By Jonathan Jarry, March 23, 2017
What do weight loss diets and books on how to be successful have in common? They often both fall prey to the survival bias. You may sometimes hear how a particular intervention was a success for someone, but ask yourself this: for how many people did it not work?
By Dr. Christopher Labos, March 22, 2017
I did a quick TV spot for City News in Toronto about the growing trend of IV vitamin therapy.
You can watch the video here: http://www.citynews.ca/video/2017/03/13/video-how-beneficial-is-iv-vitam...
The interview was based on an article I had written for the Montreal Gazette about 2 years ago.
You can read the original article here: http://montrealgazette.com/health/diet-fitness/opinion-intravenous-vitam...
There is a new fad that has wormed its way into Canada from south of the border. The intravenous vitamin industry has found its foothold in Canada, to the detriment of the Canadian pocketbook.
IV vitamin therapy promises to cure basically any problem you have provided you can afford the treatment. There are no specific health claims, because that would get the industry in trouble with regulators, so the benefits are deliberately vague, usually centring on boosting energy, strengthening your immune system or improving mood.
By Dr. Christopher Labos, March 21, 2017
I had a small role in a Toronto Star story looking into the "executive physicals" provided by some private clinics. With a high price tage, little benefit, and potential risks, these clinics may do more harm than good.
You can read the story here: https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2017/03/18/should-the-wealthy-be-all...
A growing number of boutique medical clinics is establishing a second tier of health services that critics say encroaches on Ontario’s public health system by charging as much as $4,500 in annual fees for services such as no wait times, genetic analysis and added testing that isn’t always medically necessary.
A Toronto Star/Ryerson School of Journalism investigation documents a hybrid health-care regime that markets to a clientele who can access public health care while paying for services that...read more
By Dr. Christopher Labos, March 21, 2017
For a long time, it was thought that weekend warriors were putting strain on their heart by going all out once a week. But new research suggests the opposite may be true. You can read my latest piece for the gazette here:
There should not be much doubt that exercise is good for you.
When it comes to food, the medical literature is all over the place. In 2013, John Ioannidis published a paper showing that research on food and nutrition is so inconsistent that at some point many foods have been shown to both cause and prevent cancer.
But exercise is mercifully consistent in its benefit. In 2013, Ioannidis published another paper showing, not only that exercise is good for you, but that it’s just as effective as many common medications for heart disease and strokes. In a world where everything is controversial, the benefits of exercise are not.
So why don’t we exercise more?
By Jonathan Jarry, March 8, 2017
Most people don't get enough sleep. These tips will help. Our latest video animation on the things you need to do to get a better night's sleep.
By Jonathan Jarry, February 26, 2017
The FDA recently had some of Hyland's homeopathic teething tablets tested after, you know, babies died and 400 adverse events were reported. They found they contained undesirable levels of belladonna.
Was everyone relieved to find out these tablets should be removed from store shelves? No!
Jonathan looks at some of the comments left on this article:http://www.jwatch.org/fw112097/2016/10/03/fda-warns-against-use-homeopathic-teething-tablets-and
Hey, this is Jonathan from The Body of Evidence.
I ended episode 25 of our podcast by talking about Hyland's homeopathic teething tablets and the FDA warning against them. In case you don't know, in late January, the FDA said that, following reports of adverse events, a laboratory tested these homeopathic teething tablets and found inconsistent levels of belladonna. This plant is supposed to be in there, but it should be extremely diluted. What the lab found was that it wasn't rigorously diluted, since the levels were not the same from tablet to tablet, and the FDA thought babies shouldn't be put at risk.
You would think that consumers everywhere would be happy that a regulatory agency, after receiving reports of 10 dead babies and a number of bad side effects, tested the tablets, found them to be potentially dangerous, and asked for a recall.
By Jonathan Jarry, February 19, 2017
On January 27 of this year, the US Food and Drug Administration released a consumer warning about certain homeopathic teething tablets. Following adverse event reports, laboratory analysis revealed inconsistent amounts of a toxic substance, belladonna. The plant, also known as deadly nightshade, is supposed to be diluted one part in ten for a total of 12 serial dilutions in these teething tablets. The laboratory results quoted by the FDA beg to differ.
