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.  

Blame and Magical Thinking: The consequences of the autism “biomed” movement (David Gorski) The vaccine/autism myth refuses to die; it continues to fuel costly, useless, and potentially harmful treatments. The new propaganda film “Canary Kids” characterizes all kinds of health problems as “almost autism” and attributes them to vaccines. Parents are being persuaded to blame themselves for their children’s autism and to feel guilty for having allowed them to be vaccinated.  

Kudos to a Journalist (Harriet Hall) An award for science journalism went to Bob Ortega for a well-researched article revealing that the SurePath preservative is not FDA approved for the HPV test. In fact, the company and the FDA had issued warnings to labs about the risk of false negative results; but that information had not reached doctors and patients.  

Doctors and Dying (Steven Novella) Familiarity with the futility of certain treatments has made doctors less likely than other people to accept aggressive end-of-life care. Health resources are not infinite, and overly aggressive care may just cause more pain and suffering. More accurate information (for instance, the low success rate of CPR) and better communication about end of life issues can help patients come to terms with death and encourage them to sign advance directives to make their wishes clear.  

Calcium supplements and heart attacks: More data, more questions (Scott Gavura) The use of calcium supplements is widespread, intended to reduce the risk of osteoporotic fractures. Recent studies have shown an association with heart attacks. The evidence is mixed, but suggests it would be wise to depend more on dietary sources and avoid at least the higher doses of supplements.  

Chiropractic and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (Clay Jones) Sudden infant death syndrome is frightening; chiropractors capitalize on that fear and offer spinal manipulation of infants as a way to prevent SIDS. There are legitimate ways to lower the risk, like putting babies to sleep on their backs and avoiding exposure to tobacco smoke. There is no rationale or evidence to support spinal manipulation for SIDS prevention, and the one study chiropractors cite is an uncontrolled farce that doesn’t address SIDS itself.