Supplemental Nightmares

I am generally skeptical of any claim (made by EITHER the alternative or modern medical camps) that Americans are deficient in any particular vitamin or nutrient. “Americans are not eating enough X,” the headlines cry! It just does not seem logical to me that in this day in age, where obesity has become an epidemic, that Americans are not ingesting enough of anything! But the up and down claims about vitamins are enough to send any rational consumer into a tailspin of confusion. One day we need to double our consumption of a particular nutrient, the next day we are told that too much of said nutrient is harmful then we are told that we weren’t deficient in the first place! This is the roller-coaster story of vitamin D. … continue reading this entry.

Cell Phones and Cancer: Can You Hear Me Now?

This week I listened to an interview on NPR by Leonard Lopate with Dr. Devra Davis on her new book, Disconnect: The Truth About Cell Phone Radiation, What the Industry Has Done to Hide It, and How to Protect Your Family. This is a topic that has been discussed in the skeptical community, the medical community, and the pseudoscience community, and I don’t know that I am completely convinced of any particular argument. This, I realized while listening to the interview, is mostly because I don’t care. I believe that if I live long enough I will have some form of cancer in my old age. I don’t know that any one type will be better or worse than any other type so why spend time being hypersensitive to everything I do, as it seems that EVERYTHING causes cancer these days. Ultimately, I do believe that my genetic profile, something I can do very little about, is a much stronger predictor of my propensity towards cancer than any behavior I might engage in. And when I heard epidemiologist Geoffrey Kabat, author of Hyping Health Risks: Environmental Hazards in Daily Life and the Science of Epidemiology speak last year at a NYCS event, I put any uncertainty I have about the connection between cancer and cell phone use at the bottom of my list of things to fret about.

But this interview got me thinking. It was such a mish-mash of contradictions and plausible scenarios that I felt that I needed to educate myself on the topic of cell phone radiation and cancer risks. … continue reading this entry.

Mike Adams warns us about The Pharma Burger! Oh noes!

Mike Adams sitting on a bench

I just came across a video created by Mike “The Health Ranger” Adams discussing a recent study. Applying all the subtlety of a Road Runner cartoon, Adams’ video painted the researchers as crazy mad scientists with kooky ideas that any idiot could see were just folly.

So what was Mike Adams complaining about this time? There was apparently a recent study published in August in the American Journal of Cardiology that led the authors to suggest it could be beneficial to public health if fast food establishments offered packets of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs to their customers. Suffice it to say, Adams, enemy of anything with the word “drug” in it, disagreed with their professional opinion. … continue reading this entry.

LA Times: Home to Great Medical Reporting

This weekend a woman named Tammy Worth wrote an article in the LA Times titled “Alternative medicine a prickly subject.”  Let’s ignore the fact that this fragment is so lacking in verbs that it becomes little more than gobbledee-gook.  The subject of headlines is just too easy, what’s more, we’ve covered it before.  Plus, it would just distract us from all the stuff Ms. Worth actually writes.

Though she never steps forward and clearly states an argument, Ms. Worth is complaining in her article about how difficult it can be to get your insurance provider to cover your alternative medical cure.  It starts out strange when she says this (emphasis mine):

There are few things more frustrating than finding a health care treatment that works for you — a chiropractic adjustment that relieves nagging lower back pain or a yoga class that helps reduce anxiety — only to find that your insurance won’t pay for it. … continue reading this entry.

Science-based medicine attacked in a surprising way

This week the NYTimes reported on the tragic results of a randomized drug trial, but it isn’t tragic in the way that you think. The problem wasn’t that the new drug was dangerous, or had unpredicted side-effects, or was ineffecective, but actually that it was very effective. In the Times story, two cousins, both suffering from melanoma, entered a clinical trial to test a robust new treatment. The trial was testing the efficacy of this drug compared to regular chemo-therapy. One cousin was randomized to receive the drug and his tumors stopped growing; his cousin was randomized to chemo-therapy which did not stop the advance of cancer in his body.

