Lying with statistics: How conventional medicine confuses the public with absolute risk vs. relative risk

Risk as twisted by the big pharma


Lying with statistics: How conventional
medicine confuses the public with absolute
risk vs. relative risk


by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, Natural News Editor

Which drug would you rather take? One that reduces your risk
of cancer by 50 percent, or another drug that only eliminates
cancer in one out of 100 people? Most people would choose
the drug that reduces their risk of cancer by 50 percent, but
the fact is, both of these numbers refer to the same drug.
They’re just two different ways of looking at the same statistic.
One way is called relative risk; the other way is absolute risk.

Here’s how it works: Let’s say that in a trial involving 100
people, two people would normally get breast cancer during
the trial duration, but when all 100 people are put on the drug,
only one person gets breast cancer, meaning the reduction of
breast cancer is one person out of 100. Yet the
pharmaceutical industry will exclaim that the relative risk
reduction is 50 percent because one is 50 percent of two. In
other words, the risk is cut in half from a relative point of view.

The headlines promoting this drug, therefore, will always talk
about the relative risk — “A whopping 50 percent reduction in
risk!” — and these headlines will be parroted by the
mainstream press, medical journals, the FDA, doctors and
drug marketing reps who are always pushing and
exaggerating the supposed benefits of their drugs while
minimizing their risks. Because, you see, even though this
drug may help one out of 100 people, its side effects create
increased risks to all 100 people. Everyone suffers some
harm from the potential side effects of the drug, even if that
harm is not immediately evident. Yet only one out of 100
people was actually helped by the drug.

When you look at drug claims, especially new miracle-
sounding claims on drugs like Herceptin, be aware that these
statistics are routinely given as relative statistics, not
absolute. The numbers are distorted to make the drugs look
more effective than they really are. Herceptin, for example,
produced only a 0.6% absolute reduction in breast cancer risk,
yet the medical hucksters pushing this drug are wildly
screaming about it being a “breast cancer cure!” and
demanding that practically all breast cancer patients be
immediately put on it. Yet it’s not even effective on one
person out of a hundred. See my Herceptin Hype article for
more details.

Reverse the perspective for natural treatments

At the same time, when conventional medicine promoters
want to discredit a natural substance, an herbal remedy or the
effects of nutrition on health, they always talk about absolute
risk. If taking green tea supplements reduce the risk of
cancer by that same 50 percent, eliminating cancer in one out
of 100 patients, the news about that supplement would be
something like this: “Green tea doesn’t work. Only helps one
out of 100 patients.”
In fact, a study comparing some anti-cancer drug with green
tea might report: “New breakthrough drug reduces cancer
risk by 50 percent! Green tea only helps one out of 100.”

It’s the old joke about an Olympic race between the United
States and the old Soviet Union. In the race, there were only
two participants. The Soviet runner came in first, the U.S.
runner came in second, but the U.S. newspapers reported, “U.
S. Wins Silver Medal, Soviet Union Comes In Next to Last.”

Now you know how drug companies, the FDA, the popular
press and many doctors lie with this numerical shell game. It’s
a clever way to promote the minuscule benefits of
pharmaceuticals while discrediting the enormous healing
effects of natural remedies.

Now, do you want to hear some real statistics on cancer? I’ll
share a few. Out of every 100 women who might get breast
cancer, 50 of them can avoid breast cancer by simply getting
adequate levels of vitamin D in their body, and that’s available
free of charge through sensible exposure to natural sunlight,
which produces vitamin D. This vitamin, all by itself, reduces
relative cancer risk by 50 percent, which is better than any
prescription drug that has ever been invented by any drug
company in the world.

Combine that with green tea, and your prevention of breast
cancer gets even stronger. Even the World Health
Organization says that 70 percent of all cancers are
preventable, and in my view, that number is conservative,
because if you combine sunlight therapy and green tea with
anti-cancer herbs, anti-cancer foods such as garlic, onions,
raw broccoli and raw sprouts, plus some rain forest herbs that
are well-known for inhibiting the growth of cancer cells, then
you can boost your cancer prevention success to well over 90

There’s nothing in the world of pharmaceutical medicine that
even comes close. Yet the only thing you’ll ever hear from
the drug company-controlled mainstream media, medical
journals, the FDA and most old-school doctors is that natural
remedies are useless, but prescription drugs have all been
scientifically proven. Sure they have, if you fall for the relative
risk gimmick and can’t do basic math.





Law designed to have institutions and web blogs disclose were there funding  is watered down, if you want to know if big pharma is paying a doctor to disseminate their propaganda you will have to ask and wait 5 business days for a reply, and if you don’t get a reply what then??


NIH finalizes conflict-of-interest rules

Plan tightens regulations but waters down proposal to publicly disclose financial conflicts.



Experimental cancer drug resurfaces

Small clinical trial yields promising results for controversial molecule.

Good spin story by big pharma, wonder what the author would do if diagnosed with brain cancer, my guess is she would be real quick to find some DCA




Nature Medicine 13, 111 (2007)
Published online: 31 January 2007 | doi:10.1038/nm0207-111b

US proposal to expand access to untested drugs draws fire

Emily Waltz1

  1. New York


Scheme could jeopardize drug development.

Should those who are sick or dying and have exhausted all other options be able to try drugs that haven’t yet been approved? The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seems to think so and in December proposed a controversial scheme to help people get the drugs they need.

To read this story in full you will need to login or make a payment (see right).




Expert perspective, insight and discussion

Dr. Len’s Cancer Blog

The American Cancer Society

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by Dr. Len February 03, 2007


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