Category: Basic Science

The Gene: An Intimate History

Six years ago I reviewed Siddhartha Mukherjee’s book The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. It was hands-down one of the best books I have ever read on a medical topic. Now he’s done it again. His new book is titled The Gene: An Intimate History. Mukherjee is a superb writer. Much of what I said about his first book...

/ July 19, 2016
Is this a PVS structure or something else?

The Primo Vascular System: The N-rays of Acupuncture?

Acupuncture meridians and acupoints are imaginary until proven otherwise. Anatomists have never been able to detect them by microscopy or autopsy, and they are not mentioned in anatomy textbooks. For decades, acupuncturists have been trying to prove that their pre-scientific belief system is grounded in scientific reality. Now they are telling us that acupuncture meridians and acupoints have been discovered in the...

/ June 7, 2016
Cancer cell immunofluorescence

Is there a reproducibility “crisis” in biomedical science? No, but there is a reproducibility problem

Reproducibility is the key to scientific advancement. It has been claimed that we suffer from a "reproducibility crisis," but in reality it is a chronic problem in reproducibility. Here we will look at the scope of the problem and strategies to address it.

/ June 6, 2016
Integrative medicine

“Integrative” medicine versus “alternative” medicine

I’ve written a lot about the language issue with respect to alternative medicine. As I like to put it (at least in shortened form), first there was quackery. Quacks did not like that name at all, and thus was born alternative medicine. And the quacks did think it good—for a while. There was a problem, however. “Alternative” medicine implied (correctly, of course)...

/ May 15, 2016
Skin microbiome large

Vaginal Seeding. Ew. That’s nuts. Hmmm, interesting.

Sometimes a headline will cause me to run through a series of reactions in rapid sequence. For example “Mothers facing C-sections look to vaginal ‘seeding’ to boost their babies’ health”: Early studies show that swabbing a mother’s vagina and transferring it to her baby’s mouth, eyes and skin may stimulate microbiome development similarly to babies born naturally – and protect it from...

/ May 13, 2016

Sharks Get Cancer, Mole Rats Don’t: Clues to Understanding Cancer

We think of cancer as caused by mutations. Mutations are necessary, but not sufficient, to cause cancer. New research indicates that it’s the body’s response to mutant cells that determines whether cancer will develop. James S. Welsh, MD, a radiation oncologist and researcher, has written a book on the immunology of cancer, Sharks Get Cancer, Mole Rats Don’t: How Animals Could Hold...

/ May 3, 2016
Where's the sauna detox?

NCCIH Strategic Plan 2016-2021, or: Let’s try to do some real science for a change

It’s no secret that we at Science-Based Medicine (SBM) are not particularly fond of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). Formerly known as the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and before that the Office of Alternative Medicine, NCCIH has been the foremost government agency funding research into quackery for the last 24 years, and, of course,...

/ April 4, 2016

The hijacking of evidence-based medicine

A hero of the blog, John Ioannidis, worries that evidence-based medicine has been hijacked, and when Ioannidis says something we at SBM listen. But has EBM been "hijacked"?

/ March 21, 2016

The Essential Role of Regulation In Human Health and In Ecology: The Serengeti Rules

The doubling time for E.coli bacteria is 20 minutes. With uncontrolled growth, it would take a mere two days for the weight of bacteria to equal the weight of the Earth. What rules determine the actual numbers of bacteria? Why is the world green; why don’t insects eat all the leaves? How does the body maintain homeostasis? What determines the uncontrolled growth...

/ March 1, 2016
This was the reality of how DDT was used 65 years ago.

Zika virus, microcephaly, and calls to bring back DDT (Rachel Carson revisionism edition)

In response to the Zika virus threat, predictably the same group of anti-environmentalists are urging that we bring back DDT and "Spray, baby, spray!" To make their questionable case, they overstate the benefits of DDT, downplay its risks, and engage in some major historical revisionism regarding the legacy of Rachel Carson.

/ February 15, 2016