Friday, January 29, 2016

B.o.b flat earth nonsense

Apparently rapper B.o.B is a flat-Earther. Yes there are actually people out there who reject the fact that our planet is spherical (spheroid actually: meaning approximately with irregularities due to gravitational, rotational and other factors). Not only that, he's also a geocentrist and believes the sun is closer to the Earth and that it moves just above it creating the seasons. Not sure how he tries to explain night and day though. Maybe a magical fairy with a long cape blocking out the sun? I guess he's got the magic in him wink emoticon because screw facts, logic and reason. lol

Bra Cancer

An article is going around stating a link between wearing a bra will cause cancer. Of course you know that if I'm writing about it, it's pure nonsense. The article suggests this because of a single study done in 1995 that was published in a non-medical journal. This "study" is riddled with problems of course (see for just one example of the critiques). 

It is interesting to note, that the authors of the study (and subsequent books) also suggest that sleeping on a tilted bed can prevent everything from Alzheimer's disease to impotence. They are quacks most assuredly.


The Windsor Star keeps promoting Dr. Gifford-Jones and I have to keep scratching my head as to why? ( ). He's just as nutty as Dr. Oz and promotes misunderstanding of science and likes to fear-monger. Here's a debunking of one of his past articles to show you the level of ignorance we are playing with: .

In this latest article, Jones decides to take old news from 2012 and try to make it new again. He exaggerates the risks. In the actual study ( you'll note that the researchers plainly state right in the second paragraph "The study does not prove that dental x-rays cause these tumors". I'm guessing Gifford missed that (note sarcasm). 

You'll also note this as well "The study has some drawbacks that make the link between dental x-rays and meningiomas far from certain. Perhaps most importantly, it relied on participants’ memories about their history of dental x-rays (rather than on dental records themselves)." This makes it very inaccurate and hard to trust the information due to recall bias and the fallibility of the human mind (consider just how poor people remember even minutes after an accident or crime when police get stories from eyewitnesses). 

Now let's figure out the actual risk. I'll be honest here and say I'm horrible at math, so if someone can check and make sure it's correct me if I'm wrong. The point though will still be that the risk is extremely low even with any slight errors. It is estimated according to the University of California that 6500 people in the USA are diagnosed with meningioma. The study was done in 2012, so the population of the USA was 314.1 million. So this gives us a risk of 0.000002% of the population which is extremely low. So if we input the 4.9 times as likely we get the original risk of 0.0000098% of the population. We are dealing with very low risks here, so doubling one's risk of a low number, is still low.

Now while it's true you never want to do more xrays then necessary, there are certain other factors that you should keep in mind that are problematic with the study. As noted by the ADA ( the study did not appear to be dose related, which one would think would be important (dose make the poison) and that there have been advances in xray technology and imaging which reduces the risk even further (again consider the study was a recall from people aged 20-79 which included remember when they were younger then 10, so that can put the time frame between 1943-2002 for technology, which in itself is very expansive). 

So I urge the Windsor Star to get an actual science/health editor to help prevent nonsense like that Gifford-Jones promotes and to present some real journalism.

How does one know a good scientific study from a bad one?

How does a regular Joe know a good scientific study from a bad one?

This is a very good question. For laypersons (and even those knowledgeable in the area), trying to find out if a certain study is significant or not can be very confusing. It is not always a simple straight answer as there are many factors to consider. None of the following by themselves is necessarily a sure sign of a bad study, but they can definitely be used for the final consideration, especially if the study has multiple infractions.

The first thing I look at is where the study was published. This is usually a good first indication. If a study is published in a respected scientific journal, its odds of being a good one increases. Of course some bad studies still do get published (some are deliberate hoaxes testing the reliability of said journals and their process), but in time they are often retracted. Searching on Google, the top journals can give you decent resources such as: and

So how does a study get into a respected journal? There is usually a process of evaluation (part of the scientific method) and review. They are often checking the methodology of the study. It's also good to know what type of study it is.

Is it just a review study looking at certain literature? I find these types are only ideal for proposing further studies and not necessarily for drawing any solid conclusion. Now this shouldn't be confused with a meta-analysis, which looks more in-depth at a larger selection of studies to try to determine a reasonable consensus and include more complex data algorithms and thus hold more weight.

