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Why doctors are being urged to join the March for Science on Saturday

Why doctors are being urged to join the March for Science on Saturday
Members of the scientific community and their supporters at a rally in Boston at February. The American College of Physicians is urging its members to participate in the March for Science on Saturday. (Steven Senne / Associated Press)

The editors of the prestigious Annals of Internal Medicine are urging their colleagues in the medical community to join the March for Science. To make sure they leave no room for doubt, the headline on their editorial reads, "Alternative Facts Have No Place in Science."

Published by the American College of Physicians, it's a jam-packed piece that explains how the politicization of science is threatening the health of our nation's citizens.

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So what, exactly, has made these physicians worked up enough to participate in Saturday's march?

Let’s start with: Climate change is not a hoax ...

"Climate change has adverse effects on human health that include respiratory disease, heat-related conditions, vector-borne disease and food and water security."

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… and its effects are being felt, right here, right now.

"These are not merely future hypothetical threats in foreign lands — poor air quality due to global warming is already associated with poor respiratory health in U.S. locales."

Also, vaccines work…

"Well-designed and meticulous studies [have established] the effectiveness and safety of vaccines for such diseases as measles, pertussis, varicella, and polio."

… and anti-vaxxers are putting people in danger.

"…the antivaccine lobby is bolstered by political leaders who echo its 'alternative facts' about vaccines. Consequently, people are increasingly at risk for illness and death that vaccines had previously prevented."

A 1-year-old girl is vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella.
A 1-year-old girl is vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Guns don’t make people safer ...

"Growing evidence shows that guns do not make U.S. citizens safer but are actually associated with increased risk for suicide, homicide and injury."

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… and politicians don’t seem to care.

"Legislators ignore this evidence when they block regulatory actions that could enhance safety of firearms in our society."

And then there’s Trump’s budget:

"The budget President Trump released in mid-March 2017 proposes to reduce the National Institutes of Health budget by $5.8 billion, an 18.3% reduction."

Two scientists observe ocular tissue samples under a laser-scanning microscope at the National Eye Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health.
Two scientists observe ocular tissue samples under a laser-scanning microscope at the National Eye Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health. (National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health)
They know it probably won’t go through, but …

"The proposed NIH cuts, along with the proposal to eliminate the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, exemplify that the administration fails or chooses not to recognize the importance of science to the health of the United States and its citizens."

… and that could have long-term effects.

"Bright young people will be hesitant to pursue careers in medical research in such an environment, resulting in fewer people being ready to seek out what science can teach us to combat future problems."

Good medicine can occur only thanks to good science.

"And good science cannot occur and its rewards cannot be reaped when we choose to pursue only the data and knowledge that seem to support our ideologies and denigrate the rest as 'fake.' Science doesn't work that way."

So get out there and make your voice heard.

Politicians who pick and choose the scientific data they are willing to promote and denigrate represent "a peril we must face head-on."

Do you love science? I do! Follow me @DeborahNetburn and "like" Los Angeles Times Science & Health on Facebook.

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