Snake Oil or Science?
Data journalist and information designer David McCandless says he’s “into anything strange and interesting.” And he has me obsessing over his very interesting and brilliant infographic that charts vitamins and supplements. McCandless did the hard work of combing through studies published on PubMed and the Cochrane Review and then charted the results according to how much evidence different vitamins and supps have — from “strong” to “promising” and all the way down to “none.” You can interact with the graphic by selecting the best vitamins and supps for a variety of different uses – apparently sex is the most popular use “by a long way.”
When I clicked on “cardio,” I was thrilled to see that dark chocolate rated above the “worth it” line. One click on the dark chocolate bubble took me straight the meta-analysis of how it reduces blood pressure. Sweet!
Promise for Anti-HIV Microbicides
Just one week after the 30th anniversary of the HIV/AIDs, Stacie Stukin, a writer and reporter in Los Angeles, posted some positive news in the world of HIV prevention. Stukin’s most recent post on her personal blog, talks about how microbicides–in the form of gels, lotions, foams, or suppositories–have been tested for years as way to prevent HIV. For women whose sexual partners are unwilling to wear condoms, microbicides hold particular promise. After years of testing, microbicides are making notable progress. Says Stukin:
According to news reports in Africa and Asia, a team of researchers in South Africa are entering a final trial of a gel that in an earlier, much smaller study reduced HIV transmission rates to 39% and halved the risk of contracting genital herpes…If all goes well, we may see a microbicide for sale in 2014.
More Sunscreen Wars
We have been all over the various sunscreen reports and advice this year, so we figured we should share this one, too: The New York Times this week devoted some space to exploring the chemical oxybenzone, which is currently used in some sunscreens. Apparently, research has shown that oxybenzone mimics the effects of estrogen and may promote the growth of cancer cells. But Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York examined all evidence on the subject and concluded that the previous studies, which were done on animals, “relied on unrealistic dosages.” And even though studies done on humans do show evidence that we do seem to absorb small amounts of the chemical through sunscreen use, “there was no evidence that it set off hormonal changes.”
There are some sunscreens that do not include oxybenzone, but, according to The New York Times, normal exposure to the chemical is safe.