Red No. 3 food coloring — does it really increase risk of cancer?

Red No. 3

Red No. 3 is a food coloring used in some foods, many of which will be familiar to you. As the name implies, it’s a red dye that makes candies and foods look better. It’s really not been in the news for decades, but then someone sent me an article about it, which piqued my interest.

Predictably, the chemophobia crowd, like the Center for Science in the Public Interest, who thinks any chemical is a lousy chemical while ignoring the fact that every living thing on this planet is made up of billions of chemicals, is pushing the narrative that Red No. 3 causes cancer. You know what happens next, I go looking for any published evidence of whether the food coloring is linked to anything, including cancer.

Anyway, let’s take a look at Red No. 3 and find out what it does or does not do to humans.

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Glyphosate (Roundup) causes convulsions in nematodes! What?

glyphosate roundup convulsions

And here we go again, another paper that attempts to link something terrible, in this case, convulsions, to the weedkiller glyphosate, also known as Roundup. Except this is about nematodes or roundworms.

I seem to be writing about roundworms a lot lately, I wonder why. Oh wait, I remember. Quacks were pushing a drug, that treats roundworm infections, to be used against COVID-19. Of course, you all remember ivermectin.

Let’s look at glyphosate and this new paper, which made me laugh. Then I got annoyed.

Continue reading “Glyphosate (Roundup) causes convulsions in nematodes! What?”

Artificial sweeteners linked to obesity – poor evidence

artificial sweeteners obesity

This article about artificial sweeteners and obesity was written by Linda Tock, an American living in Denmark, who has an extensive research background in the biomedical sciences. She has a Master’s Degree in Environmental Chemistry and Health and will be pursuing a Ph.D. Ms. Tock has a fascination for Daphnia, an interesting planktonic crustacean, that is an important organism in studying pollution and environmental stresses. 

So I received a message from a friend of mine, wanting my opinion on this news article, which loudly proclaims that artificial sweeteners are linked to obesity. Because it was a genuine question regarding the science behind the study, and not a ‘concern troll’ about my preference for diet cola, I went and looked at the study itself to see what the fuss was about.

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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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MSG myth — one of the most persistent in the pseudoscience of food

msg

Food additives, like MSG, are some of the most passionate issues amongst people who eat (which would be everyone). AspartameHigh fructose corn syrup. GMO‘s. Salt. Sugar. Trans fats. Polysorbate 80. But I believe that the MSG myth is one of the most pervasive in the food pseudoscience world (yes, I’m going to make that a thing).

Of course, these additives cause angst in people because of their scary chemical names. Or because of stupid claims on the internet. Or just because a few random neurons are firing.

People want to claim that all chemicals are bad, even though everything in nature is made up of chemicals. Everything. And there is no such thing as a “natural chemical” since sugar made in a chemical plant is the same thing as sugar derived from honey. The “chemical” 25-hydroxyergocalciferol sounds scary, except it’s the metabolic product of the conversion of vitamin D in the human liver.

But let’s get back to MSG – how many times have you seen “No MSG” in a sign Chinese restaurant? Is it because China, who has been using MSG in their cuisine for centuries, has been conspiring against Americans since the first Chinese restaurant starting serving up kung pao chicken to unaware Americans?

It’s time to look at the MSG myth – is it real, or does it need a good debunking?

Continue reading “MSG myth — one of the most persistent in the pseudoscience of food”

Golden rice — anti-GMO activists keeping it away from children

golden rice

Golden rice is a genetically modified rice that is a cost-effective way to combat vitamin A deficiency which has killed millions of children in less-developed countries for at least 30 years. Unfortunately, activists who are opposed to transgenic and genetically modified foods raised false concerns that led governments to delay the approval of golden rice.

This is sad since the safety of GMO foods has been firmly established over the years. Because of the pseudoscience pushed by the anti-GMO forces, the world hasn’t been able to provide a nutritional food source for children who are dying across the world. I’m not one to push morality or ethics, but what is the morality of fighting against this life-saving food? There isn’t any based on the science of GMO foods.

