg.

Original research

20th January

The gold-dust jabs that can cut your cholesterol

A report on: Thaxton et al. (2009 ) Templated Spherical High Density Lipoprotein Nanoparticles J. Am. Chem. Soc. doi: 10.1021/ja808856z

for the “one major investigation” that was halted, see here.

21st January

Three cups of tea a day ‘slashes breast cancer risk’ for under 50s

A report on: Kumar et al. (2009 ) Tea Consumption and Risk of Breast Cancer Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention 18:341-345

also refers to: Ruxton (2008 ) Black tea and health Nutrition Bulletin 33:91-101

22nd January

Thalidomide ‘offers new hope for prostate cancer patients’

A report on: Figg et al. (2009 ) A Double-Blind Randomized Crossover Study of Oral Thalidomide Versus Placebo for Androgen Dependent Prostate Cancer Treated With Intermittent Androgen Ablation The Journal of Urology doi:10.1016/j.juro.2008.11.026

It’s not just lung cancer, smoking ‘is tied to 70% of ALL male cancer deaths’

A report on: Leistikow et al. (2008 ) Male tobacco smoke load and non-lung cancer mortality associations in Massachusetts BMC Cancer 8:341

24th January

Top cancer doctor says you SHOULD have a sunbed session

Among others (non-cancer related), this mentions:

(eg) Garland et al. (1989) Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and colon cancer: eight-year prospective study Lancet II:1176-1178

(eg) Garland et al. (1990) Geographic variation in breast cancer mortality in the United States: a hypothesis involving exposure to solar radiation Preventitve Medicine 19:614-622

(eg) Ahonen et al. (2000) Prostate cancer risk and prediagnostic serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels (Finland) Cancer Causes & Control 11:847-852

Lappe et al. (2007 ) Vitamin D and calcium supplementation reduces cancer risk: results of a randomized trial American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 85:1586-1591

Causes in brief

19th January

Pictured: How a healthy 10-year-old girl would turn into an obese woman if she failed to eat properly

“London schoolchildren have the worst ‘fat’ rates in the country with nearly a quarter overweight by the time they reach secondary school.

This puts them at risk of serious illnesses such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease.”

What EVERY man (and his wife) should know about prostate cancer

“A diagnosis of prostate cancer, the most common cancer affecting men in the UK, can be a devastating blow. More than 10,000 men every year die from this disease, and nearly 35,000 men are diagnosed with it.”

Forget fish oil and sudoku – it’s exercise that makes you brainier

“Many of us struggle to achieve the recommended minimum of 30 minutes of aerobic activity five times a week, even though we know it will help protect us from diabetes, heart disease, cancer and strokes.”

20th January

‘I’ve never felt better since losing a breast’: Olivia Newton-John on how positive thinking helped her beat cancer

“Just one of the latest breakthroughs [ made by the Cambridge Breast Cancer Research Unit] is the isolation and identification of ‘circulating tumour cells’ – cancer cells, which are spread through the blood supply. Doctors have known that these circulating cells are often present in people with advanced cancer.”

Ukrainian president Victor Yushchenko’s ugly poison scars have disappeared

“High exposure to dioxins can cause cancer”

24th January

Health notes: The campaign that’s sealed with a loving kiss

“Only one child under 15 in 600 has any form of cancer”

Super sarnies from super chefs … with extra credit crunch

“This is great because it has lots of spices in it, particularly turmeric, which contains curcuminoids that have anti-cancer properties.”


20th January

Free drugs for cancer victims as England takes a prescription U-turn… one year after the Scots

“Cancer  patients in England can apply for free NHS prescriptions from today.”

Health news: High-tech wound dressing, allergy vaccine and hair loss prevention gel

“A new gel has been developed to prevent hair loss  –  and damage to the scalp  –  resulting from radiotherapy treatment for cancer.”

