The Dangers of Selective Science - NewsGrabs 27 April 2008
Health Supreme's NewsGrabs - a selection of contrary and underprivileged news in health and a wide range of (mostly) related sectors. Find what trends you may have missed - watch out for the weekly News Grabs.
The controversy over yet another "meta analysis" that allegedly found antioxidants don't prevent people from dying, was in full swing this week. A famous quip comes to mind: "There are lies, there are damned lies and then there are statistics". Apparently, anything can be manipulated using statistical analysis. The outcome of course depends what you put in in the first place. Garbage in, garbage out, it used to be called.
An observation I just made and sent to a few friends:
After saying "no evidence to support antioxidant supplements for primary or secondary prevention" and "vitamin A, beta-carotene and vitamin E may increase mortality", the concluding sentence of the whole piece is
"Antioxidant supplements need to be considered medicinal products and should undergo sufficient evaluation before marketing."
That is really a policy statement, not something that should concern the authors of a scientific meta-analysis, unless ... unless of course they are working directly or indirectly for someone with a clear agenda. Someone who would like to push through world wide legislation to have vitamins considered medicines and reserve their production and sale as much as possible to pharmaceutical channels.
So maybe we should look for that connection...
The dangers of selective science
Looking at the details of the new analysis shows us that 67 randomised clinical trials were included, focussing on beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium supplements versus placebo. But amazingly, 748 trials were excluded for several reasons, including 405 trials that showed no mortality in the study groups. I attempted to contact the lead reviewer for his comments on why they had excluded 405 death-free trials, asking whether such an exclusion would skew results towards increased death statistics… I am still awaiting a reply.
Celebrities join industry experts in speaking out against alarmist vitamin story…
Some of Britain’s most popular celebrities have spoken out against this week’s alarmist and grossly misleading vitamin story, which wrongly questioned the safety of the antioxidant supplements...
Antioxidants and Cancer: Researcher admits she got it wrong
But the researchers, led by Isabelle Bairati from the Quebec Research Centre, who published the 2005 study, have re-analysed their original data, and have discovered they got it wrong. The only people in the study who were seeing their cancer return were smokers who refused to kick the habit while they were receiving radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Strangely, not a single newspaper has run with the story.
Nutrition intervention trials in Linxian, China
Supplementation with specific vitamin/mineral combinations, cancer incidence, and disease-specific mortality in the general population
The findings indicate that vitamin and mineral supplementation of the diet of Linxian adults, particularly with the combination of beta carotene, vitamin E, and selenium, may effect a reduction in cancer risk in this population.
Study shows common vitamin and other micronutrient supplements reduce risks of TB recurrence
Nutritional assessment and support in tuberculosis therapy, once common before the advent of anti-TB drugs, is no longer an integral part of clinical therapy in most low-income countries even though poor nutrition impairs the immune system and leads to risk of further infection and relapse.
Villamor noted, "We found that providing micronutrients to patients with tuberculosis who were undergoing anti-TB treatment appeared to decrease the risk of recurrences. This effect was stronger in patients infected with HIV than in those who were HIV-negative. This could be relevant because TB reactivation is common among HIV-infected persons.”
Vitamin D necessary for proper brain function
“This critical analysis of vitamin D function and the brain is a model of careful thinking about nutrition and behavior”, says Gerald Weissmann, MD, Editor-in-Chief of the FASEB Journal “One wishes that all studies of nutritional supplements or requirements were this thoughtful. Drs. McCann and Ames deftly show that while vitamin D has an important role in the development and function of the brain, its exact effects on behavior remain unclear. Pointing to the need for further study, the authors argue for vitamin D supplementation in groups at risk.”
Vitamin D has long been known to promote healthy bones by regulating calcium levels in the body. Lack of sufficient vitamin D in very young children results in rickets, which can be easily prevented by vitamin D supplements. Only recently the scientific community has become aware of a much broader role for vitamin D. For example, we now know that, in addition to its role in maintaining bone health, vitamin D is involved in differentiation of tissues during development and in proper functioning of the immune system.
Treatment Of Statin Damage
It appears that Statins produce permanent damage and are far more risky. Possibly the only benefit statins provide is some reduction in inflammation but possibly at a irreversible cost. This is particularly sad given that low cost Turmeric may well be a safer if not more effective alternative than statins and aspirin to reduce inflammation. Indeed those who have used Turmeric in lieu of statins in this regard can attest to its striking efficacy....
FDA Set to Approve Ghost-Writing
All the major newspapers that circulate in the nation's capital (the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post) carried stories this morning about a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association that showed about half of articles that appeared in the medical literature touting Vioxx had been ghost-written by employees or contractors working for Merck, the drug's manufacturer.
