Thursday, March 09, 2006
Baby beluga in the deep blue miasma and herbal remedies won't help--UPDATED
Don't call me Ishmael. I can't find a white whale around here--Marine biologists working in Alaska have some chilling news: beluga whales may be endangered. Thirty years ago there were 1,300 in Cook Inlet. Last year, fewer than 280. No one knows why the decline. The gorgeous animals may wind up under federal protection. Such a listing was rejected in 2000 because it looked like overharvesting was the problem and that was fixable. Strict limits were placed on hunting but the population is still in decline. Something else is going on, says Lloyd Lowry at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks. It could be human assaults on their habitat, including from oil and gas development, but the cause of the decline simply isn't clear. What's scary, of course, is that any single event, like an oil spill could be the tipping point that dooms the species.
They really have a cure for cancer but the herb growers are suppressing it--Americans spend billions on alternative remedies, highly touted in natural food stores, in magazines, and books. Even the government, thanks to the numbskulls in Congress, is in the act, with Congress forcing the National Institutes of Health to start a center to study and promote the use of these remedies. Enter the law of unintended consequences. One consequence is that some of these remedies are actually getting tested scientifically. To the surprise of many, it turns out none of them seem to work. Last week, two popular arthritis pills, glucosamine and chondroitin were found to be no better than placebos. Last month, saw palmetto, often thought to help prostate problems, was shown to be useless. St. John's wort doesn't treat depression, shark cartilage doesn't help with cancer and echinacea doesn't work for colds.
UPDATE--Oh, and vitamin B doesn't prevent heart attacks.
Do you think it will make a difference to the $20 billion-a-year industry or to the people shelling out the bucks? Certainly not.