I’ve always been skeptical of the over-hyped claims of alternative medicine, including homeopathy.
(Heck, if you’d read my blog for long you know I’m skeptical of a lot of mainstream medicine, as well!)
So I read with much amusement an article on The Daily Beast: Sorry, Hippies, Homeopathy is Totally Useless
Homeopathy is a worthless means of sustaining your health. In terms of preventing or treating disease, it’s up there with bloodletting or erecting a shrine to Asclepius in your pantry. It is literally good for nothing from a medical perspective.
The author, a physician, wrote in response to… Continue reading
I’ve mentioned in several posts that I think screening tests, especially mammograms, are used too widely in this country. Every woman over age 40? Every year? It’s overkill.
Even the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) only recommends a screening mammogram every other year between the ages of 50 and 75.
But most women still think the yearly mammogram is health care at its finest.
Related post: Screening mammograms—benefits vs harms
The British medical journal, Lancet, recently published a study that shows women who are better informed about the risks and benefits of screening mammograms are less likely to … Continue reading
I recently posted about health care’s problem of unreliable, biased and sometimes downright fraudulent research.
It’s important that we are aware of the scope of the problem, because so much medical treatment—screenings, drugs, surgical procedures—is being sold based on these untrustworthy reports.
And more stories are coming forward.
Over on HealthNewsReview.org, the health journalism watchdog blog, Gary Schwitzer highlights two articles:
This study revealed that poorly designed or fraudulent research still gets into “peer-reviewed” journals, despite the FDA. What is a … Continue reading
I read this article in a British newspaper: Medical experts furious that doctors will be paid to dole out ‘risky’ statins
It could mean four in 10 adults, including most of those in late middle age, are put on regular doses in a move that “medicalises” healthy people, leaving them at risk of side-effects including diabetes and memory loss.
Klim McPherson, professor of public health at Oxford University, said: “This is shocking. Incentivising doctors to dish out drugs to patients who may not benefit and more importantly may suffer side effects is wrong and unethical.”
Could that happen here?
It … Continue reading
I’ve seen several recent news stories on kids and allergies.
For some time, it’s seemed to me that the incidence of childhood allergies, especially serious ones like peanut allergies, have been on the increase.
Food labels carry warnings about possible peanut contamination; schools ban snacks or sack lunches containing peanuts; some airlines have designated “peanut-free” zones. It’s crazy and disturbing. And do you know how much an Epi-Pen costs??
Aaron Carroll, MD, the pediatrician who blogs at The Incidental Economist had a good post on the subject: By shielding infants from stuff, we may be making allergies worse
Since 2000, … Continue reading
I’ve posted many times about the problems with the multi-billion-dollar supplement industry, and there was a good Op-Ed piece on Live Science yesterday that supported my own opinion: These 5 Supplements Do Nothing For Alzheimer’s, Despite Claims
The article was co-written by two physicians, both geriatric (aging) specialists.
The Latin axiom “caveat emptor,” let the buyer beware, applies to people of all ages. But in our medical practices, we have witnessed the incredible dependence elderly patients have on herbal supplements to help them (in their minds, at least) prevent and manage chronic illness.
When we see patients, we ask them
… Continue reading
A few days ago, Vox.com published an interview with Stanford researcher John Ioannidis, MD. Dr. Ioannidis is a meta-researcher, that is he researches research.
How accurate are research studies? How are they designed? How many subjects are involved? Can the results be duplicated? How do the results from one study compare with another?
These are the types of questions Dr. Ioannidis attempts to answer, as well as leading the effort to fix what is broken in our medical research system.
Because it is broken.
As the article states:
Medical research is in bad shape. Fraud, bias, sloppiness, and inefficiency are
… Continue reading
I’ve written a couple of posts about the Number Needed to Treat, aka the NNT. That’s the number of people that must be treated with a drug, a procedure or a screening test to save one life.
The lower the number, the better.
Related post: Number Needed to Treat
Well, the dark twin of the NNT is the Number Needed to Harm, or the NNH. How many people can be treated before one person is harmed? In this case, the bigger the number, the better.
Aaron Carroll, MD, of The Incidental Economist blog, wrote a terrific piece in The New … Continue reading
I was happy to see the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) report that the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine does not increase risky sexual behavior in adolescent girls.
HPV, or the human papilloma virus, is a sexually-transmitted disease that can lead to cervical cancer. In some instances, it can also cause anal cancer or mouth cancer, in men as well as women.
An effective vaccine has been available since 2006 and is recommended for both girls and boys, ideally at age 11 or 12 before they become sexually active.
One of the arguments parents have had against the … Continue reading
Consider benefits versus risks
Last spring I went to Florida for spring break and was attacked by sand fleas. I had about a million (okay, about 70) bites over both legs, and I wrote a post about my attempts to find relief.
In short, nothing really worked other than ice packs and cool baths. Cool skin decreases blood flow, which deceases the amount of histamine, which decreases the itchiness.
This year I went to Panama and gave much more thought to bug repellents.
I didn’t care about the itchiness, so much, although it’s an awful annoyance. I worried more … Continue reading