Needed Medical Experiments

--- relatively inexpensive ones

(to settle some issues commercial companies do not want to resolve)

(2010 Jun post)

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Introduction :

Some years ago (circa 2007 or 2008), a newpaper article appeared that claimed that a government study of calcium supplements in relation to osteoporosis showed that the beneficial effects of calcium ingestion were not to be seen in their study. After years of media articles claiming women should take calcium supplements, this was, of course, startling news.

The study was based on a study of thousands of women for whom a variety of medical information had been collected over a long period of time --- generally more than 10 years. (I plan to find links and details on this study group, which I will put here.)

One thing that caused me some concern about this newpaper article was that the headline (in bold) claimed that calcium was proven (according to this large study) to have no beneficial effects on osteoporosis.

HOWEVER, on reading the entire article, I found, at the end of the article, that a sub-group of the women in the study DID show some statistical benefit. Furthermore, that sub-group comprised the oldest women in the group --- the ones who would, presumably, be most in need of relief from osteoporosis effects.

Another very disturbing part of the article claimed that the study had cost about 400 million dollars to perform. I was aghast at this figure --- especially since it had been performed on a group for whom medical data was being collected for many other purposes.

If it cost about 400 million dollars simply for culling the medical database for the pertinent data and assembling it into a report, I feel that the cost is outrageous. And, given the mixed conclusions, it was a big waste of money.

I was led to several observations of a more general medical nature than just calcium and osteoporosis --- based on this study and based on my own recent medical experiences related to sugarS and high triglycerides and a variety of ill effects therefrom. (Check out this link!)

Some of my observations :

  1. The mixed results of this study indicates that in large studies such as this, the authors of the study may NOT be doing a good job of basing the study on intially 'healthy' or 'normal' subjects.

    For example, the mixed results might be due to the fact that there were many women in the study who had other pre-existing (or developing) conditions --- other than osteoporosis --- such as pre-diabetes or type-2 diabetes (as would be indicated by high triglycerides in blood tests or by excessive body fat) --- or other blood and cardio-vascular problems --- that would interfere with making definitive, valid conclusions from the study. We need conclusions that can be verified repeatedly in future, well-designed studies.

  2. A study like this should not cost on the order of 400 million dollars.

    Certainly a few good database researchers, computer programmers, and competent medical researchers could perform a study like this for under one million dollars.

    Even if it took them an entire year at average salaries of $100,000 per year --- and throwing in another couple of $100,000 for computer facilities, the cost should definitely come in at no more than one million dollars.

  3. There are many other medical topics --- besides calcium and osteoporosis --- that could (and should) be investigated by well-designed government studies --- and for reasonable cost --- especially given the potential payback in better health (and less misery) for a population of about 300 million U.S. citizens --- not to mention the citizens of the world.

    For example, there are still unanswered questions (AMAZINGLY!) on the deleterious effects of 'added' refined sugarS on people's health. This is seen even to this day when supposedly educated and board-certified doctors will still testify before Congressional committees that sugar does not cause cavities.

      I knew a guy who grew up sleeping with candy in his mouth. By the time he was in his twenties, he had very few molars left in his mouth. There are doctors, apparently in the pay of the sugar industry --- in other words, doctors backed by makers of cokes, candy, desserts, pastries, and just about every processed food product --- who will insist that this is 'anecdotal evidence'.

      OK. If even collecting hundreds of cases like this is considered 'anecdotal', then let us have a set of well-designed government studies (animal, human, and 'in vitro') to settle this question once and for all. (See my list of suggestions below --- the 'guts' of this blog post.)

      There are basically two sets of people with a stake in sugarS studies: (1) the general populace and (2) the sugar industry. It's a sure thing that the sugar industry cannot be depended on for studies --- except for studies designed to cloud the issues and keep the waters permanently muddied. Witness the tobacco industry for years and years --- from about 1950's to 1990's.

      The general populace of the U.S. has a logical candidate to perform the sugarS study for them: any of several medical research agencies within the U.S. federal government.

      Unfortunately, most of them, like the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) are riddled with appointees and doctors that are essentially on the payrolls of various lobbying groups of the sugar industry. (There is more on this on a health-and-food books (and quotes) page.)

      You can bet there will be a two-pronged effort --- by the sugar industry --- to keep definitive studies from happening :

      1. lobby (pay) legislators to NOT provide funding for such studies, and
      2. just in case funding comes through, infiltrate the medical research agencies with 'friendly' doctors who are quite willing to manipulate the final reports and spread FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt), like certain intelligence agencies and public relations firms do.

          This doubt-spreading will handle those cases when some 'maverick' doctor manages to get a sugar-industry-unfriendly study published.

      No matter the obstacles, I suggest several 'added refined sugarS' studies that should be sponsored, in my list below.

  4. Unfortunately, there is no motivation for (payback to) private medical entities, such as drug companies and medical instrument companies and even doctors' professional organizations, for them to call for studies that would settle long-standing controversial issues.

    Observe how many decades clear, non-industry-sponsored studies of the effects of smoking were prevented from being performed --- both (1) large-scale clinical studies and (2) laboratory studies in animals, humans, and tissues.

