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-woo in medicine.
The deceptive rebranding of aspects of science-based medicine as ”alternative” by naturopaths continues apace (David Gorski) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/the-deceptive-rebranding-of-aspects-of-science-based-medicine-as-alternative-by-naturopaths-continues-apace/ Naturopaths deceptively redefine parts of conventional medicine as “alternative” and falsely claim them as their special province. A new study claims to show naturopathic care is superior to routine care, but it didn’t really test naturopathy: it only showed the effects of intensive counseling about lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise. Naturopaths are a poor choice to provide such counseling, since their training is steeped in pseudoscience.
Antibiotics for Low Back Pain (Harriet Hall) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/antibiotics-for-low-back-pain/ A new study showed that antibiotics improved chronic back pain in a select group of patients who had MRI findings of bone edema adjacent to a herniated disc. It was good science, well designed, with a plausible rationale; but it would be premature to accept it before the study can be replicated and confirmed, and it mustn’t be extrapolated to back pain patients outside the limited subset that was tested.
Will Your Smartphone Become a Tricorder? (Steven Novella) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/will-your-smartphone-become-a-tricorder/ Smartphones aren’t like Star Wars tricorders yet, but they already provide unprecedented access to medical information and can operate portable diagnostic devices like EKGs, ultrasounds, and glucose monitors. Technology is no panacea, but the future holds intriguing possibilities for further advances that may enhance patient care.
FDA v. Jack3d: Round 2 (Jann Bellamy) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/fda-v-jack3d-round-2/ Jack3d is a dietary supplement containing DMAA, a substance that has been banned by other countries and by athletic associations. The FDA agrees that DMAA is not safe, but it is handicapped by the Diet Supplement Health and Education Act and has been unable to take decisive action. The manufacturers circumvent FDA warnings by reformulating their products and continuing to sell them without giving customers critical information about safety and effectiveness.
Whack em hard/Whack em once and Stroke (Mark Crislip) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/whack-em-hardwhack-em-once-and-stroke/ Strokes from chiropractic neck manipulation are rare enough that proving a causal relationship is difficult. With no evidence of benefit and a plausible rationale for harm, caution is indicated. Chiropractors try to deny that serious “adverse events” occur, but they report “symptomatic reactions” in 31% of patients, including symptoms that are suggestive of stroke.