And here we go again. The interwebs are filled with quacks trying to claim that they have something for boosting immunity to protect oneself from COVID-19. Of course, once you read that someone has the magical potion for boosting immunity, you can almost guarantee that it’s pseudoscience and woo.
Boosting immunity is always the go-to for scam artists whenever there is a deadly outbreak or pandemic like we are seeing now. The pseudoscience of the immune system is pernicious and possibly dangerous.
The problem with these immune system myths is that they overlook or ignore a basic physiological fact – the immune system is a complex interconnected network of organs, cells, and molecules that prevent the invasion of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of pathogens and other antigens every single day.
And no matter how much individuals try to trivialize the complexity of the immune system, it does not make it so. If it were easy as downing a handful of supplements or the magical blueberry-kale smoothie for boosting immunity to coronavirus or any disease, every physician in the world would prescribe.
Unfortunately, even if we could boost our immunity, we shouldn’t – a hyperactive immune system is frequently dangerous to an individual.
Yeah, the pseudoscience crowd doesn’t know their immune system.
People demonize food additives all the time. Just see monosodium glutamate, as just one example. And there’s high fructose corn syrup, a sugar that is blamed for everything from cancer to diabetes to climate change. OK, maybe not climate change.
High fructose corn syrup is just sugar, but because it has a complicated name, it must be bad. It’s part of the “chemophobia,” the fear of anything that sounds like a chemical.
The so-called Food Babe has made a lot of money endorsing a belief that all chemicals are evil. Of course, such claims ignore the simple fact that all life, the air, and water are made of chemicals.
They want us to believe that man-made chemicals are more dangerous than “natural” chemicals, but that betrays several things about science:
Many “natural” chemicals are dangerous.
Those “natural” chemicals didn’t evolve for the benefit of humans, so they are not inherently better for humans.
Nature isn’t always better.
And high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is considered one of the evil “chemicals” that are destroying humanity. But is it? Let’s answer that question.
Two recent peer-reviewed papers have provided strong evidence that the rotavirus vaccine prevents diabetes in children. Basically, the research shows that a rotavirus infection increases the risk for type 1 diabetes and preventing that infection with the vaccine lowers that risk.
If you cruise around the internet, engaging with the anti-vaccine religion (not recommended), you will pick up on their standard tropes, lies, and other anti-science commentaries, like the claim that vaccines cause diabetes. Of course, once one digs into the scientific facts, you find little supporting evidence.
Moreover, Classen seems to come to his beliefs based on population-wide correlations that rely on post hoc fallacies, rather than actually showing causality between vaccines and diabetes. It’s like finding that a 5% increase in consumption of Big Macs is correlated with a full moon. Those two things may happen at the same time, but it would take a laughable stretch of real science to make a cause for causality.
You probably don’t know much about the BCG vaccine, because it isn’t used much these days. And no, it’s not one of the vaccines on the CDC immunization schedule for either adults or children.
The Bacillus Calmette-Guerin vaccine, or BCG vaccine, was initially developed to prevent tuberculosis. The disease is caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but they can also damage other parts of the body. Tuberculosis is treatable with advanced medicines, but it takes a long time and can be expensive. Without treatment, the patient will die.
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.
One of the most pernicious myths about food is that somehow eating sugar causes diabetes. I even was watching a TV comedy where the character was going to dig into a cake, and another character says, “I’m getting diabetes (see Note 1) just by watching all of that sugar.”
No. Sugar is not linked directly to diabetes, so sure go ahead, eat that delicious, rich, sweet chocolate birthday cake. However (see Note 2), there might be some very indirect links between eating too much sugar and diabetes, but not as a result of eating sugar alone.
A clinical trial that examined the potential of the bacillus Calmette-Guerin vaccine, or BCG vaccine, to reverse even advanced type 1 diabetes mellitus was recently published in a Nature journal. In addition, researchers proposed a possible mechanism describing how the BCG vaccine may enhance the immune system and could stop and reverse the damage that leads to diabetes. But does this constitute evidence that this vaccine can really reverse type 1 diabetes? Spoiler alert – I’m not fully convinced, but my interest is piqued.
The BCG vaccine was initially developed to prevent tuberculosis. It is one of the oldest vaccines available on the market, first used in 1921 (pdf). With the successful eradication of tuberculosis in many countries, the vaccine isn’t used very much anymore, except in countries with endemic tuberculosis.
Now, for something completely different. I had to break the streak of vaccine articles, especially since I am interested in all parts of science denial – evolution, GMOs, climate change, and, of course, vaccines. But today, we’re going to focus on diabetes myths. Why, well my academic field of study was focused on insulin and insulin-like growth factors effects on aging – and I continued to keep up with the literature on insulin and diabetes ever since then.
But really, do these supplements actually do all that much? Well, the real scientific evidence gives little support to the health benefits of these various supplements. I’ve probably written over 50 articles on supplements, and maybe one supplement has any value in health.
We probably see a million advertisements for supplements and “natural” foods that make you thinner, healthier, smarter, stronger, better. Of course, if even 1% of the claims (or outright fabrications) made by these hawkers were supported by real science, we could close down Big Pharma and all those physicians hawking those evil drugs that aren’t necessary.
Except, we know that’s not true. And it’s time to look at the claims of cinnamon for diabetes – what is the real science.