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.
Redefining cancer (David Gorski) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/redefining-cancer/ A legitimate scientific debate about cancer screening and diagnosis is being misused for political ends, being characterized as a way to ration cancer care under the Affordable Care Act by redefining cancer, with the prediction of more cancer deaths. Their ignorance is showing. The debate is about adjusting terminology, screening, and treatment to be more in line with our more recent understanding of complex cancer biology. We now know that ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is not really cancer, but only a premalignant lesion; we have been over-diagnosing and over-treating.
How to Talk to People About CAM (Harriet Hall) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/how-to-talk-to-people-about-cam/ If you have friends or relatives who hold unscientific beliefs, how can you set them straight without alienating them? Can you hope to change people’s minds? A few thoughts and suggestions, and an invitation to join the discussion.
The CAM Worldview (Steven Novella) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/the-cam-worldview/ Many advocates of CAM have a world view that is antiscientific and discordant with reality. They want you to believe in conspiracies, the wisdom of gurus, and the power of anecdotal evidence and stories. An e-mail from a believer in the Buteyko Breathing Method is a prime example of the kind of apologetics and fallacious arguments they use.
Student Health Professionals and Attitudes about CAM (Scott Gavura) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/student-health-professionals-and-attitudes-about-cam/ A flawed survey of pharmacy students revealed that few students disagreed with any CAM therapy, with the strongest support for vitamins, minerals, dietary supplements and massage (which arguably isn’t CAM). 64% accepted acupuncture, and over 40% accepted homeopathy. They were most influenced by personal experience, coursework, and faculty attitudes; they were not even asked about the influence of scientific evidence. Pseudoscience is gaining ground in academia.
Anti-VEGF treatment of Macular Degeneration: Science-Based Success (David Weinberg) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/anti-vegf-treatment-of-macular-degeneration-science-based-success/ The treatment of age-related macular degeneration has undergone a revolution over the past few years, highlighting what real science and real evidence can accomplish. Instead of relentlessly progressing to blindness, ARMD can now be stabilized and improved with medication. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) was recognized as the cause of blood vessel proliferation, and two competing drugs became available for injection into the eye. Despite some corporate shenanigans, we now know that both Lucentis and Avastin are equally effective, but the first is almost 40 times as expensive and the second causes slightly more adverse events.