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Comment Re:What is up with this anti-gluten bullshit? (Score 1) 292

Citation please?

Not being snarky, but I've read a fair amount on this and managed to not come across any evidence that NCGS have an actual immune response to Gluten. Everything I have read points to NCGS having no biological indicator to which a physician can point and confirm a self diagnosis. This is part of the reason NCGS tend to be so defensive, because some think the whole thing is psychosomatic (not an opinion I agree with I should add).

As for the "most" that might be a poor choice of words on my part. It's based on my personal experience with NCGS, not data, but I've yet to meet an NCGS person who didn't also indicate that they avoided dairy, whether they made a connection between milk and gluten or not.

Comment Re:Stop apologizing (Score 1) 292

This may be YOUR objection, but it is by no means most peoples first justification. I've participated in many a discussion (in person AND online) regarding this topic, and the nature of the modifications rarely comes up in the first half dozen objections. When it does come up, my response is generally "So What?"

1. Improvements in crop production efficiency lead to cost reductions, the majority of which trickle down to end consumers. This is a large part of the reason that the rate of food cost inflation over the last 20 years has been much lower than for the rest of the US economy. It's also why the environmental foot print per unit of crop yield is an order of magnitude less than it was 20 years ago. Consumers are absolutely benefiting directly, just not in a flashy way.

2. Food products engineered to be more directly beneficial to consumers HAVE been developed, but have for the most part tanked in the market up until now (nutridense corn, low phytic acid crops, etc. come to mind). There is a new round of consumer focused GM crops hitting the market, and I'm hoping they fare better, but I won't be surprised if they tank as well. AquaAdvantage salmon have the potential to dramatically reduce the cost of salmon, reduce the environmental impact of farm raised salmon, and spare wild salmon stock from further over fishing. Arctic Apples (non-browning) stand to help consumers by increasing the at-home shelf life of apples, and thus reducing their waste. However, both of these are brand new on the market and it remains to be seen..

3. Golden rice was also developed years ago, is consumer focused, and literally free for personal use, and yet it has been opposed at every turn by the anti-GMO crowd.

Comment Re:What is up with this anti-gluten bullshit? (Score 4, Interesting) 292

There is also a lot of evidence that the so-called "Gluten Sensitive" are not actually sensitive to gluten at all. Instead they are probably FODMAP insensitive, and most of the "gluten free" products on the market are also low in FODMAP's.

That means a Gluten Free diet improves their symptoms, not because of the gluten, but because of a correlated change in FODMAPS. This is why most self-diagnosed people with a gluten insensitivity also claim to have problems with dairy products which are completely gluten free, but are rich in FODMAPs. Unfortunately, when you try to explain this to someone with a self-diagnosis, they seem to take the information as an attempt to call them stupid or crazy. It's not that their symptoms are imaginary, nor that the relief they get from a gluten free diet is imagined, but simply that they've misattributed cause and effect due to the correlation between FODMAP and Gluten in many foods.

I don't know much about quinoa on this regard, but if it is also high in FODMAP's despite being gluten free, then it won't help these people all that much.

Comment Re:And speaking of that has anyone tried golden ri (Score 1) 292

Unless, of course, the reason you are interested in growing Golden Rice is because you cannot afford liver. Golden rice was not developed to be a commercial product, which is why the patent licensing fees are completely waived for non-commercial plantings. It was developed to help rice farmers in the poorest countries to produce their own Vitamin A rich crop and thus prevent their kids from going blind. Liver may be a great source of vitamins, but if you cannot afford to buy liver, then that becomes completely irrelevant.

Comment Re:CORRELATION != CAUSATION (Score 1) 216

Your experiment at the end is PRECISELY what I was recommending. Take people who are doing whatever they would have been doing anyway, and take another similar group and administer an intervention in the form of supplemental Vitamin D. The control group serves as the "low vitamin D" group not through a deliberate restriction, but by taking advantage of an already known tendency for people to be Vitamin D deficient. Not sure why you got all butt hurt about it when it was my idea.

The only difference is that I'm recommending that the researchers refrain from recommending vitamin D as a possible preventative for Autism until after the trial is conducted, whereas you have them making the recommendation before it is conducted. I don't even disagree with recommending people take a supplemented if they are Vitamin D deficient, only with researchers making a specific recommendation for Vitamin D as it relates to Autism until the trial is complete.

Comment Re:CORRELATION != CAUSATION (Score 1) 216

And these all show Correlation because they are picking through data not designed, but essentially found.

There are lots of environmental differences that are confounded with UV exposure and geographic latitude and while epidemiologist can try to balance for all of those factors, they cannot do so completely.

Comment Re:CORRELATION != CAUSATION (Score 1) 216

The researchers are not claiming that Vitamin D deficiency causes autism. They are claiming it increases the "Risk of Developing Autism", which is subtly different. Lots of chronic diseases and conditions are not so cut and dry as "Vitamin D deficiency causes Rickets".

For example, we know that smoking can increase your risk of developing lung cancer, but we also can point to specific examples of people who smoked for decades without ever developing Cancer. We know that processed meats appear to increase your risk of colon cancer, but the risk is fairly low and most people will never develop colon cancer despite a diet high in processed meats like bacon. That doesn't mean these risks are not real, but that the mechanism by which these things increase risk are probabilistic.

Even with the moral questions ignored, it may be impossible to show a 1:1 causation between any single environmental factor and autism development, but we can potentially learn which factors can causally influence risk. The trial presented above can show correlation, but not causality. The trail I proposed could address the potential for causality by showing support, or not, for a change in relative risk of autism development based on level of Vitamin D supplementation.

Comment Re:CORRELATION != CAUSATION (Score 1) 216

Maybe I'm not being clear.

