More crappy reporting from LabSpaces

Oct 22 2010 Published by under Journalism, Medicine

LabSpaces, a newer member of the science blogosphere, has some great bloggers.  But as I recently pointed out, they're failing miserably in one domain.  LabSpace's founder Brian Kreuger has an ambitious vision to create a sort of "facebook for scientists" (not his words).  In his words:

LabSpaces.net is a social network for the scientific community designed to spread scientific news, maintain and create friendships, and harbor collaboration through the internet. The site serves as a web profile for researchers and labs, and is also a community for active communication in the sciences.

Included in his vision is, "a Science News feed updated daily with ~40 news articles."  This is where the problem begins.  LabSpaces bloggers do what good science bloggers do, but the "featured article" section is a travesty.  It is an uncritical regurgitation of institutional press releases and other PR documents.  My interest is in proper reporting of medical information, and the articles consistently fail to deliver un-hyped and accurate medical information.  The article that was the subject of my last critique was removed, along with the critical comment threat.  Today he features another miraculous-sounding headline. How does this one measure up?

It's titled "Discovery may help scientists boost broccoli's cancer-fighting power." Regular readers will see the problem with this but let's make it explicit: it "begs the question".  It assumes that broccoli has "cancer-fighting power", a tenuous assumption at best.  The two questions assumed but unproved are that broccoli has cancer fighting power and that the reported discovery can improve on it.   To assess this disaster, we need to look at both the LabSpaces article and at the study it came from.

The craptastic nature of Kreuger's article (and though he probably cribbed it from a press release, it is his) is evident in the first paragraph:

A University of Illinois study has shown for the first time that sulforaphane, the powerful cancer-fighting agent in broccoli, can be released from its parent compound by bacteria in the lower gut and absorbed into the body.

If we are going to call sulforaphane a "powerful cancer-fighting agent" we'd better have some damned good data to back that up.  In my mind, such an agent has been shown to fight cancer in humans.  This compound has not.  There are some studies that suggest that sulforaphane may have a role in cancer prevention at the cellular level---in rodent studies.  Prevention of cellular damage is very different from "cancer-fighting".   If it turns out that this compound can actually help prevent or treat cancer in humans, it then has to be shown that ingesting broccoli is a useful drug-delivery modality.

"This discovery raises the possibility that we will be able to enhance the activity of these bacteria in the colon, increasing broccoli's cancer-preventive power," said Elizabeth Jeffery, a U of I professor of human nutrition.

"It's also comforting because many people overcook their broccoli, unwittingly destroying the plant enzyme that gives us sulforaphane. Now we know the microbiota in our digestive tract can salvage some of this important cancer-preventive agent even if that happens," she said

Ugh. The feces keeps getting deeper. Gut microbiota is a fascinating field of study. So is cancer. This piece of crap cribbed press release is not. To leap from "compound may help treat or prevent cancer" to "broccoli has the fairy dust and if cooked just right and exposed to the right bacteria etc it will prevent cancer" is a careless and dangerous assertion.

A commenter noted that the crappy article was based on a study. And what assertion did the (un-cited) study make?

These data are the first to report direct evidence of hydrolysis of glucoraphanin to sulforaphane in the cecum of rats and to show that sulforaphane is able to cross the cecal enterocyte for systemic absorption.

It's true that the source based some of their reasoning and justifications for the study on some pretty weak epidemiologic literature, but the study is kind of interesting, and the conclusions are properly limited.  This is very different from the irresponsible and hyperbolic advertorial on the front page of LabSpaces.

Maybe they can ditch all the other stuff and just stick with the blogs. Those are really good.

References

Lai, R., Miller, M., & Jeffery, E. (2010). Glucoraphanin hydrolysis by microbiota in the rat cecum results in sulforaphane absorption Food & Function DOI: 10.1039/C0FO00110D

62 responses so far

  • Not only is it crappy reporting, but the entire fucken Web site looks like it came from motherfucken 1996. Dumbshitte should change the fucken name to TimeLabCubeSpaces!

  • Namnezia says:

    CPP: C'mon, give him a break - he coded the whole thin himself, from scratch, plus he has a day-job.

