People demonize food “chemicals,” like high fructose corn syrup, all of the time — see monosodium glutamate, as just one example. And there’s high fructose corn syrup, a sugar that is blamed for everything from cancer to diabetes to climate change. OK, maybe not climate change.
High fructose corn syrup is just sugar, but because it has a complicated name, it must be bad. It’s part of the “chemophobia,” the fear of anything that sounds like a chemical.
The so-called Food Babe has made a lot of money endorsing a belief that all chemicals are evil. Of course, such claims ignore the simple fact that all life, the air, and water are made of chemicals.
They want us to believe that man-made chemicals are more dangerous than “natural” chemicals, but that betrays several things about science:
- Many “natural” chemicals are dangerous.
- Those “natural” chemicals didn’t evolve for the benefit of humans, so they are not inherently better for humans.
- Nature isn’t always better.
And high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is considered one of the evil “chemicals” that are destroying humanity. But is it? Let’s answer that question. Continue reading “High fructose corn syrup — debunking the myths with science and facts”
One of the more annoying comments from the pseudoscience crowd is that there is a secret cancer cure and Big Pharma is hiding it in a vault somewhere because they make more money from “treating” cancer than curing it. Now anyone who understands anything about cancer and understands how greedy Big Pharma is would know this is the dumbest conspiracy theory since the claim that NASA faked the moon landing.
I love answering questions on Quora because I thoroughly enjoy taking down people who think you can boost your immune system against COVID-19 or that there is a homeopathic potion that will do something. But the question I probably answer every single day is whether Big Pharma is hiding the secret cancer cure, the one cure to cure them all, from all of humanity.
To save me time in the future, I decided to put it all down in one article for the world to read. The simple answer to the question is no. No, there is no secret cancer cure. And no, Big Pharma isn’t hiding it, because if there were such a cure, the one company that had it could essentially ask for Fort Knox to deliver all the gold to Big Pharma headquarters. It would be the mother of all blockbuster drugs.
So let’s take a look at cancer and the secret cancer cure myth. Get a big bowl of popcorn, because this is going to be a long one. Continue reading “Secret cancer cure — is Big Pharma hiding it from all of us?”
These days, it appears that pseudoscience in medicine, everything from homeopathy to anti-vaccine beliefs to cancer treatments to chiropractic to naturopathy, has taken hold of many people’s choices. It’s become so frustrating to read stories about people forsaking science-based medicine to use some quack treatment to treat their cancer.
I think there’s a basic reason for it — science is hard. Whether it results from the lack of education in science to a misunderstanding of science is irrelevant, too many people think that science-based medicine doesn’t work. Except it does.
I’ve written about pseudoscience over a hundred times, but I never answered the question of why it grabs the attention of people. I’m going to try to answer that here. Continue reading “Why does pseudoscience in medicine and vaccines seem so popular today?”
While trolling through the pseudoscience world, I’ve seen claims that there is a link between high fructose corn syrup and cancer, so I thought I’d dig into the science. And you can assume that science doesn’t support these claims.
I’ve written boatloads of articles about cancer, most of which say “this or that doesn’t cause cancer,” and that “there’s only a handful of good ways to prevent it.” To be honest, if I see any news report that makes a claim that something prevents or causes cancer, I’m immediately going into full skeptic mode.
Honestly, I don’t get the issues with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Part of my brain thinks that, as we’ve seen with monosodium glutamate (MSG), people just get scared of a chemical name, rather than making an evidence-based analysis of what we’re really eating.
For example, “high fructose” sounds like there’s too much evil fructose, and it will certainly cause some health problems. It must! Except, as we’ll find out, “high fructose” is a misnomer and there’s no logical or scientific reason that we should consider it dangerous.
I think the loathsome and much-ridiculed David “Avocado” Wolfe produced some of the pseudoscience surrounding HFCS and cancer – apparently converting corn syrup into high fructose corn syrup magically turns it into a cancer-causing poison.
Now, most of you will just ignore what Wolfe says about anything because he lacks any science knowledge in his writing – but maybe I reach a couple of people who saw that article and want more scientific evidence about it. Let’s look into it. Continue reading “High fructose corn syrup does not cause cancer — real science speaks”
There is more good news about the HPV vaccine – since being introduced in the UK in 2008, the cervical cancer rate has dropped by 90% according to a recently published peer-reviewed article. Cervical cancer, which kills over 300,000 women a year across the world, is close to being eliminated in countries that recommend the HPV vaccine for women and men.
The HPV vaccine used to be the most hated by anti-vaccine zealots, being surpassed by the COVID-19 vaccine these days, but it is remarkably safe and effective. There are so few ways to prevent cancer, and yet this is one of the best tools that we have in cancer prevention.
