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More Bad Science

by George Mattson
More bad science
by Bill Glasheen
I hate it when “junk science” makes it into the mainstream media – particularly when it is politically motivated. I’ve been all over the CO2 “doom and gloom” scenarios in other threads.

This one is about a study allegedly linking vitamin use with prostate cancer. The study will be published Wednesday, but already USA Today is all over it.

But wait… Get past the sensationalist headlines, and you see a different picture.

Here’s the deal. Sooner or later, men are going to get prostate cancer. Live long enough, and you get it. Some get it sooner than others.

In the past, studies were done to see if vitamins would somehow aid the body’s ability in fighting cancer. Well… It doesn’t work that way. You see those rapidly proliferating, nondifferentiated cells like those vitamins just as much as the “normal” ones do. So feed the cancer, and guess what happens? Duh! It grows!

So the news stories are coming out saying there is a link between vitamin use and cancer. This is not news. It is 3 decade old news. WE ALREADY KNOW that if you feed cancer cells they grow faster. A common tactic to treat estrogen-sensitive breast cancer cells is to deny them their estrogen. But you don’t really want to be inhibiting estrogen in normal women, do you? Of course not. Same with prostate cancer. Higher testosterone levels may make the cancer grow faster. Want to neuter us all so we’ll never get it? Be my guest!

Meanwhile… Read many, many layers deep in the articles, and the truth comes out. The vitamins don’t really affect the incidence of new cancers. It’s only about what happens once you already have it.

The study as written up in the junk science press doesn’t say anything about the types of multivitamins that the 300K high risk men were taking. It could have been anything fron one-a-days to Grandma’s Organic Brew. IF however the vitamins had contained lycopene (known to reduce the incidence of prostate cancer), then the results could have been different.

The moral of the story? Read your junk science articles carefully. Consider the source. Who gains by paying attention to the study? Who loses? And get past the fear-eliciting headlines and to the source data. What do they say? How carefully was the study done? Was it randomized, or an epidemiologic study? Does the experimental design make sense?

Everything in moderation, and with a bit of common sense.

– Bill


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