Medical research

“Here’s an invitation to the whole wide world

From your brother to your sister to your best friends girl

Can’t excuse it

No excuses

Everybody get stupid”

This is a catchy song and the chorus gets in your head.

The invitation to get stupid seems to have taken hold in health. To be blunt, I am staggered by what passes for research. But what is worse is the almost blind acceptance of studies, which confirm the personal bias, or belief of experts and professors together with their refusal to accept data, which negates pre, conceived beliefs.

Before getting to this, it is worth noting three critical things about scientific studies. A vast proportion of them are not reproducible. Unless a finding can be verified it is useful. In other words it has happened by chance or a statistical fluke. A recent review of over 100 psychology studies showed the results in over 50% could not be reproduced. Medical trials fare no better. Indeed over one third of major and influential study results have been found to be wrong. Over 80% of study results are either useless or never confirmed.

In addition to this there is the non-publication of studies not getting the “right” result and the omission of critical data. A legal case has unveiled side effects of the drug Risperidone were omitted from trial results.

Secondly, while much noise is made about “peer review” this means next to nothing. Fake peer review is rampant where you get a couple of mates to tick box your work. Or better still just say they have.

Thirdly, it is easy to establish statistical significance and link two unrelated things. However correlation does not equal causation. That two things happen at the same time in the same people does not mean one has caused the other. So for validity there needs to be some causative mechanism.

So against this background we have excitement about the flu vaccine preventing heart attacks. A statistical review showed a 29% reduction in those over 50 having a heart attack if they were vaccinated against the flu.

This would be laughable except that the finding was treated seriously with calls for free flu vaccination for this group and of course a bigger trial.

The lead author of the study was quoted in The Australian; “ Based on this study’s findings, I would recommend the flu jab to anyone over 50, regardless if they are at risk of heart disease”.

The first question has to be what is the real as against relative reduction. A 29% drop could be from 0.5% to 0.35% (a real reduction of 0.15% sounds less impressive than 29%). Secondly was the effect seen in one year or do you need a shot every year for five ten or twenty years? And, of course, how on earth does a vaccine against three strains of a virus, by stimulating production of antibodies, stop a blood clot forming in the arteries of the heart?

Everybody get stupid!

Meanwhile work from the UK shows that e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful than regular cigarettes and that some 98% of users are smokers wanting to convert or quit. Yet in Australia it is easier to buy cigarettes than e-cigarettes. And the public health lobby, which has the ear of government, refuses to accept real data as it goes against their preferred narrative.

Yes, tobacco companies (amongst others) are selling them. So what? As they are less harmful and can be helpful, does it matter which company makes them? Apparently it does.

In the same week it was shown that the stop smoking drug varenicline (Champix or Chantix) has virtually no impact on quit rates yet continues to be promoted by “smoking cessation professionals”.

Everybody get stupid.

Platitudes continue from government and public health about the need to “do something” about methamphetamine (“Ice”) use. Their solution is a $9 million awareness campaign advertising the dangers of methampetamines.

The public knows the problems! It has taken the police a decade to figure out that amphetamines, not alcohol, are the driver of violence, especially in nightlife areas. Health authorities are still struggling to accept this fact.

A TV ad campaign, watched by people unlikely to use ice, makes it look like something is being done.

What is there left but to RVSP to the invitation to get stupid?

Invitation accepted.

 

Dr Joe Kosterich M.B.B.S is an author, speaker, media presenter and health industry consultant, who wants you to be healthy and get the most out of life. Dr Joe also gives practical, motivational health talks for the general public and organisations where he is known as “An independent doctor who talks about health”.

His latest book “60 minutes to Better Health” is available on Amazon.