If you're a consumer of science news, or just a curious person looking for information on nutrition or medicine, you have to learn how to spot junk science. Especially from sources that are typically reliable. Here are a few guidelines that can help separate sound research from sneaky misinformation.
In the wake of over 1,000 injuries and dozens of deaths due to vaping, the public is right to be concerned about the safety of e-cigarettes. Given that we have covered this issue in some depth, we wanted to provide a resource that answers as many questions as possible and provides links to our other articles.
The mystery of vaping deaths widens. What is going on? Let's ask Steve. We go back a long way, so when a tricky chemistry problem comes up we like to fire off an email, to pick his warped brain. Often he is right on the mark.
From a public health perspective, what's the biggest preventable cause of cancer? Pesticides? Poor diet? Pollution? UV light? No, no, no, and nope. It's tobacco, by far. Obesity and infectious diseases are #2 and #3.
Teenagers are rebellious and they do stupid things. Given the range of options available to them -- from drinking and driving to unprotected sex -- vaping is a rather mild vice. However, it is still harmful, so laws need to be in place to prevent teens from getting them.
Time for a riddle: Q: What is the difference between Pez and Juul? A: Not much. Both companies sell products intended to help people stop smoking, and both use fruit flavors to market them to children. If you want to see what Pez and Juul have in common you better read this.
Although no official cause of serious, vaping-related lung injuries has been established, chemistry can enable us to make a reasonable guess. And it all goes back to a simple procedure that you may have done in high school chem lab: distillation.
While an investigation is underway into the exact nature of the problem, so far the likeliest explanation is that improper use of vaping devices has led to illness, or the death, of some users. But that sort of nuance isn't governing the thinking of the FDA or CDC officials, both of which are allowing myths and fearmongering to drive their policies and public statements.
Reporters say the long-term risks of vaping are unknown. Here's what 10 years of science says about e-cigarette safety.
E-cigarettes remain controversial. They are frequently offered as an effective bridge to smoking cessation. But that path may be harder than we anticipated.
The CDC says "tobacco use by youth is rising." If that were to be true, it'd be horrible -- but it's not. Cigarette use is down. The only reason the CDC can make this claim is because the agency considers e-cigarettes and vaping devices -- which only contain nicotine -- to be tobacco products. This is misleading and undermines public health.
If smokers follow the advice of Glantz, a professor at the University of California-San Francisco, they will die. It's that simple.