Is the study relying on people's reporting/memory recall (which is often fallible, inaccurate, or prone to bias?) Studies that rely on people reporting from memory how they ate 5 years ago (or even 5 months ago) is problematic.

Was it done with experiments on actual people? Many studies are done just in petri dishes or maybe in just certain animals. While these give some good starting points for pursing further studies, they can't always be relied on to discern the reactions within the human body, which is quite different then a petri dish and rats, for example.

How many people were used? A small number of people used in a study can contain a lot of “noise” in regards to more closely representing what can happen in the general public. A study done on 10,000 people is definitely more robust than one done on 10. For example, you could get 3 out of 10 with a reaction and thus conclude a 30% effect. But in the 10,000 study one could find only 100, which then is only 1%.

Was the study blinded and have controls? Although not always possible, being randomized, blinded and having controls to compare to can increase the robustness of the research. Having it where participants do not know if they are getting a placebo or not is ideal, and even more ideal if the researchers are also blind to that fact as well (usually relying on an impartial 3rd party to keep track of that info for later review).

Did the study list conflicts of interest? A good study will list any conflicts of interest that could bias their results. It's about open honesty. One that hides any conflict raises serious red flags. To find a conflict of interest, one may have to do a bit of searching to discover the conflict of interest.

Has it been peer reviewed? With science part of the process is having your research critiqued. This can be others checking your math or even better seeing if when they repeat your experiment, can they replicate the results. This type of review of a study done by competent peers is the reason some studies have been retracted from journals. They found serious flaws in the data, conclusions and reproducibility of the studies. This is why good science can sometimes take a while, but it eventually corrects itself.

I find that media reports on science studies can sometimes misrepresent or exaggerate what is said in an actual study. Headlines are usually done to grab your attention by asserting a certain point like “chocolate can help with_______ study says.” What is often the case is a certain ingredient was found to have an interesting result (quite often in that petri dish we talked about earlier) and that more study is needed. So don't take headlines at face value. It's always a good idea to look at the actual study to see its conclusions (if any), or you could just ASK BILL wink emoticon (or any other friend who is proficient in finding out that info).

There are many more factors to consider as well, but just knowing some of the above, one can start to get an understanding of what makes a good study and will hopefully be able to disregard some “bad science.” I hope that answers your question.

Carrot Ingredients

Was this year the hottest July?

“Was this year the hottest July (world average) in our recorded history? Somebody showed me some results that said otherwise. I didn't get to check the sources because I was out and it was on his phone. What do the stats and experts say regarding it and where are these false stats coming from?”


According to reports from NOAA ( , NASA ( and JAPAN METEROLOGICAL AGENCY(, this past July (2015) was the hottest recorded.

Some climate change deniers like Joanne Nova (Codling) and Roy Spencer are making claims to the contrary. They are correct in stating that some of the headlines get it wrong, such as those claiming “hottest in 4000 years” because we haven't been recording temperature for that long. The two naysayers though seem to rely on data strictly from UAH satellite data. The problem with this is that satellites do not measure temperature directly, but are inferred from radiance. The UAH data has had problems with the inferred temperatures not matching the actual site surface temperature ( Thus their claims are suspect and need to be investigated further. Even if it wasn't the hottest July on record, it would not indicate a lack of climate change. Variations go up and down in the short term and that is expected. It's the long term trend that is most important and that clearly shows a warming trend.

It is interesting to note that Joanne Nova has a degree in microbiology and molecular biology and not climatology. Roy Spencer is a meteorologist and not a climatologist. The major difference between the two is time frames. Meteorologists produce forecasts in a window no larger than 10 days and usually localized (weather). Climatologists are concerned with long term climate conditions. When considering sources, one would want it from the highest quality and someone actually in the field of studying climate. 97% of publishing climate scientists agree that humans are causing global warming.

To learn more, I suggest taking this free, self-paced course:

I hope this answers your question.

Immunity and Chlorine

I was sent a link to a Facebook post about a guy (we will call Jean-Claude) who is complaining about the quality of Windsor's drinking water. I will admit that this is an area I don't have that much knowledge in but I have taken one course on water treatment and health so I have the beginnings of an understanding in this.

