Margulis on HIV/AIDS

I was out yesterday, and as such missed Lynn Margulis’ blog tour stop at Pharyngula. For those who may not be familiar with Margulis, she’s a professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and was the one who pushed the (now accepted) idea that chloroplasts and mitochondria in cells came about due to symbiosis. In the post announcing her impending arrival, there were lots of questions about her stance on HIV/AIDS. This is mostly due to a review she co-authored on Amazon of Harvey Bialy’s biography of HIV denier Peter Duesberg. The review ends: “As both Bialy and Duesberg emphasize, let us see the research results of those who show that cancer is ’caused by an oncogene’ and that ‘AIDS is caused by the rapidly mutating HIV virus’. Please point us to the published evidence.”

However, since this review was co-authored, it was uncertain how much of this was Margulis’ view alone. She answers that at Pharyngula; I’m going to quote it in its entirety here because it’s just so incredible:
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Europeans are supposed to be smarter than this!

From the Seed mothership: Cancer is due to ‘fate’, Britons believe

More than a quarter of people believe that fate alone will determine whether they get cancer, not their lifestyle choices, according to a survey conducted by charity Cancer Research UK.

The poll of more than 4,000 adults across the country asked people if they thought they could reduce their risk of getting cancer or whether it was out of their hands.

A total of 27 percent of people said cancer was down to fate, with more women than men believing cancer was a matter of destiny than prevention through measures such as quitting smoking or eating healthily.

(Continued after the jump….)
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Feminism gives you breast cancer

I ran across this story study linking breast cancer protection to housework while browsing Scienceblogs briefly over the break (GrrlScientist mentioned it here), but hadn’t had a chance until now to read through the actual publication. As usual, I’m late; Orac has a good overview, as well as some comments made by other bloggers railing against “feminism” and how this study proves that feminist philosophy kills women.

First, here’s how the BBC story describes it:

Women who exercise by doing the housework can reduce their risk of breast cancer, a study suggests.

The research on more than 200,000 women from nine European countries found doing household chores was far more cancer protective than playing sport.

Dusting, mopping and vacuuming was also better than having a physical job.

The women in the Cancer Research UK-funded study spent an average of 16 to 17 hours a week cooking, cleaning and doing the washing.

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People out there never cease to amaze me

Regular readers out there will already be familiar with the groups of people who deny evolutionary theory, who deny that HIV causes AIDS, even those who deny that germs cause disease, period. Wilhelm Godshalk is even on the record for denying gravity. I don’t know what it is about this site, and science blogs in general, that bring people out of the woodwork in this manner, but we have another live one. Witness Charles Hoy’s assertion that fear, not smoking, causes lung cancer.

What evidence do you want? Lung cancer is as common in smokers as it is in non-smokers. Where it all gets tricky is when you have to draw the frontier between smokers and non-smokers. A person who has been smoking from his 15th until his 30th birthday and who gets lung cancer at an age of 60, is he in the smoker’s or in the non-smoker’s stats? Already there are not so many people who never smoked a cigarette in their lives and, of course, today the last barriers to easy statistics are leveled. Secondary smoke! What an amazing trick of the apologist geniuses. Nobody in the whole wide world is save from secondary smoke and today ALL lung cancer can be traced back to cigarettes.

But we should consider things differently. For example, everybody diagnosed with a severe disease like cancer or AIDS will end up having lung cancer. Look it up: Cancer metastasis in the lungs is the most common of secondary cancers. Which is very logical: People who are severely ill are very afraid and the cause of lung cancer is fear. Or, to be more precise, a biological conflict of “fear of death” is the cause if the lung alveoli are concerned.

Someone better alert the tobacco companies–I assume they’ll want their settlement money back.

[Edited to add that apparently Hoy also denies the germ theory of disease, like our previous pal jspreen. To ease my mind, I’m going to believe he’s just putting me on. Again, don’t shatter my illusions…]

Well, this is going to tick some people off

The new vaccine against the human papilloma virus is something I’ve discussed a time or ten here. Reaction to the vaccine by many religious groups has morphed with time, from outright resistance to a more common stance right now that they’re accepting of the vaccine, but don’t want it to be mandatory. Well…

Michigan legislation would require girls to get HPV vaccine

Michigan girls entering the sixth grade next year would have to be vaccinated against cervical cancer under legislation backed Tuesday by a bipartisan group of female lawmakers.

The legislation is the first of its kind in the United States, said Republican state Sen. Beverly Hammerstrom, lead sponsor.

A government advisory panel said that ideally, the vaccine should be given before girls become sexually active.

The American Cancer Society estimates that cervical cancer will be diagnosed in 9,700 women nationwide, and that 3,700 will die.

“We believe we can save the lives of these girls,” Hammerstrom said.

Guess who doesn’t like the idea, and why?
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HPV awareness and HIV prevention

I’ve blogged previously about the massive effect vaccines against the human papilloma virus (HPV) could have. HPV is a common sexually-transmitted virus. Though most strains are harmless, a few have the potential to cause cervical cancer. Therefore, the HPV vaccine will be the first one ever specifically intended to prevent a type of cancer.

This vaccine has recently been approved by the FDA, and is set to roll out shortly. This is already expected to be a rather contentious issue as the vaccine is rolled out in the U.S. and elsewhere, as one target group for vaccination is adolescents who have not yet begun sexual activity. Some religious groups have already objected on the grounds that it will increase sexual promiscuity.

A Monday session The Potential Role of HPV Vaccines in Improving HIV Prevention Among Young Girls and Women (video at link) suggested that the coming controversy (and hopeful resolution) over adoption of the HPV vaccine could be used as both a model for an eventual HIV vaccination campaign, as well as begin to open the dialogue among parents, teens, caregivers, and public health officials regarding issues in adolescent sexual activity.

(Continued at AIDS at 25)

Early childhood exposures and a healthy life

I was busy over the weekend (and disgusted by the hot, nasty weather that will not die), so I don’t have a lot on tap for today. Luckily, though, there’s some interesting stuff elsewhere that’s already written up–thoughtfully saving me some of the trouble.

I discuss the link between infectious and “chronic” disease with some regularity on this site. I think it’s a fascinating area; perhaps oversold by some, perhaps over-criticized by others, but certainly a hot topic and an interesting direction for research in microbiology. This weekend’s New York Times had a new story that touched on the link. (More below…)

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