What none of those stories or the study mentioned was the regulatory context in which this study (and an accompanying one alleging Merck manipulated the data in one of those studies to hide the mortality risk among Alzheimer's patients who used the drug) appears. The Food and Drug Administration wants to give drug manufacturers like Merck a blank check to distribute to physicians nearly any article advocating off-label use of drugs that appears in the medical literature. The only substantive criteria in the proposed guidance is that the article be peer-reviewed and reflect "well-controlled" clinical studies.
Wyeth Acted In ‘Bad Faith’ In Prempro Case
A Nevada judge has ordered Wyeth to post a $58 million bond and pay $1.6 million in attorney fees for acting in ‘bad faith’ during settlement talks with lawyers for three women who sued the drugmaker over charges the Prempro hormone replacement treatment caused their breast cancer.
This is the same Wyeth that, with a Citizens' petition, induced the FDA to go after bio-identical hormones commonly used as a more natural alternative to their horse-urine based Prempro.
‘Lethal’ drugs given for dementia
The Alzheimer’s Society estimates that antipsychotic drugs are being prescribed to 105,000 elderly people with dementia in Britain, and that in two-thirds of cases the drugs are unnecessary. Studies show they can increase the risk of strokes and have other side effects, such as the disorder suffered by Ramsay.
According to his family, Ramsay was given Olanzapine in October 2001 without their knowledge. When he refused to take the drug his carers allegedly ground the pills into powder to put in his yoghurt.
Eli-Lilly, the manufacturer of Olanzapine, said the side effect suffered by Ramsay was “very rare” and the drug was neither licensed nor promoted in the UK to treat patients with dementia.
Involuntary drugging of US detainees, a crisis for the health professions
A major article in the Washington Post collects the accounts of US detainees who, in large numbers, report that they were the recipients of unknown psychotropic drugs.
While both the military and the Defense Department deny the reports, as the Post carefully notes, these reports are especially plausible as it is known that the CIA conducted a decades-long research program to develop truth serums and pharmacological approaches to manipulating human behavior. And, as discussed below, the CIA in 2003 was actively discussing the use of drugs in interrogations. Further, the recently released Yoo torture memo went out of its way to provide legal cover for the use of drugs in interrogations.
In recent years it has become clear that psychologists have been pivotal actors in the Bush administration interrogation abuses, as they designed, conducted and standardized “enhanced interrogations amounting to torture.Looks like a good part of the medical profession and the pharma drug providers are being sucked into a black vortex of torture and forceful interrogation. Whatever happened to "first, do no harm"?
Chemotherapy causes delayed severe neural damage
Professor Mark Noble and colleagues of the University of Rochester Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Institute and the Harvard Medical School, Boston discovered that short-term systemic administration of 5-FU to mice caused both acute CNS damage and a syndrome of progressively worsening delayed damage. This damage was not self-repairing, and instead became worse over time.
“Multiple clinical reports have identified neurotoxicity as a complication of treatment regimens in which chemotherapeutic agents such as 5-fluorouracil are components,” says Noble. “As treatments with chemotherapeutic agents will clearly remain the standard of care for cancer patients for many years to come, the need to better understand such damage is great.”So we have to "understand the damage" of toxic medicine. Why not abandon the toxins and look for biological treatments of cancer, which are many but have all been rejected? Oh - I forgot - there's no money in biological treatment modes while poisons are profit.
Kids Need An EKG Before Taking ADHD Meds
The American Heart Association is recommending that children should be screened for heart problems with an electrocardiogram before getting drugs to treat ADHD, because the meds can increase blood pressure and heart rate. This isn’t a problem for most kids, but the meds - which are stimulants - could make them more vulnerable to sudden cardiac arrest and other heart problems if they already have heart conditions. About 2.5 million American children and 1.5 million adults take ADHD pills, such as Ritalin, Concerta and Adderall...
Why flu vaccine is rarely effective
If you got flu shot and still came down with the flu symptoms like fever, cough and running nose, you should not be alone. A study released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the effectiveness of this year’s vaccine was estimated at only 44 percent...
International Scientists' Group Calls for New Thinking On Anniversary of HIV 'Discovery'
On April 23, 1984, Dr. Robert Gallo of the U.S. National Institutes of Health announced that he had discovered "the probable cause of AIDS," a new virus later named HIV. The world media and health authorities accepted HIV as the sole cause of AIDS as fact even though no proof was presented, on that day or afterward, that this type of virus can cause or is actually present in AIDS patients.
This mistake has caused unimaginable devastation to real people, says Rethinking AIDS president David Crowe. “What have 24 years and hundreds of billions of research dollars given us?” he asks. “Tests that don't detect the virus, and toxic treatment drugs. Incorrect claims about HIV and AIDS have even included statistical predictions that have proved repeatedly to be wrong.”
Is it time to give up the search for an Aids vaccine?
Most scientists involved in Aids research believe that a vaccine against HIV is further away than ever and some have admitted that effective immunisation against the virus may never be possible, according to an unprecedented poll conducted by The Independent.