Jean-Claude's concern was about the chlorine concentration and also asking “doesn't chlorine lower immune systems, cause cancer and other bad stuff?” He showed a picture of a pool water testing kit which he claimed contained tap water (I will assume he was honest in that claim). He suggested that the concentration was at pool level (1.0..although when I look at the photo it appears to be at 0.5) and also claimed that since people say that you shouldn't drink pool water, then that means the tap water is unsafe. He also made a claim that showering for 15 mins allows for you to absorb 1 gallon of water through the skin by absorption.

There is a lot to go through here but lets get to the short answer first. Is the city water safe to drink? Yes. According to Enwin, “Chlorine is added on a continuous basis to the water leaving the treatment process at a strictly controlled concentration of 1.5 mg/l...the concentration of chlorine in the water is monitored at 18 locations through the distribution system on a daily basis to ensure an adequate concentration is maintained to ensure a safe supply of water to the customers.”

In regards to “lowers immune systems, causes cancer and other bad stuff”: “Health Canada has classified chlorine as unlikely to be carcinogenic to humans. Studies in laboratory animals and humans indicate that chlorine exhibits low toxicity, regardless of the route of exposure (i.e., ingestion, inhalation, dermal). Studies in animals have not been able to identify a concentration of chlorine associated with adverse health effects, in part because of aversion to its taste and odour. No adverse health effects have been observed in humans from consuming water with high chlorine levels (up to 50 mg/L) over a short period of time.” Now some people may not like the taste or smell of chlorine but they can easily install a filter in their home to remove it.

Jean-Claude said you shouldn't drink pool water. This I agree with, but not for the same reasons Jean-Claude thinks. He thinks it's because of the chlorine content. I would say it's because a pool is an open system where it has continual exposure to pollutants. People are swimming in the pool just for starters. Would you want to drink water from a bath tub that had someone was bathing in? I would think it unlikely. A pool also has insects (and other animals including birds), dirt and debris all entering it. Water from your tap is not accessible to the same type of contamination with the exception of water pipe breakage. You may also be interested in this article I wrote (under a pseudonym) about the problems with enclosed pools and water parks:

So now to the final claim of water absorption through the skin. This is the real reason why I chose this question because I do love laughable claims and this one sure made me laugh that I did my best Mark Wahlberg impression from The Happening smile emoticon
Seriously though, the skin can absorb some things although it generally is water-resistant but is not water-proof. It's the keratin and sebum (an oil), that helps keep it at bay. You can see its effectiveness when you start to prune when in water too long. So yes it can absorb some water, but it wouldn't be enough to stop you from dehydrating. A gallon of water is a lot of water considering we only need to consume 2.5 quarts, or just over half a gallon, per day depending on individual needs. By Jean-Claude's meter, we would never have to consume water. It is interesting to note that during my looking up info for all this, I found a Danish group did do a study, albeit a small and no control study, to test an old myth of getting drunk by absorption of alcohol through the skin. As you can probably guess, it was confirmed a myth.

Well I hope that answers your question.


"The Weather Channel founder says so." And.....?

Weather Forecaster: A person who predicts short term weather. Often may also be just a person who relays information through the media. May have some formal education on the subject.

Climatologist: A person who studies long term (years to thousands of years) weather and climate, Has formal education degrees on the subject.

So when a meme says a weatherman is a climate change denier, this is merely a lame appeal to authority. ( Many would also use this idea to confirm their already biased views without any real research or study into the subject (by that I mean actual university/college courses. There is no excuse really when some beginning courses are now offered free!).

The degree of severity is always up for debate, and it's lively debated among climatologists (which is a good thing for zeroing in on what actually is happening). Sure there are some people who will go extreme environmentalism on you which will not give any effective solutions that wouldn't cause other harms in the process. So it's best to deal with the problem with a rational level head that is educated. Here's just one of those free courses that is starting tomorrow.

What about that rat study?

A person asked "What about this study that showed rats getting cancer?"

What this person is referring to is the now infamous Seralini rat study, which much like the infamous Wakefield autism study, has been heralded as proof by the anti crowd. In scientific/reality arena though it's a constant annoying mosquito.

Here are a couple of problems with the study. First, it's been retracted:
It had problems with the kind of rodent chosen (which is prone to tumors in the first place), the number of rodents in each group (which was very small). Its conclusions have been deemed inconclusive.

