A critical evaluation by Dr. Palani…
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IS BEER-DRINKING GOOD FOR HEART?
A critical evaluation by Dr. Palani…
I wrote and sent the following article for a possible publication to a local newspaper, about three weeks ago.
However, it was not published – may be my standard of writing or presentation, or even the content requires further improvement.
Anyway, since it occurred to me that the contents in my article should prove useful to people, and therefore I should post it, at least in our BLOG.
The idea is not to waste the energy utilised in writing this beneficial article … I am sure, you will not be bored by reading this.
Here it is:
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I read with great interest the latest article in STAR2 (24 July 2016, pp.8-9), entitled “A fat chance” by the deep-thinking analytical scientist (?Dr.) Chris Chan – my adored writer.
It occurred to me that I should poke my nose into the subject a little, for the benefit of the writer himself, besides making it useful to all his readers.
Let me quote a statement Chris Chan wrote:
He writes, while questioning the consumption of fish fats for the prevention of heart diseases, “It would appear to be a case of something called confirmation bias, or an error in the way statistics have been gathered, which suited a pre-determined hypothesis”. What a wonderful statement, and it is often a reality, these days!
If you are a critical-thinking reader of the many research papers that are getting published in many so-called international journals on a day-to-day basis, you would end up coming to the same conclusion as Chris Chan.
Nearly all of them are claimed to be peer-reviewed – meaning that they have been carefully evaluated by experts in the field for their worthiness in several respects.
The experimental design, the mode of sampling, the number of samples, if the data were subjected to statistical analyses correctly, the interpretation of the obtained information, the inference, etc. are considered prior to accepting a paper for its publication.
Most of the time, only one authority in a relevant area of science ends up reviewing the submitted article.
It is a fact that no one particular individual, however able he/she is, can be master of ALL the trades.
Often, most of the researchers tend to seek the help of some other statistician to sort out his/her data.
If a particular peer-reviewing authority happens to be a less informed person in the area of statistics, he may miss out the errors in the experimental design that has been used in the paper he is expected approve as fit for publication.
It is here Chris Chan’s statement comes in.
A Researcher, either out of ignorance, or of a need to please the funding body, may end up playing foul while designing his/her experimental and sampling procedures, and also while subjecting his/her data to statistical analyses so as to suit his/her pre-determinedobjective.
Let me cite here an example of what I highlighted in one of my articles published a few years ago.
That had relevance to beer-drinking.
Some scientists came up with an ‘astonishing discovery’ that beer drinking is good for the heart – it reduced the incidence of heart attacks and related deaths*.
(* Just key in the words “beer drinking is good for heart” in any of the search engines, you will end up with several ‘convincing’ articles. You may want to read this article before accepting those findings.)
Very truly, one of my patients, who used to be a very heavy drinker, and who stopped drinking altogether for four years after my strong persuasion, started drinking beer again after reading an article in the mass media that highlighted the findings of some scientists which claimed drinking beer would prevent, statistically significantly, heart attacks.
The news further said that the non-drinkers are more likely to experience coronary heart disease.
Even before proving the fault in the above findings, I would like to let you know the history that had happened in relation to my former patient who returned to heavy beer drinking again:
He died of Cirrhosis of the Liver in University of Malaya hospital.
Well, by saying this, I don’t mean to imply that all those who drink a lot of beer daily would die of liver problems.
Let me now go for explaining what could have gone wrong in the conclusions drawn by the scientists who claimed that beer drinking is better than not drinking, when it comes to heart health.
While trying to highlight the possible errors in the above research study, I don’t mean to hurt the beer-manufacturers, distributors, sellers, pubs and bars, or even the drinkers.
My intention is to highlight that all those reports which claim to have been subjected to peer-reviewing, statistical evaluations, inclusion of a million samples, and the like, need not be necessarily correct. They can be biased, as has been indicated by Chris Chan.
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Let me explain the possible error that could have happened in drawing the above conclusion. It could have occurred due to any one or both of the following reasons:
(1) The scientists who performed the experiment could have made (inadvertently, or out of ignorance) a huge mistake by designing an erroneous procedure, or
(2) There is room to doubt that those scientists could have purposely designed a biased procedure, with a predetermined conclusion, as indicated by Chris Chan, by way of favouring the funding body.
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To start with, as per my findings, as I have reported in several of my publications (167 of them that include 13 books, and 335 postings in my Blog, etc.), it is calcium*, to a major extent, that gives rise to the thickening of the blood vessels, called atherosclerosis.
(* If you wish to differ that it is not calcium, please hold on to your view until you have finished reading this explanation.)
It is common knowledge that we require about 500 mg of calcium daily, with some deviations related to gender, productive age, body size, and the like.
People very easily get this quantity, since nearly all the natural food we consume tend to have some amount of calcium in it.
Often, we end up consuming a lot more of calcium than what we need.
When this happens, the calcium excesses tend to get excreted as part of the urine we void*. This appears to be true for all animals as well.
(* To get this confirmed, you can collect your urine sample in a transparent glass bottle, keep it for a week, and examine it visually.
You can see a ring of the settled calcium there.
The urine samples of the overweight and obese would contain abundant calcium, and the thin ones would emit much less.
Of course, lab tests can vouch it.)
Apart from the above, large quantities of calcium tend to get thrown out of the body in an undigested (unabsorbed) manner, as part of the faeces as well.
Most of the calcium in the uncooked vegetable matter (as has been pointed out by Chris Chan) and some of even the cooked ones, do not get absorbed by the intestine.
Such a rejection appears to have been based on the body’s need for the mineral.
