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How Reliable are These Health Studies?

Here at Blue Heron Health News, we try to bring to you all the most interesting cutting edge new health studies as they’re published in health journals.

We love them and we know you love ’em.

However, we often get the question on the reliability of these studies. Sometimes it’s because people disagree with them, other times because the studies contradict each other. So today, I’ll attempt to explain this issue.

Hold on because this one may really surprise you!

I know many of you will have an opinion on this issue, so please read on and take part in the discussion below.

The first thing we need to clarify is how science works. You hear both laymen and professionals talk about scientific proof. This or that fact has been “scientifically proven.” The truth is, with scientific studies most often you’ll never get proof, only PROBABILITY. This is especially true when it comes to health issues where there are usually so many complicated factors that play a role.

If you throw two dice thousand times, you’ll find out that most often you get the number seven on the two dice combined. You could have figured this out with math as well because there are no secondary factors.

If you take thousand dogs, and give them a choice between tomatoes and beef-steak, you’ll quickly realize that dogs on the average like beef-steak rather than tomatoes.

We humans, however, are different from objects and animals because there are so many different preferences, social traditions, social roles and upbringing styles. If you smoke a pack of cigarettes every day but work out for two hours, eat lots of vegetables and other healthy foods, spend hours outside in the woods, you may have better health than someone who works on an manufacturing line in a polluted factory and lives on junk-food every day even if that person doesn’t smoke. This absolutely doesn’t mean smoking is healthy (it’s not), just that other factors play a role as well.

Human health studies generally don’t reveal direct cause and effect. Even things like smoking (and I take this example again because I think we all agree on what a horrendous health hazard smoking is) can only be shown to be one of many risk-factors of cancer. And studies differ on whether or not second hand smoking is in fact bad or even beneficial (and it hurts me to even write this because I personally can’t stand anyone smoking within 100 feet of me, even outside). So just because it hasn’t been proven, doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

All these variables in human health research make it even harder for scientists to keep their own agendas and personal opinion out of the health studies.

And it’s not always just the evil drug companies and corrupted meat manufacturers that manipulate the facts. In 1999, leading British scientists from the International Agency for Research on Cancer withheld results from a study of 650 lung-cancer patients because they couldn’t find any connection for spouses of smokers (second hand smoking) developing lung-cancer.

It’s well known fact that drug companies have repeatedly gotten drugs approved based on their own studies that later on were found useless, or even dangerous in more independent studies.

One of the reasons for this is that to approve a new drug, you can’t really test the long-term effects of that drug since the drug companies want to get it to the market as soon as possible.

Take, for example, Statins, some of the highest-selling drugs in the world. These drugs were approved by FDA because they lowered cholesterol, which is considered one of the biggest contributor to heart attacks. The fact that Statins were only approved for very high risk people who ALREADY had suffered one or more heart attacks did not stop doctors all over the world from prescribing these drugs for millions of low-risk, patients having minimally high cholesterol… creating one of the biggest, multi-billion dollar money-making schemes for the pharmaceutical companies ever.

Now long-term studies have shown that even if Statins drop cholesterol levels, they do not stop the progression of hardening of the heart arteries. Other studies indicate that Statins do not lower the risk of dying from heart attack for most people, a fact even their advertisements have to disclose. And then of course, there are studies contradicting this.

I personally think much better way to lower cholesterol naturally are natural methods like Scott Davis presents in is all natural cholesterol guide. I’ve also witnessed thousands of people lower their blood pressure using my simple blood pressure exercises.

It’s very easy to manipulate study results by choosing the “right” people to participate, using the “right” tools and “right” methods.

A 2007 study from Harvard University showed that healthy women with high cholesterol do not benefit at all from Statins. Do you think the drug companies will choose that target group to evaluate their drug? No way, but I bet they still want to sell to that group.

Scientist also don’t have to reveal to the FDA what was in the placebo used to compare the drug to comparison group. Drug companies could fill it up with fat or MSG and get totally different results than if it was a simple vitamin B pill (that benefits cholesterol).

Finally different people can read into the results and statistics from the same study and get completely different results. You see this in court all the time. Each party hires their own expensive experts who read scientific results in completely contradicting ways. The jury has to read between the lines to get some sense of the truth.

Then we have the media. Not only are media very strongly controlled by advertising budgets (drug companies are the biggest spending advertisers) but they’re also driven by delivering breaking news. And breaking news has to sound exciting.

