I read the blood type diet years ago. I then read the Genotype Diet, an updated version of that book. In the latter one, naturopathic physician Dr. Peter J. D’Adamo devised a litany of physical measurements to determine what type of diet is best for one’s health in addition to the detailed reasons he outlined supporting his Blood Type Diet book published years before.

His work, based off of years of research and experimentation, was deemed debunked. People read about it online in press articles and decided that it wasn’t worth looking into. The BTD was now unscientific, just like all naturopaths apparently! Dr. Michael Greger, a highly biased vegan-diet-promoting doctor who cherry picks scientific studies and who I have even found to manipulate data to support his viewpoints published a critique. There was one on quackwatch too which is not a site I find trustworthy, to say the least.

As I have outlined in previous posts, like in a recent one about the saturated fat myth, science is often unable to study the complexities of reality. The study that “debunked” the blood-type diet did not really use the blood type diet. Dr. D’Adamo’s response to it addressed this and much more. His critique included that skeptics tend to never express curiosity. They come from a place of dismissiveness.

This was part of his response:

“A look at the core data used in the PLOS Study [1] debunking the Blood Type Diet (BTD) finds support for the researcher’s conclusions that if your experimental subjects eat potato chips, sandwiches, pizza, ‘beans,’ mac-and-cheese, French Fries and processed meat products while doing 13.7% of the Blood Type Diet, their final cardiometabolic markers will probably not vary much by blood type.”

If you want to learn about the blood type diet one day and read about how it was debunked but never do any research beyond that yourself, you have not honored your curiosity. You have not followed the scientific method. You have relied on “science” that someone else did to arrive at your conclusion about how things work. And you are wrong.

End of story.

I am not going to provide a detailed explanation on why I like the blood type diet. The main reason is that it is idividualized and based on trial, error, and lots of experimentation. Although I have no idea why some types can eat manchengo cheese and others cannot, I am open to the idea that some types may be more sensitive to certain proteins. I think that was his theory but I’ll have to save this discussion for a future post. There may be flaws to it but unlike other diets, it was devised by someone who seemed to put in more time and effort into it than people usually do it diet books. Based on these observations I do not think that the blood type diet debunking study came anywhere close to debunking the success stories people have had with it.

 

On a recent instagram post about red meat, where I suggested that meat is not bad for you, someone commented that I was a charlatan and that the science was in consensus about the health dangers of red meat consumption.

Now I’ve received comments like this before, from having a youtube channel and discussing non-mainstream views on health. Calling naturopaths quacks and charlatans is done without thought by those who get their medical education from the internet or spend too much time believing what they learned through conventional routes of medical education.

What I did find interesting was the term he used–“scientific consensus.” It reminded me of the scientific consensus that climate change is happening.

Without reading the literature on climate change I am inclined to believe that the scientific consensus is onto something. I’ve heard many times that the sea level is rising, glaciers are melting, and animals are going extinct because of climate change. I can believe that. I’ve watched planet earth on netflix and short films by National Geographic that have clearly shown me that there is a change in the climate. Beyond that, I have no idea as I have not studied the details. I just recycle and aim to reuse what I can.

But is there a scientific consensus that red meat consumption is bad for your health? Well, I am going to break down the science for you, without citing it, because it’s a huge waste of time. If I cite research for you, I will have you making the same mistake the Instagram commenter did. Instead of talking about science that has been published, we are going to think about our own unique scientific experiment (in part two especially). If I cited research that shows no association between saturated fat consumption and all-cause mortality, you might be more likely to believe me, but would you keep reading and be stimulated to construct the big picture as we will do now? I doubt it. Most likely, people will say, “okay cool I can eat red meat” and move on. Well yes you definitely can but here’s why.

Why people think red meat is bad

The two bad things in red meat that are mistakenly attributed to be the cause of its alleged negative health effects are saturated fat and cholesterol. Since pharmaceutical companies have successfully spent billions of dollars convincing patients that cholesterol is a bad guy and that lowering it will improve cardiovascular disease outcomes, red meat seems like a bad idea. It’s mind-boggling that all of this is a huge lie.

