Health News Review

Blogger Jim Edwards, who seems to have mastered the art of traffic-driving lists (also good for “click” rates when you post the list items as separate pages), has done it again with his “10 Weird Health Theories That Just Won’t Go Away.”

I won’t make you click 10 times to get the list. Here it is:

• “The so-called obesity epidemic is just a scare tactic to make you feel bad”

• “Human growth hormone is the fountain of youth”

• “Women who don’t like sex have female sexual dysfunction”

• “Low-dose naltrexone cures everything”

• “Multiple sclerosis is caused by blocked jugular veins”

• “Taking multivitamins can prevent prostate cancer”

• “High cholesterol is not a health risk”

• “The feds want to microchip you like a pet cat”

• “HIV is not the cause of AIDS”

• “Vaccines cause autism”

OK, now if you’re interested in any of these, you can choose to go to the link above and click 10 times to read them all.

Comments

Mike posted on August 2, 2011 at 11:51 am

Good list – except for #8. There’s NO evidence to support the claim that elevated total cholesterol is a health risk (in fact, just the opposite is true: high total cholesterol is associated with lower mortality. Despite what the writer says, just because Pfizer sells a lot of Lipitor, doesn’t mean high cholesterol is a health risk.

Harold DeMonaco posted on August 3, 2011 at 8:50 am

I should point out up front that I am not a fan of the pharmaceutical industry and have no great love for the marketing campaigns conducted by any members.
The relationship between cholesterol (both LDL and HDL) and cardiovascular risk is complicated. As a result, generalizations in either direction are fraught with error. A look at the Framingham 10 Year Cardiac Risk Calculator (based on over 50 years of data) suggests cholesterol is one important factor along with gender, age, blood pressure and smoking. The calculator has been validated in a large study. (JAMA. 2001 Jul 11;286(2):180-7)
While lowering of cholesterol, especially in people who have suffered a heart attack (secondary prevention) has been shown to reduce mortality. The effect size may not be as large for people who have not. Suggesting that there is NO evidence is a bit of a stretch.
There are a couple of studies that suggest that too low a cholesterol level may be harmful. An Italian study and one conducted in Japan suggested that very low total and LDL cholesterol levels may be harmful. I am not aware of any published literature suggesting that elevated cholesterol levels per se are beneficial.
The pharmaceutical industry has produced many wonderful treatments, saving countless lives and improving the qulaity of life for many. In doing so should be applauded. It has also used advertising and marketing practices that would make PT Barnum blush. So, while I share your distaste for the latter, I also recognize the former.
Italian Study:J Am Geriatr Soc. 2003 Jul;51(7):991-6.
Japanese Study:Arch Intern Med 2011; 171: 1121–1123