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Does drinking alcohol increase the risk of cancer?

The WHO suggests cutting alcohol lowers cancer risks, but evidence is mixed. A recent paper found limited or inadequate evidence of reduced cancer risk with lower alcohol consumption, specifically for cancers like laryngeal, colorectal, and breast cancer, while some links to oral and esophageal cancer were noted. Despite some findings, significant scientific gaps remain, and further research is needed to establish clearer connections between alcohol reduction and cancer risk.

JN.1 COVID variant

JN.1 variant of COVID update

The JN.1 COVID-19 variant, a subvariant of Omicron, is rapidly spreading in the USA. While it may evade immunity from vaccines or previous infection, current vaccines appear effective against it. It poses a greater risk to the unvaccinated. Public health agencies are closely monitoring its transmission and severity to prevent potential disasters. COVID-19 remains a significant threat.

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Omicron variant of COVID — some initial facts about vaccines

Just when we thought we might be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel for the COVID-19 pandemic, a new Omicron variant was discovered in Africa. Although many countries shut down travel from Africa, it’s probably too late — it probably was being spread before the Omicron variant was found.

Like when the Delta variant was first observed, there was a lot of confusion about how serious it was going to be and whether vaccines would be effective. It caused a surge in cases and deaths worldwide over the summer.

Although it’s very early, I think there is enough information to, at a minimum, understand what may be upcoming. Of course, as with everything about this pandemic, stay tuned because what we know today may be superseded by what we discover tomorrow.

Read More »Omicron variant of COVID — some initial facts about vaccines
Facebook vaccine

Facebook failed to stop anti-vaccine posts – profits trump science

Many of us have a love/hate relationship with Facebook – but most of us realized how little it cared about anti-vaccine posts when the COVID-19 vaccines were starting to show high effectiveness and safety in clinical trials. Once we began to believe that we might have COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2020 (which proved to be true), the anti-vaxxers started to move into full action.

I even started to track and debunk the ridiculous claims of the COVID-19 vaccine deniers, most of which I found on various Facebook posts and comments.

And now, with only about 58% of the US population, or around 191 million individuals, having been fully vaccinated, it seems to be more difficult to reach the goal of around 80% of the population who are fully vaccinated to reach herd immunity.

I hate to blame Facebook for all of society’s ills, but it’s clear that they are deeply responsible for the lack of COVID-19 vaccine uptake in the USA and many other countries. Given that only 12 accounts on social media are responsible for around 73% of the anti-vaccine content, it would have been easy for Facebook to block those accounts and keep the noise to a minimum.

But they didn’t. And based on extensive investigations by a consortium of news services across the world, Facebook provided safe harbor for these COVID-19 vaccine deniers for one reason – profits.

Read More »Facebook failed to stop anti-vaccine posts – profits trump science
COVID-19 pandemic flu season

COVID-19 pandemic effect on 2020-21 flu season – good and bad news

The COVID-19 pandemic has been nothing but bad news, but the near disappearance of the 2020-21 flu season has given us one tiny bit of good news among a metric tonne of public health bad news.

Despite the weird and unfounded myths from the COVID-19 deniers, the only reason why this flu season is so mild is because of the public health strategies to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

That’s it – it’s nothing more dramatic than that. 

Read More »COVID-19 pandemic effect on 2020-21 flu season – good and bad news
eating meat causes cancer

Meat causes cancer? The answer is complicated and nuanced

Over the past few years, there have been numerous stories about whether meat causes cancer. Well, the answer is extremely complicated and nuanced, something doesn’t play well with clickbait headlines. People want to know The Truth™ about meat. Oh, and this article isn’t about vaccines, shocking, right?

A couple of years ago we were flooded by memes, articles, and uptight vegans laughing at everyone because the World Health Organization stated that eating meat causes cancer – that’s either processed meat, like a good French sausage, or unprocessed red meat.

Then recently, we were flooded by new memes, articles, and uptight vegans when an article was published to tell us that meat was safe. Of course, that was followed up by even newer memes, articles, and uptight vegans that that new article was junk, and meat causes cancer. 