    Even to this day, there seem to be few non-industry-sponsored studies on smoking. It seems the best evidence of the ill-effects of smoking seem to have come from leaked memos from within the tobacco industry.

    And for every M.D. pathologist who could give testimony to the blackened, diseased lungs they have sliced up and paged through in various autopsies, the tobacco industry has provided multiple doctors to spread doubt on what can be deduced from those observations.

Enough of this introduction. Here follows a list of suggested medical experiments to answer long existing health controversies.

As I indicated above, any clinical studies on large patient/subject populations should be designed to filter out 'subjects' who have ill-health indicators that would almost certainly cloud the eventual results or cause fact-based questioning of the conclusions of the large clinical study.

A Group of proposed 'added refined SugarS' Experiments - Introduction :

As I mentioned above, I personally suffered a variety of ill effects (see link) from years of ingesting too many refined sugarS, as evidenced by the high triglyceride levels in my blood (over 200 percent higher than the recommended maximum). One of the main effects was a disintegration of cartilage --- in my knees and in my back. Luckily, after about 4 or 5 years of a low added refined sugarS mode of eating, my knees and back recovered, for the most part.

From my personal experience and from the lack of concern of my physicians (concern about cholesterol, but absolutely no concern and no warnings about high triglycerides in my blood tests ; in admittance forms, plenty of questions about alcohol, smoking, and health of my relatives --- but absolutely no questions about how much refined sugar I was consuming) and from a pattern of misinformation that can be seen every day in articles on health topics (example: chocolate is good for you, so eat M&M's), I realize that some world-changing experiments need to be done.

Some animal experiments are suggested from the following passages from the book "Sugar Blues" by William Dufty.

    ... the story of the public relation attempts on the part of the sugar manufacturers began in Britain in 1808, when the Committe of West India reported to the House of Commons that a prize of twenty-five guineas [a considerable amount of money at that time] had been offered to anyone who could come up with the most "satisfactory" experiments to prove that unrefined sugar was good for feeding and fattening oxen, cows, hogs and sheep. (E. V. McCollum, A History of Nutrition, p. 86) ...

    Sir Frederick Banting, the codiscoverer of insulin, noticed in 1929 in Panama that among sugar plantation owners who ate large amounts of their refined stuff, diabetes was common. Among native cane cutters, who only got to chew the raw cane, he saw no diabetes. Naturally, the attempt to feed livestock with sugar and molasses in 1808 was a disaster. When the Committee on West India made its fourth report to the House of Commons, one Member of Parliament, John Curwin, reported that he had tried to feed sugar and molasses to calves without success. He suggested that perhaps someone should try again by sneaking sugar and molasses into skimmed milk. Had anything come of that, you can be sure the West Indian sugar merchants would have spread the news around the world. After this singluar lack of success in pushing sugar in cow pastures, the West Indian sugar merchants gave up.

    ... [apparently] no animal doctor could be found in Britain who would recommend sugar for the care and feeding of cows, pigs, or sheep.

    ... in 1816 ... Professor Magendie ... fed sugar and water to dogs who subsequently died in his laboratory.

These observations coupled with my cartilage and joint problems following several years of unbridled ingestion of high-sugar products (cokes, Oreo cookies, peppermint patties, ice cream bars) suggest the following kinds of medical experiments should be done with added refined sugars.

A Refined SugarS in ANIMALS experiment :

Feed rats (or mice) a high-refined sugarS diet for about 10% of their average life span --- comparable to about 5 years of a high-sugarS diet (and about 40 years of a lower sugarS level diet) in my 60 year life span --- at which time I suffered from cataracts and neuropathy as well as disintegration of knee joints and lower back joints.

Make the grams of sugarS per kilogram of body weight per day (gm/kg/day) similar to the amount of sugarS I was eating in my high sugarS diet days (about 4 to 5 coke cans per day, about a quarter of a bag of Oreo cookies per day, and about 5 to 10 peppermint patties per day, and a couple of ice cream bars, almost every day).

    [I plan to return to this page and add up about how many grams of sugarS per day this was. I will also divide this by my weight in kilograms to give a grams-of-sugarS per kilogram figure to be used in feeding the lab animals daily. Just from the cokes, it amounted to more than 30 teaspoons of sugar per day.]

At the end of the feeding period (about a year in a rodent's life), 'sacrifice' the animal [as medical laboratory researchers are quite experienced in doing] and perform an autopsy. In the autopsy, especially examine the cartilage in joints of the rodent, especially leg joints.

    (Unfortunately, since rodents do not usually stand erect, the likelihood of extensive damage in the lower spine of the rodents is not to be expected. So if there are signs of significant deterioration in the spinal joints of the rodents, this should be regarded as an especially noteworthy finding.)

Also examine the eyes for signs of cataracts. And, if it is feasible, just before sacrificing the animals, perform tests for signs of neuropathy (deadening of feeling in extremeties of the rat). Such a test, if devised, could be performed at the beginning of the study and at the end, to judge the difference in response in each individual rodent.

