HAPPY NEW YEAR. Welcome to the tenth annual New Year Rant where I try to fix the world by calling out internet health and nutrition BS, again.
I generally do not make "doctor" remarks on this blog, but this is the once per year exception I grant myself. It is time for my annual New Year's rant so sit back and enjoy it.
I started this "tradition" in 2010, the first year of the blog in response to the wacko dietary and health advice I was seeing all around me. I cracked and whipped off I Call BS, what I would call an “I’m mad as h_ll, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” post. It felt so good and it was a great public service announcement.
This is an update to my annual New Years' rant. This version started in 2014 and is updated yearly. Before that, the rants were smaller and less organized.
This is not medical advice, just my educated outlook on medicine and the problem of false and misleading medical and health advice on the internet. See your doctor if you need medical advice.
Please enjoy my rant... I do. The dog pictures are just for fun and to break up this 2500 word rant.
Trending Stories This Year
Is The Anti-Vax Movement Showing It Has No Clothes?
In the face of the predictable epidemics of measles, pertussis, and other vaccine-preventable diseases, there seem to be some cracks in the anti-vac movement. Instead of being ignored by many as "they aren't harming me", they are shown to be the dangerous fraud they are to you and yours.
There were 1300 cases of measles in the US this year. In 2010, the year I started this blog, there were 63 cases. All thanks to unfounded fears and lies.
But on Samoa, with a population of only 200,000, there have been 5600 cases and 81 deaths so far in 2019. Most of the deaths are less than 4 years old. The death rate is 14.4 per thousand, which is HUGE. Vaccines are much, much safer than the risk of natural disease.
The cracks in their acceptance are small, but we now see some enforcement of public health policies to protect the general population. And a bit less of the easy acceptance of this dangerous, uninformed behavior that can endanger your children and grandchildren.
CBD and Marijuana Comments
CBD and marijuana are the new cure-alls it seems. While many medicines over the years have their origin in naturally occurring substances, there has never been nor will there ever be a substance that will cure the entire population of every ailment as these are touted to do. But the claims are multiple with no convincing evidence for most of them other than the religious fervor of the true believers.
Medical marijuana has been used for many illnesses in recent years but not yet proven to help many of these conditions. The conditions where there is the most evidence is with nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy, some usefulness in chronic pain and spastic conditions. But it is touted for many more conditions.
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil has become a hot product in the last few years. It is a non-intoxicating marijuana extract that is being produced generally without any regulation, which results in versions of unknown concentration and quality.
CBD has been suggested to help in the treatment of a number of medical problems with scant evidence for most of the suggested uses. A few of these include anxiety, inflammation, and seizures. Some of these and others may or may not pan out.
Beware of claims of cures of any illness. Tylenol may help the symptoms of a headache, but it won't cure a brain tumor. And if you take too much, you may need a new liver.
But they may have some effect on symptoms or even some underlying diseases, but we (and you) don't know the full story yet. But a few things to consider:
- A "safe" substance may be safe in low intermittent use but not in higher dose continuous use. For example, Tylenol can lead to liver failure.
- Only consider medicine effective when proven. Not when your cousin or a random person on Facebook thinks it will work. This is where you need a well informed real doctor, not the internet type.
- Even if a medicine is effective, it must be used in the correct dose and at the correct frequency actually to work. The wrong dose of penicillin will not work, and it will not work if given once a week.
- "But is it natural." Yep but so is cyanide. It is a chemical and can have other effects you may or may not immediately detect.
- Consider the origin of the recommendation. Is it coming from somebody or organization with something to gain, if not directly, then perhaps indirectly?
SO BE CAREFUL OUT THERE. "Everybody thought" smoking tobacco was medicine once and vaping was "safe" just last year.
Many dollars will be spent and many hopes pinned on substances that may have some small effect for a few conditions but probably are inert in most cases. But fortunes will be made on the mystic of CBD. That is what CBD brownies and makeup are all about. CBD will be with us forever since there are dollars to be made.
A Vaping Note
Let's look at this objectively. Inhaling a mixture of untested chemicals into your lungs where they can be absorbed or deposited. Yep, what could go wrong? The company making the profits with not significant regulation obviously has totally tested their product well, right?
