Category: Epidemiology

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Is Ageing a Disease That Can Be Cured?

There is an ongoing debate that has come to the fore recently about the ultimate limits of human longevity. The ultimate goal of medicine is to optimize health, with the result of maximizing the duration and quality of life. This is accomplished through health promotion, disease prevention, and disease treatment. There is no question that this approach has increased life expectancy, which...

/ October 19, 2016

Infectious Diseases and Cancer

With apologies to my colleagues, but infectious diseases really is the most interesting specialty in medicine. There are innumerable interesting associations and interactions of infectious diseases in medicine, history, art, science, and, well, life, the universe and everything. ID is so 42. A recent email led me to wander the numerous interactions between infections and cancer. There are the cancers that are...

/ September 30, 2016

Diet and exercise versus cancer: A science-based view

One of the most effective spin techniques used by advocates of “integrative medicine” (also sometimes called “complementary and alternative medicine,” or CAM for short) to legitimize quackery has been to claim basically all non-pharmacologic, non-surgical interventions as “integrative,” “complementary,” or “alternative.” Thus, science-based interventions such as diet changes to treat and/or prevent disease, exercise, and other lifestyle alterations are portrayed as somehow...

/ September 19, 2016

Does acetaminophen during pregnancy raise the risk of behaviour problems?

In my career as a pharmacist I’ve answered a lot of questions about medication use in pregnancy. Pharmacists are among the most accessible health professionals, and we’re usually found near a wall of medicines and supplements.  Many don’t trust Dr. Google, and for good reason: There are conflicting answers online. When it comes to medication use in pregnancy and effects on the...

/ August 18, 2016

Confusing overdiagnosis for an “epidemic” of thyroid cancer in Japan after Fukushima

One of my favorite topics to blog about for SBM is the topic of overdiagnosis and overtreatment. These are two interrelated phenomena that most people are blissfully unaware of. Unfortunately, I’d also say that the majority of physicians are only marginally more aware than the public about these confounders of screening programs, if even that. Overdiagnosis has long been appreciated to be...

/ March 14, 2016

Are the recommended childhood vaccine schedules evidence-based?

We write about vaccines a lot here at SBM, and for a very good reason. Of all the medical interventions devised by the brains of humans, arguably vaccines have saved more lives and prevented more disability than any other medical treatment. When it comes to infectious disease, vaccination is the ultimate in preventive medicine, at least for diseases for which vaccines can...

/ February 29, 2016

Air Pollution and Public Health

Public health measures are those not aimed at individuals but at society as a whole, or subgroups within society. Physicians are charged not only with promoting the health of their own patients, but as a profession we (and health care professions in general) are charged with promoting the public health. Public health measures, however, are highly likely to cross into politically charged...

/ February 24, 2016

Zika virus, microcephaly, and calls to bring back DDT

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last decade-plus of blogging about medicine and alternative medicine, it’s that any time there is an outbreak or pandemic of infectious disease, there will inevitably follow major conspiracy theories about it. I saw it during the H1N1 pandemic in the 2009-2010 influenza season, the Ebola outbreak in late 2014, and the Disneyland measles outbreak...

/ February 15, 2016

Holding the supplement industry to account: Can we learn from tobacco regulation?

A new paper compares the supplement industry to Big Tobacco and argues that states should use the same tactics to improve consumer safety and protection.

/ December 3, 2015
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No, Purell Does Not Breed Super-Anything

Recently, I was sitting in a meeting and reached for the dispenser of Purell hand sanitizer sitting on the conference room table. A colleague of mine gave a small, rueful shake of her head to the person on her other side. Apparently I had erred. I asked what was the matter, and got a brief answer to the effect of “because superbugs.”...

/ November 28, 2015