Another entry in the Republican insensitivity sweepstakes »« It’s heresy all the way down

The danger of correlational studies

My doctor had me on fish oil pills for quite a while — they were a popular supplement that was supposed to reduce the incidence of heart disease. She told me not to bother any more about a year ago, as more information was coming out that they didn’t really do anything. Now it looks like the original study that started the fish oil fad is falling apart.

The original study, by Danish physicians H.O. Bang and D.J. Dyerburg, claimed Inuit in Greenland had low rates of heart disease because of their diet, which is rich in fish oil and omega-3 fatty acids from eating fish and blubber from whales and seals.

"I reviewed this original paper and it turned out to be that they actually never measured the frequency of heart disease in [Inuit]," said Dr. George Fodor, the new study’s lead researcher.

If you’re going to do a correlational study, you have to be fairly rigorous in exactly what you’re measuring: if you’re going to claim that Substance X has an effect on Disease Y, it’s kind of important that you’re actually measuring Disease Y. In this case, the correlation wasn’t what they claimed it was: it was more like, poverty-stricken indigenous populations with limited access to public health facilities poorly document their incidence of disease.

Fodor and his team of three other researchers found that the chief medical officer’s annual records were likely deficient because the inaccessible, rural nature of Greenland made it difficult to keep accurate records, and also because many people didn’t have access to doctors.

The 2014 study has found that Inuit do have similar rates of heart disease compared to non-Inuit populations, and that death rates due to stroke are “very high.”

The study also shows that the Greenland Inuit overall mortality is twice as high as non-Inuit populations.

This is almost as bad as the claim that the paleo diet must be good for you, because public health records from the paleolithic are even scantier than those for the Inuit.

Comments

  1. Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human. says

    My parents are heavily into fish oil. And every time a paper is touted in the news about some new supplement or food that will do wonderful things, they jump on the bandwagon with both feet and an open wallet. And when later studies show no correlation, or mistakes in the original paper, or biases based on funding, they still go with the original (often preliminary) report.

    I had thought that fish oil was actually useful considering how long it has been touted as a useful supplement. And now I wonder who funded the original study?

  2. tuibguy says

    My doctor told me to take them, too, because of borderline cholesterol issues. I did for a while, but just decided I would rather eat fish.

    That, to me, is the big thing about supplements. Food that contains the substance you need to adjust in your diet tastes better than pills.

  3. MadHatter says

    My mother takes them for anything/everything. My sister and I joke that if we break a bone she’ll tell us we need to take fish oil, but it’s not far off. Thing is, even if I showed her this she’d ignore it or claim that it doesn’t count because Inuits eat what we do or something.

  4. numerobis says

    Fish oil pills are a fantastic treat for a cat, once you train them to bite it. So don’t throw them away — regale your felines!

  5. Johnny Vector says

    Oh come on, Moggie, give the rest of us a chance. No fair winning the thread at #5.

    Plus, now I need to clean the coffee spray off my keyboard.

  6. george gonzalez says

    Any time there is something that is cheap and yucky or unpopular, funny, there pops up some scientific study that says it’s good for you.

    It happened with oatmeal. It happened with high-fat diets. And it happened with fish-oil. Fish oil doesn’t have many uses. It’s cheap, under $10 a gallon. It’s main use seems to be, with a little red coloring added, as automatic transmission fluid.

    How peculiar that some research was found that just so happened to turn cheap fish oil into a major health commodity?

  7. Whiskyjack says

    Why is it that diet-related nonsense gets spread so widely with such little evidence? My brother-in-law became convinced that all cancers were caused by meat consumption based on shaky correlational studies published in The China Study.

  8. picklefactory says

    If anyone would like to review the various studies regarding the effects of omega-3 supplementation, may I recommend examine.com.

  9. sigurd jorsalfar says

    And now I wonder who funded the original study?

    Whoever it was, it wasn’t the fish.

  10. Gnumann+,not bloody bleeding Gnumann (just an anti-essentialist feminist with a shotgun) says

    @ george gonzales:

    How peculiar that some research was found that just so happened to turn cheap fish oil into a major health commodity?

