Snake oil, cancer myths, exploitation, and more…

FSM Friends news & articles

For Peat’s Sake! Naturopath promotes peat bras and tamponsFor more on how Naturopaths will accept the most ridiculous ideas if they can market them as ‘Natural’, check out another treatment mentioned in the Naturopath Textbook.

You can’t breathe through your stomach: There need to be rigorously controlled trials (double-blind) with an appropriate number of test subjects. The entire methodology needs to be well documented, and it needs to be published in peer-reviewed literature. For more credibility, it needs to be duplicated. The fact that there’s no credible, published, peer-reviewed literature showing that oxygenated water delivers any athletic benefits is telling. Probably most importantly, even if there is more oxygen in oxygenated water, and it actually is absorbed, it won’t matter. The amount of oxygen in just one breath is vastly higher than the theoretical oxygen supplied by any oxygenated water.

Conclusion: Snake oil, without the snake or the oil.

Like homeopathy, which promises all the benefits of medicine without the actual medicine, or sports supplements that promise “drug free” enhancement of athleticism, oxygenated water promises a sports advantage with zero downside. If I didn’t examine the evidence, I could probably be convinced that oxygenated water might help me be a better athlete. Given it is water, what’s the harm? But it is when we are most desperate that we are at our most vulnerable. It’s hard to be objective, to ask for the evidence, and to critically appraise it. But that’s when it’s probably most important. As I am constantly reassuring myself these days, when we see the promise of a magical quick fix, we need to be extra skeptical.”


Modern myths about cancer – from ‘chemicals’ in food to wifi: What is true is that cancer is becoming more common. This is largely because it is a disease of old age. Many people now have cancer who in earlier times would have died much younger. That said, some aspects of our modern lifestyles do increase our chances of getting cancer. The World Cancer Research Fund’s cancer prevention recommendations, which are based on decades of strong evidence, provide a package of healthy lifestyle choices that, along with not smoking and avoiding excess sun exposure, represent a blueprint for reducing cancer risk.

As Cancer Research UK’s Emma Shields says: “Being overweight or obese is the second-biggest preventable cause of cancer in the UK. Every year, around 22,800 cases of cancer are caused by being overweight or obese. Despite this, only 15% of people [are] aware of the link.” Lack of exercise and consumption of alcohol are other risk factors, but anyone who wants to improve their health through diet should be particularly careful about the qualifications of the people from whom they take advice. Dietitians, who spend years in medical training, are the best people to talk to.”

How peddlers of ‘food-grade’ hydrogen peroxide exploit the sick and the desperate: Hydrogen peroxide as an ingested health treatment has many hallmarks of alternative sham therapies – it appeals to the ‘natural’ fallacy (though not strictly naturally produced), claims to treat many chronic diseases, claims a dubious mechanisms of ‘flooding your body with oxygen’, and claiming that modern medicine has supressed its efficacy through pressures from Big Pharma.

“One online advertisement claimed food grade hydrogen peroxide “actually eliminates diseases and invasive organisms.” The list of ailments it can purportedly be used to address includes cancer, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease. It’s a folk remedy that reaches back decades, and one that continues to flourish at the margins of alternative medicine, and in those corridors of the internet frequented by people who are desperate for a cure. Scientifically, there is no evidence supporting the practice as a remedy for anything — and ample evidence suggests that it can even be dangerous.”

Great moments in Health and Science

The Invention of PCR for making DNS copies: Much of modern research on any form of genetics would not be possible if not for the ability of PCR to make millions of copies of DNA in a matter of hours – something that with previous technologies was greatly impractical and enormously time-consuming.

Today’s abused health concept

Smallpox – The most talked about eradicated disease: Here’s something to consider if you’re still sceptical about vaccines: it was a vaccine that brought about the eradication of smallpox. With a mortality of 30%, smallpox was responsible for killing herds of Europeans in the Middle Ages and for killing even higher proportions of various aboriginal peoples who met explorers or colonists. Now it exists only in laboratories. Admittedly, the vaccine didn’t eradicate the virus all on its own. It required a concerted public health effort from numerous countries. Having said that, the defeat of smallpox would not have been possible without the vaccine. And that’s a win for humanity.