Contaminated supplements – spiked with potentially dangerous ingredients

contaminated supplements

The supplement industry is huge and unregulated. Worldwide annual supplement sales exceed US$151 billion, yet contaminated supplements are part of the industry’s method to make their mostly useless products appear to have some clinical effect.

There is growing evidence that these contaminated supplements contain unlabeled ingredients that are found in regulated pharmaceuticals – all without telling the consumer about them. Or testing them. Or listing warnings for their use.

Let’s take a look at Big Supplement, and what’s going on with contaminated supplements.

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Himalayan salt facts — please don’t waste your money

Himalayan salt facts

Now for something completely different, let’s talk about the facts and myths about pink Himalayan salt. I could make this my shortest blog ever and state, “it’s salt.” Followed by a mic drop.

But it is a bit more complicated than that. There may be some reason to avoid it, so I will write about all the facts that I can find about Himalayan salt. But spoiler alert, you really shouldn’t be wasting your money on it.

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

alkaline water

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.

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Baby food and autism — do the lawsuits and internet claims have merit?

baby food autism

For Facebook users, “targeted ads” are a way of life. I ignore them until I saw one from lawyers who were suing baby food manufacturers for causing autism. I guess that they weren’t getting anywhere with the trope that vaccines cause autism (they absolutely don’t), although the quack Del Bigtree continues to push the myth.

As I did for vaccines, I’m going to show you that baby food may or may not be linked to autism. There seem to be some problematic issues with baby food manufacturing, but that does not show a direct link to autism.

Oh yeah, one basic principle you need to understand — lawyers and judges do NOT establish science.

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

artificial sweeteners cancer

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.

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Genetically modified corn is safe according to a large meta-review

genetically modified corn

As I have written, the scientific consensus says that genetically modified crops, like corn, are safe for humans, animals, and the environment. The real science, published in real scientific journals and not anecdotes, beliefs, misinformation, and lies, tells us that genetically modified agricultural products are safe.

A large meta-review of research into genetically modified (GM) corn has supported several findings that there are no safety signals — you can consume GM corn all day long and you will suffer no ill consequences.

Genetically modified crops are one of those modern technologies that many people avoid, mainly for irrational and unscientific reasons. Of course, many people push fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) about GMOs using little or no scientific evidence to support their claims.

But I’m here to provide real, published, peer-reviewed scientific evidence that contradicts that fear about GMOs – well, at least about GMO corn.

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Genetically modified wheat gluten that can reduce sensitivity

genetically modified wheat

Gluten-free diets are mostly a quack food fad for 99% of the population, but now we might have a genetically modified wheat that has modified gluten so that it doesn’t induce sensitivity. Scientists have developed some new strains of wheat that will produce a genetically modified gluten that may not trigger a gluten sensitivity.

Let’s wrap our minds around that – genetically modified wheat gluten. I’m sure that won’t be problematic for those who have medically diagnosed issues with gluten. They’re going to be thrilled that they can eat real bread, pizza, or pasta. I’m sure they’re not going to be concerned with any label that says “this product contains GMO gluten.”

Of course, the real scientific consensus about GMOs is that they are safe for humans, animals, and the environment. And provide humans with more and healthier food. Like genetically modified wheat gluten.

On the other hand, I’m certain (but I have no scientific evidence) that the Venn diagrams of those who buy into the nonsense about GMOs also buy into the pseudoscience of gluten. Those people might faint because of the irony of a GMO wheat gluten

Let’s take a look at gluten, the real medical issues of gluten sensitivity, and then what is this new genetically modified gluten in wheat. 

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Mucoid plaques and colon detoxification — more junk science

mucoid plaques

The internet is filled with all kinds of nonsense, but one of the more annoying is the issue of mucoid plaques and how they can ruin your life. Colon detoxification or, sometimes, colon cleansing to remove mucoid plaques is one of those strange alternative medicine ideas that hang around without one single bit of evidence supporting it.

Of course, it is time to take a look at this and debunk this junk science. Spoiler alert — it doesn’t do anything except take money from your pocket, like most pseudoscientific scams on the internet.

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Starving cancer is not a good way to treat it despite what the internet says

starving cancer

I am a fierce skeptic about cancer. If someone says “starving cancer is better than chemotherapy,” well that means some gullible person will take that advice and forgo more aggressive, and frankly more evidence-based, treatments. And that patient could die.

I’ve written over 200 articles related to cancer on this website. Admittedly, my interest is mainly based on the incredible harm done to people by fake cancer treatments, but others, like editors at Science-Based Medicine and the estimable Orac, are actual experts in cancer, so I’ve just limited myself to sniping from the sidelines, like debunking the nonsense about weed cures cancer. Anyway, I’ll let others do the heavy lifting in cancer articles, I’m just going to focus on the really stupid nonsense that pervades places like Facebook or Quora.

Let me start out with my strategy on cancer claims made on the internet — anyone who oversimplifies prevention, development, or treatment of cancer shall be treated with disdain unless their claims meet the standard of “extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence.” If you’re going to tell me that blueberry-kale smothies™ prevent cancer, I want extraordinary evidence in the form of meta-analyses or systematic reviews published in respected biomedical journals. Anecdotes, logical fallacies, and testimonials are NOT DATA.

Furthermore, I need to keep reminding my readers – and various people who push this nonsense – that there are hundreds of different cancers. Each of those cancers has a different etiology, pathophysiology, and treatment strategy. Starving cancer may actually be a brilliant idea – some research is involved in cutting off the blood flow to cancers. But that’s at a very localized level, and changing your diet will have approximately zero effect on cancer development and growth.

On the other hand, I guess you could starve cancer by starving one’s self. But I don’t think there would be a good prognosis and outcome for the patient, especially since eating is problematic when patients are undergoing adjuvant therapy for cancer.

Let’s take a look at the pseudoscience of starving cancer.

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Pet diet fads — what does real science say about it?

pet diet fads

The New York Times posted an article about pet diet fads where humans are pushing food fads, like paleo, vegan, and gluten-free, onto their dogs and cats. These diet fads betray the pet owner’s lack of knowledge about the evolution and physiology of their pets, which can be dangerous.

I could argue all day with the devotees of these diet fads, but it’s frustrating. People who believe in their diets often act like religious zealots unwilling to discuss actual evidence supporting their nonsense. I mean gluten-free diets are just for people who have celiac disease, it’s not going to mean anything to those who lack that particular condition.

I’m going to focus on dogs and cats for this article because I’m just not an expert on avian dinosaur diets. I hope what you feed your favorite dinosaur, whether a parrot or parakeet, is appropriate. Since they prefer nuts, they’re already living with a paleo diet.

So, let’s talk about cat and dog diets. And why pet diet fads may be the worst thing for pets.

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