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CrossFit Health is an investigation into the ills of modern medicine and the wilful abuse of the public’s trust in science. The lessons learned from the legal dismantling of fake science, a crooked journal, and perjuring scientists have given us a forensic view as to how everything might have gone so wrong. We’re calling the combination of runaway medical costs and disease rates — which many profit from but none combat effectively — “The Mess.”

Editorials on cholesterol

“There seems to be a prevalent idea that cholesterol is a wholly undesirable substance. It should be pointed out that it is an essential constituent of all animal tissues and undoubtedly plays an important role in the normal function of all cells. To eliminate cholesterol from the diet means the elimination of animal foods from the diet — meats, milk, eggs, etc. These are the protective foods which nutritionists have clearly shown are essential for an adequate diet. … The proposition that low cholesterol diets be used as a preventive for the development of atherosclerosis would mean that animal foods be omitted from our diets. This is equivalent to the negation of practically all that nutrition science has taught us in the past. Such a course may well be disastrous.”

Read the editorialComments on Cholesterol: D. M. Hegsted, G. V. Mann, F. J. Stare, and Lewis J. Moorman in 1952

Maryanne Demasi, an investigative journalist with a Ph.D. in rheumatology, shares highlights from her interview with Danish physician Uffe Ravnskov. Ravnskov, a famed cholesterol skeptic, has gained worldwide significance for his persistent fight against the demonization of cholesterol. Though he once believed additional research would “out the absurdity of a narrative that cast saturated fats and cholesterol as dietary villains,” he has since become an active crusader against misinformation and the corruption of science, publishing more than a hundred articles in well-known scientific journals in an effort to set the record straight on cholesterol.

Read MoreIn Conversation with Uffe Ravnskov

In this talk at CrossFit’s 2017 Health Conference, Australian orthopedic surgeon Dr. Gary Fettke presents a history of the junk science behind prevailing nutrition guidelines. Fettke has come under attack for his critique of the mainstream: Because of his dietary recommendations (“low-carb, healthy fat”), Fettke was reported to Australia’s medical board. But “the message is too important to be silenced,” Fettke states. “I feel that the combination of fructose, refined carbohydrate, and polyunsaturated oils is toxic, inflammatory, and at the root cause of all disease that we look at.”

Watch Dr. Gary Fettke: The Role of Nutrition in Everything

Gary Taubes is an award-winning investigative science and health journalist, and author of numerous books related to nutrition and the obesity epidemic. In this talk, delivered at the annual CrossFit Health Conference in Madison, Wisconsin, on July 31, 2018, Taubes turns a critical eye toward a more expansive subject, historicizing the corruption of postmodern science and examining the distinctions between good and bad scientific research.

Watch Gary Taubes: Postmodern Infection of Science and the Replication Crisis

Both clinical behavior and journal editorial decisions are often based on scientific abstracts alone rather than a consideration of the entire study and data. Consequently, any deviations between the content of these abstracts and the actual data — here referred to as “spin” — can distort the impact of the scientific literature. This 2019 paper assessed the frequency and nature of spin in the titles and abstracts of psychiatry research as one form of such distortion, finding that more than half of all psychiatric papers surveyed have titles and/or abstracts that do not accurately reflect the study results and instead present a neutral or negative finding as positive.

Read MoreEvaluation of spin in abstracts of papers in psychiatry and psychology journals

Dr. Jason Fung has grown wary of scientific research that purports to be “evidence based.” A well-known nephrologist and author, Fung often speaks about Type-2 diabetes reversal and the metabolic effects of intermittent fasting, but in this presentation from Dec. 15, 2018, he turns his focus toward the many ways the foundations of evidence-based medicine have become corrupted by financial conflicts of interest. Those corruptions include Big Pharma's habit of buying practicing physicians with gifts, influencing scientific publications by paying off their editors, and skewing the medical research through tactics such as selective publication and changing the trial endpoints — all of which may lead to the unnecessary or even dangerous overprescription of drugs.

WatchDr. Jason Fung: Financial Conflicts of Interest and the End of Evidence-Based Medicine

Thomas Seyfried, Ph.D., is a biochemical geneticist, professor of biology at Boston College, and author of the groundbreaking book Cancer as a Metabolic Disease. As part of a lecture delivered on July 31, 2018, at the annual CrossFit Health Conference, Seyfried presented a report card on our current approaches to treating cancer in the United States. Death rates from cancer are on the rise, he explained, because of “a fundamental misunderstanding of what the nature of this disease is.” Here, he explains the evidence that supports understanding cancer as a metabolic rather than a genetic disease. He also explains why he believes calorie restriction and therapeutic ketosis are more effective for treating cancer than traditional standard of care.

Watch Dr. Thomas Seyfried: Cancer as a Mitochondrial Metabolic Disease

This review found 396 cases between 2003 and 2017 in which a randomized controlled trial indicated an intervention already in clinical use (such as a drug, procedure, vitamin or supplement, device, or more systemic change) lacked an evidential basis. The reversals spread across a spectrum of medical fields, including cardiovascular disease, preventive medicine, and obstetrics and gynecology. This review reinforces the importance of basing clinical recommendations on randomized controlled trial data rather than less rigorous standards of evidence. It indicates a significant share of treatments — even if they are in widespread use — will be found ineffective when tested in a rigorous clinical trial.

Read MoreA comprehensive review of randomized clinical trials in three medical journals reveals 396 medical reversals

This 2019 piece documents the work of English anesthetist John Carlisle, who has developed and used statistical methods to identify published research papers with questionable results. Carlisle’s work has found data issues within and outside the anesthesiological research space and has led to high-profile retractions, such as that of the PREDIMED, a study that drove increased interest in the Mediterranean diet in 2013.

Read MoreHow A Data Detective Exposed Suspicious Medical Trials

Dr. Maryanne Demasi earned a Ph.D. in rheumatology from the University of Adelaide, but perhaps the most formative experience she had with the medical sciences occurred while she was an investigative journalist with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). During her tenure with the ABC, she produced a two-part series called “Heart of the Matter,” which challenged the role of cholesterol in heart disease and addressed the overprescription of statin drugs. The fallout from the series was not swift, but it was decisive. In this presentation, delivered on June 8, 2019, at a CrossFit Health event at CrossFit Headquarters, Demasi shares her personal experiences and the challenges she faced while trying to relay the limitations of statin data to the public.

Watch Dr. Maryanne Demasi: My Experience of Exposing the Statin Con

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