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.


A little more weekend shameless self-promotion to spread an important message about Stanislaw Burzynski (David Gorski)
David Gorski and Bob Blaskiewicz were interviewed on the Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe podcast about Dr. Burzynski. Burzynski supporters have had some success pressuring the FDA to allow children access to antineoplastons; supporters of science-based medicine can help counter their influence through a petition and other efforts.  

Autism prevalence: Now estimated to be one in 68, and the antivaccine movement goes wild (David Gorski)
The CDC has released a new estimate of autism prevalence: 1 in 68 of eight year olds, causing hysteria in the antivaccine crowd. The numbers vary by sex, race, and geographic location. The rise in autism is mainly due to better diagnosis, more availability of services, and more public awareness. Environmental factors may be involved, but scientific studies have exonerated vaccines.

Water Birth (Again) (Harriet Hall)
Many claims have been made for the benefits of labor and delivery in water; the only claim supported by evidence is a decrease in pain during labor. Underwater birth offers only risks without benefits; it has been compared to giving birth in a toilet, because babies can inhale bacteria-contaminated water. 

Chiropractic: A Summary of Concerns (Sam Homola)
An up-to-date summary of information about chiropractic by a retired chiropractor. While spinal manipulation has evidence-based uses, the chiropractic “subluxation” is an implausible belief system, and there is no evidence that manipulation benefits any condition other than uncomplicated mechanical-type back pain. Patients who choose chiropractic care should look for a chiropractor who doesn’t subscribe to irrational beliefs.

Bob and I are now published in Skeptical Inquirer (David Gorski)
Two articles by Bob Blaskiewicz and David Gorski about the dubious Houston cancer doctor Stanislaw Burzynski were published in Skeptical Inquirer and are now available online. One is a primer on Burzynski, the other offers suggestions about what supporters of science-based medicine can do to protect cancer patients.

Maryland legislature passes naturopathic licensing bill, but with damage control (Jann Bellamy)
Maryland has passed a bill giving naturopaths part of what they wanted (licensing and the right to diagnose and treat any patient of any age with any disease or condition) but denying them the right to perform minor office procedures, surgery, colonic irrigation, prescribe drugs, or administer non-prescription remedies (vitamins, minerals, etc.) by transdermal, subcutaneous, or IV routes, or to call themselves “physicians.” 

Hickey (Mark Crislip)
Cupping is an ancient therapy used to produce “hickeys” at acupuncture points. There is no reason to imagine it could have any effect on disease other than a placebo effect. The only studies showing efficacy are poorly-controlled and only look at subjective endpoints.