Category: Clinical Trials

The life cycle of translational research

I’m a translational researcher. To those of you who aren’t familiar with what that means, it means (I hope) that I study potential therapies in the lab and try to translate them into actual therapies that will cure patients of breast cancer — or, at the very least, improve their odds of survival or prolong survival when cure is not possible. Translational...

/ January 4, 2010

Acupuncture, the P-Value Fallacy, and Honesty

Credibility alert: the following post contains assertions and speculations by yours truly that are subject to, er, different interpretations by those who actually know what the hell they’re talking about when it comes to statistics. With hat in hand, I thank reader BKsea for calling attention to some of them. I have changed some of the wording—competently, I hope—so as not to...

/ December 15, 2009

Another wrinkle to the USPSTF mammogram guidelines kerfuffle: What about African-American women?

A while back I wrote about rethinking how we screen for breast cancer using mammography. Basically, the USPSTF, an independent panel of physicians and health experts that makes nonbinding recommendations for the government on various health issues, reevaluated the evidence for routine screening mammography and concluded that for women at normal risk for breast cancer, mammography before age 50 should not be...

/ December 14, 2009

Cell phones and cancer again, or: Oh, no! My cell phone’s going to give me cancer! (revisited)

It’s been about a year and a half since I’ve written about this topic; so I thought I’d better update the disclaimer that I wrote at the beginning: Before I start into the meat of this post, I feel the need to emphasize, as strongly as I can, four things: I do not receive any funding from the telecommunications industry in general,...

/ December 14, 2009

Yet another nail in the coffin of the myth that the MMR vaccine causes autism

Another study, another refutation of the myth that the MMR vaccine causes autism. The same as it ever was. Antivaccine activists won't listen. Also the same as it ever was.

/ December 7, 2009

Neti pots – Ancient Ayurvedic Treatment Validated by Scientific Evidence

Nasal irrigation with salt water is recommended by 87% of family doctors as an adjunctive treatment to relieve the symptoms of nasal congestion and sinusitis. The simplest method is to hold salt water in your cupped hand, block one nostril while you inhale the water into the other nostril, then blow your nose. The high-tech version is to use a Neti pot,...

/ December 1, 2009

Cancer prevention: The forgotten stepchild of cancer research?

The New York Times has been periodically running a series about the “40 years’ war” on cancer, with most articles by Gina Kolata. I’ve touched on this series before, liking some parts of it, while others not so much. In particular, I criticized an article one article that I thought to be so misguided about how the NIH grant system leads researchers...

/ November 16, 2009
Conflict of interest

Conflicts of interest in science-based medicine

Science-based medicine is not perfect. Financial interests, conflicts of interest (COIs), and the pride of individual practitioners can at times undermine it. But it's so much better than any alternative we have tried before. It works, and, although it does so in fits and starts, sometimes all too slowly, it's getting better all the time. Dealing more effectively with COIs will only...

/ November 16, 2009
knee x-ray

A Case Study In Aggressive Quackery Marketing

With some degree of sadness I recently “outed” a former co-resident of mine who has turned to the dark side and begun putting money-making before truth and science. Without any clear evidence of benefit beyond placebo, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is now being marketed aggressively as a cure-all for sports injuries. And at about $300 per injection (the NYT reports $2000/treatment), there’s plenty...

/ October 22, 2009

“Gonzalez Regimen” for Cancer of the Pancreas: Even Worse than We Thought (Part II: Loose Ends)

Last week I discussed the dismal results of the “Gonzalez Trial” for cancer of the pancreas,* as reported in an article recently posted on the website of the Journal of Clinical Oncology. I promised that this week I’d discuss “troubling information, both stated and unstated [in the report],” and also some ethical issues. More has come to light in the past few...

/ September 20, 2009