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.
Cancer Treatment Centers of America: Revisiting the epitome of “integrative” cancer care (David Gorski) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/cancer-treatment-centers-of-america-revisiting-the-epitome-of-integrative-cancer-care/ The Cancer Treatment Centers of America offer integrative oncology with treatments like naturopathy, homeopathy, herbal preparations, hydrotherapy, chiropractic, aromatherapy, and ear acupuncture. They also attempt to rebrand certain science-based modalities as somehow being “alternative.” And they offer “Genomic Tumor Assessment,” something that is promising but not yet ready for prime time. The entire enterprise is irredeemably tainted by pseudoscience and quackery.
Biotin: Haircuts Plus Health Advice? (Harriet Hall) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/biotin-haircuts-plus-health-advice/ Health advice from a questionable source (a hair salon) turns out to be reasonable. Biotin was shown effective for brittle nails in 3 small preliminary studies. While the evidence is still far from definitive, biotin appears to be safe, is based on a plausible mechanism, is supported by data from animal studies, and is arguably the best remedy to try for brittle nails as we wait for further research.
The End for CCSVI (Steven Novella) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/the-end-for-ccsvi/ Chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI) was proposed to be the true cause of multiple sclerosis and to be curable by the surgical “liberation procedure” on the veins that drain the brain. The original evidence was questionable, and recent attempts at replication have been devastatingly negative. This should be the end for the CCSVI hypothesis, but further trials are underway.
Licensing Naturopaths: the triumph of politics over science (Jann Bellamy) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/licensing-naturopaths-the-triumph-of-politics-over-science/ Clueless legislators around the country are sponsoring bills to license naturopaths, despite clear evidence of quackery like “organ repositioning,” detox foot baths, and “bioenergetics.” These lawmakers are scientifically ignorant and have not looked at the evidence, and they don’t realize what they are unleashing on the public; their constituents deserve better.
Acetaminophen: Still the pain reliever you should trust? (Scott Gavura) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/acetaminophen-still-the-pain-reliever-you-should-trust/ Acetaminophen (Tylenol) was responsible for 150- 400+ deaths last year. Overdoses are common because of the small margin of safety between therapeutic dose and toxic dose, a lack of consumer awareness, inadvertent overdosing (especially when it is an ingredient in other medicines like cold remedies), and a failure to implement proposed safety measures like warnings on labels. It is a very safe drug when used appropriately, and is safer than the alternatives; but regulation and marketing could be improved to better protect the consumer.
Separating Fact From Fiction in the Not-So-Normal Newborn Nursery: Umbilical Cord Blood Banking (Clay Jones) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/separating-fact-from-fiction-in-the-not-so-normal-newborn-nursery-umbilical-cord-blood-banking/ Umbilical cord blood contains stem cells that can be used to treat several life-threatening conditions; it has some advantages over other sources of stem cells. Cord blood can be banked; there has been a lot of marketing hype for private cord blood banks, but they are expensive and public banks may be a better choice.