Archived articles and radio interviews
The articles below have appeared since the beginning of 2014:
Alternative Health Therapies in Australia: Market Research Report: Even though revenue is growing due to increased acceptance and availability of alternative health therapies, public distrust stemming from high-profile associations such as the Friends of Science in Medicine (FSM) could derail the industry.
AHPRA stands firm on naming and shaming:AHPRA has defended the hoops health professionals must jump through to clear their public disciplinary records, despite copping flak from a high-profile judge.
Chiropractic care in pregnancy and childhood – a castle built on a swamp:The chiropractic profession under AHPRA has been forced into taking a more rigorous approach to such niceties as Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and defining their scope of practice.
Tens of millions for CAM research — and it’s all on your dime: In the US should the government continue to fund research of pseudomedicine and quackery because it doesn’t appear to affect CAM practices while many other worthy projects go wanting due to lack of available funding.
Experts denounce clinical trials of unscientific, 'alternative' medicines: Experts writing in the Cell Press journal Trends in Molecular Medicine on August 20th call for an end to clinical trials of "highly implausible treatments" such as homeopathy and reiki.
Acupuncture and most other alternative therapies for MS are not evidence-based: For every condition which is not curable by conventional medicine there are dozens of alternative treatments that offer a cure or at least symptomatic relief. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is such a disease. It is hard to find an alternative therapy that is not being promoted for MS.
CAM industry raking in $3.5b a year: A survey report commissioned by Complementary Medicines Australia — the industry lobby group — claimed that the industry was "vital", saying consumers were turning to "complementary medicines to fill their nutrition deficit with vitamins and dietary supplements".
Vaccine deniers blamed as measles at all time high: Vaccination deniers are being blamed for a resurgence in measles as rates of the disease exceed levels not seen since the 1990s.
Many autism treatments a waste of money: Thousands of Australian parents are likely to be wasting vast amounts of money on unproven treatments for children with autism, including some which can be harmful.
Upper Neck Manipulation: Caveats for Patients and Providers: Although informed consent should be obtained from every patient who submits to neck manipulation, informed consent does not justify unnecessary neck manipulation and its concomitant risks.
With the right kind of research, we can reduce health-care costs: Quality health care can be expensive and medical research has traditionally been thought to play a role in making it so. But research can also help cut the cost of medical care.
Traditional Indian Medicine seized in Sydney: Health authorities have raided Indian grocery stores in Sydney's southwest, seizing products they fear may cause lead poisoning.
Does inter-vertebral range of motion increase after spinal manipulation? A prospective cohort study: Despite claims by chiropractors that spinal manipulation is effective for a wide range of musculo-skeletal pain, this study found no differences in cervical sagittal IV-RoM between patients with non-specific neck pain and matched controls.
Hard to swallow this bitter pill: Pharmacy customers should be given the information they need on complementary medicine labels to make better choices about their healthcare.
Queensland Health pulls Australian Vaccination-Skeptics leaflet from pregnancy pack:a leaflet promoting the Australian Vaccination-Sceptics Network (AVN) has been pulled from Queensland Health’s pregnancy packs after a Gold Coast mum raised concerns about the document.
Myth? Bracelets can relieve arthritic pain: Magnetic wrist straps and copper bracelets offer no more pain relief or anti-inflammatory effects than placebo.
‘Natural’ hormone therapy no panacea for menopause symptoms: Menopausal women have been driven towards the false promises of bioidentical hormone therapy and may not be aware of the potential danger.
Acupuncture for Menopausal Symptoms: A reasonable person can only conclude that acupuncture does not work, and that all the clinical research consistently shows that acupuncture conveys only illusory and nonspecific placebo effects for subjective symptoms.
Acupuncture, zombie fish and Humpty Dumpty: Part of the frustration of trying to take acupuncture seriously is that the definition and supposed theoretical model cannot be defined in a meaningful way.
