Last Week In Science-Based Medicine PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dr. Harriet Hall   

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.

A very special issue of Medical Acupuncture (David Gorski) A special issue of an acupuncture journal was devoted to the science behind the therapy. The basic science “evidence” they offer is flawed in many ways: studies are unblinded, are about electroacupuncture instead of plain acupuncture, etc. None of the articles validate acupuncture or provide any compelling evidence for a physiologically plausible mechanism.

Too Much Information! (Harriet Hall) A new service offers seventeen and will eventually offer hundreds or thousands of blood tests by mail from a single drop of blood on a card. Doing all those tests without specific indications is a very bad idea, likely to do more harm than good. Even worse: this lab has not validated the accuracy of its results and does not plan to seek certification.

Science-Based Public Service Announcements (Steven Novella) Public service announcements that educate about health risks are more effective when they grab people’s attention and deliver a strong message. The “scared straight” message has limited long term utility. More effective: measures that make it easier for people to engage in healthful behaviors and difficult to engage in risky behavior.

What’s in your supplement? (Scott Gavura) Current diet supplement regulations (under the DSHEA) are a boon to manufacturers but provide little consumer protection. Quality control is inadequate: the FDA found violations of Good Manufacturing Practice in half the firms it inspected. Recalls of prescription drugs are outnumbered by diet supplements recalled because they were adulterated with prescription drugs.

Alternative Medicine and the Vulnerable Child (Clay Jones) The vulnerable child syndrome (VCS) occurs when anxious parents believe a healthy child is at increased risk for behavioral, developmental, or medical problems. The irrational perception of vulnerability leads to abnormal parental behaviors and harm to children. Alternative health practitioners contribute to the problem by creating or reinforcing parental anxieties with fanciful diagnoses and bogus testing.