    Cod liver oil has been used as a supplement for ages in my neck of the woods. It makes some sense as it is a good source of vitamin D, and people have a tendency to become deficient (due to the general weather in these parts and the amount of sun in the winter (which varies between barely and to none). (A shame it (raw) contains hazardous amounts of vitamin A though (though this is fixed in modern times through more refining).)

    So, the Danish researchers most likely had a confirmation bias, and of course neglected to examine other sources of their findings. (The bias most likely included an unwillingness to see Denmark as an oppressor).

  11. Snoof says

    Gnumann+ @ 12

    Cod liver oil has been used as a supplement for ages in my neck of the woods.

    I know it’s been used as a dietary supplement in Melbourne since the 60s at least.

  12. Gnumann+,not bloody bleeding Gnumann (just an anti-essentialist feminist with a shotgun) says

    Snoof @ 13

    I know it’s been used as a dietary supplement in Melbourne since the 60s at least.

    A method for making cod liver oil medicinal uses was patented in 1854 by a bloke called Peter Möller, so it goes back to before that. How long I’m not quite sure (and the oil before that was really vile as it was baked out of the fish liver by the sun (and most likely got rancid in the process)).

  13. David Chapman says

    5
    Moggie

    But oil from snakes: that’s still good stuff, right?

    I read an interesting article — not in a scientific publication, let me stress, although it got a bit technical about the kinds of oil ingredients involved — that suggested that whole snake oil medicine thing comes from Chinese immigrant labourers to the US. Snake being an ingredient in various Chinese medicines. But of course, the snakes in the US are different from the ones in China, so they made up the trad Chinese medicines with rattlesnakes etc, and touted them as marvellous cure-alls, when in fact they did jack-shit, because of the rattlesnake factor.
    I think it’s an interesting suggestion, although there’s always the possibility that the original Chinese snake-oil did jack-shit as well. ( Well originally of course it was based on Mongolian snakes….) Of course Professor Myers distrusts the Chinese pharmacopeia…..
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2014/04/07/marys-monday-metazoan-sad-pangolin/
    Some people find that anointing themselves with Tiger Balm has magical effects on migraine headaches. There are actually two kinds of Tiger Balm, I’m not sure which is best for that. ( Have no fears it’s not made out of tigers. ) Tiger Balm is not exactly traditional, it was invented in the 19th century.

  14. says

    @picklefactory #10 – I went in to that link, expecting yet another site pushing woo: the banner, “un-biased research on supplements and nutrition,” is used by so many snake oil salesmen I nearly left right then. I’m glad I stayed, it seem to be the very rare beast of actually being reasonably unbiased. A woo site would never say, “There are no studies that indicate any long-term health risks from drinking diet soda,” for example.

    Thanks for the link.

  15. Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened says

    @Snoof and Gnumann+

    Cod Liver oil is a traditional supplement here in Blighty. Both my gradnma and my nan swear by it, and dad used to make me and my sister take a teaspoonful every day during the winter (and as a liquid, it is vile stuff).

    @David Chapman

    Of course Professor Myers distrusts the Chinese pharmacopeia…..

    Who of any sense doesn’t?

  16. David Chapman says

    17
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @David Chapman

    Of course Professor Myers distrusts the Chinese pharmacopeia…..

    Who of any sense doesn’t?

    The Chinese.

  17. HolyPinkUnicorn says

    @Whiskyjack #9:

    Why is it that diet-related nonsense gets spread so widely with such little evidence?

    Don’t know why, but it sure is annoying, especially coming from friends who you share many views with except ones concerning food.

    I should also add I live in Los Angeles, which is basically the Bible Belt of bullshit, emotion-based diet advice and fads. Whatever you enjoy eating, no matter how little at one time, there is some asshole foodie to scold you for putting such “poison” and “science experiments” in your body–before they go pick up their medical marijuana, because it can, like, totally cure cancer, man.

