I <3 The Scientific Method

Monday, September 21, 2009
Modified 9/22/2009 9:26 a.m.

Here is a link to an analysis of the study linked below supposedly proving the efficacy of an alt-med treatment for Melanoma. Not to be crass, but it appears it's the UCF FTW!

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I love the Scientific Method.

At my University, there is a course on the Scientific Method that all BA students are required to take in order to get their degree. Since my major is Science and Technology, the Scientific Method has permeated all of my core classes, and informs all my academic writing.

I started thinking about this yesterday after a completely unproductive exchange with some proponents of "alt med." The proponents kept saying things like
Modern medicine does not work.
Evidently small pox vaccinations, penicillin and anti-viral medication (all products of the scientific method) are all epic fails.

and
The only evidence we should ever need is the efficacy of the protocol you are undertaking in the cure of life-threatening diseases and if that works in practice and results in normal longevity...
The "It worked for me!" methodology of diagnoses and treatment.

and
I am referring to actual, tangible and successful results which have no need for the "scientific method" as you call it.
Because I evidently pulled the "scientific method" out of my ass to serve my nefarious purposes.

Putting the snarkiness aside for the moment, what I parsed from this exchange was that alt-med proponents believe their modalities work because they either had a personal experience where they were "cured" by them, or they heard about someone who was "cured" by them. My repeated, ever-more-shrill requests for actual clinical trials using the scientific method were met with accusations of being kept down by the "Man," the "Man" in this case being Big Pharma and the Medical Industrial Complex.

Finally I was directed to this, a retrospective meta-analysis. There was no control group, no double-blind, no randomization of participants.* I'm not a doctor, but I do understand the scientific method, and this is not a clinical trial or a well constructed study. What I will concede is that the information was interesting enough to me as a layman that I think further study by qualified professionals wouldn't be uncalled for.

Here's the thing that these folks don't seem to understand. In science, anecdotes are the beginning of the process, not the end. Say a doctor comes up with a new therapy:
...salt and water management, restricting sodium and supplementing potassium. It provides oral hyperalimentation of nutrients, while forcing fluids, by hourly administration of raw vegetable and fruit juices. Caloric utilization rates are enhanced through thyroid administration, while caloric content of the diet is limited (2,600 - 3,200 cal/day) by a very low fat, lactovegetarian diet. Protein is temporarily restricted. Coffee enemas are administered pro re nata (as frequently as every 4 hours) to improve nutrition, and to relieve pain.
And say this doctor reports that this therapy cures melanoma. This is big news, right? Melanoma kills people, and healers are interested in preventing that outcome, right? There's no earthly reason that this therapy shouldn't be in wide-spread use, provided the proponents can prove their claims in a repeatable way. And here's the rub: proof is required. Proof in the form of a clinical trial of their treatment, using standard clinical trial construction (i.e., randomized, controlled, double blind). If the results indicate the therapy works, then hurray! A new treatment for melanoma is born, and survival rates go up. Sweet vindication!

What you don't get to do is claim that your coffee enemas improve nutrition and relieve pain, and provide only anecdotal "evidence." Because that's not how science works. If you want to be taken seriously by scientists, then you have have to actually, you know, do some science.

The scientific method is not "outdated;" it's not "irrelevant." It's simply a process. A process that works especially well in empirical disciplines such as medicine, and guards against such common problems as confirmation bias. The scientific method helps us to determine the truth of factual claims such as whether or not the Gerson therapy reviewed in the link actually works. The "rules" of science apply to every discipline, and acting like you're in some way persecuted because you're held to the same standard as everyone else only exposes the weakness in your argument.

You see, assuming that it "works" based on the stories of a few individuals, with no clinical trial or controls, introduces all sorts of logical biases and fallacies into the process. As described by Michael Shermer in Why People Believe Weird Things:
Stories about how your Aunt Mary's cancer was cured by watching Marx brothers movies or taking a liver extract from castrated chickens are meaningless. The cancer might have gone into remission on its own, which some cancers do; or it might have been misdiagnosed; or, or, or...What we need are controlled experiments, not anecdotes. We need 100 subjects with cancer, all properly diagnosed and matched. Then we need 25 of the subjects to watch Marx brothers movies, 25 to watch Alfred Hitchcock movies, 25 to watch the news, and 25 to watch nothing. Then we need to deduct the average rate of remission for this type of cancer and then analyze the data for statistically significant differences between the groups. If there are statistically significant differences, we better get confirmation from other scientists who have conducted their own experiments separate from ours before we hold a press conference to announce the cure for cancer.
The alt-med crowd seems to want to go straight from "Aunt Mary cured her cancer by watching Marx brothers movies" to "hold a press conference to announce the cure for cancer."

I'm not against alt-med on the face of it. I don't think modern medicine has all the answers, or has a corner on the truth. But I believe in the process. While you might be able to make a case that the industrial medical complex has a vested interest in discrediting alt-med, you can't make the same claim about the scientific method. It is utterly and completely impartial. There is nothing to prevent alt-med proponents from embracing the scientific method as a tool to proving the efficacy of their claims. They simply choose not to, for reasons of their own. And until they do, it's unlikely that they'll be taken seriously by anyone in the mainstream.


*Please note that I make no claims and give no opinions about the efficacy of the therapy detailed in the link - I'm not a doctor, and I don't know enough about physiology, cell biology or oncology to have an informed opinion. I'd be interested in the opinion of those regular readers who have related experience or education.

67 comments:

Dquixote1217 said...

You are quite right, Janiece - this is YOUR forum, and as such it is pointless to try to post anything positive about any alternative to mainstream "science-based" medicine, because you will either delete the post, resort to vitriolic responses, or else come back with the standard mainstream justifications of "show me the science-based studies" or "if someone had a cure for cancer they would be a Nobel Prize winner" or the like.

The only people who can afford science-based studies are the trillion dollar drug companies and mainstream medicine industries - and it they who largely control medical science, medical school curriculums and medical treatments - and they brook no competition.

There is no profit in telling someone to eat a health diet, make sure they get all the essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients a body needs for maximum health and a strong immune system, manage stress, take advanatage of natural healing herbs found in nature, etc.

Until mainstream medicine can profit from such advice, or until mainstream science is taken away from the controls of those who manage illness for profit, such advice will not be recommended.

Though certainly many doctors enter their profession with a desire to heal, they end up trapped in a box that puts profit and managing symptoms ahead of prevention and true healing - and it was all be deliberate design:

"Modern Medicine: How Healing Illness became Managing Illness"
http://www.tbyil.com/Managed_Illness.htm

Your mention of Vioxx as an example of the scientific method is certainly appropriate. What you failed to mention is that Merck rigged the test results, paid scientists to put their names on bogus papers written by Merck, and they hid the reports of heart damage. The result of that "science-based" drug was over 60,000 deaths - and it is but one of a great many.

Insofar as cures for cancer are concerned, people HAVE found such cures - just not inside patented and controlled mainstream drugs and methods. If you want to see what happens to people who develop cures for cancer, read "Politics in Healing: The suppression and manipulation of American Medicine" by former New York State Assemblyman Daniel Haley. Shameful beyond belief!

I realize you are not likely to change your mindset, and I certainly am not. Fifteen years ago I had the same mindset as you - but I did have an open mind and I found out just how wrong and misled I had been for all these years.

You could do the same, instead of continuing to justify a $300-$400 billion a year cancer industry whose continued existence and profits depends on NOT finding a cure for cancer - or justifying a system of medicine which, by the AMA's own admission, is the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

Best regards,

Tony Isaacs

“Everyone should know that the ‘war on cancer’ is largely a fraud.” - Two Time Nobel Prize Winner Linus Pauling

"Chemotherapy is an incredibly lucrative business for doctors, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies…..The medical establishment wants everyone to follow the same exact protocol. They don’t want to see the chemotherapy industry go under, and that’s the number one obstacle to any progress in oncology." — Dr Warner, M.D.

"The National Anti-Cancer Program is a bunch of sh*t" - James Watson, Nobel Laureate for Medicine in 1962 , joint discoverer of the double helix of DNA, and for two years a member of the US Joint Advisory Committee on Cancer

"Modern medicine" may well be defined as "the experimental study of what happens when poisonous chemicals are placed into malnourished human bodies." - A. Saul, Contributing Editor, Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine

"Unless the doctor of today becomes the dietitian of tomorrow, the dietitian of today will become the doctor of tomorrow." - Dr. Alexis Carrol (Famous Biological Scientist and head of the Rockefeller Institute.)

