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.
Ethics in human experimentation in science-based medicine (David Gorski) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=11336 Human trials are essential to medical science, but unethical trials like the infamous Tuskegee syphilis study must be avoided. There is a balancing act between protecting subjects and getting the information we need to make medical decisions. Current regulations prevent most abuses, but ethically questionable studies are still being done.
Eating Placentas: Cannibalism, Recycling, or Health Food? (Harriet Hall) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=11346 After giving birth, most mammals eat the placenta; some people advocate the practice for humans based on health claims. Current scientific evidence is insufficient to either support or reject the practice. Personal choices can only be based on nonscientific considerations like cannibalism, recycling, and the “yuck” factor.
The Dark Side of Medical Globalization (Steven Novella) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=11381 As some countries struggle to balance freedom and protection at the edge of scientific knowledge, medical tourism is undercutting their efforts. Questionable treatments like neck surgery for MS patients or stem cell injections for various ailments are readily available in third-world countries. High-tech quackery has gone global.
Is “CAM” Fraud? (Jann Bellamy) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=11393 A lawyer discusses the legal implications of CAM. Misrepresentation is considered fraudulent if it is knowing, reckless, or implies a scientific basis that doesn’t exist. State licensing laws should not be interpreted as creating a privilege allowing practitioners to avoid liability for defrauding patients.
Triskaidekaphobia times two (Mark Crislip) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=11408 Some fear the 26 antigens and viruses in the vaccine schedule for young children, but that number is negligible compared to the enormity of exposure from the environment. Several studies even suggest that exposure to more antigens has health benefits such as a reduction in asthma.