Month: March 2016

Regulating CAM Aussie Style

CAM proponents view National Health Interview Surveys recording the supposed popularity of CAM, an amorphous conflation of anything from conventional medical advice to mythical methods, as an invitation to unleash even more unproven remedies on the public. My interpretation is quite different. I see the same figures as proof that we are doing too little to protect the public from pseudoscience. In...

/ March 31, 2016

What Not To Say When Someone Is Sick

I understand the impulse, but you are well-advised to resist it. When someone you know has a serious illness, maybe even dying, you want to say something to them that is helpful, positive, and hopeful. The hopeful tone takes away some of the sting and the awkwardness of not knowing what to say to someone who just told you they are dying....

/ March 30, 2016

Carotid Artery Stenosis: Surgery, Stent, or Nonsurgical Stroke Prevention?

The carotid artery in the neck is a common site of atherosclerosis. As plaque builds up, it leaves less room for blood flow and can cause strokes through clotting or embolization. Carotid stenosis is defined as a greater than 70% narrowing of the lumen (the space through which the blood flows in an artery). It can cause symptoms, including transient ischemic attacks...

/ March 29, 2016
Tribeca Film Festival

VAXXED and the Tribeca Film Festival: How Robert De Niro learned the hard way about Andrew Wakefield and the antivaccine movement

Disgraced antivaccine doctor, Andrew Wakefield, managed to pull another fast one. His antivaccine propaganda film, VAXXED, was mysteriously accepted for a screening at the Tribeca Film Festival. It turns out that TFF co-founder Robert De Niro had pulled some strings. The well-deserved backlash provides yet another example of how Andrew Wakefield discredits everything he touches.

/ March 28, 2016

Audio Therapy for Postoperative Pediatric Pain: Randomized Controlled Nonsense

In January of 2015, a study on “the effect of audio therapy to treat postoperative pain in children” performed at Lurie Children’s Hospital and published in Pediatric Surgery International made the media rounds. It was the typical story where numerous news outlets further exaggerated already exaggerated claims made in a university press release, in this case Northwestern University in Chicago. Some of...

/ March 25, 2016
Will this help you recover from exercise?

More drugs, more supplements, and potentially more problems

Early in my career I was fortunate to be offered a role as a hospital pharmacist, working on an inpatient ward along with physicians, nurses, and a number of other health professionals. My responsibilities included conducting a detailed medication review with each newly admitted patient. We would sit together, often with family members, going through what was sometimes a literal garbage bag...

/ March 24, 2016
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Zap Your Way to Learning?

The company Halo Neuroscience is now offering a device, the Halo-Sport, which they claim enhances sports performance through “neuropriming.” Their website claims: Neuropriming uses pulses of energy to increase the excitability of motor neurons, benefiting athletes in two ways: accelerated strength and skill acquisition. Regular readers of SBM can probably see where this is going. A proper threshold of evidence Before I...

/ March 23, 2016

Testing Testosterone Treatments

Ponce de Leon is said to have been looking for the Fountain of Youth when he explored Florida. That’s only a myth. Now there’s a new myth, that testosterone supplements are a Fountain of Youth for aging men. Men are urged to get their testosterone levels checked if they have any of a long laundry list of vague symptoms. Anti-aging clinics promote...

/ March 22, 2016

The hijacking of evidence-based medicine

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of John Ioannidis. So, I daresay, are pretty much all of the editors and regular contributors to this blog. (If you don’t believe me, just type Ioannidis’ name into the blog search box and see how many posts you find.) Over the last couple of decades, Ioannidis has arguably done more to reveal the shortcomings...

/ March 21, 2016

Why Antibiotic Use Scares Me

Editor’s note: Today we present a guest post from fourth-year medical student Joshua Horton, about the looming problem of antibiotic resistance. Welcome! I read a study recently that alarmed me: acute bronchitis is a condition that rarely requires antibiotics, but three quarters of patients presenting with this condition receive a prescription for antibiotics. Even more worrisome, this statistic has not changed in...

/ March 20, 2016