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Daily Rounds: Flawed Organics Study; Racism In Boston; Romney Courts Chronic Lyme Patients; Low-Allergy Milk

That Flawed Stanford Study (The New York Times) — "Like too many studies, the Stanford study dangerously isolates a finding from its larger context. It significantly plays down the disparity in pesticides (read Tom Philpott on this) and neglects to mention that 10,000 to 20,000 United States agricultural workers get a pesticide-poisoning diagnosis each year. And while the study concedes that “the risk for isolating bacteria resistant to three or more antibiotics was 33 percent higher among conventional chicken and pork than organic alternatives,” it apparently didn’t seek to explore how consuming antibiotic-resistant bacteria might be considered “non-nutritious.” Finally (I think) it turns out that Cargill (the largest privately held company in the United States) provides major financing for Freeman Spogli, and that’s inspired a petition to retract the findings."

Racism, Patients' Lack Of Awareness, Contribute To Health Disparities, Specialists Say (The Boston Globe) — "According to the report, which the Urban League published in collaboration with other groups, black infants died at rates ranging from 8.7 to 14.6 children per 1,000 births between 1996 and 2008, compared to rates between 2.8 and 9.5 for white infants during that period. Barbara Ferrer, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission, said that stress related to the effects of racism is a major factor in the higher rates for black infants. She said public agencies and other groups must work to combat the effects of racial prejudice on public health."

Why Is Romney Campaigning On Medical Quackery? (Slate) — "A Weekly Standard tipper sent in a campaign mailer from northern Virginia titled: “Romney-Ryan: Doing More To Fight the Spread of Lyme Disease.” It’s a little more tightly focused than most campaign mailers, maybe, but I admire them for thinking about the local angle: The D.C. suburbs are filthy with ticks, and Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses are a huge public health problem. But the details are delicious. The mailer promises that Romney and Ryan will: 'IMPROVE SYNERGY:Ensure that government agencies have an open line of communication and work with patients, researchers, doctors, and businesses in an objective, comprehensive manner; SUPPORT TREATMENT: Encourage increased options for the treatment of Lyme Disease and provide local physicians with protection from lawsuits to ensure they can treat the disease with the aggressive antibiotics that are required.' Here’s a translation: Forget the science, just channel your legitimate fear of a dangerous disease and your misguided fear of the medical establishment into a vote for us. As a Slate story pointed out years ago, chronic Lyme disease—not the persistent effects of a long-term bacterial infection but a collection of mysterious symptoms—has powerful supporters."

Researchers Genetically Modify A Cow To Produce Low-Allergy Milk (Time Healthland) — "If New Zealand researchers have their way, milk allergy suffers may someday be able to douse their cereal with the white stuff, without the digestive discomfort. Scientists working with the AgResearch company have genetically modified a cow to produce milk without beta-lactoglobulin, or BLG, a milk-whey protein believed to be partially responsible for allergic reactions. Using a process that interferes with the cow’s RNA (which messengers instructions from DNA to the proteins), the researchers reduced BLG gene activity and, therefore, the BLG content in the cow’s milk."

This program aired on October 3, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

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