As you probably would guess, when I read articles in science, I tend to emphasize research on vaccines, cancer, and a few other related issues. There’s so much information out there, one has to focus or there will not be enough time to watch college football games on Saturday. For years, one of the more popular questions I have seen is about sugar and cancer – does eating sugar cause or promote cancer?
A recent paper in Nature Communications seemed to encourage the people who are pushing an association between sugar and cancer. Of course, our usual suspects of pseudoscience and false healthcare jumped on board with their clickbait headlines trying to scare everyone about sugar and cancer.
But what are the facts about sugar and cancer. Should you avoid eating a diet high in sugar and carbohydrates? Well, probably, but not because of cancer.
That’s why we are here. To separate the science from the pseudoscience, we need to look at this more carefully. What we’re going to see is that you’re not going to get cancer from putting a couple of teaspoons of it in your coffee. And you’re not going to cure cancer by avoid sugar. Sugar and cancer is much more complicated than that. Continue reading “Sugar and cancer – examining the science behind the claims”
One of the central tenets of science is whether correlation implies causation. The anti-vaccine religion often conflates or misunderstand the two, rejecting or accepting causation as it fits its narrative. The “correlation implies causation” story is often abused, misused and confused by many writers.
We, the pro-science/pro-vaccine world, dismiss correlation implies causation, unless a checklist of of supporting information can be checked off.
Conflating causation and correlation is somewhat different than the logical fallacy of post hoc ergo propter hoc, where one thinks one event follows the first event because of the existence of the first event. I’m sure all good luck charms and superstitions, like walking under a ladder, are related to the post hoc fallacy. So if I walk under a ladder, then trip on a black cat, then crash into a mirror, I don’t immediately blame the initial act of walking under the ladder. I just assume I’m clumsy.
In science, we may be able to show correlation statistically. For example, there may be an increase in broken bones in children after vaccination. But does that mean the vaccine caused the broken bone? If we show that the rate of broken bones is the same with or without vaccines, there’s no causation. If we cannot show a plausible physiological reason why vaccines would have some influence over bone strength, we reject causation. In other words, showing correlation gives us only half the story. Real science is necessary to show us causality.
Correlation and causation are a very critical part of scientific research. Basically, correlation is the statistical relationship between two random sets of data. The closer the relationship, the higher the correlation. However, without further data, correlation may not imply causation, that the one set of data has some influence over the other. Continue reading “Correlation implies causation – when it does or does not with vaccines”
I wrote an article about how to critically analyze pseudoscience and misinformation so that you might skeptically analyze evidence supporting a claim, even if it appeared to be accurate. On Facebook, Twitter and many internet sites (including Wikipedia), there is an amazing tendency of individuals to accept what is written as “the truth” without spending the effort to determine if what is written is based on accurate science.
But if you’re going to make an extraordinary claim, like bananas prevent cancer, you’re going to have to provide extraordinary evidence. And if you’re going to push a pseudoscientific claim, please read what you claim as evidence. Because we have a case here, where the evidence isn’t even in the same universe as the claims.
Continue reading “Bananas prevent cancer – debunking another myth about food”
According to recent studies from the CDC, only about 63% of teen girls and 50% of teen boys have started the HPV vaccination series. The relatively low vaccine uptake, despite the evidence that Gardasil prevents cancer, one of the few ways to actually prevent cancer, is especially frustrating to those of us who are supporters of the vaccine. However, new data that Gardasil prevents cancer may drive acceptance for the vaccine – new research appears to show that the HPV vaccine may protect against head and neck cancers.
Gardasil 9, the most current version of the vaccine, was approved to protect against cervical, vulvar, vaginal, and anal cancers in females along with anal cancers in males – if it is also shown to prevent oropharyngeal cancers (and eventually gets new indications after FDA review), maybe that can increase the lagging HPV vaccination rates.
Continue reading “Gardasil prevents cancer – evidence for oral cancer protection”
There was an article published in Pediatrics that described how educating either teenagers or their parents about HPV vaccinations had little effect on the overall vaccination rate for the vaccine. Essentially, the researchers found that it was a 50:50 probability that any teen would get the vaccine, regardless of their knowledge of HPV and the vaccine itself. Some of the reasons why the HPV vaccine uptake is so low is a result of several myths about Gardasil safety and efficacy.
