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.

Another antivaccine zombie meme: polio vaccine and SV40 and cancer, oh, my! (David Gorski)  One “zombie” meme that refuses to die is the idea that polio vaccines caused an epidemic of cancer because they contained cancer viruses derived from diseased monkeys. The grain of truth: the SV40 virus contaminated some batches of vaccines from 1961 to 1963. It never harmed anyone and procedures were changed so the contamination could not recur. The claim that vaccines caused AIDS is not supported by even the tiniest grain of truth. 

What Can We Learn from the Kitavans? (Harriet Hall)  The inhabitants of the island of Kitava in Papua New Guinea eat a high carbohydrate diet: 69% of calories from carbs, 21% total fat, 17% saturated fat, and 10% protein. They are free of the so-called “diseases of civilization” like heart attacks and stroke.  Their experience discredits low-carb and low-saturated fat diet advice but supports Mom’s advice to eat your vegetables.

Everything Causes Cancer (Steven Novella)  A survey of 50 common ingredients chosen at random from cookbooks found that there were published studies showing an increased or decreased cancer risk for 80% of those ingredients. Most studies were not replicated, and on meta-analysis they averaged out to a null risk. It is better to eat a variety of foods than to worry about the possible risks and benefits of individual foods and ingredients. 

Food Allergies: Facts, Myths, and Pseudoscience (Scott Gavura)  30% of the population believes they have a food allergy, but the actual prevalence is about 5%. Peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, and milk are common true allergies that can cause fatal anaphylactic reactions; but non-allergic food intolerances are often misinterpreted as allergies, and some people with self-diagnosed allergies may be restricting their diet unnecessarily. CAM practitioners use bogus allergy tests and treatments. 

Chiropractic Vs. Conventional: Dueling Perspectives On Infant Colic… (Clay Jones)  Colic is sometimes hard to distinguish from the high end of the spectrum of normal crying, and its cause is not understood. Conventional doctors do a thorough history and physical exam to rule out other conditions. Their approach is holistic: they inquire about parental stress and psychosocial factors. Instead of prescribing medication, they typically reassure the parents and help them cope until the child outgrows the problem, typically by age 2-3 months. Chiropractors claim to know what causes colic (subluxations), and they treat it with spinal manipulation.