• Rachael KraMer

A Little Insight in Understanding Medical Studies ... bubblegum?

A little insight in understanding medical studies. Let’s talk difference between absolute risk and relative risk


“Absolute risk is your risk of developing a disease over a specified period of time. Absolute risk reflects the number of people who will be harmed compared to the total number of people being considered. If 6 out of 100 get a disease and die the AR is 6/100 or 0.06 or 6%.


“Absolute risk reduction” is the difference between two absolute risks and two groups. In the above example, if people taking a drug and only four out of 100 get the disease and die, the ARR is 6% -4% equals 2%. Two lives are saved out of 100.


ARR compares the number of people who will benefit from the intervention to the total number of people being considered.


Relative risks are based on the ratio of two absolute risk numbers. When using relative risks, the absolute risk level for the experimental and control groups are not known. If taking a new drug reduces the number of disease deaths from six out of 100 (6%) to 4 out of 100 (4%) then the relative risk difference is 33%, because 4% is 33% less than 6%. The absolute risk difference is 2% (6%-4%). However 33% sounds much better than 2%.



Let’s say we looked at 10,000 people, 5000 of whom ℂ𝕙𝕖𝕨𝕖𝕕 𝕓𝕦𝕓𝕓𝕝𝕖𝕘𝕦𝕞 and 5000 that did not. If one of the 5000 that ℂ𝕙𝕖𝕨𝕖𝕕 𝕓𝕦𝕓𝕓𝕝𝕖𝕘𝕦𝕞 had a heart attack and two out of the 5000 that did not ℂ𝕙𝕖𝕨 𝕓𝕦𝕓𝕓𝕝𝕖𝕘𝕦𝕞 had a heart attack, we could report they only have as many people developed a heart attack when they ℂ𝕙𝕖𝕨𝕖𝕕 𝕓𝕦𝕓𝕓𝕝𝕖𝕘𝕦𝕞. The FDA would then allow us to market bubble gum as preventing 50% of heart attacks because the relative risk is 0.5.


This ignores the fact that 0.02% of those that ℂ𝕙𝕖𝕨𝕖𝕕 𝕓𝕦𝕓𝕓𝕝𝕖𝕘𝕦𝕞 had a heart attack while 0.04% of those that did not chew gum did not have the same event. Certainly one case different between the two groups is not significant. However, it can be reported as a relative risk of 50%” “This sleight-of-hand reporting is the primary way that physicians are tricked into believing that drugs work.”


Healing is voltage- Dr Jerry Tennant


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