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Archived articles and radio interviews
The articles below have appeared since the beginning of 2017:
Articles from 13.03.2017-19.03.2017
Health authorities issue warning about clinic supplying controversial cocktail of diet drugs: Australian patients are being warned about taking cocktails of controversial weight loss drugs being offered by doctors linked to a failed medical clinic.
Special Investigation: Science Denial: With the unprecedented increase in recent years of the rejection of expertise and informed advice in decision making, this report looks at the rising phenomena of science denial - what it is, why it occurs, what influence it has and what can be done about it.
Blackmores marketing material slammed in China on Consumer Rights Day: Blackmores was fined approximately $69,000 for claiming online and in stores that it was Australia's top nutritional supplement brand, and that its vitamins could treat cardiovascular disease and assist the treatment of arthritis.
Robust evidence is in: this herbal remedy is as effective as antidepressants: A systematic review shows that St John’s wort was superior to placebo in alleviating the symptoms of major depressive disorder and was efficacious as conventional antidepressants and patients were significantly less likely to experience adverse events.
Fluoride wars: The science is unequivocal: fluoridation promotes good oral health.
Fish Oil Supplements May Not Help Prevent Heart Disease:Those who already have certain forms of heart disease may benefit, though, a new report finds.
Vaccination debate flares on NSW north coast after 7yo contracts tetanus: A northern New South Wales doctor says a seven-year-old child who is in a critical condition after being diagnosed with tetanus was not immunised.
From the UK:
Charity Commission consults on future of alternative medicine charities: The Charity Commission yesterday launched a consultation into complementary and alternative medicine, after agreeing to review whether organisations such as those promoting homeopathy should remain on the register.
From the US:
2 critically ill in San Francisco after drinking toxic tea: Two people are critically sick in San Francisco after drinking tea from the same Chinatown herbalist.
Articles from 06.03.2017-12.03.2017
PM Turnbull takes hard stance on vaccinations: Malcolm Turnbull is confident his plan to ban unvaccinated children from childcare centres and pre-schools will be enforced Australia-wide. The prime minister has written to state and territory leaders asking them to support a national policy and more consistent laws.
Hallelujah! The mainstream press finally notices quackademic medicine! Nearly all the directors of integrative medicine programs interviewed reported that their patient volume has been growing. Many academic medical centres are more than willing to sell snake oil to attract patients.
Women turning to Chinese medicine: study A study has found one in 10 women aged in their 30's use Chinese medicine and acupuncture to treat chronic medical conditions.
Poachers Break Into French Zoo, Kill White Rhino And Steal His Horn: Poachers forced their way into a French zoo and killed a southern white rhinoceros named Vince, sawing off one of his horns before fleeing into the night. Used in traditional Asian medicine, a kilogram of rhino horn sold on the black market for nearly $54,000 in 2015.
We’ve joined forces with Wikipedia to improve cancer information: Wikipedia is often one of the first stops for people looking for medical information and it's the fifth most visited website in the world. Wikipedia is vast – 31,977,295 pages and counting. Cancer Research UK now has their own online information for cancer patients.
Help for cancer just a click away: A comprehensive online self-help program aims to help reduce distress for patients diagnosed with cancer has been developed.
Here are the alternative therapies offered by top hospitals: There’s little or no scientific evidence behind alternative therapies like energy healing, acupuncture, and homeopathy. Yet many of the most prestigious hospitals in the US — which are dedicated to the pursuit of evidence-based medicine — offer such therapies nonetheless.
Quebec osteopaths face dozens of charges, fines after undercover investigation: A Montreal osteopathic school and several of its students and teachers are facing dozens of charges and more than $370,000 in fines for allegedly practicing medicine illegally.
Study: Hormone replacement therapy may help improve women's heart health, overall survival: A new imaging study by investigators at Cedars-Sinai, suggests that women using hormone replacement therapy to relieve menopause symptoms face a lower risk of death and show lower levels of atherosclerosis - plaque buildup in the heart's arteries - compared to women who do not use hormone therapy.
Articles from 27.02.2017-05.03.2017
Monitoring hepatitis C treatment uptake in Australia: Hepatitis C will be eradicated in Australia by 2026, researchers predict.
Don't Do This: 156 Medical Practices That Are All Failures: One problem is that people are easily fooled by self-interested con artists selling snake oil: homeopathy and acupuncture fall into this category. Even doctors can be fooled, especially when a practice seems to make sense.
The ADHD Controversy: Is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) a legitimate diagnosis or is it mostly a fraud? The answer has important implications for many individuals and for society.
