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Was Swine-Flu Grossly Exaggerated?
There is a growing feeling that the threat posed by swine flu was grossly exaggerated.
Further, the contention is that this exaggeration was deliberate and was stoked by the pharmaceutical companies that stood to cash in on a world desperate for their drugs.
In all, the British government spent £1 billion stockpiling anti-viral drugs such as tamiflu and ordering enough vaccines to give two doses to every man, woman and child.
At the same time, normal medical procedures were abandoned so that call centre workers, unqualified and often very young, could diagnose the sick and dole out medication.
The doomsday scenario predicted never unfolded.
In fact, just 411 people in the UK have so far died (up till the 6th February 2010) as a result of swine flu.
Of them, roughly 80% had underlying health problems.
That means that fewer than 100 people have been killed by swine flu alone.
Responding to warnings that 350 people could die every day in Britain, it is understood that 33 million courses of tamiflu were purchased.
At the same time, between 90 million and 120 million doses of the vaccine were stockpiled.
Research suggests that as many as eight out of ten people diagnosed as suffering from swine flu by the hotline did not have it.
That means that more than 800,000 of the one million-plus packets of tamiflu, which cost around £15 each, were given out needlessly.
Also, what nobody knows is how many patients suffering from potentially fatal illnesses such as pneumonia were mis-diagnosed.
Scientists are now reporting that swine flu is only one-tenth as virulent as ordinary flu.
Critics now claim that the drug companies manipulated the world health organisation into downgrading its criteria for a pandemic so they could cash in on an outbreak.

Poland was the only country in Europe which didn’t inoculate against swine flu.
About 150 people died from the disease out of a population of 40 million.
They refused the vaccine because they did not believe it had undergone sufficient testing.

Mother’s Little Helper.
Valium was launched in 1963 and became notorious for anaesthetising a generation of housewives.
It was known as ‘mother’s little helper’ and the Rolling Stones even wrote a song about it.
It was developed by chemist Leo Sternbach for pharmaceutical company Hoffman-La Roche.

It was the first in a new generation of tranquillisers which were considered safer and more effective than the alternative of opiates to treat anxiety disorders.
It achieved rapid success and became one of the world’s most prescribed drugs between 1969 and 1982.
At its peak during 1978, around 2.8 billion of the yellow pills were sold.
Most users were women.

However, while its invention was celebrated, it also had side-effects and led to a culture of dependency on prescription drugs.
It was addictive and long-term use became linked with depression, forgetfulness and agoraphobia.

Careless over-prescribing by GPs led to some experts claiming that it was as difficult to come off Valium as it was to come off heroin.
It is still prescribed today by GPs for alcohol withdrawal and anxiety but it is now known by its generic name, diazepam.
In 2008, UK drugs charity Drugscope said the pills were being used as a cheap alternative to heroin among young people.

50,000 Americans Were Lobotomised.
Surgeons are as prone to fashion as any other professionals, but the consequences can be much more terrible.
In 1940s America, the practise of scooping out bits and pieces of the brain in order to solve psychological problems became fashionable among what one might call the cutting edge of the medical profession.

It was a fashion that lasted well into the 1950s.
In all, 50,000 Americans were lobotomised, often for the sort of anti-social behaviour which these days might be quelled with an ASBO.
One particularly avid surgeon, Walter Freeman, travelled around the country in a vehicle he nicknamed The Lobotomobile.
Over the course of his long career he managed to clock up 3,000 lobotomies in 23 different states, once lobotomising 25 women with his trademark ice-pick in a single day.
He could perform the entire operation in about ten minutes.

Freeman was a particularly fanatical example of this fashion, but there were many other doctors, infinitely more sane, who subscribed to the same basic idea.
( Craig Brown )

A Miracle Cure In The UK.
From the early 1940s, it began to be seen as a miracle cure in the UK, where surgeons performed proportionately more lobotomies than even in the US.
Despite opposition from some doctors – especially psychoanalysts – it became a mainstream part of psychiatry with more than 1,000 operations a year in the UK at its peak.
It was used to treat a range of illnesses, from schizophrenia to depression and compulsive disorders.