Janiece said...

Mr. Isaacs,

You are welcome to comment here, and you are welcome to post positive commentary about alt-med. If your claims can be backed up by evidence.

Why is this such a difficult concept for you and others who promote alt-med? I'm willing to change my mind - the cure to cancer would be the greatest discovery in modern medicine. I would shout the news to the four corners of the earth. If you had demonstrable, verifiable proof.

You and your adherents continue to try and insist you should be taken seriously in the marketplace of ideas, yet you also continue to fail to meet a standard of reasonable proof.

You admit yourself that you don't do "science based studies," yet you expect those of us who study and practice science to take you seriously. Presumably just because you say so and you're a heck of a guy? Because "Big Pharma" is conspiring to keep you down? You'll forgive me, but that's simply not good enough.

As a point of clarification, I was not the one who initially brought up Vioxx, but it certainly was a failure of the system. You'll get no argument from me, except to note that out of the thousands of medications submitted and subsequently approved by the FDA, Vioxx made the news precisely BECAUSE it was a failure.

You say There is no profit in telling someone to eat a health diet, make sure they get all the essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients a body needs for maximum health and a strong immune system, manage stress, take advanatage of natural healing herbs found in nature, etc.

I'm not sure what doctor you were going to prior to becoming an advocate for alt-med, but every mainstream doc I've ever had has been constantly on my case about everything on your list except for the "natural healing herbs."

If you have anything new to contribute, please do so.

Jim Wright said...

Oh look, Janiece, quotes and footnotes. That beats actual science every time. You sure can find the nuts.



There's no profit in curing cancer? What? Because once you cure it it's cured for all time? Nobody will ever ever get cancer again?

I don't think it works like that, Mr Issacs. You+logic=fail

neurondoc said...

I will not engage. I am still at work and can't take the time...

I. Will. Resist.

But at some point (when work gets less insane), it will all boil over, and the scientific method will take over and .... BLAM!

Janiece said...

Question for the alt-med proponents out there, especially chrisb (who quoted the pancreatic cancer statistics in the other thread).

How do you explain the results of the Gonzalez study (conducted by the NIH) which showed survival rates of 14 months for mainstream medicine and 4.3 months for those who undertook the alt-med Gonzalez treatment?

Random Michelle K said...

Good grief.

ANYONE can perform a double blind trial. Anyone. You just have to make sure that you are meticulous on your methods.

Additionally, there are actual MDs who research alternative medicine, be it researching traditional Chinese medicine or the effects of changes in diet upon health outcomes.

Let's see, I just did a pubmed search for medical articles focusing upon diet and cancer. I restricted my results to 2008 to the present, restricted additionally by human studies (no animal research) and only articles published in English.

I get 16435 articles returned.

Those are an awful lot of publications in the past year and a half on a subject that mainstream medicine is ignoring.

Regarding this:

There is no profit in telling someone to eat a health diet, make sure they get all the essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients a body needs for maximum health and a strong immune system, manage stress

Every doctor I go to discusses my diet and the amount of exercise I'm getting and the affect this has upon my health--both physical and mental.

Regarding "natural healing herbs found in nature," I personally would not recommend herbal supplements to anyone, primarily because such supplements are unregulated, and even if they do contain what they claim, amounts vary from brand to brand, and there is also a problem with contamination, especially from herbal supplements coming from over seas.

Additionally, herbal supplements should never be taken without doctor's supervision. Just as prescription medications can interfere with one another, or cause synergistic affects, so can herbal supplements, either with prescription medications or other supplements.

You are most certainly entitled to your opinion, but you are not entitled to create lies whole cloth about mainstream medicine, or what physicians are or are not doing for their patients.

Konstantin B. said...

I was planning to pick on quotes, but that's immature.

"My Aunt Judith told me" - is not science. Systematical study is science.

Cancer can not have a single cure. There are approximately 7-8 BILLION people on the planet. That means there are quite possibly 7-8 BILLION different strands of cancer DNA exists.

And stop going down on big Pharma. They have their bad apples, and they exist for making profit. They've done much more good than bad in finding cures for deseases.

And saying that Big Pharma are "hiding" cures is plain stupid. If there was "PROOF" of alt-med working. I mean good systematic scientific proof, Big Pharmas would be all over them making additional dough. Profit drives company, to be on top the companys need to differentiate themselves from competition, "hiding" cures that could make BILLIONS is fiscally irresponsible for any company.

Capitalism and Science. In this case it totally works.

Stefans said...

First off, apologies for double posting - I can't post more than 4096 characters at a time, and since I spent a while writing this, I want to get it all up. And if this blog doesn't accept my double post, apologies for only posting the first half of it and looking foolish :P

----------------------------

I'm going to try a little experiment - But first, let me say this:

I had liver cancer and was given three weeks to live by mainstream oncologists. I used Tony Isaac's method and I'm still alive twenty years later.

Read that? It was a lie. It was a horrible, distasteful lie that I feel bad about, but it was a lie. I've never had cancer. The fact is, people can give false testimonials. I'm not accusing anyone of doing so, but merely showing that it's true. It took 148 characters for a moderately eloquent false testimonial.

Science is hard. A double blind study of cancer treatments is possible, but there are (obvious) ethical problems with using control groups on placebos. So, as I understand it, testing drugs like these involves a group of patients on a standard therapy, and a group on an experimental therapy. I'm not any kind of medical researcher, (so I could very easily be wrong in the particulars here), but I'd assume the patients don't know what treatment they're on (I don't know what the code of ethics here is, so again I could be wrong). That is a trial.

Not pseudonymous people on a Yahoo group, some (most?) of whom have undergone conventional treatment before alternative treatment, claiming that their cancer is cured. People often feel better after coming off chemotherapy, because the drugs themselves are so horrible, but it doesn't mean the cancer is curing itself.

As Michelle K says, anyone can perform a double blind trial, but I would not like to be the one doing it - I don't know enough about the particulars, I wouldn't want to risk people's lives, etc. Competent medical professionals should be aware of the ethics problems, the solutions, if any, and have the knowledge to perform such a trial. If you don't have that expertise, there's a damn good chance you shouldn't be selling cancer patients drugs you think will cure them.

Stefans said...

So back to my point - science is hard. You need to be smart enough to form testable hypotheses, collect data, analyse that data, and you need to be humble enough that you can say "That hypothesis was wrong, thank fuck I tested it. Otherwise I would have killed people [Or, more likely, been ridiculed when trying to submit it to a peer-reviewed journal as a conclusion rather than a hypothesis]" Not "Huh, that test didn't work but I know I'm right, so I'm going to sell this to people anyway." This is why the layperson doesn't understand science, and can easily be led to believe that scientists simply "believe," rather than testing, testing, testing.

Take an example I'm more familiar with: the inverse square law of gravitation. Elegant, and works in general. But, technically, wrong. You want Einstein's General Relativity for the precision work, which is a hellishly complicated theory. Now, are there any respected physicists who say "Fuck Einstein, Newton was right. That wobble in the orbit of Venus has been faked because Big Science is a multi-billion dollar industry, just look at the LHC! Breaking apart! Clearly the mainstream physicists are embezzling money from it to pay for hookers/blow/a BMW." Hyperbole, but my argument stands.

Being open-minded doesn't mean proclaiming Big Pharma is evil, that chemotherapy doesn't work, etc, etc. An open minded person (w|sh)ould listen to the oncologists, listen to the alternative medicine crowd, and weigh up the evidence. A study undertaken by Chemotherapy Inc. that finds that "Chemotherapy is awesome and may spontaneously create kittens" would not be very credible. Why should a testimony read on the website of a person selling untested alternative treatments count as evidence? Find a peer-reviewed (Peers meaning, here, respected members of the field, not the bloke in the pub who said he had stomach cancer, but you cured it, mate, you cured it) study of the benefits of both treatments, and understand it, or have someone who understands it try and translate it into layman's terms. In fact, do that with lots of studies. If you can't find such a study, it's not because they cost £shitloads, as a respected researcher would likely have other published work that would lend credence to their claims and increase the likelihood of funding grants, but because whoever is selling it doesn't want studies, or has no idea they should have studies analysing their hypotheses.