I paid $50,000 for a health ‘miracle’:a paralysed patient’s story about the use of stem cells which he unsuccessfully used to help him restore his health and his wish that there were more such options open in Australia.
Testosterone supplements: why the fuss?: A whole industry has grown around testosterone supplementation for ageing men. But neither the benefits nor risks of the practice are clear yet. Until the results of clinical trials become available, we have insufficient evidence to support the use of testosterone beyond the 2% to 3% of the population with unequivocal hypogonadism. And caution should clearly be exercised in men with cardiovascular disease.
The evidence for Echinacea:The best available evidence doesn’t support the use of Echinacea in children with the common cold, and that the risk of side effects like allergy is a concern.
The year polio won:Everyone must take responsibility for the epidemic of scientific mistrust and ignorance gripping the world and returning polio to the most vulnerable.
Iridology does not work, group says:Chemists are at risk of losing their respected image if they become a conduit and financial beneficiary of tests and therapies they know to be of no value.
Superfoods or superfrauds? Scientists are unimpressed: New superfoods seem to be discovered with increasing frequency but rather like Superman they tend to be a fantasy construct.
High school children to be vaccinated for measles after an increase in cases picked up while travelling: Health authorities are so concerned about a string of measles outbreaks linked to overseas travel that, as of Thursday, they will begin offering free vaccines against the disease in NSW high schools with low vaccination rates.
Tempted to substitute HRT? Short-term RCTs confirm that HRT is the only therapy that effectively improves health-related quality of life in symptomatic women through a reduction in vasomotor and urogenital symptoms, joint pains and insomnia, while improving sexuality.
Version of Breech Fetuses by Moxibustion With Acupuncture: A Randomized Controlled Trial: Treatment by moxibustion with acupuncture was not effective in correcting breech presentation in the third trimester of pregnancy.
Is acupuncture effective for pain?: an excellent critical review on the limited benefits of selective acupuncture procedures in some acute pain conditions.
Support for anti-vax group waning: In an era where anti-vaccination messages are influencing public perception about safety, one group is turning the tide against anti-vaccine lobby groups.
Senators scold Dr. Oz for weight-loss scams: A US hearing held to discuss ways to protect consumers from weight-loss scams involving pills, creams and supplements has challenged the ethics of high profile celebrity surgeon, Dr Oz.
Is measles making a comeback?: In its latest surveillance update, the Communicable Diseases Network Australia reported 210 measles cases had been identified this year, compared with just 17 cases at the same time last year.
Ian Carr: Peddling homeopathy: Should pharmacists stop being seen as tarrying with the dark art of homeopathy and should they declare that their intention is to treat their patients based on the best evidence, and honesty.
Jane McCredie: Honest placebos: Could openly giving a placebo, accompanied by the information that placebos have been shown to work, offer an ethical way to harness this powerful tool?
Why you should ignore what anti-vaxxers have to say: When a person is immune to evidence or keeps claiming that everyone else is hiding the truth, debating them is futile.
Dr House Was Right: Give Patients What They Need, Not What They Want: Doctors need to be able to tell patients things they don’t want to hear. A UC Davis study demonstrates that using patient satisfaction surveys to adjust reimbursement rates is a recipe for higher costs and lower quality of care.
Teach evidence based, not alternative, medicine: We don’t predict the outcome of battles by studying the entrails of chickens, or choose the best route for a new railway line by asking a witch doctor to go into a trance, so why should we behave this way when it comes to healthcare?
What the anti-vaccine movement means for insurers when plan members let measles, mumps and pertussis back in: To date, there has been no legal action taken against parents whose children aren’t immunized for non-medical reasons.
Physio no better than placebo for Osteoarthritis: Researchers randomised 102 people with hip osteoarthritis to 24 weeks of recommended exercise and manipulation therapy, or sham treatment. Both interventions had similar results.
