Thursday, September 27, 2012

Minimalist Runners In The Army Get Hurt Less

"Relationships Among Self-reported Shoe Type, Footstrike Pattern, and Injury Incidence":

OBJECTIVE:

To assess the association of self-reported shoe selection with reported foot strike patterns, compare overall injury incidence associated with different shoe conditions, and identify differences in injury location between different shoe conditions....

RESULTS:

Shoe selection was significantly associated with reported footstrike (χ² (4df) =143.4, P<.001). Barefoot and minimalist runners reported a more anterior footstrike than traditionally shod runners. Traditionally shod runners were 3.41 times more likely to report injuries than experienced minimalist shoe wearers (46.7% shod vs 13.7% minimalist, χ² (1df) =77.4, P<.001, n=888). Minimalist shoe wearers also reported fewer injuries at the hip, knee, lower leg, ankle, and foot than traditionally shod runners.

Duh, no kidding. This must be part of that unfair advantage that led the Army to ban minimalist running. Idiots.

From Runblogger on Facebook.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

"What I Found Was Much Worse Than I Ever Imagined…"

Or, how "experts" lie for money. Dr. Briffa hits one out out of the park:

"The head of the British Nutrition Foundation responds to my blog post on bread, and I have a few words for her too."

"...Professor Buttriss does leave the best for last, when she draws our attention to the fact that Warburtons “financially [supported] time spent on the preparation of the review.” So, let’s not mince our words and tell it straight: A bread manufacturer has funded a review which lauds the supposed nutritional attributes of bread. This, despite the fact that, as I stated in my original blog post, superfood it ain’t. And then there’s plenty about bread we should be wary of...."

Saturday, September 22, 2012

How to Stop Doctors from Killing Us

Why are malpractice insurance rates so high? Because malpractice is rampant in the medical profession. And the article I'm quoting from below doesn't even include the death rates from doctors prescribing diets that lead to malnutrition-related diseases, like heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimers', and probably some cancers.

How to Stop Hospitals from Killing Us

"When there is a plane crash in the U.S., even a minor one, it makes headlines. There is a thorough federal investigation, and the tragedy often yields important lessons for the aviation industry. Pilots and airlines thus learn how to do their jobs more safely.

"The world of American medicine is far deadlier: Medical mistakes kill enough people each week to fill four jumbo jets. But these mistakes go largely unnoticed by the world at large, and the medical community rarely learns from them. The same preventable mistakes are made over and over again, and patients are left in the dark about which hospitals have significantly better (or worse) safety records than their peers....

"...The problem is vast. U.S. surgeons operate on the wrong body part as often as 40 times a week. Roughly a quarter of all hospitalized patients will be harmed by a medical error of some kind. If medical errors were a disease, they would be the sixth leading cause of death in America—just behind accidents and ahead of Alzheimer's. The human toll aside, medical errors cost the U.S. health-care system tens of billions a year. Some 20% to 30% of all medications, tests and procedures are unnecessary, according to research done by medical specialists, surveying their own fields. What other industry misses the mark this often?...

"...Nothing makes hospitals shape up more quickly than this kind of public reporting. In 1989, the first year that New York's hospitals were required to report heart-surgery death rates, the death rate by hospital ranged from 1% to 18%—a huge gap. Consumers were finally armed with useful data. They could ask: "Why have a coronary artery bypass graft operation at a place where you have a 1-in-6 chance of dying compared with a hospital with a 1-in-100 chance of dying?"

"Instantly, New York heart hospitals with high mortality rates scrambled to improve; death rates declined by 83% in six years. Management at these hospitals finally asked staff what they had to do to make care safer. At some hospitals, the surgeons said they needed anesthesiologists who specialized in heart surgery; at others, nurse practitioners were brought in. At one hospital, the staff reported that a particular surgeon simply wasn't fit to be operating. His mortality rate was so high that it was skewing the hospital's average. Administrators ordered him to stop doing heart surgery....

