Debunking the Synthetic Insulin Myth (Part I)

You would think someone with “MD” after her name would know better than to fall for quack medical articles.  Still, I could forgive Kelly Brogan, “Holistic Psychiatrist”, for her mistake in linking “Insulin Can Kill Diabetics; Natural Substances Heal Them”1 on her Facebook page,2 if only she had apologized for her mistake when it was pointed out to her.

Instead, Brogan plows mindlessly on, erasing critical posts, banning users who debunk her, and going on to spread more misinformation like, for example, the HIV virus not being responsible for AIDS,6 and claiming that we need viruses more than vaccines.2

FB thumbnail

Confirming a lie instead of debunking it–NOT what a doctor should be doing. See footnotes for image credit.

In a future article, I’ll debunk the myth that synthetic insulin is dangerous–and that pig-derived insulin is somehow safer.  In this article, however, I’d like to look at how people like Brogan and her source, “GreenMedInfo”, misrepresent real medical studies to scare the general public.  The study in question is called (hold on to your seats): “Glucose-lowering with exogenous insulin monotherapy in type 2 diabetes: dose association with all-cause mortality, cardiovascular events, and incident cancer.”3

In this study, the researchers didn’t really look at when patients began insulin therapy and how the insulin affected the outcome.  Instead, they used a “proportional hazards model”, a statistical method in which they took a database of Type II diabetes patients from the United Kingdom, assumed synthetic insulin was a hazard, and introduced it mathematically over a designated period of time.

In other words, the researchers had no idea when the patients actually began insulin therapy and whether the insulin was a factor in the hazardous outcomes breathlessly reported by people misquoting and misrepresenting this study.  One thing that’s obviously missing is a control group–in this case, a group that did not receive the synthetic insulin.  The researchers do admit this, but everyone quoting the study ignores the fact.

So, all we really know from this study is that several years after 6,484 people with diabetes received synthetic insulin, some of them got sick, and some of those sick people eventually died.  Well, that’s exactly what you would expect in any population, especially if some of them are seriously ill.  The calculated adjusted hazard ratios in this study (e.g., 1.37 for major adverse/acute cardiovascular events, MACE) could just as easily be explained by pre-existing conditions or other factors.

In fact, a recent presentation at the 50th annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes claimed that “pre-existing cardiovascular disease (CVD) emerged as the greatest risk factor for experiencing a major acute cardiovascular event (MACE) among patients with type 2 diabetes”.4  Wow.  Is it possible that patients with Type II diabetes are predisposed to cardiovascular disease?

Answer: Yes.  According to the American Heart Association, CVD is the cause of death in approximately 65% of all diabetes patients.5  All of a sudden, we’re running in circles: did the diabetes cause the CVD, or did the synthetic insulin?  Remember that missing control group?  What about the age of the patients?  What about when they actually began taking the insulin, as opposed the the arbitrary time selected by the researchers?  What about other health conditions?  What about…?

The researchers themselves were aware of the limitations of their study.  The last line of their abstract, missing from every quack article such as GreenMedInfo’s:

“Limitations of observational studies mean that this should be further investigated using an interventional study design”

An “interventional study” is what I hinted at earlier… it is a carefully controlled experiment involving, among other things, a control group that does not receive the drug (e.g., synthetic insulin) being tested.

There is nothing inherently wrong with an observational study, or statistical analysis.  The authors may very well have a point–maybe more studies are warranted.  I’ll leave that up to doctors.

What I want to point out is that one observational study does not–in any field, in any circumstances–prove a link between one thing and another.  And that is what’s being claimed by Dr. Brogan and everyone else citing this horrific GreenMedInfo article.

 

Image Credits
Dr. Brogan/Facebook screen snapshot used in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

 

References
Please note: To prevent increasing search engine exposure to quack web sites, I use the “DoNotLink” link obfuscator service to disguise URLs.  I promise that you are not being redirected to porn 🙂

(1)  (Quack Article) Research: Insulin Can Kill Diabetics; Natural Substances Heal Them
http://www.donotlink.com/crxt

(2) Dr. Brogan (Facebook)
http://www.donotlink.com/cryq

(3) Glucose-lowering with exogenous insulin monotherapy in type 2 diabetes (abstract)
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/dom.12412/abstract

(4) Pre-Existing Cardiovascular Disease Largest Risk Factor for MACE in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes
http://www.firstwordpharma.com/node/1236429#axzz3KxlconSQ

(5) AHA Scientific Statement: Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease
http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/100/10/1134.full

(6) Kelly Brogan denies germ theory and the value of HIV drugs
http://sciblogs.co.nz/diplomaticimmunity/2014/09/23/kelly-brogan-denies-germ-theory-and-the-value-of-hiv-drugs/

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Sometimes You Just Have to Laugh

I’m a compassionate person.  I hate to see others suffering, even when they bring it upon themselves.  But when the suffering person not only asks for it, but actively encourages others to engage in the same behavior and then gets burned in the act,  I have to admit letting out an ironic laugh:

Modern Alternative Mama (MAMA) has lost her home to mold.

mldWhy is this funny (in an ironic, “teachable moment” kind of way)?  Take a look at one of MAMA’s most recent Facebook posts, linking to her website article on natural cleaning 1:

prodBad Advice
In her home-cleaning article 1, MAMA recommends soaking in water, scrubbing with vinegar, baking soda, microfiber cloths, and five other methods that range from dubious to ineffective for cleaning mold.  Much better methods exist, but they aren’t “natural”, so MAMA didn’t use them.  Only one of her methods — scraping, is recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency 2.

Soaking in water is especially dubious.  The EPA recommends water and detergent and — very important — drying things up right away.  According to the EPA, mold is usually not a problem indoors, unless

“mold spores land on a wet or damp spot and begin growing”

Vinegar and baking soda have anecdotal support but don’t make the EPA list of what’s recommended and known to work. The EPA article contains a great deal of advice on dealing with mold and the dangers of letting it go untreated.  Danger signs that indicate when to call in professionals are clearly pointed out.  Never one to let science get in the way of folk remedies, we find this gem on MAMA’s web site:

claim

“but really — they work.”  Do they?  Let MAMA answer this herself, via her web site:

ep

The Aftermath
One might ask: how are things working out for MAMA and her family, who are reportedly suffering health problems from the mold?  Well…

dtYes… she’s been handling the problem “the natural way”.  If you’ve read past MAMA articles on “detoxing”, you’ll know this involves using natural “pathways” such as pooping, vomiting, and sweating.  Oh, and consuming lots of grains and juices.

As Winnie the Pooh famously said:  “Oh, bother.”

Normally, my heart would go out to someone who’s just lost their home.  But given the amount of dangerous information Modern Alternative Mama dispenses, I have to confess to a (heartless?) smug satisfaction that she’s reaping what she’s sown.

Sometimes, you just have to laugh.

 

References
(Please note: to prevent increasing search engine exposure to quack web sites, I use the excellent DoNotLink service to obfuscate hyperlinks to such sites).

(1)  Top 10 Natural Cleaning Tools I Use  (original MAMA article)
http://www.donotlink.com/bx8u

(2)  A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home
http://www.epa.gov/mold/moldguide.html#How

Legal Stuff
Images of screen snapshots of Facebook posts in a public forum are used in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.