Herbal medications risky in heart disease: Herbal medications offer few benefits and many risks for people with heart disease, according to a recent review.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Advisor: Rheumatoid Arthritis and Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Decades of Studies Yield No Clear Answer.
Vice Chancellor Barney Glover says universities must stand up for facts and the truth – ‘if we don’t, who will?’: The phrases “post truth” and “alternative facts” have slipped into common use. Agendas have displaced analysis in much of our public debate. And we are all the poorer for it.
Put reputation over revenue from pseudoscience:Universities cannot wash their hands of responsibility for who is booked to speak on their premises, says Michael Marshall.
Top uni scraps homeopathy - because it's nonsense: One of Spain’s top universities has scrapped a homeopathy programme because of its "lack of scientific basis".
Water fluoridation saves Americans over $6 billion in dental work: Americans enjoyed savings of $32 per capita in tooth decay prevention, according to a national assessment of fluoridation by Colorado School of Public Health (ColoradoSPH) researchers published in Health Affairs.
Articles from 20.02.2017-26.02.2017
Shonky supplements 'science' a cash cow: The Four Corners (ABC) report on complementary supplements showed unequivocally that multivitamins are a waste of money and just create “very expensive urine”. The Australian Medical Association president also says there is a lack of evidence showing multivitamins work.
Fat-burning supplements are often just an expensive placebo: leading dietitian: We all know the theory that to lose weight you have to eat less and move more – but gee that sounds like a hard slog compared to sipping a supplement that promises to blitz body fat.
How much Australians spend on health: Roughly a third of what individuals spend on health – to the tune of $9.3 billion – goes on vitamins, supplements, over-the-counter painkillers and other unsubsidised drugs. It is more than the combined sum we spend on dental care and hospitals.
Talking Point: Australia’s booming alternative medicine sector needs to be properly regulated: A Australia's alternative medicine industry is booming. According to their lobby group, these companies sell around $4 billion of their products a year into a market that doubles every 10 years.
Majority of Pharmacists stock CM's including Homeopathic Items: AJP poll results show more than half of pharmacists stock complementary medicines, including homeopathic items. But is it out of choice, or have they lost control over what they wish to stock?
Why is WHO guilty of WOO?: Acupuncturists claim that they can treat serious illnesses, including depression, dysentery, osteoarthritis, polio, schizophrenia and whooping cough. As ‘evidence’ they refer to the World Health Organisation (WHO). WHO claims that acupuncture can cure some ailments. Does this match the evidence?
Acupuncture and Migraine – New JAMA Study: Yet another poorly designed acupuncture study with dubious results is being presented as if it were compelling evidence.
Calling Bullshit in the Age of Big Data: "Our world is saturated with bullshit. Learn to detect and defuse it." A new critical thinking course has been developed that will be available via the internet later this year.
200,000 More Children Have Been Vaccinated In Australia Following New Policies: In 2016 Australian launched a somewhat controversial “No Jab, No Pay” policy to increase the rate of vaccination among children and 13 months down the line it appears to be bearing fruit. According to Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt, 200,000 more children have been vaccinated, pushing the average immunization rate of Australia 92.2 percent.
Virus inspires new way to deliver cancer drugs: Drugs disguised as viruses are providing new weapons in the battle against cancer, promising greater accuracy and fewer side effects than chemotherapy. Researchers at The University of Queensland’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) have designed a virus-like nanoparticle (VNP) that could deliver drugs directly to the cells where they are needed.
Articles from 13.02.2017-19.02.2017
Australian researchers find stem cell breast cancer connection: Australian researchers have discovered stem cells in the breast that may be linked to a high-risk form of breast cancer.
The three questions that every patient should ask their doctor: Every patient should ask of every new proposed drug or intervention 3 questions:What are my options?; What are the specific benefits and harms to me?; What happens if I do nothing? If patients asked these questions more often and doctors took it upon themselves to answer faithfully, medicine might yet experience a new dawn.
Moves to scrap cover for natural therapies set to fail: While insurers privately argue that covering natural therapies attracts younger, healthier members, whose premiums are needed to offset the costs of older members, there are broader concerns that health dollars are simply being wasted.
Plan to help us decipher which vitamins and herbal remedies actually work: The Therapeutic Goods Administration is looking to reform regulation on complementary medicines so consumers have a better understanding of whether the billions we spend on them is giving us any health benefit.
