REALLity Check

by David Bloomberg

Well, I certainly didn’t intend it to be this way, but this turned out to be the all-breast edition of "REALLity Check." We have a pseudoscientific claim to enlarge breasts, info on breast cancer, and a boob down in Alabama (let’s see if Editor Bob lets that one go by). [Editor’s Note: I think David proves his point, so it stays in!]

Bustin’ Loose?

A long, long time ago I addressed claims that a hypnotist could make a woman’s breasts grow (this actually started before REALL was formed, in an article I wrote for the Tampa Bay Skeptics). Well, now similar claims are back, but this time all you have to do is take a pill.

The pill, "Bustin’ Loose," contains no hormones and is "100 percent natural" according to an interview done by the State Journal-Register’s Tony Cappasso with the head of the company that makes them (5/31). Here’s my comment: Dirt is 100% natural. So what?

Steve Lane, the aforementioned company head, claims that not only did 85% of women who took the pills get bigger breasts, but the remaining 15% who didn’t were using the pills improperly! Wow! What a track record! You’d think with those kind of numbers, he could prove its worth to the Food and Drug Administration, right? Nope, because it’s marketed in such a way as to avoid having to go through the FDA -- the same as all the other "natural food supplements."

Cappasso interviewed several local doctors, all of whom essentially said it was nonsense. Yet Bustin’ Loose supposedly has "10,000 ladies taking [it] right now," at a cost of $250 per month. Apparently, the breast hypnotist was going about it all wrong. Why limit yourself to only those people you can see directly when you can have them pop a few pills instead?

Death by Paranormal Beliefs

The June 10th issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that one reason African-American women have a higher mortality rate from breast cancer is that a higher percentage of them have beliefs that make it less likely they will see a doctor. The report studied a number of breast cancer patients in rural North Carolina.

The beliefs outlined in the report include folklore such as "high blood causes cancer" (whatever that means) or mystical spells cause the disease, beliefs that praying will cure disease without bothering with doctors, and beliefs that herbs or chiropractic can cure cancer. While the authors found that economic and demographic effects also play a role, they also found the majority of these injurious beliefs correlated more closely with race than with income, age, or education (though they indicate that the beliefs are widespread in the rural southeastern U.S. and African-Americans in other parts of the country may have different attitudes).

The information gathered in this study may be able to help doctors understand how paranormal beliefs directly affect health. In addition, educational materials can now be prepared to hopefully help counter the misinformation the women might hear elsewhere.

Last issue, in discussing the use of faith healing by parents whose children end up dying, I re-quoted James Randi’s statement that appears in our masthead. At the risk of getting repetitious, I think it’s appropriate to do so again: "It’s a very dangerous thing to believe in nonsense."

Dancing Monkeys?!

In Alabama, a hotseat of anti-science in recent years, a Republican candidate for governor has forced a runoff primary with current governor Fob James.

James, as you may recall from previous columns, has opposed the teaching of evolution whenever he got the chance and has claimed the Bill of Rights does not apply in Alabama (thus, religion can be taught in public schools). At one state school board meeting, he walked around like a monkey to make fun of evolution.

His opponent, Winton Blount, used this incident to point out how ridiculous James has acted as governor and how he has embarrassed the state with his positions. He said the state does not need a governor "dancing around a stage like a monkey. James, in his oh-so-clever retort, responded, "If I dance like a monkey, then he must dance like a fat monkey."

Well, he sure set things straight. It must be that same logical, incisive wit and intelligence that has led him to oppose the teaching of science in science class…

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