"...Without telling his partners, Dr. Rex began reviewing videotapes of their procedures, measuring the time and assigning a quality score. After assessing 100 procedures, he announced to his partners that he would be timing and scoring the videos of their future procedures (even though he had already been doing this). Overnight, things changed radically. The average length of the procedures increased by 50%, and the quality scores by 30%. The doctors performed better when they knew someone was checking their work....

"...Many Americans feel that medicine has become an increasingly secretive, even arrogant, industry...."
Americans feel that medicine is arrogant because it is arrogant. And if any other business had a mortality rate this high it would be sued out of existence. Instead, it's protected from the consequences of its errors.

Doctors are not priests or holy men, they're well-educated car mechanics, who aspire to the success rates of car mechanics.

Keep that in mind when you hire one.

Monday, September 17, 2012

What Does Science Do?

Not much, actually:
"The scientific method sidesteps the concept of proof in the mathematical sense. This doesn’t mean science doesn’t employ logical deduction. Scientific results are not logical deductions. Science relies on consistency with observations: information that comes to us from outside of ourselves. Observations are generally taken as fact. In science, the only thing that can be proven with certainty is inconsistency with observations. Theories that fail to predict future results are in need of modification and are rejected as is. Science provides ideas which are testable, that is, verifiable against observation. In short, science comes up with ideas that seem to work and, whenever possible, eliminates those that don’t."
But even that is extremely important.

All too often you'll hear supposed scientists insisting that their theory is correct despite the fact that it's failed to accurately predict the future, which means, been refuted by observation.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Can You Heal Diabetes?

Normal HbA1c
Jimmy Moore's latest.

"When I posted my 4.5 A1c number on Twitter, several medical practitioners said they had NEVER seen a level that low before. WOO HOO! It’s yet another one of the many benefits I’m seeing with this nutritional ketosis experiment. And I’ve still got two more months left officially on it. But honestly, if I’m still seeing results, why would I EVER stop doing this? Some have questioned the sustainability of a diet that is 85% fat, 12% protein and 3% carbohydrate. It’s certainly what I’m doing now but maybe I won’t have to stay there forever."
And my bet would be yes.

Carbon-Free Sugar

Target market, the terminally gullible.
"Yes, it is still 100% pure cane sugar with 15 calories per teaspoon. And, it functions just like all Domino® Pure Cane Granulated Sugar. Use it cup for cup exactly like the original Domino® Pure Cane Granulated Sugar."
Because it's just sugar.

The claims they're making sound like they're literally true. The sugar is no different, they're simply pointing out that in growing it they're binding carbon, which is true for any woody plant. And they've got some carbon-friendly way to produce the energy they need to refine the sugar.

They're just taking a page from the Roman Catholics...

The market of people who believe in anthropogenic global warming is a large one (although shrinking), and they've already proven they're gullible to dubious claims... Caveat emptor.

Are they charging more, I wonder?

Thanks to Prof. Adler, who's part of the target market.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

You Are The Long-Term Test (Part 4): Back Surgery

From Seth, a doozy, which starts off with:

What happened next provides a glimpse into the sometimes contentious world of medical testing and the federal rules that allow device makers to market new products with little or no data about their long-term effectiveness or safety.

Unlike prescription drugs, many medical devices are cleared for sale by the Food and Drug Administration without extensive studies in patients. In recent years, some of those devices, which seemed effective at first, have gone on to fail catastrophically.

Last year, when Dr. Fourney told the device maker, Vertos Medical, that his report would describe the problems that patients experienced after the six-month trial, the company filed a complaint with the University of Saskatchewan, where he is a professor. In that complaint, Vertos accused Dr. Fourney of scientific misconduct and violating “research ethics” by failing, among other things, to follow the study’s original protocol and by independently deciding to follow his patients for added time without seeking agreement from Vertos.
Good for Dr. Fourney.

Read the whole thing: A Clash Over Vertos Medical’s Promising Procedure.

