Posted by: cg00n | October 14, 2008

Mostly New Scientist

I’m not talking about a scientist who is partly old in this posting:  it mostly consists of references to New Scientist magazine articles which seem more or less relevant to cancer-related issues.  Before I get to that I’ll just mention that I had my CT scan (why did we lose the A from that, I wonder?) today.  Obviously it will take a week or so to get the results (next Wednesday, to be precise) but no one screamed or fainted after the pictures were taken and I walked out much as I walked in which has to count for something.  P and I then had lunch on a balcony overlooking a river bordered by brightly fall-coloured trees.  Very beautiful sight and quite a good lunch too.

Back to New Scientist:  it is quite rare to find an issue that has no article relating to cancer research or matters relating to it and the last couple of months has seen quite a good crop.

August 9th brought two items of interest:

  • Vitamin C: Cancer patients’ friend or foe? suggests that intravenous injections of vitamin C may cause tumour shrinkage. The doses involved are too large to be taken orally which is why previous studies of vitamin C’s effects have been rather inconclusive.
  • Best in small doses talks about hormesis, a process whereby organisms exposed to low levels of stress or toxins become more resistant to tougher challenges. There is now some fairly reliable scientific evidence that certain things we think of as poisons may, at slightly sub-toxic doses, be quite beneficial. All sorts of interesting ramifications follow from this.

In the August 30th issue there are no fewer than four articles that are at least vaguely related to what I am usually going on about:

  • The right time for cancer treatment suggests that chemotherapy drugs should be taken at specific times of day for maximum effectiveness.
  • A Nose for Cancer Surgery talks about a NASA electronic scent detector (a nose by any other name) which may help detect the presence of cancer in some circumstances.
  • If you’re happy and you know it… has nothing to do with cancer specifically but everything to do with how you feel about it, which has been a pretty hot topic in earlier postings.
  • Keep your head also has no specific connection with cancer but talks about how we weigh the costs and benefits when faced with anxiety-provoking choices.

The September 9th issue brings us Something for the pain, a comment on the stigma still attached to opioid drugs and the difficulty of using them to control pain in terminally ill patients. This is the sort of thing we should all harass our elected officials about.

Finally, on September 20th there is Condition Critical, a special report on the crisis facing American health care. The rest of us should not feel too smug, though. It is not as though our health care systems are in such robust health.

I hope all the links work.  They may only get you partial articles which are available in full only to subscribers.  If you want the full text to one of them you can email me (stuff0001 <at> and I’ll send you a PDF of the whole thing.  New Scientist magazine is a weekly publication to which I have had a subscription for about 25 years now.  It is always interesting and informative, written so as to be understandable by non-scientists as well as professionals.  I highly recommend it to any of you who feel a need for a trustworthy overview of the current state of science in general.  They aren’t paying me to say this either.

C U later, people.



  1. and speaking of scans, here’s a link from today’s NYT with a lesson about informed skepticism:

  2. I was trying to think of a clever response … but nothing either witty or wise comes to mind. You are doing a great job researching topics related to your diagnosis. I am so pleased that you are stable and that your family is settling back into familiar routines.

  3. Glad to hear that you are soldering along with sound results.

    They dropped the ‘A’ because you can get more than just axial views from modern computer tomography systems. Better visualization means ‘CT Scan’ instead of CAT. 🙂

    We continue to send best wishes from down here.

  4. Apparently also called “röntgenography” (the wonders of Wikipedia, in many ways very like the wonders of New Scientist).

    I wish the CBC and other media outlets would put bibliographic refs in their science stories, like New Scientist does (especially the stories about one specific peer-reviewed paper). A DOI or a hyperlink is sufficient, and saves so much time… and hopefully we’ll soon have free open access for all :-).

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