So honestly, which news do you think would get more attention?:

a) Lifestyle changes can improve health or

b) Scientists have discovered the breast-cancer gene that could possibly create a cure for breast cancer.

The latter was a breaking news a few years ago. The only thing is, newscasters forgot to mention that only one in one thousand women were slightly affected by this gene. And it’s responsible for only 3% of breast cancer cases.

For a study to be somewhat reliable, it has to include a wide range of people who represent the general public for which the study is intended. It must also be underwritten by reliable, independent researchers who are honestly looking for the truth. This can, however, be hard to determine since there is no way to know who is really pulling strings behind the curtain. And the study results have to be presented in an objective, honest way. Finally, it must have controlled all of the possible variables that contribute to changing the results.

I’m not ashamed to admit that we at Blue Heron Health News are totally biased toward natural solutions. Most of the research we publish show the benefits of natural methods. I don’t agree with every single one of them personally. The main purpose is to swing the tipping point toward natural studies that would otherwise sink in the sea of news promoted by the big pharmaceutical companies in the popular media.

In the end, health choices should not be determined by published results of studies alone. It really all comes down to beliefs and preferences. In other words, not necessarily relying on religious beliefs but also how you view health choices from the point of taking a pill or making changes in lifestyle habits. Do you consider smoking worth the health risk you may possible run?

Even more, your choices should be based on your personal observation and measurements. Look around you, do you want to be more like that old lady (who maybe isn’t that old) who smokes three packs a day and lives on McDonalds or that 85 year old youngster who goes for a three hour hike every weekend with his grandchildren?

If you meet a person that looks and feels like you’d like to be, ask them about their lifestyle choices. I’ve noticed for the last few years how extremely healthy and shining personalities I meet often claim to be vegan, raw food eaters. Although I haven’t made that lifestyle choice myself, I’ve no doubt that is one of the healthiest diets there is.

If you want to learn more about natural methods to combat your health problems, please check out the links to our natural health guides on the right hand side of this page.

But first, take part in the discussion by placing your comment below…

But first: What did you think of this article? Do you have a personal experience related to this? Please leave a comment and join the discussion in the Facebook Comment section below.

And I’d really appreciate it if you also click the Facebook button above to share this articles with your friends.


  1. I worked in a Chemical factory on drug research and know how it is done and how the FDA had the Company check out the new drugs.
    I have taken drugs that the Doctors percsribed for me one to take care or the side effects of the other drug until it nearly killed me. But with natural herbs and stop taking manmade drugs I have my health back.
    I still have side effects from my exposures to the chimicals while working there, but they are comming around.

  2. Ralph Chase says:

    Yes, let the buyer beware. Not everything promoted on the internet is safe.

  3. Girard Krebs, Ph.D. says:

    The word ‘proof’ is used incorrectly in too many instances. The rather abstract Philosophy of Science (an academic discipline) argues that ‘proof’ is possible only in systems of logic, where a system of thought is constructed through deduction from a finite set of axioms that may or may not have any correlation to the ‘real world’. On the other hand, science does deal with the real world. In the scientific approach, a scientist posits an hypothesis, then attacks it in attempt after attempt to disprove its validity. Other scientists may take up the cause and devise other laboratory or field ways to disprove a scientific hypothesis. After repeated attempts to disprove a scientific hypothesis by testing through time and among many scientists in the community of researchers, researchers will in time think they have exhausted all the strategies they have thought of and accept the hypothesis AS IF it is valid. This does not mean that the hypothesis is in fact ‘true’ or valid. It simply means that researchers have failed to disprove it. The history of science is replete with examples of propositions that had been accepted AS IF they were true, only to be invalidated in later research. Such invalidation requres scientists to reject a proposition that may have been accepted as valid for years, decades, or longer. The next step in the scientific enterprise is to either abandon the hypothesis altogether, or reformulate the original hypothesis and start over again. The point to this discussion is that from the Philosophy of Science we learn that ‘proof’ in science is NEVER possible. So anytime we see the word ‘proof’ in discussion of scientific matters, the person making that statement is ignorant of the differences between science and logic, and their statements should be immediately suspect because the word itself suggests infallability.

  4. John Miller says:

    Christian – a good aryticle.

    The biggest of the Big Pharma frauds is comparing one drug with another without comparing the drug with a lifestyle change. So doctors will prescribe statins and christ knows what else, instead of prescribing exercise in a measured does – or telling people to cut flour and sugar out of their diet, or prescribing offal …


    John Miller

  5. Terry Rogers says:

    I am totally in agreement. I have followed many studies, many are very promising for some, yet not for others.Less is more the natural way is always my first choice.

