Measles complications – why the MMR vaccine is so important to children

Despite the claims of the anti-vaccine religion about the risks, serious measles complications should an important consideration for any parent on the fence about giving their child the MMR vaccine. This isn’t some exaggeration to compel people to get vaccines – it’s a demonstrable fact.

Unless you’ve completely ignored the news, you can’t help reading about large measles outbreaks across the world – Europe, Oregon, many areas of the USA, and elsewhere. Though the outbreaks aren’t large, thanks to a high vaccination rate in the USA against the measles by responsible and informed parents, there are a number of cities and counties in the country that have vaccination uptake that is too low for the herd effect.

Despite the anti-vaccine tropes and lies about measles complications, it’s actually a serious disease with serious deleterious effects. It shouldn’t be dismissed with a wave of the hand. Continue reading “Measles complications – why the MMR vaccine is so important to children”

Measles causes SSPE – child pays price for anti-vaccine misinformation

On 7 March 2015, a four-year-old Italian girl dubbed “Clara” by the media (real name hidden to protect her privacy) died from subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE), a complication of measles, after prolonged suffering (the girl was in the hospital in which she died for over 4 months, and has been sick at least since last October, and hospitalized elsewhere). Continue reading “Measles causes SSPE – child pays price for anti-vaccine misinformation”

SSPE – a dangerous complication from not getting the measles vaccine

One of the tropes of the anti-vaccine religion is that childhood diseases, like measles or whooping cough, are not dangerous. But real science tells us that measles complications, like SSPE (subacute sclerosing panencephalitis) and death, are not innocuous. The ignorance about measles puts our children at risk.

Sadly, some of these vaccine-denying parents have set up “pox parties” to deliberately expose their children to these diseases, because they believe that natural immunity is better than vaccine-induced immunity. Not only is that an appeal to nature fallacy, but it shows ignorance on how immunity works.  Continue reading “SSPE – a dangerous complication from not getting the measles vaccine”

Ketogenic diet – what does the scientific evidence say about it?

Diet fads seem to test the limits of science since forever. I’m an ancient feathered dinosaur, and I’ve seen it all from the popcorn diet to the South Beach diet to the paleo diet to the ketogenic diet.

I’m sure that the ancient Romans had some diet fad diet that the aristocracy followed to keep themselves healthy – oh wait, the Roman upper class followed the Mediterranean diet, which may be one diet fad that stood the test of time and science.

Outside of the aforementioned Mediterranean diet, which includes whole grains, olive oil, seafood, legumes, and nuts, most of these diets lack robust scientific evidence supporting their usefulness in weight loss or maintaining some unbiased standard of health. But they certainly make a lot of money for those promoting them. It was a US$66 billion market in the USA alone in 2017.  Wait, maybe I should invent the Raptor Diet?

One of the current fads is the ketogenic diet, which is all the rage among those looking to lose weight, improve their health, and, I’m sure, prevent cancer. Before someone thinks it really prevents cancer, it does not. In fact, it may increase the risk of cancer. But that’s another story for another day.

Let’s get into this ketogenic diet fad. Is it supported by any robust, repeated, published evidence? Or, like most diet fads, is it mostly supported by testimony and anecdotes?  Continue reading “Ketogenic diet – what does the scientific evidence say about it?”

HPV vaccine fear mongering in an anti-vax book – a critical review

hpv vaccine

In 2018, “The HPV Vaccine On Trial: Seeking Justice For A Generation Betrayed”, was published. It was written by attorneys Kim Mack Rosenberg and Mary Holland, and Eileen Iorio described as a “health coach.”

As the title suggests, the book concluded that the HPV vaccine (from the first vaccine, licensed in the U.S. in 2006) was a betrayal, because it was unjustified, harmful, and with no health benefits. As the authors’ first chapter lays out, their opinion is in tension with statements from health authorities and cancer authorities worldwide – and goes against a large amount of data.

It is no exaggeration to say that the book is ill-founded, misleading, and anti-vaccine to the core. HPV vaccines have been especially signaled out by anti-vaccine activists since their creation. This book draws on anti-vaccine claims made over the years, including most of the older anti-vaccine tropes (claims, by the way, that are not always consistent with each other – for example, is the problem aluminum in vaccines, or a novel and different adjuvant?) and offering new (and ill-founded – see the discussion of chapter 8 below) ones.

To explain the problems with it, three of us divided the subjects in the book, and are reviewing it as a team. A review by Dan Kegel, who has an undergraduate degree in biology from Caltech and maintains a comprehensive site with the data on HPV and HPV vaccines, is found here. A review of the chapters on autoimmunity, aluminum, and a few more by John Kelly, a career biochemist, and molecular biologist and a survivor of HPV+ cancer, will be added later.

The book has four parts. I will not cover all of it, out of concern of making this review overly long. But I will raise some of the highlights. I am putting chapter 2 and 15 aside to address in my discussion below of the general use of anecdotes. Continue reading “HPV vaccine fear mongering in an anti-vax book – a critical review”

Cure cancer in one year according to Israeli scientists – just bovine feces

cure cancer

If you’ve been cruising Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ lately, you’d have seen some breathless headlines claiming that Israeli scientists have discovered a miracle cure for cancer. And it will be ready in one year.