So I thought about why that Pediatrics study found that education about HPV and Gardasil didn’t move the needle on vaccination uptake. It’s possible that the benefits of the vaccine is overwhelmed by two factors–first, that there’s a disconnect between personal activities today vs. a disease that may or may not show up 20-30 years from now; and second, that the invented concerns about the HPV quadrivalent vaccine, promulgated by the usual suspects in the antivaccination world, makes people think that there is a clear risk from the vaccine which is not balanced by preventing cancer decades from now. It’s frustrating. Continue reading “Gardasil safety and efficacy – debunking the HPV vaccine myths”
The many myths about the HPV cancer preventing vaccine, known as Gardasil, have been critical in keeping uptake of the vaccine low. For example, many parents believe that their children will never engage in risky sexual behavior, so why do they need to give them the HPV vaccine? Of course, this ignores the facts that sexual assault and the sexual history of future partners can lead to HPV infection.
A newly published article also may show that male virgins (and presumably female virgins) can contract an HPV infection. HPV is so infectious that it can be transmitted even without sexual intercourse.
Let’s examine this new study which is more conclusive evidence that parents should seriously consider getting the vaccine for their children. Continue reading “HPV infection of male virgins – reason for cancer preventing vaccine”
One of the tropes of the pseudoscience world is that glyphosate causes cancer – but what does real science say? Well, numerous large epidemiological studies have yet to provide evidence of a link that would convince us that the herbicide has any link to any cancer.
Recently, another article in a prestigious cancer journal looked at thousands of individuals exposed to glyphosate, and once again, have found no convincing evidence that glyphosate causes cancer. The totality of evidence, unless you are into glyphosate- and GMO-free cherry picking, continues to lead us to a simple conclusion – there is no link between the chemical and any of the 200 or more types of cancer.
One of the major issues with the tropes and myths about glyphosate is that many anti-science liberals tend to conflate glyphosate with genetically modified crops. This leads to a lot of unsupported hatred of GMO plants, despite the overwhelming scientific consensus that says that GMO agriculture is safe for humans, animals, and the environment – a consensus as broad and powerful as the one that states that climate change is caused by humans.
So let’s look at this new article, and how it fits into the narrative about glyphosate and cancer.
Continue reading “Glyphosate causes cancer? – large scientific study says no”
There is an ongoing trope that somehow that cancer incidence and cancer mortality has increased substantially over the past few years. Yet, despite that fact that the myth has been shown to be false, it persists, especially around the pseudoscience complementary and alternative medicine world. And now, we have more good news about cancer – the breast cancer mortality rate has dropped by 40% over the past 30 years.
I’m not sure why a lot of people think that cancer is more prevalent today. Maybe it is because of social media, we hear about it more. Maybe it is because of better diagnostic techniques, we think that the cancer situation is worse. Maybe it is that there is an over reliance on anecdotes about cancer. Finally, maybe it is people who think our bodies are being assaulted by cancer causing GMOs (not cancer causing), vaccines (which prevent cancer), or gluten (not cancer causing).
Of course, the pseudoscientific pushing alternative medicine world wants to convince you that science based medicine is incapable of treating cancers and only push highly profitable poisons from Big Pharma pushed into cancer patients. Unfortunately for that narrative, the statistically significant drop in the breast cancer mortality rate says that oncologists are doing a good job with a deadly cancer. Continue reading “Breast cancer mortality rate – it dropped 40 percent in 30 years”
Oral sex between couples in a relationship should be considered pleasurable and fun. Unfortunately, it may be dangerous, especially for men who have had a high number of oral sex partners. There is a new study that showed that this behavior is linked to HPV-related oropharyngeal cancers.
Lucky for those men and women who enjoy oral sex, there is a cancer preventing vaccine that reduces your risk of contracting HPV, thereby reducing your risk of getting the cancer. Let’s hope that this significant risk of a deadly and disfiguring cancer will convince people to get the vaccine for their children.
This article will look at HPV, the HPV cancer preventing vaccine, the new study on oral sex, and how you can protect your life. Continue reading “Oral sex and HPV-related cancer – another reason for HPV vaccine”
Many of us on the science side of the vaccine debate (it’s not a debate) think that of all vaccines, the one that’s most hated by the anti-vaccine radicals is the HPV cancer preventing vaccine. In fact, since this cancer preventing vaccine was launched after the anti-vaccine movement was really pushing their pseudoscientific narrative, it was subject to much more scrutiny in research studies and from pharmaceutical regulatory bodies. And as a result, it’s probably, by far, the safest vaccine amongst all of the other safe vaccines.
There are numerous large (meaning patient populations of over 100,000) safety studies of the HPV vaccines, which have shown us that there really are no significant adverse events related to HPV vaccines. Yes, there are typical ones, like fainting and localized pain, but nothing serious. Certainly, nothing that is even close to what the anti-vaccine people claim.
Well, another study, that included over 3 million patients, provides us with more robust evidence that the HPV cancer preventing vaccine is demonstrably safe. Continue reading “Cancer preventing vaccine safe for women – no excuses for HPV vaccine”