babyhandThe European Court of Human Rights has ruled that an infertile woman cannot use her previously fertilized embryos without the consent of her former fiance. Natalie Evans and her fiance undertook the first stages of in vitro fertilization shortly before starting therapy for ovarian cancer that left her infertile in 2001. Evans is now interested in implantation of one of the stored embryos in order to bear a child, however, the couple are no longer together and Evans’ former fiance withdrew consent for the procedure.

The court’s ruling upholds a British law which stipulates that both of the partners must consent to all stages of the in vitro fertilization process. Evans and a number of pro-life groups have argued that the embryos have a right to life independent of the male partner’s decision.

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bandageAn letter signed by over 200 physicians in the Lancet calls for an end to the forced feeding of Guantanamo detainees who are on hunger strikes, a practice that requires the insertion of a feeding tube. The physicians argue that this amounts to medical therapy and that no competent patient can be subjected to such intervention against their will. A number of medical associations, including the World Medical Association, clearly state that forced feeding is a banned practice.

From the Physicians for Human Rights website:

Ethical codes endorsed by the American Medical Association (AMA), including the World Medical Association (WMA)’s 1975 Declaration of Tokyo, which was elaborated in the 1991 WMA Declaration of Malta on Hunger Strikers (see links below), state clearly that “where a prisoner refuses nourishment and is considered by the doctor as capable of forming an unimpaired and rational judgment concerning the consequences of such voluntary refusal of nourishment, he or she shall not be fed artificially [emphasis added].?

Link [NPR]

Link [Physicians for Human Rights]

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eggIn light of the New York Times report, ‘No Time to Be in the Chicken Business‘, which describes a drop in customers at European restaurants that serve chicken (featured restaurants include Kentucky Fried Chicken and Chicken Corner) since the emergence H5N1 infections in several European countries, I did a bit of fact checking on the method of virus transmission through food products. To date, there have been no documented cases of human avian influenza transmission through cooked poultry according to the World Health Organization. Here is a snip of their current report:

On-going outbreaks of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza in poultry in Asia and, more recently, in Europe have raised concerns about the source of infection and the risk to humans from various exposures. On present evidence, the vast majority of human cases have acquired their infection following direct contact with infected live or dead poultry. WHO is aware of recent concerns that the virus could also spread to humans through contact with contaminated poultry products. To date, no epidemiological data suggest that the disease can be transmitted to humans through properly cooked food (even if contaminated with the virus prior to cooking). However, in a few instances, cases have been linked to consumption of dishes made of raw contaminated poultry blood.


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fastfoodThe rates of childhood obesity are expected to rise over the next five years to staggering numbers.

In North and South America, it is estimated that just under half of the region’s children will be overweight by 2010, up from about 28 percent. In EU countries, about 38 percent of all children will be overweight should present trends continue _ up from about 25 percent in recent surveys, according to a report published by the International Journal of Pediatric Obesity.

“We have truly a global epidemic which appears to be affecting most countries in the world,” said Dr. Philip James, the chairman of the International Obesity Task Force and the author of an editorial in the journal warning of the trend.

The study lays the blame for this trend on greater access to junk foods and sedentary lifestyles (read as gamers, bloggers, etc.). Public health authorities are concerned that obese kids will, in turn, become obese adults who will suffer from increased rates of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.


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sushi, a public health advocacy group, released an undercover investigation of mercury levels in sushi at several popular L.A. restaurants.

The mercury levels of the 12 tuna samples averaged about double the FDA standard, and a quarter of the orders were near or above the limit where the agency says fish should not be sold, said Eli Saddler, a public health analyst and attorney for


Mercury Poisoning (Wikipedia)

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Individuals with a mutation of the liver enzyme that metabolizes caffeine appear to be at greater risk for heart attacks when they drink over four cups of coffee percoffee day compared with those who drink less than one cup according to a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The team’s results showed that only carriers of the gene mutation for slow caffeine metabolism were at increased risk of heart attack associated with drinking coffee.

For these patients, the increased risk was 64 percent for four or more cups per day over the previous year compared with patients who drank less than one cup per day. The corresponding risk was less than 1 percent for subjects who had two copies of the rapid metabolizing gene.