What a load of rubbish, balderdash, codswallop, claptrap, and nonsense.

I’d end the article right there because nothing more really needs to be written. But you come here for the snark, but stay for the science. Or come here for the science, and stay for the snark. Either way, I need to spend a few minutes of your time, and a couple of thousand words, to put this pile of equine excrement into a waste pit.

So let’s take a look at how some Israeli scientists will cure cancer. Spoiler alert – they can’t. Continue reading “Cure cancer in one year according to Israeli scientists – just bovine feces”

Fried food increases cardiovascular mortality risk – sorry KFC

fried foods

As part of my ongoing series of articles that review interesting new studies, this week, I’m going to look at a new study that shows that fried food may be linked to increased risks of death from cardiovascular disease.

Now, some of you may be scratching your head and saying, “I’m sorry ye old feathered dinosaur, but tell me something I don’t know.” That’s the thing about science, we may think we know that eating a bucket of fried chicken or fish and chips is “bad” for you, but we can’t be sure until we have published studies that give us statistically powerful results.

Despite the beliefs by nearly everyone, including physicians, that fried food is directly linked to cardiovascular disease, studies have been inconclusive in establishing that link. A recent large prospective cohort study in Europe showed no link between fried food and coronary heart disease. The link between fried food and anything is hardly settled science, despite the conventional wisdom.

And since nearly 25-36% of Americans consume fast food, which presumably includes a lot of fried food, researchers wanted to reduce as many confounders as possible by narrowing the study group to women of a certain age.

And that’s what we have from a new study published in January 2019. Let’s take a look at the study and discuss what it may mean. Continue reading “Fried food increases cardiovascular mortality risk – sorry KFC”

Vaccine clinical trials – the anti-vaxxer pseudoscience is wrong again

Of all of the ridiculous tropes, memes, and lies about vaccines pushed by the pseudoscience of the anti-vaccine religion, vaccine clinical trials are the most annoying. They simply get it wrong on so many levels.

The anti-vaccine myths have popped again in a letter to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from Del Bigtree, the producer of the fraudmentary Vaxxed, who has approximately zero credibility on vaccines. He, and his anti-vaccine organization, Informed Consent Action Network, is nothing more than a sycophant to Mr. Andrew Wakefield, serving to push Wakefield’s fraudulent claims about vaccines for money and profit.

The aforementioned letter is an 88-page, yes, 88-plodding-pages, treasure trove of cherry-picking, pseudoscience, appeals to authority, other logical fallacies, lies, ignorance, misinformation, and delusion about vaccines. This is a letter is a follow-up to a response from HHS to Bigtree’s original laughable letter to HHS from January 2018.

Since my tearing down an 88-page rant would take 100,000 words, unless I showed some brevity and simplified my response to “Bigtree is a dumbass,” I thought I’d focus on a few key points over a few days. Of course, I might get bored and give up after this one article.

Given all that, I’m going to focus on Bigtree’s vast ignorance of vaccine clinical trials. He gets it all wrong. He doesn’t understand it. And, he is a dumbass. Not necessarily in that order. Continue reading “Vaccine clinical trials – the anti-vaxxer pseudoscience is wrong again”

Pharmaceutical drug development – providing facts about vaccines

pharmaceutical drug development

I might be over-exaggerating, but I’ve always thought that the anti-vaccine religion believes in their heart that the development of vaccines includes throwing a bunch of stuff in a blender along with dollops of mercury, formaldehyde, aborted babies, and aluminum, which is poured into a vial and sold for billions of dollars. Despite those anti-vaccine myths, pharmaceutical drug development (including vaccines) is a difficult process that fails 99% of the time.

Despite the fact that pharmaceutical drug development is so complicated and failure-prone, I sometimes get the impression that many people think it is easy. And that any claims for a new drug or medical device fly through this process, with Big Pharma’s lust for profits taking precedence over science.

The myths about pharmaceutical drug development are filled with controversy, false claims, and conspiracy theories. Yes, occasionally, we can point out problems with the process. Unless you’re using confirmation bias,  you will see that the vast majority of pharmaceuticals are very safe and very effective (or at least the benefits outweigh the risks).

One of the largest myths is that there really isn’t any regulation – Big Pharma owns the FDA (and other regulatory agencies), and does whatever it wants. But let’s look at the process of pharmaceutical drug development carefully, including how most drugs are investigated and brought to the market. Let’s try to separate the myths from the facts of pharmaceutical drug development.

Continue reading “Pharmaceutical drug development – providing facts about vaccines”

Rotavirus vaccine may protect children from developing type 1 diabetes

rotavirus vaccine

We all know that vaccines save lives by preventing diseases. But a new study from Australia provides some solid evidence that the rotavirus vaccine not only protects children against the deadly rotavirus infection but also against type 1 diabetes.

This post will take a look at the vaccine, diabetes, and what the study shows. Preventing type 1 diabetes is a lofty goal for researchers for a long time. Let’s see if the data is convincing. Continue reading “Rotavirus vaccine may protect children from developing type 1 diabetes”