The other day a middle-aged gray-haired male was reading side effects of a statin his doctor was interested in him taking at an Indian restaurant where I indulged in a buffet after fasting. This man was also seeing a naturopath, since we were in Oregon where a lot of insurance companies cover naturopathic primary care (they do what MD’s do, and prescribe some herbs along the way depending on how naturopathic they are; unfortunately many have compromised their values but that is another discussion). I started a conversation with him.

“Have you heard of red yeast rice (RYR)?”

“Ah yes, I have! What are your thoughts on that?”

“Well, I recommend it. It actually contains lovastatin. 40 mg of RYR will contain about 10 mg lovastatin, while working just as well as 40 mg of lovastatin. You also get other compounds in there so instead of just one that blocks the crap out of one enzymatic pathway you have more than just one mechanism of action. Furthermore, since you use less statin, you have less muscle cramping and more CoQ10, an important mitochondrial factor that aids in energy production and declines with age. See if you’re on a statin you might have less exercise tolerance because of your reduced CoQ10. It’s just a theory as there aren’t a whole lot of studies on this but exercse is very good for heart health so it’s ironic to me that being on a statin can inhibit your ability to derive the benefits of something you should be doing for your health.”

This individual was very happy I spoke with him.

People who like listening to the “scientific consensus” tend to place too much trust in published research and don’t seem to investigate the matter on their own. They hope that things are right but there are always missing pieces of information. They will say that statins have shown reduced risk of major adverse cardiovascular events and that the benefit of treatment outweighed the risks. It sounds wonderful, but they don’t think holistically, as I attempted to demonstrate above in my conversation with this man. If we are interested in health, we need to go beyond outcome measures and look inwards.

That should answer whether or not saturated fat is bad for you. The research shows X, or Y, or Z, but doesn’t consider everything in between. Research may have shown in the past that a high fat diet fed to mice led to increased aortic plaques and a reduced lifespan. Substitution of the saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats diminished this increased adverse effect. Although compelling, we don’t eat the way mice and rats do in these studies. And that’s why the large studies have found no effect from saturated fat consumption and heart attacks (to be discussed in part three).

Studying a real diet is often too complicated for research purposes. Research must have clearly defined outcome measures, interventions, populations, and control groups. What goes on your plate is not as clearly defined as a saturated fat.

In part two of this segment, I will begin the discussion on why red meat actually isn’t bad for you with an emphasis on holistic thinking. This post was meant to I guess get the thinking process started. Stay tuned!

Coffee pops up in the news every now and then, especially when large population-based studies like the one we are about to discuss are published. Usually people have no reason to fear, but skeptics exist.

There has been research showing increased mortality in folks consuming upwards of 6 cups of coffee a day. The thing is, those people smoke a lot more. Once the effects of smoking are removed from the equation (in a type of statistical analysis called a regression analysis) these ill effects disappear.

The study, titled “Association of Coffee Consumption with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality in Three Large Prospective Cohorts,” investigated the relationship between smoking and coffee consumption on mortality (death). They also looked at cause-specific mortality: deaths from specific diseases.

So here’s what happened. They took data from three different prospective cohort studies. These types of studies take a group (a cohort) of ideally randomly selected people, take some kind of measurement or collect data from a survey, then check up with them way later in the future and see what happened to them. In this case they looked just at death (these people were followed up for a long time).

The researchers collected data from three different studies: the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS), the Nurses’ Health Study II (NHSII), and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS). These large studies began collecting data many years ago. They consist of medical professionals like nurses and doctors. The details if you are interested are listed under “study population” in the paper. It’s very important to know what population was studied when you read a paper and then ask yourself if the results of the study are generalizable to the rest of the population.