A mood of deep pessimism has spread among the international community of Aids scientists after the failure of a trial of a promising vaccine at the end of last year. It just was the latest in a series of setbacks in the 25-year struggle to develop an HIV vaccine.
DECONSTRUCTING HIV/AIDS in “SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA” and “THE CARIBBEAN”
This does not look much like the distribution of something infectious or contagious, something supposed to spread primarily via sexual intercourse; particularly not when the purported agent of infection is said to have affected human beings for the first time in West Central Africa early in the 20th century, jumping in some manner from chimpanzees; the highest frequencies of positive tests–by far–are in the extreme south, not around Cameroon.
Handsets pose danger for children
Handsets pose danger for children and teen-agers, state experts of the Russian National Committee on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection having carried out experiments with animals of different age. The oncoming generation is recommended to reduce communication through handsets, as their nerves might be badly injured.A comment of the friend who forwarded this link: "The Russians have been aware of the dangers posed by EMR for a very long time. Thus, this is why they have some of the strictest regulations on EMR limits in the world. Interestingly, this may also very well explain why East Germans had extremely low rates of allergies while West Germans very high rates of allergies before the unification of the two countries while East Germany was adopting the Russian standards. After unification of the two countries, East German rates of allergies mysteriously rose to be on par with that of West German along with a relaxation of its EMR limits to meet West Germany's standards."
Exposed: the great GM crops myth
The study – carried out over the past three years at the University of Kansas in the US grain belt – has found that GM soya produces about 10 per cent less food than its conventional equivalent, contradicting assertions by advocates of the technology that it increases yields.
Study Based on Farmers’ Experience Exposes Risks of GM Crops
Canada, along with the United States and Argentina were the first countries in the world to commercialise GM crops. But more than a decade later, risk assessment for GM crops is still ignoring farmers’ knowledge and their years of experience in growing GM crops.
India: Farmers march in defence of seed sovereignty
The march was organised by a Delhi-based organisation Navdanya Trust, which has been supporting local farmers to promote organic farming. It also has seed banks in various parts of the country, including in Uttarakhand and Bihar.
The purpose of the march was to spread awareness on the need to protect the seed and food sovereignty of Indian farmers, which is under severe attack from multinational companies (MNCs) like Monsanto and Cargill.To find out what a local seed bank in India is like, read this article from Arun Shirivastava: Women of Zaheerabad take on Monsanto
India: Manipulation of food prices in 'futures' trading
There is a wrong notion that the farmers are benefiting from the existing futures trading in the country. The farmers get the lowest price for their produce in the season at harvest and, thereafter, the produce passes into the hands of traders and corporate houses that manipulate high prices for commodities in the futures Markets. Farmers have no opportunity to participate in this.
Despite the good production, there is a deliberate manipulation of food prices both at the global and at the domestic levels. At the global level, there are a few corporate players in the food business that buy produce from farmers cheap, hoard the stock and manipulate the prices. The bio-fuel programme in Europe and the US is also a contributing factor to price rise.
Asian Development Bank: Biofuels making food more expensive
"We feel that the developed countries should seriously rethink the whole issue of biofuel, particularly the biofuel subsidies," Nag said. "Giving subsidies for biofuels ... basically acts as an implicit tax on staple foods."
Paying farmers to grow oilseed and other crops to produce biofuels means they grow fewer food crops, resulting in higher prices for such staples as palm oil and corn.
Bucking the CAFO tax: A plea for conscientious objection
Here’s a number to knock you out of that mid-day stupor: every year, taxpayers shell out between $7.1 billion and $8.2 billion to subsidize or clean up after our nation’s 9,900 confined animal feeding operations. That’s the finding of “CAFOs Uncovered,” a new report released earlier today by the Union of Concerned Scientists.
The Disappearing Bees: CCD and Electromagnetic Radiation
by Colin Buchanan
A timeline documenting the disappearance of the bees and Colony Collapse Disorder
No causal agent has been agreed upon so far for the disappearance of large numbers of honey bees. Perhaps politics is coming into this as it would be a heavy blow to a very profitable and in many senses vital communications industry if their use of the airwaves were linked to health effects, even if "only" on the bees. Yes, you can find more virus and parasite infestation. But would that not be entirely consistent with a weakening influence of em radiation leaving the little critters open to secondary trouble?
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More information out there...
There is much I cannot cover but other sources for this kind of information exist and are active.
The Alternative Medicine Yahoo Group is a place where you can discuss and exchange information on what is happening in the world of natural health.
For the influence of electromagnetic waves from radio, mobile phones and other radio emitting devices, check out the emfrefugee group on Yahoo.
If you are interested in a different take on the news that isn't health centered but is certainly fun, check out Robin Good TV News.
A few sites to keep up to date with the other side of world affairs, the stuff you won't necessarily find on your tv or in the papers:
... and remember:
The individual is supreme and finds its way through intuition
posted by Sepp Hasslberger on Sunday April 27 2008
updated on Wednesday August 15 2012
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