Does the full moon increase ER visits? Is this a myth or a fact?

full moon ER

Years ago, my girlfriend was the trauma department director, and she constantly claimed that there were more ER visits during a full moon. Now, I was much nicer to her than I would be to an anti-vaxxer, so I kind of laughed. But I wasn’t so sure.

Then I kept hearing that claim from who I thought were rational and sane physicians. They just firmly believed that ER visits skyrocketed during a full moon. I knew there would be data out there to support or debunk this claim, so today, as we approach a full moon, to find out what’s out there.

Let’s take a look at the evidence, and hopefully, settle the question for a long time. And I’m going to take bets that several ER physicians will post in the comments their anecdotes that “prove” their beliefs.

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Aspartame (Nutrasweet) claims – most are not supported by science

aspartame dangers

Aspartame, the artificial sweetener known as Nutrasweet or Equal, is another target for those who love to push false narratives about substances in our foods. It’s the same for MSG, high fructose corn syrup, and so much else. As I wrote in a recent article about diet soda, the claims are not backed up by real science.

This article will look at aspartame as a “chemical,” and we know that any chemical scares people despite the fact that everything on the planet is made up of chemicals, and then we will look at the most current safety data from actual scientific research.

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Diet soda has a bad reputation, but science disagrees

diet soda

I love my diet soda, specifically one brand, but I kept reading that this was a bad habit that was going to kill me. I should be drinking water for my long-term health, getting rid of that sugar-free brown sparkling water forever.

I thought that I was taking a risk on my overall health by drinking diet soda even though it was better than drinking the full sugar versions of that drink. But recently, I thought to myself, “self, is there any science behind the tropes about diet soda?”

I decided to dig into it, and what I figured out was that the science didn’t support the claims of the diet soda deniers. Not even close.

Now, I could stop here and call it a day, but I know my audience, and you want science supporting or debunking the claims of the anti-diet soda world. So, here I go with some science.

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What are the links between vitamin D and COVID?

vitamin D COVID-19

Across the internet, I keep reading about some relationships between vitamin D levels and COVID-19. I’ve written about it twice (here and here), but I have never seen reliable, robust, and repeated clinical trial data that supports a link between vitamin D levels or deficiencies and COVID-19.

So, I thought I would take a look at it once again, and see if there’s anything there. I keep wondering if vitamin D is just another “miracle supplement” that, once you scratch the surface of data, you find that there is actually nothing there.

What we know or think we know about COVID-19 seems to change daily, partially because the disease caught us by surprise. But every day we seem to get new data that contradicts something we thought or adds to our knowledge of the disease. And sometimes both.

Let’s take a look at the current data on vitamin D and COVID-19.

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COVID vaccination lowers cardiovascular and stroke risk

COVID vaccination

Complete vaccination against COVID-19 was linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular events such as acute myocardial infarction and ischemic stroke as secondary complications of a COVID-19 infection. These results were published in a peer-reviewed journal recently.

This is another huge benefit of COVID-19 vaccination that should be convincing evidence that the vaccine has both short- and long-term benefits.

As I usually do, I will review the study and results so that you can use this paper as further evidence that COVID-19 vaccination saves lives.

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Long COVID symptoms include hair loss and sexual dysfunction

long COVID-19

When many people dismiss COVID-19 as unworthy of needing a vaccine, they almost always ignore the effects of long COVID, the long-term symptoms and sequelae that tend to persist or appear after the typical convalescence period of COVID-19. And new peer-reviewed research shows that long COVID is associated with hair loss and sexual dysfunction — every male that sees this will be running as fast as they can to get the vaccine.

But on a more serious note, long COVID is linked to a lot of serious long-term consequences that are often dismissed by anti-vaccine and COVID-19 deniers.

Let’s take a look at this new paper and review the results of their analysis. The basic result is that long COVID is scary.

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Science is not a belief, not a religion — please get this straight

science belief

I get so tired of people who science is nothing more than a belief, rather than a method to understand facts about the natural universe. I don’t believe in vaccines. I don’t believe in evolution. I don’t believe in climate change.

In each of those cases, and much more, I review and accept the scientific evidence that supports a scientific claim, whether it is that evolution is real, that climate change is caused by humans, or that vaccines don’t cause autism. No, I am not an evolutionary biologist (though it’s kind of hard to be a biologist without accepting evolution), a meteorologist, or a vaccine scientist. But I do know how to follow the science in an unbiased manner and I know who are the experts in fields which means science is not a belief to me, but facts supported by evidence.

I like to say that I don’t believe in anything. Not one thing. My statement is always “the evidence supports” any claim that I make. Now, I don’t apply this many other areas of my life. I don’t like Brussels sprouts, and the only evidence I have is that they taste like little pieces of poison. It’s an opinion, one that will not be changed, especially once I found out that Brussels sprouts are frequently cut in half to determine if there is a brood of disgusting worms in the middle. But I have zero scientific evidence supporting my claim that Brussels sprouts were created to destroy human civilization.

Let me get a bit into science and belief so that you understand what I’m trying to say. Because if one more anti-vaxxer claims that “vaccines are a religion based on belief,” I’m going to scream. Or when a creationist tries to claim I am an “evolutionist” trying to make it seem like evolution is merely another set of beliefs.

I am mostly writing this article because I get tired of replying to people that I “believe” in something in science. I keep repeating myself, so I can just drop a link to refute their nonsense. Of course, I’m assuming that they can read what’s in the link.

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Germ theory denial – another favorite of the anti-vaccine world

woman in brown dress holding white plastic bottle painting

I have been meaning to write about germ theory for years because a big part of vaccine denialism requires a good bit of germ theory denialism. Some anti-vaxxers want to create an illusion of scientific integrity by attempting to outright reject the germ theory of disease.

Germ theory is one of the central tenets of biology along with biochemistry, cells, evolution, and genetics. It is not some idea that was invented by those of us who support vaccines just to convince people to get vaccines. It is a foundation of medicine and biology that is centuries old.

This article is going to be a discussion of what exactly is germ theory, and briefly show how the anti-vaxxers deny it to “prove” that vaccines are unnecessary.

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The value of childhood vaccines — saving lives and money

childhood vaccines

Those of us who support vaccines have long known that the value of childhood vaccines is incredible. It saves lives. It prevents hospitalizations. And it saves money.

Now there is a peer-reviewed paper that examined the value of the childhood vaccines program for children in the 2017 US birth cohort. And it confirms what we all knew, vaccines prevent dangerous illnesses, vaccines save lives, and vaccines are beneficial to our society.

I want to briefly review the paper and then reiterate the value of childhood vaccines not only for the lives of the children but for society at large.

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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.

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