Let’s take a look at vitamin A deficiency and golden rice.

Continue reading “Golden rice — anti-GMO activists keeping it away from children”

MSG myth debunking – science shows that it’s just an amino acid

msg myth

The old Skeptical Raptor is taking a bit of a break over the next few days to recharge his batteries for all of the pseudoscience that will be coming out in 2020. In lieu of new content, I will be republishing the top 10 most read articles on this blog during 2019. Here’s number 10 – the MSG myth. 

Food additives are one of the most passionate issues amongst people who eat (which would be everyone). AspartameHigh fructose corn syrup. GMO‘s. Salt. Sugar. Trans fats. Polysorbate 80. But the MSG myth is one of the most pervasive in the food pseudoscience world (yes, I’m going to make that a thing).

Of course, these additives cause angst in people because of their scary chemical names. Or nonsense on the internet. Or random neurons firing.

Obviously, there is stuff, created by the beauty of natural sunlight and goddess blessed sweet waters from the Alps, that is better than these man-made evil chemicals. Well, no. Everything in nature is made up of “chemistry” –  25-hydroxyergocalciferol is a scary chemical name, right? Except it’s the metabolic product of the conversion of vitamin D in the human liver. It’s natural!

But let’s get back to MSG – how many times have you seen “No MSG” in a sign Chinese restaurant? Is it because China, who has been using MSG in their cuisine for centuries, has been conspiring against Americans since the first Chinese restaurant starting serving up kung pao chicken to unaware Americans?

It’s time to look at the MSG myth – is it real, or does it need a good debunking?

Continue reading “MSG myth debunking – science shows that it’s just an amino acid”

Glyphosate linked to non-Hodgkin lymphoma? Analysis of new study

glyphosate

A new study has been published that claims that the herbicide glyphosate is linked to an increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma,  a cancer of the lymph tissue. Of course, once a study like this hits the interwebs, everyone becomes panicked that glyphosate causes cancer.

I want to take a look at this paper because I am generally distrustful of any claims that “XYZ causes cancer!!!!!!!!!!!!” 

Cancer myths are pervasive, and a lot of fear of cancer is based on those myths. So let’s take a critical eye and examine the peer-reviewed paper that claims that there is a link between glyphosate and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. There is a lot there, but there is also a lot of overreaction. Continue reading “Glyphosate linked to non-Hodgkin lymphoma? Analysis of new study”

The official 2018 top ten list from the Skeptical Raptor

2018 top ten list

Since it’s the end of the year, and all good bloggers do some sort of 2018 top ten list. Of course, I’ve been doing this since 2012, so it’s a tradition. At least for the last seven years.

My 2018 top ten list actually is voted on by you, the loyal reader. I don’t choose this list, it’s just the top 10 (with a couple of bonuses) most read articles published on this website. Sadly, some of my favorite articles didn’t make it to the top, but maybe what interests me doesn’t interest you. I can live with that.

So here we go. I think there’s a drum roll somewhere.

