Canola oil causes Alzheimer’s disease? Dubious evidence

Canola oil causes Alzheimer's disease

Food fads make me want to scream, cry, and hide in a cabin in the mountains. MSG is safe. And high fructose corn syrup is just an awful name for sugar. And only a small number of people have a real gluten sensitivity. And now a published article has caused the internet to explode with the trope that canola oil causes Alzheimer’s disease.

This new internet meme is based on a peer-reviewed article published in a real journal. But as I have written time and again, just because an article seems like it has sterling credentials, it doesn’t mean the article is above criticism. We’ll get to this article below.

As expected, all of the usual suspects in the pseudoscience world have jumped on board with clickbait headlines like, “Scientists finally issue warning against canola oil: Study reveals it is detrimental to brain health, contributes to dementia, causes weight gain.” I always find it ironic when a pseudoscience-pushing website believes in scientists when it supports their belief.

Of course, we need to take a look at this whole issue. Here’s my spoiler alert (but please read the whole article) – there is little evidence that canola oil causes Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or dementia. You can use it safely. Continue reading “Canola oil causes Alzheimer’s disease? Dubious evidence”

Meat causes cancer? The answer is complicated and nuanced

eating meat causes cancer

Over the past few years, there have been numerous stories about whether meat causes cancer. Well, the answer is extremely complicated and nuanced, something doesn’t play well with clickbait headlines. People want to know The Truth™ about meat. Oh, and this article isn’t about vaccines, shocking, right?

A couple of years ago we were flooded by memes, articles, and uptight vegans laughing at everyone because the World Health Organization stated that eating meat causes cancer – that’s either processed meat, like a good French sausage, or unprocessed red meat.

Then recently, we were flooded by new memes, articles, and uptight vegans when an article was published to tell us that meat was safe. Of course, that was followed up by even newer memes, articles, and uptight vegans that that new article was junk, and meat causes cancer. 

Even those of you with good scientifically skeptical minds (which includes a lot of vegans) are wondering if anyone knows anything about meat and cancer. So I sliced some excellent French sausage and ate it with my GMO crackers – then this old avian dinosaur did what he is supposed to do, he read the articles.

So, should you worry whether meat causes cancer? I agree that there are a lot of issues about people eating beef, pork, and chicken for our individual health and for the health of the planet. But that’s outside of my bailiwick, and it will garner an incredible amount of yelling and screaming.

But I’m going to be brave (or not) and just try to answer the simple question of whether meat causes cancer. And here we go.

Continue reading “Meat causes cancer? The answer is complicated and nuanced”

Pseudoscience vs science – former is fake, the latter is fact for vaccines

pseudoscience vs science

Pseudoscience vs science – the former is a belief system that uses the trappings of science without the rigorous methodologies that value evidence. The latter is an actual rational methodology to discover facts about the natural universe.

Pseudoscience is bullshit. Science is rational knowledge.

Pseudoscience is seductive to many people partially because it’s not only easy to comprehend, but also it oversimplifies the understanding of the natural universe. Pseudoscience is the basis of alternative medicine, creationism, the anti-vaccine religion, and many other “fields” that true believers try to say is science.

Pseudoscience tries to make an argument with the statement of “it’s been proven to work,” “the link is proven”, or, alternatively, they state some negative about scientifically-supported ideas. It really is appealing because it oversimplifies complex systems and ideas.

For example, alternative medicine relies on this pseudoscience by creating the illusion that medicine can be really easy if you drink this blueberry kale shake, you will have a 100% chance of avoiding all cancer. Real science-based medicine provides real clinical information about every cancer, how it can be treated, and what the real prognosis is.

Acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy, naturopathy, and many other “alternative medicine” beliefs are pseudoscience. They simply lack robust evidence to support their efficacy. In fact, science has failed to establish the clinical usefulness of most alternative medicine (CAM) therapies.