21st January

Thousands of women are injecting illegal instant tan drug that could wreck their health

“One of the main concerns among health professionals is that the main ingredient activates melanocytes in the skin. These are the cells that become cancerous in malignant melanoma, so doctors fear users could in fact bring on skin cancer in the long term.”

22nd January

Link ‘made’ between 1950s South Pacific nuclear tests and cancer, veterans claim

“A courtroom packed with members of the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association (BNTVA) listened as prosecutor Benjamin Browne QC told Mr Justice Foskett: ‘Thus the government accepts the paper, and independent scientific evidence of the highest repute demonstrates that there is a link between the results of that paper and cancer incidence.”

Arrogant, ignorant and out of his depth, is Banana Boy Miliband our worst Foreign Secretary ever?

I’ve touched previously on the paranoid style in Daily Mail articles, but I thought this was quite impressive even by usual standards.

“Beyond hectoring this country’s allies in this way, Miliband also remains a global warming zealot. This is even though the world’s climate is actually cooling, the ice is expanding, the seas aren’t rising at a rate which should concern anyone and there is overwhelming evidence that the whole man-made global warming panic is an anti-west scam of unprecedented proportions.”

I’ve spoken before about climate change in the Mail and I’ll not do it again so soon. What I find more interesting is the idea that it’s a conspiracy  – who by, and for what purpose? Is the West ripping off itself, or is this some sort of evil developing world scheme to hobble our once proud industry further? How have they managed it? I mean, it is a hell of a scheme – it’s not just Miliband they’ve fooled/bought, this con is big. A lot of people who really should know better have gone and got the wrong answer to a simple either-or question. That’s a good scam.

“Much of this comes from a way of looking at the world through a highly ideological and distorting prism. Miliband is very much a child of the post-modern era in which the dominant  belief system of the progressive classes comprises ‘soft power’ – under which negotiation, legal processes and compromise take the place of war whose objective is actually to defeat an enemy with an unconscionable and non-negotiable agenda; ‘trans-nationalism’, under which the nation state is defined as the source of all the ills of the world; and ‘cultural relativism’, under which the west refuses to hold itself superior in its values to the third world, whose ‘narrative’ of its own oppression and powerlessness thus trumps all attempts by the west to defend itself against the attacks the third world mounts upon it.”

I admit that this juxtaposition reads a little strangely, there were some intervening paragraphs, but I’m assuming that the argument is consistent, and this is the first bit that would seem to reflect back on the dastardly scheme to scam the West. Turns out that all those Tuvaluans with their plans to live in New Zealand once their nation submerges are really only trying to undermine Western values with their narratives of oppression. First the petty cultural relativists¹ let them take our light bulbs, and next it’ll be our wives, castles and prejudices.

What this misses is the perfectly reasonable middle ground between mea culpa and right all along – that the nation state, while having its plus points, can also be guilty of some fairly dodgy things. For example, the system of propping up odious dictatorships as a protection of ones own people is a rum one, as are protectionist tariffs and the Olympics. We can safely question these without giving in to self-flagellation – think of it not as relativism but healthy jingoistic introspection. Thinking things through, we might find that we are, in fact, responsible for some of the ills of the world, and that some ways of improving things may be available through negotiation with those we’ve disadvantaged (or ‘wronged’, should you wish to be accurate).

The idea that we can just pretend that the damage we sometimes cause doesn’t happen is one we should have grown out of before hitting school. We can’t pull girls hair and claim that they’re making it up when they go crying to mummy – it didn’t work then and it doesn’t work now. Ad hominem attacks ( “a twerp of the first order”) won’t change that. And claiming that the crafty poor majority are coming to steal you incandescent light bulbs under false pretences before accusing  other people of disconnecting from reality won’t either.


