Category: Public Health

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
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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
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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

Reclassifying thyroid cancer and the willful misunderstanding of overdiagnosis

If there’s one lesson that we here at Science-Based Medicine like to emphasize, it’s that practicing medicine and surgery is complicated. Part of the reason that it’s complicated is that for many diseases our understanding is incomplete, meaning that physicians have to apply existing science to their treatment as well as they can. The biology of cancer, in particular, can be vexing....

/ April 25, 2016
In rosuvastatin we trust?

Statins for everyone? Not so fast.

People love the idea of preventive medicine. Preventing a disease, before it occurs, seems intuitively obvious. But when it comes to taking medicine to prevent a disease before it occurs, people tend to be much less comfortable. Not only are there the concerns about the “medicalization” of healthy people, there are good questions about benefits, risks, and costs. Cardiovascular disease will kill...

/ April 7, 2016

Why Antibiotic Use Scares Me

Editor’s note: Today we present a guest post from fourth-year medical student Joshua Horton, about the looming problem of antibiotic resistance. Welcome! I read a study recently that alarmed me: acute bronchitis is a condition that rarely requires antibiotics, but three quarters of patients presenting with this condition receive a prescription for antibiotics. Even more worrisome, this statistic has not changed in...

/ March 20, 2016

American Journal of Public Health article touts “potential public health benefits” of homeopathy

An article in the April, 2016 issue of the American Journal of Public Health caught my eye: “Homeopathy Use by US Adults: Results of a National Survey.” I was pleased to see that homeopathy use is actually quite low. The 2012 National Health Survey found that only 2.1% of U.S. adults used homeopathy in the last 12 months, although that was a...

/ March 17, 2016
It's amazing how, to antivaccine activists, it just so happens that a vaccine that targets a sexually transmitted virus must also destroy a girl's ovaries.

The claim that Gardasil causes premature ovarian failure: Ideology, not science

When you’ve been blogging for over 11 years on your own blog and 8 years on a blog like Science-Based Medicine, particularly when what you blog about is skepticism and science-based medicine, with a special emphasis on rationally and scientifically discussing quackery, inevitably you see the same misinformation and lies pop up again and again. Indeed, those of us in the biz...

/ March 7, 2016