The NHS collected data from women only, and the HPFS, men only. Together, these three studies followed over 200,000 people for 28 years and 4,690,072 person-years (the amount of people times the number of years, something like that) of follow-up.

Here’s what they found:

Proportion of those who never drank coffee and never smoked:

  • NHS: 63%
  • NHS II: 80%
  • HPFS: 71

Proportion of those who drank >5 cups/day of coffee and never smoked:

  • NHS: 24%
  • NHS II: 35%
  • HPFS: 25%

All-cause mortality (death from any cause):

There were five total groups based on amount of coffee consumption: 0 cups per day, less than one cup a day, between 1-3 cups, between 3-5 cups, and over 5 cups a day.

A lot of associations tend to follow a non-linear curve, meaning the effect of whatever is being studied doesn’t simply go up with higher doses of it (or down with higher doses or lower doses). In fact for exercise and all-cause mortality the curve is J-shaped; those who don’t exercise at all have increased mortality, then those that exercise moderately have decreased mortality, and the heaviest exercisers see a small increase in their mortality but not as much as the non-exercisers (it’s a sideways J..I’ll add it in here later perhaps as an update).

The shape of the curve for coffee consumption and all-cause mortality is similar; those who consume a lot of coffee see a slight increase in their mortality, and those that drink moderately see a decrease in their mortality relative to those that do not drink coffee at all.

The thing is, those people who drink a lot of coffee smoke more too.

As a result, increased lung cancer and respiratory disease cases were observed in the groups that drank more than even 1 cup of coffee. Once this relationship was studied in never smokers, there was no more trend for lung cancer with increased coffee consumption. Smoking in this case is a huge confounding variable; it interacts with what we’re looking at making it harder to see a true effect from what we are interested in studying.

All right, well there you have it! I will update this post later with some more statistical information and pictures, but for now, all you need to know is that these three large prospective cohort studies found that drinking between 1-5 cups a day reduced mortality rates from all causes as well as cardiovascular disease (death rates among coffee drinkers was cut in half for those who suffered from diabetes and neurological diseases as well as suicide).

This means that without respect to individuality, or personalized medicine, or constitutions, overall, a cup or five of java is likely to help you live longer. Your chances of death are around 10-20% less from any cause if you are a regular coffee-drinker (For the exact numbers you need to look at the hazard ratios, provided in the tables at the bottom of the paper around page 50 onwards. You will see that the HR’s are between 0.8-0.9. If the HR is 0.9 for 1-3 cups a day of coffee then it means the risk of death is reduced by 10%).

Now I find those people who never drank coffee to be pretty interesting people. Would they live slightly longer if they drank coffee? See that’s not a question that this paper can really answer. You can say that those people who did drink coffee died less often than those who did not drink any coffee whatsoever. But to say that those people who did not drink any coffee at all would live longer is different because as usual the chicken and egg question comes up.

Are the people who don’t drink coffee genetically different than those who prefer coffee? What about those people that drink more than five cups of coffee a day and smoke a lot? Are those people constitutionally different? This is interesting to me because I like the personalized aspect of medicine; it allows us to fine tune information from large studies like this and think about the greater context of a god damn person (excuse my language).

In general, since there were a large number of people in the study, it is assumed that they are mostly similar and that they would actually live longer with coffee. But since no genotype analyses were done I think that question is unanswerable. My 23andMe results did tell me that I have some gene that predicts that I would consume less caffeine than average, so there is a genetic basis to this. Also those people that smoke and drink a lot of coffee perhaps need more stimulation. There are theories that differences in the dopamine receptor subtype 2 are responsible for explaining these differences.

Furthermore, the population studied was probably more stressed out than the average population I would imagine as they are mostly nurses and doctors. How does that add to the equation? Maybe those that drank coffee were better able to withstand the stresses of their job better than those that did not drink any coffee at all. Stress can cause free radical damage and if you’re not taking anything to alleviate that then those free radicals could accelerate the aging process. Also, those that drank the most coffee drank fewer sugar-sweetened beverages. They did do some separate analyses looking at that I believe but didn’t find anything noteworthy to report. But if those people that didn’t drink any coffee drank more sugar, we have another confounding variable to add to the equation, because this data almost makes it sound like if you DON’T drink coffee you will die sooner than those people that do drink coffee.