¹ As an aside, she’s right about cultural relativism – to suggest that ‘x is wrong’ is the same as ‘x is wrong for me, but other people may disagree and are entitled to their opinion’ seems to me to misunderstand the meaning of ‘wrong’. Presumably we’re none of us relativist about, for example, rape – when we say that is wrong, we’re saying exactly what we mean. I’m not sure how ‘chauvinism is wrong’ or ‘causing animals unnecessary suffering is wrong’ are different – that is to say, what makes them different has never been adequately explained to me.

Strange Ontology: Week beginning 12th January

Wardle et al. (2009) is full-text. The article promoting the healing mineral water has gone into ‘other’ rather than ‘original research’ on the grounds that there’s no evidence of peer review and it sounds a little bit dubious.

Original research

12th January

How a ‘gluttony gene’ makes you keep eating when you’re full

A report on: Wardle et al. (2009 ) The FTO gene and measured food intake in children International Journal of Obesity 33:42-45

Also mentioning: Frayling et al. (2007 ) A Common Variant in the FTO Gene Is Associated with Body Mass Index and Predisposes to Childhood and Adult Obesity Science 316: 889 – 894

Can a £40 holiday jab prevent skin cancer? Promising new research shows vaccine can reduce up to 70% of cases

A report on: Mastrangelo et al. (2009) Does yellow fever 17D vaccine protect against melanoma? Vaccine 27:588-591

13th January

Mouthwash ’causes oral cancer’ and should be pulled from supermarkets, say experts

A report on: McCullough and Farah (2008 ) The role of alcohol in oral carcinogenesis with particular reference to alcohol-containing mouthwashes Australian Dental Journal 53:302 – 305

Health news: Eat an egg a day for a bonny baby, a new hearing test takes just seconds and how measles could fight cancer

A report on: Msaouel et al. (2009 ) Engineered measles virus as a novel oncolytic therapy against prostate cancer The Prostate 69:82 – 91

18th January

Taking the Pill and HRT ‘undermines women’s natural defences against cancer

A report on:  Pauklin et al. (2009 ) Estrogen directly activates AID transcription and function The Journal of Experimental Medicine doi:10.1084/jem.20080521

also mentioned is the Million Woman Study.

Causes in brief

12th January

The death of the diet: Eat butter, sip cocktails and nibble chocolate

“Most importantly, Blum points out that it is not the quantity of fat in your diet that could cause breast cancer, but the quality of fat. Fabulous fats  –  as well as dairy, these are found in grapeseed, olive oil, nuts and seeds  –  should take pride of place in your larder.”

“More cancers are caused, she notes, through lack of vitamin D [than by over-exposure to UV light]”

How to add years to your life: Own a pet, clear out the clutter and look at a nice view

“Men who ejaculate frequently are also less likely to develop prostate cancer.”

“Married people have been shown to have higher survival rates in some cancer cases, for example.”

“[Divorces] also risk increased levels of cancer, pneumonia, high blood pressure and cirrhosis of the liver.”

14th January

Now women are warned herbal remedies for the menopause ‘could damage health’

“Previous research has also linked black cohosh, a relative of the buttercup, with an increased risk of liver damage and breast cancer.”

16th January

Warning issued over mineral supplement drink containing ‘dangerous levels of arsenic’

“‘There are two chemical forms of arsenic, the more dangerous form which is present in this drink is associated with an increased risk of lung, skin and bladder cancer.”

17th January

A smear test would have saved my life

“In two thirds of cases, cervical cancer is caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) which is so common that the vast majority of sexually active men and women will come into contact with it.”


12th January

Health news: Special socks for diabetics, fish to combat vision loss and bowel disease tests

Including an ad for these guys.

14th January

Women worry more about getting fat than getting cancer

The poll, of more than 1,000 women, found that ageing is the second biggest health fear – above cancer, heart disease and infertility.”

15th January

The spring water that really could hold back the hands of time, according to scientists

An ad for these guys.

