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.
Why haven’t we cured cancer yet? (David Gorski) Why haven’t we cured cancer? Because it’s hard; very, very hard. It’s not one disease but many individual diseases that are constantly evolving, both in response to the environment in which the cancer cells grow and to treatments that are thrown at them. A recent study of the multiple (median: 90) rearrangements and translocations in prostate cancer genomes illustrates the complexity of the problem.
Childbirth Without Pain: Are Epidurals the Answer? (Harriet Hall) Many women reject any pain relief for childbirth and many reject epidurals due to myths and misunderstandings. A new book, Epidural Without Guilt: Childbirth Without Pain, tries to set the record straight, examining the evidence and showing that unrelieved pain can be harmful and that safe, effective pain relief is available.
Treating the Common Cold (Steven Novella) There is a short list of treatments that have mild benefits for relieving cold symptoms (aspirin, decongestants, hot liquids, nasal irrigation). Don’t waste your time or money on other medications, supplements, herbs, or other concoctions.
Are you sure you’re allergic to penicillin? (Scott Gavura) One in ten people think they are allergic to penicillin; many of them are not. Unrelated rashes and other symptoms may lead to overdiagnosis. Avoiding penicillin can lead to worse alternatives; if the evidence for allergy is not clear-cut, testing is worth thinking about.
Critique of “Risk of Brain Tumors from Wireless Phone Use” (Lorne Trottier) A new review article on this subject is deeply flawed, even contradicting itself. The simplest and most compelling argument against any association between cell phones and brain cancer is that the incidence of brain cancer has not gone up since the introduction of cell phones.
Vaccination as “rape”: Meryl Dorey and the Australian Vaccination Network (Rachael Dunlop) Meryl Dorey’s anti-vaccine organization has lost its charity license and its authority to fundraise, and the Health Care Complaints Commission has warned the public that it poses a risk to public health and safety. Dorey has offered unconvincing excuses and now she has announced that a recent case of court-ordered vaccination constitutes child rape with full penetration.