And we wonder why nobody has any clue how to better their health.
Do you watch the evening news? Dr. Oz? The Doctors? Do you read Yahoo? MSN? Fitbie?
If you do, then I’m sure you notice a trend. One day, goji berries are the greatest thing ever. The next day, they cause genetic mutations.
One day, whole grain reduces colon cancer by 85%. The next day, they cause irregular heartbeats.
One day, coffee will increase your blood pressure. The next day, it will lower you chances of diabetes.
So, what are we supposed to do?
So many conflicting reports. Contradictions abound. Nearly every single supplement and food type have been both simultaneously praised and vilified as both beneficial and detrimental to our health.
So, what do we believe? What choices do we have? What on earth are we supposed to do?
This small rant was set off by a friend of mine. He posted a link to a Yahoo article that claimed Omega-3 fatty acids were related to prostate cancer.
The most “shocking” quote from the article: “The increase in risk for high-grade prostate cancer is important because those tumors are more likely to be fatal, the center’s news release said.”
It’s enough to infuriate those who know better.
Alright, ladies and gents. Here’s how this works.
Here’s how you spot a crappy article. Here’s how, for just one small second, you can cut through the clutter and bullshit and only look at studies and reports that truly matter. Newsflash: THIS ONE DOESN’T.
If you ever read a health article and it claims there is a “link”, a “correlation”, an “association” or a “relationship between” a substance/food/product/supplement and a disease/ailment/health problem, the article is crap.
Garbage. Not even worth your time to click and read. Disregard. Throw it away.
Don’t post it on Facebook or Twitter or anything. In fact, the only proper response would be to write scathing remarks in the comments section belittling the write up.
Just kidding. That’s obnoxious.
But in all honesty, all of these articles are useless. Correlation does not prove causation.
I’ve written this on a number of blog posts. But I’ve never truly discussed why. So, why are all of these studies useless? One reason: CONFOUNDING VARIABLES.
There are so many variables out there to consider when discussing our health.
In order to truly prove a food item or a product CAUSES a certain disease, every single variable must be controlled.
Fitness levels, diet, supplements, lifestyle choices, alcohol consumption, tobacco usage, training regimens, genetic predispositions, sleeping patterns, etc.
Every single one of these variables must be exactly the same, with the only variable manipulated being the one studied.
There’s no way on God’s green earth that anybody can control all of these variables and simply manipulate the one variable which is being looked at. Anyone with a basic grasp of high school science should know and understand this.
The websites know the article is garbage. So, why do they publish it? Simple. Dollar, dollar, dollar bills y’all.
Gotta pander to the advertisers, yo!
When you write a heading which states that something is “linked to cancer”, and inside that very article, you claim that cancer type is “likely to be fatal”, 99% of those who click will instantly say,
“This article says if I keep taking fish oil,
I will be ravaged by pancreatic cancer and die a lonely man!
I’d better knock it off now before it’s too late!”
It’s sensationalistic and irresponsible at best to cause such an uproar for absolutely no reason.
So, what articles should you click on and read? What type of a study is worth your time?
There’s only one type of a study which shows a true cause-and-effect: The “double-blind placebo” study.
These study types are the gold standard of the scientific community. And they’re the only study type which is worth a damn.
In a double-blind placebo study, every single variable is controlled.
The subjects are broken into two groups.
One group which will be given a supplement, ingest a food item, or participate in something.
In the case of the fish oil study, one group would be given the proper dosage of fish oil.
The other group will be given a placebo, which is a “fake” item. Generally a sugar pill or something like that.
But here’s why it’s called “double blind”: Neither the subjects nor the scientists observing them know which is which.
Nobody knows which group is consuming fish oil and which group is consuming sugar pills until after the study is completed and the results are analyzed.
This way, no scientific biases from the hypothesis enter into the minds of a single researcher. And since the subjects don’t know what they are taking, the “placebo effect” is eliminated.
“The placebo effect” is where an actual reaction occurs regardless of whether a substance is present or not.
Ever seen a college freshman get “drunk” off of non-alcoholic beer? I have. Their reactions are priceless when you tell them they’re really drinking O’Doul’s.
That’s exactly what a placebo effect is. The human mind tricking you into thinking something is going on simply because you want to believe something is actually going on.
And how come scientists don’t only perform double-blind placebo studies, then? Simple. They’re expensive. Costly.
Take too much time, energy, and effort. Funding is lacking in many research departments.
You’ve gotta round up a whole bunch of people who are very close in all of those variables I mentioned earlier AND are also willing to eat the exact same diet and live the exact same lifestyle for a substantial amount of time.
To truly prove fish oil causes pancreatic cancer, the study could take 30 or 40 years.
It’s much easier to send out a random questionnaire (which people can easily lie on, by the way), and look for “links”, “correlations”, or “relationships”.
All you need then is a catchy title, and you’ve got a one-way ticket to “click city”.
Let the advertising revenue roll, brother.
So do yourself a favor and stop posting these silly studies.
And please eliminate Dr. Oz from your daily viewing habits as well.