  18. FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!) says

    David Chapman, argumentum ad populum won’t get you anything but mockery here. Cite some properly controlled, peer reviewed research or take your confirmation biased fuelled CAM and depart for more rube filled pastures.

  19. brucegee1962 says

    A breaking new study has determined that fish oil capsules are 100% FATAL to the fish they came from.

  20. David Marjanović says

    I read an interesting article — not in a scientific publication, let me stress, although it got a bit technical about the kinds of oil ingredients involved — that suggested that whole snake oil medicine thing comes from Chinese immigrant labourers to the US.

    That would explain why snake oil isn’t even a rhetorical thing in the rest of the West.

  21. U Frood says

    So it’s like saying drunk driving will reduce your cancer risk, because you’ll likely die in a accident before you get cancer?

  22. slatham says

    Here’s the last sentence from the second block quote: “The study also shows that the Greenland Inuit overall mortality is twice as high as non-Inuit populations.”
    Does this mean the Inuit overall mortality is 200%? [Joke]

  23. Al Dente says

    My mother made my brothers and me take a teaspoon of cod liver oil daily. The three of us agreed that once we left our mother’s house we’d never have the nasty stuff again. And we never did. I ain’t dead yet.

  24. John Horstman says

    But hash oil will still get me really high, right? I haven’t done any double-blind controlled clinical trials to definitively establish causation, so the subjective experience could just be a placebo effect or the apparent causation could be a non-causal correlation. Maybe the University of Colorado or University of Washington can finally settle the question.

  25. David Chapman says

    18
    David Chapman

    17
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @David Chapman

    Of course Professor Myers distrusts the Chinese pharmacopeia…..

    Who of any sense doesn’t?

    The Chinese.

    20
    FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!)

    David Chapman, argumentum ad populum won’t get you anything but mockery here. Cite some properly controlled, peer reviewed research or take your confirmation biased fuelled CAM and depart for more rube filled pastures.

    I’ll bear that in mind, but in fact my intent was purely humorous.
    Are you stoned again? ( Snark. )

  26. chigau (違う) says

    David Chapman #28
    … my intent was purely humorous…
    Don’t quit your day-job.

  27. U Frood says

    I’m too lazy to keep up with the health food/vitamin fads. I try to eat a balanced diet based on nutrition as I was taught in school (4 food groups. Because 4 is a good number!) and figure the no carb/no gluten/all protein diets will all run their course. I should eat more green vegetables and less sugar, but that’s the extent of my diet plan.

  28. Kelseigh says

    I started taking Omega-3 caps some years ago on the recommendation of a scientist friend who worked for DFO in Canada, but not for the heart claims. Rather, she was working from studies that pointed to brain health benefits. She was appropriately skeptical of anything trendy, but found the results convincing.

    So while the heart benefit claims are falling apart, what about the largely separate claims of brain health and cognition?

  29. David Chapman says

    29
    chigau (違う)

    David Chapman #28
    ” … my intent was purely humorous… “

    Don’t quit your day-job.

    ( In awe ) Not when there’s competition such as this presiding over internet humour, no fear! :)

  30. twas brillig (stevem) says

    Re CodLiverOil:

