Daily Archives: April 29, 2009

Grapefruit juice might boost cancer drug’s effects


photograph of some grapefruit
Grapefruit juice contains enzymes that break down common types of compounds of which pharmaceuticals are made. This means that if you drink grapefruit juice along with some drugs, the effect of the drug will be enhanced.

(That was a slight oversimplification.)

So great, you say, why not just take all drugs with a glass of grapefruit juice? Well, I can think of two reasons. One, grapefruit juice tastes like ape-piss, so why would you ever drink it. Two, drug experts feel that they have more control over your dosage if you just leave the grapefruit juice out of the equation.

But, not always.
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1970s Swine Flu Training Video

The swine flu maneno in the 1970s was actually a key moment in the history of epidemiology politics. It also relates to the history of anti-vaccine activism in important and interesting ways. I should probably write a whole post about it. For now, suffice it to say that the government reaction to the sudden appearance of swine flu on the scene was somewhat bungled, it is probably true that the wrong people got screwed, and the swine flu itself turned out to be a false start. But please also note that the epidemiology of the present swine flu is very different from what we had then. And, we have a Democrat in the White House so the government won’t screw it up as badly.

There is (probably) Swine Flu in Minnesota; One death elsewhere in US.

The Minnesota cases are not confirmed but health officials are saying they likely will be. There will be a press conference on this at 9:00 AM Wed.

A child in Texas has died of the flu.

Which brings us to the relative severity, or more exactly, the mortality rate. It has seemed to some a mystery that many have died in Mexico but not elsewhere. However, it is also thought that thousands were ill in Mexico (no reliable estimate exists). So dozens out of thousands have died in Mexico, and now one out of dozens in the US. There simply are not enough data to assess overall mortality and especially to compare Mexico vs. Not Mexico cases.

In a bit of Politics as Usual, in Israel, one official decided to drop the name Swine Flu because Swine is an abomination (see Bible). Mexicans objected. A higher level Israeli official then claimed that the first official was “only joking.” Palestinian officials have said that they don’t care that it is called swine flu, let’s just fix the problem, and the Egyptians are killing all the pigs.

Source of all the above: Your friendly neighborhood public radio show.

Sbling Sandy Has ID’d ‘Source’ of Swine Flu


Dr. Sandra Porter of Discovering Biology in a Digital World provides evidence that “the California outbreak might be the same strain that caused an outbreak in 2007 at an Ohio country fair.”

What a nice piece of research and blogging.

UPDATED: There is some interesting discussion on Sandy’s blog about the validity and meaning of this finding, and Tara Smith has further discussion here.

I also want to be more specific about one thing: When I say the word “Source” of Swine Flu in the head line, I mean “phylogenetic source” … the actual source of a person’s case of swine flu is another person (or swine) and the ultimate source is the evolution of viruses. I could have switched this to “origin” but that would be even more geographically meaningful (without meaning for that to be the case) and I could have used the word “ancestor” but that is misleading because of the way viuruses “evolve.” So I’m leaving it as source, and I refer you to this question about geography, which I have asked and which I’m sure will be answered soon enough.