Monday, December 8, 2008

Who Do You Believe?

1 Thessalonians 5:21 But test and prove all things (until you can recognize) what is good; (to that) hold fast.

Contrary to what some believe, God never intended for us to blindly believe and follow - anyone! Including Him. He created us with a functioning mind, intellect, common sense (I know, we could disagree here) and freedom to make our own choices and decisions. Unfortunately, in some areas we become lazy and complacent and allow ourselves to accept biased, false information as if it were truth. Where our health is concerned, this can mean the difference between life and death - literally.

Studies are conducted all the time as to how effective different drugs and natural supplements are for specific conditions. Just recently, the media ran news stories reporting a study showing that vitamins C, D and E do not prevent heart attack, stroke or breast cancer. Those findings were extremely shocking and a huge blow to those of us who avoid pharmaceutical drugs as much as possible and stick to natural supplements and a whole food diet. At first glance, I am sure many people could have said - "Gee I guess my vitamins don't work - why bother buying them anymore?" That's the danger here: many people using these supplements may simply believe the media message - trusting that the study was conducted by people much smarter than they - not bother getting clarification and stop using the supplements.

We have a huge responsibility to follow God's command in the verse above and test and prove all things. Whenever results of a study are released, the first thing we should do is find out who commissioned the study. What these news stories rarely provide are the details of the study - that doesn't sell - sensational headlines do. Chances are if it is a pharmaceutical company conducting the research, the results will most always (big surprise) be in favor of a drug as opposed to a vitamin or other natural supplement. In fact, statistics show that when a drug company funds a study there is a 90% chance the drug is perceived as being effective compared to 50% for a non-drug company funded study!

In the case of the study I mentioned, there were many serious flaws which render the findings worthless, but unless you were aware of that, you could easily be misled. For example:

The study subjects were all doctors who admitted they did not even take the supplements they were supposed to for the study;

In fact, about a quarter of the subjects admitted they had not taken two-thirds of their supplements, yet this study counted them as having taken full doses;

A synthetic form of Vitamin E was used which is known to be a much less effective form of the vitamin;

The subjects who actually took the supplements, only took them every other day;

The potencies used were too low as proven by previous research;

The very "efficient and scientific" method used to track supplement usage in this case was to depend on their memories and recollection - the subjects were to remember what they did in detail over an eight year period!! (I don't know about you, but sometimes remembering what I did yesterday is a challenge.) Very accurate and scientific - don't you think?

It is so unfortunate and downright dangerous that the bottom line is not our health and well-being, but the almighty dollar. Too many people will believe the false information and then be deprived of effective, natural ways to improve and protect their most valuable asset - their health.

There's no denying there are genuine experts - whether they are researchers, scientists or doctors and they are educated and have a great deal of information. However, the responsibility for your health ultimately rests with you. You never have to accept any information or recommendation - regardless of the source - solely on face value.

Remember - the Father says we are to test and prove all things to determine what is truly good - and He always knows best.

1 comment:

I'm Chris ... said...

I think you hit the nail on the head when it comes to disclosing the facts when producing stories about studies. At our magazine, when we write news stories on research reports we only do them if they come from a third-party analyst firm. Now, most of those are commissioned by a particular vendor, but the research itself is being done by the independent firm.

The fact of the matter is that most studies are paid for by vendors and other companies (the firms have to get paid somehow beyond just the clientele they attract to consult on purchases, etc.), but some studies we receive at our publication are coming from the vendors themselves. When it comes to those, we don't bother writing up news stories on them because the chance for survey bias there is infinitely higher than the ones released by the third-party firms.