The official 2018 top ten list of articles

  1. Nick Catone son dies tragically – blaming vaccines with no evidence. An article by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss describing a sad story where parents try to blame vaccines, yet there is little evidence supporting such a belief.
  2. Gardasil facts – debunking myths about HPV vaccine safety and efficacy. This article is a list of everything the feathered dinosaur has written about the HPV vaccine or Gardasil. Let’s summarize – the vaccine is safe and it prevents cancer.
  3. MTHFR gene and vaccines – what are the facts and myths – the MTHFR gene is one of the canards of the anti-vaccine religion – they believe it’s got something to do with vaccines. It doesn’t.
  4.  The Medical Medium – junk medicine with psychic reading – The Medical Medium is one of the most creepy individuals pushing pseudo-medicine. He thinks he can use psychic reading to diagnose and treat serious medical conditions. I’m glad people are reading this article to find out facts about this charlatan.
  5. Colon detoxification – myth versus science. People think that detoxing is useful. It isn’t.
  6. MSG myth – debunked with real science. MSG is just a simple amino acid that is part of the structure of nearly every protein that one consumes. It has no effect on human physiology unless we throw in observation bias and a dash of racism.
  7. Tetyana Obukhanych – another anti-vaccine appeal to false authority. Obukhanych is someone who has what appears to be sterling credentials but denies science to push false claims about vaccines. This is why we should always ignore all credentials.
  8. Marijuana medical benefits – large review finds very few. Marijuana advocates try to push a narrative that cannabis has medical benefits, usually to create some level of credibility for marijuana legalization. However, real science shows us that marijuana only has a few medical uses. And it has no effect on cancer.
  9. Japan banned Gardasil – another ridiculous anti-vaccine myth. This trope, based on really no good information, is one of the favorites of the anti-vaccine world. Gardasil is still available in Japan.
  10. Bananas prevent cancer – debunking another myth about food. This article was first written during the early Cretaceous, yet it is still the most popular article ever written here. It has been read over 120,000 times, which is amazing as blog articles go. The basic facts are that pseudoscience-loving foodies misread an article thinking that bananas contain a protein called tumor necrosis factor. Bananas don’t. Even if they did, you cannot absorb tumor necrosis factor, since it will be broken down in the digestive tract into amino acids. And even if you could absorb it, the factor does not kill cancer. In fact TNF increases inflammation which increases risk of cancer. But it’s not in bananas, so this is all irrelevant.

2018 top ten list – bonus #11

Argument by Vaccine Package Inserts – they’re not infallible – anti-vaxxers constantly misread and misrepresent what is written in package inserts. Why do they do this? Because all of the clinical and epidemiological evidence contradicts their claims, so they resort to cherry picking information out of the insert to support their claims. If only they read this article, they’d understand what a package insert is or isn’t.

2018 top ten list – bonus #12

Gardasil killed Colton Berrett? The evidence does not support this claim. This is another tragic story of a child’s life taken too early. But the parents, manipulated by the Vaxxed fraudumentary team, want to blame the HPV vaccine. But the vast mountain of evidence tells us that it wasn’t the vaccine. We should tire of this fake new pushed by the anti-vaccine religion, but they persist, because, once again, they lack evidence for their claims so they move to blatant emotional manipulation. They’re vile people.

And that’s it for 2018

It’s been a very successful year for the old feathered dinosaur’s blog. We’ve had almost 2.5 million views of articles, and over 10 million hits. It remains one of the most popular websites on the internet, ranking in the top 300,000 websites – I know what you’re thinking, that the old Skeptical Raptor isn’t Facebook or Twitter. And it isn’t. However, since there are over 1.8 billion websites on the internet, it means that this website ranks in the 0.00167% of all of the websites in the world. As I joke frequently to friends, I remember cheering when I hit 100 visitors…for a whole freaking month.

I’m planning to do a few things a bit different in 2019. I’m going to do a weekly article on an interesting clinical or epidemiological study that crosses my desk. These articles will be outside of my normal articles on pseudoscience – they may be on psychiatric or cardiovascular drugs. They may look at new medical technologies.

Finally, I want to thank all of the readers who have made my articles here and the cross posts at the Daily Kos so popular. I really appreciate the support, kind words, and vibrant discussions. Time to watch my undergrad and graduate schools play football games – hopefully, they win. And to cheer against Notre Dame and Alabama. Well, Notre Dame lost badly, so that made me smile.

Everyone, please have a safe and fun New Year’s celebration. And have a Happy 2019. May Trump please be indicted – that will make my year the best.

How to prevent cancer in 12 easy steps – vaccines are critically important

how to prevent cancer

This article has been updated and reposted here – Reduce cancer risk in 12 easy-ish steps – number 3 is “get your vaccines”. The comments for this article are closed, so please click on the link and go there. The old raptor thanks you.

I have railed against pseudoscientific charlatans who claim that they have the easy way to prevent or cure cancer. 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 awhile).

What 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 “How to prevent cancer in 12 easy steps – vaccines are critically important”