Category: Public Health

An aboriginal girl dies of leukemia: Parental “rights” versus the right of a child to medical care

One topic that keeps recurring and obligating me to write about it consists of critically analyzing stories of children with cancer whose parents, either on their own or at the behest of their child, stop or refuse chemotherapy or other treatment. It is, sadly, a topic that I’ve been discussing for nearly a decade now, starting first on my not-so-super-secret other blog...

/ January 26, 2015
cigarette_in_white_ashtray

Smoking Cessation and the Affordable Care Act

Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death. Each year it kills more than 5 million people around the world, 480,000 in the US alone. And for every person who dies, about 30 more have serious illnesses caused by smoking. On average, smokers die 10 years earlier than nonsmokers. Anyone who is concerned about preventive medicine must consider smoking cessation a priority....

/ January 13, 2015

Say it ain’t so, Mickey! A holiday measles outbreak makes the happiest place in the world sad

Last week, the self-proclaimed “happiest place on earth” wasn’t so happy. One of the disadvantages of posting once a week is that, unless I muscle in on someone else’s day I can’t respond rapidly to stories that appear early. Of course the flip side of that is that if a story appears over the weekend it’s all mine, and, besides, I have...

/ January 12, 2015
3D model of the molecular structure of glyphosate.

Glyphosate – The New Bogeyman

There is an ideological subculture that is motivated to blame all the perceived ills of the world on environmental factors and corporate/government malfeasance. Often this serves a deeper ideological drive, which can be anti-vaccine, extreme environmentalism, or anti-GMO. The latest environmental bogeyman making the rounds is glyphosate, which is being blamed for (you guessed it) autism. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in...

/ December 31, 2014

Pesticides: Just How Bad Are They?

I think everyone would agree that it would not be a good idea to put pesticides in a saltshaker and add them to our food at the table. But there is little agreement when it comes to their use in agriculture. How much gets into our food? What are the effects on our health? On the environment? Is there a safer alternative?...

/ December 9, 2014

Vani Hari, a.k.a. “The Food Babe,” finally responds to critics

It’s no secret that we here at Science-Based Medicine (and many scientists and skeptics with a knowledge of basic chemistry and biology) have been very critical of Vani Hari, better known to her fans as The Food Babe. The reasons for our criticisms of her are legion. Basically, she is a seemingly-never-ending font of misinformation and fear mongering about food ingredients, particularly...

/ December 8, 2014

Low Dose Aspirin for Primary Prevention

A new study published in JAMA sheds further light on a controversial question – whether or not to prescribe low-dose aspirin (81-100mg) for the primary prevention of vascular disease (strokes and heart attacks). Primary prevention means preventing a negative medical outcome prior to the onset of disease, in this case preventing the first heart attack or stroke. Secondary prevention refers to treatments...

/ November 19, 2014
Sneeze

Conspiracy theories and Ebola virus transmission

Yesterday, I spiffed up a post that some of you might have seen, describing how a particular medical conspiracy theory has dire consequences in terms of promoting non-science-based medical policy. Specifically, I referred to how the myth that there are all sorts of “cures” for deadly and even terminal diseases that are being kept from you by an overweening fascistic FDA’s insistence...

/ November 3, 2014

Salk’s swansong: renaissance of the injected polio vaccine

Picture a lab scientist. White coat, pensive expression, microscope in hand. Glasses, perhaps. The person you have in mind (providing you are willing to humour a stereotype or two) may have a striking resemblance to Jonas Salk, the archetypal laboratory researcher, born in New York City on Wednesday 28th October 1914 — one hundred years ago today. The name will be familiar...

/ October 28, 2014

Brian Hooker and Andrew Wakefield accuse the CDC of scientific fraud. Irony meters everywhere explode.

The antivaccine movement and conspiracy theories go together like beer and Buffalo wings, except that neither are as good as, yes, beer and Buffalo wings. (Maybe it’s more like manure and compost.) In any case, the antivaccine movement is rife with conspiracy theories. I’ve heard and written about more than I can remember right now, and I’m under no illusion that I’ve...

/ October 26, 2014