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.
Chemotherapy doesn’t work? Not so fast… (A lesson from history) (David Gorski) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/chemotherapy-doesnt-work-not-so-fast-a-lesson-from-history/ Critics of chemotherapy demonize it as poison and say it only helps in 2% of cases. They base their opinions on misunderstandings of old studies. Modern chemotherapy can completely cure some types of cancer and extend life in others. It is a major part of the reason that cancer mortality is decreasing even as cancer incidence is rising.
Chiropractic Abuse: An Insider’s Lament (Harriet Hall) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/chiropractic-abuse-an-insiders-lament-2/ Preston Long says he made a big mistake when he chose chiropractic as a career. He tells his own story and the story of chiropractic from the perspective of a skeptical insider in a new book, Chiropractic Abuse. He lists “20 things most chiropractors won’t tell you” and offers advice on how patients can protect themselves and recognize red flags.
Lorenzo’s Oil (Steven Novella) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/lorenzos-oil/ Augusto Odone led a grassroots campaign to find a cure for his son’s neurological disease. The movie “Lorenzo’s Oil” garbled the story; the real story is more complex and more interesting. The oil appears to work for prevention but not treatment, and is still being studied.
Full of Energy (Jann Bellamy) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/full-of-energy/ A “healing arts” information session at a public library offered 10 varieties of quackery, most based on the bogus “subtle human energy field.” They included earth acupuncture, visionary craniosacral therapy, Reiki, thermography, an aura-measuring machine (illegal in the US), and a test that asks your own cells what nutrients they lack. Practitioners of different modalities necessarily band together in a “nonjudgmental collaboration,” because judgment would show that what they are saying is gobbledygook.
Alternative Microbiology (Mark Crislip) http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/alternative-microbiology/ Despite all we have learned about infection and microbiology, some people still deny the germ theory and cling to alternative explanations. Some deny evolution and attribute germs to original sin. Others deny that HIV leads to AIDS, a belief that has led to the unnecessary deaths of at least 343,000 people in Africa. Others believe in imaginary diseases like Morgellons disease and Hulda Clark’s liver flukes. They prefer fantasy to fact.