  6. Pat Alston says:

    We all need to be more involved in guarding our own health. Making better choices is key. Read the studies, read about natural methods, think for yourself. Our life and our lifestyle are in our own hands. The article makes many thoughtful points. Lately I have heard commercials on TV for such and such a drug and the disclaimer about all the downsides of the drug, said in a very fast and actually scary manner, is longer than the message about the benefits of the drug. That can’t be good.

  7. Now THIS is an article that should appear in all the media, possibly with repetition every three months. Erm, would the drug companies put the fear of natural remedies and withdrawal of advertising income into editors who published it? I guess so. So much for freedom of the Press, eh? And more reason to beware of the Press…

  8. carol says:

    I think every study should have a section on how the study was funded. A study funded by a drug company with no outside oversight is worth about 10 cents on the dollar (in financial terms). The real problem is forcing universities to “fund” themselves – we no longer have sufficient independent research. Anyone reading a few health blogs gets to easily recognize the kind of study that is essentially useless – and always concludes with this or that drug is good.

  9. carol says:

    TOTALLY AWESTRUCK BY YOUR KNOWLEDGE. I agree 100% with you. One really never knows and you have to do the BEST you can with what you are given. If you know it is risky then cut back. Thank you and I DO LOVE your articles. They make me think, which to me is VERY important. Thank you!

  10. Carol Steele says:

    When deciding on how to treat our bodies, we have to remember that our bodies are not synthetic and will not respond well, in the long run, to synthetic remedies. Also when deciding on a diet, we should consider cultural and ancestral DNA, what part of the country you were born in and its climate, and, what I think is most important, how we view food and our attitude while eating it. We are all individuals and must treat our bodies accordingly. Health and medical ‘experts’ always want to put us all in the same box. We need to be more in touch with our bodies on a more intuitive level. It will tell us what we need to be healthy.

  11. If I can't take statins for hardening of the arteries than what do I take?

  12. Jane says:

    For me, the problem is not whether these studies are reliable or not, it’s that dieticians are like economists or meteorologists, i.e. they say anything and its contrary. One day, coffee is bad for your health, next day it’s good. Red wine is bad, then good, then not so good after all. Vitamin E was good, then bad, etc… My conclusion is to eat a variety of whatever I like and stop when I’m full, and screw all these so called health experts.

  13. Loretta Helton says:

    I also always seek the natural solutions to health issues and would like to know the answer to Mr. Richard Goodman’s question. I also have a brother who has a large blockage in the artery that goes to his heart and I’m trying to help him choose the right solution, Dr. says he can live with this fine rest of his life, or have triple by-pass heart surgery. Question: can Dr. Linus Pauling’s program for lowering Lipoprotein a be a safe way to get rid of this blockage. Our family has a genetic Lipoprotein a issue. My heart doctor told me to “avoid the surgery at all costs”. My brother also has some stints and has had some mild heart attacks which have not damaged his heart. I am really searching and searching for info to help my brother. Can you please help me to help him.

  14. It´s totally truth all what you have exposed. Congratulations.

  15. Thanks for opening this issue. I used to work at a clinic, and I took part in drug "proving" tests. It was years ago… Once, by my personal and the opinion of other colleagues, "the drug" had very nice effects on people, in comparison with the placebos (it was double blind testing) we had no got the keys, just realized that some bottles had nice effect, the other nothing or slight. When the test was ready, we returned the files to the institution that had given us (there, there were pharmacologists), and after opening the keys, their conclusion was that "the drug has not effect on patients".
    Considering "statins" – I personally am against such drug – and I dared to say it to the professor who had given the lecture, back to 1985! My arguments were, that if it impairs synthesis of the most important enzyme, Acetyl Co A, which takes part in the synthesis of cholesterol, but it also takes part in the receiving the energy of all other living cells etc…
    Therefore, with statins we are receiving week heart, impotence, rhabdomyolysis and other, some very severe side effects.
    Once, when I have send to a publisher a work with a mu result treating cancer patients with a drug from natural origin, they returned it to me because "there was no a control group". Yes, there was no a control group, every single patient was separately described because in a such patology, you can not form a group of pts. by age, sex, diagnosis and a stadium of disease! They are individual persons, not lab. animals with the known ancestors for 50 years or more!
    From that time I've got the impression that even publishers work together with pharmaceutic firms, and they won't publish something that is new or not approved, by the name of a "Big Pharma" company! All the decisions about the policy of the company, depends only by the profit they expect to receive!
    I've written these comments because "you asked for it" and you are not oblige to leave it in public.
    Sincerely, Milena Ilievska-Arsova, MD, PhD

