Science-Based Medicine

The Death of Expertise (Di, 21 Nov 2017)
In Tom Nichols' new book, The Death of Expertise, he explains how a misguided intellectual egalitarianism is harming our ability to assess the truth and solve problems, and discusses some of the responsible factors and possible long-term consequences.
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What is “integrative oncology”? Even the Society for Integrative Oncology doesn’t seem to know for sure (Mo, 20 Nov 2017)
Last week, the Society for Integrative Oncology published an article attempting to define what "integrative oncology" is. The definition, when it isn't totally vague, ignores the pseudoscience at the heart of integrative oncology and medicine.
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Hopelessly Devoted to Woo: TLC and Forbes Bring Us Yet Another Celebrity Healer (Fr, 17 Nov 2017)
Endorsed by journalists and studied by academic medicine, bogus celebrity energy healer Charlie Goldsmith now has his own television program. In other words, it's just another day at Science-Based Medicine.
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CAM use leads to delays in appropriate, effective arthritis therapy (Do, 16 Nov 2017)
A preference to use CAM before seeking medical advice may be harming patients with inflammatory arthritis.
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Placebo Myths Debunked (Mi, 15 Nov 2017)
Placebo treatments are often sold as magical mind-over-matter healing effects, but they are mostly just illusions and non-specific effects.
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Turpentine, the Fountain of Youth According to Dr. Jennifer Daniels (Di, 14 Nov 2017)
Jennifer Daniels says turpentine is the Fountain of Youth, able to cure many ailments, both real and imaginary. It isn't; it's a poison with no recognized benefits for human health.
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Why do some women refuse treatments for their breast cancer? (Mo, 13 Nov 2017)
Adjuvant therapy after surgery, such as chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, and radiation therapy, has contributed to a 39% decrease in breast cancer mortality since 1989. Unfortunately, a significant number of women decline evidence-based adjuvant therapy. A recent study suggests that distrust of the medical system plays a significant role in such refusal.
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Another “Chronic Lyme” VIP disciplined by NY medical authorities: Bernard Raxlen (Do, 09 Nov 2017)
Another "Lyme literate" NY physician is on probation and under orders to clean up his act. Will other physicians treating "chronic Lyme" take note?
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Risks of a Gluten-Free Diet (Mi, 08 Nov 2017)
Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity does not seem to be a real entity according the current evidence, but this has not stopped the gluten-free fad, which may be causing real harm.
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Update on ASEA, Protandim, and dōTERRA (Di, 07 Nov 2017)
Multilevel marketing distributors of dietary supplements and essential oils point to studies that they think constitute evidence that their products work. They don't understand why those studies are inadequate.
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ORBITA: Another clinical trial demonstrating the need for sham controls in surgical trials (Mo, 06 Nov 2017)
Last week, the results of ORBITA were published. This clinical trial tested coronary angioplasty and stenting versus optimal medical management in patients with single-vessel coronary artery disease. It was a resoundingly negative trial, meaning that adding stenting to drug management didn't result in detectable clinical improvement. What was distinctive about this trial is that it used a sham procedure (i.e., placebo) control, which few trials testing surgery or a procedure use. The results of ORBITA emphasize how important sham procedure controls are, whenever they can be ethically used, and how resistant physicians can be to change.
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The American Chiropractic Association Answers Crislip’s Call, Joins the Choosing Wisely Campaign (Fr, 03 Nov 2017)
The Choosing Wisely campaign has invited the largest chiropractic organization in the United States to publish a list of interventions to avoid. The results, while not entirely without merit, consist of redundant or unnecessary recommendations. And there is a glaring absence of recommendations to avoid any of the blatant pseudoscience commonly practiced by chiropractors.
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Liver cancer, naturally (Do, 02 Nov 2017)
Aristolochic acid, a highly toxic substance naturally found in some traditional herbal medicines, may be a significant cause of liver cancer.
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ASEA – Still Selling Snake Oil (Mi, 01 Nov 2017)
ASEAs marketing practices, in my opinion, are clearly deceptive. They use a lot of pseudoscientific claims representing the epitome of supplement industry misdirection and obfuscation. They use science as a marketing tool, not as a method for legitimately advancing our knowledge or answering questions about the efficacy of specific interventions.
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Facial Cupping: A Kinder, Gentler, Sillier Kind of Cupping (Di, 31 Okt 2017)
A new cupping fad using silicone devices is gentler than traditional cupping, but even sillier. There is no evidence of health benefits.
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Torturing mice, data, and figures in the name of antivaccine pseudoscience (Mo, 30 Okt 2017)
In September, antivaccine "researchers" Christopher Shaw and Lucija Tomljenovic published a study claiming to link aluminum adjuvants in vaccines to neuroinflammation and autism. Naturally, the antivaccine movement pointed to it as slam dunk evidence that vaccines cause autism. It's not. In fact, not only is it bad science, but it might well be fraudulent.