    I do agree with Pal MD though about the press releases. It feels a little weird having them aggregated there. Ideally though, and maybe that's what Brian intended, is that these get posted and then people with a scientific background critique them. But if this is the intention it is not obvious, plus not enough people comment on them. I was a bit disappointed that he took the strep article down, since the type of comment thread you started could set a precedent for other articles. There is a lot of misrepresentation/exaggeration of scientific results in the popular press and in university press releases that it would be nice to have a resource where one could dig deeper to the real findings.

  • tideliar says:

    "hese get posted and then people with a scientific background critique them. But if this is the intention it is not obvious, plus not enough people comment on them"

    yeah, this. 40/day is too much and the commentariat too low to do this effectively.

    @CPP: you're a fuckkn troll dude.

  • Marcus says:

    Labspaces seems like a nice idea that hasn't been thought out enough. The number of news articles may need to stay low in order to keep the actual reporting quality up. If it's just the one guy doing them then 40 seems insane.

    CPP is right, the site looks horrible. I've read a few of the blogs, which are good, but I can't stress too much how the look is an immediate turn off. Either get someone else to do fix the look or use some sort of template.

  • Funky Fresh says:

    PP may be a troll, but he is a correct troll.

  • C’mon, give him a break – he coded the whole thin himself, from scratch, plus he has a day-job.

    Who gives a fucke? The fucken thinge is unfuckenreadable and unfuckenusable. He could have built a good-looking WordPress blogge in one fucken afternoon.

    It's great that there are people who get off on building their own gas-powered go-carts as a fucken hobby and to zoom around in the swamp behind their house. Doesn't mean anyone wants to drive one to fucken work every day.

    • tideliar says:

      "It’s great that there are people who get off on building their own gas-powered go-carts as a fucken hobby and to zoom around in the swamp behind their house. Doesn’t mean anyone wants to drive one to fucken work every day."

      And that is precisely why CPP is my fave troll evar. LMFAO.

  • Gaythia says:

    According to EurekAlert! ; "Discovery may help scientists boost broccoli's cancer producing power" is the title of the press release produced by the University of Illinois. And I believe that the following matches the text above: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-10/uoic-dmh102110.php

    On it's website EurekAlert describes itself as follows: http://www.eurekalert.org/aboutus.php
    "EurekAlert! is an online, global news service operated by AAAS, the science society. EurekAlert! provides a central place through which universities, medical centers, journals, government agencies, corporations and other organizations engaged in research can bring their news to the media. EurekAlert! also offers its news and resources to the public. EurekAlert! features news and resources focused on all areas of science, medicine and technology. "

    So, LabSpaces would not seem to be doing anything that AAAS isn't already doing (or maybe that's how it is being done).

    Having LabSpaces drop these materials might enable us to access the blogs there without annoyance and irritation, but that begs a much larger issue. Some of these press releases are picked up by popular media. The public may read some of them and accept the material at face value without further input or evaluation, or, some may be used as evidence that scientists are out of touch, unrealistic or not credible.

    So I agree with Namnezia, we need a resource where these press releases can be critiqued. I would add that we may need a mechanism that supports the original scientists themselves, so that they can ensure that their work is represented accurately.

  • Edward says:

    Game. Which of these things is not like the others?

    1. scienceblogs...
    2. reddit...
    3. labspaces...
    4. forbes...

  • becca says:

    PalMD, does somebody need a graduate seminar on carcinogenesis and chemoprevention??

    You characterized the research on sulforaphane as
    "There are some studies that suggest that sulforaphane may have a role in cancer prevention at the cellular level—in rodent studies.

    I'm not entirely sure what you meant here, but to my knowledge, work on sulforaphane includes:
    1) cells using human cell lines
    2) rodent cancer studies (not cancer cells, but actual tumors)
    3) chemoprevention studies in healthy humans
    4) phase II clinical trials in breast cancer patients (underway: http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00982319?term=sulforaphane&rank=3)

    No one called it a cure, or even a treatment.

