Friday, 9 May 2014

Gimp suit required

If we are to believe the press and a certain group of scientists (c’mon, don’t be a skeptic, why wouldn't we?), cancer cells represent a morbidly obese Biggest Loser contestant and Low Density Lipoproteins are an all-you-can-eat buffet.

If you’re in to self-harm, you can read the relevant paper here - http://www.cell.com/cell-reports/pdf/S2211-1247(14)00240-X.pdf

It is chock-full of gobbledygook and you only need to skim the title to realise it is a painful read – “Cholesterol Regulates Syntaxin 6 Trafficking at trans-Golgi Network Endosomal Boundaries”.

Dr Thomas Grewall, from the University of Sydney, is obviously a very smart man because he knows what Syntaxin 6 is and where the trans-Golgi network leads to. I tried to read his team's paper but I recently retired my Gimp suit and ball and gag and I think if you’re going to practice masochism you should always do it in the proper uniform.

So this is where the journos become semi-useful because they managed to get some juicy quotes from Dr Grewall that allow us to interpret his research team's views: 
  • “The study found “bad” cholesterol helps integrins – "Velcro-like" molecules that live on the surface of cells – move around the body more freely.
  • "this is the first time we have seen how blocking LDL uptake could help stop cancer cells from moving," Associate Professor Grewal said.
  • “Our findings advance the theory that knowing how to manipulate and lower bad cholesterol could significantly help to reduce the ability of cancer cells to spread.”
  • Prof Grewal said the best current way forward is to exercise and cut cholesterol in the diet and eat the good cholesterol in polyunsaturated margarines.
  • “people with common cancers, such as breast, prostate, lung and liver cancers, often have low LDL levels because the cholesterol has been absorbed by the cancer cells which need it to grow and spread.
  • "More research was needed to determine if statins and other cholesterol-inhibiting drugs can be used to block cancer cells because it was "impossible" to remove cholesterol from the body entirely", he said.
If you don't trust journos to quote Dr Grewall properly, then you can hear it from the horse's mouth here -http://mpegmedia.abc.net.au/newsradio/audio/201405/r1272705_17161503.mp3

I concede that, given I didn't study his paper and learn all I could about integrins, Dr Grewall could be correct. I could be just another lazy, ignorant skeptic, too entrenched in my own fantasies to see the truth even after it has been pushed in front of me.

But life is short and my care factor is on life support. I believe that, where possible, it makes sense to trust your gut when something smells like bullshit. The integrin theory of statin deficiency reeks of it.

If I’m diagnosed with cancer anytime soon, I reckon the last thing I’ll be putting down my throat is a drug to reduce my cholesterol. 

But that’s just me. Fingers in my ears. La la la la, can’t hear you Dr Grewall!

Lewis Hamilton doesn't want to hear it either

2 comments:

  1. I don't suppose the media listed the Dr's conflicts of interest in the pharmaceutical industry, did they? ;-)

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    1. Good gracious, no. I suspect that his title at the Uni is "Senior Lecturer, Pharmaceutical Chemistry" implies something, but that may be another skeptical assumption on my part.

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