Vaccination Attitudes and Education in Naturopathic Medicine Students: A survey aimed at assessing the attitudes, education, and sources of knowledge surrounding childhood vaccinations of 560 students at National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, US. Only 26% of the responding students planned on regularly prescribing or recommending vaccinations for their patients. Education surrounding childhood vaccinations came from varied sources in this cohort of CAM students. Attitudes surrounding childhood vaccinations were highly nuanced, with potential public health implications.
Press release: Regulator warns people about buying potentially toxic herbal medicines online: In the UK, their Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is warning people not to use a number of herbal medicines that can be bought on the internet after they were found to contain undeclared prescription only medicines and heavy metals.
Outrage against anti-vaccination lobby at health expo: Nearly 500 people signed a petition for the expo to ban the Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network and its chief proponent, Meryl Dorey from a Queensland Health Expo.
Homeopathy research results (TodayTonight): Prof Rob Morrison is interviewed about the implications relating to the NHMRC conclusion that homeopathy is a placebo.
Jane McCredie: Truth manipulation: A range of alternative medicine practitioners and manufacturers are enthusiastic proponents of truth manipulation, perhaps none more so than those chiropractors who aim to convince parents their perfectly health children need regular chiropractic check-ups.
Can you trust the local chemist?: Pharmacies are selling therapeutic goods you don’t need, that doesn’t work, in the guise of ‘health’.
Internet slimming, thyrotoxicosis and the liver: A patient presented with thyrotoxicosis caused by Gingko biloba and green tea purchased over the internet. These supplements are readily available over the internet with no regulation of their efficacy, safety or contents.
Homeopaths fight back over negative findings (NZ): New Zealand doctors are said to be backing the findings of an Australian study that says homeopathic remedies do not work - but Kiwis practising the alternative treatment say the study is flawed.
Four million Australians deficient in vitamin D: While about one in four adults were vitamin D deficient, 17% had a mild deficiency, 6% a moderate deficiency, and less than 1% a severe deficiency, study finds.
Vitamin supplements for kids: what are we really treating? Australian parents spend $40 million each year on vitamin supplements for their children. It’s a big number; much smaller is the number of children who actually need them.
QUESTION: how do chiropractors earn their daily bread? ANSWER: all too often by being economical with the truth: An investigation of Victorian chiropractors, describing their clinical practices, suggests that most Australian chiropractors treat non-spinal conditions and there is no evidence that the most frequently used interventions are effective.
A third of the Australian Vaccination Skeptics Network’s members are medical professionals: MEDICAL experts say it is “distressing” that nurses and midwives are members of an anti-vaccination lobby, which also boasts chiropractors, naturopaths and osteopaths among its supporters.
NHMRC draft information paper: Evidence on the effectiveness of homeopathy: On the 9 April 2104, the NHMRC released a draft document on Homeopathy. This is a momentous occasion when the peak Medical body of a Nation makes important recommendations after a most comprehensive review on the claims that the alternative medicine homeopathy can cure several diseases. The conclusions that "there is no reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective for treating health conditions" is not unexpected and is a welcome demonstration that objective assessment of health interventions are at the bases of good Health policies. FSM and its over a thousand supporters welcome this important step to rid Australian health of pseudoscience based treatments.
Scientists call for end of handouts to parents who don’t vaccinate children: A GROUP of eminent scientists has called on the Abbott Government to crack down on handouts to parents who refuse to vaccinate their children.
Should you be worried about getting enough vitamin D?: The summaries of two papers published in the BMJ last week, showed that low vitamin D levels are associated with higher disease risk, but that vitamin D supplementation doesn’t actually decrease that risk.
Oz leads the way on measles: Australia is one of the first countries in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Western Pacific Region to be declared measles-free, according to an expert. Measles is a virus that kills approximately 330 people worldwide every day, mostly children younger than five years of age.
Half an hour of physio enough for whiplash: A single physiotherapy session and some practical advice is enough to treat most whiplash, Australian research shows.
From stem cell fraud to acupuncture, peer review can save us from ourselves: A recent story in the Australian media about acupuncture used for acute pain relief in emergency departments is a good example of research which seems to have avoided peer review and made a bid to capture the popular consciousness. Aggressive, robust peer review will always be applied to things that look too good to be true.