    Is that stuff still existant? I used to see it, as a kid, as a plot-stopper in old cartoons. Never see anybody (in realspace) actually taking the stuff. I am amazed to hear so much testimony here that it is actual stuff.
    .
    Anyway, the Omega3 issue, I just tried to bypass supplements by eating salmon weekly, and avoiding red meat as much as possible (and eliminate bacon and pork, completely). I always laughed at Atkins, who encouraged eating fat as a diet to lose fat. wtf? But recently I’ve seen more studies showing Fructose is far more fattening than other sugars, and even more than fat. So eating fat is okay, but soda is liquid death. HFCS [High Fructose Corn Syrup] = death to climate, as well as consumers.
    I’ve always questioned using “supplements” to “balance” one’s diet. Is a “balanced” meal so hard to produce? Even if a balanced meal can not be had by mixing real foods in proper proportions, will splashing in a concentrated liquid version of the missing stuff be sufficient? And does the actual meal itself have to be perfectly balanced? How about “too little A” in meal 1, then “more A” in meal 2. What kind of time period is balance to be measured over? Moderation is my preference. Like “dieting” don’t work. One’ll lose a lot in a short time, but as soon as the Diet is ended, more weight comes back. Better to adjust your regular habits, to reduce a little of this and a little of that, and do a little more; and the weight will slowly go away, and stay away. Where “lifestyle” is a real word and not just a euphemism.
    Diet/nutrition is so complicated. It’s not just “eat this be healthy”, “eat this die”. Too may people believe, “Eat this, live to >100yo; eat this other stuff die in 1 year”. And then there are the “deniers” who are, “last year the ‘scientists’ said eggs are bad, but this year they say ‘eggs are the perfect food’, so eff, who knows if eggs are bad or good, I’ll just eat ‘em (and as many) when I want, eff em.” Who when you tell them something has been verified massively to be good for them, will just reply “what do they know, one day it’s X is good, next day it’s X is bad. They just want to line their pockets with the books they write, that first say one theng, then the next book says the opposite.”
    /ranting… sorry… forgot where I was going…

  31. octopod says

    My dude’s family takes cod liver oil pills for coughs. They all swear by them, and they’re generally fairly evidence-based people, but I have no idea if there’s any proposed mechanism that would make it make sense.

  32. pensnest says

    Thumper #17

    Yes, indeed. As a child, I was dosed with Cod Liver Oil And Malt*—I happened to think it was DELICIOUS and this was therefore no hardship. Not sure what it was supposed to do for me, but the fish oil’s uses, apparently, were legion. When I was pregnant, my grandma advised me to take cod-liver oil** every day, to lubricate the relevant passage so that the baby would slide out more easily.

    Hmm.

    * I’m pretty sure this was Roo’s Medicine.

    ** I didn’t.

  33. alwayscurious says

    @33
    You know, the funny thing about bacon though. I recently splurged on bacon a few months back & reused the bacon fat for doing my other usual frying. I noticed that I could easily cut my total oil usage by 1/3 using bacon fat rather than canola oil. Either the saturated fats are that much better for frying at my usual temperatures or I’m using way too much canola oil in general. I took a break from frying dinner shortly thereafter so I haven’t tested out which might be the case. At what point is reducing total fat more valuable than trading small amounts of one kind for larger quantities of another?

    I hate eating fish so the fish oil fad never caught on with me. Glad to see it might return to the closet of bad ideas.

  34. magistramarla says

    My rheumatologist suggested that I take fish oil for my joints years ago.
    I found that the pill form bothered by stomach, so my hubby found the liquid form of cod liver oil at the health food store. He made sure to find a Norwegian brand that contains minimal amounts of mercury.
    I didn’t care for the original flavor, but I found that I like the fish oil that is flavored with lemon or orange. It’s really quite good. I’ve also grown quite fond of salmon, so we get quite a bit of fish oil in our diets.

    My dog and our two cats are quite fond of the fish oil capsules. The vet suggested them for my dog, who is slightly arthritic. All three of them consider them to be treats. They are also fond of the salmon that I cook, and if we bring home sushi, we have to share with all three.

    alwayscurious – Olive oil is supposed to be an excellent fat for your body. I use it for cooking and for salads. I also keep grapeseed oil handy, since it’s tasteless and better for high cooking temperatures.
    I love bacon fat, and I will use a small amount of it along with the grapeseed oil to add flavor.
    Duck fat is also a good flavor enhancer (endorsed by my three animals, too).
    We’ve cut out trans fats and high fructose corn syrup.
    I love to cook, so I use fresh, whole foods, with lots of herbs (which I grow).
    We use honey and agave for sweetening and I’ve found that a three pound bag of granulated sugar will last me a year, since I do still use it for baking.