Attempting to pre-empt the claim of "X is a brilliant man, a genius, who has given up his academic career to sell Y to Group Z for a small fee out of humanitarian concern:" That is no reason for whoever is selling Y to have no credentials or published articles. If they're as much a genius as is claimed, they'll have inevitably done other work.

Sir Isaac Newton is best known for his work on gravitation, but he was also a respected scientist before that, having done work on optics, forming a universal temperature scale, building the first Newtonian telescope, etc. My point here being that people don't simply stumble onto their one, genius idea. Ideas take work. That work requires feedback. It is impossible to be unknown in a subject where you are the leading light.

Apologies for writing so much, but I read through the entire thread beatis linked to earlier (Here, via here, via here) and it made me angry, and sad, and angry, and sad.

Please note that I'm no scientist: I aspire to be, but I'm only just about to start my second year (of four) of an undergraduate physics degree, so at the moment I'm sitting somewhere between "Sense of entitlement" and "actual knowledge." My knowledge of general relativity is none, so please don't rip into me for that :P

Random Michelle K said...

Well done Stefans.

Make sure you take several statistics courses. At least one will be required, but the more statistics you take, the better able you will be to grok the scientific literature.

And if you want to know more about medical trials, take an epidemiology course (if one is offered to undergrads). Between Epi and Survey Methods I leaned a lot about how to read scientific studied with a critical eye.

Janiece said...

Stefans, you may add my congratulations to Michelle's.

You're welcome here anytime, and don't worry about double posting. If you have something of value to contribute to the discussion, you can take up as much space as you need.

Jim Wright said...

Good Lord, a second year physics major with some actual sense - how rare is that?

Yuk yuk, just kidding Stephans.

Now don't you feel stupid, Tony? You just got pwned.

Lysambre said...

I believe in the scientific method and I also believe than sometimes different types of therapies could help some people. I can only hope that one day those alternative therapies (at least the ones I know of) will also be proven effective by the scientific method (which I think they should definitely agree to, even if it fails at first [what scientific trial never fails after all ?], I don't care, but it's the only way they will ever be taken seriously and evolve. And for that they need to repeatedly participate in a verification of results).

Now I won't ever be one to say : "don't go to your doctor, go directly to your closest voodoo practice". That would just be idiotic and disrespectful. As you say, the scientific method has proven that doctors exist for very good reasons and they have saved countless lives and will continue to do so.

The reason that on top of that I don't reject completely all alternative medecines is that (for the ones I know, I don't pretend knowing them all) they often treat both the mind and body.
A doctor will treat your body, in the way a fantastic mechanic would repair a beautiful car. A psychologist will treat the mind. They are never the same person.

The doctor will never look further than mechanics, which I can understand since it's not his job, but still.

That's why in the country I live in, we're the biggest consummers of anti-depressants in the world. Even
psychologists don't search anymore for the causes of depression. They just find it easier and faster to give something that will treat the chemical unbalance and send people home.
While I think treating the chemical unbalance with anti-depressant is a great idea to begin with, I also think the reasons for depression should be treated equally and at the same time, too often they are not, and there are more reasons than just a chemical imbalance.

I believe that the body, everytime it gets sick or hurt, is an expression of a problem with the mind, and I believe they should always be treated together. So far only alternate medicines are offering that option.

As I say, I only know a minuscule corner of alternate medicines, and I know that some others out there are quite violent and could actually put people in danger, needless to say that I will never support something that pretends to help someone while putting others in danger.

I won't tell tales of "miracles" or anything like that, for I don't think anything is a miracle, even with alternative medicine. I just wanted to share the reasons why I believe and hopefully show that not everyone who believes in alternative medicine is a complete nutter (seriously I really hope I don't sound like the first comment on this post, otherwise please someone shoot me).

MWT said...

Hmmm. I don't think I want to get dragged into this, so I'll just put in a comment on the original post.

Some pseudoscience websites out there try to make themselves look more legit by claiming they did double-blind studies on things. Only, whatever they studied didn't actually require double-blinding. :P So to me the phrase "double blind" is often a red flag, and a sign to check closely what the study was about and whether they set up their methodology in an intelligent way.

Eric said...

As a sort of aside, am I the only one who's amused by the fact that Mr. Isaacs' named his profile after one of literature's greatest nutters?

That is all. Carry on.

Janiece said...

Konstantin, picking on the quotes might be childish, but putting them in there like some sort of comment auto-signature is worse.

As an aside, Mr. Isaacs' auto-sig is essentially the comment I deleted on the other thread from chrisb. He evidently copied and pasted the thing whole cloth as some sort of devastating comeback.

Lysambre, as I noted previously, if certain therapies associated with alt-med were proven to work in clinical trials, I'd be all over them. I am not saying that ALL alt-med therapies are crap out of hand. I'm saying that such therapies must be held to the same standard of efficacy as conventional therapies - no double standards.

The problem is that as soon as such modalities are proven to actually work, they become "mainstream" by definition.

Of course, my biggest issue is with unsubstantiated claims like the Gonzalez treatment for pancreatic cancer (linked upthread) is when they actually turn out to reduces life expectancy compared with conventional treatments.

MWT, you make a very good point.

Eric, I did notice that, actually. But in his own mind, he probably is tilting at windmills in some glorious quest to save the world. Or something.

neurondoc said...

Here is a clinical trialist's point of view (not specifically aimed at "alternative" medicine):

Regarding double blind trials -- there are times when blinding is impossible for either the patient or the clinician or both. That can be dealt with by good trial design.

In reality, trials that provide the most scientifically rigorous data are randomized, placebo (or sham) controlled, double blind (or triple blind, if the statistician is also blinded) studies that take place at multiple sites. These allow for the best control of known and unknown factors that confound results (e.g., subject bias, investigator bias, patient variability, placebo effect, and regression to the mean). If these confounding factors are not controlled for in a clinical trial, the results can be completely meaningless, even if there is, say, a statistically significant difference improvement in the treatment group.

It takes familiarity with trial design, the drug, supplement, or device being assessed, and the underlying disease or disorder being treated to come up with a good clinical trial. And then it still sometimes doesn't work. It takes organizational skills, hard work and money to run a good clinical trial. It takes years on the market for certain types of adverse events to become obvious enough to require either modification of the product, changes to the labeling, or even withdrawal from the market.

Thus ends Clinical Trials 101. Sorry for the semi-hijack, Janiece.

Regarding Vioxx in particular: I had patients who told me that they were willing to take the risk of heart attack, because it worked better than any other drug had. In my experience, patients can make decisions like that for themselves when presented with the full story...

And, no, I am msot certainly NOT a PHARMA shill. Quite the opposite, actually.

neurondoc said...

most certainly, not "msot" certainly...

John the Scientist said...

Lysambre, this is Janiece's blog, so I'm going to be very polite, but your comment is full of so much logical and informational fallacy that I have to say something.

First: "what scientific trial never fails after all?". Uh, the ones that succeed? If you mean what therapy never fails a trial, I can list hundreds, if not thousands of currently approved drugs, devices, surgical techniques, and other therapies that have not failed any clinical trials.

The FDA may accept a 2 out of 3 "pivotal" trials as standard for approval of therapies, but the investment community is ready to pull the plug on a biotech if their therapy fails even a single clinical trial.

Also, there are failures and failures. Failure to demonstrate efficacy is pretty devastating for a new therapy. Failure because the side effects were so bad that the clinical trial was a bust due to all the dropouts may send you scurrying for a safer version of the therapy.

"The reason that on top of that I don't reject completely all alternative medecines is that (for the ones I know, I don't pretend knowing them all) they often treat both the mind and body."

Huh? Treat the mind? You mean the placebo effect? How do herbs treat the mind? Laetrile? Gerson's coffee enemas? Are you serious? I use some Traditional Chinese Medicine myself, and I just don't see it there. Nor anywhere else.

"A doctor will treat your body, in the way a fantastic mechanic would repair a beautiful car. A psychologist will treat the mind. They are never the same person.

The doctor will never look further than mechanics, which I can understand since it's not his job, but still."

This is flat-out untrue. One of the biggest complaints of older doctors is that medical school curricula are emphasizing bedside manners at the expense of instructional time on scientific topics (see the comments here):

Good question – the curricula at most schools have gone away from heavy exposure to basic science in the first two years, with the unpleasant result that most medical students are clueless when it comes to knowledge of basic anatomy and physiology. But they’re very good at bio-psycho-social stuff. I assume that entry criteria should stay high.