Homeopathy: benefit of the doubt or doubt of the benefit?: Homeopathy has not been proved to work but neither has it been conclusively disproven; this means that, until new evidence unambiguously demonstrates otherwise, we should classify homeopathy as ineffective – and this, of course, applies not just to homeopathy but to ALL unproven interventions
Health Check: – Four myths about vitamin supplements: There’s no convincing evidence that vitamin supplementation benefits people who don’t actually have a vitamin deficiency.
9 worst areas for vaccination uptake: NSW is still lagging behind other states when it comes to vaccinating its children, according to new data released Thursday by the National Health Performance Authority.
Bad Science Watch blasts proposed TCM drug regulation:The Canadian consumer protection group Bad Science Watch has expressed serious concerns about Health Canada's monograph "Traditional Chinese Medicine Ingredients (TCMI)."
Believe it or not: 50 pct of Americans fall for medical conspiracy theories: Researchers who studied the responses of 1351 U.S. adults to an online survey have concluded that conspiracy beliefs about cancer cures, cell phones, the spread of HIV infection, genetically modified foods, vaccines, and fluoridation beliefs are widespread and are correlated with various health-related behaviours
Regulation of unregistered health practitioners: Submissions from the public are invited about what people think should be in the first National Code of Conduct. The aim is for the National Code to set minimum enforceable standards of practice for any person who provides a health service which is not regulated under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law.
Naturopathy Vs Science allergy edition: Naturopaths purport to be science-based primary care providers and claim to have the training equivalent to medical doctors. However, surveys of naturopathic practices suggest naturopaths do not offer treatments that are science-based.
Alternative practitioners often endanger the lives of cancer patients: Many therapies provided by Complementary & Alternative Medicine (CAM) therapists are biologically based and may interfere with conventional cancer therapy, putting patients at risk of interactions, as CAM therapist believe them to be useful anticancer treatments. This may lead to the delay or even omission of effective therapies. Far too many patients are unaware of the evidence and of the dangers of being misled by bogus claims for cancer cures, a German study shows.
Anti-vaccine group's charity status opposed: A group that believes vaccines cause autism and cancer should have its charity licence removed because of irregularities in its financial statements and its lack of charity work, critics say.
NSW Anti-vaccination group changes its name after complaints: The Australian Vaccination Network has changed its name to one that more clearly reflects its anti-vaccination views. The group will now be known as the Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network.
Could children's vitamins be damaging their health? Children's vitamins are a rapidly growing part of the supplement industry but few children need them and experts say parents are wasting their money and possibly harming their kids' health.
Intracranial hypotension syndrome following manipulation of the cervical spine. This case study reveal the dangers of chiropractic manipulations of the cervical spine which can cause a dural tear and subsequently an intracranial hypotension syndrome. Postural headaches directly after spinal manipulation should therefore be a reason to suspect this complication.
Protein diets 'nearly as bad as smoking': People on high-protein diets are likely to lose years of life along with the weight they shed, according to two studies.
Chiropractors should report problems, says surgeon: Australian chiropractors should be recording and reporting problems so people know the risks of their treatments, a Melbourne surgeon says.
False hope alert over cancer diets: Health and ethics experts are worried about a wave of unproved alternative therapies which they say offer false hope to the growing numbers of people facing cancer.
Which therapy is best for low back pain?: None of the treatments for low back pain are convincingly effective so we might as well stop using them and use exercise, which carries the least risks and cost.
Govt spends $140k on homeopathy research: The Federal Government has spent almost one million dollars figuring out whether quackery such as iridology and the dubious therapy ‘rolfing’ are efficacious, including at least $140,000 on homeopathy.
Forensic problems with the composition and content of herbal medicines: It may not be possible to determine what herbal substance an individual has been exposed to prior to death and in what concentration, based on packaging from medications seized at the scene, or from examination of website data and the ARTG listing. These discrepancies may increase the problems that exist in attempting to determine what role herbal medicines may play in the mechanism of death in certain forensic cases.