  35. The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge says

    alwayscurious @ 36:

    I’ve read (sorry, don’t remember where) that the balance between saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fat in bacon grease is about the same as in olive oil—the cornerstone of that famous “Mediterranean Diet” that’s supposed to be so good for you. It’s a hard sell with the health-food crowd—I think the problem is, most people think of “bacon grease”and “lard” as synonymous terms. Lard, though, is what’s left after the lower-melting fractions in bacon grease are rendered out.

    Now, this says nothing about nitrates/nitrites. It’s easy to say that that should just leave the nitrates out, but it’s been proven again and again that people just will not buy gray meat. All I can say is that my mother cooked with basically nothing else, and I’m still here.

  36. twas brillig (stevem) says

    re olive iol:

    The key, I heard, was olive oil is mono-unsaturated, = better than polyunsaturated, and fully saturated.

  37. The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge says

    twas brillig:

    Exactly. Saturated fats are bad because they’re solid at 98.6º F. Unsaturated fats have double bonds that are easy for oxygen to attack and create free radicals that can cause cancer. (How much of this is actually confirmed, I have no idea.) Mono-unsaturates just minimize that. I suspect the effects in all cases to be much smaller (consistent with zero?) than people think, but what do I know?

  38. pHred says

    The last time I was picking up food at the Thai place there was a person at the counter trying place and order explain the Atkins diet/no carbs to the people behind the counter. All I could think was ‘what the hell are you doing in a Thai restaurant’ ???

    The guy taking the order was valiantly trying to help them but when she started explaining that they didn’t eat peas, he was at the WTF point too. I switched to wondering if they were trying to get scurvy.

    I am glad I ditched the stupid fish pills ages ago too, also taken at my doctors advice.

  39. pHred says

    The last time I was picking up food at the Thai place there was a person at the counter trying to place a take out order and explaining that they (the people she was ordering for) were on the Atkins/no carbs diet to the people behind the counter. All I could think was ‘what the hell are you doing in a Thai restaurant’ ???

    The guy taking the order was valiantly trying to help her but when she started explaining that they didn’t eat peas either, he was at the WTF point too. I switched to wondering if they were trying to get scurvy.

    I left with my order before finding out how that went – I assume that they ate grilled meat on a stick sans sauce – I couldn’t come up with any other ideas what they could possibly eat there and if you were just getting meat on a stick, why order Thai ?

    I am glad I ditched the stupid fish pills ages ago too, also taken at my doctors advice.

  40. pHred says

    Um – I swear I hit preview – promise !! I have no idea how that happened. Sorry for the double comment. :(

  41. Blattafrax says

    There is _very_ good evidence from Italian studies at the end of the 1990s that fish oil supplements can reduce the chance of cardiac failure. Google GISSI-P for some reading. There’s similar clinical evidence that it will reduce excessive triglycerides (although linking this to a reduction in mortality is trickier.) However, there are also several good studies that show little to no benefit in taking fish oil in North American populations in more recent years, which is where PZ’s doctor’s advice that they don’t do much comes from. Sadly, it seems the negative studies seem to be trumping the positive ones – despite no-one really knowing why there’s a discrepancy.

    So people jump to another bandwagon going in the other direction. It’s just been accelerated a little by the news that an irrelevant study was badly done, but other than a few one-line comments the Inuit evidence was hardly mentioned in the serious scientific literature anyway.

    Bottom line and IMO – there is a good chance that for _some_ people, fish oil is likely to be very useful. If you have already had a heart attack; have high triglycerides; are resistant to or not taking statins would be my three top pointers – mirroring the Italian studies mentioned previously. (I’m not a doctor BTW, just a scientist who has recently looked closely at this.)

    But they’re certainly harmless, so why not?
    (Except for the cost, mercury and foul taste… And, yes, Pascal’s wager, but looking from a Bayesian point of view a better one.)

  42. keithm says

    @12

    (The bias most likely included an unwillingness to see Denmark as an oppressor).