Out of all the mechanistic explanations for why coffee may prevent mortality, I can tell you there is a substitute. Antioxidants? Well a gazillion things have antioxidants. Big whoop. Caffeine is a stimulant and improves circulatory function? Big whoop a bunch of things did that.

And that is one problem with interpreting large studies like this: you study what most people do and you don’t study what is possible because that is something fewer people do and there aren’t enough of them to inform larger studies. What is nice thogh is that if there is a one-size-fits-all effect from anything and you see it in a very large sample, something is very likely to be actually going on.

So with that being said, coffee is definitely good for you especially considering that risk of cardiovascular disease-related deaths was less in those that drank a lot of coffee because those people smoked more too (if I find the exact statistics on that I will share but I don’t see it anywhere in the paper).

If you don’t drink coffee are you at risk of dying sooner? No, unless you consume more soda or take part in unhealthy activities. People who drink coffee may need to move around more and be more active in general so the anti-sedentary factor likely plays a large role as well.

Anyway, I hope you learned something and are interested in the big picture like I am!

I will soon discuss different types of coffee preparation methods as well as the results of my new pour-over filter…it should arrive tomorrow. Stay tuned, check out the gram, and sleep well because that is really important. So don’t check out the gram with or without nightmode on your phone right before bed in the dark unless you want to suppress your melatonin and GH production!

 

Yes and no.

To answer any question, we need to use our senses, and not just our tactile senses. We can closer our eyes in a meditation to use our third eye chakra to receive us insights unavailable to the mortal human being. I jest, but I have read some crazy stories in a book called Wisdom of the Elders by Suzuki and Knudtson about well, the wisdom of traditional rural peoples. It’s interesting how they came to know anything without technology, right?

The scientific method is another way to use our senses, and a precise way at that, not that intuition isn’t precise; it can be for those who are good at it (Caroline Myss in Anatomy of the Spirit who possessed the ability to diagnose cancer by looking at a picture of the person before medical tests could confirm or deny the diagnosis). The method involves asking questions, forming hypotheses, testing them with experiments, and then repeating the results to validate the conclusions.

Science doesn’t just involve citing a scientific study. In the blogosphere however, many people associate the citing of scientific studies with credibility or trustworthiness. If I cite studies on my blog, even if the studies don’t support my point or if I interpreted them incorrectly, chances are people will think I’m more knowledgable than if I don’t. This is a logical fallacy however, because someone could ask a question, form a hypothesis, perform lots of research, interpret it incorrectly, and then come to an incorrect conclusion which they discuss on their blog with replete citations. As I said in my last post, I’ve seen too much of this already and it bugs me.

If I ask questions, form hypotheses, test them, and present the results, I am still using the scientific method; my results are just not precise. That’s not what I’m doing on my blog anyway, but many great health theories, observations, and accomplishments may not have had scientific studies behind them. Some notable examples of these include the narrowing of the jaw with malnutrition as suggested by Dr. Catherine Shanahan in her book Deep Nutrition, adrenergic syndrome that Matt Stone talks about in his books such as Eat for Heat,  and the holistic intuitive approach to cancer treatment Jimmy Keller created to cure thousands of cases of terminal cancer as chronicled in Forbidden MedicineAll these interesting theories involved science, but not in the form of a clear study you could find on pubmed.

There certainly is no compelling evidence to suggest that we can make something up about health or medicine and expect it to be true, except for Ioannidis’ paper on poor statistical methods used in most research. Science does indeed suffer from a lot of bias and unscientific follies, like fake studies generated by computers. But my point is, I can’t just say pickle juice cures diarrhea (I made that up just now) and tout that as a cure without any data even though quite a few of the practices and beliefs modern medicine has held has followed this method (like early detection early treatment for breast and prostate cancer).

