Internet Hoax: Johns Hopkins Hospital issued a “cancer update” detailing how cancer spreads and recommending methods for treating the disease.



Information falsely attributed to Johns Hopkins called, “CANCER UPDATE FROM JOHN HOPKINS” describes properties of cancer cells and suggests ways of preventing cancer.  Johns Hopkins did not publish the information, which often is an email attachment, nor do we endorse its contents.  The email also contains an incorrect spelling of our institution as “John” Hopkins; whereas, the correct spelling is “Johns” Hopkins. For more information about cancer, please read the information on our web site or visit the National Cancer Institute.  Please help combat the spread of this hoax by letting others know of this statement.

Another hoax email that has been circulating since 2004 regarding plastic containers, bottles, wrap claiming that heat releases dioxins which cause cancer also was not published by Johns Hopkins.  More information from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Mythbusters:  Please help curb the spread of this hoax by sending a link to this page to individuals that forward you this email.

The Truth about the “Cancer Update” Email Hoax

Emails offering easy remedies for avoiding and curing cancer are the latest Web-influenced trend. To gain credibility, the anonymous authors falsely attribute their work to respected research institutions like Johns Hopkins. This is the case with the so-called “Cancer Update from Johns Hopkins.”

The gist of this viral email is that cancer therapies of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy do not work against the disease and people should instead choose a variety of dietary strategies.

Traditional therapies, such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy, work. The evidence is the millions of cancer survivors in the United States today who are alive because of these therapies.   We recognize that treatments don’t work in every patient, or sometimes work for awhile and then stop working, and there are some cancers that are more difficult to cure than others. These problems are the focus of ongoing cancer research.

We’ll go through each statement in the email hoax and provide real responses from Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center experts.


Study Links Circumcision to Personality Trait Disorder

Researchers find circumcised men have higher alexithymia scores than intact men. Alexithymia is the inability to process emotions.

The International Journal of Men’s Health has published the first study of its kind to look at the link between the early trauma of circumcision and the personality trait disorder alexithymia. The study, by Dan Bollinger and Robert S. Van Howe, M.D., M.S., FAAP, found that circumcised men are 60% more likely to suffer from alexithymia, the inability to process emotions.

People suffering from alexithymia have difficulty identifying and expressing their emotions. This translates into not being able to empathize with others. Sufferers of severe alexithymia are so removed from their feelings that they view themselves as being robots. If acquired at an early age, such as from infant circumcision, it might limit access to language and impede the socialization process that begins early in life. Moderate to high alexithymia can interfere with personal relationships and hinder psychotherapy. Impulsive behavior is a key symptom of alexithymia, and impulsivity is a precursor to violence.

The idea for the investigation came when the authors noticed that American men (for whom circumcision is likely) had higher alexithymia scores than European men (for whom circumcision is unlikely), and that European men had about the same scores as European and American women.

The study surveyed 300 circumcised and intact men using the standardized Toronto Twenty-Item Alexithymia Scale checklist. Circumcised men had higher scores across the board and a greater proportion of circumcised men had higher scores than intact men.

A common reason fathers give for deciding to circumcise their son is so they will “look alike,” but these authors speculate that perhaps a subconscious motivation is so that they will “feel alike,” in other words as equally distant and emotionally unavailable as themselves. It was beyond this study’s design to test for this, and yet the comments received from circumcised participants speak to a vast psychic wounding, which, if unresolved, might lead to an unconscious desire to repeat the trauma upon others.

The authors recommend that more research be conducted on this topic, but in the meantime, parents considering circumcising their infant son should be informed that circumcision might put their son at risk for alexithymia, including difficulty identifying and expressing his feelings, and for impulsive behavior. Psychologists counseling alexithymic patients should investigate the patient’s childhood and neonatal history for possible traumatic events, including circumcision.

If this pattern of men suffering from circumcision-related trauma holds true for the general populace, this would constitute a significant mental health problem and, considering that three-fourths of the U.S. male population is circumcised, a public health problem, too.

Alexithymia is from ancient Greek meaning, “having no words for feelings.” It was coined by psychotherapist Peter Sifneos in 1973 to describe a state of deficiency in understanding, processing, or describing emotions. Alexithymia tends to be persistent and chronic; it doesn’t diminish with time. This is unlike other trauma-based reactions, like post-traumatic stress disorder, which typically dissipate soon after the trauma.


New Male Birth Control, Vasalgel, Is Perfect And Unavailable — And Needs To Be On The Market Already

There is a new birth control option in town, and it goes by the name Vasalgel. Unlike what the name may suggest, Vasalgel is not, in fact, a petroleum jelly to be used by women. Instead, Vasalgel is a male contraceptive, currently undergoing clinical trials, that’s apparently incredibly effective, reversible, cheap, and lasts for 10-15 years after just one treatment. So why isn’t it widely available?

A project spearheaded by the Parsemus Foundation, Vasalgel is a spin-off of the Indian treatment “RISUG,” or Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance. Sounds scary, but it’s pretty simple. Effectively, Vasalgel is painlessly injected into the man’s vas deferens under local anesthetic, blocking the plumbing that causes the sperm membranes to burst. The procedure is likened to a No-Scalpel vasectomy, and can be completed in 15 minutes.

Unlike the traditional vasectomy, which requires a more invasive procedure to reverse, the RISUG procedure is easily undone with another injection that dissolves the blockage.

Equal ≠ The Same: Sex Differences in the Human Brain

Early in 2013, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered the makers of the well-known sleep aid Ambien (zolpidem) to cut their recommended dose in half-but only for women. In essence, the FDA was acknowledging that despite extensive testing prior to the drug’s release on the market, millions of women had been overdosing on Ambien for 20 years. On February 9, 2014, CBS’s 60 Minutes highlighted this fact-and sex differences in general-by powerfully asking two questions: Why did this happen, and are men and women treated equally in research and medicine?1

The answer to the first question is that the biomedical community has long operated on what is increasingly being viewed as a false assumption: that biological sex matters little, if at all, in most areas of medicine. The answer to the second question is no, today’s biomedical research establishment is not treating men and women equally. What are some of the key reasons for the biomedical community’s false assumption, and why is this situation now finally changing? What are some of the seemingly endless controversies about sex differences in the brain generated by “anti-sex difference” investigators? And what lies at the root of the resistance to sex differences research in the human brain?

Why Sex Didn’t Matter

For a long time, for most aspects of brain function, sex influences hardly mattered to the neuroscience mainstream. The only sex differences that concerned most neuroscientists involved brain regions (primarily a deep-brain structure called the hypothalamus) that regulate both sex hormones and sexual behaviors.2 Neuroscientists almost completely ignored possible sex influences on other areas of the brain, assuming that the sexes shared anything that was fundamental when it came to brain function. Conversely, the neuroscience mainstream viewed any apparent sex differences in the brain as not fundamental- something to be understood after they grasped the fundamental facts. By this logic, it was not a problem to study males almost exclusively, since doing so supposedly allowed researchers to understand all that was fundamental in females without having to consider the complicating aspects of female hormones. To this day, neuroscientists overwhelmingly study only male animals.3

To make matters worse, studying sex differences in the brain was for a long time distasteful to large swaths of academia.4 Regarding sex differences research, Gloria Steinem once said that it’s “anti-American, crazy thinking to do this kind of research.”5 Indeed, in about the year 2000, senior colleagues strongly advised me against studying sex differences because it would “kill” my career.