Category: Public Health

Science-Based Politics: Lyme, Zika, and the Green Party.

I don’t have much to write about this week. Yeah, yeah, I know. How is that different than the last 50 blog entries? And I will have even less to say next time. But nothing of real interest has crossed my screen the past two weeks, not that I have really been looking. One of my favorite stories as a kid was...

/ August 5, 2016
Antivaccine fears

Dealing with vaccine hesitancy and refusal

Almost as long as there have been vaccines, there has been an antivaccine movement. The misinformation promoted by antivaccinationists can infect parents and make them vaccine-averse. Here, we deal with some antivaccine tropes that find their way to the vaccine-averse.

/ August 1, 2016
Mass spectrometer

Deconstructing the Conspiracy of Deliberate Poisoning of US Municipal Water

Heavy metals here, there, everywhere… One of the key narratives among the supporters and practitioners of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), particularly those with a conspiratorial world-view, is the claim that vast portions of the US general populous is being deliberately poisoned by certain corporations, special-interest groups, invested individuals, and the US government. Some of these supporters and practitioners go as far...

/ July 31, 2016

AMA Decides Gun Violence is a Public Health Issue

On June 14th the American Medical Association’s (AMA) House of Delegates in Chicago, IL voted almost unanimously to adopt a resolution supporting the idea that gun violence is a public health issue. The resolution also called for lobbying Congress to eliminate the ban on research into the causes of gun violence. The AMA reports: “With approximately 30,000 men, women and children dying...

/ June 15, 2016

Health and Wellness Coaching: cautious optimism and some concerns

The National Consortium for Credentialing of Health & Wellness Coaches (NCCHWC) and the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) signed an agreement last month for the launch of a national certification for individual health and wellness coaches in the U.S. According to a joint press release, the agreement is a landmark in the efforts of a dedicated group of individuals who have...

/ June 9, 2016

No, a rat study with marginal results does not prove that cell phones cause cancer, no matter what Mother Jones and Consumer Reports say

There are certain myths that are frustratingly resistant to evidence, science, and reason. Some of these are basically medical conspiracy theories, where someone (industry and/or big pharma and/or physicians and/or the government) has slam-dunk evidence for harm but conspires to keep it from you, the people. For example, despite decades worth of negative studies, the belief that vaccines are harmful, causing conditions...

/ May 30, 2016
Transfection_by_Agrobacterium

National Academy of Sciences Report on GMOs

Despite the fact that numerous scientific and health organizations around the world have examined the evidence regarding the safety of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and found them to be completely safe, there remains a public controversy on this topic. In fact a Pew Poll found that while 88% of AAAS scientists believe that GMOs are safe for human consumption, only 37% of...

/ May 18, 2016
medical-error

Are medical errors really the third most common cause of death in the U.S.?

A regurgitation of existing data suggested that medical error is the third leading cause of death in America. Is it true? Spoiler alert! No. No it's not. While medical error can and should be reduced, this BMJ article does not justify claims that doctors are a leading cause of death in the United States.

/ May 9, 2016
glass_phial_of_british_standard_penicillin_london_england_wellcome_l0059573-large

Overprescribing Antibiotics

Recently I had a cutaneous abscess which was treated (quite painfully) with incision and drainage. My doctor told me that antibiotics were not strictly necessary, but I could have them if I wanted. The idea of any treatment that could resolve the abscess more quickly was appealing, but I did not want to contribute to the unnecessary use of antibiotics so I...

/ May 4, 2016
SB277, which eliminates nonmedical exemptions to school vaccine mandates in California, is a very good law, but it's not perfect. Unfortunately, one provision allows the issuance of medical exemptions based on the say-so of doctors using antivaccine misinformation and pseudoscience.

Medical exemptions to vaccine mandates for sale after SB277! Get ’em before they’re gone!

When California passed SB 277 into law, eliminating personal belief exemptions to school vaccine requirements and permitting only personal medical exemptions, I predicted that antivaccine quacks would start issuing bogus medical exemptions. Unfortunately, I was right.

/ May 2, 2016