Spreading myths, adulterated supplements, health apps, and more…

FSM Friends news and articles

Health and wellness myths spread, trust in reliable science wanes: “Unfortunately, Caulfield said, it’s going to get increasingly difficult to navigate through all the health misinformation because the supply is growing. It may take serious time to make up ground in the right direction. It’s going to get worse before it gets better.”

Drugs in your supplements: “Supplements for sexual enhancement: Among the adulterants, sildanafil, (the active ingredient in Viagra) was the most common, with 81% of the sexual enhancement supplements containing it or a close chemical analogue. 

Supplements for weight loss: The most common adulterant in weight loss supplements was the weight loss drug silbutramine (or an analogue) along with the laxative phenolphthalein, both of which have been removed from the US market. Silbutramine was found in 85% of weight loss products in the dataset, and phenolphthalein was in 24% of these products. Some weight loss supplements were also found to contain the prescription drug fluoxetine (Prozac).”

A call for caution on antioxidant supplementation: Antioxidants have been given a lot of press here on SBM; this post digs a little deeper into the basic science of antioxidants, and the importance of understanding more than just one part of a complex biological system before you interfere with it.


Routine mammograms do save lives: The science: Some women do not have the right view regarding screening mammography. They believe mammograms lead to an excessive over-detection of cancer, detect too many false positives and some even go as far as to say mammograms cause more breast cancers than they detect. Well, here are the numbers from one of Canada’s leading breast cancer experts, Dr Paula Gordon. All of the objections have some basis in fact but have been distorted as to their relative importance. Have a look at the actual numbers and relax. Be breast aware and get screened! It could well save your life.

Health Check: how much physical activity is enough in older age? “Studies show physical activity, such as just increasing your daily number of steps, may help you live longer. This is the case even if you only started in older age. It can prevent and help to manage many health conditions including diabetes, some cancers, heart disease, and dementia. Exercise is as effective as some medications in preventing or managing conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, and for rehabilitation after stroke. Besides the direct benefits, being more physically active can improve sleep, social connection, and overall feelings of happiness and well-being.”

Abused Health Concept

Why health apps are like the Wild West, with Apple just riding into town: There are 325,000 heath apps on the market as more and more people turn to their mobiles for health advice. When one considers the varied reliability and performance of apps put on the market, this is very concerning. Yet the FDA has been reducing regulation on apps. Without controls, this is the ‘wild west’ of health advice. “The disturbing unreliability of that evidence for the average consumer is starkly visible when you consider apps that “advise” (a carefully chosen word) whether you might have skin cancer. … a study of four smartphone apps found that their sensitivity … ranged from 7 percent to 98 percent.”

Thanks to Science

Genetic cancer monitoring – New blood test could spare cancer patients from needless chemotherapy after surgeryAdvances in sequencing technology have allowed the development of sensitive techniques that can detect very minute quantities of circulating tumour DNA – basically a blood test for tumour burden. This is expected to be most useful in monitoring cancer patients after surgery or other treatments as an early indicator of potential relapse.

Great moments in Health and Science

The invention of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation –  extracorporeal life support (ECMO): Through an external machine connected to the patient’s blood vessels, ECMO is able to oxygenate blood for people who are unable to sufficiently do so themselves, be this in newborns or after a major heart operation.