Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Wisdom Wednesday: Studies of Questionable Value

This is just a sample of the studies I found on Pub Med over the course of the past two months. Pub Med posts research papers daily from around the world. It is the source for peer reviewed medical research. These are all studies that were funded within the scientific community. I limited myself to just a brief comment on each study. Please read and enjoy:

  • “Most HIV Infections Come From Undiagnosed or Untested People” – One would hope that only a small percentage of cases are from people transmitting this horrible disease intentionally.
  • “2 of 3 Smokers will Die Early If They Don’t Quit” - How long has the general public been aware of this simple fact?
  • “Risk of Violent Crime Rises with Depression, Study Finds” – I thought only happy people committed crimes.
  • “CDC Says Influenza Vaccine Only 18% Effective This Year” – That was in February, the most recent study dropped it to 13%, but medical authorities are still urging everyone to get their flu shot.
  • “Poor Response to Statins May Mean Clogged Arteries – About 1 in 5 patients taking cholesterol lowering drugs doesn’t benefit, research finds” – When is the American Cardiology Association going to admit that the research never supported high cholesterol as the cause of coronary artery disease?
  • “Rear End Takes a Front Seat in Plastic Surgery Offices – Butt implants also drove up the overall number of cosmetic procedures” – This has become the emphasis for health care in the U.S. It’s not how healthy you are, but how good you look.
  • “Decrease in Air Pollution Tied to Healthier Lungs in Children – Long term LA area study find kid’s lungs develop better with less smog” – As with most of the studies, this one really proves the obvious.
  • “Physical Labor, Hypertension and Multiple Meds May Reduce male Fertility” – Male fertility is an excellent measure of general male health, again pretty obvious.
  • “Smokers Fare Worse After Heart Procedures, Study Finds” – Let me get this straight, 2 of 3 smokers will die early and they fare worse after heart procedures. Who would have guessed?
  • “Kids Bad Diets May Mean Worse Health as Adults” – A poor diet during the developmental years can really affect your health as an adult?
  • “Breast-Fed Babies May Be Smarter, Richer Adults” – While my daughter who is currently breast feeding would love this study, some scientific group(s) actually funded it.
  • “Doctors’ Racial Biases May Not Influence Patient Care, Study Suggests” – But the study didn’t look at real-life cases.
  • “Smog Plus Pollen may Mean More Sneezing – Higher levels of airborne ozone, nitrogen dioxide, might boost potency of birch tree allergen” – This is the companion to the LA smog study.
  • “Just How Big is a Normal Penis? – Results size up thousands to arrive at averages. This is my favorite. Who paid for this study? The worse part is that it was a review of 17 previous published studies.

The Bottom Line:
The gold standard for studies is the double blind, placebo controlled, crossover study. Unfortunately, most studies that conform to these standards can only prove what we already know. These 14 studies cost millions of dollars and represent the direction health care research has been going for years. In contrast, clinical studies in nutrition are almost always criticized for not having the controls of the gold standard. In reality, if you can control all the variables have you learned anything?

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