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…