Because I can’t help writing about vaccines, the pseudoscience vs science discourse applies perfectly to it. Pseudoscience uses logical fallacies, anecdotes, and misinformation to make it appear there is evidence supporting the anti-vaccine beliefs. Real science has debunked the claim that “there is a proven link between vaccines and autism,” a common and rather dangerous belief of the anti-vaccine world. 

This article will explore the pseudoscience vs science debate (not really a debate) by examining what exactly makes an idea scientific (and spoiler alert, it isn’t magic), and contrary the logic of science, what makes an idea “pseudoscientific.” So sit down, grab your favorite reading beverage, because this isn’t going to be a quick internet meme. Continue reading “Pseudoscience vs science – former is fake, the latter is fact for vaccines”

The great vaccine debate – only exists in the brains of anti-vaxxers

Lately, I’ve seen ludicrous articles from the anti-vaccine religion demanding a vaccine debate between the well-known pseudoscience liars, like Robert F Kennedy, Jr and Del Bigtree, and legitimate vaccine scientists and experts. I always laugh, and then I always recommend not participating.

The problem is that if you pay attention to any scientific topic, like climate change, evolution, and, yes, vaccines, you’d think that some scientific principles were actually being debated by scientists. The unfiltered information about important scientific subjects allows the science deniers to use a false equivalency to make it appear that the minority and scientifically unsupported point of view is equivalent to the scientific consensus which is always based on huge amounts of published evidence.

From listening to the screaming and yelling, you would think that there is a great vaccine debate. Or an evolution debate. Or a climate change debate. 

There aren’t any debates in any of those (and hundreds of other) scientific topics. Just because someone, like RFK Jr or Bigtree, thinks that there is some “debate,” it doesn’t mean there actually is one. All that happens is one side, almost always the science deniers, use misinformation, lies, anecdotes, and pseudoscience while attempting to scream and yell as loud as possible, then claim they’ve won.

Science can’t be debated. And there is no vaccine debate. Continue reading “The great vaccine debate – only exists in the brains of anti-vaxxers”

Colon detoxification – more pseudoscientific health nonsense

colon detoxification

Listen to the radio for a few minutes. Or watch late-night television for a bit. Through the commercials hawking insurance with talking geckos, promoting treatments for erectile dysfunction, and, exhibiting the coolest, fastest, most fuel-efficient car, you will run across the reason for all that ails you – your failure to use colon detoxification to fix your problems.

Colon detoxification or, sometimes, colon cleansing is one of those strange alternative medicine ideas that hang around without one single bit of evidence supporting it. We’re going to take a look at it with the avian dinosaur’s skeptical eye. Continue reading “Colon detoxification – more pseudoscientific health nonsense”

BCG lung cancer vaccine? The avian dinosaur analyzes the clinical trial

lung cancer vaccine

Recently, a paper was published which described a potential lung cancer vaccine. Interestingly, it’s not a novel vaccine, but it’s the BCG vaccine that’s been around for nearly 100 years.

Unless you are really into vaccines or had a typical education as a physician or nurse, you probably don’t know much about the BCG vaccine, because it’s not a typical part of the  CDC immunization schedule for either adults or children. 

So, let’s talk about this vaccine, and its use as a lung cancer vaccine. Continue reading “BCG lung cancer vaccine? The avian dinosaur analyzes the clinical trial”

Gardasil facts – debunking myths about HPV vaccine safety and efficacy

Gardasil safety and efficacy

The HPV cancer-preventing vaccine, especially Gardasil (or Silgard, depending on market), has been targeted by the anti-vaccine religion more than just about any other vaccine being used these days. So many people tell me that they give their children all the vaccines, but refuse to give them the HPV vaccine based on rumor and innuendo on the internet. This article provides all the posts I’ve written about Gardasil’s safety and efficacy.

