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.
Cancer care in the U. S. versus Europe: Is more necessarily better? (David Gorski) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/cancer-care-in-the-u-s-versus-europe/ US medical expenditures are higher than Europe’s, but outcomes appear to be worse. Country comparisons are problematic, and measuring overall survival rates is not as valid as measuring mortality rates or stage-specific survival rates. Survival rates are misleading because they are skewed by the effects of earlier diagnosis and overdiagnosis in two of the most common cancers: breast and prostate.
The Future of Medicine (Harriet Hall) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/the-future-of-medicine/ A new book by Eric Topol predicts “the creative destruction of medicine.” New technological developments are truly exciting, but they will not “destroy” medicine, only improve it. Enthusiasm about their value should be tempered by good judgment; they will require the same assessment of risks and benefits that scientific medicine requires of all new treatments.
The Skeptical Clinician (Steven Novella) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/the-skeptical-clinician/ Clinical decision making is an investigative process subject to fallacies and cognitive pitfalls, requiring that clinicians be good skeptics and good scientists. Alternative medicine surrenders to gullibility and naiveté and is philosophically incompatible with real medicine: thus “integrative medicine” is impossible.
The CAM Docket: Boiron II (Jann Bellamy) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/the-cam-docket-boiron-ii/ Five consumer lawsuits are pending against Boiron, the largest manufacturer of homeopathic remedies. The plaintiff’s experts present a convincing case against homeopathy, while Boiron’s expert witness relies on pseudoscience, fallacies, and testimonial evidence.
Spring Update on Prior Posts (Mark Crislip) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/spring-update-on-prior-posts/ New information on topics covered earlier: disease outbreaks from raw milk, DNA from endangered species found in Chinese remedies, a study showing that homeopathic lead doesn’t cure lead poisoning, and a study confirming that homeopathy produces placebo responses.