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How Bad Medical Research is Destroying Our Health & Faith in Science

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Our trust in science is waning. Do you believe what you hear from scientists? Like many Americans, you may be losing trust in what science is telling you.

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A Huffington Post December 2013 poll found that only 36% of us have a “lot” of trust in the reliability of scientific information. 78% think that scientific studies are often or sometimes tainted by political ideology. And 82% believe scientific findings are often or sometimes influenced by the companies sponsoring the research. This is a disquieting trend.

This lack of confidence is especially strong regarding the nutritional and medical professions. One day it’s bad to eat eggs, the next day it’s good. A recent survey conducted by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) underscores how confused we really are.

Seventy-eight percent of the 1,002 respondents indicated they have encountered conflicting information about what constitutes a healthy food. Fifty-six percent felt that the confusion made them doubt the choices they were making food wise. Liz Sanders, director of research and partnerships at the foundation and a co-author of the survey, said in a CNN report that:

“Americans rely on many different sources for their information when it comes to what foods to eat and what foods to avoid. Not all of these sources are really highly trusted, and it is likely that these sources share inconsistent information.”

How often have you found yourself or heard a family member dismissing a new nutritional study by saying “Forget it, these reports are too confusing and always changing. I’m going to eat and do what I like”? As it turns out, you and your family members share your confusion with a majority of Americans.

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Why Are We Losing Trust In Science?

Setting aside the issue of religious fundamentalism, which can account for some of the mistrust of science, one possibility is the growing unreliability of many medical and nutritional practices and research. In the past few decades, there have been many medical and nutritional ideas that were later proven to be incorrect and even harmful.

Here’s a list of just a few confusing medical and nutritional practices prevalent in the past few decades that may have had a negative impact on your health:

  • Stents – Stents cost about $30k a piece and are performed on over half a million Americans each year, but there is little data indicating they prevent stroke.
  • High Carbohydrate Diets – Touted as the cure for heart disease for over 40 years, they have led to an obesity and diabetes epidemic with no clear support for their efficacy.
  • Arthroscopic Knee Surgery – Up to 1 million surgeries have been performed each year but a systematic review in the British Medical Journal found that for patients with meniscus tears it was no better than exercise therapy.
  • Vitamin E – Long thought to prevent cancer and heart disease. Numerous international studies found no benefit for protection against heart disease, stroke, or cancer.
  • Proton Pumps – The treatment of GERD costs Americans a billion dollars a year. Long term use (greater than 14 days) can lead to serious side-effects, such as clostridium difficile infection, pneumonia, and malabsorption of calcium and magnesium leading to bone fractures and cardiac abnormalities.

As I’ve written elsewhere and as you can see from the above list, the health of millions of people is routinely compromised by flawed medical research and practices.

Medical journalist Richard Harris makes some damaging revelations in Rigor Mortis: How Sloppy Science Creates Worthless Cures, Crushes Hope and Wastes Billions:

1 – The State of Biomedical Research

…medical researchers made much more progress between 1950 and 1980 than they did in the following three decades. Consider the development of blood-pressure drugs, chemotherapy, organ transplants, and other transformative technologies. Those all appeared in the decades before 1980.

2 – The Development of New Pharmaceutical Drugs

The rate of drug approval has been falling since the 1950s . . . if you extrapolate the trend, starting in 1950, you’ll find that drug development comes to a halt in 2040.

In 2005 Dr. John P.A. Ioannidis, currently a professor in disease prevention at Stanford University, published the most widely accessed article in the history of the Public Library of Science (PLoS) entitled Why Most Published Research Findings Are False. It stated:

“There is increasing concern that most current published research findings are false.”

And that “in modern research, false findings may be the majority or even the vast majority of published research claims.”

Ioannidis’ research model indicated that up to 80% of non-randomized research studies (the most common kind of study) are wrong, along with 25% of randomized trials (the supposed gold standard of research). Incredulously, these studies are published in top peer reviewed medical journals.

Much of what our physicians prescribe to us is wrong. Our doctors use research to inform their medical decisions — decisions about what drug to prescribe, which surgery to elect, and the best health strategy to adopt. They are often making crucial treatment decisions for depression, Alzheimer’s, type 2 Diabetes, cancer, obesity, etc., based on bad, incomplete, or hidden medical research.

The Evolution of Bad Medical Science

Why is this happening? Why is so much of biomedical research so poorly done?

As it stands now, researchers are typically rewarded (tenure, grants, better jobs, etc.) for publishing a quantity of publications in prestigious journals. They do this by

  • Running small and statistically weak studies (they are easy to do) that produce only positive results, since journals tend to not publish negative findings.
  • Ignoring negative findings.
  • Publishing only new and exciting findings that journals are looking for.
  • Never checking old findings for accuracy and replicability.
  • Changing methodologies in mid-stream to assure positive results.

The result is a proliferation of false and misleading findings that confuse scientists and the rest of us, waste billions of dollars, and undermine the scientific endeavour and our health.

To tackle why this is happening, two scientists, Smaldino and McElreath, created a computational model based on evolutionary theory (natural selection) to explain the rising tide of weak biomedical research. They did this by simulating virtual research labs competing under conditions that exist today. The labs that put more effort into their research received fewer publications. The labs that published more received more grants, students, and prestige.