If adequate calcium has already gone into the body, the brain tends to avoid further absorption of the substance.
This happens in order to protect the body from spoilage* and shortening of lifespan due to such excesses.
(* As per my study, it is calcium that gives rise to most of the non-communicable diseases including cancers, stone and heart diseases, and even type-2 diabetes.
Since this statement does not conform to the general belief people are made to accept all this while, it is bound to create strong controversies and objections.
However, I would want to request you to hold on to your view for a while, at least until I have finished explaining the entire phenomenon here.)
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Most of the time, as stated earlier, our body ends up accumulating too much of calcium, and these excesses will have to be removed from the body.
Since calcium is water-soluble, the free-floating calcium excesses that is being carried in the lymph fluid (not in the blood) can easily be removed by the urine.
I have established that we need to drink about 2 litres* of plain water and urinate at least 8 times daily so that all the calcium excesses in the body can be removed.
(* The water requirement as well as the number of urinations are based on the calcium-carrying capacity of the water/urine, known as the saturation point.)
To sum up, if a person is going to drink about 8 glasses of water (2 L), and urinate nearly all of it through about 8 urinations, then, the person may not die of heart disease*.
(The fat-constituents described by Chris Chan, along with and any other culprit for the heart disease, can be dealt with in a different write-up.)
In other words, if a person (irrespective of the quantity of water he* drinks) does not urinate 8 times a day, his body would end up retaining plenty of calcium, and that would give him heart blockages, with the possibility of killing him through a myocardial infarction.
(* In women, since the menstrual fluid removes abundant calcium, fertile women do not normally get heart attacks.)
With this understanding, let us evaluate the reality in the study that recommends beer drinking as a good way for protecting heart health.
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Let us say that the beer-promoting scientists have been experimenting with four million* people.
(* In science, if the sample number happens to be large, the experiment would yield accurate results.
For that matter, a carefully conducted experiment using just 20 individuals for each category should give a reasonably acceptable conclusion.
Again, variables such as gender, age groups, climate, etc. should also be cared for, while designing the study.
Here, I am purposely neglecting the finer details, giving importance only to the main objective.)
The following should form the correct and unbiased experimental design:
The first million must be made to drink 2 L of plain water daily.
The second group, only 2 L of beer daily.
The third million, only 500 ml of plain water daily.
The fourth group, only 500 ml of beer daily.
Let us assume that this experiment is carried on for, say, 10 years.
After this study period, if the collected data is evaluated with the use of statistics, then most probably, the following kind of trend might get established as true results:
Some 95%* of all those who took 2 L of water daily, and urinated nearly all of it, did NOT get any heart attack, and are still living healthily.
(* All the readings given here are just examples, and have nothing to do with the real results.)
Some 60% of those who took 2 L beer daily, and urinated nearly all of it, did not get any heart attack, but half of them died of cirrhosis of the liver.
About 45% of those who drank 500 ml of water, and therefore under-urinated, did not get any heart disease, but half of them died of other health problems.
Only 20% of those who took 500 ml of beer alone, and under-urinated, did not get any heart attack.
(However, half of them died of cirrhosis of the liver, and only 10% of them are still alive.)
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Based on my knowledge on the subject, the above should be the kind of result one should get.
The following-kind of conclusion can be derived out of the above (imaginary) experiment:
1. Drinking 2 L of water daily, and urinating nearly all of it, appears to keep people alive and healthy without any heart problems, to statistically very highly significant extent.
2. Drinking 2 L of beer, instead of water, and urinating nearly all of it, appears to be next best thing to keep a person healthy, as compared to drinking much less water.
3. Drinking 500 ml of water appears to be comparatively better than drinking 500 ml of beer for people to keep alive, even it means for a shorter lifespan.
The inference we get out of this imaginary results will be, as follows:
If and when a person drinks 2 L of water daily, and urinates all of it, all the calcium excesses and other toxic substances in the body appear to get removed, leaving the body to remain in an almost-perfectly healthy state.
If and when a person does not drink enough water to remove the calcium excesses, beer appears to be the next best substitute.
In other words, drinking beer is better than not drinking any water at all.
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If the above form the results of those scientists, most people may not opt to drinking beer for the management of their health.
The scientists appear to have either purposely or inadvertently avoided the inclusion of water drinkers while trying to find the effect of beer consumption on the health status of humans.
The correct title for their paper must have been “The effect of beer consumption on the heart health of people, as compared to plain water consumption”.
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The above is precisely what Chris Chan had mentioned in his article, in a subtle manner as “confirmation bias”, without implying any insult to anyone.
When it comes to Chris Chan’s explanations related to the overweight and obesity in relation to calories, fats, adipose tissues, and the like, I may have to put up another elaborate paper of this kind.
Dr. V.M. Palaniappan, Ph.D., also known as Dr.Palani, was a former Professor of Ecology in University of Malaya, and is a pioneering founder of a new science-based alternative medicine called Ecological Healing System, or EcoTherapy for short. He has authored several papers and books related to obesity and non-communicable diseases. Mobile: 6-012-2071414. firstname.lastname@example.org; http://ecohealingsystem.blogspot.com;
The opinion expressed without any prejudice to any in this article is meant solely to make people evaluate the truth behind all news information they hear or read.
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The above was the paper I did for the newspaper, sad that it was not published.
However, I hope this must have offered you some benefit by kindling your spirit for a critical evaluation of any news you may read in newspapers or magazines.
Until I come up with my next item,
Bye, and with best wishes,
Dr. Palani, Ph.D.