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.  

Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski’s antineoplastons versus patients (David Gorski) Burzynski has been prohibited from providing his antineoplaston therapy outside of clinical trials, but he continues to attract patients with the promise of enrollment in clinical studies and not keep that promise. The problems with his practice have been highlighted in previous articles, but the impact on his patients needs to be emphasized more. These desperate sufferers are being lied to, charged exorbitantly, given false hope, and required to disrupt their lives for a difficult but ineffective treatment.  

Nonsense about the Health Effects of Electromagnetic Radiation (Harriet Hall) An article about the alleged health effects of low level EMF is packed with false statements and fallacious arguments. The recommended solutions to this non-problem include an astounding variety of nonsense like coffee enemas and avoidance of TV. This travesty purports to be science writing but is actually a propaganda piece consisting of opinion unsupported by credible evidence.  

The Placebo Narrative (Steven Novella) Another article about “placebo power” gets it wrong. It fails to consider reporting biases and nonspecific responses, misrepresents the evidence from studies, and fails to stress the difference between subjective and objective findings. The standard placebo narrative is flawed; the reality is far more complex and nuanced.  

Naturopaths push for licensing in Massachusetts (again) (Jann Bellamy) Massachusetts legislators passed a bill to license naturopaths, but the governor had the good sense to veto it. There are serious problems with the proposed legislation. Naturopaths will keep trying to achieve licensure in Massachusetts and in other states, and legislators need to be informed that naturopathic treatments don’t have sufficient evidence of safety and effectiveness.  

Systematic Review claims acupuncture as effective as antidepressants: Part 1: Checking the past literature (James Coyne) A recent review suggested that acupuncture is as effective as antidepressants and psychotherapy for depression. The authors were biased, their methods were suspect, significant problems were ignored, and their findings were inconsistent with what is found in high quality studies. More to follow. Campaign Aims to Shame Burzynski While Raising Money for Legitimate Cancer Research (Harriet Hall) Read the links to see just how reprehensible Burzynski is. Then donate to support cancer research. Burzynski will be challenged on his birthday to match the funds raised.