Poverty? It’s just a lie the Left uses to destroy the middle class

What I find interesting about today’s column by Peter Hitchens is how close he is to those he opposes without realising it. Take his line on selective schools:

“New Labour’s real untouchable Clause Four has, for the past five decades, been its furious, foaming-at-the-mouth hatred for selective state schools. Why? Because such schools offered real social mobility, earned by merit.”

Now, he’s right that selective schooling is meritocratic, up to a point. Its limitation as a system is that not everyone starts from the same point – as he says slightly earlier in relation to child poverty  “the children in our most deprived households have no responsibility at all for the conditions they live in”, and the same is true of any child. Selective schooling appears to offer every child a chance to climb the greasy class ladder, but below a certain level your chances of having the support, facilities or environment that would allow you to pass the 11+ are fairly small. In a two-tier system, attendance at a selective school offers sufficient advantage to confirm middle-class status while non-attendance reduces your chances of achieving it further. Rather than being a avenue of improvement from one class to another, selective schooling acts to entrench social position. In a selective system, the children who have no responsibility for the conditions they live in become the parents who have no responsibility – they follow the only path open to them, model their behaviour on that which surrounds them (Peter’s “grim mental diet of TV slurry and an almost total absence of good examples in their lives”) and raise children just as innocent of it all as they were.

The reason for the focus on child poverty isn’t because children make us gooey eyed, but more the practical consideration that if you can get them while they’re young, you have an opportunity to break with the past – in the same way as the vision of a meritocratic selection process moving children up from one class to the next. The Labour scheme is, in that sense, identical to the Hitchens scheme. It’s also similar in that, thus far, it’s failed. Peter is right to question it in exactly the same way that we have a right to question the failure of selective schooling to end poverty previously.

To do so on the grounds that:

“[Labour ministers] just aim to ‘close the gap’ between them and the remaining working households, the hated ‘middle class’.”

seems a little short-sighted though. Essentially the complaint here is that the taxation system that has been imposed has been imperfectly redistributive, with the money coming from the wrong people. However true that is, the lack of imagination behind the redistribution is more damning. ‘Closing the gap’ was never going to be enough, because it accepts the distribution of individuals amongst socio-economic classes as it currently stands. It says it’s OK to have an underclass so long as they’re slightly richer than they are at the moment. It is in principal as selective schooling is in practice. It is ridiculous to replace the one with the other.

Peter’s response to this, that the fact that both schemes are failures means we should regress to the one that at least worked on paper, is as illegitimate as his reasoning:

“The middle classes are not good because they are better Off. They are better off because they are good. This is the fundamental truth that socialism has always hated.”

Socialism, as I understand it, says that given the same opportunities, anyone has the same chance of being good, because essentially all people are the same. Peter appears to be accepting this earlier in his piece – children have no responsibility for the conditions they live in, they’re just children. The middle classes are good, by and large, because they came from middle class backgrounds that allowed them to grow up good. Rewarding the middle classes for being good by permitting a two-tier educational system that ensures their children will also be good does not allocate resources on the basis of desert, as he implies, but does so on the basis of the hereditary principal. If Peter wants to oppose comprehensive schooling, he’ll need to do better than that.

Both Peter and Labour want a society in which every individual has the chance to grow up ‘good’. Neither of their plans has worked, and neither will work. That we’re still discussing this 12 years into Labour’s term is staggering. That the solution Peter’s offering is no better than selective schooling is more so.

Strange Ontology: Week beginning 5th January 2009

Original research

5th January

Cell discovery may reveal why some cancers bounce back after chemotherapy

A report on: Tang et al. (2009 ) Reversibility of apoptosis in cancer cells British Journal of Cancer 100:118-122.

Causes in brief

5th January

From bingo wings to flabby tums – the fitness myths that actually make things worse

“Olive oil is a mono-unsaturated fat scientifically proven to offer protection from heart disease, cancer of the colon and helps lower the bad form of cholesterol.”