A closer look at Australia's most popular supplements: An investigation on Four Corners focuses on the role chemists play in the selling and promotion of supplements. It highlights concerns from many in the medical profession that chemists are lending a halo effect to treatments for which there is often little evidence of effectiveness, and question marks over safety.
Complementary medicines with unproven benefits being sold to Australian consumers: Nearly a third of Australian pharmacists are recommending complementary medicine products that are not supported by evidence that they work.
Vitamin vending machines hit Australia: People can purchase vitamins, perfumes, medicines, soft drink and more from vending machines that have opened in Melbourne.
Spotting a slot in the market led to Australia's first vending-machine-only shop: Thirteen vending machines. No shop assistants, no managers. Open 24 hours a day. Monitored by the store's CCTV on a mobile phone.
Chiropractor found guilty of making false claims of curing cancer: A New South Wales chiropractor has been convicted of false advertising after he claimed to be able to prevent, treat and cure cancer in his advertising.
Vic Skeptics reveal dangerous products on sale at Melbourne Hospital: Victorian Skeptics committee member Peter Hogan and president Chris Guest have revealed that a dangerous homeopathic teething product was available at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital.
Articles from 06.02.2017-12.02.2017
Sorry, alternative health people: feeling better after a therapy is no proof it works: Every day, alternative health practitioners see patients who improve after receiving their treatment and feel it is wrong to doubt their experience. For them, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
Herbal supplements should be tested for safety, researchers say, questioning quality of drugs: Medical experts have called for vitamins and supplements sold in Australia to be independently tested, saying many people could be unwittingly causing themselves harm.
China promotes traditional medicine to combat AIDS: The promotion of TCM is part of a five-year plan from the State Council, China's cabinet, to tackle HIV/AIDS.
Ouch! The drugs don’t work for back pain, but here’s what does: treating it seems very difficult. Backing up a 2015 study showing paracetamol is ineffective for back pain, our latest research shows non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Nurofen and Voltaren, provide minimal benefits and high risk of side effects.
Nothing “traditional” about acupuncture: Dr Sue Ieraci: Is acupuncture the last bastion of acceptable placebo use in Australian medicine?
VIDEO: Kickbacks scandal rocks pharmacy industry: Trusted pharmacists claim they are being pressured to upsell certain products to get kickbacks from supplement companies.
PHARMACY LAMBASTED FOR CM ‘KICKBACK SCANDAL’: A Channel Nine news story has slammed pharmacy for complementary medicine “kickbacks,” but Guild says the story only referred to unremarkable commercial arrangements.
Homeopathy sells dangerous lies to patients: There is an epidemic of false cures being sold to sick Australians. But it's not an underground black-market trade. It's a certified, rubber-stamped official practice. It is enshrined in government policies, codified in professional code of conducts, funded with our taxes and sold by pharmacists. An intricate web of lies protects the pernicious practice of homeopathy in Australia.
Re-thinking Antioxidant Supplementation for Macular Degeneration: After the AREDS trial, people with moderate to severe age-related macular degeneration were advised to take dietary supplements to slow the progression of the disease. But some experts say the trial actually showed supplements don’t work, and might even make some patients worse.
Articles from 30.01.2017-05.02.2017
Watchdog with teeth to name, shame and ban dodgy health providers: Dodgy health providers can now be named, shamed and banned in Victoria by a new complaints watchdog with bolstered powers that extend to unregistered practitioners and those providing general health services like massage.
Why We Need Scientists On Social Media, Now More Than Ever: More young scientists see social media platforms as an important way to engage the public and clear up misinformation.
Chiropractors And Vaccination:A chiropractor condemns anti-vax colleagues whose views endanger the community and the profession.
An Alternative-Medicine Believer’s Journey Back to Science: unscientific and violate basic laws of physics and chemistry.
Dishing the dirt on detox: be wary of products that claim to 'detox' you
How to differentiate good from bad research: How can you be sure that a study is sound?
The role of criticism in the realm of alternative medicine: Criticism is painful but often necessary and it produces progress.
Ottawa doctor releases sci-fi comic to teach kids about immune system: Immunity Warriors illustrates importance of vaccines.
From Africa, Asia and South America
Donkey 'being stole and SKINNED ALIVE for Chinese miracle youth serum used in face creams and beauty masks': As many as 10 million donkeys are at risk from the ingredient which is alleged by Chinese medicine practitioner to be a youth-preserving gel.
Articles from 23.01.2017-29.01.2017
On Health: Debunking detox diets: A detox diet supposedly gets rid of toxins from the body, helping you to cleanse your system and to lose weight in the process, according to the School of Public Health of University of California, Berkeley. However, this is nonsense as your body can get rid of bad toxins just fine by itself.