Leaving this aside, the medical literature is chock full of mind-body studies.

If your doctor has a poor beside manner, find another one. Most oncology teams have a psychologist on board. Of course the oncologist does not treat the mind. It takes a long time to become a specialist. Why would you want a half-assed generalist working on you?

"I believe that the body, everytime it gets sick or hurt, is an expression of a problem with the mind, and I believe they should always be treated together. So far only alternate medicines are offering that option."

Really? Every time? Community acquired pneumonia is a mental issue? Gangrene? Asbestos-related mesothelioma?

If you are positing that people who get sick in a situation have some sort of mental issue, please explain why this is different form the medieval notion used by faith healers to blame the victim when their treatments do not work.

Show me the biochemical evidence of mental processes impacting the known physiology of, for example, Crohn's disease. Do you think that the mind suddenly telld the immune system to attack the intestine? I think I'll stick with the current opinion that it's a combination of genetic presdisposition along with an immunological trigger such as an infection or exposure to pathogens.

John the Scientist said...

Janiece, my reply to the Gerson crazies is up.

John the Scientist said...

And just to prove Mr. Isaacs wrong, I think Janiece will let this favorable report on the use of acupuncture to turn breech-presenting babies stand. :D

neurondoc said...

JTS -- that is an interesting article on acupuncture. I'd like to see the results reproduced in a second study, though.

Janiece said...

John, I have other things to do this week besides stirring this particular pot. Stop it.

John the Scientist said...

@Natalie - it's one of the few areas of TCM that has been relatively well studied AND has shown some sort of response.

A review article:

Effectiveness of acupuncture-type interventions versus expectant management to correct breech presentation: A systematic reviewstar, open

Ineke van den Berga, c, f, Corresponding Author Contact Information, E-mail The Corresponding Author, Johanna L. Boscha, c, Ben Jacobsb, Irene Boumanb, Johannes J. Duvekotd and M.G. Myriam Huninka, c, e

aDepartment of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam, P.O. Box 2040, 3000 CA Rotterdam, The Netherlands

bThe Rotterdam Institution for Training Midwives, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

cDepartment of Radiology, Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

dDepartment of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Erasmus Medical Center Academic Hospital Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

eProgram in Health Decision Sciences, Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, United States

fClinic for Complementary Medicine, Praktijk Rodenrijs, Berkel Rodenrijs, The Netherlands

Available online 4 March 2008.

Summary
Objective

A systematic review of studies assessing the effectiveness of acupuncture-type interventions (moxibustion, acupuncture, or electro-acupuncture) on acupuncture point BL 67 to correct breech presentation compared to expectant management, based on controlled trials.
Data sources

Articles published from 1980 to May 2007 in databases of Medline, EMBASE, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, AMED, NCCAM, Midirs and reference lists.
Study selection

Studies included were original articles; randomised controlled trials (RCT) or controlled cohort studies; acupuncture-type intervention on BL 67 compared with expectant management; ultrasound confirmed breech presentation and position of the fetus after treatment confirmed with ultrasound, position at delivery, and/or the proportion of caesarean sections reported.
Data extraction

Three reviewers independently extracted data. Disagreements were resolved by consensus.
Data synthesis

Of 65 retrieved citations, six RCT's and three cohort studies fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Data were pooled using random-effects models. In the RCT's the pooled proportion of breech presentations was 34% (95% CI: 20–49%) following treatment versus 66% (95% CI: 55–77%) in the control group (OR 0.25 95% CI: 0.11–0.58). The pooled proportion in the cohort studies was 15% (95% CI: 1–28%) versus 36% (95% CI: 14–58%), (OR 0.29, 95% CI: 0.19–0.43). Including all studies the pooled proportion was 28% (95% CI: 16–40%) versus 56% (95% CI: 43–70%) (OR 0.27, 95% CI: 0.15–0.46).
Conclusions

Our results suggest that acupuncture-type interventions on BL 67 are effective in correcting breech presentation compared to expectant management. Some studies were of inferior quality to others and further RCT's of improved quality are necessary to adequately answer the research question.

The Mechanicky Gal said...

Wow! Excellent stirrage, Janiece! I learn new things from your blog every day. Now if you could cover how to transfer my iPod to my new hard drive...... anyone?

chrisb said...

Why possible cures for cancer will not be researched.
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2715490034719855134&pr=goog-sl#docid=-2541070268273239782

Janiece said...

chrisb, thank you for the link. I watched the report, and I understand the point you're trying to make. I have no information on the drug featured in the video, but you're correct - publicly traded companies who are incorporated in this country on a for-profit basis are in the business of making money. It's their job, and in fact, it's their legal obligation to their shareholders to do so. That's just one of the reasons why for profit health care is a really bad idea (at least in my opinion). But for profit health care isn't the issue here, and I don't want to derail the discussion.

The issue is applying scientific principles to you and Mr. Isaac's claims. The one study you provided turned out to be a big stinking pile of poo, and another study of alt-med practice proved that folks' longevity was reduced by 2/3 by using alt-med therapies to treat pancreatic cancer - in direct contradiction to your claims on the other thread.

So yeah - still waiting. As Michelle notes, "ANYONE can perform a double blind trial. Anyone. You just have to make sure that you are meticulous on your method."

Come down off the cross - I'm sure someone else needs the wood.

chrisb said...

The issue then is about evidence that is not anecdotal or what you perceive as anecdotal.
The fact remains that I and thousands of others have chosen a remedy of cure which has not as yet been subjected to the "scientific method".
This is akin to saying that the surgical operation was successful, but the patient died.
For example, the autolytic disintegration of tumors has not been subjected to this scientific method, but the results speak for themselves in the thousands upon thousands of cases that have used this method of health-recovery against cancer.
The only proof that I need, or anyone else should ever need, is that I am still alive and extremely healthy after a prognosis of only a six month life-expectancy.
The proof is in the pudding and where the pudding saved my life.
The Scientific method is really irrelevant; if it works it works; period.

The Mechanicky Gal said...

I cured my warts by eating ground up walnut shells!
It's a CURE!

Lysambre said...

John the Scientist, thank you for answering in a polite way.

I can't fault your answer, as I said in my post already, I don't have scientific evidence of what I believe, I'm just hopeful that one day there will be.

I'll be honest, I'm nowhere near smart enough nor well enough versed in the English language to formulate an answer up to par with yours.

Thank you for the lesson.

John the Scientist said...

No chrisb, you are a living example of the following quote from a real doctor:

Those of us who have worked over the years with cancer patients have come to respect the vagaries of human biology wherein there are cancer patients who for unclear reasons fare better than we would have expected.

If you were cured by the treatment, others would be, too, and the statistics in a proper trial would bear out your assertions.

Please don't give me the "possible cures won't be researched" crap.

There may be a financial reason why a company won't fund something (but my experience in the financial industry is that you can find a biotech to fund anything), but the NIH and Oncologists themselves conduct their own research all the time.

The NIH actually maintains a division of alternative and complimentary medicine, which recently published a study of a commercially unviable herbal treatment that some people might try (but given its poor performance versus standard-of-care, probably won't until they fail every other option)

Oncologists are cowboys. They often conduct their own clinical trials, mix and match unapproved regimens, and do other things that physicians in non-life-and-death specialties don't do.

If they saw even a glimmer of hope in any alternative therapy, they'd be on it like white on rice.

The plural of anecdote is not data, and I have one phrase to describe your particular anecdote: spontaneous remission.

Janiece said...

Thank you, John.

chrisb, the next time you comment here, please provide something new. Of all the words you've posted here, you haven't provided a single point of argument that you haven't repeated over and over and over, in spite of my repeated requests that you do so.

Do you not understand science? Or is it that you do not understand that your anecdotes won't convince us, although we do understand why your personal experience matters to you?

And you accused me of being dogmatic? Hypocrite much?

The Mechanicky Gal said...

Walnut shells I tell you!

Carol Elaine said...

chisb, the scientific method is not irrelevant.

I'm a fan of one form of altmed: chiropractic therapy. It works for my rather messed up neck. You know what? My experience is still anecdotal. Why? Because it comes from me and not a study that was created to discover the efficacy of chiropractic therapy.

I know someone whose wife was diagnosed with aggressive ovarian cancer in 2006. It was a pure fluke that it was discovered at all, let alone early enough to save her life, because the form of cancer she had would have killed her in three months or less.