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AAFP: Functional Medicine lacks supporting evidence; includes “harmful” and “dangerous” treatments (Do, 26 Okt 2017)
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) found Functional Medicine lacking in evidence and said some treatments are harmful and dangerous. The AAFP is right and should stick to its conclusions.
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Jarisch-Herxheimer and Lyme disease (Mi, 25 Okt 2017)
When patients diagnosed with chronic Lyme are treated, no matter what happens as a response to the treatment is considered by believers to be evidence in support of the diagnosis. If they get better, then that is evidence that the treatment is working. If they get worse, then that is evidence that the treatment is working and they are experiencing the JHR (or "herxing" as the community calls it). If nothing happens, they just need more treatment. No matter what happens or doesn't happen, it's chronic Lyme.
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Mainstream Doctors Actually Do What CAM Claims They Don’t (Di, 24 Okt 2017)
Alternative medicine proponents criticize mainstream medicine and think they can do better. Evidence from medical journals shows that their criticisms are not valid.
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UC-Irvine, integrative medicine, and the delusion of being “science-based” (Mo, 23 Okt 2017)
Last month, a billionaire couple, Susan and Henry Samueli, announced a $200 million gift to UC-Irvine to found the Susan and Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences, which will be devoted to integrative medicine and studying "unconventional" treatments. Its founders promise that it will be rigorously science-based in articles in a large, glossy magazine. There are many reasons for doubts about this claim.
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The American Academy of Pediatrics has an Integrative Medicine Problem (Fr, 20 Okt 2017)
The American Academy of Pediatrics is usually a trustworthy source of high quality information for patients, caregivers, and pediatric medical providers. But when it comes to so-called integrative medicine, they have a massive biased blind spot. In this post, I discuss a recently updated clinical report from their Section on Integrative Medicine.
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Australia ends insurance subsidies for naturopathy, homeopathy, and more (Do, 19 Okt 2017)
The Australian government has eliminated the insurance subsidy for 17 alternative health practices due to a lack of evidence for efficacy. This is a win for medicine and Australian taxpayers.
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Is Mindfulness Meditation Science-Based? (Mi, 18 Okt 2017)
Existing research has not yet clearly defined what mindfulness is and what effect it has. The hype clearly has gone beyond the science, and more rigorous research is needed to determine what specific effects there are, if any.
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Chiropractor Disregards the Loss of His License, Continues to Treat Patients with Cervical Dysplasia with Escharotics (Di, 17 Okt 2017)
A chiropractor who bills himself as a chiropractic gynecologist has continued to practice after his license was permanently revoked. Among his many questionable practices, Nick LeRoy is treating cervical dysplasia with escharotics, a potentially dangerous replacement for conventional treatments to prevent cancer.
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Integrative medicine advocates react to criticisms of the Samuelis’ $200 million gift to UC-Irvine (Mo, 16 Okt 2017)
Last month, Susan and Henry Samueli donated $200 million to the University of California, Irvine to promote integrative medicine. We were pleasantly surprised by the unflattering coverage in the press of the gift. We were unpleasantly unsurprised by the reaction of integrative medicine advocates to the criticism.
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Don’t drink your bath water – Epsom salts, liver damage, and naturopaths (Fr, 13 Okt 2017)
What's the harm of naturopathy? How about Epsom salt-induced liver damage?
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Repealing Legislative Alchemy (Do, 12 Okt 2017)
We need to repeal federal and state laws that allow quackery and pseudoscience in healthcare.
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Zombie Science (Mi, 11 Okt 2017)
Retractions of scientific studies do not always mean that the studies die a deserved death. Sometimes they live on as zombie studies, continuing to be cited by other researchers and having an effect on the scientific discussion. We can fix this.
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Preying on the Vulnerable: Electrodiagnostics, Bach Flower Remedies, and Sound Therapy for Autism, ADHD, and Learning Problems (Di, 10 Okt 2017)
Karyne Jeanne Richardson offers a ridiculous program of electrodiagnosis, flower remedies, and fractal sound to treat autism and other disorders. There are science-based autism programs that work; it is unfortunate when parents subject their autistic children to onerous, expensive, time-consuming, useless treatments based on pseudoscientific claims and false promises.
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The Pathological Optimist: More hagiography than documentary about Andrew Wakefield (Mo, 09 Okt 2017)
The Pathological Optimist is a recently released documentary by Miranda Bailey about Andrew Wakefield that I got a chance to see. In interviews and in the film's promotional materials, Bailey takes great pains to emphasize that she "doesn't take a side" about Wakefield. Unfortunately, her film demonstrates that, when it comes to pseudoscience, "not taking a side" is taking a side, and that a film's bias is often more evident in what is not shown and told than in what is.
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