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post #21 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-22-2008, 03:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Donaldjr1969
Consider this. If the standard assays will not give results that are MEANINGFUL for human applications, then what is the point of the research in the first place? Why bother conducting a rodent assay? That is the point. They KNOW that it is not going to directly make any meaningful correlation between yet they continue to conduct such research.
It's not at all true that rodent assays don't give results that are meaningful for human applications. However, as will all animal studies, you can't be 100% sure that the results will translate into humans. Unfortunately, while not perfect, unless we decide to start feeding suspected carcinogens and toxins to humans there's no real alternative to doing animal research, with all its imperfections.

I think the primary reason for feeding such large doses is that if they fed a weight-proportional dose to each rat, it would take tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of rats to find a significant result. Since its impossible to conduct such large experiments, they use smaller numbers of rats and a larger dose to ensure they see a result in the smaller population.

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How much later if you do not mind me asking? I am sure that the standard rodent assay you mentioned does not call for further examination upon finding the bladder cancer. Fair enough. But to verify the results of their research, wouldn't it have been a more prudent step to conduct further research as to the cause and mechanisms BEFORE hitting the press with it?
I'm not totally sure. However, that's not how scientific research works. When you find something, you publish it (in a peer-reviewed journal, not "hitting the press"). You don't wait to do all the follow-up research before you publish. Doing that would actually slow the rate at which follow-up research is conducted, because by letting the rest of the scientific community know about your findings, many other people can do follow-ups -- including things that you might not have thought of, had time for, or had the funding, personnel, or equipment to do.

How on earth could people have done long-term studies in humans before the rodent data was published? People did long-term studies in humans BECAUSE the rodent data was published. If it had never been published, people wouldn't know to do the epidemiological studies (which, BTW, have problems of their own).

If we all waited to publish our results until we were sure we understood all the causes and mechanisms, we'd probably still be knapping flint tools in caves.

I think there's also the feeling that when you're talking about something potentially dangerous -- like cancer -- it's better to get the research out there sooner rather than later. I'm sure we still don't fully understand the mechanisms by which smoking causes lung cancer, but I'm perfectly fine with the fact that researchers didn't wait untili they knew exactly HOW smoking causes lung cancer to spread the word that it DOES cause lung cancer.
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post #22 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-22-2008, 04:38 PM
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I have to say, Donaldjr1969, as someone who is a researcher I find your 'crackpot' comment a little insulting.

The research I do is real research - and theres no 'fiddling' of figures. And I don't know anyone else that does so.

As for the 'hitting the press' comment As Bethany says scientific work is peer reviewed and published in journals - its not like ringing up the local tabloid and selling your story you know ...
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post #23 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-22-2008, 05:31 PM
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Originally Posted by melysion
I have to say, Donaldjr1969, as someone who is a researcher I find your 'crackpot' comment a little insulting.
As I said before, I too would fall into the crackpot category, Allie. Therefore, I would have insulted myself...if I felt a word could insult me.

Now I was a bit curious to see if I may have posted anything to the effect that says "ALL researchers/scientists are crackpots." Upon re-reading my posts Allie, I saw nothing of the kind. So I have to say that I am a bit...befuddled...as to how you felt I was personally attacking you. If you feel I have it out for all researchers, well then to be nice my friend, that is a big load of bollocks!

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The research I do is real research - and theres no 'fiddling' of figures. And I don't know anyone else that does so.
And that is something to be very proud of, Allie. I am glad you love your job and take pride in doing so. However, there are SOME scientists/researchers that do. And with all the controversies surrounding topis like artificial sweeteners and how what was once powdered death is now ok, I honestly have to wonder just how valid their data/conclusions are.

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As for the 'hitting the press' comment As Bethany says scientific work is peer reviewed and published in journals - its not like ringing up the local tabloid and selling your story you know ...
Oh I know the tabloids do not get it first. But peer-reviewed journals can be a double edged sword. If your results are definitely valid, yet so far against accepted science, what is the chance of that getting out? Imagine if there were peer-reviewed journals back in the time of Nicolaus Copernicus? When he stated and discovered that our solar system was heliocentric and not "terra-centric" as commonly accepted, he would have been laughed right out of the scientific community. If I remember, he was already. But guess what? He was right, the solar system, and the rest of the cosmos, DO NOT revolve around the earth.