    I understand you are a clinician. I understand "cancer fighting" gets under your skin, because you assume it must mean one thing. However, you are *not helping* the stereotype of clinicians only caring about disease and not about health. Chemoprevention *counts* as 'cancer fighting'. Or would you claim that an antismoking campaign isn't part of fighting cancer, since it's what epidemiologists do instead of oncologists?

    "If it turns out that this compound can actually help prevent or treat cancer in humans, it then has to be shown that ingesting broccoli is a useful drug-delivery modality."
    This study is one *part* of addressing that question. I think the study itself is great, because there have been previous ones emphasizing that you have to cook broccoli *just so*. This study actually suggests otherwise. If your reading comprehension really is THAT poor, no wonder you don't like press releases.

    "crappy reporting" indeed. Pot, meet kettle.

    • PalMD says:

      I didn't go into a lot of detail and I appreciate that you did. It inspires me to go over the background in more detail.

      However...

      None of what you say is relevant to the main point, that the headline and press release in terribly misleading.

  • Isis the Scientist says:

    Oh noes!!! Pwned by Becca!!!

  • becca says:

    From a purely journalistic perspective, you can argue they should have included a quote from a comparable scientific expert that thought the work was crap (double meaning intended). But the part of the article that bugs you seems to mostly be a quote. It's not poor reporting to ask the scientist who did the study about the work. Of course, it's always possible it's a misquote, in which case the PR office sucks donkey balls.

    Now, maybe the scientist was too bold, but given what I know of the field of nutrition and cancer risk, I honestly think referring to broccoli as having a bone fide 'cancer-preventive' property is reasonable. But then, I am automatically thinking 'cancer-preventive' is a feature that implies a small impact on risk of an inherently stochastic process, which nonetheless has meaningful impacts on large populations. I am not thinking "If I could just eat the perfect broccoli I'll never get cancer!".

    And yes, obviously if I were in the lab genetically engineering the perfect microbes to go with the perfect broccoli, I would have cured cancer by now, but instead I'm blogcommenting. So, definitely k3rn3d.

    • PalMD says:

      In human medicine, which the article purports to be about (but not the paper, which had moderate conclusions), "cancer-preventative" and "cancer-fighting" are reserved for things that have been shown to have a real, measurable, plausible, and significant effect on human health.

  • Let me first start off by saying that I entirely see where PalMD and CPP are coming from, although I think it's disingenuous to comment about my intentions without first reading my post about why I post press releases. I'm trying to develop a site where the public and experts can come to discuss science. I would love to have experts rate the releases so that visitors can be better informed on their veracity. The fact is that these press releases serve as the basis for many news stories and some terrible press releases are reported on as if they are gold standard science when they are utter shit. It'd be great if there was a place on the internet where people could drop by and see if the insane story they read or heard about was actually true and verified by experts in the field (Kinda like fact check for science). I see now that my website doesn't make this explicitly clear and some visitors may view my posting of these releases as some form of positive validation.

    I will be instituting many changes on the site over the next few weeks to better highlight the press releases as "Good science", "Bad science", or "Eh, maybe good." All users will be able to vote on the quality of the release and I will institute a system for flagging users as experts and their votes will carry significantly more weight. In addition, the releases will be tagged in all places of the site with obvious "stickers" that show the article as good, bad, or questionable.

    Although I would love to see all MD's, PhD's, engineers, etc write their own blog posts on these releases and provide indepth coverage, I don't think this is possible. I know these people lead very busy lives (or have no real interest in blogging) and I hope that LabSpaces provides them a place to get their ideas out about good and bad science without having to go through the hassle of setting up and maintaining their own blog sites.

    As far as the site design is concerned. I'm all ears. It's definitely a work in progress and I don't think I'm by any means a great designer. I set up the blogger pages as an open canvas. The bloggers are allowed to style them however they see fit and I'm more than happy to help their design ideas come true. I'll keep chipping away at it though.

    Again, thanks everyone for the great feedback! I'd appreciate it if you stopped by every once in a while to let me know how we're doing.

