• This topic has 35 replies, 21 voices, and was last updated 5 months ago by PJay.
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  • Michael Mosley – what would Ben Goldacre think?
  • PJay
    Free Member

    I really enjoyed reading Ben Goldacre’s “Bad Science” even if it made me realise that I wasn’t that bright and could quite easily get fooled by the latest vitamin fads and suchlike. I haven’t thought much about it recently.

    Then yesterday I came across a podcast on the BBC frontpage from Michael Mosley’s “Just one Thing” series(have seen him on a few BBC documentaries) talking about the health benefits of caffeine. I was drawn to this as I’d seriously reduced my caffeine intake some years ago following multiple heart attacks when I discovered that caffeine can constrict blood vessels whilst my anti-anginal meds. were trying to open them.

    The podcast suggested some significant health benefits from caffeine, particularly for the heart, so I thought that I’d try an extra cup or two a day.

    Today the frontpage of the BBC webpage has a link to Mr. Mosley talking about fish oils which, if I recall correctly, got coverage in “Bad Science”. I haven’t listened to the podcast but the article begins with “Research reveals ..” and then doesn’t cite it – something that “Bad Science” readers might wonder over.

    So, is this stuff “Good Science” so to speak (drinking water seems a given for example) or something not to be taken too seriously?

    johnners
    Free Member

    The science is sound enough IMO. You’ve got to bear in mind it’s deliberately reduced to a lightweight bite-sized piece of entertainment and isn’t going to examine each subject too rigorously.

    doris5000
    Full Member

    I eat lots of oily fish and I’m a complete space cadet. These so called experts haven’t got a clue.

    thisisnotaspoon
    Full Member

    The science is sound enough IMO. You’ve got to bear in mind it’s deliberately reduced to a lightweight bite-sized piece of entertainment and isn’t going to examine each subject too rigorously.

    This +1

    The BBC (and most other media outlets) frontpage just reproduce the press release sent out by whatever lab/university did the research. A lot of the time they don’t even tell you if it’s actual new research, meta-analysis of other studies, or just a literary summary.

    kelvin
    Full Member

    Mosley doesn’t just regurgitate the PR though… he’s always doing this thing we one person… or if you’re lucky two… try something out for a bit… and then then the anecdotal results are presented as if they’re science (with careful ‘small print’ caveats to explain that they are not). Interesting programmes that hopefully get people thinking… but, yes, very much bad science.

    StirlingCrispin
    Full Member

    BBC webpage has a link to Mr. Mosley talking about fish oils which, if I recall correctly, got coverage in “Bad Science”

    IIRC That was due to the uncontrolled studies in Durham using fish oil supplements in children.
    I had the pleasure of knowing the criticized researchers and Ben Goldacre’s concerns were well founded.
    – The Durham work was attempting to piggyback on work by Bernard Gesch using nutritional supplements in prisoners. A superb piece of research that concluded, “Antisocial behaviour in prisons, including violence, are reduced by vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids with similar implications for those eating poor diets in the community” Gesch. Br J Psychiatry. 2002; 181:22-8

    Anyway, The evidence for the health benefits for fish oil are conclusive – supported in a mass of controlled clinical trials.
    You need to watch the oil type though – not all oils are equal. That said, I haven’t worked in this field for a decade, and am happy to be corrected.

    As for the coffee benefits – you need to be aware that obsessives die early. Those abstaining from coffee, alcohol, cupcakes tend to have an earlier death – and so moderate consumption may appear to be beneficial.

    thisisnotaspoon
    Full Member

    he’s always doing this thing we one person… or if you’re lucky two… try something out for a bit… and then then the anecdotal results are presented as if they’re science (with careful ‘small print’ caveats to explain that they are not). Interesting programmes that hopefully get people thinking… but, yes, very much bad science.

    I was thinking more of the written content on the website (or to a lesser extent the radio/TV news). But to a lesser extent it will be the programming too. What you described is just a device for a TV program. No one would tune into him reading a whole pile of dry scientific papers.

    The production process probably goes something like:
    Scientific* paper gets published
    MM reads it.
    Picks two+ people to repeat the experiment on.
    Make TV show about it.

    Technically that would make it “good science”, as part of the reason research is published in the first place is so that others can repeat your experiments and validate your results.

    He’s not doing new/novel research and it’s not really presented as such.

    *questionable, most of his shows are just ways nutritionists have repackaged the “eat less” part of calories in = calories out.

    If it was some random podcast on the internet presenting a MM style “experiment” as proof of something, then I’d call that bad science.

    PJay
    Free Member

    As a vegan I won’t be partaking in fish oils, but it’s good to know that this is solid stuff. It might be worth reading/listening to some more of his pieces (and I do like beetroot).

    chakaping
    Free Member

    I’m not a scientist (even from the University of Twitter), but have spent a good bit of my career writing about health studies like those in question, trying to report critically.

    My conclusion is that Michael Mosley can be beneficial in small doses, but too much can lead to irritation.

    shermer75
    Free Member

    My conclusion is that Michael Mosley can be beneficial in small doses, but too much can lead to irritation

    Haha!

    finbar
    Free Member

    As a vegan I won’t be partaking in fish oils, but it’s good to know that this is solid stuff. It might be worth reading/listening to some more of his pieces (and I do like beetroot).

    Moseley covered this, and suggested you can also get the benficial EHA/DHA (I forgot which was the important one, might not be both) from supplements made from algae – because, funnily enough, that’s where fish get it from too.

    kelvin
    Full Member

    As a vegan I won’t be partaking in fish oils

    He mentions many times that seaweed can be used instead, and why, in his short broadcast. You are not forgotton.

    kelvin
    Full Member

    supplements made from algae

    Was it algae not seaweed then? My memory is awful (despite having mackerel once a week). 😉

    kelvin
    Full Member

    Oh my god…. after googling… seaweed IS algae. Everyday is a school day.

    finbar
    Free Member

    haha, who knew!

    johnx2
    Free Member

    Oh my god…. after googling… seaweed IS algae

    ah dag nab it. Just 22 mins too late to post a smartarse comment.