Again, if you took an objective look at vaping at the beginning of the craze, the current problems and a lot more possible undiscovered long term effects seemed predictable.
When vaping started, I included counseling about vaping along with the tobacco discussion with my adolescent exams when I was still practicing.
The Fools and Ongoing BS
Many other issues continue. The BS is everywhere. Homeopathic remedies populate the local chain drug store and are widely advertised. Made up science, and conspiracy theories abound. Add in the general disregard for the truth and science, and they think they are free to say anything.
As the old "cures" fade, new miracle cures for autism, and many other diseases continue to appear, all (as predictable) are very expensive, leading to "go fund me" requests to pay for these cures.
Even the mainstream media is spewing the cr_p. There is good old Dr. Oz talking about superfoods to fight infections. Some will even make it to your local TV news with "medical news" as they use the convincing video that was sent to the stations free. I recently saw one using eye patches to cure autism. And it cost tens of thousands of dollars.
You are entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.
We now live in a culture where everyone thinks that “I’m entitled to my opinion” implies that all opinions are equal and that ignorance is just as good as scientific knowledge. No, sometimes you’re just wrong.
You can have your own opinion but not your own facts. Thirty minutes of Google does not make your beliefs fact. A flat-earth, anti-vax loudmouth on the internet, agreeing with your beliefs is not "fact." You can find support for any wrong idea.
The Fools of Social Media - It is on you if you fall for the BS.
Social media is full of health and nutrition "advice," almost 100% false. If you saw it on social media or most websites/blogs, it will almost for sure be wrong.
In previous years, I called some of them "well-meaning but clueless." But now I believe they are either outright shysters or just too uninformed/uneducated to understand facts from fiction. Or they are so "tribal" now to back down when faced with overwhelming facts.
They want you to believe only they have the magic or secret knowledge. They will have compelling stories sprinkled with pseudo-scientific BS, and if you don't know better, you might believe it.
The more sophisticated ones will have "scientific" references. DON'T TAKE THEIR WORD FOR IT. Most of the references either don't exist, don't say what they claim or are just packed with fake science.
Even if you read the reference, if you are not used to reading scientific articles, things like conclusions that are not supported by the details of the article or bad statistical analysis may still escape your detection.
And don't forget that one study/article is by no means acceptable proof of anything to real doctors.
SNAKE OIL TIME
Cleansing or Cleansing Diets
Why is it that the bloggers and "experts" who are recommending cleansing activities are also the ones expounding their wacko diet information? If their recommendations are so great, why do they need cleansing? (As a food blogger now, I hang my head in shame.)
Your liver and kidneys do this work for you. They don't need the help of these "experts" and their made-up BS. When your liver and kidneys do need help, you need a lot more than a made-up "cleansing" can do.
Any blogger or other "expert" who is suggesting "cleansing" should be automatically in your "do not trust anything they say" list — total BS.
They sound so good. High cost and no sound scientific evidence or even close to believable claims. A new version of "snake oil." Shameful. Absolute BS.
This one is just so stupid (sorry, I just had to say that.) Your body is designed to operate within a very specific pH range. Outside of that range, you can have severe damage or even die.
Your kidneys and other organs are in charge of this. No diet or supplement will significantly alter your blood pH, or at least we hope it can't because it would mean something life-threatening is happening.
One leading celebrity who sells alkaline water recently is quoted as encouraging a daily glass of her alkaline water as she does, "with some lemon." So, no chemical genius there and not somebody you should be taking health advice from.
"Alternative" cancer treatments
Alternative cancer treatments seem to be the rage now. To think all you really needed was a coffee enema or a juice cleansing is just amazing to me.
These are the most shameful scam imaginable that will kill you or your family when you are at your most vulnerable.
Oncology is one of the most data-driven, rapidly advancing areas of medicine. Oncology, over the years, has been very successful in gathering and analyzing data. And then coming up with new innovative treatments and sharing those treatments across the world for all to benefit.
I did my pediatric oncology training at St. Jude and referred many patients there over the years. St. Jude and their adult equivalents are true heroes on the front line of medicine, giving selflessly to society and their patients.