The Results

Over numerous simulations and generations, the labs that were most successful (most publications, grants, etc.) passed their approach on to the next generation and proliferated. The labs that failed to publish a high volume of lower quality research were not rewarded with lucrative grants and did not achieve higher prestige or proliferate as readily.

As occurs in natural selection, the most successful labs recreated themselves with greater frequency.

Ed Yong of the Atlantic Monthly summarized the results: “Over time, and across many simulations, the virtual labs inexorably slid towards less effort, poorer methods, and almost entirely unreliable results.”

Conclusion

With the emphasis on quantity of publication, the forces of natural selection will continue to select for poor research, false findings, muddled methodology, and accelerating confusion in the world of health and bio medical research. Replicability of findings will continue to falter as poor research studies abound.

The losers in all of this are those of us trying to make sense of what science is telling us so we can live better, more wholesome, and healthier lives.

Related CE Article:

Peer-Reviewed Science Losing Credibility As Large Amounts of Research Shown To Be False

 

 

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

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Awareness

Ending The Debate About The Ketogenic Diet – 9 Studies You Must Be Aware Of

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The Ketogenic diet is a popular fad diet that promotes quick weight loss and symptom management for bodies that are dealing with poor lymph, kidney and digestion health.

  • Reflect On:

    Based on the studies that are emerging, is our desire for quick weight loss more important than living a long and healthy life? Are we learning about these diets primarily through those with strong ties to upholding these diets?

The ketogenic diet has popped up as a popular approach to weight loss in the last few years. Is it successful at that? Sure, it is. I’ve experimented with the diet myself years ago when I was looking to lose some belly fat. I was entering into ketosis in a different way than most, as I was not eating any animal products, but it does in fact work.

But like any animal product based diet, what are the consequences of eating so much food that does not truly jive with our human bodies? Not only that, is fast weight loss more important than keeping our morality rate down?

In the last few years, we’ve reported a lot on the Keto diet and the various ways it can be done. We have explored the studies, the results and in some ways, we supported it. But lately, I have been thinking about how supporting this could actually be encouraging people to jump into these diets, including the paleo diet, when in reality these diets increase mortality rates and are not healthy for the human body.

It became a thought in the back of my mind, I have always strived to put the best information out that I can through this platform to promote good health. And so we must look at that, even if that means upsetting some people who currently are on paleo or keto and are seeing some good weight loss or symptom management. The truth is, like the many people I’ve seen crash on these diets after a few years, I want people to know the truth of what’s going on out there. And how we can get beyond diets that symptom manage, and instead get onto diets that truly heal.

Anytime we have fad diets, which paleo and keto are, we see products and bias pop up all over the place to support the continuation of these trends. It becomes less about health and more about upholding an identity or a business.

So as I recently looked into what experts are saying about these diets, I came upon two important videos I think everyone should check out. Both have been embedded below. Remember, it’s not that I care what you choose in your own life, or that I feel there is a right or wrong, it’s that I believe we should be informed and I wish to use this platform to promote as best a message as I can.

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The Videos

Thanks to Plant-Based News for creating such a good channel and resource of information on YouTube.

In this video, several plant-based health experts talk through 9 nutrition studies that would be of interest to low carb keto diet proponents. To read the 9 studies, click here.

Next up, Dr. Kim Williams (past President of the American College of Cardiology) shares his insights about the ketogenic.

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We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

Watch the interview here.
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Awareness

Boy or Girl – Baby Gender Selection Issues

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Some parents have the possibility to opt for gender selection; however, being able to decide whether to have a baby boy or girl is a controversial issue.

Many couples expecting a baby do not think it’s a big issue whether they have a boy or a girl; however there are several medical, social, and personal reasons that could influence parents to recur to some form of gender selection.

Like many other controversial practices, the legality of gender selection, also known as sex selection, varies from country to country.

The Legality of Baby Gender Selection

The United States has perhaps some of the most relaxed laws regarding baby gender selection in the world. Most European countries and Australia, on the other hand, have bans on sex selection and only allow it for medical reasons. For example, if a parent is a carrier of a mutation or gene with more chances of manifesting itself in a certain gender, baby gender selection is valid. However, if parents simply wish to balance the ratio of boys and girls in their family, they are not allowed to recur to sex selection.

This has generated a form of medical tourism in which couples from countries where gender selection is illegal, like the UK, travel to the US in order to be able to choose whether to have a baby boy or girl.

On the other hand, sex selection is illegal in the two most populated countries on Earth, China and India. In these countries, baby gender selection has been performed clandestinely for many years and for reasons other than family balancing or avoiding genetic diseases. In these societies, having a baby boy is preferred mainly for cultural and economic reasons. Parents believe that boys have better chances of earning income and eventually support them when they reach an old age.

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Methods of Baby Gender Selection

There are two major types of gender selection methods: the first one is called sperm sorting, and involves separating X-chromosome sperm from Y-chromosome sperm by flow cytometry, a purification technique in which chromosomes are suspended in a stream of sperm and identified by an electronic detector before being separated. Intra-uterine insemination or in-vitro fertilization can then be performed with the enriched sperm. The success rates for this method vary from 80% to 93%.

