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.

Stanislaw Burzynski: The Early Years, part 1 (David Gorski) Two pro-Burzynski books reveal damning information about the early career of the dubious cancer doctor. He refused to play by the rules, declared his research exempt from the usual requirement for preclinical studies on animals, and evaded regulations intended to protect human subjects. His lawyer boasts about how they cynically put together fake clinical trials to cleverly evade FDA regulation so Burzynski could remain free to keep treating his clinic patients any way he wanted with his experimental antineoplaston treatments.


A Skeptical Look at Screening Tests (Harriet Hall) A written version of Dr. Hall’s talk at TAM 2013. There are a lot of misconceptions about screening tests; they can save lives, but people tend to think they save more lives than they really do. If screening tests are not chosen judiciously, they can do more harm than good. The USPSTF offers trustworthy evidence-based recommendations for and against the different tests.

Prenatal Mercury and Autism (Steven Novella) Studies have largely ruled out any contribution of mercury in vaccines to autism, but concern remains about the effects of mercury in fish. The evidence is mixed. Prenatal exposure to methylmercury from fish is probably not a significant risk for reduced IQ or autism, but pregnant women are advised to balance the nutritional benefits of fish with the possible risks, and to choose fish with lower mercury levels.

Integrative Medicine Invades the U.S. Military: Part One (Jann Bellamy) The testimony of Wayne Jonas before a Senate committee exemplifies the unconvincing arguments in favor of integrative medicine. He made implausible and unproven claims and deceptively reported on 3 studies. One was completed in 2007 but has still not been published, another amounts to Tooth Fairy science, and the third was a seriously flawed study deliberately designed to make integrative medicine look better than it is.

Religion and SCAM (Mark Crislip) Religious beliefs and practices have resulted in harm to human health in many ways: Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse lifesaving blood transfusions, Christian Scientists don’t live as long, the Catholic church opposes condoms and spreads misinformation about AIDS, contaminated holy water causes infections, newborns have contracted herpes from unsterile ritual circumcisions by mohels… the list goes on.