HCG, “Questionable” Studies, The Placebo Effect And More…
As recently witnessed by Elissa in this superb post, things are really heating up on the HCG feedback page over at Real-Customer-Comments.com (if you’re interested in learning about HCG and the Simeons protocol, you can read the full review of HCG here!)
Seems I’ve really irked a few folks by pointing out that ALL the documented evidence shows that HCG does not provide any benefit over that provided by a placebo. While these folks may have experienced great results on the protocol, it’s likely they are directly attributable to the Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD) and not the effects of HCG.
In gently replying to one individual who insisted otherwise, I stated…
“That does not mean that new, larger scale studies on HCG will show different, more beneficial results. And we’ll be happy to revise our conclusion on HCG… but only when we have some peer-reviewed data to base that revision on. But until then, we have to rely on the only evidence we have.”
Within a day of posting that, one individual quoted this material back to me and commented…
“You have to rely on the only evidence you have? Have you read all the comments on your website? Did you notice that 99% are positive? You bash HCG in your article and almost every post has had success with HCG. Who are you to say that it doesn’t work to these people that experienced it first hand?
Have you considered doing your own tests? Or will you continue to be ignorant and except tests that should clearly be questioned?”
Let’s address this comment, starting with most obvious point…
1) Personal commentary is always anecdotal. That does not mean its worthless, of course. To draw from Elissa’s earlier post which referenced cancer surgeon/researcher/skeptic/med-blogger ORAC…
“In science- and evidence-based medicine, anecdotes are indeed the raw material from which we as medical scientists derive hypotheses, and “anecdotes” are published all the time in the medical literature. They’re called “case reports.” We do not dismiss them out of hand just because they are “anecdotes.” When appropriate, we dismiss “anecdotes” because frequently they are “testimonials” and not controlled observations or because anecdotes themselves, even when the observations are controlled, are often deceiving, which is why further study in the form of more controlled trials is always necessary before science-based medicine will accept a claim. Anecdotes are not enough…”
And to reiterate; HCG is administered along with a Very Low Calorie Diet. And VLCDs do work. Anyone on the Simeons / HCG protocol will likely lose weight; and not necessarily because of the HCG injections. In fact, that’s exactly what the published data indicates; that HCG does not provide any benefits above that of a placebo.
2) Can a dozen or so positive comments be considered representative of a diet protocol that was developed back in the 50’s, and has had thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of participants? Even if these comments were not anecdotal, how could such a small number constitute real evidence, exactly?
To address some of the specific comments directly…
4) We are not “bashing” HCG. To what motive, exactly? That’s not what we do here. Our job is to look at the existing data, compare it to the claims, and report on the results.That’s it, that’s all. All the published data is clear: HCG does not provide any benefit over a placebo. Simple. Period. If we were to provide a contrary position, what evidence would we base that on? Tarot cards? An augury?
5) “Tests that should clearly be questioned”: Questioned why, exactly? Because they don’t conform to your specific set of beliefs? Or do you have some inside knowledge into some violation of a critical testing protocol in one of the clinical studies? As Elissa said in her post, “small and old don’t add up to ‘wrong'”. And even so, a more recent meta-analysis verified these studies with its own identical conclusion.
6) Maybe should consider doing your own tests: Why should we? It’s not our job. The onus is on those selling the HCG protocol to demonstrate to their customers that it works. After all, they are the ones making the money. And even if we did conduct such a study, why would you accept it? After all, you’re quick to dismiss all the published data I’ve already referenced.
Now I do recognize it may be hard to accept that something you are paying a lot of money for is not based on sound science. But unless you want to hand over your wallet and credit cards to anyone who makes you a promise of any sort, it’s best not to take complete leave of your senses and attack anyone who delivers a contrary message.
Especially when all he is doing is reporting on the facts and has no financial incentive to do otherwise.