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.
Preventing autism? Not so fast, Dr. Mumper (David Gorski) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/preventing-autism-not-so-fast-dr-mumper/ A pediatrician (a vaccine-autism true believer) claims that autism has vanished from her practice since she adopted a modified vaccine schedule, probiotics, breast-feeding, avoidance of Tylenol and antibiotics, and other changes. She published a retrospective study with no control group, based on dubious science, with a poorly defined hypothesis, multiple interventions, sloppy methodology, and questionable statistics. Her study tells us a whole lot of nothing.
When urgency to cure beats research ethics, bad things happen (David Gorski) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/when-urgency-to-cure-beats-research-ethics-bad-things-happen/ Two neurosurgeons at the University of California Davis injected live bowel bacteria into the brains of 3 patients with brain cancer, deliberately causing bacterial meningitis with the idea that an infection might stimulate their immune systems, an idea that is even less plausible than Burzynski’s antineoplastons. They gamed the system intended to protect human subjects, and were found to have violated their university’s code of conduct.
Cranial Manipulation and Tooth Fairy Science (Harriet Hall) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/cranial-manipulation-and-tooth-fairy-science/ Osteopathic cranial manipulation is based on fantasies that have been debunked (an alleged rhythmic fluctuation in cerebrospinal fluid, the alleged mobility of fused cranial bones, and even far more fanciful delusions), but researchers persist in doing Tooth Fairy science to try to prove it has clinical benefits. In a recent review of randomized controlled trials, even the true-believer authors admitted that the evidence was insufficient.
The Science of Clinical Trials (Steven Novella) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/the-science-of-clinical-trials/ 27% of published studies re-evaluated existing treatments: 40% of these studies were reversals, showing the practices to be ineffective; 38% reaffirmed the value of current practice, and 21.8% were inconclusive. Half of new treatments were found superior to existing treatments; this is probably close to ideal. This stands in sharp contrast to the world of alternative medicine, where treatments are seldom re-evaluated and standards of evidence are softened.
The Trojan Horse called Integrative Medicine arrives at another medical school (Scott Gavura) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/the-trojan-horse-called-integrative-medicine-arrives-at-another-medical-school/ The University of Toronto is seeking a director to lead a new interdisciplinary program in integrative medicine, with a focus on traditional Chinese medicine and natural health products. This is only one example of the widespread infiltration of quackademic medicine into academia, a trend that will only reduce and compromise the quality of education and the quality of care offered to patients.
Chiropractic Practice Building: A Doctor’s Confession and the Report of Findings (Clay Jones) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/chiropractic-practice-building-a-doctors-confession-and-the-report-of-findings/ Chiropractors are not doing well: many practices are failing due to low demand and marketplace oversaturation. They frequently turn to practice-building techniques that deliberately deceive patients. Among these are phony personal confessions that disparage the medical profession and scripts for incorporating sales pitches into the review of findings after a patient is examined.