  16. taylor carman says:

    What you say is true. We have to begin doing our own research and trust our own knowledge of our body as well as communicate with our doctors, and encourge them to be understanding when we do not agree to take a drug, if that is our choice, plus, we have to know something about the consequences. Studies have many variables, and some of the variables confound the research. Plus, a research with fewer people is almost worthless, and, I believe there is always a bias in any research, no matter how hard the researchers try to blind and randomize their studies. I had classes in research studies and how they are made, and how to read them and decide if they are valid, or reasonable believable studies. Your information is amazing. Thank You

  17. taylor carman says:

    Mr. Goodman, I should have recognized your writing. I am interested in several of your programs, and have begun to research them in the last few days. I am very ill with several health conditions which are not responding to treatments well. Plus, I do not take medications I deem more harmful than my illness; and my doctors do not always like this; one explodes in front of me for daring to suggest I might not want to take his prescription (a statin). I have studied lowering cholesterol, and use several foods I now know help to lower bad numbers. I have accidently read several of your articles and found out afterward that you were the author. Keep it up.

  18. Sometimes, placebos are chosen to obfuscate (such as comparing children vaccinated with ordinary disease vaccines to children vaccinated with the carrier alone). Both are such a serious challenge to the immune system that differences between the groups of children may be tiny in comparison. The whole design of a study (who pays for it, what funds the lab it's done in, biases of the researchers, age or other characteristics of the group studied being relevant to the question the research is supposed to answer, etc.) has to be very carefully thought out to either prove or disprove a theory. Too many studies are being designed simply to reduce the threat of natural health care to drug company incomes. I wish you folks at Blue Heron would give deeper critiques of all the research you cover!

  19. Margaret Laurenson says:

    I totally agree with your article and congratulate you on it. I will be sending it to some of my friends and relations who consider I am strange because I am so anti the synthetic drugs. Have had shocking results from some I have been encouraged to take over my 80 years. The natural was is best. We all have to die sometime of something so let’s just die naturally.

    Best wishes and keep up the good work.


  20. Kurt says:

    Hi Loretta Helton, In my family we have had and still having blocked arteries , amputations because of it, until we tried Systemic Enzyme for cardiovascular cleansing ! Its called Serrapeptase and it works .We use 12000 IU strenght 3 times a day 2 caplets, away from food . It saved a foot from amputation ! So far the Tibial Artery is clear of obstructions and our Doctors and Vascular Surgeons are scratching their heads , we have not told them that we are taking Serrapaptase . The cleansing is gradual,about 15 to 30 days until one feels results ( pain deminishes) No Side effects! Good Luck !

  21. Narayanan says:

    Sir, I agree with you fully. Turning to nature is the best choice in maintaining health.The best example is the science of ‘Ayurveda’developed by ancient ‘Rishis’ in India. Its cure is slow yet it cures for good especially ailments like Acidity, Arthritis and scores of other diseases.One of the benefit of using Ayurveda medicines is that it poses little or no side effects as they are made from leaves and roots of plants without adding chemicals.

  22. I am in agreement and I am a raw food plant strong vegan. I am 58 and look and feel 38. I use blood test and other methods to see if my lifestyle is working not studies!

  23. Hugh Halliday says:

    As a Naturopath I suppose I am biased towards natural remedies and it is amazing how new ones keep appearing. We all know how the drug comanies work, same as the other multi national corporations. Mirrors and smoke.Drugs can save a life as an emergency but of course drug companies do not make money on emergencies. They make money on long term use (rest of your life). They at prestn will go to any lenghs to help their profits bgut perhaps are not as evil as Monsanto. They are trying to tell Americans that they can not be healthy unless they take drugs. Does anybody believe them.If they do I fear for the country. Hugh Halliday. http://www.declarenzge-gmfree.co.nz.

  24. Mildred Mele says:

    Love all your articles…have purchased articles on lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, arthritis…insomnia…now just need to take the time to read & listen to…wish me luck & thank you for all your research & finally the “truth” about synthetic vs natural way…God bless & keep up the GREAT work!!

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