Here is a recap of the stories that appeared over the last two weeks at Science-Based Medicine, a multi-author skeptical blog that separates the science from the woo in medicine.
The life cycle of translational research (David Gorski) Translational research develops basic science findings from the laboratory into practical clinical applications: only about 5% of promising ideas pan out, there are many pitfalls, and the process usually takes decades.
The anti-vaccine movement strikes back against Dr. Paul Offit (David Gorski) Vaccine expert Dr. Paul Offit is being sued because he was quoted as saying an anti-vaccine activist makes him nuts because “she lies.” This is one of several recent examples of promoters of pseudoscience using the law to intimidate and harass defenders of science-based medicine.
Osteoporosis Drugs: Good Medicine or Big Pharma Scam? (Harriet Hall) Are drug companies pushing osteoporosis drugs on women who don’t need them? A review of the evidence behind current recommendations for bone density testing and treatment.
Acupuncture for Hot Flashes (Steven Novella) A pilot study showed acupuncture was as helpful as the drug Effexor for treating hot flashes in breast caner patients who can’t take hormones; the study is of dubious utility, changes nothing, and raises the question of why it was even done.
The case for neonatal circumcision (Amy Tuteur) Circumcision has been shown to reduce the risk of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases; this calls for a reconsideration of current policies.
A victory for science-based medicine (Peter Lipson) Another look at the Paul Offit lawsuit, highlighting the desperation of those who hope the law will save their beliefs from the onslaught of science. It can be seen as a victory for free speech and the role it plays in science.
James Ray and testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) (David Kroll) James Ray, the leader of the sweat lodge disaster, was in possession of testosterone and a variety of other drugs that were improperly prescribed and/or illegal and may have influenced his state of mind.
Be careful what you wish for, Dr. Dossey, you just might get it (David Gorski) Dr. Larry Dossey has joined Deepak Chopra and Rustum Roy in attacking scientific medicine: Dr. Gorski critiques their arguments. Dossey’s call for CAM to be evaluated on a truly equal scientific footing with science-based medicine is exactly what we all want and is not likely to give the results that Dossey wishes for.
The Water Cure: Another Example of Self-Deception and the “Lone Genius” (Harriet Hall) Dr. Batmanghelidj’s Water Cure assumes that dehydration is the main cause of disease: the story of how an initial experience led to his complex edifice of self-deception is a prime example of the “lone genius” phenomenon.
The War on Salt (Steven Novella) Americans eat more salt than necessary, but the evidence that reducing salt intake reduces cardiovascular risk is inconclusive. A “War on Salt” to reduce the amount in processed and restaurant food has already begun: Dr. Novella hopes this war will be fought with good science.
Is breech vaginal delivery safe? (Amy Tuteur) Babies with breech presentations are usually delivered by C-section to reduce the risk. Some of these surgeries may be unnecessary, but the evidence shows that the policy saves lives overall.
You. You. Who are you calling a You, You? (Mark Crislip) Mehmet Oz and Mike Roizen write about YOU and health; their writings sometimes lack credibility. In a recent column they claimed “Research backs acupuncture for a range of ills.” It doesn’t: their claim is based on misunderstandings and misrepresentations of the published evidence.