Category: Public Health

Changing Climate, Changing Infections

I will state my bias up front.  I am convinced by the preponderance of data in favor of man made global warming.  At the most simplistic level, I can’t see how converting humongous tons of fossil fuel into C02 and dumping it into the the atmosphere cannot have effects on the climate.  To my mind its like determining vaccine efficacy or evolution....

/ February 26, 2010

The General Medical Council to Andrew Wakefield: “The panel is satisfied that your conduct was irresponsible and dishonest”

BACKGROUND In my not-so-humble opinion, the very kindest thing that can be said about Andrew Wakefield is that he is utterly incompetent as a scientist. After all, it’s been proven time and time again that his unethical and scientifically incompetent “study” that was published in The Lancet in 1999 claiming to find a correlation between vaccination with MMR and autistic regression in...

/ February 1, 2010

The Tamiflu Spin

I will start, for those of you who are new to the blog, with two disclaimers. First, I am an infectious disease doctor. It is a simple job: Me find bug. Me kill bug. Me go home. I spend all day taking care of patients with infections. My income comes from treating and preventing infections. So I must have some sort of...

/ January 29, 2010

e-Cigarette Safety

Ever since news of the harmful effects of tobacco smoke hit the public consciousess around the middle of the 20th century the tobacco industry and others have been looking for a “healthy” alternative. Are e-cigarettes just latest in a list of failed attempts to make smoking safe? In case you are a new visitor to our planet (welcome) using tobacco products has...

/ January 20, 2010

The anti-vaccine movement strikes back against Dr. Paul Offit

In my five years in the blogosphere, two years blogging for SBM, and over a decade in Internet discussion forums about medicine and “alternative” medicine, I’ve learned a few things. One thing that I’ve learned is that one of the biggest differences between those whose world view is based on science and who therefore promote science-based medicine and those promoting pseudoscience, quackery,...

/ January 4, 2010

Radiation from medical imaging and cancer risk

Science-based medicine consists of a balancing of risks and benefits for various interventions. This is sometimes a difficult topic for the lay public to understand, and sometimes physicians even forget it. My anecdotal experience suggests that probably surgeons are usually more aware of this basic fact because our interventions generally involve taking sharp objects to people’s bodies and using steel to remove...

/ December 21, 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

The Mammogram Post-Mortem

The Mammogram Post Mortem Steve Novella whimsically opined on a recent phone call that irrationality must convey a survival advantage for humans. I’m afraid he has a point. It’s much easier to scare people than to reassure them, and we have a difficult time with objectivity in the face of a good story. In fact, our brains seem to be hard wired...

/ December 10, 2009

A temporary reprieve from legislative madness

While doctor visits for influenza-like illnesses seem to be trending downward again, and “swine flu” is becoming old news, I’d like to draw attention to an H1N1 story that has received very little coverage by the mainstream media. Doctors in several states can now protect their most vulnerable patients from the H1N1 virus without worrying about breaking the law. In order to save lives, several states...

/ December 2, 2009