Go Back   This Blue Marble, a Global Current Events Discussion Forum > Health and Medicine > Flu Clinic > Flu Speculation

Flu Speculation Flu Speculation A place for "off the wall" discussions and speculation about events that "may" be related to influenza ranging from news on outbreaks that might be flu but which aren't confirmed to really OTB theories related to flu.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 10-29-2009, 03:40 PM   #1
kanuck57
NeverAcceptQuestionAll
 
kanuck57's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: SouthCentralManitobaCanada
Posts: 1,947
Thanks: 43
Thanked 295 Times in 178 Posts
Default 36000 Influenza deaths a year

Are US flu death figures more PR than science?
Doshi 331 (7529): 1412 -- British Medical Journal
Peter Doshi
http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/331/7529/1412



US data on influenza deaths are a mess. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) acknowledges a difference between flu death and flu associated death yet uses the
terms interchangeably. Additionally, there are significant statistical incompatibilities
between official estimates and national vital statistics data. Compounding these problems
is a marketing of fear—a CDC communications strategy in which medical experts "predict dire
outcomes" during flu seasons.

The CDC website states what has become commonly accepted and widely reported
in the lay and scientific press: annually "about 36 000 [Americans] die from
flu" (www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease.htm) and "influenza/pneumonia" is the seventh
leading cause of death in the United States (www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/lcod.htm).
But why are flu and pneumonia bundled together? Is the relationship so strong or
unique to warrant characterising them as a single cause of death?
David Rosenthal, director of Harvard University Health Services, said, "People don't
necessarily die, per se, of the [flu] virus—the viraemia. What they die of is a
secondary pneumonia. So many of these pneumonias are not viral pneumonias but
secondary [pneumonias]." But Dr Rosenthal agreed that the flu/pneumonia
relationship was not unique. For instance, a recent study (JAMA 2004;292: 1955-60
[Abstract/Free Full Text])
found that stomach acid suppressing drugs are associated
with a higher risk of community acquired pneumonia, but such drugs and pneumonia
are not compiled as a single statistic.

CDC states that the historic 1968-9 "Hong Kong flu" pandemic killed 34000 Americans.
At the same time, CDC claims 36 000 Americans annually die from flu.
What is going on?

Meanwhile, according to the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS),
"influenza and pneumonia" took 62 034 lives in 2001—61 777 of which were
attributed to pneumonia and 257 to flu, and in only 18 cases was flu virus positively
identified. Between 1979 and 2002, NCHS data show an average 1348 flu deaths per
year (range 257 to 3006).

The NCHS data would be compatible with CDC mortality estimates if about half of
the deaths classed by the NCHS as pneumonia were actually flu initiated secondary
pneumonias. But the NCHS criteria indicate otherwise: "Cause-of-death statistics are
based solely on the underlying cause of death... defined by WHO as `the disease or
injury which initiated the train of events leading directly to death.'"
In a written statement, CDC media relations responded to the diverse statistics:
"Typically, influenza causes death when the infection leads to severe medical
complications." And as most such cases "are never tested for virus infection...CDC
considers these [NCHS] figures to be a very substantial undercounting of the true
number of deaths from influenza. Therefore, the CDC uses indirect modelling
methods to estimate the number of deaths associated with influenza."

CDC's model calculated an average annual 36 155 deaths from influenza associated
underlying respiratory and circulatory causes (JAMA 2003;289: 179-86
[Abstract/Free Full Text]). Less than a quarter of these (8097) were described as flu
or flu associated underlying pneumonia deaths. Thus the much publicised figure of
36 000 is not an estimate of yearly flu deaths, as widely reported in both the lay and
scientific press, but an estimate—generated by a model—of flu-associated death.
William Thompson of the CDC's National Immunization Program (NIP), and lead
author of the CDC's 2003 JAMA article, explained that "influenza-associated
mortality" is "a statistical association between deaths and viral data available." He
said that an association does not imply an underlying cause of death: "Based on
modelling, we think it's associated. I don't know that we would say that it's the
underlying cause of death."

Yet this stance is incompatible with the CDC assertion that the flu kills 36 000
people a year—a misrepresentation that is yet to be publicly corrected.
Before 2003 CDC said that 20 000 influenza-associated deaths occurred each year.
The new figure of 36 000 reported in the January 2003 JAMA paper is an estimate of
influenza-associated mortality over the 1990s. Keiji Fukuda, a flu researcher and a
co-author of the paper, has been quoted as offering two possible causes for this 80%
increase: "One is that the number of people older than 65 is growing larger...The
second possible reason is the type of virus that predominated in the 1990s [was more
virulent]."

However, the 65-plus population grew just 12% between 1990 and 2000. And if flu
virus was truly more virulent over the 1990s, one would expect more deaths. But flu
deaths recorded by the NCHS were on average 30% lower in the 1990s than the
1980s.

