Medical cannabis classified as a medicine by the MHRA

The UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) recently called for medical cannabis to be made legal. Following this, “The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has reviewed the classification of products containing CBD (cannabidiol) and found them to meet the definition of a medical product”. The agency has decided that products that contain cannabidiol (CBD) being used for medical purposes are a medicine. This decision means that any products that contain CDB will be required to have a product licence before they can be legally sold, supplied or advertised in the UK, unless they are exempt. We have previously reported on the classification of CBD, which is one of 65 naturally occurring cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. This re-classification now firmly puts the supply of medical cannabis into the hands of the pharmaceutical industry.

Genetically engineered viruses being developed to fight cancer

Scientists at The Institute for Cancer Research researching the use of immunotherapy in the treatment of cancer, are now developing genetically engineered viruses to attack tumours. Immunotherapy can be very effective in the treatment of cancer, but it doesn’t work for everyone. Researchers think that by developing a virus that could attach to a cancer cell, it will trigger our own immune system to target, attack and kill the tumours that have that a virus attached to it. The current study will also look at the safest and most effective way of administering such viruses. Currently the only approved approach is for the virus to be injected directly into the tumour, but this is limited and cannot always target all of the cancer if tumours are spread around the body. There are obviously big differences in terms of potential human health and environmental impact of GMOs used for internal and medical purposes as compared with their outdoor release as GM crops. Most data suggests that the environmental impacts are negligible or even zero, but we strongly believe that everyone who is offered a GM drug or vaccine, be it experimental or licenced, should be fully informed of its GM origins. Presently this is often not the case with vaccines.

Coca-Cola fighting the sugar tax by stealth

It looks like Coca-Cola are fighting back against any sugar tax legislation in Europe. In a leaked email published by Ninjas for Health, a network of innovators dedicated to keeping health out of the hospital, they show a graph demonstrating the likelihood of proposed EU legislation and the effects it will have on company business. It reports that Coca-Cola are preparing to act on a ban on advertising to children under 12, even though they insist that they don’t. Sophia Chrysopoulou, the Government Relations Senior Manager at the Coca-Cola Company in Brussels authored the document clearly showing their policy to fight or prepare to fight legislation in Europe, which would protect public health and the environment at the expense of their profits.

Are all those health tests really necessary?

In an attempt to address the issue of over-medicalisation and the ever spiralling costs of the UK’s NHS, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges has drawn up a list of medical treatments that they consider to be of little or no benefit to patients. Their report singles out the following treatment approaches, amongst others: using tap water to clean cuts and grazes rather than saline solution; blood tests to diagnose the menopause if women are over 45 and presenting with typical symptoms; use of removable splints for small wrist fractures in children; children with bronchiolitis or breathing problems being left to recover without treatment; chemotherapy for advanced cancer should be carefully considered as, “benefit is likely to be small and the harm may be great”. The Academy has also said that patients often bring pressure to bear on doctors to carry out ‘unnecessary’ treatments. This advice is part of ongoing efforts to reduce over-medicalisation (the number of medicines/treatments prescribed) in the NHS and reduce costs. As part of the new campaign entitled, ‘Choosing Wisely’, patients are being encouraged to ask doctors 5 questions when seeking treatment: Do I really need this test, treatment or procedure? What are the risks or downsides? What are the possible side effects? Are there simple safer options? What happens if I do nothing?

China Bans X-ray scanners

China has recently ordered that all full-body X-ray scanners be removed from airports and railway stations due to radiation risks. “China found that the radiation dose that each person receives from the scanner has just a small effect on the human body, but as China has a large population and heavy travel volume, wide use of full-body X-ray scanners at airports, railway stations and ports is not appropriate”. The US changed their full-body X-ray scanners from backscatter X-ray in 2012, the same year that they were banned in the EU. Interestingly the US did not ban the use of x-rays because of health concerns, but because they failed to meet a contractual obligation. The change in the EU was triggered by health concerns because x-rays have the ability to break chemical bonds in human tissue. Millimetre wave scanner technology (a form of EMR) is now being employed, but this is still classified by the IARC as a class 2B carcinogen. Electrohypersensitives and frequent travellers are still advised to opt out if allowed.

Electromagnetic Radiation damages trees

A recent study looking into the effect of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) on trees living near phone masts has found that EMR does cause damage to the tree. The 30 selected trees in low radiation areas were found to have suffered no damage, however those placed near a mobile phone mast showed clear damage, usually starting on one side and extending to the whole tree over time. Visit our ANH-Intl campaign page on EMR for more detailed information and a number of tips to reduce your overall exposure.

Mammograms result in unnecessary treatment

A newly published study has found that “more than half of breast cancers diagnosed in the United States are likely cases of mistaken identity”. Mammograms are painful and subject women to unnecessary, expensive and most importantly, potentially damaging treatment. The study found that the use of mammograms as a ‘life-saving’ tool has been significantly overstated, they could in fact be causing more damage than good. Breast thermography could be a safer, painless and more sensitive alternative for women given that it uses infrared rays and can detect changes 6-10 years before a tumour is big enough to see on a mammogram.