But I am digressing here. I think, and this is totally opinion, that a lot of peer reviewed journals tend to be a little...oh how shall I say it...quick to react when it comes to biochemical research. After the fiasco with Thalidomide and Rachel Carson's well meaning, yet inaccurate, work with DDT, I think the scientific community may be a bit alarmist.

I see Bethany's point about if we waited to do more research, we would still be back in the ages of flint scrapers. But unless follow-up research would take years instead of weeks or even months, is it really that much to ask to just wait a bit longer and double check one's research before printing it? Knowing that the media can pore through a peer reviewed journal and take things out of context, I would guess that there is yet another motivation to have **** near indisputable facts and conclusions.
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post #24 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-22-2008, 05:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Donaldjr1969
But unless follow-up research would take years instead of weeks or even months, is it really that much to ask to just wait a bit longer and double check one's research before printing it? Knowing that the media can pore through a peer reviewed journal and take things out of context, I would guess that there is yet another motivation to have **** near indisputable facts and conclusions.
I'd like to see the follow-up research that would take "weeks or even months" instead of years! I'm also a researcher, and even in my field (psychology) doing and analyzing a follow-up study takes more than a few weeks -- even if I'm doing an experiment that doesn't cost money and which can be done under an existing IRB. (Months I can generally do... again, provided I don't need a new IRB to do it.) If you're doing a study that requires additional funding and additional institutional approval, then that alone can weeks (approval) or months (funding).

While biology isn't my area I can assure you that ANY research involving animals is more than the work of a few months. Generally speaking I believe studies of carcinogens in rodents are done for the lifetime of the rodent, which is rats I believe is around 2 years. Something as complicated as "understanding the mechanisms" takes years -- sometimes even decades -- and is usually the work of many researchers, not just one research group.

A little poking around suggests that the work on the specific mechanism by which saccharin caused the bladder cancer in rats was published in the early 1990's.

The thing I object to is referring to the scientists as "crackpots" simply for using large doses of saccharin in rats, which is standard experimental protocol (especially 30 years ago). If they're crackpots, then by implication so are most researchers (who after all, generally also use standard procedures in whatever field they work in).

I agree that listing saccharin as a carcinogen based on that one study was an overreaction on the part of the government, but that's a separate issue.
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post #25 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-22-2008, 06:41 PM
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As an aside, while I don't think that artificial sweeteners themselves are a health concern at the level adults normally consume them, there is some controversy about whether diet sodas are really "guilt-free" drinks.

In particular, there's concern that the acid in the soda is still bad for your teeth even in the absence of sugar (though not as bad as sugary sodas, of course). There's also mixed evidence about whether diet drinks increase appetite (through a variety of proposed mechanisms, generally that drinking something sweet revs up your digestive system, which then starts demanding something else to work on when it turns out the sweet thing doesn't actually have any calories). I gather there's also concern that the phosphorus in soda leeches calcium out of the body, leading to possible bone issues (especially in women).

I think there's mixed evidence for some of that, so no need to panic, just a heads-up that there may still be some issues even with diet soda.

Juice is of course much better for you than sugary soda from a health standpoint (not necessarily from a teeth standpoint), but remember it's still jam-packed with calories without making you feel full the way fruit would. So drinking it all day long has its downsides, too. (Well, actually you shouldn't be sipping anything with sugar all day long as it's bad for your teeth. Teethwise it's apparently much better to drink soda or juice with meals.)

I drink Coke several times a week still, but for my regular sipping I've switched to unsweetened tea -- reluctantly at first, but now that I'm used to it I enjoy it. As far as I know the only potential downside to that is all the caffeine.
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post #26 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-22-2008, 08:32 PM
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If you drank 100 can of soda a day you'd blow up!

I'll say this, my great Grandpa lived to a ripe old age of 99 years, 8 months and 23 days. He drank coffee(strong) real buttermilk and real homemade butter, ate pork, sugar cured ham, chicken, beef and lamb, eggs, bacon, sausage and biscuits and gravy everyday of his life. Everything was fried in home made lard. Yes pure hog lard. He was never sick a day in his life. He was a farmer. He worked everyday, all day. You never heard of all the illnesses we have today. Oh sure there was cancer and other sickness but not to the degree of today. Restless Leg syndrome, dry eyes... Growing up I never heard of ANYONE being allergic to peanuts, milk, soy or any of the hundred other allergied of today. All I can think of it is what we are eating. Polysorbate 80, FD&C#5, aspartame, Splenda, this stuff has to have a bad effect on the human body.