If passed, the Flu Protection Act of 2005 will revamp US flu vaccine policy. The
legislation will require CDC to pay makers for vaccines unsold "through routine
market mechanisms." The bill will also require CDC to conduct a "public awareness
campaign" emphasising "the safety and benefit of recommended vaccines for the
public good."

Yet this bill obscures the fact that CDC is already working in manufacturers' interest
by conducting campaigns to increase flu vaccination. At the 2004 "National
Influenza Vaccine Summit," co-sponsored by CDC and the American Medical
Association, Glen Nowak, associate director for communications at the NIP, spoke
on using the media to boost demand for the vaccine. One step of a "Seven-Step
`Recipe' for Generating Interest in, and Demand for, Flu (or any other) Vaccination"
occurs when "medical experts and public health authorities publicly...state concern
and alarm (and predict dire outcomes)—and urge influenza vaccination" http://www.ama-assn.org/ama1/pub/upl..._flu_nowak.pdf . Another step entails
"continued reports...that influenza is causing severe illness and/or affecting lots of
people, helping foster the perception that many people are susceptible to a bad case
of influenza."

Preceding the summit, demand had been low early into the 2003 flu season. "At that
point, the manufacturers were telling us that they weren't receiving a lot of orders for
vaccine for use in November or even December," recalled Dr Nowak on National
Public Radio. "It really did look like we needed to do something to encourage
people to get a flu shot."

If flu is in fact not a major cause of death, this public relations approach is surely
exaggerated. Moreover, by arbitrarily linking flu with pneumonia, current data are
statistically biased. Until corrected and until unbiased statistics are developed, the
chances for sound discussion and public health policy are limited.

Peter Doshi, graduate student
Harvard University
[email protected]



.

Last edited by kanuck57; 10-29-2009 at 04:43 PM.
kanuck57 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-29-2009, 03:44 PM   #2
kanuck57
NeverAcceptQuestionAll
 
kanuck57's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: SouthCentralManitobaCanada
Posts: 1,947
Thanks: 43
Thanked 295 Times in 178 Posts
Default Antacids Increase the Risk for Pneumonia

Antacids Increase the Risk for Pneumonia
June 02, 2009 - Byron J. Richards, CCN
http://www.wellnessresources.com/hea...for_pneumonia/

In their effort to suppress digestive symptoms doctors hand out antacid medication like candy, even to babies. Virtually no thought is given to the fact that these medications, by interfering with stomach acid, are lowering the front line defense system against any infection. A new study shows that if you go into a hospital and are prescribed Prilosec, Nexium or Prevacid you have a 30% increased risk for contracting pneumonia during your stay.

Hospitals are breeding grounds for infections. However, this information applies to the flu as well. When you breathe in any germ and swallow, it is in your gut. The first thing that kills the germ is your stomach acid. When you lower stomach acid you lower your defenses.

Antacids have some utility for some people, like dumping fire retardant from an airplane to help put out a forest fire. They are a poor excuse for managing digestive health, and potentially lead to many other problems. There are plenty of ways to improve heartburn without excessively suppressing stomach acid. Simply following the Leptin Diet will clear up indigestion and heartburn in many people. Digestive enzymes or digestive soothers are other top choices. Healthy digestion is a cornerstone of true health.



.
kanuck57 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-29-2009, 03:49 PM   #3
ontariomom
Member Level 2
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 226
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by kanuck57 View Post
Antacids Increase the Risk for Pneumonia
June 02, 2009 - Byron J. Richards, CCN
http://www.wellnessresources.com/hea...for_pneumonia/

In their effort to suppress digestive symptoms doctors hand out antacid medication like candy, even to babies. Virtually no thought is given to the fact that these medications, by interfering with stomach acid, are lowering the front line defense system against any infection. A new study shows that if you go into a hospital and are prescribed Prilosec, Nexium or Prevacid you have a 30% increased risk for contracting pneumonia during your stay.

Hospitals are breeding grounds for infections. However, this information applies to the flu as well. When you breathe in any germ and swallow, it is in your gut. The first thing that kills the germ is your stomach acid. When you lower stomach acid you lower your defenses.

Antacids have some utility for some people, like dumping fire retardant from an airplane to help put out a forest fire. They are a poor excuse for managing digestive health, and potentially lead to many other problems. There are plenty of ways to improve heartburn without excessively suppressing stomach acid. Simply following the Leptin Diet will clear up indigestion and heartburn in many people. Digestive enzymes or digestive soothers are other top choices. Healthy digestion is a cornerstone of true health.



.


I actually stopped taking Zantac (among other things for this reason). Zantac is aka ranitidine, see below...

From Drugs.com:

Quote:
Using ranitidine may increase your risk of developing pneumonia. Symptoms of pneumonia include chest pain, fever, feeling short of breath, and coughing up green or yellow mucus. Talk with your doctor about your specific risk of developing pneumonia.
A few people have told me that their doctors recommended them taking another type of medication to relieve heartburn because Zantac carries this risk.
ontariomom is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
deaths, influenza, year

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 11:48 PM.


Powered by vBulletin®
Copyright © Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.