I hate energy drinks (though I am an avid coffee drinker) so I love the humor in this, and the message isn’t bad.


Almost 10% of Americans think there is a cure for diabetes, 20% weren’t sure. This is a glimpse at the awareness Americans have for a disease someone is diagnosed with every 20 seconds from a survey conducted by Harries Interactive. For a life-long illness that is increasing in the population (20% thought the death rate was declining) there are vey few that are aware of the basics of the disease. Most likely only those affected or who have friends and family members affected have knowledge of the disease, an indictment of the job the health community is doing to raise awareness of diabetes.

This result really was surprising to me as I feel like everytime I turn around there is a commercial or internet site about living with diabetes. I guess that is a result of me exposing myself to health related issues for hours a day, something most people in the population either don’t do or don’t have access to. I would like to see a comparison of the awareness between diabetes and other diseases that affect the general population (breast cancer for example). I’ll have to put the time in to look at different survey results but my gut feeling is the breast cancer charities and awareness programs are deeper penetrating and have a farther reach.

Considering diabetes kills more than 180,000 a year in the US, compared to 40,000 due to breast cancer it should be applauded how much the breast cancer awareness push has succeeded. I mean there is a whole month for breast cancer awareness and they even have pro sports teams sporting pink on their uniforms to boost awareness. With over 16,000,000 (and climbing) in US diagnosed with diabetes it seems there should be more general awareness of the disease. Color me surprised but not blown away, for all the health community does to promote awareness it seems that a large percentage of the population either doesn’t pay attention or simply forgets the information they hear.

I loved this book by Michael Pollan and I hope the two hour documentary can live up to the same standard.  From the previews I’ve seen and videos on the PBS website it looks like it will combine some amazing photography, science and the history of plants domination over us. It is an interesting way to look at our relationship to plants and one that is fascinating in our “human-centric view” of the way the world works.

The documentary will take on the survival strategies of the tulip, apple, marijuana and potato and how these survival strategies have exploited our biological desires in order to become a cultivated crop. The same way that pollinators such as bees and butterflies are used to spread pollen these plants have used humans to be spread across the globe in a bid for as much cultivated space as possible.

From the few people I’ve talked to who have received preview copies of the program it will be spectacular and live up to the standards of PBS documentaries (which I love). Be sure to check our local listings and give this a watch, it is sure to teach you something and inspire you to look at the world through different lenses.

10 years ago the International Diabetes Federation Diabetes Atlas indicated that just over 150 million people had diabetes worldwide.  Now, less than 10 years later the survey shows 285 million worldwide cases, more than half of those aged between 20 and 60.

To put this rise in perspective in 1985 it was estimated there were 30 million worldwide cases.  India and China lead the way in cases but are followed closely by the US.  About 9% of the US population is found to have been diagnosed with diabetes (26.8 million) at a rate of $198 billion a year.  This is 52.7% of worldwide spending on diabetes, an incredible number!

At this growth rate the number should reach above 435 million by 2030 (US population today is 303 million).  As I’ve said before, if we really want to cut down on health expenditures this is a major area of public health we have to target and not just by paying it lip service.  Since a majority of cases are type II (insulin resistance with obesity and diet as contributors) we need to target the food and food services industries and the way the consumer is informed of their decision.

Of course a huge problem is getting people to realize the long term health affects of diet and exercise which is very difficult.  Incremental weight loss and an abstract number like fasting glucose levels are difficult means to motivate people into life altering habits. This has been proven with the massive diet industry which peddles unnecessary measures to lose weight.  This is easily seen by the yo-yo effect from people losing weight off of a diet and then gaining the weight back, only to have to find another diet.  I’ve seen family members go from diet program to diet program to find one which will “keep the weight off” but the only way to keep the weight off is to change your eating and exercise habits,  dirty secret the industry wishes to keep from you.

I guess I got way off topic but the obesity and diabetes problems are closely related, so there’s my diatribe for the day…


A report has come out detailing that more than 70 people have come down with the mumps in NY and NJ. 

If only we had a vaccine to stop these outbreaks!  Oh wait, we do and started using the first incarnation of the vaccine in 1950. Currently Merck produces the Mumpsvax product for use in the US. Now I’ll note that a large percentage (75%) of the people who came down with the disease have been reported to have been fully immunized, but I suspect that the antibody response has waned since getting the vaccine as a young child. Most victims have been 10-15 years old and the age range of the infectd has been from 1 to 40.

The child who originally came down with the mumps was attending a summer camp in Britain where vaccine rates are so low that many diseases have been once again declared endemic (most notably the measles). This started in the 90’s with Andrew Wakefield trying his best to fudge the science and blame the MMR vaccine for autism. Though his numbers have been shown to be manipulated, multiple studies have not found an association between the two, and Wakefield’s competing interests have been outed there still is a large sentiment in portions of the country that resist getting vaccinated.  This leads to outbreaks like this.

GardasilToday the Advisory on Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has advised against the routine use of the HPV vaccine (Gardasil) in boys and men. This should have been met with fireworks, pomp and jubilation in the streets by those who are against vaccines.  Afterall, one of their favorite gambits to run is how the whole pharmaceutical, vaccine and medical industry is in cahoots to poison society with their deadly cocktail of vaccines.

A major organization has decided that it is not efficacious to distribute the vaccine wholesale through the male population but there is not widespread jubilation through the anti-vax community.  Shouldn’t the decleration that an organization this large is breaking from the conspiracy to injure and sterilize us all be a major coup for those wingnuts? Or maybe they know deep down in their hearts that there is science behind the vaccines and if they acknowledge that an advisory committee recommended against widespread use of a vaccine it would throw their whackaloon conspiracy theories out the window.

I haven’t looked through much of the evidence to determine the cost-effectiveness but the BMJ article seems to have some pretty sound minds behind it.  You sure won’t find the whackaloons touting how a government agency charged with researching the effectiveness of vaccines has determined that this one does not hold a great enough benefit to be widely distributed to males because this destroys their crackpot theories.  I bet we do see a bunch of comments circling the  “AHIP said this vaccine doesn’t work and doesn’t protect against HPV.”  Of course that’s not at all what the decleration or science on the vaccine says, but things like facts and sound judgements aren’t usually a tool used by these people.

HPV Safety
One of my favorite places on the internet, the Information is Beautiful Blog, has put up a great graphic about the safety of the HPV vaccine. If you are a visual person (that means everyone) then head over to check out the full version of this graphic which displays the risk of vaccine injury from Gardasil, the HPV vaccine in the US.

With all the kookiness that surrounds the vaccine debate it is nice to see some easily translatable information available to the public and David is usually in the lead with putting together great visuals just for this purpose, to make a visual impact out of the data.

If you’re interested in the HPV vaccine, vaccine safety in general, or how to make stunning visuals that easily and poignantly convey information then it is a must that you head over to the site and browse around.