(Editor's note: Mea culpa, folks. It's entirely my fault that Harriet Hall's last two scheduled dispatches failed to go up on schedule. Please forgive me, and please do check out the following links. They lead to some of the best skeptical science writing on the web. - BKT)
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.
Pediatric Chiropractic Care: Scientifically Indefensible? (Sam Homola) There is no justification for chiropractic treatment of children. No evidence supports it, and it may be dangerous.
Food Allergies and Food Addiction (Harriet Hall) A questionable method of diagnosing food allergies and so-called “food addiction” is described; readers are invited to draw their own conclusions.
Low Dose Naltrexone – Bogus or Cutting Edge Science? (Steven Novella) Advocates of low dose naltrexone are turning a possibly promising treatment into essentially what is snake oil by promoting it for an implausibly long and contradictory list of indications: everything from breast cancer to emphysema. They rely on anecdotes and go far beyond the existing preliminary evidence.
How do religious-based hospitals affect physician behavior? (Peter Lipson) 20% of our hospitals are religion-affiliated and have institutional policies (for instance about abortion and birth control) that create ethical dilemmas for doctors. Doctors are ethically obligated to serve their patients’ needs regardless of institutional and personal beliefs.
Nine Questions, Nine Answers (Mark Crislip) An anti-vaccine activist has listed 9 questions that he says “stump every pro-vaccine advocate.” The questions are grounded in misinformation, ignorance or laziness: some of them are completely irrational and others could be easily answered by a brief Internet search: Dr. Crislip’s 12 year old son found the answer to one in 22 seconds flat!
The 2008-2009 Report of the President’s Cancer Panel: Mostly good, some bad, and a little ugly (David Gorski) Teasing out the relationship between environmental exposures and cancer risk is extremely complicated. The President’s Cancer Panel Report is a noble effort but it has some flaws and it subscribes to the precautionary principle. If its findings are not carefully communicated to the public it could result in cancer scares based on very little evidence.
Medicine’s Beautiful Idea (Harriet Hall) The new book Taking the Medicine by Druin Burch is a history of medicine organized around medicine’s “beautiful idea” – the idea that even the most reasonable-sounding treatments should be subjected to tests. He shows how modern medicine has not yet fully learned that lesson: “Bleeding and mercury have gone out of fashion, untested certainties and overconfidence have not.”
Welcoming a new blogger to SBM (David Gorski) Scott Gavura, who writes the Science-Based Pharmacy blog, has joined the SBM team and initially will be posting every 4 weeks.
A Pair of Acupuncture Studies (Steven Novella) The media have reported that two new acupuncture studies show that acupuncture improves the outcome after spinal injury and reduces pain perception. They don’t really show that: they are only small preliminary studies with serious methodological flaws, and they fail to support the underlying concepts of acupuncture.
Rx, OTC, BTC – Wading into Pharmacy’s Alphabet Soup (Scott Gavura) Science informs, but does not determine, your ability to buy a drug without a prescription. A discussion of all the factors that go into regulatory decisions about which drugs should be available over the counter.
Snake oil for snakebites (and other bad ideas) (Joseph Albietz) Six common beliefs about snakebite are revealed to be myths. First aid and treatment recommendations based on science are described.