One curious thing too is that the data shows something that counters what the anti-gmoers were trying to show. The data was showing a correlation that if you drink pure water, you have a 50% higher mortality rate than if one drank water contaminated with herbicide. Yeah, figure that one out! wink emoticon

There was a question of ethics as well as Seralini let the tumors grow to an enormous size on the rodents, thus letting them exist in pain for an extended period of time. These animals should've been put to sleep long before they reached a point where tumors were the size of golfballs (which is huge when compared to the size of a body of a rat).

So if you see any website, meme, person using this study (which Seralini has now published in an open-access journal of little relevance or significance)to promote an anti-gmo stance it would be best to pass it off as nonsense. As I've always said, it's fine to hold a particular view, just make sure if you are trying to claim something that it's backed by good evidence and rational thought. Spouting problematic or false info doesn't help your cause.

More on Mosquitos

As the colder weather hits us, many Canadians head South to warmer climates for vacations. It's important to think about protection from Mosquitos. A new study that has come out gives further insight into what works and what doesn't ( )
What they found was that the DEET repellents worked well (Repel 100, OFF Deep Woods VIII, Cutter Skinsations) for 4 hours of protection.

Cutter lemon eucalyptus was as good as Repel 100.

Cutter Natural, EcoSmart organic, Mosquito skin patch and Avon Skin So Soft Bug Guard repellents barely lasted a few minutes if at all.

Interestingly Avon Skin So Soft Bath Oil showed a medium range repellent effect for 2 hours.

Even more surprising was Victoria Secret Bombshell perfume showed a very significant effect for 2 hours.

Stay smart and stay protected.

Fake Social Media Accounts

Be wary of fake Facebook accounts asking for friendship. There usually are tell-tale signs that it is fake, especially when all in combination. 
1. Low friend count (usually under 50)
2. Lives in another part of the world, but seems to have most of their friends from your area.
3. Their job description does not match their friends list
4. Has a lack of posts (usually because it's only a day old account).
5. The name is little strange and doesn't match their profile pic
6. Their profile pic of themselves is often of another person.

Few know that you can do a google image search by uploading the pic of their profile. I do this by first saving their pic and then going to google. Click "images" in the upper right hand corner. This brings you to another google search box. In the box in the centre click on the camera icon. Then click "upload an image" and then wait for results.

An example today for me was someone calling themselves Tom Jones who lives in Miami Florida (Originally from New York New York). He studied business administration at Harvard. 11 of his 20 friends are from Windsor, Ontario. When I put his pic into google search I get Chris Patton stunt artist.

Friend request denied and FB account reported.

Is Tumeric as effective as 14 medicines?

A friend asked me about an article that was suggesting Tumeric was as effective as 14 medicines. It also made a lot of other claims.

My response:

Stuff like this (and other things claiming such and such an item is 10,000 times stronger than such and such a drug) have circulated the internet for years. It's a bunch of hype. While there is often some grain of truth in the stories, it's surrounded by so much bullshit that it's often hard for most to sort that out.

The article makes an appeal to longevity and ancient wisdom citing Ayurvedic Medicine. Ayurvedic medicine is considered psuedoscientific. It's at least 5000 years old. Of course just because something has been around for a long time doesn't mean it's good. In medicine we have to know if it works. This just does not fit the bill. It is part herbalism and part religion. Some parts of the herbalism do have a bit of medicinal value, but when compared to modern medical practices they fall incredibly short.

It is also prone to contamination. Since you are dealing with herbs, you cannot get the pure substances that are actually medicinal. You end up with a lot of filler material, which is ironic as the article advises to avoid medicine with filler. Ironically a study that looked at ayurvedic medicine sold on the internet contained high levels of lead, mercury and arsenic. ( )

The article states that Tumeric has some anti-inflammation and anti-biotic properties. This is true. The amount though that you would have to consume would probably be a lot and that can cause some nasty side effects like vomiting, indigestion, liver problems and much more. Also most of the studies have been in vitro (in a petri dish) and in animals. Very few clinical studies on humans have been done. While its properties are interesting and worth looking into, making unsubstantiated claims about its effectiveness is unethical and dangerous in some cases as it can cause some people to believe misleading information and forego live-saving proven treatments.

“According to Ayurveda there are seven layers of tissues: plasma, blood, muscles, fat, bones, nervous tissue and reproductive tissue. Each tissue is nourished in sequential order based on how well food is digested, absorbed and assimilated. If you want the benefits of turmeric to touch all your tissues, a capsule just won’t cut it.”
This is just complete nonsense based on a belief system and not based on fact.