    A version of this has also been cross posted at LabSpaces on my blog

  • Gaythia says:

    I think Brian Krueger's proposed changes described above, as well as his previous discussion with Ed Yong which he links to, are quite promising. I believe that the exchanges driven by this post and others demonstrate quite well the effective force blogs can be. In my opinion this ties in very nicely with the defense of scientific blogs given by David Kroll here: http://cenblog.org/terra-sigillata/2010/10/15/the-current-phenomenon-of-bloggers-should-be-of-serious-concern-to-scientists/. This was in response to an editorial by Dr. Royce Murray, editor in chief of the journal, Analytical Chemistry, see: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/ac102628p, in which Dr. Murray expressed serious concern about the growth of science blogging and what he seemed to perceive as its lack of an effective review mechanism.

    • Marcus says:

      That was interesting, in a "get off my lawn" kind of way. Murray seems to be idealizing the current publishing system and old media's treatment of science. I'm guessing that he read a few subpar or slightly nutty blogs, assumed it generalized and couldn't possibly be any other way. He wouldn't be the first person to do that with regard to the internet or new technology. It's like he's confusing the technology with the behavior of a subset of users.

    • Edward says:

      The "previous discussion with Ed Yong" was "a mock interview ." That is, it was Brian talking to himself.

  • El Picador says:

    Why you big meanie queen bees always gotta pile in on some poor victim. You must just be jealous of all the high quality Lab Spaces content stealing your Scientopia thunder.

  • Isis the Scientist says:

    "In addition, the releases will be tagged in all places of the site with obvious “stickers” that show the article as good, bad, or questionable."

    Stop calling them articles. They are press releases sent out by universities aimed at bringing in money from donors. That's all. Nothing more.

    Posting 40 a day, you're not going to get enough people to rate anything. And press releases should not be the thing to rate.

  • Gaythia says:

    These sorts of press releases have a much greater reach with the public than just to potential donors. A simple Google search on the headline and/or first sentence for this one, demonstrates that it is being broadcast and republished world wide. I believe that these sorts of "scientists say" reports, often followed by rebuttals are what many members of the public know about scientific investigations.

    If scientists want to have an influence on how science is communicated to the public, this matters. This means that the scientist community needs to support scientists in dealing with their local University PR departments. And universities and other research institutions ought to be receiving the sorts of critiques such as that offered by PalMD here. Although, Isis is likely to be right that such critiques, or even easier ratings would not be enough to stem the tide.

    I think that questions about the role of Eurekalerts and the AAAS would be a much more significant area of focus than LabSpaces. And the AAAS would seem to me to have both the resources and the clout to institute guidelines. For example, for acceptable headline writing.

  • becca says:

    @PalMD, look, I see why in the context of clinical medicine the headlines were totally overblown. I'm just saying that *in the context of cutting-edge cancer molecular epidemiology*, the headline was not unreasonable. That study is about as good as it gets... What this says about the state of our knowledge on nutrition and cancer is probably not flattering, but I suspect the field will mature into an area that is fairly useful.
    Now, what I don't have data on but am very curious about, is what the *average reader* thought that headline meant.

    @Isis, technically they *are* "articles". Marketing articles. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Article_%28publishing%29
    They may be bad, but to really claim they don't even warrant the term 'article' they'd have to be actual fiction, not just nonfiction that lacks proper journalistic balance.

  • PalMD says:

    becca, i don't buy it at all. it's simply a study showing that in a particular animal model, a particular molecule was taken orally and absorbed in a particular way. as far as cancer goes, the results were completely irrelevant.

  • Gaythia says:

    Becca, if we are going to go with your Wikipedia link to describe the definition for the type of article here, I'd go with the lead sentence therein: "An article is a written work published in a print or Internet medium. It may be for the purpose of propagating the news, research results, academic analysis or debate." As opposed to the one much further down defining marketing article: "An often thin piece of content which is designed to draw the reader to a commercial website or product."

    As I point out above, this article has reappeared in news media worldwide. I would assume that many people have referred to it as a rationale as to why other family members really ought to eat their broccoli. In my childhood, Popeye the sailor man was cited as to why one should eat canned spinach. One difference here, is that scientists have a professional reputation to protect, and Popeye, of course, is merely a cartoon character.

