Written by Harriet Hall, MD (The SkepDoc)
Here is a recap of the stories that appeared last week at Science-Based Medicine, a multi-author skeptical blog that separates the science from the woo in medicine.
NCCAM Director Dr. Josephine Briggs and the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (David Gorski) When Dr Briggs speaks at the AANP conference, she will be sharing the podium and thereby giving her tacit support to some very questionable speakers on topics such as “emunctorology” and “auricular medicine.” It would be great if Dr. Briggs’ talk would challenge naturopathy’s pseudoscientific concepts like homeopathy and energy medicine and stand up for science, but she probably couldn’t do that without losing her job.
Glucosamine: The Unsinkable Rubber Duck (Harriet Hall) New studies keep showing that glucosamine is ineffective for osteoarthritis, and the mechanism seems implausible, but it is still widely used. A study of glucosamine for back pain was negative, but the authors seemed strangely reluctant to accept their own results.
Meat and Weight Control (Steven Novella) A new study reports an association with eating meat and weight gain. The methods are problematic and the conclusions questionable. Factors like portion control are probably more important than the macronutrient composition of the diet.
Special Challenges of Science-Based Veterinary Medicine (Brennan McKenzie) It is difficult to practice good evidence-based veterinary medicine because of a paucity of evidence. The findings of human research can be helpful, for instance in the case of glucosamine, where further research investigating its effects on animals is probably not warranted.
Risibility. The Superior Therapeutic Intervention? (Mark Crislip) Is laughter medically beneficial? A sense of humor? Despite attempts to study it, the evidence is not convincing.
The Texas Medical Board acts in the case of the Winkler County whistle blowing nurses (David Gorski) Medical boards have not done a good job of restraining incompetent practitioners. In a recent Texas case, they charged Dr. Rolando Arafiles with 9 instances of substandard care, but they did so only after a publicized court case against the nurses who reported him, and they neglected to charge him with his many other more serious offenses against science-based medical practice.
The China Study Revisited: New Analysis of Raw Data Doesn’t Support Vegetarian Ideology (Harriet Hall) Denise Minger did an exhaustive re-evaluation of the data in the huge epidemiologic China Study and found serious errors that discredit the conclusions of author T. Colin Campbell. A strong advocate of eliminating animal protein from the diet, he sought out specific correlations to confirm his predictions and disregarded other, stronger correlations; and his research on casein was also flawed.
Taking On Homeopathy in Germany (Steven Novella) Homeopathy does not work and cannot work, but it has persevered due to cultural inertia and political support. Rising health care costs have led to a new trend: politicians in the UK and Germany are calling for elimination of government payments for homeopathic treatment.
Californians give a whoop – or I hope they do (Joseph Albietz) A review of pertussis and an account of its current resurgence in California. So far 6 babies have died from this vaccine-preventable disease.
Open Letter to Dr. Josephine Briggs (Kimball Atwood) Dr. Josephine Briggs, the Director of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, professes to support science-based medicine, but has agreed to appear at a naturopathy convention. Dr. Atwood chastises her for this apparent endorsement of non-scientific practitioners, and he reminds Dr. Briggs of some of the unacceptable treatments naturopaths offer.