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Thanksgiving dinner

Thanksgiving turkey and sleep — tryptophan isn’t the reason

As your favorite feathered dinosaur has been struck with COVID-19, he hasn’t been up to writing new content, so I’m bringing back my turkey and tryptophan myth busting article. Just in time for Thanksgiving, which I won’t be celebrating because I’m sheltering in place.

The old Thanksgiving turkey and tryptophan causing sleep myth appears every year on the fourth Thursday in November when the United States celebrates a holiday called Thanksgiving. You’ll hear about it over and over and over.

Basically, after eating mountains of food, including turkey, one of the guests at the table (fully vaccinated, of course) will pontificate about how eating turkey, which they claim is high in tryptophan, makes everyone want to sleep after the meal. 

Read More »Thanksgiving turkey and sleep — tryptophan isn’t the reason
AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine thrombosis

AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and thrombosis – should we worry?

I have previously written about whether thrombosis (formation of blood clots) is linked to the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine – my conclusion was that they probably weren’t. But still, there are nagging anecdotes and government decisions that may concern those of you who are looking to get the vaccine.

Recently, the government of Quebec recently decided that the AstraZeneca vaccine will only be used on individuals 55 years and older. Of course, this caused some parts of the anti-vaccine world to froth at the mouth claiming the vaccine isn’t safe.

I think that many of the adverse events that are claimed to be associated with any of the COVID-19 vaccines involve the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy, which states that because one event precedes another event, they must be linked. It is entirely possible that thrombosis occurs after vaccinations because of random chance rather than actual correlation (let alone causation).

Because the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is one of the four main vaccines (along with those from Pfizer, Moderna, and JNJ) to be given in the USA, Canada, the EU, Australia, and New Zealand, I want to make sure that the potential of a causal link to thrombosis events are given a thorough analysis. I especially want to focus on why the Government of Quebec decided to make this change – and it’s a lot more complicated than the narratives pushed by the anti-vaccine crowd.

Read More »AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and thrombosis – should we worry?
turkey tryptophan myth

The turkey tryptophan myth – Uncle George keeps repeating it

Every year, on the fourth Thursday in November, the United States celebrates a holiday called Thanksgiving. Part of the tradition, along with watching football (the American version), is eating mountains of food, including a roasted turkey. And this is where Uncle George regales the guests with the turkey tryptophan myth – that is, eating a mountain of turkey, which he claims is high in tryptophan, makes you sleepy.

Because I know the average reader of this blog is pro-science and snarky, I post this article for you to embarrass Uncle George.  And you just know that Uncle George denies climate change and thinks vaccines are dangerous. But let’s get back to that to Thanksgiving and the turkey tryptophan myth.

Only a few countries celebrate Thanksgiving, and just a handful of countries eat turkey in any amount, other than the USA and Canada. Surprisingly, 87% of English holiday dinners will include turkey, a bird that is native to North America. So maybe your British Uncle George will tell the same turkey tryptophan myth during dinner. Or supper, I suppose. 

Anyway, in case you want to impress friends and family, the other places that celebrate Thanksgiving, similar to the USA and Canada, are Liberia (which is populated by descendants of freed slaves who returned to Africa from the US), Grenada (a small English-speaking island in the Caribbean), Puerto Rico (a Spanish-speaking territory of the USA), and Norfolk Island, an Australian territory of like 1500 people.

The only thing I thought that was on Norfolk Island was the Norfolk Island pine. Apparently, American whaling ships would stop there and celebrate the holiday

For Americans, the holiday celebrates white English settlers arriving in North America. The tales usually include some peaceful sharing of food between the white settlers and Native Americans (a nice myth without much actual historical support) prior to the first winter.

Canada’s backstory on Thanksgiving is much more complicated, including ships getting stuck in ice and other legends – it is very Canadian.

In both Canada and the USA, the celebration includes several tonnes of food (per person) which a roast turkey. Other foods may include mashed potatoes, yams (sweet potatoes), other meats, pies, corn, stuffing, and more food. It is a high-calorie meal of epic portions!

Just because this is my blog, let me state one simple fact – pumpkin pie is garbage. I hate that thing.

Generally, everyone, after finishing this dinner, would want to take a long nap. Thus, we find the origin stories of the turkey tryptophan math. However, the science of eating, sleeping, turkey, and tryptophan doesn’t support this myth. Not even close.

Well enough cultural history. This is a science blog, let’s talk about the science that debunks the turkey tryptophan myth. And because I think Uncle George is a blowhard. 

Read More »The turkey tryptophan myth – Uncle George keeps repeating it

Canola oil causes Alzheimer's disease

Canola oil causes Alzheimer’s disease? Dubious evidence

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.Read More »Canola oil causes Alzheimer’s disease? Dubious evidence

fluoride lowers iq

Fluoride lowers IQ – hey vaccine deniers, this study is almost useless

Recently, I wrote an article about the published study that seemed to show that fluoride lowers IQ in children. I predicted that the anti-vaccine religion would jump all over it as an indication that public health authorities are useless – it took like an hour before the anti-vaxxers employed all of their useless pseudoscience and conspiracy theories to jump all over that. 

I was somewhat ambivalent about the research, but I thought it might be an indicator that there could be an issue with water fluoridation. However, upon further review, I’ve come to the realization that this was pretty much worthless.