She survived the cancer due to aggressive Western cancer treatments, i.e., surgery, chemo and drugs.

Unfortunately, after a year and half remission the cancer came back this year in her lungs and was deemed inoperable, so back to chemo and drugs. Due to additional aggressive treatment, in just a few months her previously large tumors have shrunk so much that they are no longer visible.

My friend's wife has always led a healthy life, so it wasn't bad food, excess stress and no exercise that led to her cancer. It was a bad spin of health wheel.

BTW, what I just wrote? Completely true and still anecdotal. The difference is that, unlike my personal experience with chiropractic therapy, there are multiple studies based in the scientific method to support traditional cancer treatments.

chrisb, I'm glad that your cancer is either gone or in remission. That doesn't negate the need for the scientific method.

chrisb said...

John The Scientist,
my spontaneous remission?
That is a 30 year remission then, with no sign of re-occurrence!

Something new?
Well here it is.
When Linus Pauling extolled the virtues of Vitamin C, and in mega- doses, he was laughed and scorned upon by his peers.
However, the evidence in Vitamin C 's favor now appears in a book entitled: Ascorbate: The Science of Vitamin C".
The co-author of the book a Dr Stephen Hickey who is a medical bio-physicist who described to me in a personal email how his sister was born with Eisenmenger syndrome, and where her predicted longevity would not exceed her early twenties by the medical profession.
At the age of 42 she was housebound because of her condition, and where the slightest exertion would make her extremely out of breath: her lips were blue and complexion as white as snow. Dr Hickey persuaded her to take 24,000mgs of Ascorbate per day divided into 3 equal doses. Within 3 months she was spotted by an old friend shopping and walking about freely. She could walk up to three miles per day with ease, her lips were red, and complexion became pink.
The friend who knew she had been housebound confronted her with glee and remarked at the vast improvement in her condition. After explaining her method of recovery the friend witnessed her popping another Ascorbate tablet: after explaining what she was taking came the reply "are you sure that is alright---you could make yourself ill".
Ascorbate or Vitamin C has yet to be recognized by the medical fraternity except as a way of preventing scurvy and has never been picked-up on by the Pharmaceutical companies.
I wonder why?

Eric said...

ChrisB, the fundamental problem here is actually that you don't understand the scientific method or how science works. It is hypothetically possible that your alt-therapy had some kind of causal correlation to your improved health, but the only evidence for that is your account, and that result has not been reproducible in meaningful populations. Where those results allegedly have been reproduced, it turns out there's no way to evaluate whether the improved health was the result of the alt-therapy or the product of some other variable.

Indeed, it's certainly possible that your miracle "cure" worked for you but is completely useless for the general population because of some biological or environmental fluke--that's the whole point of John's quote about people doing better for reasons we don't understand. What you don't understand is that it would be completely irresponsible for a physician to prescribe a course of treatment based on one (or a few) irreproducable anomalous results, and that's assuming the truth of the unproven assertion that your remission had a causal correlation with the alt-therapy you used.

Cancer is at once a simple and incomprehensibly complicated phenomena: cells go "feral" and start reproducing like mad for a seemingly endless list of reasons, and then sometimes (for another seemingly endless of reasons) they'll start behaving like good citizens again (if they haven't already killed their host or successfully been eliminated). No, I can't say that whatever it was you did to yourself played no part in reining in your cancer--but I can say that at this time there is no independent and reliable verification of that fact nor is there any evidence that what you did to yourself actually works for anybody else (including anyone else who's tried your remedy and not-died--their bodies and their cancers are as complicated and subject to biological vagaries as yours).

Until reliable evidence exists that a particular course of therapy has a statistically significant chance of improving a patient's condition, it's gross irresponibility to suggest it to any patient whose health might be improved by a treatment for which there is reliable evidence of any chance of improvement. That is to say: I don't suppose there's any harm to trying a shot in the dark for someone who's probably going to die anyway, but if there's any chance a proven treatment will work, proven treatments have preferrence.

And those alternatives can't be called "science" and don't deserve equal treatment as such. They are experiments, hypotheses, sometimes merely hopes. Nor can they be called "medicine" in any modern sense, since contemporary medicine is understood to be a scientific endeavor. They are unproven regimes that probably won't kill someone before a particularly intractable cancer does.

Those of us who prefer Reason to faith will always start with things that have been shown by Reason before we turn to hope and chance.

Janiece said...

Thank you, Eric. I was going to let John address chrisb himself, but since John's traveling, his personal response may have to wait. Since John has very definite opinions regarding Dr. Pauling, I'll let him address that issue specifically upon his return.

However, I will respond to your statement "Ascorbate or Vitamin C has yet to be recognized by the medical fraternity except as a way of preventing scurvy and has never been picked-up on by the Pharmaceutical companies."

And my response? Liar, liar pants on fire.

It is being studied, and pretty extensively, too. Please do try and get your facts straight before you embarrass yourself again.

And Dr. Hickey's story? It's still an anecdote. My suspicion and Eric's statement that you simply don't understand science is apparently right on the money.

chrisb said...

John has definite opinions regarding Dr Pauling? The only two-time unshared Nobel Prize winner I believe, and John knows better than he of course.

Yes Janeice, ascorbate is now being studied, but after how long has it been now before the medical fraternity wake up to its benefits. The same can be said for Vitamin D3 and where both have been in use as a successful treatment/remedy by Orthomolecular Scientists for decades along with natural substances that are bioavailable and physiologically necessary for the body.
BTW: The National Library of Medicine refuses to index the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, though it is peer-reviewed and seems to meet their criteria." (Psychology Today, Nov-Dec 2006)

"Liar, liar pants on fire".
Now come on Janeice lets not get too personal please.

If Vitamin C IS being studied then why the delay after all these years?
Not embarrassing Janeice just factual.

Dr Hickey did relay to me an anecdotal story of his sister that is true, but if you would like to study the "Science" behind his findings I suggest you read the book which is supported by the "scientific method" that you are all so fond of.
In addition, this is not about science at all, or medical science in particular, but about "wellness" where thousands upon thousands of people are still alive and well after following an alternative protocol, and who have overcome their terminal/chronic diseases.

Janiece said...

chrisb, I'm not getting personal, just engaging in a bit of whimsical rebuttal. When I get personal, you'll know.

I'll let John address his opinion of Dr. Pauling on his own, as time permits. However, feel free to peruse his writings here, here, and here. I won't speak for John, of course, but based on his writings and yours, it seems quite evident that he knows more about Dr. Pauling's history, opinions, breakthroughs and credentials than you.

How do you define "wellness," chrisb? Is there some objective scale that only you're aware of? Because your insistence on introducing terms into the discussion that are semantically null indicates to me that you still don't understand the difference between science and woo. And you likely never will.

That bothers me not at all, of course - whether or not you see the world in an objective way has no bearing on my life, health or happiness. You are free to exercise your 1st Amendment rights in any way that suits you within the confines of the law. But it does beg the question - why are continuing to come back here again and again? It seems fairly obvious that no one here is interested in the anecdotes that you consider evidence, so what exactly are you getting out of this exchange?

I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt here, and assuming you have some purpose other than annoying me with your logical fallacies, but I'm starting to lose my patience.

chrisb said...

Janeice,
It would be interesting to see what John has to say about Dr Pauling and I will look at the links you have provided.
May be John does know a little more about the late Dr Pauling than I, but that I suppose is another debatable point, not to mention the continuation of his work by Dr M Rath.
How would I define wellness? well, freedom from disease or any state of ill-health (and that would include and degenerative diseases such as arthritis plus the immunity from acute/infectious diseases with the abundant energy necessary to enjoy life.
The difference between science and woo?Hmmmm. Well even science recommends that you eat your fruit and veggies and take a little exercise.
Your Science recommends staying out of direct sunlight for the fear of skin-cancer, which in itself has caused more skin-cancer than anything else by preventing the formation of Vitamin D3 the hormone precursor to calcitrol. Now there's your "science" for you.
Why do I keep coming back here and banging my head against a brick wall. Good question. Maybe just to arouse a little "out of the box" thinking and to stir the coggles out of the dogma that represents the dismal failure of Allopathic Medicine. I am not entirely anti-medicine as they do excel at trauma, diagnostics and surgery, but that's about it really.
Have no fear, I shall not return, but leave you all in peace to wallow in the scientific method, in the knowledge that you were all correct anyway and that this presumptuous person was an ignoramus.
BTW. Linus Pauling lived to be a healthy 93: I hope you all do the same. Au revoir.



does beg the question - why are continuing to come back here again and again? It seems fairly obvious that no one here is interested in the anecdotes that you consider evidence, so what exactly are you getting out of this exchange?