The other method, called pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, consists in generating several embryos through in-vitro fertilization, which are then genetically tested to determine a baby’s gender. The chosen embryos can then be implanted. This method has a success rate of almost 100%; however, it can be quite expensive, costing up to $15,000.

Issues Regarding Baby Gender Selection

While there are few objections against baby gender selection when it is performed for medical reasons, it has become a highly controversial issue when it is used for balancing the number of boys or girls in families. Some people raise the obvious ethical question of whether people who opt for gender selection are “playing God” by manipulating whether to have a baby boy or girl. Others believe that new parents will raise a baby more appropriately if he or she belongs to their preferred gender.

Gender Imbalance Caused by Baby Gender Selection

Gender selection has caused demographic concern in China and India since it has contributed to generate a gender imbalance in the populations of those countries. In some regions of China, for example, the sex ratio for newborns is 118:100, boys to girls. This phenomenon has in turn been associated with social problems such as an increase in violence and prostitution.

It seems like a logical solution for governments around the globe to legalize baby gender selection but to analyze the personal reasons why each couple intends to select a baby boy or girl. Gender selection for medical reasons should even be encouraged, since it could prevent serious genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis, Huntington’s disease, and Haemophilia A. Balancing the gender ratio of a family should be accepted if by doing this, a healthy family environment is created. On the other hand, China and India have shown that baby gender selection as a result of a bias towards a particular gender can not only create a gender imbalance in the population, but contribute to social problems as well.

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We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

Watch the interview here.
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Awareness

Organic Certification: What the USDA Organic Label Means

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Organic and natural labels mean different things, and various types of labels tells you what percentage of ingredients are actually organic. We'll explore what to look for.

  • Reflect On:

    Do you sometimes buy products thinking they are organic or fully natural based on their wording? Have you later found out that those products aren't natural or organic at all? Read labels more closely at grocery stores to be aware.

Don’t get conned by fraudulent claims of “natural” or “organic.” Learn what to look for, and why it’s important, to ensure you’re getting the quality you are paying for.

The industrial age of the 20th century brought about changing agricultural practices that have generated increasing alarm about the effects of these practices on the environment and health. The use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, irradiated and genetically altered food and fiber products has created a groundswell of rightful concern. It has led to the growing demand for non-toxic, organic products that many are willing to pay a higher price for to ensure the healthful purity of food and clothing provided for their families.

With such profit opportunities, it’s little wonder that the lucrative organic product market has suffered abuse with so-called “organic” labels being fraudulently placed on products that have not earned the right. As a result of pressure from farming and consumer groups, legislation for the standardization of organic certification was introduced in the 1980s. It has been updated to include more vigorous enforcement and control methods since, with the current standards established in 2002 by the USDA.

The Standards of USDA Organic Certification

Specific standards must be met in order to legally claim a product as USDA certified organic. Organic producers must utilize methods that conserve water, maximize soil health, and reduce air pollution. The specific standards to earn USDA organic certification include:

Free of synthetic chemicals such as insecticides, herbicides, fertilizers, hormones, antibiotics, and additives

Free from irradiation and genetically modified organisms

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Agricultural products grown on land that has been free of prohibited substances for a period of three years

Animals used for meat, eggs, milk or other animal products must be exclusively fed foods that are organically grown, may not be given antibiotics or hormones, and must have access to outdoors.

Clean and sanitized harvesting and processing equipment throughout the process from harvest to finished, packaged product

Detailed chain-of-handling records from the field through final sales

Physical separation of certified organic products from non-organic products throughout the process of production

Regular on-site inspections from USDA-approved inspectors to ensure compliance

Understanding the Certified Organic Label

Once the rigorous process of certification has been completed, organic producers may place the USDA certified organic seal on their products. Currently, there are four levels of certified organic products, with a specific definition of the percentage of organic ingredients the final products contains. They are as follows:

• 100% organic: all production methods and ingredients are USDA certified organic.

• Organic: at least 95% of the production methods and ingredients are USDA certified organic with remaining ingredients included on the National List of allowed ingredients.

• Made With Organic Ingredients: at least 70% of the ingredients are USDA certified organic with remaining ingredients included on the National List of allowed ingredients.

• No organic wording or seal: less than 70% of the ingredients are USDA certified organic and no claims may be made on the front or back of the product.

Manufacturers or producers who knowingly label a product “organic” when it does not meet the USDA standards are subject to fines up to $11,000 per violation.

Why Organic Certification is Important

When you see the official USDA organic certification seal on food, clothing, and bedding products, you can be assured that these products have met the meticulous standards required and are free of chemicals, toxins, antibiotics, and hormones. When you see the USDA certified organic label, you will understand the value of the higher priced organic products as compared to non-organically produced products.

With the current stringent organic certification requirements enforced by regular inspections from USDA accredited agents, the USDA certified organic label has great meaning and importance to the consumer. Look for the label to know that you are getting the quality you are paying for.

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

Watch the interview here.
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