John Dwyer: Complementary storm: Doctors need to do more to convince Australians that they cannot neutralise an unhealthy lifestyle with supplements and with out-of-pocket health care costs soaring they could collectively save themselves $2 billion a year by only buying these supplements if they are advised to do so by their doctors.
Measles map exposes global fallout of an autism scare campaign: The legacy of the discredited research by MMR scare doctor Andrew Wakefield has been exposed by a map showing spikes in cases of preventable childhood diseases in areas across the globe where anti-vaccine campaigners are active.
Where is the proof in pseudoscience? The word “pseudoscience” is used to describe something that is portrayed as scientific but fails to meet scientific criteria. A good example of pseudoscience is homoeopathy, which presents the façade of a science-based medical practice but fails to adhere to scientific methodology.
A cure for chiropractic: After 10 years of procrastination, the US chiropractic profession remains unchanged. This article lists discusses the problems and suggests a Model Chiropractic Practice Reform Act.
Dr. Oz Hosts Joe Mercola On His Show. Does Oz Endorse Mercola's Anti-Vaccine Views? The high profile Dr Oz television show hosts anti-vaccine and vitamins sponsor, Joe Mercola.
TGA bill weakened in favour of CAM: A proposed Labor amendment, that sought to address an oversight in the Therapeutic Goods Amendment Bill (2013) has been rejected by Parliament. It would have meant that products not shown to have therapeutic value would be ineligible for the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods or deregistered.
The return of the revenge of high dose Vitamin C for cancer: A US academic medical centre has started an “integrative medicine” program for primary care physicians, to try to facilitate cancer patients going to alternative medicine practitioners who administer high dose vitamin C.
Herbal medicines – toxic side effects and drug interactions: Herbal medicines are widely trusted but that trust is mostly due to our imagination coupling them with a bucolic vision of nature which never existed. It’s time to end this misplaced trust and start seeking evidence. We still only have a very poor idea of the potential harms posed by the panoply of herbal medicines on sale.
Pain Options: With the prevalence of musculoskeletal conditions in the general population and the burden on the health care system, access to a colleague who has a special interest and skill in this area of medicine to assist with diagnosis, pain and other management is a cost effective and useful option for GPs to consider.
Faulty acupuncture needles 'of concern': Defective acupuncture needles widely used in Australia risk exposing patients to bleeding, bruising and dermatitis, research shows.
Moving Toward Evidence-Based Complementary Care: Overall studies fail to show much benefit with meditation with regard to relief from suffering or improvement in overall health, however, it may provide a small degree of relief from psychological distress.
Academics back Professor over Swisse research collaboration: Friends of Science and Medicine, an association that lobbies for evidence-based medicine, has called on La Trobe University to abandon planned research into Swisse supplements amid claims industry funding will compromise the quality of the work.
No one needs a 'detox': Claims that toxins are the result of modern life - of exposure to pollution, pesticides and other chemicals - are pure shamanism.
Doctors tough line on jabs: More WA doctors are refusing to endorse parents who object to their children being vaccinated but who need a letter from their GP to get government benefit payments.
What creationists and anti-vaxxers have in common: A rise in diseases such as measles and whooping cough in places with cheap, available vaccines, and charter schools using public money to teach creationism are different manifestations of the same thing: people’s misplaced and misinformed insistence that their personal beliefs exempt them from the scientific evidence to the contrary, even if that means consequences for people who don’t share their beliefs.
Anti-vaccination storm brewing at UOW (University of Wollongong): The University of Wollongong last year paid a PhD arts student $3,000 to attend a talk in San Francisco where they presented a paper arguing against young people being vaccinated for the humanpapilloma virus, or HPV and it says it will continue to support the student’s anti vaccination views.