Placebo Beats Supplements for Arthritis Pain:Many people take glucosamine and chondroitin supplements for arthritis pain, but a controlled trial has found no evidence that the combination works. In fact, in this study, the placebo worked better.
Will the University of Adelaide’s Chinese Medicine Partnership Bear Fruit?: The University of Adelaide recently announced the launch of the Beijing-based Global Institute of Traditional Medicine.
Olivia Newton-John on how she hopes chemotherapy will soon become a thing of the past: Reflexology & acupuncture are offered in the Cancer and Wellness Centre at the Austin Hospital, Melbourne.
Wide condemnation of pro-acupuncture research paper on infant colic: A controversial study that claims to have found proof that acupuncture is effective in treating colic in infants has been widely rebuked. In fact, even the associate editor of the journal where the study was published said “in technical terms, the study is negative … the primary outcome did not turn out to be statistically significant”.
New pancreatic cancer drug ‘a monumental leap forward: A new pancreatic cancer drug significantly extends survival time for patients who have undergone surgery, according to a report published in The Lancet.
Why are we more likely to get cancer as we age?: The number of new cases of cancer diagnosed has increased dramatically in the last three decades. This has led some to think the risks of acquiring cancer are on the increase in modern society.
How parasites and bacteria could be changing the way you think and feel: As science uncovers more about the influence of parasites and bacteria on human behaviour, we may well begin to see how they also shape our societies.
Scientists can’t fight 'alternative facts' alone: Countering the ‘post-truth’ mentality with facts is great, but to truly engage with people, scientists and other experts need to be part of popular culture.
How accurately do physicians estimate risk and benefit?: A new study suggests that physicians tend to overestimate the benefits of treatments, tests, and screening tests, while also underestimating harms.
Patients are dying from lack of good medical research: A recent study found that research funded by drug companies is often biased in favour of the sponsor’s drug. Medical academics like me can roll their eyes at naughty old pharma.
A guide to DIY homeopathy might seem amusing. Actually it’s terrifying: The National Center for Homeopathy (NCH) claims to be the ‘go-to resource for all who are interested in learning about homeopathy’. The NCH offers the right homeopathic remedies for a vast array of conditions. Its list of several hundred conditions ranges from acne to whooping cough and covers many illnesses that are potentially life-threatening.
From the US:
The World’s Top Hospitals Have Been Enabling Quack Medicine: From the Cleveland Clinic to top university hospitals such as Harvard, an eagerness to cash in on the alternative medicine bonanza has encouraged the rejection of real science.
Health Officials Issue Advisory As Whooping Cough Cases Increase: The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and Oakland County Health Division are issuing a health advisory following an increase in the number of identified pertussis cases, commonly referred to as whooping cough.
Calgary mom guilty of criminal negligence causing death: A Calgary judge says Tamara Lovett, who treated her son with holistic remedies before he died of a strep infection ‘gambled away’ his life.
Articles from 16.01.17-22.01.17
Chinese BioMedical Research: Sturgeon’s Law In Action: A Chinese government investigation has found that 80%, yes eighty percent, of Chinese biomedical research is fabricated. I bet that is an underestimate for Traditional Chinese Pseudo-Medicine.
Two hallmarks of alternative medicine: Whenever a level-headed person discloses that a specific alternative therapy is not based on good evidence, you can bet your last shirt that a proponent of the said treatment responds by claiming that conventional medicine is not much better.
Alternative medicine: a thing for the elderly!?!?: We all know that alternative medicine is currently popular, and much of the evidence suggested that this is mostly because mostly people in the midst of their lives are using it.
So, 'Detoxes' Or 'Cleanses' Don't Work. Here's Why: Avoid falling for clever marketing and save your money (From the Huffington Post).
Advertising naturopathy:The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) write and maintain the UK Advertising Codes, which are administered by the Advertising Standards Authority. On their website, the CAP recently published an updated advertising code for naturopathy.
Dietary Supplement May Carry Similar Safety Risks as Statins: Researchers assessed the safety profile of red yeast rice by analyzing spontaneous reports of adverse reactions. Red yeast rice found in dietary supplements was linked to myopathies and liver injury and may not be a good choice for statin-intolerant patients, according to a study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.
Junk science helps homeopathic remedy company win class action: Junk science from two of homeopathy’s biggest apologists help Hyland’s defeat a class action lawsuit for consumer false advertising claims, and nixed refunds for ineffective homeopathic remedies.