The article also states to make sure your spices are free of chemicals. This is complete idiocy as everything is a chemical! You can't consume chemical-free food. It doesn't exist.
Check out my apple meme from 3 years ago

To find a more indepth look at this article's claim, check out this article by my friend Harriet Hall

eeeeh What's Up Doc?

So here's a quick one for the end of the year. I had a friend ask me this and I thought I'd share the answer with everyone.

The question was: A friend of this friend had a friend (did you follow that? wink emoticon ) tell her that she was told by someone at a cancer clinic that baby carrots had chlorine added to make them taste better (and that it made them carcinogenic). Was this true?

The quick answer: NO

The longer answer: First off, you have to realize that there is the telephone game happening here, so the information travelling along the line of people upon repetition is likely to have been changed somehow from it's original form. If this person at a cancer clinic was a worker, then they should be reprimanded if they did indeed give this faulty information.

You'll notice that baby carrots are bright orange and yes they taste better (subjectively to many people). This is because they have been bred to be so. These carrots have been bred to have a higher sugar content, and thus are more attractive to many people's taste buds.

There have been memes in the past suggesting that the white coating that happens to those baby carrots over time, is chlorine coming out. They have called it bleaching. This is simply not the case. That is just from the carrot dehydrating. A baby carrot's entire surface has been cut and exposed. If you took a regular carrot and cut it and put it in the fridge, the same white-blushing would occur on the cut surface.

Baby carrots (along with many other fresh cut ready to eat vegetables) are washed with chlorinated water to reduce contamination from microbes. Excess chlorine is then washed away with potable water and centrifugal drier. According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, this is an accepted practice: Section 3.4.1

So baby carrots are perfectly safe to eat, do not have chlorine added to make them taste better and do not cause cancer. If someone is trying to tell you that, then maybe they got their information from a looney quack.

What John claims about GMOs

On Facebook a person from the USA, we will call him John, had claimed that there are many problems with GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) specifically referring to those in foods we consume. John claimed a variety of things opposing GM foods. These included:
1. "GMOs are unsafe. A rat study showed that they cause cancer."
2. "GMOs are banned in most other countries."
3. "All the pro-GMO studies are paid for by Monsanto."
4. " I have breakfast at a local restaurant several times a week with about 2 dozen farmers. Many have moved to Monsanto's seeds cause they have no other choice"

I will tackle each of these points and provide information as to why these positions are in error or flawed.

First, John mentions the infamous Seralini study to suggest as proof of the danger of GMOs. The first problem to note is that even if this turned out to be true, it would not mean that GMOs are unsafe. It would only mean that this particular one would be. GMOs are varied and all utilize different aspects and methodology. You can think of GMOs as tools. If you found a screwdriver unsafe, it wouldn't mean all screwdrivers are unsafe and most definitely it would not mean all tools are unsafe.

The Seralini study is concerned with the possible toxicity of Roundup herbicide and Roundup ready corn. The original 2012 study was retracted ( )due to various criticisms such as, but not limited to: Small sample size; ethics (letting the animals with tumours exist in such a state for an extended period of time); and the particular kind of rat used is naturally prone to tumours. The retracted study has since been republished by a predatory, not noteworthy and not respected journal( amid much criticismagain( to say, using this study to suggest safety concerns of GMOs is highly problematic.

The next claim is that GMOs are banned in most countries. Before I provide proof thatthis is not exactly true, I'd like to point out a flaw in this type of thinking (which I will liken to an appeal to popularity logical fallacy ).  As we know, governments don't always act in a rational manner. Thusit can be reasoned that, if something is banned, it does notnecessarily relate to whether it is safe or not. What truly mattersis the scientific evidence of safety and the utilization of thescientific method (which includes peer review) as the gold standard.

So do most countries ban GMOs? In a word, no. Of course it's a little more complex then that. Some countries, yes, do ban outright. But many may allow consumption and imports but do not allow domestic cultivation. Some just require labeling of products containing traces of GMOs. Some only require labeling for foods that are directly consumed, but not for cattle that consume GMOs. You can see from this map ( that many countries do allow for the consumption of GMOs.