So science can definitely help us solve challenging health riddles. But this brings me to another important concept in science: necessity vs sufficiency. If something must be present for something else to take place, it is a necessary condition. If this something can cause something else to take place but something else could cause it too, it is only sufficient. Something can be necessary, but not sufficient, sufficient but not necessary, neither necessary nor sufficient, or both necessary and sufficient.

My question is: is science necessary for us to know how to be perfectly healthy? My answer is: yes, if we define science by the scientific method and not by citing studies mindlessly. This means we can follow “science” traditional peoples used to understand how herbs work or how to farm sustainably. So if we define science as using the evidence we have today in science journals, science is only a sufficient condition for us to be healthy. If we include testing hypotheses the way traditional peoples may have, then science is probably a necessary condition for us to know how to be healthy.

I am using crude science to answer my own question you may have realized. To be more scientific, I could conduct a longitudinal study to track the health of those who do use an evidence-based approach to control their diet (they’d have to be on similar diets), those who follow instincts, those who don’t care at all, and those who follow a traditional diet. I cannot predict what the results would be, but I find it interesting how a lot of people try to base their diets and lifestyles off of studies that look at people who don’t use any science. Those people may not have an evidence-based approach, but by using a study on them as evidence, and then changing our lifestyles to match them, will we really be able to mimic them?

I’m not sure, and there are many types of scientific studies that could help us be healthier. What I just described is an observational study; these aren’t usually conclusive without the studies that seek to define the mechanisms and find the details.

My evidence that we don’t need to back up our lifestyles with scientific studies is based on the observation that traditional peoples lived long healthy lives and often seemed to know how to deal with a variety of health problems with resources in their environment. With industrialization, this changed. Now these cultures have diabetes, cavities, and poorer health when adopting the fruits of the industrialized society’s labor. The observation that some people can remain slim and relatively healthy without thinking about their health confirms my hypothesis. But I will need more detailed experiments to answer this question.

Conclusion: I hold the belief that the body is extremely complicated, even if the big picture is simple on the outside. Modern science is necessary for us to know all the details, but crude science, the process of following an imprecise scientific method, has been performed by successful civilizations and leads me to conclude that no, we do not need studies on pubmed to be perfectly healthy. However, in an age where culture and tradition is being lost, we don’t have that wisdom of the elders anymore.

What do you think?

 

 

 

Many people believe that if someone cites a scientific study, their message becomes more credible. It’s important to be evidence-based, but citing studies can go awry when the person citing them does not understand what they are citing. Physiology is very complex, so that is understandable: I certainly don’t know exactly what’s going in all the papers I read.

Confused dude

In the health-blogosphere where many authors have no credentials and don’t regularly read full-text science articles, citations can serve as a mere marketing strategy. Of course, someone with credentials discussing nutrition or health can be completely wrong, but that’s besides the point. I only have a college degree after all, but I’ve read many articles where people throw around citations that don’t even support their point, showing me that they’re not being scientific despite citing science articles.

Not always trustworthy

I read a horrendous ebook recently with a high number of citations but the author simplified the concepts too much and showed that he lacks a science education. Based on that experience I decided to write this post and elaborate on some mistakes I’ve noticed over the years from following the health blogosphere. I hope these ideas give you a fresh perspective on reading new material. Feel free to correct me or add more as well.

A -> B, B -> C: A-> C

If A causes B and B causes C, A must cause C. This not necessarily true. This adamant vegetarian argued with me on youtube a while ago and claimed that fish causes diabetes, because Dr. Michael Greger (he has cool youtube videos for sure) made a video about fish and diabetes. No where in the video did he say fish causes diabetes. Instead he discussed PCBs in fish and their link with diabetes.

