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high fructose corn syrup

High fructose corn syrup — debunking the myths with science

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:

  1. Many “natural” chemicals are dangerous.
  2. Those “natural” chemicals didn’t evolve for the benefit of humans, so they are not inherently better for humans.
  3. 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.

Read More »High fructose corn syrup — debunking the myths with science

Bananas do not prevent cancer – another internet myth debunked

I wrote this article many years ago, debunking the claim that bananas prevent cancer, and it remains the most popular article I’ve ever written. It probably gets so much traffic because of the ongoing memes about how bananas will cure every cancer known to man. 

Too many individuals see these memes on Twitter and Facebook, they accept them as scientific facts. They rarely are. That’s why critical thinking is necessary. 

But if a meme is going to make an extraordinary claim, like bananas prevent cancer, then that claim ought to be backed by extraordinary evidence. But this wild belief about bananas is not even supported by ordinary evidence. It is supported by zero evidence.

Read More »Bananas do not prevent cancer – another internet myth debunked
HPV related cancers

46,000 HPV-related cancers annually in the USA — get the vaccine!

There are just a handful of ways to reduce your risk of cancer— one of the most important is to get the HPV vaccine to prevent HPV-associated cancers with the HPV vaccine (see Note 1).

Too many people who discuss the HPV vaccine, especially among the anti-vaccine religion, tend to focus on HPV-related cervical cancer. But HPV is linked to several dangerous and deadly cancers, and a new report examines the details of those cancers. 

Read More »46,000 HPV-related cancers annually in the USA — get the vaccine!
big supplement

Big supplement profits – making boatloads of money in the name of pseudoscience

I occasionally have to defend vaccine profits (or the lack thereof), but everyone seems to ignore Big Supplement profits which are far larger than vaccine profits. And vaccines have real science backing them, which is not a statement you can make about Big Supplement.

Let’s take a moment and look at the revenues and profits of Big Pharma (and a bit of Big Vaccine) and Big Supplement. The former has to work hard and provide evidence of what its drugs do, while the latter basically can sit around and throw darts at various claims, then randomly assign those claims to some new or old supplement.

Read More »Big supplement profits – making boatloads of money in the name of pseudoscience
marijuana cure cancer

Does marijuana cure cancer? Robust scientific evidence is lacking

Subjectively, one of the wilder claims one can find on social media is that marijuana can cure cancer. Or cannabis prevents cancer. It doesn’t matter what form – smoked, eaten, hemp oil (which is manufactured from the seeds of cannabis plants that don’t contain much THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the active hallucinogenic agent of cannabis) – some advocates for cannabis will try to make the argument that it is some miracle drug for cancer.

But is it? Yes, there are systematic reviews that indicate that cannabis may be effective in reducing nausea and vomiting in chemotherapy. But research has generated negative results in some well-done clinical trials and some positive results in others. But that has nothing to do with actually curing or preventing cancer itself, just dealing with the effects of the treatment.

Furthermore, a 2022 systematic review (again, the pinnacle of the hierarchy of biomedical research) showed that “evidence from RCTs (randomized clinical trials) that medicinal cannabis increases appetite in people with cancer is limited.

However, this article isn’t about appetite or nausea related to cancer, it’s about whether cannabis can cure or treat cancer.

So what has real clinical and scientific research said about whether marijuana can cure cancer? Well, not to give away the conclusion, but not very much. Let’s take a look.

Read More »Does marijuana cure cancer? Robust scientific evidence is lacking
turmeric cancer

Turmeric — it does not treat, cure, or prevent cancer

Cancer myths are prevalent on the internet, and one of the favorites for the past few years has been turmeric. It has been described as the great secret cancer cure, treatment, and/or prevention. But here’s the thing with these types of claims about cancer — there rarely is much evidence supporting their use clinically.

This article is going to look at what turmeric may do for cancer if anything. You can probably predict that if I’m writing about it, I’m not going to be finding much evidence, but I’ll give it a try.

Read More »Turmeric — it does not treat, cure, or prevent cancer
alkaline water

Alkaline water — don’t waste your money, it’s pure, unfettered woo

Every time I go to the grocery store, I see shelves stuffed with alkaline water. I always shake my head, because I happen to know what the body does with any food or water that is alkaline or acidic. It buffers it to the normal pH of the body so that alkaline water doesn’t do anything. Well, it is expensive.

