There are so many reports of agents that may cause cancer, that there is a temptation to dismiss them all. Tabloid newspapers have listed everything from babies, belts, biscuits, and bras, to skiing, shaving, soup, and space travel. It is also tempting to be drawn into debates about more esoteric candidates for causative agents like hair dyes, underarm deodorants, or pesticides.
In the late 1960s, an ugly little rhyme circulated in Britain’s declining industrial towns. At the time, seemingly unstoppable mass migration from Britain’s former colonies had triggered a succession of new laws aimed at restricting entry to Britain, followed by a new political emphasis on ‘race relations’ intended to quell international dismay and reduce internal racial tensions.
‘Ebola is a wake-up call.’ This is a common sentiment expressed by those who have reflected on the ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa. It is a reaction to the nearly 30,000 cases and over 11,000 deaths that have occurred since the first cases of the outbreak were reported in March 2014.
As pleased and excited as I am, by Ash Carter’s announcement, that women will be allowed in all military occupational specialties, I am also concerned that we do it right. Otherwise we may have public failures that cause people to question the decision.
The Little Sisters of the Poor, an international congregation of Roman Catholic women, are unlikely litigants in the US Supreme Court. Consistent with their strong adherence to traditional Catholic doctrines, the Little Sisters oppose birth control. They are now in the Supreme Court because of that opposition.
Canadians have a vast lexicon of phrases they use to diminish accidents and their negative consequences. We acknowledge that “accidents will happen,” and remind ourselves that there’s “no use crying over spilled milk.” In fact, we’ve become so good at minimizing these seemingly random, unpredictable incidents that they now seem commonplace: we tend to view accidents as normal, everyday occurrences that everyone will inevitably experience at some point.
In 1933 in the midst of Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in his first inaugural address, wisely stated, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” That wisdom has as much relevance today as it did during the Depression.
Willem Kolff is famously the man who first put the developing theory of therapeutic dialysis into successful practice in the most unlikely circumstances: Kampen, in the occupied Netherlands during World War II. Influenced by a patient he had seen die in 1938, and in a remote hospital to avoid Nazi sympathisers put in charge in Groningen, he undertook experiments with cellulose tubing and chemicals and then went straight on to make a machine to treat patients from 1943.
Initially tested in pet dogs with bone cancer, a new drug that delays metastasis now helps children with the same disease in Europe. The immune modulator, which mops up microscopic cancer cells, has not been approved in the United States, researchers say.
As we celebrate the 27th annual World AIDS Day, it is encouraging to note the most recent trends of worldwide reductions in new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths. However, the gains charted against the “disease that changed everything” are not equally distributed. In fact, the HIV/AIDS crisis has markedly widened gaps of inequality in health and well-being the world over.
Does it matter when the first blood transfusion occurred in Africa? If we are to believe the Serial Passage Theory of HIV emergence, then sometime in the early twentieth century, not one, but as many as a dozen strains of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) passed from West African apes and monkeys to people, although only a handful became epidemic, and only one – HIV-1M – became a global pandemic.
Earlier this year, UK Parliament voted to change the law to support new and controversial in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) procedures known as ‘mitochondrial donation’. The result is that the UK is at the cutting-edge of mitochondrial science and the only country in the world to legalise germ-line technologies. The regulations came into force on 29th October this year, and clinics are now able to apply for a licence.
What can the history of medicine tell us about food allergy and other medical conditions? An awful lot. History is essentially about why things change over time. None of our ideas about health or medicine simply spring out of the ground. They evolve over time, adapting to various social, political, economic, technological, and cultural factors. If we want to know anything about the health issues that face us today and will face us in future, the very first thing we should do is turn to the history of such issues.
The serendipitous discovery of penicillin by Alexander Fleming in 1929 positively transformed modern medicine. Fleming’s decision to spend his summer holiday in East Anglia and his casual approach to laboratory housekeeping was an auspicious combination. After his return to the laboratory he observed that an uncovered culture plate of Staphyloccocus bacteria had been contaminated.
When Booker T. Washington died on this day in 1915, he was widely regarded not just as “the most famous black man in the world” but also “the most admired American of his time.” In the one hundred years since his death, he and his legacy have lost much of their luster in the eyes of the public, even though he, no less than Frederick Douglas, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Martin Luther King, Jr., is one of the foremost figures in the history of the American civil rights movement.
On Saturday 17 October, 16,000 people marched to protest against the new junior doctor contracts in London for the second time. The feeling at the protest was one of overwhelming solidarity, as people marched with placards of varying degrees of humour. Purposely misspelled placards reading “junior doctors make mistaks” were a popular choice, while many groups gathered under large banners identifying their hospital, offering 30% off.