Fish oil, cupping, dressed-up quackery, and more…

FSM Friends news & articles

No benefit from fish oil: The bottom line of all that is that there was no clear health benefit from consuming omega-3 fatty acids in food or supplements. There was a suggestion of a possible benefit from LCn3 on cardiac events, but this did not hold up when they took into consideration the quality of the evidence. The better trials, with less risk of bias, tended to be negative. As always with such trials, you can never prove zero benefit (or zero risk), but an essentially negative trial or meta-analysis sets statistical limits on the size of any remaining plausible effect. What we can now say with a fairly high degree of confidence is that any health benefit from consuming omega-3 fatty acids is tiny, probably too small to warrant supplementing (or adding it to pasta). This is unfortunate. It would be desirable if we could reduce the leading cause of death in developed nations simply by taking a supplement or making small changes to our diet. To be clear, a healthy diet is still important to overall health and reducing vascular risk, but going out of your way to consume omega-3 is not necessary.”


Prenatal Tdap vaccine does not increase risk of autism in children: Yet more evidence that vaccines don’t cause autism. Need I say more?

Overcoming vaccination myths: Could addressing the facts during prenatal visits help?: Despite expressing skepticism of the accuracy of digital resources and a pervasive fear of “fake news,” pregnant women “Google it up” to gain information and health advice. Mothers-to-be have been found to rely on social media more frequently and with greater intensity at the transition to parenthood.

Research Check: can sleeping too much lead to an early death? It’s always more complicated than we think trying to answer these questions…

Please, Michael Phelps, stop cuppingThe Chinese practice of cupping is meant to increase blood flow and remove toxins lurking in the muscles. The colour of the skin indicates the amount of toxins drawn out. Except, that’s not toxins drawn to the skin, that’s plain old bruising. ‘The process involves small, glass cups that look like shot glasses with nipples being placed over his skin, and a practitioner then inducing a vacuum inside the cup by heating the air. That suction pulls his skin up into the cup, breaking capillaries and causing blood to pool and stagnate, creating a bruise. That’s why the process is also known as “fire cupping” and “sucking method.” ‘What takes this self-injury-with-unclear-ends from psychopathology to hip trend is the fact of it being an “ancient Chinese therapy.” Those aren’t dismissive, skeptical quotations—people in China have indeed been doing it for centuries, as a therapeutic pursuit—just a restatement of the common buzz phrase that is integral to the appeal of the practice. Something about the oldness, and the non-Western-ness, gives it some enduring anti-establishment cred.’

Great moments in Health and Science

 The history of germ theory: In recognising the actual cause of many illnesses, the path was paved for better research into and treatments of these illnesses.

Today’s abused health concept

Traditional Chinese Medicine. ‘Dressed-up quackery’: Chinese herbalist charged after patient died: In a tragic but unsurprising event, when a TCM herbalist instructed his diabetic patient to cease using all her medication in favour or his herbs, she died. She had only been in his care for 3 months. Police say that Mr Luo has shown no remorse “at all” and have charged him with manslaughter. Now Mr Luo did have his registration suspended nearly a month after the death. But so-Called-Alt-Medicine (sCAM) organisations are notorious for not policing unethical or dangerous behaviour except in extreme cases/bad publicity. And in an interesting twist this herbalist was a contributor to the safety standards for the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia. Safety submissions from THIS guy! Perhaps the Abused Health Concept should have been “Self Regulation and Licensing for sCAM medicine”.