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.
The sad saga of an Amish girl with a curable cancer whose parents are refusing chemotherapy in favor of “natural healing” (David Gorski) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/the-sad-saga-of-an-amish-girl-with-a-curable-cancer-whose-parents-are-refusing-chemotherapy-in-favor-of-natural-healing/ A 10 year old girl with lymphoma was responding well to chemotherapy, but the parents stopped her treatment in the belief that it was killing her. The hospital got a medical guardian appointed, but the parents fled with the child. A controversy erupted about parental rights, natural treatments, and other related issues.
Update: Chiropractic Neck Manipulation and Stroke (Harriet Hall) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/update-chiropractic-neck-manipulation-and-stroke/ The risk of stroke with neck manipulation is generally recognized, but many chiropractors would still like to shift the blame elsewhere. A new study tries to show that the association doesn’t qualify as causation by Hill’s criteria. The author’s arguments are unconvincing and don’t take the “smoking gun” cases into account or address the risk/benefit ratio.
Detecting Consciousness in the Vegetative (Steven Novella) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/detecting-consciousness-in-the-vegetative/ Up to 41% of patients diagnosed as being in a vegetative state may be minimally conscious but still unable to wake up or act purposefully. fMRI studies have shown brain activity in response to stimuli, but it’s not clear whether this represents consciousness or a lower level of function. This is an intriguing gray zone that requires further research.
New concerns about the safety and quality of herbal supplements (Scott Gavura) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/new-concerns-about-the-safety-and-quality-of-herbal-supplements/ A new study confirms the findings of previous studies that there are serious quality concerns with herbal products sold today. DNA analysis found that 59% of products contained plant species not listed on the label, one-third contained fillers and contaminants not listed on the label, and a third contained none of the labeled ingredient (for instance, a sample labeled as containing St. John’s Wort only contained Senna, a laxative). Of 12 companies sampled, only 2 had authentic products without any substitution, contaminants, and fillers.
Separating Fact from Fiction in Pediatric Medicine: Infant Teething (Clay Jones) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/seperating-fact-from-fiction-in-pediatric-medicine-infant-teething/ There is a long list of symptoms falsely attributed to the eruption of teeth in infants. Teething may cause mild gum discomfort, but not fever or symptoms elsewhere in the body. Popular teething remedies are ineffective (like amber necklaces) and potentially dangerous (like the homeopathic remedy that caused belladonna poisoning).