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

Help a reader out: Abstracts that misrepresent the content of the paper

Earlier this week, a reader of ours wrote to Steve and me with a request: First off, I just want to say thank you for everything you gentlemen do. I find that your sites are extremely helpful when trying to figure out what level of information is BS, and what is real. In short, I was wondering if either of you two...

/ March 9, 2012

FDA versus Big Supp: Rep. Burton to the Rescue (Again)

The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) has been aptly described here at SBM as a travesty of a mockery of a sham. The supplement industry’s slick marketing, herb adulteration due to lack of pre-market controls, Quack Miranda Warning, and the many supplements for which claims of effectiveness failed to hold up under scientific scrutiny (e.g., antioxidants, collagen, glucosamine...

/ March 8, 2012

Anti-Smoking Laws – The Proof of the Pudding

One consistent theme of SBM is that the application of science to medicine is not easy. We are often dealing with a complex set of conflicting information about a complex system that is difficult to predict. That is precisely why we need to take a thorough and rigorous approach to information in order to make reliable decisions. The same is true when...

/ March 7, 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

A surprising article about “integrative” medicine in The New England Journal of Medicine vs. “patient-centered” care

The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) is published on Thursdays. I mention this because this is one of the rare times where my owning Mondays on this blog tends to be a rather large advantage. Fridays are rotated between two or three different bloggers, and, as awesome as they are as writers, bloggers, and friends, they don’t possess the rabbit-like speed...

/ March 5, 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
Bread; a food most quacks can agree is terrible for you.

Is gluten the new Candida?

Celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity are very different things. The former has a large, visible, well-understood scientific foundation that is lacking in the latter.

/ March 1, 2012

Pyroluria and Orthomolecular Psychiatry

I have previously written about psychomotor patterning – an alleged treatment for developmental delay that was developed in the 1960s. The idea has its roots in the notion of ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny, that as we develop we progress through evolutionary stages. This idea, now largely discredited, was extended to the hypothesis that in children who are developmentally delayed their neurological development could...

/ February 29, 2012

Acupuncture, Infertility, and Horrible Reporting

An article (and associated news video clip) from ClickOn in Detroit is titled “Alternative treatment helps Michigan doctor beat infertility.” This is a misleading title, and the report is an example of poor science reporting. Was she infertile? The patient in question was a 33-year-old family practice doctor who believed she was infertile. By definition, infertility is failure to conceive after a...

/ February 28, 2012