There are a lot of bogus reasons to drink alkaline water, but we’re going to focus on just one of the claims — it helps prevent cancer. I’ll make this simple, no it does not.

There are so many inaccurate, misleading, and harmful claims about cancer that I could spend years just debunking them. One of the most popular assertions is that acidic blood causes cancer — that is, if you lower the pH of the blood, it creates an environment to let cancer thrive.

Now, I have written this about a hundred times on this blog (I am not kidding) — there are only a handful of scientifically sound methods to potentially lower your risk of cancer. Quit smoking is near the top. Stay out of the sun. Maintain a healthy (that is, very low) weight. Don’t drink alcohol. Get exercise. And a handful more.

And even if you do all of them, you just reduce your absolute risk, not completely eliminate it. You could randomly get a set of mutations – there are several trillion cells in the body, and even if genetic copying in cell division or transcription were 99.999% perfect, it still leaves millions of chances of mutations – that lead to cancer.

And then there are at least 200-250 different cancers, all with different causes, pathophysiologies, prognoses, and treatments. In other words, even if you found some miracle way to prevent one cancer 100% of the time, it probably will not affect the other 200 or so cancers. We have tended to conflate cancer as one disease when it is a large set of diseases that have the same general physiology but aren’t truly related.

Cancer is scary because it is so random. In many cases, the treatment is so harsh. And people are so interested in anything that may prevent cancer. And if it’s simple like “eat superfoods like kale and blueberries,” or “reduce acid in your blood,” the instinct is to try it out.

But let’s examine how and if acidic blood causes cancer. Spoiler alert – it doesn’t.

Read More »Alkaline water — don’t waste your money, it’s pure, unfettered woo
HPV immunization

HPV immunization herd effect — it’s reducing infection in unvaxxed

Immunization against HPV (human papillomavirus) has had a positive effect not only on vaccinated individuals but also on unvaccinated females according to a new peer-reviewed study. And the unvaxxed can be thankful that more and more young men and women are getting their HPV immunization.

I am a large proponent of the cancer-preventing HPV vaccine because it prevents several different cancers. Unfortunately, this same study showed that the HPV immunization rate is still quite low compared to other vaccines.

Let’s take a look at HPV, the HPV vaccine, and this new research.

Read More »HPV immunization herd effect — it’s reducing infection in unvaxxed
artificial sweeteners cancer

Artificial sweeteners and cancer — what does a new study tell us

A new study of artificial sweeteners in place of real sugar seems to show a link to cancer. Of course, this starts a new set of claims that these sweeteners are dangerous and should be avoided.

But your obstreperous feathered avian or non-avian dinosaur has a different take. I don’t think the research is all that conclusive, and I’m not even sure it tells us anything about the safety of artificial sweeteners. I have a long tradition of being skeptical of research into artificial sweeteners.

As I like doing, let’s take a look at this new article and determine if it presents anything linking artificial sweeteners to cancer.

Read More »Artificial sweeteners and cancer — what does a new study tell us
cancer modern

Cancer is not a modern disease — it’s been around since the dinosaurs

One of the tropes that I keep reading in the vastness of the internet is that cancer is a modern disease. People keep claiming that cancer is caused by the modern diet, modern chemicals, modern lifestyle, modern agriculture, modern everything.

These trope-pushers want us to believe that our ancestors of just a few hundred years ago never got cancer because they lived some sort of magical life that avoided cancer. Well, of course, many of those people died of infectious diseases that we prevent with vaccines today, so I’m not sure their lives were so magical. And they died before they could develop cancer.

If one is going to make an extraordinary claim like “modern cancer is a man-made disease,” well I expect extraordinary evidence to support that claim. A paper published a few years ago made the claim that cancer was rare in Egyptians based on what has been seen in mummies. Let’s take a look at that, but also examine the evidence of whether cancer is a modern disease or as ancient as the earliest multicellular organisms crawling out of the ocean hundreds of millions of years ago.

Read More »Cancer is not a modern disease — it’s been around since the dinosaurs