Even those of you with good scientifically skeptical minds (which includes a lot of vegans) are wondering if anyone knows anything about meat and cancer. So I sliced some excellent French sausage and ate it with my GMO crackers – then this old avian dinosaur did what he is supposed to do, he read the articles.

So, should you worry whether meat causes cancer? I agree that there are a lot of issues about people eating beef, pork, and chicken for our individual health and for the health of the planet. But that’s outside of my bailiwick, and it will garner an incredible amount of yelling and screaming.

But I’m going to be brave (or not) and just try to answer the simple question of whether meat causes cancer. And here we go.

Read More »Meat causes cancer? The answer is complicated and nuanced

testing vaccines

Testing vaccines – another anti-vaccine myth requiring debunking

There are so many myths, tropes, and memes pushed by the anti-vaccine religion that it’s almost a full-time job to keep up with it all. One of the most ridiculous is that vaccines aren’t tested, especially in clinical trials. This is ridiculous on so many levels, the most important of which is that testing vaccines are critical to receiving regulatory approval across the world.

The anti-vaccine religion believes that vaccines aren’t tested thoroughly before being used on unsuspecting infants. I do not know where this started, or why it started, but like much in the anti-vaccination world, it really doesn’t matter. It just passes from one person to another across social media, and individuals with no research background hold this particular belief as if it were the Truth™.

On the contrary, testing vaccines is a thorough process – each vaccine is tested for safety and effectiveness before being marketed. Not only are vaccines thoroughly tested for safety and efficacy before being marketed, they also are rigorously tested in various combinations with other vaccines. And I’m not cherry-picking a few articles to support my point of view, unless by cherry-picking you mean I’m picking the best articles from the highest quality journals in medicine.
Read More »Testing vaccines – another anti-vaccine myth requiring debunking

how to prevent cancer

How to prevent cancer in 12 easy steps – vaccines are critically important

This article has been updated and reposted here – Reduce cancer risk in 12 easy-ish steps – number 3 is “get your vaccines”. The comments for this article are closed, so please click on the link and go there. The old raptor thanks you.

I have railed against pseudoscientific charlatans who claim that they have the easy way to prevent or cure cancer. Generally, these snake oil salesmen try to convince you that they have some miraculous food, supplement, spiritual energy, and on and on, that can either kill cancer in its tracks or keep them from even growing in your body. Of course, none of their claims are actually supported by robust science. On the other hand, real science has 12 evidence-based methods to actually prevent cancer.

But what about those memes that say that supplements prevent cancer? Nope, they don’t. And that’s been shown in study after study after study after study (yeah, I could go on for awhile).

What about avoiding GMO foods because they cause cancer? Again, studies show that GMO foods have no effect on cancers. Oh, one more thing – bananas don’t have tumor necrosis factor, and the yellow fruit can’t prevent or cure cancer (but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t delicious).

Despite the absolute lack of evidence that supplements, kale, bananas, or drinking the pure waters of a glacial fed stream (which may not be an option with climate change), there are only a few things that can be done to manage your overall risk of cancer.

How to prevent cancer has been codified by the World Health Organization’s  (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) into 12 steps (no, not that debunked one) that are called the European Code Against Cancer.

Let’s look at cancer and how to prevent cancer.

Read More »How to prevent cancer in 12 easy steps – vaccines are critically important

Monsanto glyphosate

Monsanto glyphosate causes cancer – so do apples

Monsanto glyphosate (Roundup)  is a broad-spectrum systemic herbicide used to kill weeds, especially annual broadleaf weeds and grasses that are known to compete with commercial crops grown around the world. It has several advantages over many herbicides in that it breaks down in the soil into non-toxic organic molecules, reducing or eliminating contamination of groundwater and lower soils.

Monsanto has developed genetically modified (GMO) grains that are resistant to glyphosate, so that agriculture can apply the herbicide to kill the competitive weeds while not harming the crop. This allows farmers to suppress the weeds while allowing better production out of the grain crop.

Whatever the benefits of Monsanto glyphosate, GMOs and the herbicide are tied together in many minds. And there has been an ongoing effort by many people to claim that glyphosate causes cancer. But let’s look at the science, because maybe we’ll get some information.

Read More »Monsanto glyphosate causes cancer – so do apples