So do we know if fluoride lowers IQ? Based on research published in JAMA Pediatrics, no we don’t. In fact, I’m willing to state that we should be confident that fluoridated water is still safe while preventing cavities.

Let’s take a look at what I’ve noticed.Read More »Fluoride lowers IQ – hey vaccine deniers, this study is almost useless

fluoridated water

Fluoridated water lowers IQ – maybe, but watch vaccine deniers embrace it

A new article was just published that concludes that fluoridated water lowers IQ of children. Of course, this will become dogma not only for those who hate fluoridated water but also for the vaccine deniers who think that modern science is the scourge of the planet. 

However, what you see in the all-too-frequent exaggerated articles from many science journalists is almost always not what the actual study says. I guess clickbait headlines matter more than scientific accuracy.

Well, it’s time to do what the old dinosaur always does – check out this new article that claims that fluoridated water lowers IQ. Read More »Fluoridated water lowers IQ – maybe, but watch vaccine deniers embrace it

Chinese vaccine scandal

Chinese vaccine scandal – not a concern for USA and many other countries

Recently, a Chinese vaccine scandal has been reported in many news sources. According to these reports, a Chinese vaccine manufacturer produced and marketed “low-quality” vaccines for infants. Moreover, they falsified production and inspection data on a rabies vaccine – as I’ve written before, rabies is a deadly disease, with almost 100% mortality after symptoms appear,  and the vaccine is the only choice to save lives.

This is an appalling story on so many levels. Authorities in the country had lax enforcement and regulation of their vaccine industry – the government was attacked on social media about the situation, a rarity in a communist country where free speech is strictly limited. As a result, the Chinese government will begin regulating their vaccine manufacturers more closely, although it may be too little and too late.

On the other hand, Hong Kong utilizes mostly “Western” manufactured vaccines, which has led to many Chinese citizens going to that autonomous region to get their children vaccinated. There are websites devoted to showing how parents can avoid Chinese vaccines and get the “good stuff.”

These kinds of outrageous ethical lapses generally do not happen in the USA, Europe, Japan, Canada, Australia, and many other countries. Falsifying data can lead to severe criminal prosecution and civil penalties, something that is far beyond the response from Chinese authorities to this scandal.

Of course, this has led to one of the most ridiculous myths of the anti-vaccine world – our vaccines are dangerous because they were manufactured in China. Under most circumstances, this would be a laughable myth, but with this Chinese vaccine scandal, it’s important that we know where our vaccines are manufactured – spoiler alert, they are made in the USA, Europe, Canada, and Japan, all of which have strict regulation of the pharmaceutical industry.Read More »Chinese vaccine scandal – not a concern for USA and many other countries

autoimmune diseases

Autoimmune diseases unrelated to HPV vaccine – new Canadian study

There are so many outlandish and unsupported claims about the HPV vaccine, it’s difficult to keep up with them all. One of the most outrageous lies about the HPV vaccine is that it causes autoimmune diseases, despite the robust epidemiological or clinical evidence that firmly establishes the safety of the HPV vaccine, especially with respect to autoimmune diseases.

Autoimmune diseases are conditions where the immune system has an abnormal response to normal cells in the body. Celiac disease, type 1 diabetes mellitus, multiple sclerosis, and many other conditions are as a result of an autoimmune disorder. We don’t know what causes the autoimmunity, but there is almost no biological plausibility that any vaccine could induce the disease.

Despite the lack of a reasonable biological mechanism leading from the HPV vaccine to any of the multitudes of autoimmune diseases, the anti-vaccine forces continue to try to establish a link. For example, Yehuda Shoenfeld has pushed a ridiculed hypothesis that the vaccine causes something he calls autoimmune syndrome induced by adjuvants (ASIA). Not a single respected scientist buys into ASIA, and Shoenfeld has presented no vigorous clinical or epidemiological evidence supporting its existence.

Not to pile onto the anti-vaccine tropes about the vaccine, but a large, and new, Canadian study has once again shown us that there are no links between the HPV vaccine and autoimmune diseases. This adds to the body of evidence that, for real science, reinforces the conclusion that the HPV vaccine is an incredibly safe vaccine.Read More »Autoimmune diseases unrelated to HPV vaccine – new Canadian study

Genevieve Rail

Genevieve Rail – “lead developer” of HPV vaccines opposes it

Here we go again. We recently wrote about Diane Harper, another “lead developer” of the HPV vaccines, who has a rather complicated view on HPV vaccines. She makes disparaging remarks about the vaccine, yet her peer reviewed publications are generally favorable to the HPV vaccine. Genevieve Rail, a kinesiology researcher at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada is the next one being pushed by anti-vaccine activists.

Outrageous claims are made about Genevieve Rail’s expertise with HPV vaccines, like Gardasil. And she helps with the claims by making outlandish comments about the vaccine:

“I’m sort of raising a red flag, out of respect for what I’ve found in my own study, and for the despair of parents who had totally perfect 12-year-olds who are now in their beds, too tired to go to school. Yes, we’re going against the grain, and we are going against those who are believed, i.e. doctors and nurses and people in public health.”

So here we go again, another darling of the anti-vaccine world. Time to look into who Genevieve Rail is. And does she have any standing in the scientific knowledge about the HPV vaccine.Read More »Genevieve Rail – “lead developer” of HPV vaccines opposes it