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.
The case of John Lykoudis and peptic ulcer disease revisited: Crank or visionary? (David Gorski) Followup to the recent post about the Greek doctor who apparently discovered the bacterial origin of peptic ulcers a quarter of a century before Marshall and Warren did. It can be difficult to distinguish a crank from someone who is ahead of his time: only properly controlled trials can determine the truth of claims, and the context of the time is a factor in deciding which claims to test.
“Vaccines didn’t save us” (a.k.a. “vaccines don’t work”): Intellectual dishonesty at its most naked (David Gorski) Anti-vaccine activists have graphs allegedly showing that diseases were already subsiding before vaccines and that the vaccines had little or no impact. A careful look at their data shows their intellectual dishonesty; and the fact that disease rates rise when vaccination rates fall clearly refutes their claims.
Genetic Testing for Patients on Coumadin (Harriet Hall) A new study showed that pharmacogenetic testing for Coumadin sensitivity was associated with fewer complications for patients on the anticoagulant Coumadin. The study is questionable and does not prove that treatment guided by genetic testing offers any significant advantage over optimal clinical management based only on careful monitoring of the response to Coumadin.
SBM Live Event – April 17th (Steven Novella) A panel of SBM bloggers will be participating in the Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism in New York on April 17.
Being Negative Is Not So Bad (Steven Novella) There is a publication bias against animal studies with negative results; it adversely impacts the translation to human clinical trials. Negative studies should be published too; otherwise our interpretations based on the published body of evidence will be flawed.
Less salt: it’s that simple (Peter Lipson) Salt in the diet is associated with hypertension and heart disease; a combination of education and regulation could save lives and money. Instead of recommending these measures, altmed promotes special expensive kinds of salt with no evidence that they offer any benefit.
Cartoon: The Omnipresence Of Pharma Advertising (Val Jones) A bit of humor for April Fool’s Day.
My NCCAM Wish List (Kimball Atwood) The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) should be abolished. Since that is unlikely to happen, Dr. Atwood offers some suggestions for improvement, such as abandoning unethical trials.
Mercola, Gardasil, and Toyota? (Joseph Albietz) The infamous Joseph Mercola has attacked Gardasil, the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, comparing it to defective Toyotas that killed people. He gets the facts wrong, and his reasoning is fallacious.