    Michael Mosley can be beneficial in small doses, but too much can lead to irritation.

    Indeed. Intermittent Mosley. I promise you though that Goldacre will be irritated anyway. It’s how he is.

    footflaps
    Full Member

    We really need the medical expert Gillian McKeith to adjudicate on this subject.

    deadlydarcy
    Free Member

    I like to take a drop or two of a homeopathic Michael Mosley potion every week. It’s surprisingly effective.

    susepic
    Full Member

    IANAD but having watched some of the earlier Michael Mosley work, he appears to base his programs it on some pretty robustly run clinical studies, initially looking at intermittent fasting and long-term calorie restricted diets. There is some discussion at how good these are, but if you are sufficiently disciplined this can be the lifestyle/dietary change that can improve some important indicators for health (glucose, BP, lipids). For those who are type2 diabetic, this can get them back to normal status.

    Like most weight-loss programs the long-term outcomes depend on discipline and willpower, which i guess is why he is trying to rope people into his new Fast800 subscription program to boost their adherence and discipline (and get a payoff from the work he’s been doing)

    So it feels like pretty good science in a digestible form (boom boom) as someone above has mentioned.
    Anything that can help us take control of our own health is probably a good thing.

    blokeuptheroad
    Full Member

    We really need the medical expert Gillian McKeith to adjudicate on this subject.

    If sir would just like to poo in this tupperware box, so I can have a rummage through it on prime time TV.

    susepic
    Full Member

    Lots of vegan sources of Omega 3 and 6 apparently:
    https://www.vegansociety.com/resources/nutrition-and-health/nutrients/omega-3-and-omega-6-fats

    chakaping
    Free Member

    I promise you though that Goldacre will be irritated anyway. It’s how he is.

    Tell me about it, sanctimonious prick used to drive me up the wall when I read the Guardian.

    footflaps
    Full Member

    Lots of vegan sources of Omega 3 and 6 apparently:

    Had a Vegan friend over to lunch at the WE, she did some bloods tests after going Vegan to check on various things inc Omega levels, which were out of whack, so started some supplements to try and correct them. Next blood test was even worse, so then saw a dietician. Now trying different sources to see if her body can extract the oils better from those….

    avdave2
    Full Member

    you need to be aware that obsessives die early. Those abstaining from coffee, alcohol, cupcakes tend to have an earlier death

    You mean like those 7th Day Adventists?  🙂

    susepic
    Full Member

    Now trying different sources to see if her body can extract the oils better from those….

    I wonder how many of the chia and hemp seeds come out the other end entirely undigested…..

    timba
    Free Member

    The benefits of Omega 3 and 6 are superfishoil

    jobro
    Free Member

    My main problem with MM’s scientific studies is that they are invariably based on small population sizes, the people in the program, and the trials are rarely controlled or blinded.I think he is often following previous, well designed scientific trials, but the TV programs are very much designed for tv consumption.I’ve always found Michael Kendrick more thorough and useful.
    I’m a Pathologist with 42 years of working in the NHS and have seen many examples of poor, inconclusive science, manipulated by big Pharma and other commercial interests which have then gone on to be publicised in the daily press and seen as the “next big thing” in health care.

    chakaping
    Free Member

    I wonder how many of the chia and hemp seeds come out the other end entirely undigested…..

    Back to Gillian McKeith for that one.

    The benefits of Omega 3 and 6 are superfishoil

    null

    avdave2
    Full Member

    I wonder how many of the chia and hemp seeds come out the other end entirely undigested…..

    My cold porridge every morning has them in along with flaxseeds, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds. I blitz them in a coffee grinder before adding them to the oats and soaking it all overnight in water.

    Kryton57
    Full Member

    I like to take a drop or two of a homeopathic Michael Mosley potion every week. It’s surprisingly effective.

    I refer to this as “Beer”.

    StirlingCrispin
    Full Member

    EHA/DHA (I forgot which was the important one, might not be both)

    EPA is a precursor to DHA but also involved in cell-signalling.
    Both are beneficial for some things, EPA alone for others.

    mogrim
    Full Member

    Oh my god…. after googling… seaweed IS algae

    The Spanish for “seaweed” is “alga”, two bits of information for the price of one 🙂

    Cougar
    Full Member

    Today the frontpage of the BBC webpage has a link to Mr. Mosley talking about fish oils which, if I recall correctly, got coverage in “Bad Science”.

    You do. The big problem with the trials was, as a previous poster said, the actual trials were terrible. It was an experiment on schoolkids and data which didn’t back up their initial hypothesis was discounted.

    That doesn’t necessarily mean that omega oils don’t have health benefits, but equally it doesn’t mean that they’re the life-changing brain food supplements that the tabloids latched onto and ran with either.

    We really need the medical expert Gillian McKeith to adjudicate on this subject.

    I think it was Robin Ince who once said, “Gillian McKeith, or to give her her full professional title, Gillian McKeith… ”

    You mean like those 7th Day Adventists?

    Faith, hop and charity?

    kelvin
    Full Member

    The Spanish for “seaweed” is “alga”, two bits of information for the price of one

    I should have known from the French. 🤦🏻‍♂️

    paton
    Free Member

    PJay
    Free Member

    Fascinating, but now I’m thoroughly confused, should I be listening to anyone?

    Might try the algae though.

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