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 in medicine.
Molecular breast imaging (MBI): A promising technology oversold in a TED talk? (David Gorski) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=10021 In a TED talk, Deborah Rhodes presented molecular breast imaging as a new tool that finds 3 times more breast tumors, and explained “why it’s not available to you.” The technique is promising, but it is not new, it exposes the entire body to radiation, its place in breast cancer screening has not yet been established, and there is no evidence of any conspiracy to suppress it.
One Hump or Two? Camel’s Milk as a New Alternative Medicine (Harriet Hall) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=9844 A lighthearted appraisal of a new alternative treatment: camel’s milk for everything from diabetes to autism. The evidence for it is shaky to nonexistent, it can’t be legally sold in the US, and religious arguments used to support it have no place in science.
Statins – The Cochrane Review (Steven Novella) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=10170 A systematic review of studies on statin drugs for prevention of cardiovascular disease in healthy people was interpreted by the authors and the media as showing that statins don’t work, but it actually showed the opposite. The effect is smaller than for prevention of recurrent events, but it is significant; Cochrane reviewers went beyond the data when they recommended against statins.
The English government cracks down on alternative pet remedies (David Ramey) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=10236 The Veterinary Medicines Directorate in the UK has targeted a number of unauthorized products like homeopathic nosodes and herbal deworming products that have not been scientifically proven effective and can harm pets. Manufacturers will be required to substantiate their advertising claims or rebrand the products as non-medicinal.
Rambling Musings on Using the Medical Literature (Mark Crislip) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=10300 The medical literature, not clinical experience, is the best guide to choosing proper treatment. But even the literature is problematic: for one thing, meta-analyses may be garbage in/garbage out and can be trumped by a high quality clinical trial.
It is all about me (Mark Crislip) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=10341 Announcement and link for Dr. Crislip’s podcast interview for Birmingham Skeptics.