Category: Medical Ethics

The Overuse of Antibiotics for Viral Infections in Children

“For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.” -H. L. Mencken As I sit in an apartment full of unpacked boxes and grumpy children, only a few days removed from driving 1,600 miles to a 3rd floor walk-up and a better life just outside of Boston, I find the task of writing a post somewhat daunting....

/ August 2, 2013
UBiome_-_Microbiome_Sequencing_Gut_Bacteria_Sample_Kit_(17238556660)

Meet Your Microbes: uBiome Offers New Service

We are not alone. Walt Whitman didn’t know how right he was when he said, “I contain multitudes.” The microbes on and in our bodies outnumber our own cells 10:1.  Perhaps that creeps you out. Perhaps that makes you curious to know just who all these billions of creatures are that are using your body for a home and a transportation device....

/ June 25, 2013

Two Viewpoints

Most of what I read professionally is directed towards reality-based medicine. I spend my professional energies thinking about the application of reality to killing various and sundry microscopic pathogens. The conceptual framework I use, and that used by others in medicine, does not concern itself with the application of the Supplements, Complementary and Alternative Medicines that occupy the attention of this blog....

/ June 14, 2013

Angelina Jolie, radical strategies for cancer prevention, and genetics denialism

I had been debating whether to blog about Angelina Jolie’s announcement last week in a New York Times editorial entitled My Medical Choice that she had undergone bilateral prophylactic mastectomy because she had been discovered to have a mutation in the BRCA1 gene that is associated with a very high risk of breast cancer. On the one hand, it is my area...

/ May 20, 2013

Is thyroid replacement a performance-enhancing drug?

Has one physician uncovered the secret to Olympic Gold medals? And is that secret as simple as undiagnosed low thyroid function? That’s the question posed in a recent Wall Street Journal column entitled U.S. Track’s Unconventional Physician. Like the story that Steven Novella described yesterday, this narrative describes the medical practice of Dr. Jeffrey S. Brown, who sees thyroid illness where others...

/ May 9, 2013

Enbrel for Stroke and Alzheimer’s

A recent article in the LA times tells of a husband’s quest to find a treatment for his wife’s Alzheimer’s disease. This is a narrative that journalists know and love—the brave patient or loved-one who won’t accept the nihilism of the medical establishment, who finds a maverick doctor willing to buck the system. The article itself at least was not gushing, it...

/ May 8, 2013

Undermining the regulation of stem cell therapies in Italy: A warning for the future?

Stem cells are magical. At least, if you listen to what docs and “practitioners” who run stem cell clinics in various parts of the world, usually where regulation is lax and money from First World clientele is much sought after, that’s what you could easily come to believe. Unfortunately, it’s not just Third World countries in which “stem cell clinics” have proliferated....

/ May 6, 2013

Rituximab for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Jumping the Gun

Now that the XMRV myth has been put to rest,  patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) are no longer jumping the gun to demand anti-retroviral treatments. But they are jumping the gun in new ways, based on very preliminary data coming out of Norway. A correspondent in Norway wrote to tell me patients from Norway with myalgic encephalitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) are travelling...

/ January 8, 2013

Dr. Oz Doubles Down on Green Coffee Bean with a Made-for-TV Clinical Trial

“One of the most important discoveries I believe we’ve made that will help you burn fat – green coffee bean extract” – Dr. Oz, September 10, 2012, Episode “The Fat Burner that Works” Dr. Mehmet Oz may be biggest purveyor of health pseudoscience on television today. How he came to earn this title is a bit baffling, if you look at his...

/ January 3, 2013

Beyond Informed Consent: Shared Decision-Making

Happy New Year to all our readers! Today marks the completion of 5 years of SBM and the beginning of year 6. My contributions, at one a week, have now reached a total of 260. My first post on this blog, 5 years ago, was a review of an important book about science and alternative medicine, Snake Oil Science. This year I’d like...

/ January 1, 2013