Category Archives: In the News

Radiation Concerns, Japan to West Coast

Follow me on Twitter, please. I’m trying to extract real news and science from the fear mongering surrounding the disaster in Japan.

Because of damage to Japanese nuclear reactors, radiation is being released.

The amount released has exposed dozens of people who live or work quite close to the reactors and will increase their chances of radiation illness and even cancer. But, the short term danger to those of us hundreds or thousands of miles away appears to be non-existent. Radiation getting into the winds which blow from Japan to the West Coast will not be dangerous even if there’s a complete Chernobyl-type meltdown.

A longer term fear involves contamination of the atmosphere, crops and water with long-lived radioactive iodine and other isotopes. Even this longer view still doesn’t point to any dramatic rise in the risk of illnesses including cancer for Americans. Experts are recommending postponing planned trips to Japan for a variety of reasons mostly involving loss of infrastructure, but they also caution that increased radiation exposure could occur the closer one gets to the cities in Japan containing these damaged nuclear plants.

To summarize, we don’t need potassium iodide right now, we don’t need to lose any sleep and we do need better sources of energy than nuclear power plants. We’re very much OK and not at risk from nuclear meltdowns 5000 miles away.

My thoughts are with the Japanese and those of you here with family in harm’s way.



Goliath and the Gnats

Well, that wasn’t April’s only storm. An April Fool’s joke I posted to a private group of a few thousand doctors, lactation experts and other medical experts triggered alarm in the halls of my club, The American Academy of Pediatrics.

Interestingly, the AAP may actually have dramatically increased integrity under Dr. David Tayloe, our new president, but someone else violated the first rule of publicity: Don’t complain when some one makes you look a lot better than you really are. Even if he does it on April First!!

Dr. Susan E.Burger is one of the world’s foremost experts on international nutrition and epidemiology who shared with me her submission to the New York Times. The Times did not publish this excellent article and I asked her permission to post it here. Thank you very much, Dr. Burger

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Milky Way of Doing Business

By Katie Allison Granju

November 3rd, 2003 was a big day for Alabama emergency room pediatrician, Dr. Carden Johnston. On that date last month, he was installed as the new President of the 66,000 member American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) at the prestigious organization’s annual meeting in New Orleans. It was also the date that he sparked what has emerged as a major ethical controversy by inadvertently pulling back the curtains on the powerful influence that a particular corporate interest appears to have in shaping AAP policy and action.

“I have to admit that I never imagined that my presidency would start off with such a bang,” Dr. Johnston says, acknowledging the debate now taking place within his organization.

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H1N1: Medical Honesty and Integrity

“With all due respect to Dr. Gordon’s article and his opinion posted [on Peachhead2] I would love to hear [another] doctor’s opinion about the H1N1. I talked to a neurologist last week and he mentioned to me the concern being young children and the possibility of being hooked up to a respirator.”

It is exactly this kind of absurd, exaggerated rhetoric (not from our Peachheader, but from the doctor she’s quoting) that is creating anxiety and fear and making it harder to make an informed intelligent decision.

The possibility of your healthy child “being hooked to a respirator” because of Swine Flu is incredibly small. To imply otherwise is an unintelligent scare tactic.

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Influenza: Some Provocative Reading

I’m still seeing one or two children each day with Swine Flu symptoms and can reassure you that the government and the media are engaging in scare tactics rather than presenting the facts.

No lengthy newsletter to read today. Just a couple important medical articles. One from the lay press and one from a serious medical journal.

Please invest 15-20 minutes reading these two articles in full. I’ve given brief summaries of some of their information below.

One article is from a well-respected periodical and the other is from the most respected medical journal (BMJ) in the world and the Cochrane Collaboration which is the “gold standard” in medical information.

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