Years ago it was told to us, Don't eat eggs, they are bad for you. Don't eat real butter, it is bad for you. Don't eat apples without washing them off, there is pesticides on them. Now it is OK to eat eggs and butter(in moderation)
We are what we eat.

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post #27 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-22-2008, 10:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bethany
The thing I object to is referring to the scientists as "crackpots" simply for using large doses of saccharin in rats, which is standard experimental protocol (especially 30 years ago). If they're crackpots, then by implication so are most researchers (who after all, generally also use standard procedures in whatever field they work in).
To me, what would have made more sense would have been to have a control group (which I would assume they did) ALONGSIDE a third group of rodents being administered a weight-adjusted dosage. I see no real problem in thaty methodology. And in my opinion, that is akin to skewing the data right there.

Quote:
I agree that listing saccharin as a carcinogen based on that one study was an overreaction on the part of the government, but that's a separate issue.
When I emailed H&HS as well as the FDA about the ephedra ban, I asked them WHY alcoholic beverages as well as tobacco products are not similarly banned as very conclusive studies have been performed proving of their adverse health effects. My next sentences went on to say "Oh wait, I forgot. There are TAXES levied upon such items which go back to the goverment. Silly me. I am sure that if ephedra was similarly taxed, its ban would be lifted by the time you read this email." I received no response.
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post #28 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-23-2008, 02:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Donaldjr1969
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bethany
The thing I object to is referring to the scientists as "crackpots" simply for using large doses of saccharin in rats, which is standard experimental protocol (especially 30 years ago). If they're crackpots, then by implication so are most researchers (who after all, generally also use standard procedures in whatever field they work in).
To me, what would have made more sense would have been to have a control group (which I would assume they did) ALONGSIDE a third group of rodents being administered a weight-adjusted dosage. I see no real problem in thaty methodology. And in my opinion, that is akin to skewing the data right there.
That would certainly be one possible way to do the study. However, the downside is that it gives you a lot less power for the same number of rats. And while it's easy to say just increase the number of rats, it's not so easy to do: rats, cages, food, etc. all costs money. Rats don't feed and clean up after themselves, so increasing the number rats means more work, which means higher salary costs. And, all those rat cages have to go somewhere, and research labs don't have an unlimited amount of space available.

Heck, I've been in a position of having to eliminate conditions from a study that might have been interesting because I was concerned we weren't going to have enough subjects to give us the power to detect effects with the extra conditions included. It happens. And, it provides us with that excellent tag line to use in our discussion section, "Further research is needed..." which keeps us all employed.

At any rate, while it may not have included an experimental condition that might have been interesting, provided the rats were randomly assigned to each condition (as opposed to, say, assigning cancer-prone rats to one condition and not the other) I don't see how it would have skewed the data (ie, biased it towards one direction or the other). The data may have turned out not to be applicable in the real world that I don't know that there's any reason to think that it's wrong.

I think I should probably excuse myself from the conversation and get caught up on my actual work at work tomorrow. (In case you were wondering what the three most important things for a scientist to know are? They're Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. Or so it feels at times.)
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post #29 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-23-2008, 02:07 AM
 
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Originally Posted by MsCrimson
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Originally Posted by marie73
I drink at LEAST one 2-litre bottle of diet soda a day, sometimes two.
Hehe, in the younger more "carefree" years I gulped down 2 2liter bottles of sugar Dew a day. When I hit 30y.o. and noticed it was getting harder to maintain weight I switched to diet Dew - then decided "too much caffeine" and gradually reduced. I refuse to give up caffeine entirely, cause, darnit, I like it.

Sometimes I miss those "carefree" years.
darn...and i felt bad and had to convince myself with excuses just to drink half a 2L a day.
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post #30 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-23-2008, 02:11 AM
 
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I cant beleive u guys are talkin about Pop/Soda. I just quit drinking it lik 7 days ago now i crave it so baddddd im cola'n out here got teh shakes and everything lol
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