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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Science of Lying... (Part II)

Dr. Mark Hyman
Just so you don't think that I am a crackpot making up random thoughts on science I'd like to use this post to link to a few others articles in support of my thesis.

The first is a study described in the WSJ related to surgery and the elderly.

Here a study in the British journal Lancet found that 32% of elderly Americans undergo surgery in the year before they die.  The point being made (the trick) is that somehow a variety of unnecessary surgeries were being performed on the elderly and they died "anyway" or "in spite of the surgery."  Thus resources that could have been spent presumably on patients with more of a chance for success (say those who are younger).

I wonder if that's even ethical?

However, the truth is somewhat different.  If you only study records of the dead, as this study did, then you are unlikely to find the successful results of surgery.


Another example is recent studies on vitamins and how taking them "is bad for you."

This time we will turn to Dr. Mark Hyman.

In this article he describes why these new vitamins are bad studies are bogus.  A while back I wrote "Contrary Thoughts on Health..." in regard to the same topic and related to this study: "Dietary Supplements and Mortality Rate in Older Women: The Iowa Women's Health Study."

(Dr. Hyman writes about a lot of interesting stuff.  If you are interested you could start with this on "wellness."  He is also linked on the personal blog.)

As I indicated in my posts these types of studies do not express cause and effect and instead should be used to demonstrate reasons to do further research.  But the results are not often presented that way.

See this, for an example.  In this write up, targeted at medical professionals dealing with the elderly they conclude the write with: "We cannot recommend the use of vitamin and mineral supplements as a preventive measure, at least not in a well-nourished population," they add. "Those supplements do not replace or add to the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables and may cause unwanted health consequences."

What does this mean?

Well, for one thing, it means that if you were already getting all your necessary nutrients you wouldn't need more...


People take vitamins because they do not believe they food supply is adequately providing the nourishment they need.

Hyman's article goes on to do a detailed analysis of why the vitamin study is flawed and points out that the modern obesity epidemic is caused by poor nutrition.

The next thing you have to ask yourself is what's the point of these studies...

Are these scientists who set them up and run them that stupid?

I suppose its possible.

More likely is that their interest is in demonstrating that people taking responsibility for their own health is a bad idea and that someone else, i.e., doctors know what's best.  Secondly there is an underlying issue of the "cost" of the healthcare and how its wasted on folks like the elderly.  Taken together the message is "doctors know best and know when you shouldn't get treatment."

From what I am able to read and understand this is the true focus: "we're from the government and we're here to help," i.e., we know what's best for you.

From my perspective I started writing this series of blogs about eighteen months ago.

During that time I have learned far more about how the government and "big pharma" are together kill a large fraction of populous - from "medical errors" to "bad nutrition" to "bad medicine."

My health and particularly my perceived "quality of health" has changed dramatically over this time.

I have written before about my sinus problems as an example.

Today I am free of problems.  Do I have to take care of myself by taking an iodine supplement and flushing my sinuses as needed - yes I do - and its a responsibility that I take seriously because being responsible reduces my "sick days" to something like one or two a year (only for stomach flu).  I have no more sinus problems and my family has a history of them.

(I guess if "sick days" were a job "benefit" then this wouldn't be so good... but that's separate problem.)

The modern world seems to believe that you're too busy to be bothered with your own health and that someone else will do a better job for you.  Right.

Loan your expensive restored car to a kid for a "night out."  Will they take care of it as good as you do?

To me this is the true problem - people today somehow believe that there is no need for "responsibility for self" any more...

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