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.


“Integrative oncology”: The Trojan horse that is quackademic medicine infiltrates ASCO (David Gorski)
At the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting in Chicago there was a session on Integrative Oncology. The speakers misleadingly claimed that acupuncture and mind-body medicine are evidence-based, and they tried to rebrand things like exercise and nutrition as “integrative” when they actually belong to mainstream medicine. Although they gave lip service to identifying and avoiding quackery, they demonstrated that oncology has been infiltrated by quackademic medicine. 

Macular Degeneration and AREDS 2 Supplements (Harriet Hall)
Diet supplements based on the two AREDS trials are being sold to treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of blindness.  There is some evidence that supplements can slow the progression of moderate-to-advanced AMD, but the effect size is small and the studies have not been replicated. There is no evidence that supplements advertised to “promote eye health” can prevent AMD or slow its progression in the early stages, and the possibility that they might cause harm has not been ruled out.

Prolotherapy (Steven Novella)
Prolotherapy is the injection of irritating substances into areas of musculoskeletal pain to provoke a healing response. Preliminary clinical research shows symptomatic improvement but no change in objective outcomes; it is compatible with the hypothesis that there is no specific effect from prolotherapy. Caution is advised pending more definitive research. 

Reiki: Fraudulent Misrepresentation (Jann Bellamy)
The Cleveland Clinic offers reiki and advertises that it provides specific health benefits through its effects on the patient’s “energy.” They provide false information to induce patients to purchase reiki treatmens. If a patient sued them for fraudulent misrepresentation, he should win his case.  

Astrology, Alchemy, ESP and Reiki. One of These Is Not Like The Other (Mark Crislip)
The American public believes in a lot of things that are pure bunkum, from astrology to ESP. Reiki is made-up nonsense with no basis in physical reality and zero quality studies to demonstrate any efficacy beyond placebo effects, yet some 60 hospitals and institutions offer it.  Even if it doesn’t amount to fraud, the institutionalizing of magical therapies outside of Hogwarts is surely unethical.