Boosting immunity for COVID-19? Only when we get a coronavirus vaccine

boosting immunity

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.

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High fructose corn syrup – myths and claims debunked by real science

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:

  1. Many “natural” chemicals are dangerous.
  2. Those “natural” chemicals didn’t evolve for the benefit of humans, so they are not inherently better for humans.
  3. 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.

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Rotavirus vaccine prevents diabetes in children – strong scientific evidence

rotavirus vaccine prevents diabetes

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.

These articles add to previous studies that have established linked between the vaccine and a lower risk of type 1 diabetes. So are we getting close to claiming that the rotavirus vaccine prevents diabetes in children? The evidence is very strong. Continue reading “Rotavirus vaccine prevents diabetes in children – strong scientific evidence”

Vaccines cause diabetes – another myth refuted and debunked

vaccines cause diabetes

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.

A lot of the vaccine deniers believe that vaccines cause a lot of everything and several claims that vaccines cause Type 1 diabetes (or here), based on little evidence. As far as I can tell, this myth is based on the “research” from  J. Barthelow Classen, M.D., who has pushed the idea that vaccines cause type 1 diabetes, through some magical process that has never been supported by other independent evidence.

In another example of the anti-vaccine zealot’s cherry-picking evidence to support their a priori conclusions, they ignore the utter lack of plausibility supporting any link between vaccines and Type 1 diabetes. At best, Classen has cherry-picked statistics to support his predetermined conclusions, “comparing apples to oranges with health data from different countries, and misrepresenting studies to back his claim.”

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.

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BCG vaccine is priced too low – now, shortage for bladder cancer

bcg vaccine

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.

So, why does it matter that the BCG vaccine is priced too low or that we have a shortage of it? Well, it has a couple of important uses (one current, and one potential) that has driven demand for the vaccine. And it’s not because there’s a sudden worldwide epidemic of tuberculosis. Continue reading “BCG vaccine is priced too low – now, shortage for bladder cancer”

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”

Sugar causes diabetes? Another one of those myths that makes no sense

sugar causes 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.

Moreover, another myth is that all diabetes is the same. They’re not. Let’s take a look at diabetes and the lack of direct evidence that sugar causes diabetes. Continue reading “Sugar causes diabetes? Another one of those myths that makes no sense”

Reverse type 1 diabetes mellitus with BCG vaccine – promising results

reverse type 1 diabetes

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.

Let’s take a look at what we know about diabetes, how the BCG vaccine might be able to reverse type 1 diabetes mellitus, and what the new article reports. Continue reading “Reverse type 1 diabetes mellitus with BCG vaccine – promising results”

Diabetes myths – homeopathy does not cure, vaccines do not cause

diabetes myths

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.

What troubles me about diabetes is that the quacks have decided to make it a business opportunity for their fake potions, lotions, herbal medicines, and magical foods. Now, I don’t have time to cover every single one of those diabetes myths, but I’m going to cover the ones that annoy me the most. Continue reading “Diabetes myths – homeopathy does not cure, vaccines do not cause”

Cinnamon for diabetes – myth or science?

cinnamon for diabetes

People frequently want the easy way to correct their health issues. They want to imbue a magical quality to “natural” products to make themselves healthier. They don’t want to take one of those evil Big Pharma drugs. For example, over the past few years, Big Supplement has pushed a belief that cinnamon for diabetes is a great treatment.

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.

Look at cancer prevention. There really are only a handful of ways to prevent cancer, and none of them include megadoses (or even single doses) of supplements.

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.

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