Thirdly, John claims that all pro-GMO studies are paid for by Monsanto. This is quite easy to debunk as Monsanto is not the only biotech company producing GMOs.  Other companies include DuPont, Bayer, BASF, Pioneer, Syngenta, Dowand and many more. The assumption that only Monsanto would pay for research is ludicrous. Even going further, it can be shown here ( and also here ( ) totaling over 2000 studies showing no harm to humans or animals.More than half of those studies, it should be noted, are alsoindependent studies.

Lastly John claims that he talks every week to 24 farmers in his township in which they claim they have no choice but to use Monsanto seeds. Now I can't directly debunk this with facts as no evidence was presented by John of the supposed claims of the farmers. So to handle this, I'll take a logical/rational approach. First off, if it's true they have no choice but to use Monsanto seeds, that doesn't mean they are bullied to do so. It could just be a choice of words to relay the notion that they have no choice in regards to better crops but again, without evidence I am just making a huge assumption here. Either way it'shard to draw a conclusion and that leaves me with doubt.

A more stronger case against the claims of John in regards to the farmers claims is that 24 farmers from one area are by no means representative of 2.11 million farms across the USA and the 70 million hectares of those growing GM crops (2014 report  Just like the Seralini study mentioned above, it is too small a sample size. Also this is an anecdote of an anecdote. I am sure lots of information is missing, exaggerated or even completely changed.Without evidence though, we can only point out the flaws with the lack of information.

So in conclusion,John's claims about these particular problems with GMOs are clearly in error or inaccurate. The links I provided and the sound reasoning are more than enough to prove that. It is my opinion that John may be a victim of his own confirmation bias. He probably will only listen to positions that support his and will dismiss and forget evidence to the contrary. The evidence presented shows that GMOs are studied well and are GRAS (generally recognized as safe) by the scientific community.

Can Cannabis Cancel Cancer?

Windsor is buzzing recently about a young child, diagnosed with leukaemia, who was taken away from his parents who balked at being told that he needed chemotherapy immediately and they were wanting, instead, to look into hemp oil.

Here’s my first, and albeit controversial, point.

As much as us parents don’t want to hear it, our children are not our property. We cannot do whatever we want with them. They are individuals who are under protection of the state (read: society) they live in.

We are given provisional custody over them as long we abide by the guidelines of minimal levels of care, which includes not withholding the best, scientifically sound, medical treatments.

I am not a fan of the Children’s Aid Society, having dealt with them before but, in this case, I feel they have done the right thing, as emotional as I feel against them.

Social media is a great way of spreading information. Sadly, a lot of that information is either misinterpreted or completely incorrect. In the case of cannabis as a cure for cancer, we have both.
I will try to make this as short as possible as there is decades worth of information to squeeze into a single article.

Cannabinoids is an all-encompassing term to label numerous complex natural and synthetic chemicals that lock onto the receptors, or protein molecules, on cell surfaces. The two most commonly known are delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and endocannabinoids.

There are two main types of cannabinoid receptors: CB1, which is mostly found in the nervous system, and CB2, mostly found in the immune system. A third type, known as GPR, is currently being looked into more as very little is known about them.

Cannabinoids, both natural and synthetic, are being researched by hundreds of scientists around the globe as to their effects, both harmful and helpful. They are looking into the effects on many various diseases including cancer. This is done through the International Cannabinoid Research Society.

There are around 200 different types of cancers for humans. Each of these cancers has different causes, different genetics, different prognoses, and different pathophysiology. It should be understood that cancer is not one disease. There is no one cure for cancer and therefore any article, meme, or video claiming something is a cure for cancer should immediately raise a sceptical red flag.

So do cannabinoids cure cancer?

No. But they are very interesting chemicals and show some promise in various areas.

In research with deadly diseases, it is very hard to study the effects of substances in the human body, for a number of reasons. The first is that lab research is not done in the body, so any result that is promising is highly inconclusive as a collection of cells in a petri dish, or a rat, are not human beings. This must be kept in mind, as well, when studies are cited showing a cure.

Secondly, in human trials, you cannot ethically have a control or placebo group, in many instances. To prevent a person from having the best course of action we have evidence for, and to give them a placebo or none at all, is a detriment to their health. The risk is too high. Thus, many human trials are done with terminally ill patients, in very advance stages.

Here too, we do not have a chance for controls and, therefore, the results are not deemed conclusive.
All in all, there are many variables to tackle and, in turn, research moves much slower than people expect it to. It’s not easy and it’s painstakingly long, but it is the best way to achieve the clearest results we can.