Given that humans have a 80+ year lifespan, the testing they do on humans for prescription drugs isn't long term, either, until it's released to the general public.

Don't be a guinea pig. If you participate in these experiments, you should be an informed participant.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Good Scientists, Bad Scientists...

Mad Scientists: Zach Throckmorton on evolution, our feet, and what it means to be human:
D101: Dorsiflexing. That's awesome. Anything else that seems important to note?

[Zach Throckmorton]: Don't run barefoot! There are two main issues with barefoot running. The first is that no matter how thick your callouses might be, they're not as protective as the sole of a shoe. If you damage a ligament or tendon, you can permanently cripple yourself. Running barefoot also makes you susceptible to picking up gross parasites like hookworm and dracunculus. The second issue is biomechanical. Barefoot running tends to promote what's called 'midfoot striking,' where the midfoot hits the ground first instead of the heel. Midfoot striking is better/more natural for some people, but not everyone. People vary in how they run comfortably/naturally. If you are a natural heel striker (most people are), then it's a bad idea to force yourself into becoming a midfoot striker because your foot isn't used to barefoot running. It's a misconception that barefoot running is more 'natural' - we know from the archeological record that people have been wearing shoes (at least soft-soled sandal type shoes) for minimally the last 40,000 years.
OK. Let's start with some arithmetic:
"The oldest known human ancestor footprints, dated to 3.7 million years ago, reveal that some of the earliest members of our family tree walked fully upright with feet similar to ours, according to new research."
Those footprints were from bare feet, btw. I present the arithmetic visually, since that seems to be how Zach likes to work:

Percentage of time spent in each condition

So for most of human history, people have been barefoot. For 1.08% of human history, some, but not all, humans have been wearing shoes.
"A fad is any form of behavior that develops among a large population and is collectively followed with enthusiasm for some period, generally as a result of the behavior's being perceived as novel in some way. A fad is said to "catch on" when the number of people adopting it begins to increase rapidly. The behavior will normally fade quickly once the perception of novelty is gone."
Which one is the fad, again?

I'll also note that all the science I've seen comparing barefoot to shod populations indicates that barefoot people tend to have much healthier feet, and that some of the variations that Zach mentions are not natural, but are the result of deformation introduced by shoes.  If Zach ever gets to this page, he can start here with some of the science on the topic.

Oh, and there's virtually no such thing as a "natural" heel striker while running.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Lupine, A Novel Food That's Already Causing Problems

Mark G, a correspondent from Australia, drew my attention to this stuff:

Low-Carb Bread
Low carb, high protein bread! What could go wrong with that?

Well, if you zoom in on the ingredients, the first three are wheat protein, soy protein, and lupine protein.

Lupine protein? Lupine, the flower? Apparently:
"Lupine cultivation is at least 2,000 years old and most likely began in Egypt or in the general Mediterranean region. The lupine plant, like other grain legumes (beans, peas, lentils, etc.) fixes atmospheric nitrogen, and produces seed high in protein. There are over 300 species of the genus Lupinus (L.), but many have high levels of alkaloids (bitter tasting compounds) that make the seed unpalatable and sometimes toxic. Historically, lupine alkaloids have been removed from the seed by soaking. But plant breeders in the 1920's in Germany produced the first selections of alkaloid-free or "sweet" lupine, which can be directly consumed by humans or livestock. White lupine (L. albus L.), yellow lupine (L. luteus), and blue or narrow-leafed lupine (L. angustifolius) are cultivated as crops. Lupines are currently grown as a forage and grain legume in USSR, Poland, Germany, the Mediterranean, and as a cash crop in Australia, where it is exported to the European seed markets. Both winter-hardy and non-hardy types are available."

Ingredients
Uh-oh...
And since humans make such excellent guinea pigs for these sorts of things:
"The United States has a developing specialty human food market for lupine in the form of lupine flour, lupine pasta, and hulls for dietary fiber. Sweet lupines have been shown to increase the protein and fiber crops in conjunction with durum wheat in specialty pastures, and to be an excellent source of white-colored fiber, as an additive to breads and cereals."
("White-colored fiber" is most likely an euphemism for cellulose, the modern marketing name for sawdust. But that's a whole 'nother post.)