    Don’t leap to assumptions. A large portion of Greenlandic communities are remote, isolated, and barely qualify as “villages” and so services, including medical ones, tend to be really thin on the ground, which is the cause of the problems in the original report. If anything, people in such communities have more traditional lifestyles with less intrusion from outside than elsewhere, so “Danish oppression” is likely to be much less than it would be for Greenlandic Inuit living in larger communities, with ready access to services, such as Nuuk where social problems are very much more obvious and there is more social stratification.

  43. picklefactory says

    @Gregory in Seattle #16: You may have come across those ridiculous article(s) a few months ago claiming that eating meat is worse than smoking. I was very pleased with the way they pointed out that it was ridiculous: “A more accurate headline for this study would have been “High protein for those between 50 years to 65 years old who have poor diet and lifestyle habits may be associated with increased cancer risk.”

  44. says

    There is some evidence that high dose fish oil is helpful for depression and SAD (Seasonal Affect Disorder — the winter blues). There is even a prescription strength fish oil marketed and prescribed by psychiatrists. My wife has had some good outcomes with her patients on this. Also, the original study was done in the 1970′s, and I assume it was looking at Inuit living a more traditional lifestyle, which would not only include much fish and fat, but also a great deal of exercise. More recent Inuit may still have a largely traditional lifestyle, but are almost certainly more sedentary (snowmobiles) and likely have a less traditional diet (more processed foods). I believe better studies have been done among the Maasai of East Africa, who traditionally eat a largely meat-based diet, but have wonderful blood lipid numbers.

  45. madscientist says

    Yeah, when people make claims on how X improves Y and so on, it’s reasonable to expect some actual information. Yet even many scientists don’t seem to understand that. Some months ago 2 colleagues of mine were angry at me because I wouldn’t buy into their ‘alternate day fasting’ fad (perhaps popularized by Mr. Moseley: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01lxyzc). Throughout the program I was asking the obvious questions like “is that claimed benefit specific to this fad diet or is it also present when someone reduces weight by the usual diet+exercise?” and “what exactly is the amount of this ‘reduced chances’ of suffering various diseases? I couldn’t help laughing out loud when that guy somewhere in South America was claiming that a group of genetically small people from a certain region *never* suffered certain diseases. That’s a claim I’ve heard hundreds of times over the years and yet never turned out to be true – how is this claim any different.

    Unfortunately making a claim, no matter how ridiculous, is enough to sell the next fad diet. Bunkum like fish oil has ancient roots in the english speaking nations; it wouldn’t be surprising if yet another fish oil fad came along in a few years. I remember about 10 years ago it was all about improving brain function … hahaha.

  46. ck says

    twas brillig (stevem) wrote:

    I always laughed at Atkins, who encouraged eating fat as a diet to lose fat. wtf?

    The Atkins diet works for the same reason most of the “eat only X” diets work — because they’re effectively calorie limited even if they claim you can eat as much as you want. To use another diet fad, there’s only so much brown rice and chicken breast that a person can stand to eat in a day.

    But recently I’ve seen more studies showing Fructose is far more fattening than other sugars, and even more than fat. So eating fat is okay, but soda is liquid death. HFCS [High Fructose Corn Syrup] = death to climate, as well as consumers.

    I have no idea. Maybe the research behind that is concrete, or maybe it’s confirmation bias, but I think we can all say with certainty that HFCS is a problem. They’re an inefficient way of producing food, and far too much corn is grown anyway.

    I’ve always questioned using “supplements” to “balance” one’s diet. Is a “balanced” meal so hard to produce?

    Depends on the reason you’re taking supplements. If you are naturally anemic then you may require iron supplements, and there may not be any way to get enough iron from your food without causing other problems. For the vast majority of the population, most doctors advise against taking supplements.

    And then there are the “deniers” who are, “last year the ‘scientists’ said eggs are bad, but this year they say ‘eggs are the perfect food’, so eff, who knows if eggs are bad or good, I’ll just eat ‘em (and as many) when I want, eff em.”

    Yeah, I’ve fought with those people before. Apparently eggs and butter are the best foods evah now. There may be side benefits from consuming these in moderation, but they’re still way too high in saturated fats and LDL cholesterol. When I was told I had to watch my cholesterol, I didn’t eliminate these foods entirely, but just changed my habits so that they were an occasional treat rather than a staple of my diet.