I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt here, and assuming you have some purpose other than annoying me with your logical fallacies, but I'm starting to lose my patience.

Janiece said...

Maybe just to arouse a little "out of the box" thinking and to stir the coggles out of the dogma that represents the dismal failure of Allopathic Medicine. I am not entirely anti-medicine as they do excel at trauma, diagnostics and surgery, but that's about it really.

The problem with having a mind that's too open is that your brains fall out onto the sidewalk.*

The only way your going to be able to do that amongst reasonable people, i.e., people who use reason and logic to form their opinions, is to start using reason and logic.

You do make a good point about Vitamin D deficiency in Americans. An unintended side effect of modern medicine, to be sure. Please note that "my science" now recommends people get a limited amount of sunlight daily to ensure Vitamin D deficiency is addressed. See how that works? Science learns based on evidence. Unlike the modalities you recommend.

Too bad the rest of your assertions aren't backed up by the same kind of evidence. If they were, I can assure you that we would take them seriously - because that's what science does.

*I thought I'd throw that in there, since you yourself seem so fond of trotting out the same old tired accusations against those who believe in science and evidence based medicine.

John the Scientist said...

Actually, Janiece, chrisb's comments on Vitamin D are not germane, because he is confusing public health messages, many of which are spread by laymen, with actual scientific evidence and advice. Real scientists decry overly simplistic views of health messages, and the general "if a little is good, a lot is better" attitude of health reporting.

One suspects that chrisb's attack on Vitamin D is a form of cherry picking, given the great successes of modern medicine. I could name another one - the hysteria over cholesterol that led to the elimination of eggs from many people's diets. But, as I noted above, most of those kinds of things are a) related to diet and b) pushed by poorly-trained medical reporters trying to sensationalize a story and medical hucksters such as Atkins trying to make a quick buck off of dubious science.

That very point on Vitamin D made here.

Given all the upsides of basking at least briefly in the summer sun, many experts now worry that public-health messages warning about skin cancer have gone overboard in getting people to cover up and seek the shade.

On the other hand, all you need is 10 minutes' exposure in the summer. In the winter, if you live north of Atlanta, you can not get enough UVB to produce adequate Vitamin D even if you stood out naked all day, so there's a heck of a lot of underlying reasons working together to result in the general Western deficiency of the Vitamin, none of which have anything to do with the state of research on the topic - or with real doctors' advice on same.

On the subject of cherry picking, since I'm currently not far from the Soong family estates, I'll also note with respect to chrisb's recovery that that in the 1940s May Ling Soong (Madame Chiang Kai-Shek) was treated for breast cancer. She recovered and survived until she was 104. That is in no way evidence that 1940s medicine was equal or superior to modern medicine.

John the Scientist said...

And chrisb just pulled down the Godwin's law of Internet quackery by citing Linus Pauling and Rath.

I spent quite a bit of time in a post about the anti-LHC crazies documenting Pauling's particular brand of quackery.

Further information on Rath, Ben Goldacre knows more about him than any other person I'm aware of. I encourage you to download the pdf of the chapter that Rath's suit kept out of Bad Science. His views on AIDs go beyond goofy well into malign action. And the entire alt-med community is still behind him - as evidenced by chrisb's citation. As Goldacre notes:

Despite the extremes of this case, not one single alternative therapist or nutritionist, anywhere in the world, has stood up to criticise any single aspect of the activities of Matthias Rath and his colleagues. In fact, far from it: he continues to be fêted to this day. I have sat in true astonishment and watched leading figures of the UK’s alternative therapy movement applaud Matthias Rath at a public lecture (I have it on video, just in case there’s any doubt). Natural health organisations continue to defend Rath. Homeopaths’ mailouts continue to promote his work. The British Association of Nutritional Therapists has been invited to comment by bloggers, but declined. Most, when challenged, will dissemble.”Oh,” they say, “I don’t really know much about it.” Not one person will step forward and dissent.

The alternative therapy movement as a whole has demonstrated itself to be so dangerously, systemically incapable of critical self-appraisal that it cannot step up even in a case like that of Rath: in that count I include tens of thousands of practitioners, writers, administrators and more. This is how ideas go badly wrong.


chrisb, in order to be taken seriously by real scientists, you have to internalize the following admonition from a Nobel Laureate who didn't go off the rails, Richard Feynman (and one suspects that some of his famous essay was directed at Pauling):

Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them. You must do the best you can -- if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong -- to explain it. If you make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well as those that agree with it. There is also a more subtle problem. When you have put a lot of ideas together to make an elaborate theory, you want to make sure, when explaining what it fits, that those things it fits are not just the things that gave you the idea for the theory; but that the finished theory makes something else come out right, in addition.

In summary, the idea is to give all of the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgment in one particular direction or another.

John the Scientist said...

You know, I just re-read chrisb's comments - due to jet lag I missed the sarcasm in one.

Hell yes, chrisb, I have definite opinions on Pauling. Like Pauling, I am a physical chemist. Like Pauling, I became involved in the healthcare field. Unlike Pauling, I use the same level of scientific standards in my new, biological field of endeavor that I used as a physical chemist.

My first textbook on quantum mechanics was Pauling and E. Bright Wilson's "Quantum Mechanics", and I own and have read a copy of "The Nature of the Chemical Bond and the Structure of Molecules and Crystals". Have you?

Thanks to 10 years studying and practicing in the field of physical chemistry, I can exactly outline what Pauling's field of expertise was.

Thanks to my experience in my new field, and thanks to a lot of research into the man and his institute, I know exactly where Pauling's expertise ended - and that is exactly the moment he crossed over into the field of vitamins.

A Nobel in physical chemistry and a Nobel for peace (or did you mean to insinuate that both prizes were in science or don't you know that the second Nobel was for his campaign against above-ground nuclear testing) are totally beside the point of his scientific standing in vitamins, and do not make him an expert on biology.

He was a quack. In my blog post I linked above, I muse a bit on the reasons he might have taken the low road, but make no mistake, the man was is a fallen hero to me. Because I actually understand his work. All of it.

Random Michelle K said...

Point: Just because someone has a Nobel prize doesn't mean they are not a crank, or that they did not become a crank in later years.

As an anecdote, may I present: James D. Watson.

Eric said...

Really. What Michelle just said. Pointing to someone's Nobel is merely an appeal to authority, a common logical fallacy. Also, one notes, a favorite of ChrisB despite the fact I think he's now been called on it repeatedly in this thread.

Janiece said...

John, thanks very much for your comments. One thing I have noticed about chrisb is his penchant for trotting out his "resident experts," then implying that those of us who adhere to the scientific method are obviously pompous asses because our opinion differs from his "experts."

He apparently misses the glaringly obvious counterpoint that he himself apparently believes that he knows better than people who have spent their entire professional lives researching "conventional" medicine.

What makes me scratch my head more than anything is his apparent inability to see the incredible hypocrisy in such a position. I realize I shouldn't be surprised - his inability to see the logical fallacies in his alt-med positions is entirely consistant with his inability to see his own hypocrisy.

chrisb said...

John the Scientist,
the insinuation of Paulings two Nobel prizes within Science are only in your own mind. That was not my intention, only your own assumption and interpretation.
Janeices' comments about my "hypocrisy" are based on conjecture and fantasy: I have stated my position unequivocally and without ambiguity, so her opinion is fictional and nonsensical.
I respect your credentials John, but despite these, there are many of equal standing and above who would disagree with your stance: notably Shane Ellison M.Sc.the two-time recipient of the prestigious Howard Hughes Medical Institute Research Grant for his studies in physiology and biochemisty.
So Pauling's expertise ended the moment he crossed over into the field of vitamins?
I shall say this in response: Nutrients are essential to life and cannot be subjected to safety analyses like environmental toxins or synthetic drugs. Virtually all research published in mainstream journals is focused on how essential nutrients heal organisms on the cellular level; which nutrients act together to bring about organ repair, and how they cause systemic healing when given in very high doses. Science has known for at least a century that deficiencies cause standard diseases. In the presence of certain viruses and environmental toxins, such deficiencies are major contributing factors to AIDS and all cancers. Indeed, the South Africans recently renamed AIDS to NAIDS which stands for "Nutritionally Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome" because recent research showed that for the HIV virus to cause illness, a person must also be deficient in the immune-system-controlling mineral Selenium.

