Category: Science and Medicine

Are Cell Phones a Possible Carcinogen? An Update on the IARC Report

EDITOR’S NOTE: Because I am at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Chicago, between the meetings, working on a policy statement, working on a manuscript, and various other miscellaneous tasks, I alas was unable to produce a post worthy of the quality normally expected by SBM readers. Fortunately, Lorne Trottier, who’s done a great job for us...

/ April 2, 2012

Lying for the State

Quacks lie.  In some ways, that’s what separates us from them.  Real doctors are stuck with the messy truth: with bad news, with uncertain outcomes.  It’s this reliance on the truth which gives us much of our credibility. Laws forcing doctors to lie to patients take me back to reading Kundera in the 80s; the hovering fear that everyday actions might bring...

/ March 30, 2012

The Species in the Feces: Probiotics and the Microbiome

I do not understand the interest many appear to have in their bowels and the movement there of.  But then, I pay little attention to most of my body functions as long they are functioning within  reasonable parameters, and as I get  older the definition of reasonable is increasingly flexible. The elderly especially seem to obsess about their bowels.  My theory is...

/ March 23, 2012

How to Choose a Doctor

From an e-mail I received: As a proponent of SBM, and a someone who places a high value on reason, logic and evidence, I would like to find a physician who shares this mindset. He went on to ask how he could go about finding one. Another correspondent was referred to a surgeon by her primary physician, and the surgeon inspired confidence...

/ March 20, 2012

Adherence: The difference between what is, and what ought to be

One of the most interesting aspects of working as a community-based pharmacist is the insight you gain into the actual effectiveness of the different health interventions. You can see the most elaborate medication regimens developed, and then see what happens when the “rubber really hits the road”: when patients are expected to manage their own treatment plan. Not only do we get...

/ March 15, 2012

The Application of Science

It all seemed so easy In 2010 an article was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Preventing Surgical-Site Infections in Nasal Carriers of Staphylococcus aureus .  Patients were screened for Staphylcoccus aureus ( including MRSA, methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and those that were positive underwent a 5 day perioperative decontamination procedure with chlorhexidine baths and an antibiotic, mupirocin, in the...

/ March 9, 2012

When To See a Doctor

Two weeks ago I wrote about the demise of the traditional annual physical for healthy adults who have no symptoms. The First Step: Identifying a Symptom People who do have symptoms should see a doctor. They should have appropriate evaluations that may or may not include a partial or complete physical exam. One problem is that people may not be able to decide...

/ March 6, 2012

The Marino Center for Integrative Health: Hooey Galore

Two weeks ago I promised that I would discuss the Marino Center for Integrative Health, identified in the recent Bravewell report as having a “hospital affiliation” with the Newton-Wellesley Hospital (NWH) in Newton, Massachusetts, which is where I work. I also promised in that post that I’d provide examples of ‘integrative medicine’ practitioners offering false information about the methods that they endorse. I’d...

/ March 2, 2012

Is gluten the new Candida?

Much of the therapeutics I was taught as part of my pharmacy degree is now of historical interest only. New evidence emerges, and clinical practice change. New treatments replace old ones – sometimes because they’re demonstrably better, and sometimes because marketing trumps evidence. The same changes occurs in the over-the-counter section of the pharmacy, but it’s here marketing seems to completely dominate....

/ March 1, 2012

Informed Consent and CAM: Truth Not Optional

In three recent posts, Drs. Novella, Gorski and Atwood took the Bravewell Collaborative to task over a report on its recent survey of U.S. “integrative medicine” centers. As Dr. Novella noted, So what is integrative medicine? When you strip away the rebranding and co-opting of features and treatments of mainstream medicine, you are left with the usual list of pseudoscientific practices that...

/ February 23, 2012