Variations on this experiment: One obvious experiment to try is the one suggested by the West India Company in England in 1808: Try feeding livestock (cows, pigs, sheep, horses) a diet high in refined sugarS --- similar gm/kg/day as for the rodents --- over a period of about two years. Then measure their ability to walk, romp, gallop. Compare that to similar measurements performed at the beginning of the feeding period.

Due to the weight of animals like cows and horses, I would be surprised if it did not become obvious to their attending farmers or trainers or whoever is familiar with their earlier behavior, that the animals' mobility was becoming seriously impaired.

    If an animal dies before the experiment period is over, perform an autopsy, looking, in particular, at cartilage in the knee joints and in the spinal column. Compare those observations to observations of cartilage in healthy, non-refined-sugar-fed animals.

Also examine the livestock for signs of cataracts and for signs of neuropathy (no response to touches of extremities).

In terms of keeping costs down, probably these experiments could be done in concert with other activities in veterinary schools and medical schools --- and maybe by interested farmers and animal trainers. (See the two paragraphs below.)

Refined SugarS in HUMANS experiment(s) :

Based on my unintended self-experiment with a high refined sugarS diet, it would be darn near criminal to feed people (even volunteers) a high-refined sugarS diet for about five years. I feel confident that the results would cause them some misery --- probably the initialization of cataracts, some neuropathy symptoms, and most likely a lot of knee pains and lower back pains.

    In fact, I think it would be darn near criminal to feed animals such a diet, since I am confident of the deleterious results to the animals. But I regard such an experiment as a necessary evil to establish a 'truth' that no doubt will eventually come out. About 100 years from now, the medical profession will (I hope) look back with scorn on the medical professionals who sold their souls to the sugar industry. If not, the human race, or a significant percentage of it, will probably be reduced to riding around on electric carts and living in one-story houses with ramps out the front and back doors.

So rather than ask for volunteers, I propose the following experiment. There are already millions of people living on a high-sugarS diet or starting out in that mode of living. Gather many of these people and for each one gather data on the average number of grams of added-refined-sugarS that they consume per week.

If these 'sugar-lovers' are consuming a gm/kg/day figure that is similar to the figure proposed above in the rodent experiments (the equivalent of at least a liter of coke per day), they are put in the 'high-sugarS' group of the study.

Additionally, gather a large contingent of people who are NOT sugar-holics. People who naturally follow a rather healthy, low-added-sugarS diet --- people who do not find cokes an appealing drink and who do not find candies or candy bars an appealing snack --- people who do not find sweet rolls a good breakfast and who do not frequent donut shops.

At the same time, both groups of these people (the sugar-holics and the NON-sugar-holics) should not have other habits (such as high tobacco or high alcohol consumption --- which are other, non-sugarS-related 'unhealthy' behaviors) that might mask the sugarS effects in this study. [Those people are candidates for the 'negative' population of other medical studies.]

Put these low-sugarS people in the 'low-sugarS' group of the study. For each of them, determine their average gm/kg/day consumption of added-refined-sugarS and every 6 months or so during the study check that they are maintaining a low gm/kg/day average.

At the end of five years (and, if possible, at the end of 10 years and 20 years), examine the members of both groups for such effects as chronic pains in knees, chronic pain in lower back, neuropathy, feeling if biting/itching/prickling in feet, cataracts, and more outward signs --- such as a person at the end of the period requiring an electric motor cart whereas at the beginning of the study period, they were able to walk unassisted.

I feel confident that such a study will generally repeat what I did to myself, inadvertently, via an uncontrolled, highly-refined-sugarS mode of eating.

Closing comments on proposed sugarS studies

No doubt the sugar industry would go to extremes to block such studies (animal, human, or even 'in vitro'). And, if they failed to do that they would hire plenty of soul-less medical doctors to compile reports that show just the opposite. The PR hounds will be let loose in unprecedented numbers.

Like with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill of April 1010 and the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2013, it may take a national disaster for anything to even have a chance of being done to halt the damage being done by over-ingestion of highly-refined-sugarS. The question is how much will it take for the requisite studies and mitigating actions to be performed.

Does it require 20% of the country unable to walk and using motorized carts? Is 50% the requisite number? Is 70%?

Is an obesity rate of 80% required? 90%?

Is a type2-diabetes rate, in teenagers, of 50% required? 80%?

    Based on the inactions and obfuscations and foot-dragging in the U.S. Congress on the oil-spill and mass-shooting matters, it does not look good for getting any support from Congress. In fact, their approach seems to be to pass laws that outlaw getting anything done that goes against the wishes of big industries --- oil, weapons, sugar.

I am cautiously optimistic that by the year 2050, the U.S. medical profession will look back on the period from 1950 to 2010 as being a period of 'black medicine' --- or 'voodoo medicine' --- or 'dark-side medicine' --- with regard to views on the effects of added-refined-sugarS.

Non-SugarS groups of experiments :

Other groups of proposed medical experiments will be added here over time.

Bottom of Needed Medical Experiments --- relatively inexpensive ones page.

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Posted 2010 Jun 19. Changed page format slightly 2013 Apr 30.