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.

“Low T”: The triumph of marketing over science (David Gorski) When sexual dysfunction is caused by true hypogonadism, testosterone therapy is therapeutic. Unfortunately, clever marketing has convinced thousands of men with a laundry list of unrelated symptoms that they need testosterone for “Low T.” There is no evidence that it can relieve those symptoms, and it can cause adverse effects such as sleep apnea, shrinkage of the testicles, heart attacks, and increased mortality. “Low T” is sales, not science.

New Cholesterol Guidelines (Harriet Hall) The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association have issued new guidelines for the use of statins. Based on the best current evidence, they have discarded “target” levels for LDL cholesterol in favor of a better approach based on risk level and intensity of statin dose. They offer a calculator to measure an individual’s risk of a cardiovascular event over the next 10 years. The changes have led to controversy and misunderstandings.

The FDA and Personalized Genetic Testing (Steven Novella) The FDA has instructed the company 23andMe to discontinue its Personal Genome Service because of noncompliance: they have been unable to show that their tests are valid and reliable. There are deeper concerns. Even a 100% accurate test would not mean the information was as useful to consumers as they imply. The results are open to misinterpretation and misuse; and they can harm customers in various ways.  

Happy Thanksgiving! (Jann Bellamy) A Thanksgiving greeting with thanks for the cornucopia of blog fodder coming up: legislation and other developments relating to science-based medicine that we can expect to see in the next year.

You be the judge (David Weinberg) In the Healing Arts Alliance, a variety of different and even contradictory kinds of alternative medicine coexist. They say their approach is “non-judgmental.” It’s fine to be non-judgmental about people; but being non-judgmental about ideas is a mistake, especially when they involve different versions of reality and can’t all be true.