So what's wrong with using lupine protein in food? The most obvious problem is that many people with peanut allergies, one of the most common allergies, cross-react to lupine. Since lupine's novel, the regulators haven't caught up to this, and you could wind up with a nasty surprise:
"Lupine or lupin is a legume that may cause an allergic reaction in those with peanut allergy. Lupine is used in this country in many gluten-free and high-protein products. In many European countries, particularly Italy and France, lupine flour and/or peanut flour may be mixed with wheat flour in baked goods."
Also here:
"Amino acid sequence homology also suggests that these proteins could be responsible, at least in part, for some of the allergic cross-reactions between peanut and lupine reported in the literature."
And here:
"Lupine flour is allergenic and potentially cross-reactive with peanut allergen, thus posing some risk if used as a replacement for soy flour."
And of course:
"Conclusions:  A small but significant number of children with peanut allergy are allergic to lupin."
But you won't learn that from reading the allergen warnings, if you live in Europe:
"Tough new laws on food allergens that enter into force in Europe in November will require food manufacturers to list 12 potentially allergic ingredients, and their derivatives. Lupin flour is not included in the listing."
Of course that's after they allowed lupin flower to enter the food supply. But that's not all:
"Poisoning varies depending on lupine species and varieties, and it is difficult to pin point to specific plant or animal since different animals become susceptible in different ways under varying range conditions.

Species and taxonomic differentiations between species are insufficiently characterized. Different lupines produce varying syndromes in a a given species of livestock....

More than a dozen quinolizidine alkaloids, but some piperidine alkaloids and other types of alkaloids have also been isolated from species of Lupinus. These alkaloids are largely nicotinic in effect. The nitrogen oxides of some of these bases have also been detected in some lupines. The alkaloids are present in the foliage but the greatest concentration is in the seeds.
Lovely.

[P.S. I forgot to mention that this food has nearly the perfect profile for a novel, yet toxic, food to be introduced. It's enough to make you a Paleo paranoid. In it's new and improved form, it's not overtly toxic, but if it were to present symptoms of toxicity, they'd be diverse, and nearly impossible to tie back to the original source. Sort of like modern wheat. In the meanwhile the producers would be able to make a boatload of cash on it, until the truth finally starts to leak out.]

I'd guess that they're reduced the levels of alkaloids in the "sweet lupine" down to some tolerable level, and not completely eliminated them. So, like soy, wheat, or bok choy, if you start eating large amounts of lupin, you may find that you've exceeded the toxic amount.

Interestingly, I found that one of the major proponents (and producers) of lupine, George Weston Foods, applied to the US Food and Drug Administration for a "generally recognized as safe" designation for "sweet lupin" flour, fiber, and protein. They then withdrew the request:
"The subject of the notice is sweet lupin flour. The notice informs FDA of the view of George Weston Foods, Ltd. that sweet lupin flour is GRAS, through scientific procedures, for use as an ingredient in baked goods and baking mixes and grain products and pastas at a maximum level of 25 per cent.

"In a letter dated December 10, 2008, you withdrew your notice. Given your letter, we ceased to evaluate your GRAS notice, effective December 16, 2008, the date that we received your letter."
That's odd. I wonder what George Weston Foods knows about lupin that caused them to withdraw the request?

Nevertheless, if you're dying to give Lupin flour a try in the U.S., you can buy some here. What are the advantages they cite?
Type: Peanut Free, All Natural, Gluten Free, Kosher, Raw, Sugar Free, Vegan, Wheat Free, Dairy Free.
Technically, that's true, of course. But the only reason you'd be interested in the fact that a food was peanut-free is if you were allergic to peanuts...

Calling all attorneys.

Caveat emptor, as always. Look out for yourself, because you can't trust the food producers or the regulators to look out for you.