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Low Stomach Acid And Vitiligo: One Reader “Takes Us To Task”…

Written by Wellness Club on May 2, 2008 – 12:54 pm -

Sometimes our readers will “take us to task” for something we have written; sometimes they even get a little “testy” with us (no, no, say it isn’t so..!)

This gentleman feels that we have made claims without providing reference to our research – here is his note and my reply to him:

Ali Says:

Thank you for very usefull info.I read all above conditions for which you say that these are associated with Low Stomach acid.
In which you mention vitiligo. this is the first tyme i read the cause of vitiligo. there are many resources on the net regarding causes of such conditions such as:

These and other such sites provided the search base knowledge. you too should provide some of your research regarding your claim.

Nurse Mark Replies:

Hi Ali,

Our regular readers know that when we make claims such as this they are ALWAYS backed up – not just by “research”, but by by solid, scientific, peer-reviewed research published in respected journals. Such is the case here – had you followed the link in the brief blog article above to our previous newsletter article and then read through to the bottom you would have seen a header called “References: Roll Over To View”. Our list of references for this article is some 59 citations long, and the reference you are asking about is: 59.) Francis HW. Achlorhydria as an etiological factor in vitiligo, with report of four cases. Nebraska State Med J 1931;16(1):25–6.

Hope this helps!
Nurse Mark

As Ali will find when he reviews this article fully, we are very diligent in providing solid scientific, peer-reviewed references to anything we state as fact, and even things we state as opinion are backed up by solid science. We are under constant scrutiny by organizations like the FTC and the FDA who would dearly love to be able to accuse us of being “unscientific” – so our best defense is to use research that even they cannot refute or dismiss.

One of the problems that we see over and over again as we talk with patients and readers is that many people are simply not trained to be able to critically examine “research” to separate the “one-time, basement lab, 3-rat study” from a fully (and properly) funded, scientifically designed, controlled and conducted, double-blind, peer-reviewed study published in a respected journal. That is where we do the “grunt-work” for our patients and readers, sifting through these mountains of often mind-numbing “research” to find the few pearls of material that will be of benefit. Another problem that we see constantly is that many folks consider news articles and sales copy and testimonials to be “research”, or they see that same “one-time, basement lab, 3-rat study” or some study funded and conducted by the same company that just happens to be selling the substance that was “tested” when they search the internet and find it repeated or referred to dozens, even hundreds of times in forums and chat boards, which gives it an air of importance it doesn’t deserve.

Here is an example: Ali provided me with two links which he says provide “search base knowledge” (and I’m not quite sure what that means…). The first leads to a website that sells a liquid preparation claimed to “cure” vitiligo. Unfortunately, after spending some time going round and round this website, I was unable to find any scientific references or citations of any sort – but maybe I just didn’t see them, right? What I did find were plenty of “before and after” pictures, and page after page after page of glowing “testimonials” that cannot be verified. Well folks, testimonials are nice – but they are not proof and they are not scientific – and to us they fall into the category of “my brother’s mother-in-law’s second cousin’s first husband took that every day ’till he died, and it really worked for him” sort of “proof of effectiveness” – nice, but nothing that we would want to make a medical recommendation based on! Testimonials are not research – they are a sales technique intended to build trust.

Next there is the problem of the “news-articles-as-reference”: Ali provides a second link that leads to a news article that describes research into a possible genetic component for vitiligo and other auto-immune conditions. While interesting, and referring to scholarly research conducted by some respected scientists, there are a couple of problems with this article from our standpoint. First, while this is fine, cutting edge research, it has little practical application – rather like the wonderful photographs from Mars; fascinating and pretty, but with little practical application to you and me. Next, this research offers no treatment, just a hope of future miracles.  The most telling quote in the news article is this: “…This finding may also open up new approaches to treatment, possibly for many different autoimmune diseases.” says the lead researcher. This translates roughly to: “This is something that we hope will interest the Big Pharmaceutical Companies enough that they will want to pay us to do more research in the hope of developing profitable new drugs and treatments…” News articles are interesting information that sometimes lead us to scientific research and references, but they are not what we would consider to be a scientific citation on their own.

So, Ali, thanks for the interesting links, but I find nothing in either of them that would constitute a scientific reference the likes of which can be found at the end of the article where the snippet about vitiligo and it’s relationship to low stomach acid was taken.

HealthBeat News readers can always be sure that they are receiving the hippest, hottest, most up-to-date, most accurate information possible – we sift through the mountains of information, good and bad, to give you the pearls. That’s our job, and we love it!

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