Category: Public Health

Home birth tragedies lead to changes in Oregon

Oregon Health Plan (OHP), the state’s Medicaid insurer, will no longer cover planned home and birth center births for women whose pregnancies aren’t classified as low risk, based on newly-established criteria. The Health Evidence Review Commission (HERC), a group of experts designated by the state, came up with criteria that will exclude women with a substantial list of conditions, such as high...

/ December 10, 2015
Electromagnetic wave

“Electromagnetic hypersensitivity” and “wifi allergies”: Bogus diagnoses with tragic real world consequences

"Electromagnetic hypersensitivity" and "wifi allergies" are two names given to a nonexistent medical condition in low energy electromagnetic fields like wifi are blamed for a variety of health conditions. This is a story in which the parents' insistence that their teenage daughter, who had posted threats to commit suicide on social media, had this condition appears to have interfered with seeking mental...

/ December 7, 2015

Holding the supplement industry to account: Can we learn from tobacco regulation?

A new paper compares the supplement industry to Big Tobacco and argues that states should use the same tactics to improve consumer safety and protection.

/ December 3, 2015
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No, Purell Does Not Breed Super-Anything

Recently, I was sitting in a meeting and reached for the dispenser of Purell hand sanitizer sitting on the conference room table. A colleague of mine gave a small, rueful shake of her head to the person on her other side. Apparently I had erred. I asked what was the matter, and got a brief answer to the effect of “because superbugs.”...

/ November 28, 2015

The elusive “potential” of integrative medicine

  UPDATE: Dr. Katz has responded to this post in his usual venue, The Huffington Post. Alternative medicine was all about “potential” from the get go: In 1991, the Senate Appropriations Committee responsible for funding the National Institutes of Health (NIH) declared itself “not satisfied that the conventional medical community as symbolized at the NIH has fully explored the potential that exists in...

/ October 29, 2015
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Antivaccinationists and the Nation of Islam protest in front of the CDC, but don’t you dare call them “antivaccine”

Cranks of a feather quack together. Antivaccinationists team up with the Nation of Islam to protest vaccines at the CDC.

/ October 26, 2015
Mammography

The American Cancer Society’s new mammography guidelines: Déjà vu all over again

One of the things that feels the weirdest about having done the same job, having been in the same specialty, for a longer and longer time is that you frequently feel, as the late, great Yogi Berra would have put it, déjà vu all over again. This is particularly true in science and medicine, where the same issues come up again and...

/ October 21, 2015
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“Liquid biopsies” for cancer screening: Life-saving tests, or overdiagnosis and overtreatment taken to a new level?

I’ve written many times about how the relationship between the early detection of cancer and decreased mortality from cancer is not nearly as straightforward as the average person—even the average doctor—thinks, the first time being in the very first year of this blog’s existence. Since then, the complexities and overpromising of various screening modalities designed to detect disease at an early, asymptomatic...

/ September 28, 2015

An aspirin a day to prevent heart attacks, strokes, and cancer?

Taking an aspirin a day has always been controversial when it comes to preventing disease before it occurs. Now a task force is recommending daily use under some circumstances. Do the benefits really outweigh the risks?

/ September 24, 2015

Lawsuit Alleges School Wi-Fi Harmed Child with Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity

My mother had a favorite saying that rhymed: “All you need from dawn to dawn is someone else to blame it on.” WiFi involves mysterious emissions that you can’t see and that sneakily permeate our environment, and they have become a popular target for blame. A lawsuit has been filed against the Fay School in Massachusetts on behalf of a 12-year-old boy...

/ September 8, 2015