Cannabinoid lab research has shown some positive results, such as triggering cell death, preventing cell division, reducing the chances of cancer spreading, and preventing blood vessels from reaching into tumours. The best results from lab and animal studies have come from purified THC, CBD (cannibidol), and JWH-133, a synthetic cannabinoid.

There is also evidence that cannibinoids have an undesirable effect on cancer, as well. They can also cause a tumor to grow and various other effects depending on dosage, as well as preventing the immune system from destroying tumor cells, and even cells developing a resistance.

Clinical trials for curing cancer are in short supply. One study, at the time of writing I could only find one, involved nine patients. This, of course, is a small sample size, so it is limited in its conclusions.

Here highly purified THC was given directly into the brain via a tube. Eight patients showed some kind of response. One patient showed no response at all. All patients died within a year.

Without a control group, though, it’s impossible to tell whether or not it helped extend their lives.

Most cannabinoid clinical trials have concerned its effects on helping with the side effects of other cancer treatments. Research has been done into helping with vomiting, nausea, and dizziness, appetite stimulation, pain management, anxiety, and sleep. Although most seem to be relatively positive, they often do suggest negative side effects.

Most everything else I found claiming a cancer cure with cannibinoids was simply anecdotes and other unverified stories. There was a published case-study of a 14 year old, but being a single person study and with a mixture of compounds, we can’t conclude anything from something so limited.
Quite simply put, the scientific data and research is just not there.

There are a few early stage trials currently underway with patients who have advanced cancers. We shall wait to hear the results.

To conclude, if someone chooses to use unproven alternatives like cannabis/cannabinoids and reject conventional treatment, they could miss out on treatment that may lengthen, or even save, their lives. They could miss out on spending precious time with loved ones.

Also, many of these alternative choices are not covered by insurance and thus come at a high financial cost. Cannabinoids are considered relatively safe, but they are also not without risk.
Until there is clear evidence, it would be best to use conventional treatments.

The Mosquito Vampire Diaries

From an article I wrote a few years ago:

Summer is here and so are the mosquitos. Every year we humans try our best to ward off these little vampires. Every year we get bombarded with social media memes, emails and news reports about how to protect ourselves. We are offered a wide array of options from home-made concoctions, to sprays we can buy at a pharmacy. So what works? What is safe?

First off, let’s look at what attracts mosquitos to humans. Skeeters are attracted to warmth, body odour, moisture and the exhalation of carbon dioxide. Yes, mosquitos can smell carbon dioxide. So what we want issomething that can block their ability to sense those things from us.

DEET has been around for 50 years and is one of the most studied repellent ingredients. It is the most widely used as it is the most effective. According to the New England Journal of Medicine,
"DEET is far less toxic than many people believe. Adverse effects, though documented, are infrequent and are generally associated with gross overuse of the product. The risk of DEET-related adverse effects pales in comparison with the risk of acquiring vector-borne infection in places where such diseases are endemic."

It is interesting to note though that not all mosquitos are created equal, and DEET does not seem highly effective against the mosquito that transmits malaria.

Next we have a whole slew of items that work from varying degrees of “somewhat” to “almost not at all” according to sources. Even the most effective of these, though, pales in comparison to the effectiveness of DEET. These include herbal oils, garlic, and Avon Skin So Soft.

Garlic oil rubbed on the skin, has been shown to have repellent properties, although the smell may also repel humans as well. Some people claim that eating garlic will do the same. In various studies though it has shown to have no effect at all when ingested.

Other herbal oils such as cinnamon, lemon, citronella and castor (mixed with a carrier oil such as olive or sunflower) have been shown to be somewhat effective. The problem though is that these are not necessarily safer. It is often misconception that "natural" is safer.

Avon Skin-So-Soft is a bath oil that has been claimed by some users to work. In a study done by Mark Fradin and Jonathon Day of the University of Florida, they looked at the effectiveness of 17 marketed mosquito repellents including the Avon product. They found Off! Deep Woods with DEET effectiveness lasted 302 minutes while Skin-So-Soft only lasted about 10 minutes. Avon claims their product lasts 3 hours. Consumer Reports reported the product working 1 hour. With such varied reports, it may be wisest to assume an average of up to 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Bug zappers are a common backyard sight. Generally, though, mosquitoes (and other biting insects) make up less than 1 percent of the bugs zapped in these. Many beneficial insects, on the other hand, do get zapped like dragonflies which prey on mosquitoes. Also bats and colonial purple martins will eat mosquitos, but that only makes up a small part of their natural diet.

