Year: 2010

Yes, Jacqueline: EBM ought to be Synonymous with SBM

“Ridiculing RCTs and EBM” Last week Val Jones posted a short piece on her BetterHealth blog in which she expressed her appreciation for a well-known spoof that had appeared in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) in 2003: Parachute use to prevent death and major trauma related to gravitational challenge: systematic review of randomised controlled trials Dr. Val included the spoof’s abstract in her...

/ February 5, 2010

Energy Healing In Maryland

I had an interesting conversation with a reporter today. She called me to get a “medical/skeptical” counterpoint for an article she is preparing on energy healing. Although I don’t know if she’ll faithfully represent what I had to say, we had an entertaining exchange and so I decided to capture the essence of it here. I’m curious to see which parts of...

/ February 4, 2010
Fluoxetine_20mg_with_Packet

Study shows antidepressants useless for mild to moderate depression? Not exactly.

As Harriet Hall has written, psychiatry bashing is a popular media sport. There seems to be a bias against treatment of psychiatric disabilities, and a common claim is that antidepressants are no better than placebo. The New York Times illustrated both the perpetuation of the myth that antidepressants are ineffective, and the increasing and disturbing tendency of major media organizations to confuse...

/ February 4, 2010

The Lancet retracts Andrew Wakefield’s article

In 1998 Andrew Wakefield and 11 other co-authors published a study with the unremarkable title: Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children. Such a title would hardly grab a science journalist’s attention, but the small study sparked widespread hysteria about a possible connection between the mumps-measles-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The study itself has not stood...

/ February 3, 2010

Do Cell Phones Prevent Alzheimer’s?

Scientific studies are not meant to be amusing, but I laughed out loud when I heard about this one. After all the concern about possible adverse health effects from cell phone use, this study tells us cell phone use can prevent Alzheimer’s, treat Alzheimer’s, and even improve cognitive function in healthy users. They studied transgenic mice programmed by their genes to develop...

/ February 2, 2010

Success in the fight against childhood diarrhea

Rotavirus is the world’s most common cause of severe childhood diarrhea.  In the U.S. alone, rotavirus disease leads to around 70,000 hospitalizations, 3/4 million ER visits, and nearly half-a-million doctor office visits yearly.  But it rarely causes death. The same is not true for the developing world.  Rotavirus disease is estimated to kill around a half-million children a year world wide.  ...

/ February 1, 2010

The General Medical Council to Andrew Wakefield: “The panel is satisfied that your conduct was irresponsible and dishonest”

BACKGROUND In my not-so-humble opinion, the very kindest thing that can be said about Andrew Wakefield is that he is utterly incompetent as a scientist. After all, it’s been proven time and time again that his unethical and scientifically incompetent “study” that was published in The Lancet in 1999 claiming to find a correlation between vaccination with MMR and autistic regression in...

/ February 1, 2010

The Tamiflu Spin

I will start, for those of you who are new to the blog, with two disclaimers. First, I am an infectious disease doctor. It is a simple job: Me find bug. Me kill bug. Me go home. I spend all day taking care of patients with infections. My income comes from treating and preventing infections. So I must have some sort of...

/ January 29, 2010

Reflexive doubt

Those of us who study, practice and write about medicine cherish the hope that explaining the science behind medicine (or the lack of science behind “alternative” treatments) will promote a better understanding of medicine. Certainly, I would not bother to write about medical topics if I did not believe that promoting science based medicine would lead to increased understanding of medical recommendations...

/ January 28, 2010

Evolution in Medicine

A recent series of article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) discusses the role of evolutionary biology in modern medicine. The authors collectively make a forceful point – medicine is an applied science. It is based upon a number of basic sciences, and one of those basic sciences is evolution. The most obvious example is bacterial antibiotic resistance....

/ January 27, 2010