Toxicity studies basically don't exist for essential nutrients (one of a few is vitamin A under certain circumstances). To establish the "lethal dose 50", half of a hundred lab rats or mice dies at a substance's concentration which is then designated as the toxic level. Well, you can't do that with Vitamin C or essential fatty acids, for example. They can't kill. The body metabolizes these substances and excretes excesses.
By contrast, all synthetic drugs without exception are systemically toxic, meaning they are toxic to more than one body system as well as on a cellular level. Hence the constant need to weigh the benefits of their use with the known risks of their toxicity; specific doses of just so many mg; timing of ingestion, duration of treatment - and the prescription requirement. All this doesn't apply to apples, magnesium or probiotics. If you eat too many apples, you get the runs - same mess for too much vitamin C. Furthermore, all drugs, from Aspirin to Zocor, also deplete essential nutrients. Most accumulate in body tissues because they cannot be metabolized by our enzymes which then "freak-out" when encountering this phony chemistry and simply move on. Used for a long time, drugs frequently shut down the body's natural detoxification center, the liver, and in extreme cases destroy it - necessitating a liver transplant. Of course, essential nutrients are readily metabolized and distributed in accordance with the laws of nature, while simultaneously nourishing the liver.
For the actual Science of Vitamin C you should read the book quoted by me in an earlier post and where whatever you think, makes no odds to the actual rise and increasing popularity/success of Nutrition in Alt' Med' in the treatment and cure of disease. The drug companies are running-scared as they have tried every avenue at their disposal to discredit nutrition, as this is the only competition to their wares and profits.
You all have much to learn and de-hosed from the establishment brainwashing that you adhere to.
Quack quack.....quack quack.

Janiece said...

Um, yeah. You're suggesting that AIDS is caused by nutritional deficiency and I'm the one indulging in "conjecture and fantasy" and my opinion is "fictional and nonsensical?"

::snort::

Seriously? You actually believe this shit? You have to be either dumber than a box of hammers or have some other sort of intellectual deficiency that precludes you from thinking clearly. How can you possibly expect us to take you seriously when every time you come here you either (a) go further off the rails or (b) belie your own intentions of "not returning" and "not engaging in debate?"

I'm not going to ban you just yet. Even though you've thoroughly and conclusively hung yourself with the rope we've given you, I want to give you the opportunity to respond to John if he chooses to respond to your lunacy. I myself will not respond, because you've now entered the realm of the batshit crazy conspiracy theorists. What's next? Alien abduction and the "TRUTH ABOUT 9/11?"

Seriously - seek help.

John, I'm tired of trying to teach the pig to sing. Respond if you want (or not), but I'm "bored now."

Eric said...

ChrisB, I'm going to take the liberty of summarizing Janiece's response for you:

Dude, WTF?

I do so not because Janiece needs my assistance, but because reading your response prompted only one response in my mind. Specifically:

Dude, WTF?

Having thoughtfully considered your replies, I'm inclined to take the liberty of advance-summarizing a possible reply from John. John and I disagree about almost-nearly-everything, and so I hesitate to write a summary of what I think he might say; especially because he is a chemist and a scientist, and I'm not, and I'm afraid that my layman's summary will strip away much of the technical sophistication, decades of experience, training and education John would bring to the subject. However, I will stick my neck out and suggest that John's reply might be summarized thus:

Dude, WTF?

In conclusion, ChrisB, let me just add:

No, seriously, dude: WTF?

John the Scientist said...

Janiece, this is exactly what I wanted chrisb to admit as soon as he pulled Rath’s name out of his anal orifice.

The thing that irritates me about the alt-med crazies is how they distort the truth until it becomes a lie.

Take, for example, the selenium / AIDS correlation. Pre-clinical evidence shows a profound effect of seleno-proteins on the replication of the HIV virus.

However, the effect of Se supplementation in clinical trials is much more modest*: e.g. a 58% reduction in AIDS-related hospitalizations in the Se group vs 30% reduction in the placebo group, which is certainly indicative of therapeutic value but hardly evidence of a causal relationship.

Never mind that the clinical evidence is conflicting. Never mind that areas in China with selenium deficient soils, lots of related diseases are common – but not HIV (those areas generally have little contact with the outside world of HIV-infected persons)

Never mind that studies in Africa show that selenium deficiency is unrelated to HIV activity:

Findings from a previous study in Dar es Salaam among HIV-infected pregnant women (13) showed that only 2% of participants had low plasma selenium concentrations (<85 µg/L). Despite uncertainty about selenium requirements (44), selenium deficiency is thus likely to be uncommon in our setting. This may be due to adequate intake of selenium-rich foods, such as plant foods grown in selenium-containing soils, or animal foods such as seafood (16).
Our study is the largest selenium supplementation trial conducted to date and included rigorous design and analysis methods. Even though there may be some benefits for children, we did not find benefits of selenium supplements on maternal disease progression and mortality. Therefore, there is no support for providing selenium supplements to HIV-infected populations naïve to HAART, who receive high-dose multivitamin supplements, and who live in areas where selenium deficiency is likely to be rare.

In the hands of the alt-med crowd, the reduced hospitalizations becomes a causal relationship. Selenium deficienct causes AIDS.

This is like peeing into the ocean in LA and yelling “tidal wave” at Hawaii.

* This disconnect between pre-clinical and clinical evidence is not surprising, cells in a Petri dish don’t always behave like cells in a human organism.

neurondoc said...

I haven't joined into this debate because I am tired of this crap at work, so I just don't have the kishkes to rebut here. But still, "nAIDS"? I'll just have to channel Eric here and say "Dude, WTF?"


Janiece, can we find someone smarter to play with?

John the Scientist said...

chrisb,

the insinuation of Paulings two Nobel prizes within Science are only in your own mind. That was not my intention, only your own assumption and interpretation.

I hate to go all Penn and Teller on your ass, but bullshit. I called you on not only the logical fallacy of appeal to authority, but to appeal on false authority. The only person to receive two science Nobels was Mme. Curie, and even then, in a scientific argument, appeal to those prizes is a logical fallacy.

Shane Ellison M.Sc.the two-time recipient of the prestigious Howard Hughes Medical Institute Research Grant for his studies in physiology and biochemisty.

Holy crap. After I trash your first expert, this is the best you can do? You’ve got to be kidding me. A washed-out pharma chemist with a Master’s who decided to make a quick buck selling quack cures?

Not to mention lying about his credentials? I’m not sure what the real story is, perhaps his academic advisor got a Howard Hughes grant, but he didn’t – otherwise he’d be on the alumni list.

Nutrients are essential to life and cannot be subjected to safety analyses like environmental toxins or synthetic drugs.

Bullshit

Virtually all research published in mainstream journals is focused on how essential nutrients heal organisms on the cellular level; which nutrients act together to bring about organ repair,

Bullshit

and how they cause systemic healing when given in very high doses

Known bullshit since 1979.

Toxicity studies basically don't exist for essential nutrients (one of a few is vitamin A under certain circumstances).

Bullshit.

To establish the "lethal dose 50", half of a hundred lab rats or mice dies at a substance's concentration which is then designated as the toxic level. Well, you can't do that with Vitamin C or essential fatty acids, for example. They can't kill. The body metabolizes these substances and excretes excesses.

Half true. Vitamin C does not cause death acutely (which is what an LD50 study measures), however, it can cause acute toxicity and in chronic overdose it can contribute to death via the induction of chronic disease.

All this doesn't apply to apples, magnesium or probiotics.

Are you nuts? Seriously? Apples and probiotic-containing foods can’t be overdosed because of volume limitations in the stomach. As for magnesium: Bullshit.

Of course, essential nutrients are readily metabolized and distributed in accordance with the laws of nature, while simultaneously nourishing the liver.

Cytocrome P450s metabolize drugs the same way they metabolize naturally-occurring bioactive substances. That’s why grapefruit juice consumption is problematic with drugs metabolized by CYP3A4.

Dude, your noise-to-signal ratio is far too high.

Jim Wright said...

No, wait, is it just me - or did this wingnut actually attempt to school John in chemistry?