    Thus, I believe that science communication to the public, and in this case, the phrasing of headlines, is a serious matter.

  • Isabel says:

    Wow, people are really concerned about this broccoli-eating trend getting out of hand. Whatever.

    So PalMD, you seem to think misinformation about broccoli and cancer is a problem, but misinformation about cannabis and cancer is not. Can you please explain your reasoning to me?

  • becca says:

    @Gathia I, for one, never ate spinach again after I realized Popeye was a cartoon.

    @PalMD out of curiosity, how would you describe sulphoraphane in two words that communicates to the public why anyone would give a rats cecum how it is metabolized? I don't think "particular molecule" is going to be of service here.

    This is a paragraph from a review article (Keck and Finley, 2004) the manuscript cites:
    "Epidemiologic studies have demonstrated inverse associations between
    crucifer intake and the incidence of lung, pancreas, bladder, prostate, thyroid, skin, stomach, and colon cancer.3 Prospective dietary assessment of 628 men diagnosed with prostate cancer found that increasing crucifer intake from 1 to 3 or more servings per week resulted in a 41% decreased apparent risk.7 A 10-year cohort study of 47,909 men reported that increased crucifer intake, but not fruits and other vegetables, was associated with decreased risk for bladder cancer
    (relative risk = 0.49, 95% confidence interval = 0.32-0.75, P = .008).6"

    Those numbers are simply quite solid evidence, in the context of epidemiology. Is sulphoraphane the only compound in crucifers that is important? Of course not. But this epidemiology *combined* with the cell studies you so blithely write off strongly suggest that the long term goal of the scientist you take issue with "to increase bioavailability of sulphoraphane" is, in fact, a valid pursuit.
    If you REALLY, when reading it from the basis of YOUR actual knowledge thought the press release was saying "we've cured cancer with broccoli!!!111" and not "we've found evidence that a cancer-preventative compound in broccoli should be bioavailable" then you may reasonably take issue with the article. But I think you are instead projecting what you think the lack of knowledge of the general population reading the article might be. For one, I think people are more critical than you give them credit for. For another, I think you underestimate the importance of this research. AACR might be full of it, but they estimate if they could get people to eat more fruits and vegetables they could cut cancer rates by 20%.

    tldr; eat your vegetables, don't listen to the doctor, I can't believe I'm saying this

    • PalMD says:

      Becca, i'm going to try to elevate your comment to a post. it's a common set of misunderstandings of source, reliability, risk, etc.

  • El Picador says:

    Isabel, FTW! You totes got him there- I can't ever remember Pal debunking your false info on cannabis and cancer.

    • Isabel says:

      Cute. Haha. Wow you really got me there. I'm referring of course to the article Pal's buddy Drugmonkey recently linked to that said cannabis cause cancer.

      • PalMD says:

        Linky for those of us playing from home?

        • Isabel says:

          Sorry, you know where to find the link (let''s not be coy, okay?), and you saw the (unedited) excerpt on lab spaces. I am not linking to that crap.

          • PalMD says:

            WTF? Sorry, I, but as far as i'm concerned, this just makes you a delusional troll. If you're going to assert that someone said something and then expound on it, you'd better be willing to show that it's not a figment of your imagination.

          • Isabel says:

            Fuck you asshole.

            • Isabel says:

              Go look it up yourself, here is the Twiiter quote. I am not linking to it. Oh wait, you already responded to this complaint didn't you? "Aww, Isabel, don't get your panties in a twist about unsubstantiated claims regarding plants' effects on cancer!"

              Fucking hypocritical asshole.

              "A college student's take on Prop 19, California's legalize eet initiative "

              Total citation-free and fact-free bullshit you are now promoting.

              Pretty desperate, huh DM?

              Posted by: Isabel | October 19, 2010 12:59 PM
              24

              Oh, Isabel...

              Posted by: PalMD | October 19, 2010 1:53 PM

      • El Picador says:

        Isabel, the certain fact that DM is a trolling douche does not make *your* points any righter...

