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Lesson in doing proper research

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Hveragerthi Views: 5,383
Published: 11 years ago

Lesson in doing proper research

This study was recently linked as "evidence" of iodine's benefits:

J Dermatol. 1994 Sep;21(9):693-5.

Wegener's granulomatosis successfully treated with prednisolone and potassium iodide.


Division of Dermatology, Tohoku Kosei-Nenkin Hospital, Sendai, Japan.


Wegener's granulomatosis has traditionally been treated with steroids and cyclophosphamide. We used potassium iodide in conjunction with prednisolone to treat a patient with a limited form of this disease who had gangrenous rhinitis and skin involvement including necrotic papules and ulcerations. After three months of this therapy, the mucosal and cutaneous lesions had almost completely disappeared.

So what is wrong with this "evidence"?

Well first of all the abstract clearly states that the potassium iodide was used in conjunction with prednisolone.  So how do we know what was really working?  Well, if we research the related studies we find this:

Br J Dermatol. 1976 Apr;94(4):391-9.

Wegener's granulomatosis. Combined therapy with low-dosage systemic corticosteroids, azathioprine and cyclophosphamide in three patients.


Three patients with Wegener's granulomatosis are reported. All three had skin, nose, sinus, mouth and pulmonary lesions; one had severe renal involvement as well. In two patients combined treatment with low-dosage systemic corticosteroids, azathioprine, and cyclophosphamide resulted in rapid clinical improvement and complete disappearance of the skin, mouth, nasal, sinus and pulmonary lesions. In one of these two patients who had severe renal involvement, proteinuria greatly diminished and arrest of progression of renal insufficiency was observed. In the third patient combined treatment with azathioprine and cyclophosphamide resulted in complete remission of skin, mucous membrane, lung and sinus lesions. The patient with severe renal involvement is alive and ambulant 4 years after the onset of the disease, the other two are completely symptom-free and well 2 1/2 years and 1 year after the onset of their illnesses, respectively. These results confirm previous reports about the effectiveness of immunosuppressive and cytotoxic agents in Wegener's granulomatosis, the use of which seems to have improved the prognosis significantly in a disease previously considered to be fatal within 5 months.

So both studies show positive results.  But what do both studies have in common?  Not potassium iodide.  Instead they both used immune suppressing steroids.  Just because the title of a study mentions a substance this does not mean it is the active component nor that it worked.


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