Dude, seriously, what the fuck?

Janiece said...

Janiece, can we find someone smarter to play with?

Christ on a crutch, don't I wish.

There must be something in the air...

Jim Wright said...

Jesus Christ, Janiece!

You're like some kind of super crazy magnet.

Wait, what does that say about us?

Janiece said...

You're asking me?

chrisb said...

Just a few samples/studies on the benefits of ascorbate and Vitamin D3 for your unbiased perusal.

(1). S.K. Gaby and V.N. Singh, "Vitamin C," – Vitamin Intake and Health: A Scientific Review, S.K. Gaby, A. Bendich, V. Singh and L. Machlin (eds.) Marcel Dekker, N.Y. 1991 p. p. 120-121.

(2) V.S. Vasil'ev, V.l. Komar and N.l. Kisel, "Humoral and Cellular Indices of Nonspecific Resistance In Viral Hepatitis A and Ascorbic Acid, Ter-Arkh; 1989 61(11); p. 44-6.

(3) Circulation October 30, 2001;104

(4) Circulation June 29,1999;99:3234-3240.

(5) Stroke October, 2000; 31: 2287-94.

(6). S.K. Gaby and V.N. Singh, "Vitamin C," – Vitamin Intake and Health: A Scientific Review, S.K. Gaby, A. Bendich, V. Singh and L. Machlin (eds.) Marcel Dekker, N.Y. 1991, p. 108.

(7). S.K. Gaby and V.N. Singh, "Vitamin C," – Vitamin Intake and Health: A Scientific Review, S.K. Gaby, A. Bendich, V. Singh and L. Machlin (eds.) Marcel Dekker, N.Y. 1991, p. 108 & 110.

(8). S.K. Gaby and V.N. Singh, "Vitamin C," – Vitamin Intake and Health: A Scientific Review, S.K. Gaby, A. Bendich, V. Singh and L. Machlin (eds.) Marcel Dekker, N.Y. 1991, p. 109.

(9). S.K. Gaby and V.N. Singh, "Vitamin C," – Vitamin Intake and Health: A Scientific Review, S.K. Gaby, A. Bendich, V. Singh and L. Machlin (eds.) Marcel Dekker, N.Y. 1991, p. 109.

(10). Gladys Block, "Vitamin C and Cancer Prevention: The Epidemiologic Evidence," American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; 1991; 53:270S-82S.

(11). Jacques PF, Chylack LT, Jr., Hankinson SE, et al. Long-term nutrient intake and early age-related nuclear lens opacities. Arch Ophthalmol. 2001;119(7):1009-1019. (PubMed)

(12). Simon JA, Hudes ES. Serum ascorbic acid and other correlates of self-reported cataract among older Americans. J Clin Epidemiol. 1999;52(12):1207-1211. (PubMed)

This review (below) article notes that approximately 90 studies have been done on the role of vitamin C in cancer prevention, with most finding statistically significant effects. Protective effects have been shown for cancers of the pancreas, oral cavity, stomach, esophagus, cervix, rectum, breast, and lung.
- G. Block, et al., Epidemiologic Evidence Regarding Vitamin C and Cancer, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 54 (6 Suppl), December 1991, p. 1310S-1314S.

http://www.rubinmedical.com/articles/vitamin_c_flawed.pdf

Also Vitamin D, so long ignored by the medical profession:
http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/research.shtml
http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/scientists.shtml

Yours in Health-Truth and Medical Liberty.

chrisb said...

Re' Shane Ellison MSc.
"Holy crap. After I trash your first expert, this is the best you can do? You’ve got to be kidding me. A washed-out pharma chemist with a Master’s who decided to make a quick buck selling quack cures"?
Well in comparison to "quack cures":
Previously secret documents that surfaced at a Vioxx court case in April of this year has revealed the pharmaceutical giant Merck maintained a "hit list" of doctors to be "neutralized" for speaking out against Vioxx.
As reported in "The Australian", documents have surfaced in the Federal Court in Melbourne exposing the criminal intent of Merck staffers who admitted they intended to "stop funding to institutions" and "interfere with academic appointments." (Highly illegal).
At least eight clinical investigators were threatened or intimidated by Merck, the court heard in testimony. This is congruent with the many reports of academic intimidation by Merck that have already been published. The picture of Merck that emerges from these revelations is a company run by thugs who deal with dissent by seeking to destroy the lives and careers of academics who dare to tell the truth about Merck's dangerous drugs.
Merck is a company steeped in a culture of criminality. Among its numerous questionable actions, Merck intentionally hid the liver-damaging effects of its cholesterol drug (http://www.naturalnews.com/024072_Z...), it intentionally withheld the release of clinical trial data that showed the failures of another cholesterol drug (http://www.naturalnews.com/023889_V...), it has dumped vaccine waste and manufacturing chemicals into the water supply (http://www.naturalnews.com/023124_w...), it set up offshore banking accounts to avoid billions of dollars in U.S. taxes (http://www.naturalnews.com/021645_M...), and it was caught in a massive scheme of scientific fraud when it was revealed that the company used in-house writers to secretly author "independent" studies that were published in peer-reviewed medical journals (http://www.naturalnews.com/023052_M...).
Shane then is chicken-feed in comparison to the real criminals that will sell and have their drugs approved for the profit/greed motive.

Jim Wright said...

Oh look, footnotes.

Eric said...

ChrisB: I adore it when somebody responds to an allegation that x did something wrong by going on a rant about how y did something wronger.

Did that ever work on your parents when you were a kid? Because when I was a kid and tried to deflect blame by telling on somebody else, it never worked for some reason. Maybe I didn't use enough footnotes or something.

neurondoc said...

chrisb doesn't even do his own "thinking". A big chunk of his last comment was lifted entirely from an "article" -- including those footnotes -- on that Natural News web site.

Sigh. I ask again: can't we find some better cranks to play with?

John the Scientist said...

chrisb, you're the one who brought up Shane Ellison as an expert. Either you believe in him or you don't. Merck's business misconduct, real or unproven, is not germane to their scientific conduct. If Ellison is dishonest don't quote him. I'm glad you're not citing me as an expert.

As for Zocor, all you have to so is pull Zocor's label to see that its (and all statin's) effects on liver metabolism are well known (and prominently displayed in the "Warnings and Precautions" section), which is why their consumer advertising mentions the liver testing requirement, as mandated by the FDA. You can bash on Merck for lots of things, but not for hiding that.

And now that you've bashed the Pharma industry's reliability, you go and cite them. You are seriously cherry picking now. Or did you not know that Gaby and Singh were investigators for Hoffmann La Roche (one of the companies were convicted of vitamin price fixing). Out of one side of your mouth you accuse pharmaceutical researchers of heinous misconduct, on the other you cite them. I don't take you seriously because either you don't understand the implications of what you're saying, or you have no idea what taking a logical position entails.

As for myself, argumentum ad hominem is not valid, and I believe that Gaby and Singh accurately represented the state of vitamin research - in the 1990s. If you actually read their papers, they don't support any of your wild conclusions, but they do rather push the case for vitamins, as much as could be said in 1991 - nearly 20 years ago.

If you actually read my links about quackery, you's know that citation of old links is a real problem for an argument, and in science "old" is greater than 5 years.

More recent research has shown that the possibilities seen in the 90s were not reflected in actual clinical trials.

And finally, Vitamin D has been ignored by the medical community?

Do you even bother to do a basic Google search on stuff before you spout it? We researchers deride people whose only research tool is Google, but if you can't even bother to do that before you say something you're not even arguing from the intellectual level of a schoolchild.

To quote my friend Eric, who agrees with me (and I with him) on more stuff than he'd care to admit:

Dude, What. The. Fuck.?

chrisb said...

But the Vitamin D3 studies are very recent, which highlights the benefits of just one nutrient. The recommended dosage of this Vitamin is 5000ius per day, which contrasts with the paltry amount generally recommended.
I think you will find that the future of healthcare/recovery lies within Nutraceuticals, which are bioavailable and essential for health in optimum amounts; this contrasts starkly with pharmaceuticals which are neither bioavailable or of any long-term benefit to the body with the exception of analgesics and anesthetics in the short-term.

Janiece said...

Paging Dunning-Kruger...paging Dunning-Kruger...

Carol Elaine said...

Paging Dunning-Kruger...paging Dunning-Kruger...

*snerk*

Nail on head, Janiece.

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