The FDA recommends that consumers stop using these teething tablets manufactured by Hyland's and throw away any tablet stock they may have. One would think that a company that brands itself as providing safe, effective medicines for all members of the family would make the safety of their customers a priority.
Yet here are excerpts from a letter they wrote to their consumers regarding the FDA recommendation. In it, they claim that the FDA warning "has created confusion among parents and limited access to the medicines." They go on to state that "putting you in a position of having to choose who to trust in the face of contradictory information is burdensome and undermines the FDA."
Now, contrast the FDA's recommendation to dispose of these products with Hyland's affirmation that "we are confident that any available Hyland's teething products, including those you already have, are safe for use."
By Dr. Christopher Labos, January 28, 2017
Here's my piece that just appeared in the Montreal Gazette. If you have trouble sleeping, and many do, this article just may help.
I'm not a very good sleeper. I toss and turn for quite a bit before I finally nod off. I can put many a fussy baby to shame with my insomnia.
Sadly, more than 30 per cent of the population is similarly sleep deprived, and that has a profoundly negative impact on health. Inadequate sleep increases your risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes and stroke.
Counting sheep would seem to be a sensible solution. It has been popularized by everyone from Sesame Street to Mr. Bean. But when it was actually tested in a scientific study, it didn't work.
In 2002, researchers from Oxford split 50 insomniacs into three groups. They told one group to count sheep, one group to imagine relaxing scenes like a waterfall and told the third group nothing, to serve as a control. Those who pictured a relaxing waterfall feel asleep sooner, whereas the sheep counters did not. It turns out that counting sheep is simply too mundane to distract the brain into falling asleep. As the researchers put it, "Picturing an engaging scene takes up more brain space than the same dirty old sheep."
Warm milk is another common and folkloric sleep aid. Tryptophan is an...read more
By Jonathan Jarry, January 22, 2017
Every month, the podcast will conclude with a segment entitled Cracked Science in which I criticize bad science and talk pseudoscience. Here's the transcript from the latest segment:
Here's a quote. Listen carefully: there will be a quiz.
"What I will stand up and scream is that newborns without intact immune systems and detoxification systems are being over-burdened with PRESERVATIVES AND ADJUVANTS IN THE VACCINES."
Quiz time: what are the credentials of the author of this diatribe, which was published on Cleveland.com?
You may not have guessed it, given the uneducated statement and the use of all caps at the end, but this was written by Daniel Neides, a medical doctor who is the medical director and chief operating officer of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute.
On January 6, website Cleveland.com published an article by Dr. Neides entitled, "Make 2017 the year to avoid toxins (good luck) and master your domain: Words on Wellness". This ill-judged, unscientific, and potentially damaging rant went from freaking out over trace amounts of formaldehyde in the flu vaccine, to exposing the "toxic soup" in which we live, to "just asking questions" about the link between vaccines and autism, to suggesting a delayed vaccination schedule.
The following day, the article was picked up by paediatrician Clay Jones and others on...read more
By Jonathan Jarry, January 11, 2017
"Why so serious?"
- The Joker, The Dark Knight
First impressions are important. A coworker's connection reportedly took a quick look at this website and its post titles and complained about the negativity that was wafting from them. With so many words about why this and that don't work, he wondered what it was that we did believe in then.
If you are used to a steady diet of wellness optimism, Oprah-style takes on happiness and health, and self-reported "open-mindedness", this website might turn you off. I get that.
Likewise, if you are accustomed to the type of science communication exemplified by I F-ing Love Science!-what I often refer to as "waving the flag for science" or science cheerleading-, The Body of Evidence and similar critical outlets might strike you as cynical and, at times, irate.
Before answering the opening question-what do I believe in, then, if I seemingly reject so much health advice?-, I want to address the necessity of the type of critical assessment that we do here and that is being done by Science-Based Medicine, Timothy Caulfield, Dr. Joe Schwarcz, and many others.
Flag Waving versus Critical Science Communication
I am aware of two broad categories of science communication. The goal of the first seems to spark an interest in science in the eyes of the public mainly by displaying its coolness....read more