Month: April 2016


Chiropractors, Blind Pigs, and Acorns

When people are at the end of their life they like to pass on their life lessons. One thing I have never had a patient say is “Doc, I sure wish I had spent more time at work.” I try and keep that in mind, but then there are those work commitments that are hard to avoid. I need to have a...

/ April 29, 2016

What (if anything) does “natural” mean?

What does the term “natural” mean on a label? Does it mean anything? Should it mean anything? Good questions. And complicated ones, judging from the list of questions the FDA needs your help in answering. The FDA has resisted defining “natural” in food product labeling, including whether foods that are genetically engineered, or contain genetically engineered ingredients, can use the term. Back...

/ April 28, 2016

Parents Convicted in Death of Toddler

This is a very sad and tragic case, and I have great sympathy for the extended family of Ezekiel Stephan, the 19-month-old who died of meningitis four years ago. In my opinion, there are many victims in this case. The jury, apparently, agreed. Yesterday they returned a guilty verdict for Ezekiel’s parents, David and Collet Stephan, who now face sentencing for failing...

/ April 27, 2016

Is the Annual Physical Unnecessary?

I was approached by The Wall Street Journal to write an article for their Big Issues in Health Care debate series. The subject was “Is the annual physical unnecessary?” I was to take the “yes” side and an internist was to take the “no” side. I wrote the following article. The editor wrote me a couple of times with questions. The internist...

/ April 26, 2016

Reclassifying thyroid cancer and the willful misunderstanding of overdiagnosis

If there’s one lesson that we here at Science-Based Medicine like to emphasize, it’s that practicing medicine and surgery is complicated. Part of the reason that it’s complicated is that for many diseases our understanding is incomplete, meaning that physicians have to apply existing science to their treatment as well as they can. The biology of cancer, in particular, can be vexing....

/ April 25, 2016

Separating Fact from Fiction in the Not-So-Normal Newborn Nursery: Chiropractic and Brachial Plexus Injury

Thanks to a hot tip from a follower on Twitter, I’ve once again found myself neck deep in chiropractic propaganda involving the care of a pediatric patient. The case as presented involves, among numerous specious assumptions, claims of successfully treating an infant’s paralyzed arm using chiropractic philosophy and spinal adjustment techniques. As I will explain in detail, this “miracle” is just another...

/ April 22, 2016

The Brown M&M’s of Science-Based Medicine

Medicine is constantly changing, and like most health professionals, I am required to maintain my competency to practice. I doubt pharmacists are unique in being inundated with offers of continuing medical/pharmacy education. Some courses are free, some cost hundreds of dollars, and it can be difficult to distinguish the high-quality programs from the biased or low-quality education that furthers a agenda, rather...

/ April 21, 2016

Behold my power, quacks, and despair! Mike Adams publishes several defamatory articles about yours truly…

Internet crank, quack, and conspiracy theorist Mike Adams has launched a campaign of character assassination against yours truly. I didn't know I had so much power.

/ April 20, 2016

The “It Worked for Me” Gambit

It is almost inevitable that whenever we post an article critical of the claims being made for a particular treatment, alternative philosophy, or alternative profession, someone in the comments will counter a careful examination of published scientific evidence with an anecdote. Their arguments boils down to, “It worked for me, so all of your scientific evidence and plausibility is irrelevant.” Both components...

/ April 20, 2016

Questioning the Evidence for Breastfeeding

Is breast best? Yes, but it's really not much better than formula in the United States. The better you account for confounding factors, the more benefits of breastfeeding disappear.

/ April 19, 2016