A popular social media meme suggests using Listerine or dish soap in bowls around the yard or spraying around the home. These are supposed to knock the little critters dead. According to these are pretty much useless.

So it can be a little confusing as to what to use.

Obviously DEET is the best choice for safety, cost and effectiveness. But if you are concerned about that, some of the herbal oils may work for you. To learn more contact your local health unit and follow guidelines such as those listed at Health Canada.

Have a safe and happy summer!

Breyers Ice Cream Meltdown

This guy again. Last year it was the non-melting cheese. This year, non-melting ice cream. If he did a little research, he'd find that he's a few years behind the hysteria already (look up the non-melting ice cream sandwich), but I guess he makes the old new again and gets the youtube hits (although he disables comments on his video because he's probably afraid of a little science understanding might ruin his reputation ;)   )

Within the first minute of this almost 11-minute video I wanted to turn it off as I could see where it was going. Not once did he make any effort to research and find out anything about the ingredients and he lies right off the bat.

He compares Breyers Family Classic Vanilla Frozen Dessert with Farmers Chocolate Ice Cream, Mr. Christie Oreo Ice Cream, and Scotsburn Mocha Fudge. He claims that Breyers and the Oreo ones are made with modified milk ingredients (which he claims as SCARY!!! but never explains why, but I assume because he doesn't understand basic concepts and is just fear-mongering) and that the Farmers and Scotsburn do not as they have milk and cream. This is absolutely untrue as Scotsburn does have modified milk ingredients:
I had trouble finding the Christie Oreo ingredients online, but ironically did find the Breyers Oreo which did not have modified milk, but I will assume he is telling the truth that the one he used did.
Farmers Brand does not list their ingredients online, although from the pic, it looks a little more than just milk and cream.
For comparison here is the Breyers brand

OK, so he's not being honest to start with.

What is modified milk ingredients? Well this could be many things. It can include casein, caseinates, whey products, yogurt, sour cream, cultured buttermilk, ultrafiltered milk, milk protein concentrate just to name a few. They are also called natural milk constituents as they are in a different state than what originally found. Doesn't sound so scary when you look into it.

You'll note as well that Breyers does not call it ice cream, but a frozen dessert. That may concern some, but it doesn't concern me.

He sets up his "experiment." The first thing I will note that there isn't much to this. I wouldn't even call it an experiment. He doesn't control various factors and he only does this once. A proper experiment would purchase many tubs in case one tub had a quality control flaw. The fact that all the other products had chocolate and the Breyers product did not does not make for a valid comparison and could in fact skew the results.

I have to give credit though where credit is due. He mentioned that his tub of ice cream did not have plastic on its top (but he did note that other Breyers products did). I must say it's weird though that he also mentions that the lot of that particular product did not have plastic on it. That means he opened every one. Now this is a valid concern if Breyers is not providing consumer protection on this product. I am not sure if this was a quality issue with that shipment or if it that is a normal procedure.

So does the Breyers Frozen Dessert not melt? Yes, it resists melting. This and some of the other products contain guar gum and cellulose gum (both naturally derived products by the way). These are plant-based stabilizers to prevent the products from becoming what nutritional scientist Grace Yek says "gross and crunchy." It gives ice cream a creamy texture and helps prevent the formation of ice crystals. But there is another ingredient that is my best guess as to why it did not melt (at least not in the conventional way).

He shows that there is a liquid at the bottom of the bowl of the Breyers product. So after a long enough time it begins to separate. I assume this liquid is probably the hydrogenated coconut oil separating. He also leaves this for 10 days. It's not surprising that it would smell rancid. This could also be part of the reason why after 10 days this had significant mold (or what appeared to be mold) growth. The guy does state that he doesn't know what it is. But he jumps the gun in calling it poison. If you don't know what something is, you can't claim it to be something without verification. That's just dumb and dishonest.

Now do I fancy eating frozen hydrogenated coconut oil? Not really. I would not be afraid of the Breyers product though, just as I would not be afraid of imitation cheese made from oil. Yeah, you probably are better off (especially in the taste department) eating something else as it has more nutrients (the Breyers product has no iron for example), but occasionally as a treat it would be ok.