Articles from 09.01.17-15.01.17
Scientists gain new insights into molecular mechanisms of breast cancer development: Researchers from the University of Basel have gained new insights into the molecular processes in breast tissue.
Melbourne study reveals why some men with prostate cancer get more aggressive tumours: A LANDMARK Melbourne-led study reveals why men with prostate cancer who carry a cancer-predisposing gene have more aggressive tumours.
Cancer 'wonder drug' given tick of approval: In a major milestone for Melbourne scientists, a leukaemia drug almost 30 years in the making has been given the governmental tick of approval.
How to quickly spot dodgy science: A list of tricks that aren't foolproof, but in combination they’re rather useful. They can help identify bad science in just minutes rather than hours.
Sussan Ley quits as health minister as Malcolm Turnbull flags political expenses reform: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Ms Ley's replacements in the health, aged care and sport portfolios would be announced next week and Arthur Sinodinos would stay on as Acting Health Minister until then.
Gluten-free baby: When parents ignore science: Inside the troubling and dangerous rise of alternative medicine for kids.
Educating chiros: comments on the consensus on education reached at a recent conference in Montréal (October 2016), the WFC (World Federation of Chiropractic) and the ACC (Association of Chiropractic Colleges).
In 2017, let’s take back science!: Professor Timothy Caulfield asks us to speak out against the conspiracy-tinged nonsense that increasingly pervades our health debates
Just How Safe Are Vaccines? Here Are the Numbers: The science on vaccines is clear; numerous studies show that vaccines are safe and effective, and that serious side effects are rare.
Fakery on a massive scale means we can’t trust studies from China: Data fabrication has seriously detrimental effects, we must ask what we can do about it. We must scrutinise it thoroughly and sceptically. Whenever it looks too good to be true, we ought to discard it as unreliable.
From the UK:
This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising: Any claims for naturopathy that go beyond accepted claims for a healthy lifestyle are likely to be problematic unless they are supported by a robust body of evidence.
From the US:
Identify Strong Evidence-Based Medicine Programs: Evidence-based medicine is a method which uses clinical research results to inform treatment decisions.
The Medical Director of The Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute spewed antivaccine misinformation last week. Why is anyone surprised?: A social media firestorm erupted over the weekend after Dr. Daniel Neides, Director of The Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, posted an article full of antivaccine misinformation
Dietetics: Embracing Integrative and Functional Medicine?: The Accreditation Council for Education in Dietetics is planning on changing the accreditation standards for requirements Registered Dietitians to include integrative and functional nutrition as core components
Peanut Allergy Prevention Advice Does a 180: New guidelines suggest that preventing peanut allergies may be as simple as giving peanut-containing food, beginning in infancy. How did old guidelines, which recommended avoidance, get it so wrong?
Articles from 01.01.2017-08.01.17
The 7 biggest problems facing science, according to 270 scientists: Scientists all over the world, including graduate students, senior professors, laboratory heads, and Fields Medalists, say that in a variety of ways, their careers are being hijacked by perverse incentives. The result is bad science.
Why do researchers do different kinds of clinical studies: Scientists may have many reasons for doing a clinical study, such as to explore the cause of a disease or a set of symptoms, to test if a treatment will help with a symptom or condition or to learn how a certain behaviour affects people’s health.
Cancer Death Rates Fall as Prevention, Treatment Advance: Deaths from cancer in the United States have dropped 25 percent since hitting a peak in 1991, a new report finds.
Fake treatments for real diseases: A review of allergy and asthma advertisements by naturopaths, chiropractors, homeopaths and acupuncturists: A majority of Canadian chiropractic, naturopathic, homeopathic and acupuncture clinics claim that they can diagnose or treat allergies, sensitivities and asthma
Stop taking vitamins and eat the right food if you want to stay healthy: Our bodies don’t know how to absorb vitamins and minerals from tablets and capsules. They only know about foods so you may be paying through the nose for something that’s ineffective or for a placebo effect
Doctors issue new year detox health warning: Highlighting the case of a woman they treated last year who became critically ill after taking herbal remedies and drinking too much water, Doctors have issued a warning about the potential harms of undertaking a radical new year detox.
Diet drinks are not healthy and could trigger weight gain, say researchers: Diet and sugar-free alternatives should not be promoted as part of a healthy diet, say researchers
Mediterranean diet may protect your brain in old age, new finding suggests: A new study based on brain imaging in over 400 people seems to show that we have even more reason to celebrate this diet and, more importantly, to stick to it.
(*) These are .pdf files, click on the name to download.