The reason for its popularity was simple – the alternative was worse.
“When I visited mental hospitals, you saw straitjackets, padded cells, and it was patently apparent that some of the patients were, I’m sorry to say, subjected to physical violence,” recalls retired neurosurgeon Jason Brice.
The chance of a cure through lobotomy seemed preferable to the life sentence of incarceration in an institution.
But from the mid-1950s, it rapidly fell out of favour, partly because of poor results and partly because of the introduction of the first wave of effective psychiatric drugs.

( Hugh Levinson )

Kindness Is Contagious.
Kindness is the original win-win situation, benefiting more people than just those it’s directed at.
It can alleviate depression, improve your relationships, it’s good for your heart, your immune system, and even helps you live longer.

And being kind makes other people act more kindly too.
In fact, the more kindness you bestow, the healthier and happier you, and everyone around you, will be.

As a treatment for depression, kindness has been acknowledged for some time.
It has even been shown to help children with behavioural difficulties.
Acts of kindness stimulate increased amounts of the ‘love hormone’ oxytocin in both donor and recipient.
Recent research shows that oxytocin also protects the heart from damage.
It interacts with cells along the walls of blood vessels and causes them to relax, which means blood pressure comes down.
When oxytocin is flowing, the entire cardiovascular system relaxes.
A groundbreaking 2008 study showed that oxytocin can even protect against hardening of the arteries, by reducing oxidative stress, the damage caused by excess free radicals in the blood.
Kindness is contagious – and especially important for children, who absorb the behaviour they observe.
So if you train yourself into regular acts of kindness, you will be increasing the amount of kindness around you.

Death From Car Pollution.
Up to 50,000 Britons are dying early every year because of car pollution, it is claimed.
Experts say exhaust fumes and toxic particles from brakes and tyres could take 10 years off the lives of people in cities.

Environment researcher Professor Frank Kelly of King’s College London said, “This issue is much larger than fatalities and serious injury from road accidents in the UK”.
The professor told the commons environmental audit committee that tackling car pollution was as important as dealing with obesity, alcohol and smoking.
Professor Kelly said, “Children in highly polluted areas lose the ability for their lungs to develop. If this is not resolved by the time they are 20 they will never regain the function”.
Diesel cars have pushed up pollution.
About 40% of vehicles now use diesel fuel compared to 8 per cent 20 years ago.

A Natural Convenience Food.
A banana is a natural convenience food.
It’s easy to peel, quick to eat and non-messy.
They are lower in fat than chocolate, packed with nutrients and fill you up.
You’re less likely to get fat as it fills you up for longer and you’re less likely to reach for more snacks.
Because it’s a natural rather than refined food, it takes longer for the body to process, so you get lasting energy rather than short-lived highs and lows from chocolate.
Bananas contain tryptophan, a calming amino acid.

They’re high in potassium, which keeps blood pressure in check, as well as helping muscles, including the heart, to work properly.
Bananas also contain calcium and magnesium for bone health, B vitamins for the brain plus disease-fighting vitamin C.
Because they are full of fibre, they reduce cholesterol, prevent constipation and possibly lower the risk of bowel cancer.

Genetic Key To Immortality.
Damaged human limbs could one day regrow by themselves after scientists found the genetic key to repairing tissue.
They believe that temporarily switching of the gene, called P21, in humans could leave limbs to repair themselves.

The exciting breakthrough came during tests on mice in Philadelphia.
Scientists bred them without P21 and found they could repair and regenerate damaged tissue – a hole in the ear of a mouse repaired itself, the mouse could also repair its heart and spine and form the first signs of a limb.
Without P21, cells behaved more like stem cells.
Lead researcher Professor Ellen Heber-Katz said, “While we are just beginning to understand the repercussions of these findings, perhaps, one day we’ll be able to accelerate human healing by temporarily inactivating the P21 gene.”

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