As many regular readers know, I focus on just a few topics in medicine, with my two favorites being vaccines and cancer – of course, the Gardasil cancer-preventing vaccine combines my two favorite topics. Here’s one thing that has become clear to me – there are no magical cancer prevention schemes. You are not going to prevent any of the 200 different cancers by drinking a banana-kale-quinoa smoothie every day. The best ways to prevent cancer are to quit smoking, stay out of the sun, keep active and thin, get your cancer-preventing vaccines, and following just a few more recommendations.

The benefits of the vaccine are often overlooked as a result of two possible factors – first, there’s a disconnect between personal activities today and cancer that could be diagnosed 20-30 years from now; and second, people think that there are significant dangers from the vaccine which are promulgated by the anti-vaccine religion.

It’s frustrating and difficult to explain Gardasil safety and efficacy as a result of the myths about safety and long-term efficacy of the vaccine. That’s why I have written nearly 200 articles about Gardasil safety and efficacy, along with debunking some ridiculous myths about the cancer-preventing vaccine. This article serves to be a quick source with links to most of those 200 articles.

And if you read nothing else in this review of Gardasil, read the section entitled “Gardasil safety and effectiveness – a quick primer” – that will link you to two quick to read articles that summarize the best evidence in support of the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness.

Continue reading “Gardasil facts – debunking myths about HPV vaccine safety and efficacy”

Californians support vaccine laws – new poll diminishes anti-vaxxer power

A new poll from the LA Times and conducted by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies shows that Californians support vaccine laws. These laws mandate vaccines for students entering public or private schools while restricting the ability of some physicians to abuse the medical exemptions allowed in the original 2015 California bill, SB277.

During summer 2019, two new laws, SB276 and SB714, which restrict abuse of medical exemptions through a loophole in the original 2015 bill, were passed by the California legislature and signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom.

According to the new laws, in 2020, the state will review medical exemptions by physicians who have written five or more medical waivers and at schools with a vaccination rate below 95%. In a compromise between the Governor and legislature, the new laws say that the state can only reject medical exemptions issued after 31 December 2019, unless that physician has been disciplined by the Medical Board of California. 

In addition, all medical exemptions written by these physicians who have been disciplined can be invalidated.

As expected, the anti-vaccine zealots showed their nasty side by pushing violence against Dr. Richard Pan, odd racist metaphors, and all-around weird behavior. Because of their loud voices, you’d think that they were the majority opinion. 

Apparently, they aren’t. Continue reading “Californians support vaccine laws – new poll diminishes anti-vaxxer power”

Anti vaccine conspiracies – the Skeptical Raptor is Paul Offit delusion

anti-vaccine conspiracies

Here we go with another set of anti-vaccine conspiracies from crackpots running a vaccine denier website. Once again, the old feathered dinosaur (modern or Cretaceous) is part of a broad conspiracy that includes Paul Offit, Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, UC Hastings College of Law, and Kaiser Permanente. Because anti-vaccine conspiracies are only more hilarious when they get more complicated.

Because I am amused by all of this, I must, according to the rule of scientific skepticism, snarkily debunk it. Now, science isn’t good at “proving the negative,” like trying to “prove” that I am not, nor have ever been, Paul Offit. On the other hand, I cannot prove that I am not Barack Obama. Or Tom Brady. Or Elvis. You just never know. Continue reading “Anti vaccine conspiracies – the Skeptical Raptor is Paul Offit delusion”

US measles epidemic hits 1241 cases – get the MMR vaccine – UPDATED

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Health and Human Services have reported that the ongoing measles epidemic has, as of 19 September 2019, has resulted in 1241 cases in 31 states. This makes 2019 (which is around 9 months old) the worst year for measles since 1992, when there were 963 cases for all 12 months. 

At this rate, we can expect well over 1500 measles cases for 2019, making it the worst year since the major measles epidemics of the late 1980s. 

In 2000, the CDC had stated that measles was eradicated in the USA. But as a result of fears and misinformation about the MMR vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps, and rubella, vaccination rates have dropped allowing measles to again attack children. Continue reading “US measles epidemic hits 1241 cases – get the MMR vaccine – UPDATED”