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Absolute risk

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

Wednesday, May 03, 2006
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
Editor of NaturalNews.com (See all articles...)
Tags: absolute risk, relative risk, breast cancer

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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. Theyíre 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: Letís 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 doesnít 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."

Itís 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? Iíll 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 thatís 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 rainforest herbs that are well-known for inhibiting the growth of cancer cells, then you can boost your cancer prevention success to well over 90 percent.

Thereís nothing in the world of pharmaceutical medicine that even comes close. Yet the only thing youíll 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.

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About the author:Mike Adams (aka the "Health Ranger") is a best selling author (#1 best selling science book on Amazon.com) and a globally recognized scientific researcher in clean foods. He serves as the founding editor of NaturalNews.com and the lab science director of an internationally accredited (ISO 17025) analytical laboratory known as CWC Labs. There, he was awarded a Certificate of Excellence for achieving extremely high accuracy in the analysis of toxic elements in unknown water samples using ICP-MS instrumentation. Adams is also highly proficient in running liquid chromatography, ion chromatography and mass spectrometry time-of-flight analytical instrumentation.

Adams is a person of color whose ancestors include Africans and Native American Indians. He's also of Native American heritage, which he credits as inspiring his "Health Ranger" passion for protecting life and nature against the destruction caused by chemicals, heavy metals and other forms of pollution.

Adams is the founder and publisher of the open source science journal Natural Science Journal, the author of numerous peer-reviewed science papers published by the journal, and the author of the world's first book that published ICP-MS heavy metals analysis results for foods, dietary supplements, pet food, spices and fast food. The book is entitled Food Forensics and is published by BenBella Books.

In his laboratory research, Adams has made numerous food safety breakthroughs such as revealing rice protein products imported from Asia to be contaminated with toxic heavy metals like lead, cadmium and tungsten. Adams was the first food science researcher to document high levels of tungsten in superfoods. He also discovered over 11 ppm lead in imported mangosteen powder, and led an industry-wide voluntary agreement to limit heavy metals in rice protein products.

In addition to his lab work, Adams is also the (non-paid) executive director of the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center (CWC), an organization that redirects 100% of its donations receipts to grant programs that teach children and women how to grow their own food or vastly improve their nutrition. Through the non-profit CWC, Adams also launched Nutrition Rescue, a program that donates essential vitamins to people in need. Click here to see some of the CWC success stories.

With a background in science and software technology, Adams is the original founder of the email newsletter technology company known as Arial Software. Using his technical experience combined with his love for natural health, Adams developed and deployed the content management system currently driving NaturalNews.com. He also engineered the high-level statistical algorithms that power SCIENCE.naturalnews.com, a massive research resource featuring over 10 million scientific studies.

Adams is well known for his incredibly popular consumer activism video blowing the lid on fake blueberries used throughout the food supply. He has also exposed "strange fibers" found in Chicken McNuggets, fake academic credentials of so-called health "gurus," dangerous "detox" products imported as battery acid and sold for oral consumption, fake acai berry scams, the California raw milk raids, the vaccine research fraud revealed by industry whistleblowers and many other topics.

Adams has also helped defend the rights of home gardeners and protect the medical freedom rights of parents. Adams is widely recognized to have made a remarkable global impact on issues like GMOs, vaccines, nutrition therapies, human consciousness.

In addition to his activism, Adams is an accomplished musician who has released over a dozen popular songs covering a variety of activism topics.

Click here to read a more detailed bio on Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, at HealthRanger.com.

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