A week ago, a new study published in Frontiers Physiology titled, “Effectiveness of Grounded Sleeping on Recovery After Intensive Eccentric Muscle Loading” investigated the effects of grounding on recovery in athletes.1 What the Heck Is Grounding? For those who are unaware of what grounding is, the authors give a very brief explanation here in their introduction, Grounding, earthing, or grounded sleeping, is a process in which the athlete becomes grounded via an electrically conducted device. Read More
A Critical Look At The REDUCE-IT Trial
It’s finally here. The results of the REDUCE-IT trial were presented today at the American Heart Association conference and the paper is also up on The New England Journal of Medicine. I’ve been excited to see the results of this trial ever since the announcement in September (which I wrote about here) so let’s get right into it. I’ll just copy and paste what I’d written before in September regarding the inclusion/criteria and statistical analyses so that I can get right into the results. Read More
The Rise, Fall, and Rise Again of Fish Oil?
With the exception of this past week, it hasn’t been a very good year for fish oil. In early 2018, a large meta-analysis and systematic review of several randomized trials was published in JAMA. This large pooled analysis (77,000 + participants) assessed the impact of supplementing fish oil on cardiovascular disease events and found that there was no statistically significant effect (p=.10). The relative risks (RR) and coverage of the confidence intervals (CI) also suggested a very small effect (RR: 0. Read More
Exercise, Mental Health, and Big Data
Recently, a large cross-sectional study that investigated the relationship between exercise frequency and mental health was published in The Lancet Psychiatry and also happened to set Twitter on fire. I want to discuss the good and the not so good. First, some good! Some Good The study, which included 1,237,194 adults from the US, found a significant relationship between physical exercise and self-reported mental health burden. Here’s what the authors reported, Read More
Seductive Surrogates Can Be Deadly
In clinical trials, it’s not always possible to measure hard endpoints like cardiovascular disease events and cancer remission rates. Studies that use clinical outcomes often dichotomize these variables, and as a result, they need to have a large number of participants and be long in duration to detect differences between groups. Again, this type of research is expensive and not always feasible. In many scenarios, a more practical alternative is to focus on intermediate markers. Read More
The Story of Antidepressants and Bad Journalism
Setting the Narrative Nearly a decade ago, a researcher by the name of Irving Kirsch conducted one of the most extensive studies on antidepressants. He compiled the published clinical trial data on antidepressants, and to make sure that he wasn’t analyzing data that only supported antidepressant effectiveness, he also invoked the Freedom of Information Act and dug up all the unpublished pharmaceutical data. Before starting this ambitious project, Kirsch, a medical researcher at Harvard, was the man who spearheaded most of the research behind the placebo effect. Read More
It's Looking Bad for Fish Oil and CVD
Fish oil supplements and cardiovascular disease have had a long and controversial history. There was a lot of inconsistency in the research around supplementation and several organizations only added to this confusion. The incomplete reporting by media outlets have also confused the public. Here, I’ll give a brief timeline of the evidence for fish oil and CVD outcomes. 1970s | A group of explorers noticed that people who consumed fish also had lower incidences of heart disease. Read More
Do Probiotics Have Any Clinical Evidence?
A lot of health products that you’ll end up buying won’t have the evidence to back up the claims listed on the product. Probiotics are one of these supplements. Approximately 3 million adults in the U.S were estimated to take probiotics back in 2012. That number has probably increased significantly by now. Especially when research on the effects of the microbiome in various health outcomes has entered the mainstream media. Read More
How Did We Figure Out Smoking Causes Lung Cancer?
Proving a cause and effect relationship isn’t easy. Causality is a complex subject, and there are thousands of texts on it, involving philosophical and mathematical arguments that are beyond my understanding. However, I do understand a bit of causality to discuss how we arrive at cause and effect relationships in the sciences. One of the first things often drilled into students in a research methods course is that correlation does not equal causation. Read More