The Times reported that these types of trials are criticized by some members of the medical community:

But critics of the trials argue that the new science behind the drugs has eclipsed the old rules — and ethics — of testing them. They say that in some cases, drugs under development, PLX4032 among them, may be so much more effective than their predecessors that putting half the potential beneficiaries into a control group, and delaying access to the drug to thousands of other patients, causes needless suffering. … continue reading this entry.

Want to prescribe drugs? Become a Canadian Naturopath!

Western science may say arsenic is a poison. I say it's natural.

There are some things that scare me.

Big rocks coming down from the sky, I’ve mentioned before.  Of course, I think my logic is strong enough to tell me that even though that’s one of those inevitable things to happen to the earth, the chance of the human race being destroyed in my lifetime is thankfully slim.  Nuclear proliferation scares me a bit.  Mostly because despite the faith I’ve attempted to gain in humanity, I recognize that we’re still a bunch of primates with poor impulse control who’ve managed to harness the most powerful of the four universal forces.  Still, it’s not a big concern for me.  Do you know what does scare me though?  Canada has just awarded a group of naturopathic physicians the right to prescribe medicine. … continue reading this entry.

An Anti-Vax Tea Party (Part 2 of 2)

Who has a question for "Dr." Wakefield?

During the Q&A, I’d wanted to ask Wakefield what vaccines he was in favor of giving to infants as it’s clear that many of his supporters are far more anti-vaccine than he professes to be but someone asked a similar question first. When I finally did ask a question, I simply asked for clarification about the studies he claimed supported his research. At times during the Q&A, it seemed as though Wakefield was among the least insane in the room. But his answers were so slick as to somehow appease both less fanatical anti-vaccinationists as well as those who believe vaccines have no benefits at all and are used to deliberate poison the populous. … continue reading this entry.

Anti-vax Tea Party (Part 1 of 2)

Andrew Wakefield, the British medical researcher notorious for his discredited work that attempted to link autism to the MMR vaccine and inflammatory bowel disease based (largely on bogus analyses of twelve children), stands in the front of the room sporting an adolescent haircut. Giving a warm smile to his audience, over and over again, the man, with the sleeves of his collared shirt rolled up, angrily condemns what he calls an, “effort to erase these children’s histories from the public record.” Composing himself, he continued, “And that will fail. And I will explain to you why it will fail.”

The evening had begun with a brief introduction by a woman representing DAN! or Defeat Autism Now!, an organization that claims to medically treat children with autism. She then passed the proceedings over to Tony Lyons, President and Publisher of Skyhorse Publishing, without whom this event would not be taking place.

Skyhorse is the company that published Wakefield’s book, Callous Disregard. Lyons began his short introduction by calling the book controversial. He mentions how his own daughter has autism and that nobody knows if vaccines are responsible. In fact, he expresses this last sentiment exactly five times over the course of the next three minutes, while drawing comparisons to a time when doctors didn’t object to cigarettes and would even sometimes recommend certain brands. … continue reading this entry.

Science-Based Veterinary Medicine?

Science-based medicine is a familiar term to most skeptics. It is an approach to medicine and medical research that can only improve our health care system. But lately the science-based focus has broadened to other disciplines. At skeptical events I’ve met dentists that are pushing for more science-based practices, and today I stumbled across a nice [...]

Hey! Placebo Acupuncture Worked Again!

So this will help my crippling wallet problems?

"So this will help my crippling wallet problems?

Believe it or not, a study has shown that acupuncture doesn’t help a woman get pregnant through in-vitro fertilization (IVF).  I was shocked to.  I was certain that, even if there was no prior plausibility for acupuncture working, since it’s based on a human life-force energy called “Qi” which has never been measured, or even defined, still there MUST be something to acupuncture, since it’s been used for thousands of years in China.  I’m horribly shocked.  If you could hear my voice, you’d hear just how shocked I am right now. … continue reading this entry.

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