        • Isabel says:

          what points? That he shouldn't be linking to unscientific propaganda? How is that not right? You are being cryptic as usual. If you are accusing me of misinformation about cannabis this is the first I've heard of that. Can you provide a link? Can you remember what the misinformed "point" you are alluding to was at least?

  • PalMD says:

    Becca, you need more experience understanding clinical literature. "Risk" is not exactly what you think it is.

  • becca says:

    PalMD- the snap dismissal doesn't help me figure out what you are getting at. You need more experience explaining journalism practices, clinical literature, and your own opinion.
    What *would* evidence that something can legitimately be called 'a powerful cancer-fighting agent' look like? How *should* sulphoraphane be described?

    • PalMD says:

      Look at the studies you footnoted. Most have very guarded conclusions. Most show no significant risk reduction in humans. You need to read these carefully, and look at what was measured and reported (eg absolute risk reduction, etc), especially since epidemiologic studies are prone to all sorts of error.

      For example, the prostate ca study concluded:
      "Overall, we found no appreciable association between baseline intake of cruciferous vegetables and risk of prostate cancer" and based on some other hypotheses recommended further modified studies. The bladder cancer study gave some interesting relative risk numbers, which need context. What do they really mean, as far as absolute risk or number needed to treat?

      If I find a way to cut the risk of dying of flying saucer attack by 50%...

  • PalMD says:

    Oy, holy crap, becca, that article you cited is horrid. srsly, you need to read a lot more critically.

  • PalMD says:

    Ach, for example, from one of the citations:

    Of all vegetable groups, there was only suggestive evidence for an inverse association between the consumption of brassicas and urothelial cancer risk (RR: 0.75; CI: 0.54–1.04, comparing extreme consumption quintiles), although the linear dose response trend was borderline statistically significant (P trend = 0.06).

    • leigh says:

      there's a confidence interval for ya. bridging the gap from "cuts it almost in half" to "increases by 4%' - phew, sign me up for that one!

      my unfiltered speculation is that there is a significant floor effect when detecting relative risk ratios.

  • Pascale says:

    I don't care how good broccoli is for anything. I'm not eating it.

  • Jane says:

    I think the discussion that these press releases have whipped up is really interesting. It seems to me that there is just a complete divide into two groups of people, those who think press releases are utter drivel and shouldn't be publicized in any way by any scientist/science writer worth their salt, and those who think that there is a real need to critique the press releases (regardless of what anyone thinks of the layout or way this is done at Lab Spaces in particular - to me this is a completely separate issue and one that has been addressed by the changes that have been made).

    The discussion about the science behind the press release in this comments section (@becca and @PalMD) is the perfect illustration of what the latter group of people are hoping to achieve and think is a worthwhile endeavor, a discussion about the scientific merit of these press releases.

    I think we need to face reality, that as it stands today, these press releases are a large part of the science that filters through to the general public and not just tripe put out to attract potential donors (as someone else has already mentioned). Unfortunate as that may be, we aren't arguing about whether these press releases should be created in the first place, but whether there is a place for scientists and experts to talk about the validity of the science behind them, in the hopes that some of that might filter down to the public. You're all for defending bloggers against the likes of Dr Murray, who probably sees blogging about articles in the same fashion as you see posting the articles and critiquing them (and before you complain they aren't being sufficiently critiqued etc, that's not the issue I'm focusing on here).

    It takes a while to iron out the kinks in any good idea, and a lot of people genuinely feel that in fact Lab Spaces has hit on a pretty good idea. As Brian himself said, perhaps someone googling this particular field might come across our critiquing of it on Lab Spaces, instead of the original source press release. But people seem intent on just shooting down the whole idea. I won't argue that the ongoing discussion about this has generated some great ideas for Lab Spaces and I think you should give him his dues that he is really trying his best to implement most of these ideas and listen to all sides of the argument. But I noticed again today that PalMD just came on to the thread and posted the same argument that he should just do away with the press releases all together. Well, I'm sorry but who died and made your opinion the only one that counts? Not to get all Barrack Obama on you, but 'change' is not necessarily a bad thing!