This one youtube commenter, and others who replied to the discussion, wanted to believe so badly that fish inherently causes diabetes. I saw myself in them; I too wanted to believe certain things that weren’t true at one point and it took some practice to be unbiased. So I gave this commenter my argument and he cited a study that protein causes a greater insulin response per gram of glucose compared to the same amount of glucose by itself. He then cited a study that eating more protein is correlated with diabetes. It was a perfect example of this fallacy but he was unable to realize his folly because his belief-system was akin to a religion. The body doesn’t always work like a domino effect where one thing causes another in a linear fashion.

Reductionism

Some people say cod liver oil is unhealthy. They don’t have studies linking cod liver oil with poorer health, or even anecdotal evidence that it is bad for us, but instead they reduce it to its parts: DHA, EPA, vitamin A, vitamin D, etc. These people say that DHA and EPA aren’t actually essential for us and that they go rancid due to the nature of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). PUFAs have more double bonds which react more, so consuming them may be bad for us. Yes, in the form of vegetable oils that hide themselves into the most innocuous of foods like bread, that may be true. But all whole foods to my knowledge that contain PUFAs contain antioxidants that have been shown to protect against that oxidation, like vitamin E.

Cod liver oil is not a whole food (although it’s wapf proponents say it is) but it has been consumed for a long time with health-promoting effects in various regions of the world, so without evidence showing that cod liver oil, and not DHA, or EPA consumption is unhealthy, one cannot conclude that cod liver oil is unhealthy. I trust the wisdom of traditional peoples much more than this reductionist attempt at being scientific. Green Pastures cod liver oil is the best by the way: whenever I took it I felt more energized and focused, and warmer.

Specificity

By specificity I am referring to the specific effects of hormones, neurotransmitters, and other substances in different tissues, as well as the definition of being specific in our prose. If I were to say for example, testosterone increases sex drive, I am not being specific. If I said on the other hand, 10mg of testosterone supplementation increases sex drive in hypogonadal men, I’m telling specific story. The who, what, when, and where are often skimmed over on the internet and let me illustrate this with some more information on testosterone.

Testosterone is the male health-nut’s favorite hormone and we would measure it everyday if we could. We don’t like things that lower our testosterone, like licorice root, but it may be more complicated than we realize, as aromatase inhibitors show us. Aromatase inhibitors are a popular topic because aromatase inhibitors prevent testosterone from being converted to estradiol. Inhibiting aromatase however does not have the desired consequences, as many who have taken aromatase inhibitors have experienced.

Studies have shown that mice who are deficient in estrogen have almost no sex drive and don’t ejaculate. A recent study on hypogonadism in men concluded that low estrogen levels may explain some symptoms of hypogonadism such as decreased sex drive, independently from testosterone. Aromatase inhibition also increased body fat in hypogonadal males. This evidence really crushes the simple idea that aromatase inhibitors will somehow make men more masculine by lowering estrogen levels. Building on my point that we need to be specific, let’s just look at estrogen’s different effects in different tissues. First of all, there are three estrogens, such as estrone (E1), estradiol (E2), and estriol (E3). Estradiol is the most ubiquitous one. Quoting from this paper, hopefully you can see my point:

Estrone (E1) is a significant estrogenic hormone contributor in both reproductive (~0.5–1 nM) and postmenopausal (150–200 pM) women and in men; estriol (E3) levels are significantly higher in pregnant women (~10–100 nM) than in nonpregnant women (<7 nM; ref. 4). Decreased E3 levels in pregnancy have been associated with complications of eclampsia (5) and the incidence of Down’s syndrome in offspring (6). Fluctuations of ovarian hormones in perimenopause consist of intermittent high and low E2 levels, followed eventually by chronically lower levels, and the predominance of E1 (7); these changes can be correlated with behavioral and other disturbances, as can pubertal and menstrual cycle-based fluctuations (8). All three of these estrogenic compounds (see Fig. 1) are also produced by aromatases in placenta (especially E3; ref. 9) and other nonreproductive tissues (brain: ref. 10; fat cells: ref. 11), where their effects may extend beyond reproductive functions (12). For example, E3 has protective effects against the development of arthritis in certain experimental models (13), as was known previously for E2. Effects in the brain, bone, the cardiovascular system, and many other tissues could be affected differentially by all three of these endogenous estrogenic compounds during different life stages.”

