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What’s Up with Denmark?

Posted By Sara On December 6, 2006 @ 3:59 pm In Big Moo,Big Pharma,Hype,Worker Bees' Weekly Bites | 3 Comments

Sara here. My Danish grandmother will be horrified by this post, but in my selfless devotion to you Apples, I’m taking that risk.

And so, I have to ask: What is up with Denmark? (Huh? you ask. Just go with me on this.) I’ve noticed a strange trend over the last decade. This could be my own erroneous inductive research here – in fact, I actually hope so – but the Land of Lutefisk seems strangely supportive of Big Pharma and the status quo (sorry, Grams).

First, two years ago, I heard about some “landmark” studies that came out of Old Dansk announcing that there is absolutely no link between autism and vaccinations containing thimerosal (a form of mercury). Nevermind that autism rates sharply increased around the same time that vaccines started being preserved with thimerosal. Nevermind that mercury poisoning symptoms and autism symptoms are virtually indistinguishable. Now, to be fair, the mercury/autism debate is hugely controversial precisely because we don’t have a definitive answer yet. I suspect the eventual conclusion may implicate thimerosal, at least as part of the equation.

But, then, there was the fish study. Once again, researchers in Denmark came up with – er, concluded – that fish oil does not help those interested in reducing their heart disease risk. The study was a review, which is right up there with questionnaires in terms of scientific accuracy. Even worse, it was a review of cohort studies (cohort studies can have major problems with causation vs. correlation). Moreover, reading the fine print (not just the abstract), what the study essentially “discovered” was that people who are at a high risk for heart problems do benefit from fish oil, while people who are at a low risk do not. Now, think about that. In other words, people who don’t have a problem will not benefit from a solution. Kind of like how my grease-cutting counter disinfectant won’t do a great job of cleaning my freshly-scrubbed counters, either. But after this study [7] was reported in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, amazingly, what got media attention was that fish consumption just doesn’t help heart issues. No one got excited about the additional finding that high-risk people can help their hearts with fish oil – just 40 to 60 mg a day can help! (That’s actually okay, since there are already hundreds of rigorously-conducted studies proving fish oil [8] is good for reducing your heart disease risk.)

The lesson: Apparently, 1) Create a study following less-than-ideal methodology, 2) determine absolutely nothing from it, and 3) leave out the important part and splash the meaningless part all over the news. Hey, if it looks like a duck…it might be a Danish study.

Now, since then, there have been some pro-fish studies, so I’m willing to give the motherland the benefit of the doubt. Although I have seen several other pro-dairy, pro-drug, pro-status quo studies from Denmark, I will withhold judgment until more evidence presents itself.

Except, now, hot off the presses, [9] an authoritative announcement out of – you guessed it – Denmark: cell phones do not have any negative effect on the brain. Scientists in Copenhagen compared over 400,000 Danish cell phone users to the rest of the Danish population. They say that there was no compelling data to indicate that cell phone users had any greater risk of cancer or brain abnormalities. This does seem to confirm what the majority of cell phone studies have already concluded (except ones like this [10]). The electromagnetic rays emitted by cell phones haven’t been found to have any impact on our DNA or cell structure. Fair enough.

But I’m watching you, Denmark.

Technorati Tags: autism [11], thimerosal [12], Denmark [13], heart disease [14], CHD [15], heart health [16], fish oil [17], fish consumption [18], European Journal of Clinical Nutrition [19], inductive reasoning [20], cell phone risk [21]


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[7] study: http://www.nature.com/ejcn/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/1602631a.html

[8] proving fish oil: http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2007/03/31/study_says_fish_oil_taken_with_statins_helps_heart/

[9] hot off the presses,: http://news.com.com/Study+Cell+phones+dont+raise+cancer+risk/2100-11393_3-6141319.html

[10] like this: http://news.zdnet.com/2100-1040_22-6056325.html

[11] autism: http://technorati.com/tag/autism

[12] thimerosal: http://technorati.com/tag/thimerosal

[13] Denmark: http://technorati.com/tag/Denmark

[14] heart disease: http://technorati.com/tag/heart+disease

[15] CHD: http://technorati.com/tag/CHD

[16] heart health: http://technorati.com/tag/heart+health

[17] fish oil: http://technorati.com/tag/fish+oil

[18] fish consumption: http://technorati.com/tag/fish+consumption

[19] European Journal of Clinical Nutrition: http://technorati.com/tag/European+Journal+of+Clinical+Nutrition

[20] inductive reasoning: http://technorati.com/tag/inductive+reasoning

[21] cell phone risk : http://technorati.com/tag/cell+phone+risk

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