    • PalMD says:

      I never said my opinion was the only one that counts, StrawJane. I happen to think I'm right, or I wouldn't have written it, but what you seem to be arguing is that my opinion is prima facie invalid because...uh...i dunno.

      • Jane says:

        Who's StrawJane?

        It kind of pisses me off that you chose to just focus on that one part of my comment and that you can't reply without belittling me in some fashion. But, moving on...

        I'm not arguing that your opinion is invalid at all, in fact I'm arguing that that's exactly what you're intimating about other opinons by repeating the same statement again and again over at Lab Spaces. I understand that you think you're right (doesn't everyone!) and I've been interested to read about why, which is why I'm on here in the first place. My point was that your opinion wasn't the ONLY valid opinion, if you reread what I actually said.

        I was also saying that maybe there are other opinions that count in this debate, and that Lab Spaces is trying to accommodate all viewpoints. The remainder of my comment was actually praising your other article for a solid scientific dissection of the press release in question and the debate over the scientific content that you got into with Becca above. I was struck by the irony that to me it illustrates perfectly why I think (just my lowly opinion though) we should give the press releases a shot.

        I happen to think I'm right too, don't you just hate that?! I'm not saying you're wrong, just that maybe it's time to move on from the Lab Spaces bashing now and see how things work out on there.

        • PalMD says:

          I’m sorry but who died and made your opinion the only one that counts?

          So, the strawman i was responding to was that. Perhaps you didn't mean for it to be representative of the entire comment.

          But as far as "opinions" and "right and wrong", it is possible to be wrong, and it is possible for one viewpoint to be less well supported by facts.

          I like Brian and what he's accomplished, but he's just wrong about the press release thing. They are ads. That's it.

          • Jane says:

            I guess we just have a case of:

            "I fully respect your right to disagree with me, so long as you realise I'm right and you're wrong"!

            Certainly enjoyed the debate anyway!

  • drugmonkey says:

    re: Isabel and her confusing comments

    http://marybeth868.wordpress.com/2010/10/18/proposition-19/

    admittedly the blog post itself was full of uncited assertions but at least the author had some to rely upon when questioned...

    http://www.medpagetoday.com/Psychiatry/Addictions/8096

    (but I have no idea why Isabel continues to confuse link-pointing with endorsement of the content.)

    • Isabel says:

      Be forewarned - note in the blog thread my reference to my posts being removed. As I pointed out already on your blog, she removed my best replies refuting her data. Haha she left in the profanity.

      She referred to some interesting studies worth looking further at regarding human sperm being stoned on pot and hyped up on coffee, and the affects on fertility, but nothing else new. And she did not respond to my request for citation of her specific accident assertions (the citations she came up with did not address the issue). She removed my post asking for the citation again.

      Why did you link to this? Not only is it not the genuine thoughtful musings of a college student in the thick of it, as your teaser implied, it is chock full of FALSE unsubstantiated assertions.

      How is the link to it cycling repeatedly on your blog, on Silence Blogs network, less offensive and potentially misleading to the public than the broccoli article (and let's face it most articles are verbatim press releases nowadays) cycling on lab spaces? At least we know where the information in the latter is coming from.

      Why did your pal Pal dismiss one concern and embrace the other? Can you at least shed some light on this? Why the black and white treatment?

    • PalMD says:

      i actually was commenting "Oh, isabell " with an unstated, "where are you on this one" but due to the vagaries of comment approval holdups and paranoia, she thought i was commenting on her rather than just being observantly prescient.

      • Isabel says:

        My paranoia caused me to not read your, um, 'unstated' statement?

        Fuck you AND Physioprof with your "look at the crazy woman" sexist bullshit. And talking about me while I'm right here? Unbelievable.

        I only hung out this long to make my point about your anti-cannabis hypocrisy.

  • Isabel says:

    And to preempt your objection that the one (PR article) appears to be speaking from authority and the other (blog) does not, here is the (unedited) portion of the post that I copied to Lab Spaces. I lost the formatting somewhere along the way, but it appears to be a list from some official web site or the like, something that could easily confuse the type of person who imagines a plate of broccoli is going to cure their late stage cancer.