1. enroll women early in pregnancy into a trial.
2. measure all enrollee's Vitamin D status on Day 1 of their enrollment.
3. Block mothers based on their preexisting Vitamin D status.
4. within block randomly assign half of the pregnant women to receive a Vitamin D supplement, and assign the other half a Vitamin D placebo pill
5. Take blood work throughout the pregnancy to test for their Vitamin D status throughout gestation, birth, lactation, until the child is say 4 to 6 years old
6. look at Autims prevalence in the two groups at the end of the study.

I'm obviously ignoring a lot of other factors that would need to be accounted for in the initial blocking step (economics, medical history, age of mother and father, etc.), but this is an experiment designed to change a single factor and to control for possible confounding factors BEFORE the treatment is applied. It can therefore speak to causality. The retrospective CoHort study relied on some bloodwork and a lot of questionnaires and cannot speak to cause and effect at all in the absence of corroborating evidence from actual experimentation.

Comment Re:CORRELATION != CAUSATION (Score 1) 216

I don't argue about that, but in my experience most parents are not exactly rational when it comes to fears surrounding autism. People give their kids bleach enema's from quack doctors they find on the internet. The authors didn't say "be sure you are not deficient" they said "take a supplement" and didn't specify how much. Even if the research did say "avoid deficiency for a host of good reasons, which may include autism prevention" in the interview, this is going to be turned into "take a supplement or your kids will get autism" as it is filtered through the press.

Most Americans, in my experience, are surprised that "More is Always Better" doesn't apply to vitamins. What happens when a mom who took vitamin D has a child with autism, because even if some cases are related to vitamin status, many are absolutely not? She may very well just up the dose for her next child, putting herself and the subsequent child at greater risk of Vitamin Toxicity.

Hell, Americans are not rational about vitamins either. Roughly 30 years ago they fought to prevent the FDA from regulating dietary supplements, including vitamin supplements due to a clever smear campaign by the big vitamin manufacturers. They even got big name actors (of the day anyway) to star in commercials where jackbooted FDA agents with M16's break into Mel Gibson's house to seize his vitamins from his kitchen cabinet. The FDA wasn't looking to ban anything, but to ensure that labelling claims were supported with evidence, but that didn't matter because people know that vitamins are GOOD FOR YOU (TM) and therefore more must be better.

Comment Re:CORRELATION != CAUSATION (Score 1) 216

As I pointed out to another commenter, testing this hypothesis more rigorously does not require putting anyone at elevated risk. You assume, incorrectly, that subjecting one group to a restriction would be necessary.

Having one group proceed as they would normal (change in risk of precisely ZERO), and have one group take a Vitamin D supplement. You can balance for pre-existing Vitamin D status so that the two groups are similar before starting. The Vitamin D supplement would constitute an altered risk (and one that may not be entirely quantifiable), but since the researchers feel the risk is small enough to justify a recommendation without additional data I fail to see why it would cause anyone pause in the context of a trial.

Comment Re:CORRELATION != CAUSATION (Score 1) 216

Vitamin D is not without it's risks. As a fat soluble vitamin, it can accumulate in fat stores. Particularly if people are taking higher doses. Vitamin D can be toxic at high enough concentrations, particularly in young children and presumably the developing fetus.

I consider this irresponsible because they have not confirmed that their recommendation does not constitute the lower risk option. They have just assumed that action is better than inaction, which is not a safe assumption.

A good example of this "unintended risks" can be found in numerous trials evaluating the effect of low fat diets for control of heart disease. Lot of these trials show small reductions in death due to heart disease, but increases in other causes of death for no net change in total death, or possibly a slight increase. At the end of the day, on average, there is no net change in your probability of dying by adopting a low fat diet. You just die of something else.

For this and many other reasons, medical policy should never be set based on a single trial, and DEFINITELY not on a trial that can only show "associations" that may turn out to be spurious.

Comment Re:CORRELATION != CAUSATION (Score 1) 216

No, I'm proposing that we limit our assertions to what can be supported by the available evidence.

There are various ways in which we could strengthen or disprove this association.

1. One could be to survey 1000 pregnant women for Vitamin D status. Then (accounting for status) provide half with a Vitamin D supplement for the duration of their pregnancy and look at the results. Since vitamin D supplementation is not a routine pre-natal practice no one would be at increased risk of Autism (assuming that the correlation is real, causal, and in the direction asserted by the authors).

2. We could look at how Vitamin D affects brain development in research models that already exist to study Autism. Thus building a mechanistic framework to justify considering the correlation detected above as causal.

We need to be clear that vitamins are not completely harmless, particularly the fat soluble vitamins, which includes Vitamin D. Unlike the B vitamins, which are excreted via the urine when consumed at high levels, fat soluble vitamins accumulate in body fat stores, and can reach toxic levels much easier. There can be too much of a good thing, particularly in young animals (including the developing fetus) who's storage capacity can be relatively quickly exceeded by small changes in supplementation.

Comment CORRELATION != CAUSATION (Score 1) 216

Ok, lets be clear this is a retrospective cohort study. That means that no experimental treatments were applied, so cause and effect cannot be determined on the basis of this trial. This is a clear example of what is wrong with most people's understanding of "BIG DATA". Just because the sample size is enormous, it does not immediately follow that differences detected are real, meaningful, or causal. In-fact, large sample sizes Guarantee that spurious differences will pop up in the data pretty regularly.

Even if the association is real, there is nothing in this data to say whether
A) low Vitamin D causes increased autism risk
B) Increased autism risk causes low Vitamin D
C) Or whether both are in turn caused by something else with improvements in one having no effect on the other..

The authors should never have made recommendations based on this data, other than that more trials are needed to determine whether or not this association is causal, or if it could be used as an indirect indicator of autism risk.

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