DON'T DRINK THE KOOL-AID.
Nobody can stop you. If you are on either end of the bell-shaped curve in your belief, you most likely to be WRONG. It is shameful for you to preach or impose your wacko believes on others.
So What To Do With All This?
Here are some helpful clues to look for when evaluating these things.
Keywords/phrases that should make you run the other way
- Cure - you know nobody can guarantee a cure. If they do, it is a lie.
- Boost, support, or promotes the immune system or something else. - Don't fall for these BS phrases, which means they have no proof it really does anything. Show me a proper study. They just want your money.
- Emerging studies or emerging science reveals. The snake oil is smelling strong.
- Leading experts - you can be sure they aren't - I call BS ever time.
- Colon health - again, show me the studies and define your terms.
- "Detoxifying" or "cleansing," Please see above.
- Non-GMO - I boycott any food that says that. Fear-mongering is not nice. Companies that exploit fear for profit over science need to be boycotted.
- "Natural" - almost always used to mislead you to believe something is safe and effective. Almost for sure, not effective or minimal effect. Also may not be safe.
- pH- if they talk about changing the pH of your blood, it is wrong or, if true, very, very dangerous (but it is not true).
- Clean eating or "real food" - I hate these terms and the arrogance associated with them. I generally eat dirt myself.
- CBD oil or "contains CBD" - they are selling you unproven products for a high price. I have a bridge to sell you if you fall for that.
- Other bothersome phrases: wellness, organic, poison, toxin, toxic, amazing, trick, hack, secret, alternative are all keywords that should automatically raise flags of concern.
Where the information comes from is another clue:
- Social Media - WRONG with few exceptions.
- Friend or relatives - Almost always wrong.
- The clerk at the store where you are buying things - Do you really need even to ask?
- Your mother - usually better than you think
- Your doctor is generally good but not always. MD or DO only, please.
- Infomercial - BAD... really bad.... always
- News stories. Usually but not always have a bit of truth. But never tell the whole story.
- Doctor or Dietitian (R.D.) from your hospital system - Almost always good.
- There are many nutrition "degrees" people are getting now. I only trust R.D.s.
- An advertised product is almost always bad.
- Advertised drugs. You probably don't need the expensive prescription drug with side-effects that include death for a "disease," which you didn't know existed.
- "Expert" on morning TV - frequently bad, so watch for the keywords above.
So who do you believe?
- Most doctors are good resources for you. But a few have gone to "the dark side."
- Your local nonprofit hospital system will usually have your best health in mind.
- Major websites like WebMD, the CDC, and your local hospital system will all have helpful information. Most medical practices have websites with trusted links. Mine did.
- Even your insurance company wants you healthy, and many provide excellent resources. Even if your insurance company is a blood-sucking leech on society, a healthy you is still cheaper than a sick you. Let them help you.
- DO NOT go to Google. I love Google, but they do not verify information in their searches (not their job), and you are very likely to get very bad information. Google is not your doctor and not a health professional.
- If they tell you the AMA or doctors don't want you to know a secret, hold on tight to your wallet and run hard in the other direction.
- NEVER make a significant change in your diet or exercise program without consulting your doctor.
- Anti-vax is a hoax and has killed many children. Vaccines have never caused autism, but the deadly diseases the vaccines prevent do kill. I have seen it.
- Alternative cancer treatments are killers. These are the most shameful scam imaginable that will kill you or your family when you are at your most vulnerable. Get to a board-certified oncologist you trust.
- Your 1 hour on the internet "researching" does not equal your doctor's years of training. You are entitled to your opinion but not your own facts.
- If it sounds stupid or too good to be true, it probably is stupid and too good to be true.
Now I feel so much better.
So if you believe the liars and shysters shame on you.
Special Comment Note:
I will be approving all comments. If you want to disagree, start your own blog and say whatever you want.
My blog is not your public platform.
I will publish comments that I consider scientifically sound, but ranting or pseudo-scientific BS will not be published, so don't waste your typing. If I don't like it, I will delete it. It will make me feel better that way.