Is cancer due mostly to “bad luck”? (David Gorski) Cancer is due to a combination of random probabilistic processes, environmental exposures, and heredity. A recent study showed that variation in cancer risk between different body tissues can be explained by the variation in the number of stem cell divisions in those tissues. Media reports emphasized the “luck” factor and omitted a nuanced discussion of cancer causation and prevention.
Is the Ebola crisis a Reason to Skip RCTs? (Harriet Hall) The rush to save Ebola patients provides a temptation to use experimental treatments outside of controlled trials. That’s a mistake that will only delay the day when we can offer proven treatments to all patients.
Neuroscience and Destiny (Steven Novella) A newly-published review of neuroscience research looking at the predictive value of functional and anatomical imaging raises interesting questions about the role of such studies in learning, psychiatric treatment, and even the treatment of criminals. It explains the current state of research and points to where future research is needed. Brain imaging has great potential, but we are still years away from practical applications.
2014: Chiropractors, naturopaths and acupuncturists lose in state legislatures (Jann Bellamy) In 2014 a number of bills were proposed in several state legislatures that would have expanded the scope of practice for providers of pseudo-medicine and increased insurance coverage of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). They mostly failed. Let’s work to keep it that way. The Society for Science-Based Medicine website will be tracking CAM bills again this year.
Mel asks and I do my best to answer (Mark Crislip) A blogger asks facetious and misguided questions about acupuncture. Dr. Crislip answers them and asks some incisive questions of his own. No, it should not be “further explored;” pseudomedicines like acupuncture waste health, time, money, and hope; and the answer to flaws in mainstream medicine is to improve it, not to explore magic systems divorced from reality.
SfSBM at NECSS (Mark Crislip) The authors of this blog will be presenting a full day of science-based medicine programming at the North East Conference on Science and Skepticism in New York City in April. Registration is now open.