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.
Cantron: A tale of false hope for cancer (David Gorski) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/a-tale-of-false-hope-for-cancer/ A bogus “miracle cancer cure,” Cantron, is offering false hope to terminal cancer patients and convincing them to reject or delay palliative treatments that could have improved or even possibly prolonged their lives. It is sold as a dietary supplement and the manufacturer can’t legally claim that it treats any disease, but testimonials and “true believer” promoters get the message across.
Followup: Benedetti on Placebo Ethics (Harriet Hall) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/followup-benedetti-on-placebo-ethics/ Fabrizio Benedetti has been doing outstanding research trying to understand the neurobiology the placebos response; now he has spoken out on the ethics of administering placebos. Lying is unethical, but what if a lie could be shown to improve patient outcomes? Some difficult ethical questions arise, with no simple answers.
Bee Venom Therapy Update (Steven Novella) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/bee-venom-therapy-update/ A beekeeper named Joel Magsaysay has been promoting bee venom therapy for stroke recovery in the absence of any clinical trials to show that it works or is safe. There is some promising research on bee venom for neuropathic pain in rats, but there is no evidence to support any use of bee venom in humans.
No, sugar pills won’t repel insects, and other consequences of regulating nonsense (Scott Gavura) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/no-sugar-pills-wont-repel-insects-and-other-consequences-of-regulating-nonsense/ A homeopathic remedy allegedly prevents and treats insect bites. Current regulations exempt homeopathic remedies from any testing. Using a worthless homeopathic remedy instead of an effective insect repellent could result in harm from insect-borne diseases.
California Acupuncture Board: a Mockery of Consumer Protection (Ben Kavoussi) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/california-acupuncture-board-a-mockery-of-consumer-protection/ This board amounts to a group of defiant insiders who promote acupuncture rather than fulfilling their mandate to guard public safety. Examples of their malfeasance are described, including taking bribes, selling exam answers, and approving astrology and feng shui for continuing education credits.