Doctors behind three new studies and an editorial on the question of whether daily multivitamins make us healthier say: no, they don't. After reviewing available evidence and conducting new trials, one set of authors wrote, “We believe that the case is closed -- supplementing the diet of well-nourished adults with (most) mineral or vitamin supplements has no clear benefit and might even be harmful.”
Here's a guide to the charities the Boingers support in our own annual giving. As always, please add the causes and charities you give to in the comments below!
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Could there be a year that's more relevant to the EFF? As Edward Snowden has made abundantly clear, there is a titantic, historic battle underway to determine whether the Internet is there to liberate us or to enslave us. EFF's on the right side of history, and I figure giving them all I can afford is a cheap hedge against the NSA's version of the future. —CD
CC continues to make a difference -- this year, they released the 4.0 version of their flexible licenses, a major milestone. More than anyone else, CC has reframed the way we talk about creativity and copyright in the Internet era, providing practical, easy-to-use tools to make it possible for creators and audiences to work together in a shared mission of creating and enjoying culture.—CD
'Alternative cancer care' provider Stanislaw Burzynski accused of selling false hope in USA Today investigation
An extensive investigative story in USA Today finds experts questioning why the FDA allows Stanislaw Burzynski, a doctor in Houston, Texas, to continue to sell his "alternative cancer treatment" to vulnerable patients and their families.
Burzynski calls his miracle drugs "antineoplastons," and first synthesized the sodium-rich compounds from blood and urine "collected from public parks, bars and penitentiaries." They haven't been approved by the FDA, but he has also "prescribed them as a treatment for AIDS, lupus and other conditions."
Read the rest
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"A tumor changes your life. Not the value of your life. "
The Italian cancer nonprofit Fondazione ANT modified Leonardo Da Vinci's portrait of Mona Lisa for a new cancer awareness campaign. "The objective is to restore the bravery and dignity of life," says the NGO's spokesperson. Below, the poster.
[HT: Jesus Diaz]
The Arizona Republic has found a large cohort of elderly and retired people who claim to have been abused by TSA staff at Phoenix's Sky Harbor airport. The passengers claim that they were required to remove their prostheses (particularly prosthetic breasts worn by cancer survivors), and that their objections were met with threats and hostility.
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Harold Varmus, director of the National Cancer Institute, sent this email today to "NCI staff, grantees, advisors, reviewers and others," warning of increasingly damaging effects the ongoing federal government shutdown will have on cancer research and treatment at NCI. Even worse than the litany of known, present harm, is this grim prediction: the damage won't end when the government reopens.
A copy of this email was provided by a Boing Boing reader who was one of the recipients:
I am writing to keep you abreast of the ways in which the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and its extramural and intramural research programs have been --- and are likely to be --- affected by the current shutdown of the federal government. And I am also writing to ask for your help in responding to the difficult situation that we are likely to face when the government is reopened.
Michelle Langbehn has a rare form of cancer that affects about 1% of U.S. cancer patients. She was diagnosed in April 2012, shortly after giving birth to her daughter. She was 29.
She spoke to the Washington Post about how the government shutdown has affected her. The short version: she can't get the life-saving treatment she needs; a clinical trial that provides an option in a case where other more well-established treatment protocols have failed.
The Washington Post's Sarah Kliff explains:
After nine months of chemotherapy, she and her doctor began looking into other potential treatment options, including a trial at the National Institutes of Health. Langbehn began filling out the paperwork to apply last month. Things were going well until late September, when she got a call from the NIH: If the government shut down, the trial would not accept new patients. Now, she is among an estimated 200 patients turned away each week from clinical trials there. Langbehn has started a petition asking the government to re-open the treatment option.“This was not supposed to happen. Nobody wanted the shutdown to happen," says Langbehn. "If I had a message, it would be that lives are at stake.”
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US gov shutdown may mean some kids with cancer won't be treated, CDC's outbreak detection programs also halted
The ongoing federal government shutdown in the United States affects national health services in ways you may not realize, including cancer treatment activities at the National Institutes of Health, and disease outbreak detection programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For as long as the shutdown continues, the National Institutes of Health will turn away about 200 patients each week from its clinical research center, including children who have cancer. All existing patients at NIH will be treated, but no new patients will be admitted, and no studies.
NIH director Francis Collins explains how the slow-motion political disaster affects the nation's federal medical research facilities in this WSJ interview (paywalled).
He told the Journal that about 200 patients per week who would otherwise would be admitted to NIH's Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, to participate in clinical trials will be turned away for as long as the shutdown lasts. That number includes an estimated 30 children per week, most of whom are cancer patients.
Read the rest
Read the rest
Today, Google announced the launch of Calico, a new company that will "focus on health and well-being, in particular the challenge of aging and associated diseases."
Former Genentech CEO Arthur D. Levinson, who is Chairman of the Board at both Genentech and Apple, is CEO and a founding investor of the new Google spinoff venture.
Noted Google+ user Larry Page posts this morning:
OK … so you’re probably thinking wow! That’s a lot different from what Google does today. And you’re right. But as we explained in our first letter to shareholders, there’s tremendous potential for technology more generally to improve people’s lives. So don’t be surprised if we invest in projects that seem strange or speculative compared with our existing Internet businesses. And please remember that new investments like this are very small by comparison to our core business. Art and I are excited about tackling aging and illness. These issues affect us all—from the decreased mobility and mental agility that comes with age, to life-threatening diseases that exact a terrible physical and emotional toll on individuals and families. And while this is clearly a longer-term bet, we believe we can make good progress within reasonable timescales with the right goals and the right people.Hey, none of this health and wellness stuff should come as a surprise to internet old-timers who recall when the "web crawler" was named "BackRub."
Time has an exclusive, in this week's cover story at the magazine. The short version: "the company behind YouTube and Google+ is gearing up to seriously attempt to extend human lifespan."
Kentucky man shoots wife with late-stage breast cancer, reportedly at her request "to end her suffering"
"I shot her," Ernest Chris Chumbley, 48, told a local television news program from jail in Laurel County, KY Wednesday. He was speaking about his wife, who had late-stage metastatic breast cancer. "She died from my shots, but it's not murder."