Let’s take a look at this new paper, just so we can pile onto the narrative about the overwhelming effectiveness of this vaccine. Continue reading “HPV vaccine has decreased cervical cancer rates in England by 90%”
I have railed against pseudoscientific charlatans who claim that they have the easy way to cancer prevention. Generally, these snake oil salesmen try to convince you that they have some miraculous food, supplement, spiritual energy, and on and on, that can either kill cancer in its tracks or keep them from even growing in your body.
Of course, none of their claims are actually supported by robust science. On the other hand, real science has 12 evidence-based methods to actually prevent cancer.
But what about those memes that say that supplements prevent cancer? Nope, they don’t. And that’s been shown in study after study after study after study (yeah, I could go on for a while).
How about avoiding GMO foods because they cause cancer? Again, studies show that GMO foods have no effect on cancers. Oh, one more thing – bananas don’t have tumor necrosis factor, and the yellow fruit can’t prevent or cure cancer (but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t delicious).
Despite the absolute lack of evidence that supplements, kale, bananas, or drinking the pure waters of a glacial fed stream (which may not be an option with climate change), there are only a few things that can be done to manage your overall risk of cancer.
How to prevent cancer has been codified by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) into 12 steps (no, not that debunked one) that are called the European Code Against Cancer.
Let’s look at cancer and how to prevent cancer. Continue reading “Cancer prevention in 12 steps – HPV and hep B vaccines included”
Over the past few years, there have been numerous stories about whether red meat increases the risk of cancer and other diseases. Well, the science on this is extremely complicated and nuanced, something doesn’t play well with clickbait headlines. People want to know The Truth™ about meat.
A few years ago we were flooded by memes, articles, and tropes laughing at us carnivores because the World Health Organization stated that eating red meat increases the risk of cancer.
Then recently, we were flooded by new memes, articles, and tropes when an article was published to tell us that red meat was safe, and did not cause cancer. Of course, that was followed up by even newer memes, articles, and tropes that that new article was junk, and red meat causes cancer.
Even those of you with good scientifically skeptical minds (which includes a lot of vegans, who might have wanted to point fingers at us carnivores) are wondering if anyone knows anything about red meat and its relationship to any disease, let alone cancer. So I sliced some excellent salami and ate it with my GMO crackers – this old avian dinosaur did what he is supposed to do, he read the underlying scientific articles.
So, should you worry whether red meat increases the risk of cancer, cardiovascular diseases? I agree that there are a lot of issues about people eating beef, pork, and chicken for our individual health and for the health of the planet. But that’s outside of my bailiwick, and it will garner an incredible amount of yelling and screaming.
But I’m going to be brave (or not) and just try to answer the simple question of whether red meat increases the risk of cancer. And here we go. Continue reading “The science of red meat and cancer – what does it say?”
Germany-based BioNTech, the company that developed the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine with Pfizer, has announced an mRNA cancer vaccine for colorectal cancer. I hate to get excited about new technologies, but it’s clear that mRNA vaccines could lead to a lot of advances in medicine.
Let’s take a look at this new therapy for colorectal cancer, one of the deadliest cancers. Continue reading “mRNA cancer vaccine – immunotherapy for colorectal cancer”
One of the most popular zombie memes and tropes of the anti-vaccine movement is that Japan banned Gardasil, the HPV vaccine. And like most of those zombie memes and tropes, the facts are a lot different than the anti-vaccine claims. Shocking, I know.
Although I don’t quite understand the reasoning, the anti-vaccine world absolutely hates Gardasil, possibly more than any other vaccine other than COVID-19 vaccines (of course). These zealots maintain that the HPV vaccines cause all kinds of harm to teens and young adults. Yet, there are literally mountains of data derived from numerous huge epidemiological studies that the Gardasil cancer-preventing vaccine is one of the safest vaccines on the market.
So if you really want to prevent cancer, one of the best ways available to you is getting the HPV vaccine. The idea is so simple, yet is clouded by the myths about HPV vaccines – one of the most popular, of course, is that Japan banned Gardasil. Let’s examine this fable with a critical and skeptical eye.
Spoiler alert – Japan did no such thing. Continue reading “Did Japan ban Gardasil? No, but the anti-vaccine crowd loves the trope”
There’s a ridiculous anti-vaxxer trope, that getting measles can prevent cancer, that’s been circulating for a while. Of course, it was pushed by members of the disgraced Trump White House, so it has the same credibility as that White House showed for any science whether it was the COVID-19 pandemic or climate change.
Of course, your favorite ancient feathered dinosaur is here to correct this issue – a measles infection is not going to prevent any of the 200 or more cancers that afflict humans. Continue reading “Measles does not prevent cancer – debunking another anti-vaccine trope”