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.
Integrative Fire-Fighting (David Weinberg) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/integrative-fire-fighting/ An April Fool’s Day article extends the concept behind “integrative medicine” to explore what it would mean to have “integrative fire-fighting.” It might involve homeopathy for fires and criticism of “Big Hydrant.”
Are Cell Phones a Possible Carcinogen? An Update on the IARC Report (Lorne Trottier) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/are-cell-phones-a-possible-carcinogen-an-update-on-the-iarc-report/ The IARC’s classification of cell phones as “possibly carcinogenic” was flawed and based on misinterpretation of the available evidence. Their evidence is reviewed in detail, along with newer studies confirming that brain cancer rates have not risen.
Autism prevalence: Now estimated to be one in 88, and the antivaccine movement goes wild (David Gorski) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/autism-prevalence-now-estimated-to-be-one-in-88-and-the-antivaccine-movement-goes-wild/ The CDC has announced new, higher prevalence rates for autism. It cautioned that this could be due to increased diagnosis rather than to a true increase in autism. Anti-vaccine advocates are using the new estimates to support irrational fearmongering.
Brief Announcement: World Skeptics Congress (Harriet Hall) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/brief-announcement-world-skeptics-congress/ At this conference in Berlin, May 18-20, Dr. Hall will be speaking on “CAM: Fairy Tale Science and Placebo Medicine.”
Scientific American Declares Homeopathy Indispensable to Planet and Human Health (Harriet Hall) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/scientific-american-declares-homeopathy-indispensable-to-planet-and-human-health/ An unfortunate article in the Brazilian edition of Scientific American advocated using homeopathy in agriculture and said homeopathy had “become indispensable to the equilibrium of the planet and to the health of all beings that live in it.” Such nonsense should never have been published.
Whooping Cough Epidemic (Steven Novella) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/whooping-cough-epidemic/ Outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases are on the rise. Whooping cough has reached epidemic proportions in Washington State. Waning immunity and vaccine refusal are responsible.
The “CAM” Consumer: Misled and Abused (Jann Bellamy) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/the-cam-consumer-misled-and-abused/ Giving patently false information about CAM is currently protected by law. Existing regulations governing consumer finance could serve as a pattern for better CAM consumer protection. A government agency could target consumer protection for CAM users, with enforcement of rules to govern unfair and abusive practices and handle consumer complaints.
Drinking from the Fire Hose: Odds and Ends on the Gasping Oppression (Mark Crislip) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/drinking-from-the-fire-hose-odds-and-ends-on-the-gasping-oppression/ Perfect, definitive studies do not exist; and trying to master the flood of information in the scientific literature is like trying to drink from a fire hose. A sampling of recent studies on influenza is reviewed: the preponderance of data shows that influenza is bad and the vaccine has benefits.