    "In case you weren’t paying attention in Health class when the side-effects of this drug were gone over, here’s a quick crash course:

    Marijuana side effects include physical problems like breathing difficulties and deteriorating physical abilities.

    Despite a popular belief, marijuana side effects speed up the heart, blood and breathing rate. The body is taxed more and this speeds up the aging process just like methamphetamines do.

    The marijuana side effects from this extra exertion on the body include a higher risk for lung cancer, heart attacks and strokes.

    When marijuana is used habitually, the natural chemical balance of the brain is disrupted affecting the pleasure centers and regulatory systems. The ability to learn, remember and adapt quickly to changes is impaired by marijuana use.

    People who drive after using marijuana are nearly twice as likely to be involved in a fatal car crash. (Side note: under Prop 19, getting behind the wheel of a car just after using marijuana is perfectly permissible)

    It is also what is referred to as a “gateway” drug. The more you use, the more you have to use in order to experience the high. This often leads people to take up other drugs in order to achieve the high they are no longer experiencing from marijuana.

    It is not the same as alcohol. You can drink a little bit of alcohol without getting completely trashed. The entire point of using marijuana is to get high."

  • El Picador says:

    How about Brussel Sprouts? Do they fight cancer? And does frying them up with a little bacon counter the bennies?

  • Isabel says:

    I actually heard broccoli sprouts had the most cancer fighting power of any vegetable. Way more than adult broccoli. Try them sauteed in coconut oil with garlic for a super immune-system boost.

  • becca says:

    "They are ads. That’s it."
    Well yes, I don't think this is the point of contention. Zuska periodically eviscerates various puke-shoe worthy video commercials, much to the enjoyment and edification of all. "ads" does not mean "poor fodder for discussion", quite the contrary.

    For the purposes of chemoprevention, your salad should contain broccoli, brussel sprouts and no bacon.

    With regard to the criticism about the articles-
    *For better or worse, I don't pay much attention to where review articles are published. The only review article on my favorite immune system signal cascade transcription modulator is, inexplicably, in 'Vitamins and Hormones'. It's not a great article, but you can't understand all there is to know about this molecule without it, either. So even poor articles in obscure journals can be incredibly useful (and not just as a 'how not to do it' sort of thing).
    I'm not trying to convince you that the article has any relevant original contribution (i.e. that the way it portrays the literature is useful), but I do think the part I quoted helps you get an idea of the types of things people are finding.
    Specifically, the bladder cancer study struck me as pretty positive sign.
    The CI and P value are perfectly respectable. I'll grant you bladder cancer isn't much of a terrible looming threat ( at least under normal conditions. and I don't know that broccoli is going to help you if you make a habit of licking dye). But, as the risks approach zero, even a rare benefit would still be a net positive.

    I think the real difference is the mentality we come to the article with.
    For you, (and correct me if I'm wrong) unless something meets the (appropriately) high bar of "I would prescribe this to my patients, this can prevent or cure this disease", calling it "cancer-fighting" is WAY out of line.
    For me, whenever something passes the much more modest test of "I would consider this worth studying, this can reduce cancer in some models", calling it "cancer-fighting" is fine.
    Your perspective is the CORRECT one for a doctor making clinical decisions. It is not the ONLY rational perspective anyone might ever read an article on the internet with.

    • Isabel says:

      Is the bacon still bad if there are no nitrates? How about "unprocessed bacon". How can I keep bacon in my diet?

      Also broccoli and brussel sprouts sounds like a pretty heavy salad. Is it not as good to steam them?

      Also I thought we were supposed to lead healthy lifestyles. How can isolating one single factor be expected to show much impact?

      So, eating right is not important is the message I am getting here. It's not worth the effort- canned peas=fresh broccoli. A carb is a carb, protein is simply protein, fat is fat. Oh wait saturated fat causes disease-damn. So there IS a connection.

      Conclusion: Avoid coconuts at all cost! LOL.

  • daedalus2u says:

    Is there any data that nitrates in any form are bad? Lettuce has a few tenths of a percent nitrate. In the NO research community there is general agreement that many of the beneficial health effects of eating green leafy vegetables is due to the nitrate they contain.