This paragraph defined the who (post-menopausal, reproductive, and pregnant females), the what (E1, E2, E3), the where (placenta, brain, bone, cv system, fat cells), and the when (puberty, menstruation, menopause, pregnancy, and perimenopause), as expected of a scientific paper. Many bloggers want to make it simpler and following their advice can be dangerous when they try to discuss science. The level of detail and specificity in a scientific paper (for the most part) is not matched by the blogosphere.

The internet is a great place in the health-worlds for people to market their businesses . . . just realize that when reading an article on a website that also sells products. I’m also selling an idea, so I promise to be as unbiased as possible.

I’m not saying that bloggers should turn into scientists now; I specifically am referring to bloggers who cite scientific articles and attempt to be scientific but may have very little understanding of what they are sharing. I understand that these people are excited to share information and want to learn, but we need to reserve our judgement and not believe everything we read on the internet, or even in a science journal for that matter (this includes what I say too).

I think it’s great to put in the effort and cite a scientific article, but if someone who cites articles regularly starts to pretend they understand the material when they don’t or is attempting to come to theories and does not realize that they are off the mark, I have a problem.

Notice that scientists often say things like “may” rather than thinking in absolute terms (A causes B which causes C). I rarely see that in the blogosphere. I admit that I may  be wrong in everything I discuss. I like sharing my thoughts and receiving feedback so I can learn but I do my best to be accurate.

Only reading the abstract

Sometimes the full-text isn’t available, so this one isn’t completely bad, and sometimes we don’t have to read the full-text if we’re just looking for a citation on something that is common knowledge. But in general, it’s best to read the full-paper or at least look at the figures. Often, the story in the paper may differ slightly from the conclusions presented in the abstract. When someone only read the abstract but still cites the paper, I tend to notice the following: they will say very little on the subject and the paper was actually about other things than what they cited it for.

Rat/mouse studies

Rats and mice are useful for medical research for many reasons but it’s not easy to draw conclusions from those studies. Oftentimes these studies sound really complicated because the researchers are studying some isolated protein or a specific receptor or cell line, so it really bugs me when someone draws a conclusion about human health, like protein consumption or something, and cites a reductionist (not a bad thing to be reductionist) rat study that looked at some liver cell line.

You may be wondering why anyone would do this but I’ve seen it a LOT. People will act as if they understand something and cite a rat study that seems like it has something to do with their point but isn’t complete enough to really buttress it. Sometimes these studies confirm human experiences, but the human studies are needed to be able to draw conclusions. I just cited a mouse study on estrogen receptor knockout mice and how the results may explain the low sex drive men have experienced from taking aromatase inhibitors, but that alone isn’t enough. I did cite a human study afterwards so that helps but it still isn’t definite proof (that’s another conversation altogether).

Speaking in absolute terms

I just touched on this but scientists often speak cautiously in their writing. Health bloggers don’t much of the time. Beware.

Conclusion

There are many other mistakes people make all the time including a long list of logical fallacies, but these are the common ones I’ve noticed when it comes to citing science. It’s great that bloggers try to be scientific, but not when they use it to market their products or seem more knowledgeable when they don’t have a science education.

Here the argument gets complex because people with a science education may be completely brainwashed and these bloggers may just be very passionate and be trying to help. But there is a distinction between that and believing you know what you say is true, so don’t be fooled by people who present science in a way that makes it seem as if they understand it, and that what they’re saying is completely true.

The next question is, do we even need science to be healthy? Do we need to deliberate over our physiology to find true answers to our health? It depends, and I’ll cover that idea next time.