A person in Britain is diagnosed with diabetes every THREE minutes

“‘Obesity can lead to breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, liver disease, problems in pregnancy and erectile dysfunction – all very serious.’”

8th January

New Age crystals, pilgrimages to Red Indian healing grounds and remedies recommended by well-wishers… Patrick Swayze admits he will try anything to beat cancer

“fewer than 5 per cent of pancreatic cancer suffers are alive five years after diagnosis.” and “smoking …is said to treble the chances of contracting pancreatic cancer.”


6th January

From a machine that reads your thoughts to glasses that cure dry eyes: The breakthroughs that will change lives in 2009

e.g. “By combining a robotic arm with image guidance from X-ray cameras, the CyberKnife System can treat tumours with pinpoint accuracy and therefore with larger doses of radiation and less damage to surrounding tissue.”


“Secondary liver cancers and some primary cancers are often considered inoperable because they are located deep inside the liver and are tiny and numerous.

Now these patients can be treated with intra-arterial chemotherapy.”

Meet Casper, the homeless dog now being trained to sniff out cancer by a medical charity

“But when scientists from Cancer and Bio-detection Dogs, a medical charity based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, spotted him, they quickly adopted the liver and white dog who they said had the ‘perfect temperament’ for their project.

Casper is now being taught to recognise the scent of cancer in urine samples.”

The Pill causes male infertility, says the Vatican

“The report [Forty Years of Humanae Vitae From a Medical Perspective, by the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations], [the Vatican]  said, also noted that the International Agency for Research of Cancer, an agency of the World Health Organisation, reported in July 2005 that  the oral preparations of combined oestrogen-progestogens common in birth  control pills are classified in a group of carcinogenic agents.”

8th January

Astronauts threatened by cosmic rays as sun becomes less active

A report on: Shiga (2009 ) Danger ahead as the Sun goes quiet New Scientist, 7th January

11th January

Britain’s first cancer-free designer baby born after being screened for deadly gene

“The girl was delivered normally after her parents underwent pioneering treatment to screen out embryos which carried the defective BRCA1 gene.”

Strange Ontology: Week beginning 29th December 2008

Original research

29th December

Not getting any better? You may need medicines made just for you

Makes passing reference to: Nowell et al. (2008 ) Association Between Sulfotransferase 1A1 Genotype and Survival of Breast Cancer Patients Receiving Tamoxifen Therapy Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 94: 1635-1640. And goes on to mention: “Professor Steve Field, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, says: ‘For example, in some people eating cabbage helps protect against bowel cancer better than it does with other people.’”

30th December

Additives used in bacon, ham and chicken ‘could make cancers grow’

A report on: Jin et al. (2008 ) High Dietary Inorganic Phosphate Increases Lung Tumorigenesis and Alters Akt Signaling, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine 179:59-68


A report on: Melo et al. (2008  ) Effect of Beer/Red Wine Marinades on the Formation of Heterocyclic Aromatic Amines in Pan-Fried Beef, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 56: 10625-10632

31st December

Taking vitamins ‘fails to lower risk of getting cancer’

A report on: Lin et al. (2009 ) Vitamins C and E and Beta Carotene Supplementation and Cancer Risk: A Randomized Controlled TrialJournal of the National Cancer Institute 101:14-23


A report on: Sesso et al. (2008 ) Vitamins E and C in the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease in Men, JAMA, 300:2123-2133


A report on: The SELECT trial.

2nd January

Jaw disease alert for women taking popular osteoporosis pills

A report mentioning: Wysowski (2009) Reports of Esophageal Cancer with Oral Bisphosphonate Use, New England Journal of Medicine, 360:89-90

Causes in brief

3rd January

Could LED light the way in the treating of Alzheimer’s?

“‘Cells have been found to grow 150 per cent to 200 per cent faster than cells not given an infrared bath,’ says Professor Harry Whelan of the Medical College of Wisconsin, where trials of infrared light for 80 seconds a day for two weeks prevented and treated throat and mouth ulcers in cancer patients.”

