Month: May 2014

Of the Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy, Bayes, the NIH, and Human Studies Ethics

An experiment is ethical or not at its inception; it does not become ethical post hoc—ends do not justify means. ~ Henry K. Beecher A couple of weeks ago, Dr. Josephine Briggs, the Director of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), posted a short essay on the NCCAM Research Blog touting the results of the Trial to Assess Chelation...

/ May 30, 2014

Harkin’s folly, or how forcing insurers to cover CAM undermines the ACA

All of us at SBM have repeatedly expressed frustration at the continuing influx of pseudoscience into the health care system. Judging from comments posted on this site and private communications we receive, our readers share this frustration but are at a loss to figure out how to get through to legislators and other policy makers. Unlike naturopaths and chiropractors, we don’t have...

/ May 29, 2014

PETA Embraces Autism Pseudoscience

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has a history of (as the old saying goes) using science as a drunk uses a lamppost – for support rather than illumination. In that way they are typical of ideological groups. They have an agenda, they are very open about their beliefs, and they marshal whatever arguments they can in order to promote...

/ May 28, 2014
Rope

Rope Worms: C’est la Merde

When I first heard about rope worms, I assumed it was a spoof. Alas, not so! Rope worms are rope-like meter-long human intestinal parasites that were only recently discovered in the returns of cleansing enemas and are often reported after coffee enemas. Strangely, no one had ever noticed them until 2009. They have never been observed during endoscopy or surgery, during medical...

/ May 27, 2014

In which Dr. Gorski is taken to task by an eminent radiologist for his posts on mammography

Introduction: An unexpected e-mail arrives One of the consequences of the growing traffic and prominence of this blog over the last few years is that people who would otherwise have probably ignored what I or my partners in blogging write now sometimes actually take notice. Nearly a decade ago, long before I joined this blog as a founding blogger, if I wrote...

/ May 26, 2014

Separating Fact from Fiction in Pediatric Medicine: Infant Gastroesophageal Reflux

By now, regular SBM readers should be aware of the Choosing Wisely initiative. Just in case, Choosing Wisely is a campaign developed by the ABIM Foundation to bring together experts from a variety of medical specialties in order to identify common practices that should be questioned by patients and providers, if not outright discontinued. Their ultimate goal was not to establish treatment...

/ May 23, 2014

Beware the Integrative Pharmacy

Imagine a retail pharmacy where some of the medicines on the shelves have been replaced with similar-looking packages that contain no active ingredients at all. There is no easy way to distinguish between the real and the fake. Another section of the store offers a number of remedies with fantastic claims, such as “boosting” the immune system, “detoxifying” the body, or “cleansing”...

/ May 22, 2014

Vaccines Still Not Linked to Autism

Myths tend to be persistent and require periodic maintenance debunking. The anti-vaccine movement arguably can credit its recent increase in effect to successfully spreading fears that vaccines in general, and particularly either the MMR vaccine (mumps, measles, and rubella) or the vaccine preservative thimerosal, are linked to autism. This claim was never based on legitimate science, and over the last 15 years...

/ May 21, 2014

Precision Medicine: The Coolest Part of Medicine

One size rarely fits all. Most medical knowledge is derived from studying groups of subjects, subjects who may be different in some way from the individual who walks into the doctor’s office. Basing medicine only on randomized controlled studies can lead to over-simplified “cookbook” medicine. A good clinician interprets study results and puts them into context, considering the whole patient and using...

/ May 20, 2014

What’s in a name?: NCCAM tries to polish a turd

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet; So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d, Retain that dear perfection which he owes Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name, And for that name which is no part of thee Take all myself. William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene 2...

/ May 19, 2014