The Mind in Cancer: Low Quality Evidence from a High-Impact Journal

My science writing covers diverse topics but increasingly concerns two intertwined themes in cancer and psychology. First, I bring evidence to bear against an exaggerated role for psychological factors in cancer, as well as against claims that the cancer experience is a mental health issue for which many patients require specialty mental health interventions. Second, I explore unnoticed social and organizational influences...

/ August 3, 2012

Book Reviews: “The Cure for Everything” and “Which comes first, cardio or weights?”

Do you have any skeptical blind spots? I’ve had a skeptical perspective for a long time (my teenage cynicism wasn’t just a phase) but the framework for my thinking has developed over years. Professionally, the blind spot that the pharmacy profession has towards supplements and alternatives to medicine was only clear after I spent some time working in a pharmacy with thriving...

/ August 2, 2012

Brief Announcement

My book Women Aren’t Supposed to Fly: The Memoirs of a Female Flight Surgeon  is now available as a Kindle file for $3.99. If you don’t have a Kindle device, there is a free download so you can play Kindle files on your computer or iPad. Some readers may remember my mentioning it on SBM 4 years ago in the context of an article...

/ August 1, 2012

Antifluoridation Bad Science

There is a movement in the US to oppose a public health measure that is backed by impressive evidence showing it is safe and effective, as well as highly cost effective. For as long as the government has supported this health measure, there have been those opposed to it, claiming (against the evidence) that it is unsafe, ineffective, and represents a violation...

/ August 1, 2012

Therapy or Injury? Your Tax Dollars at Work.

The U.S. Army Medical Command recently announced a job opening  in the Interdisciplinary Pain Management Center at the San Antonio Military Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Two GS-12 positions were advertised for acupuncturists at a salary of $68,809 to $89,450. As a licensed acupuncturist, a candidate would be expected to offer a full array of the most current and emerging evidenced based...

/ July 31, 2012

The perils and pitfalls of “patient-driven” clinical research

Dying of cancer can be a horrible way to go, but as a cancer specialist I sometimes forget that there are diseases that are equally, if not more, horrible. One that always comes to mind is amyotropic lateral sclerosis (ALS), more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. It is a motor neuron disease whose clinical course is characterized by progressive weakness, muscle...

/ July 30, 2012

Journal Club

There is a tradition in medical training called Journal Club. The first rule of Journal Club is you do not talk about Journal Club. In Journal Club, at least in the iterations in which I have participated, one article is selected by an attending, everyone reads it, then the strengths, weakness and applicability are discussed by the group. Usually a top notch,...

/ July 27, 2012

NCCAM manipulates spinal manipulation

“Complementary and alternative medicine,” as pediatrician and fellow blogger John Snyder aptly stated in a recent journal article on CAM and children, is a term used to describe a disparate, poorly defined set of practices and treatment modalities presumed to be distinct from so-called ‘conventional medicine’. As we have discussed here at Science-Based Medicine, this amorphous concept facilitates a convenient fluidity in delineating...

/ July 26, 2012

Olympic Pseudoscience

The Summer Olympics are coming up, which means that, in addition to world-class athletic performance, the public will be exposed to a variety of sports-related pseudoscience. This is not unique to the Olympics, of course. The world of sports competition is rife with pseudoscience, false claims, dubious products, superstitions, and magical charms. The most egregious example of this recently has been the...

/ July 25, 2012

Red Yeast Rice and Cholesterol

While much of CAM is ridiculous or implausible, herbal remedies are an exception. Plants produce pharmacologically active substances; in fact, the science of pharmacology grew out of herbalism. Some herbal remedies have not been scientifically tested, but others have been tested and are clearly effective. Nevertheless, these are seldom if ever the best choice for treatment. One natural remedy stands out. Red...

/ July 24, 2012