I was the first man to be treated by my surgeon for breast cancer

“One in 800 men will contract breast cancer”


29th December

New TV ads to target parents of fat children who are ‘killing them with kindness’

“The ads, to be screened and featured in magazines next month, tell parents that inactive children who eat poor diets are more likely to suffer from heart disease, cancer and diabetes.”

The TV set that keeps an eye on Alzheimer’s sufferers

“Most people with dementia die within ten years of being diagnosed, and the cost of caring for victims is more than stroke, heart disease and cancer put together.”

30th December

Health news: Inhalers could replace jabs, an implant for Parkinson’s and how talking helps hip patients recover

Which gently promotes these guys.

1st January

NHS apartheid row as Scotland scraps hospital parking fees… but charges for English patients soar

“Cancer charities estimate those needing regular treatment spend an average of £300 a year on parking fees.”

2nd January

Slowing coral growth will cause Great Barrier Reef to ‘fall apart’

“Coral reefs are delicate undersea structures made by tiny animals called coral polyps. They protect coastlines, provide a critical source of food for millions of people, attract tourists and are potential storehouses of medicines for cancer and other diseases.”

Strange Ontology: Week beginning 22nd December 2008

[normal service resumes] Not much going on in the oncological world before Christmas. Particularly interesting is ‘The prostate scan that sorts the killers from the pussycats‘ – the method crops up in the news earlier in the month after it won an award for innovation (see the press release on their own site here), but this doesn’t get a mention (interestingly, it doesn’t get a mention on the website of the awarders of the award, or their press release, so I’m guessing it wasn’t first prize). Also interesting is ‘Cheers! Now they tell us beer and wine give us cancer‘ – you would have thought that the website of the organisation in question would have had at least a press release on the figures, but if they do, I can’t find it. The report makes reference to ‘detailed analysis of data first presented in a report last year’, but I’ve been unable to find out who by or where. Answers on a postcard.

Original research

23rd December

Women lacking vitamin D are more likely to need a Caesarean, says report

A report on: Merewood et al. (2008 ) Association Between Vitamin D Deficiency and Primary Cesarean Section, Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, doi:10.1210/jc.2008-1217

Causes in brief

22nd December

Special service: The 72-year-old milkman who delivered cannabis with the daily pinta

“It [cannabis] is also thought to help fight nausea and vomiting in the advanced stages of cancer and AIDS.”

23rd December

A tiny cut was all it took to cure my inverted nipple

“an inverted nipple should be checked out by her GP, as it may be a sign of breast cancer.”

24th December

Lethal warning over fat-busting drugs bought on the internet

“Some of the diet pills were found to contain nearly three times the recommended daily dose. Several contain phenolphthalein, a chemical long used as a laxative, but which is now being withdrawn from the market because of suspected cancer risks.”

27th December

Cheers! Now they tell us beer and wine give us cancer

“Just one pint of beer a day increases the risk of liver and bowel cancer by a fifth, drinkers have been warned.”


22nd December

MAIL COMMENT: The government is starting to get the message on Alzheimer’s

“As for the medical research budget, ministers spend ten times more on cancer than dementia, though the latter costs the UK economy £17billion a year – more than cancer and heart disease combined.”

Can it really be true that our hospitals are worse than Estonia’s? This fascinating dispatch reveals the shocking answer

“It should also be pointed out that when it comes to treating some major diseases, notably diabetes and cancer, the NHS is still better than Estonia’s system, according to the league table – though only just.”

23rd December

The prostate scan that sorts the killers from the pussycats

This is interesting – can’t find where their figure of 80 comes from, but it’s close to this: van Ans et al. (2008 ) A Study of Diffusion-Weighted Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Men with Untreated Localised Prostate Cancer on Active Surveillance, European Urology, doi:10.1016/j.eururo.2008.11.051