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.


Breast implants and anaplastic large lymphoma (ALCL): Is there a link? (David Gorski) Earlier fears of a link between silicone breast implants and autoimmune and other diseases have been put to rest by scientific studies, but now the FDA has issued an advisory about a possible link with a rare lymphoma. The number of cases is too small and the scientific evidence too weak to know for sure, but if a risk exists it is on the order of one in a million.

Overdiagnosis (Harriet Hall) A review of a new book by Dr. H. Gilbert Welch: Overdiagnosis: Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health, debunking the myth that it is always better to detect health problems early, and questioning the way we are using screening tests. It explains why sometimes we are better off not knowing about minor health problems and even some major ones.

Dr. Paul Offit appears on The Colbert Report  (David Gorski)  When Colbert interviewed Dr. Offit about his new book , he helped get a strong message across about the value of immunizations and the lack of evidence for a link with autism. Includes a link to the video.

The Safety Checklist (Steven Novella) Safety checklists are increasingly being used in medical settings, a culture change that is saving lives. Modern medicine is increasingly complex, and over-reliance on individual responsibility and training is giving way to a team approach and formal procedures to minimize errors.

Dr. Mehmet Oz completes his journey to the Dark Side (David Gorski) First Dr. Oz embraced the infamous Dr. Mercola on his TV show. Now he has gone even further into the Dark Side by embracing the bait and switch of alternative medicine and endorsing faith healing. Dr. Gorski wonders how an intelligent, scientifically trained surgeon could fall for such utter tripe.

Complementary and alternative medicine in hospice care (Brennen McKenzie)  About 42% of hospices offer some kind of complementary and alternative therapies; but rather than using acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractic and herbal medicines, they are mostly using modalities like massage, yoga, tai chi, prayer, etc. to provide comfort and relaxation. And only 8.6% of patients actually received one of these.

Of SBM and EBM Redux. Part IV: More Cochrane and a little Bayes (Kimball Atwood) The last of a series critiquing “evidence based medicine,” as currently implemented, for its inadequacy in evaluating highly implausible medical claims. The Cochrane reviews have even been infiltrated by biased true believers, and Bayesian prior probabilities are being ignored. One review studied the effect of therapeutic touch on human energy fields after admitting that the very existence of such an energy field remains in question.