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.
California Bill AB 2109: The Antivaccine Movement Attacks School Vaccine Mandates Again (David Gorski) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/antivaccine-activists-attack-vaccine-mandates/ In response to a rising rate of personal belief exemptions for mandated vaccines, a proposed law in California would require proof that parents had been counseled on the risks and benefits by doctors and could give truly informed consent. Anti-vaccine advocates are protesting: they prefer mis-informed consent.
CAM as a Dumping Ground (Harriet Hall) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/cam-as-a-dumping-ground/ A patient’s experience with her HMO suggests that CAM is sometimes used as a convenient dumping ground for difficult patients. When science has little to offer, frustrated doctors may find CAM seductive because it allows them to step outside the constraints of the scientific arena.
A Universal Anti-Cancer Drug (Steven Novella) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/a-universal-anti-cancer-drug/ Claims that one treatment could work for all kinds of cancer are dubious. Recent research suggests that anti-CD47 antibodies can shrink all kinds of tumor cells in animals, but they can also damage normal cells. We can be cautiously optimistic, but human trials are essential before any claims can be made.
Anti-anti-vax: Getting to the gist (Scott Gavura) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/anti-anti-vax-getting-to-the-gist/ Anti-vaccine gambits continue to circulate despite having been thoroughly debunked. Social media present challenges that can be best met by making the gist of the pro-vaccine message easy to extract and making it memorable with narrative and anecdote.
Lying for the State (Peter Lipson) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/lying-for-the-state/ A Texas statute spells out exactly how a doctor must provide informed consent before doing a therapeutic abortion. It requires doctors to tell patients specific things that are not true, and the ultrasound requirement could be considered a form of rape. Such state interference in the doctor-patient relationship is unacceptable.
Feet of Clay (Mark Crislip) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/feet-of-clay/ An article in The New England Journal of Medicine on the treatment of urinary tract infections includes a number of questionable treatments. They admit that the evidence is negative or non-existent, but recommend trying them anyway because they “pose little risk.” It seems we can no longer trust even the most prestigious medical journal to exercise good judgment and stick to scientific rigor.