Medical Hypotheses Journal Article Lacks Evidence Masks Cause Harmful Effects


Diamond and Silk, a duo of pro-Donald Trump activists who have over 2.38 million Facebook followers made what appeared to be an authoritative statement about the risks of wearing a mask.

Their widely shared Facebook Publish, since removed from public view, included a URL for a federal government National Institutes of Health website. And he was posting part of a medical journal article that listed the ill effects that would be caused by the masks.

“NO MORE MASK MANDATES!” Follow the science, ”implored sisters Lynnette Hardaway (Diamond) and Rochelle Richardson (Silk).

The April 12 post was reported as part of Facebook’s efforts to tackle fake news and disinformation on its news feed. (Learn more about our Partnership with Facebook.)

The article cited by the publication was written by an exercise physiologist in a journal called Medical Hypotheses and is titled “Face Masks in the Age of COVID-19: A Health Hypothesis.” It is less scientific than what the publication claims.

Journal of Theoretical Ideas

Medical hypotheses said its aim “is to publish interesting theoretical papers. The journal will examine radical, speculative and unconventional scientific ideas provided they are expressed in a coherent manner.”

In November, he published the item quoted in Facebook post, written by Baruch Vainshelboim. The article states that Vainshelboim works in a cardiology division of the United States Veterans’ Palo Alto healthcare system in California. He identifies himself in his LinkedIn profile as a clinical exercise physiologist, with a doctorate from the University of Porto in Portugal.

The portion of the article copied from the Facebook post lists 12 physiological effects caused by wearing a face mask. They include conditions such as hypoxemia and hypercapnia, as well as more general effects such as shortness of breath, “toxicity” and “increased muscle tension”.

“This is a list of generally discredited hypotheses that have been tested and disproved,” said Benjamin Neuman, professor of biology at Texas A&M University and chief viologist at the university’s Global Health Research Complex.

“This appears to be misleading writing from what appears to be a non-expert. It is not science.”

The first two alleged effects on the list, hypoxemia and hypercapnia, have been debunked by fact-checkers.

A fact check by United States today noted that wearing a mask does not cause hypoxemia, a lower than normal level of oxygen in the blood. PolitiFact has rated a claim that masks decrease oxygen supply as False.

Stories of lead and United States today were among the fact-checkers who discovered that hypercapnia – too much carbon dioxide in the blood – is not caused by wearing a mask.

Dr Amesh Adalja, a senior researcher at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said that while the article appears to present a hypothesis, many of the effects it claims cite evidence related to N95 masks typically used by workers in the hospital. health.

We have reported that there are studies that show that N95 medical respirators can lead to increased carbon dioxide, which can lead to headaches and fatigue.

PolitiFact also evaluated a claim that masks “will kill a number of people, it is well known that they reduce the levels of oxygen in the blood and those with respiratory and heart problems will die”.

And we have assessed as false a claim that wearing face masks is more harmful to your health than without them.

We tried to reach Vainshelboim by phone and email and received no response.

Our decision

A widely shared Facebook post that links to a medical journal article says to “follow the science” of a list of physiological effects that are believed to be caused by wearing masks.

The article was written by an exercise physiologist and was published by Medical Hypotheses, a journal whose aim is to publish “interesting theoretical articles”.

There is no evidence to support the article’s list of alleged effects of wearing a mask.

We evaluate the message False.

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