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-woo in medicine.  

Everything we eat causes cancer…sort of (David Gorski) A study of cookbooks finds that the great majority of ingredients in our food have been associated with cancer in at least one study. Such studies offer weak preliminary findings of association, not of causation. They make the news, but they are not reasons to fear our food.  

Rituximab for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Jumping the Gun (Harriet Hall) CFS patients from as far away as Norway are spending thousands of dollars to travel to San Francisco for a questionable treatment with a risky IV drug, based only on very preliminary, shaky evidence. Some are under the false impression that this off-label treatment of individuals constitutes a scientific study, and there are other ethical concerns.  

Alternative Arthritis Treatments (Steven Novella) A review of alternative treatments for arthritis found, not surprisingly, that there is little evidence to support them. Of the few modalities found effective, exercise and massage should not be classified as alternative; and acupuncture has been shown elsewhere not to be effective. Acupuncture is “effective” only as a placebo.  

The Dr. Oz Red Palm Oil (non-) Miracle (Scott Gavura) Dr. Oz’s latest in a long series of fad “miracles” is red palm oil for longevity. His salesmanship employs ludicrous on-screen demonstrations like pouring palm oil down a goo-coated pipe. He goes by shreds of cherry-picked and misinterpreted research, but there is no credible evidence to support his claims that palm oil protects against dementia and atherosclerosis and reduces belly fat.  

The Shred Diet: A Minimally Kooky Way To Lose Weight (Val Jones) Another new fad diet plan, the Shred diet, is basically consistent with sound nutritional and exercise principles, but it mixes in some pseudoscientific “detox” nonsense, a “cleansing” regimen, and an odd exercise to stare at yourself in the mirror at the beginning of week 6.  

SCAMlandia (Mark Crislip) The city of Portland, depicted in the TV show Portlandia, is a hotbed of SCAM, both practitioners and schools that teach it. The Portland Alternative Medicine Guide is a convenient compilation of the nonsense on offer. It praises everything from holistic dentistry to ear acupuncture and craniosacral therapy.