Health Care ParadigmsNetwork Chiropractic

The Burden of Proof

Garlic lowers bad cholesterol.  Wait, no it doesn’t.  Hormone replacement therapy lowers the risk of heart disease.  Wait, no it doesn’t- and it increases breast cancer risk.  Taking statins (like Lipitor) when you are healthy will help prevent heart disease.  As it turns out, no.  Drink 8 to 12 glasses of water a day.  Oops- that’s from a single sketchy research paper done in 1947 that has never been substantiated.

John P.A. Ioannidis, chief of the Prevention Research Center at Stanford University, and medicine’s top “mythbuster”, has set out to subject biomedical research to its own standards of proof: evidence and data. 

His question: how many biomedical studies are wrong? 

His answer is shocking: most.

According to Ioannidis, the unbalanced treatment of positive and negative trials (the negative ones being those which show a drug or treatment failing to be effective- these, he discovered, “sit in a file drawer, or the trial keeps going in hopes the results turn positive.”) lead to skewed research results.

“˜”People are being hurt and even dying” because of false medical claims, he says: not quackery, but errors in medical research”, reports Sharon Begley in Newsweek (Jan 24th, 2011)  Ioannidis’ early work debunked several claims that certain genes were the cause of illnesses like Parkinsons (debunked in 2010) and cardiovascular disease (2009). Begley writes: “Geneticists have mostly mended their ways, tightening statistical criteria, but other fields still need to clean house, Ioannidis says.

“Surgical practices, for instance, have not been tested to nearly the extent that medications have. “˜I wouldn’t be surprised if a large proportion of surgical practice is based on thin air, and [claims for effectiveness] would evaporate if we studied them closely,’ Ioannidis says.”

The take-away from all this is to employ a healthy skepticism toward any medical procedure or treatment that is recommended; do your homework, and, if possible, get a second opinion. 

We small town chiropractors operate under the most ruthless and stringent of evidence protocols: if we fail to get results, we fail to stay in business.  It’s as simple as that.  At RFC, our 18 years of continuing service to our community and unparalleled success in helping our patients achieve their goals for health and healing and happiness is a powerful study in the science of results.  For those for whom clinical studies are important as well, there is a mounting body of evidence that supports regular preventive chiropractic care for health and wellness.  When it all comes out in the wash, we are confident that even the staunchest skeptics will have to acknowledge what our patients have known for years: chiropractic adds years to life and life to years!

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