Pseudoscience, Superbugs, Viruses, and more…


FSM news & articles:

New complementary medicine health claims lack evidence, so why are they even on the table? Australia’s drugs regulator seems to be endorsing pseudoscientific claims about homeopathy and traditional Chinese medicine as part of its review of how complementary medicines are regulated.


General News:

The Reproducibility Of Research And The Misinterpretation Of P Values: P values are a useful gauge for how probable a given set of results are. However much of the public does not understand what a “significant” P value actually means. If a “significant” P values of 5% is used, you may think there 19-1 odds of there being a real effect. Actually the odds are more like 3-1. Even with high prior plausibility and a significant P value, one can still get unacceptably high false positives.

New Review of Artificial Sweeteners: “The first question is this – is there a health or weight disadvantage to consuming sugar? I think the answer here is a clear yes. Sugary drinks contain many calories that add to total calorie consumption and are counterproductive if your goal is calorie control for weight management. Replacing high calorie sugary drinks with low calorie drinks is therefore advantageous. The second question is this – is there an unintended backfire effect to consuming LES (low energy sweetener), because it tricks the brain into being more hungry or some other hormonal or metabolic effect? Here I think the answer is probably no, and the new Canadian review does not change this conclusion. Randomized controlled trials in humans supersede cohort studies and animal studies in addressing this question. Those studies find, if anything, a modest benefit to consuming LES. It is obviously possible to disagree about whether or not this benefit is real, given that there are inconsistencies in the data. The randomized trials clearly do not show any disadvantage – no backfire effect.”

Doctors warn about superbugs in Australia: “Unless Australia is careful, it will catch up with other parts of the world where there has been an alarming spread of superbugs, citing hotspots such as Greece, Israel, China and India. Two or three years ago most of the superbugs were found in people with weakened immune systems after transplants or cancer. Increasingly we’re seeing these infections in otherwise healthy people, particularly at the moment in people who have returned from overseas. Our concern is that once these germs become established, we’ll start to see more of them that are home-grown whereas currently most of the superbugs have originally come into the country from overseas. An emergency summit involving 300 infectious diseases professionals in Melbourne on Thursday will call for a new co-ordinating body to oversee the work to slow the spread of antibiotic resistance in Australia.”

It’s in smoothies, toothpaste and pizza – is charcoal the new black? Charcoal is the new black. It’s turning up these days in an increasing range of products: food, beauty aids and… healthcare?

Charcoal has a number of interesting properties. In food, it provides colour and a toothsome texture. In the beauty products, it is useful as an exfoliant due to its abrasiveness. In healthcare, charcoal is still used in accidental poisoning to absorb toxins from the digestive tract and keep them from entering the bloodstream. And this is where the dodgy claims come in. Capitalising on this legitimate use, charcoal is now claimed to be detoxifying, energising, ion-balancing, recharging… you get the idea. And while it’s absorbing non-existent toxins from your body, charcoal is also soaking up nutrients and potentially your medications. So read on to find out what charcoal is good for and, more to the point, what uses are a complete waste of time and money.


Abused Health Concepts:

Virus Shedding: When a person has a viral infection, they tend to ‘shed’ virus, leaving virus contaminants in their surroundings. Anti-vaxxers like to use this mechanism to spread fear about vaccines. Here are some of the facts:

  • Shedding is not the same thing as actually infecting someone;
  • Shedding is not an issue for most vaccines;
  • Naturally occurring ‘wild’ virus shed at far higher rates;
  • Even a live shedding that does occur is only virus vaccine carries a weakened form. This results in a lower viral load, this results in less shedding, and any the weakened form anyway;
  • Most shedding is dealt with by simple hygiene to avoid transgression, just like with natural vectors. This is common sense;
  • It has been found that a baby’s stool may contain viruses after rotavirus vaccination. So if you choose to pick through a baby’s nappy, we do recommend that you wash your hands afterwards. It’s not that hard really.


Health Promotion and Disease Prevention:

Five ways to boost your nutrition before pregnancy: “Folate is a B-group vitamin. It is needed to complete the development of the neural tube, which forms the baby’s brain and spinal cord in the first few weeks of pregnancy. This can be before you even know you’re pregnant. If the neural tube doesn’t close it can cause a neural tube defect like spina bifida. Taking a folate supplement (in the form of folic acid) from one month before pregnancy until the end of the first trimester is the best way to make sure you meet folate requirements during early pregnancy. Choose a supplement with at least 400 micrograms of folic acid. Talk to your doctor if you have a family history of neural tube defects as you will need higher levels of folic acid. A folate supplement is in addition to eating good food sources of folate, like green leafy vegetables, fruits, lentils and breadmaking flour, most of which is fortified with folic acid in Australia). Organic breadmaking flour and most regular flour is not fortified, so check the ingredient list on flour you buy for home cooking.”


Thanks to science:

Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Varicella Vaccine Information for Parents: We can prevent deaths from measles! During 2000-2015, measles vaccination prevented an estimated 20.3 million deaths making measles vaccine one of the best buys in public health.


Did you know?

Why you should eat a plant-based diet, but that doesn’t mean being a vegetarian: While vegetarian and vegan diets can undoubtedly be healthy lifestyle choices, and a diet high in processed meat and fat and low in fresh veggies can be bad for you, cutting out meat does not automatically make a diet ‘healthier’. Cutting out foods is generally not a sustainable way to maintain a healthy diet. Instead of focusing on cutting out food groups to improve your health, consider if you can boost the nutritional diversity of your meals by incorporating whole plant-based foods every day. Add veggies to your meat-based curry, or replace your side of garlic bread with a salad with zingy dressing. These changes can lower your risk of diabetes, heart disease and obesity and ensure you are getting minerals and vitamins necessary for good health.

4 Backwards Medical Beliefs In Otherwise Developed Countries: America is currently suffering from a mass outbreak of bullshit. Long-eradicated diseases are kicking off a comeback tour because people choose to take their medical advice from a washed-up actress and a guy who literally talks out of his ass. Despite overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary, less than half of U.S. adults believe human activity has affected climate change, while a fifth say that global warming isn’t even a thing. It’s almost as if a significant portion of the populace has chosen to flip science the bird and go back to the good old days of drowning uppity women to find out if they’re witches.