  47. rorschach says

    Fish oil does have some antiplatelet activity, similar to Aspirine, that’s where the myth of the cardiac benefit comes from I assume.
    Certainly people on fish oil who fail to disclose this to their doctor before undergoing surgery can bleed quite spectacularly, eg after nasal surgery.

  48. Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened says

    @David Chapman #18

    @David Chapman

    Of course Professor Myers distrusts the Chinese pharmacopeia…..

    Who of any sense doesn’t?

    The Chinese.

    As I said, who of any sense. No, not all Chinese people believe in traditional Chinese medecine. Those who do, regardless of whether they are of Chinese ethnicity or not, subscribe to a belief that is nonsensical, illogical, and in direct defiance of the facts. I stand by my original comment.

  49. Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened says

    @David Chapman

    Sorry, just saw your #28. I genuinely thought that you were trying to say that:

    -All Chinese People believe in Chinese traditional medecine
    - All Chinese people are of good sense
    Therefore: Chinese traditional medecine must have some merit to it.

    The illogic of this argument seems obvious, but I have come across it before. I appear to be in an uncharitable mood today.

    @pensnest

    When I was pregnant, my grandma advised me to take cod-liver oil** every day, to lubricate the relevant passage so that the baby would slide out more easily.

    … By what mechanism did your grandmother believe the cod liver oil would work it’s way into your vagina?

  50. Nightjar says

    But recently I’ve seen more studies showing Fructose is far more fattening than other sugars, and even more than fat. So eating fat is okay, but soda is liquid death. HFCS [High Fructose Corn Syrup] = death to climate, as well as consumers.

    I have no idea. Maybe the research behind that is concrete, or maybe it’s confirmation bias, but I think we can all say with certainty that HFCS is a problem. They’re an inefficient way of producing food, and far too much corn is grown anyway.

    HFCS is certainly a problem in many ways, but when it comes to fructose’s health effects it doesn’t seem to matter much whether you are getting it by ingesting massive amounts of HFCS (which is generally 55% fructose) or massive amounts of just plain old sucrose (which is 50% fructose). There is increasing evidence that it will fuck up your liver anyway, among other things.

    (Or at least that’s the idea I got away with when I had to briefly review the literature on fructose’s role in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease recently.)

  51. David Marjanović says

    ( In awe ) Not when there’s competition such as this presiding over internet humour, no fear! :)

    Dude, seriously, there was no way to recognize your joke as such. We’ve all seen dozens of numbskulls who have said the same thing as your joke, but meant it seriously. You’ve fallen victim to Poe’s law – get over it.

    Duck fat is also a good flavor enhancer

    …Enhancer? It has a very strong flavor of its own.

    (Pommes de terre à la sarladaise, potatoes fried in duck fat with some herbs. *Homeric drool*)

    that famous “Mediterranean Diet” that’s supposed to be so good for you

    …if you’re adapted to eating that much fat, which not everyone is.

  52. says

    Huh. Been a few cases of this coming up. The problem seems to be in how “publishers” do things. It goes in stages. First stage is that someone does studies. The second one is that one of those studies shows “amazing enough results that it gets published”. You can see where things go down hill from there I think, without going any further, but.. here is a hint – the ten thousand other followup studies are “unlikely” to get published, at all, and will be ignored by everyone in stage 3 on, where the original “amazing” one will be republished, misunderstood, mangled, and distorted, by everyone from the “layman science journals”, to rag mags (the last of which I include pretty much every bloody fashion magazine, and **all** of the stuff being published by altie-med people).

    This is why the “experts” are always in conflict with the public, on so many things, and why you can’t even buy, for example, a glass of water, without it having vitamins added, or anti-oxidants, or who the hell knows what else, even while the medical experts are now going, “Err.. You probably don’t need all of that stuff, like.. at all, unless your doctor says you actually have a real problem.”