The Worst Health News Lies of 2016
It’s that time of year again.
For the next month we’ll be inundated with stories about how to stick to our New Year’s resolutions, Top 10 lists, and trips down media’s memory lane. These lists can be good, reminding us of interesting stuff we’ve forgotten. But they can also serve a darker purpose. By picking and choosing what they want to show us the media has yet another opportunity to shape our beliefs. By presenting only the “official” story and ignoring the dissenting ones, they get one last chance to reshape our memories of the past year and our outlook on the new one.
Here’s an example: Of the dozens of “Top X of 2016” lists I’ve read so far, one third is real news, one third is irrelevant drivel, and the final third is flat-out propaganda for Big Pharma and Big Medicine which has nothing to do with the truth. So with that in mind I’ve decided to present my own “top stories of 2016” lists this January—the good, the bad, AND the ugly. So without more ado, here are what I think are some of the worst health lies the media pushed this past year.
Getting a flu shot is the best way to prevent the flu
This should make the Top 10 list each and every year, but in 2016 it was especially true. We already knew last year’s vaccine was about as effective as a shot of water. And we already knew that at best it’s seldom even 50% effective. However, new research released last fall really put the nails in the flu vaccine coffin.
The study showed that people who did get the shot every year were—get this—more likely to catch the flu than people who hadn’t had a flu shot in five years or more and THEN got one. In other words, getting a shot every year actually makes the already-questionable vaccine even less effective.
Has that toned down this year’s flu-shot hysteria? Of course not. The CDC still keeps telling us that getting vaccinated each year is the surest way to keep from getting sick. Don’t buy the hype.
CRISPR “gene editing” is safe
The reality is that we have no idea if it’s safe or not. The media has likened this new technology to using a pair of scissors to “snip” out defective genes and replace them with “good” copies. It’s an easy-to-understand analogy…but it’s not that simple. And it’s nowhere near that precise.
What the media—and the mad scientists—conveniently ignored is that we’re still floundering around in the dark when it comes to genes. It’s not as simple as “this gene does this and that gene does that.” Often genes work together, or only switch “on” or “off” under certain conditions, and “editing” DNA can have unexpected effects. But the frightening thing is that these changes could be passed on to later generations.
Gene editing is, in effect, artificial evolution.
Do we currently understand the human genome well enough to direct our own evolution? Not even close. So while the technology does hold the promise of one day curing the incurable, using it on humans at present is playing Russian roulette with our children’s, grandchildren’s, and great-grandchildren’s DNA.
“E-cigarettes” don’t help smokers quit and should be regulated like tobacco
Last year, without warning, the FDA in its infinite wisdom decided that so-called “e-cigarettes” are just as dangerous as the real thing and should be regulated like tobacco products. Nevermind the fact that e-cigs don’t contain tar or most of the other harmful substances you get from cigarettes.
Nevermind that what they “deliver” is a dose of nicotine, similar to what you get with nicotine gum or patches.
Nevermind that other countries have found their health risk to be negligible.
Nevermind that thousands of people have used e-cigs to break their cigarette addiction or that many e-cig users wean themselves off nicotine altogether by using them, or that places like the UK offer them as a smoking-cessation tool.
Nope. The FDA, based on precisely zero evidence, concluded that e-cigs are as dangerous as real cigarettes and should be treated accordingly. That being so, they created draconian rules which ensure only Big Tobacco will be able to afford to manufacture or market them. It was a sure-fire way to guarantee tobacco payments keep pouring into the states even as the smoking rates drop.
Thank goodness we have the FDA to look out for our health. We might be in danger of quitting smoking without expensive drugs or stop-smoking programs otherwise.
New drug will treat Alzheimer’s by clearing out amyloid plaques
Several times last year we heard about an experimental drug that would treat Alzheimer’s by clearing amyloid plaque from the brain. Each one was hailed as a “breakthrough.” Each one was “going to change the way we treat Alzheimer’s.”
There was only one problem: even when the drugs did exactly what they were designed to do—remove amyloid plaque from the brain—they still didn’t slow down the progress of the disease.
But you’d never know that just from scanning the headlines or skimming the articles. Far from throwing in the towel, some drug manufacturers have run trial after trial, adjusting the “endpoints” in an effort to find some way to make money out of their useless drug. They’re currently pushing to prescribe the drugs to people who are “at very high risk” for Alzheimer’s.
Meanwhile, the mounting evidence that amyloid plaque is a symptom, not the cause , is being swept under the rug. Surprise!
Immunotherapy is the future of cancer treatment
If there was a health buzzword for the year, it was “immunotherapy.” We’ve been promised that immunotherapy is “the future of cancer treatment.” If you believe the news, the holy grail of cancer therapy is in sight and soon we’ll be able to beat this most lethal of killers.
Unless the treatment kills you first, of course.
What the media downplayed as it sang the praises of immunotherapy—and stock prices went through the roof—is the shocking number of people who died from this “promising” therapy. Juno Therapeutics alone had one quarter of the people in its immunotherapy trial die. Over the course of less than six months, 5 people out of 20 died—not from their cancer but from the treatment that was supposed to cure it.
Not surprisingly the FDA, after a short “hold” each time someone was killed, allowed the trial to continue.
And now for the absolute most atrocious health lie of 2016:
Zika causes birth defects
The U.S. spent half of 2016 in a panic over the Zika virus. You couldn’t open a newspaper for without reading a scary headline about Zika. In spite of scant and poor-quality evidence, shoddy record keeping, and a microcephaly rate far below that of the U.S., we were told that Zika was causing an epidemic of the birth defect in Brazilian babies. The CDC and the WHO assured us that there was a “scientific consensus” that this was going on, even as researchers in the affected country hurried to backtrack .
Once the panic had spread to the rest of the world, Brazilian scientists decided it was more likely due to a combination of environmental chemicals and malnutrition. But that didn’t stop the U.S. press and government agencies from fearmongering. Big Pharma raced to create a vaccine. GM mosquitos were released in the South. Aerial pesticide spraying commenced, killing hordes of honeybees and poisoning God knows what else.
Even today, six months after Brazil recanted, the media is still screaming that Zika causes birth defects. There’s still a “scientific consensus,” according to CDC and WHO…in spite of a study of twelve thousand women with Zika—not a single one of whom gave birth to a baby with microcephaly.
This is not how science is supposed to work.
Of course these health lies are just the tip of the iceberg. For every true story, there were half a dozen lies. So here’s the thing: don’t believe everything you see on the news. Dig deeper. Get all the facts. And make up your own mind about what the truth is.
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