Stem cells versus Gordie Howe’s stroke (David Gorski) When hockey legend Gordie Howe suffered a stroke at the age of 86, his family took him to Mexico for stem cell treatments, allegedly as part of a clinical trial. They described a miraculous response, but other reports put that into question. There are other reasons to be skeptical; for one thing, he doesn’t even fit the eligibility criteria for the only registered clinical trial.
The Marvelous Dr. Mütter (Harriet Hall) A new book tells the story of the man behind the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia, a macabre collection of anatomical specimens, human monsters, and medical memorabilia. Born in 1811, Mütter was a pioneering plastic surgeon in the days before anesthesia, x-rays, sterile technique, antibiotics, and even germ theory. The book provides a fascinating glimpse into the history of medicine.
TV Doctors Give Unreliable Recommendations (Steven Novella) A study in the British Medical Journal evaluated the accuracy of the medical advice given on The Dr Oz Show and The Doctors. Only 46% of Dr. Oz’s advice was supported by any evidence, and in 15% of cases there was contradictory evidence against the advice. The Doctors did only slightly better. The recommendations on both shows are likely to be misleading, overhyped, or simply wrong.
Merry Christmas from SBM! (Jann Bellamy)
Acupuncture Odds and Ends (Mark Crislip) A collection of observations on acupuncture, a treatment system that simply does not work. Belief in its efficacy relies on medical beer goggles (placebo effects), poor research, and trusting unreliable experience instead of evidence. And acupuncturists’ recalcitrance to basic infection control creates a public health hazard.