Category: Public Health

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
Mobile_phone_evolution

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

The Institute for Science in Medicine enters the health care reform fray

I’ve been writing about the attempts of proponents of various pseudoscience, quackery, and faith-based religious “healing” modalities to slip provisions friendly to their interests into the health care reform bill that will be debated in the Senate beginning today. If you want to know what’s at stake, check out the first press release of a newly formed institute designed to promote science-based...

/ November 30, 2009

Naturopaths and the anti-vaccine movement: Hijacking the law in service of pseudoscience

Time and time again, we’ve seen it. When pseudoscientists and quacks can’t persuade the scientific and medical community of the validity of their claims, they go to the law to try to gain the legitimacy that their claims can’t garner through proving themselves by the scientific method. True, purveyors of pseudoscience and unscientifically-derived medical practices do crave the respectability of science. That’s...

/ November 30, 2009