Did Magic Tape Help Li Na Win The Australian Open? The Chiropractic Board of Australia has approved “Kinesiology taping” courses for up to 6 continuing development hours (CPD). It is used for hundreds of common injuries on both humans and animals, for conditions such as lower back pain, knee pain, shin splints, carpal tunnel syndrome, and tennis elbow. It is also promoted for improving athletic performance, however, the evidence says it’s probably not better than a placebo. When it comes to pain relief, the evidence shows “no clinically important results”.
Prof says jab is for public good: A medical expert has urged parents who refuse to immunise their children to think of the rest of their community. Queensland Health figures released this week show one in 10 children in Townsville are not vaccinated, doctors saying this puts others at risk of serious disease or even death.
More acupuncture misrepresentation: Fallacies have become the centrepiece deception of acupuncture promotion.
Top 10 Chiropractic Studies of 2013: An analysis of the top 10 studies for chiropractic research from 2013, continues to show that the quality of chiropractic research remains appallingly poor.
Shedding some light: vitamin D pills useless, say researchers: It is good for your bones, it wards off rickets in children, but spending money on vitamin D supplements to prevent cancer and other non-skeletal diseases could be a waste of money, the medical journal The Lancet says.
Chiropractors use of X Rays: Worldwide chiropractors are notorious for their overuse and misuse of spinal x-rays ordered for patients with non-specific back pain and neck pain or other conditions. After the introduction of online imaging guidelines in the US there was an immediate reduction in the level of spine x-rays ordered.
Private health insurance natural therapies review: The Federal Government has agreed to delay the implementation date of the Chief Medical Officer review into private health insurance into natural therapies until 1 April 2015. This had originally been scheduled for 1 Jan 2014.
Visceral Manipulation – you couldn’t make it up: Visceral Manipulation claims to be a miracle cure for just about every disease imaginable. Included in Osteopathy studies in some University courses and attracting professional development hours it is promoted on both osteopathy and physiotherapy websites, this article questions its validity.
The New Cough and Cold Products for Children: Evidence is Optional and Science is Marketing: There is little convincing evidence that the marketed cough and cold products for children have meaningful effects. Consequently, medicating children is generally unnecessary and sometimes inadvisable.
How safe are the vigorous neck manipulations done by chiropractors?: One of the techniques chiropractors use, called cervical neck manipulation or “cracking the neck,” has raised concerns that it can cause serious harm. A 2010 study of deaths after spinal manipulation found 26 published cases, and seven unpublished ones, mostly due to a tear, or “dissection of a vertebral artery”.
Acupuncture needle types equally [in]effective with exercise for knee [Osteoarthritis] OA: Researchers did not find any differences in effect in the puncturing and nonpuncturing acupuncture therapy when used in conjunction with exercise-based physical therapy. Their study highlighted that positive expectation may impact treatment outcomes.
Sensa and Three other Marketers of Fad Weight-Loss Products Settle FTC Charges in Crackdown on Deceptive Advertising: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced a law enforcement initiative stopping national marketers that used deceptive advertising claims to peddle fad weight- loss products, from food additives and skin cream to dietary supplements.
Child vaccinations reach 'worrying' lows in affluent Melbourne suburbs: Victoria has one of the highest immunisation rates in the country but while parents are required to provide their child's vaccination history to primary schools, there are no requirements for children who have not received the MMR vaccine. Some affluent inner-city Melbourne suburbs are falling below safe vaccination rates for children, leaving doctors worried about an increased risk of potentially fatal diseases.
Weight loss products, too good to be true, TGA warns: The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) both issued warnings this month about weight loss products they considered too good to be true or just plain dangerous, sold by vendors who were “experts at preying on people’s vulnerabilities”
Private health insurance rebates restrict consumer choice :The increase in Private Health Insurance premiums has prompted closer scrutiny of the services insurers pay for. Insurer preferences entrench views about particular occupations in health that may not be based on research evidence. Australians need more information about what professions and services are rebated in private health insurance and how rebates come to be assigned.
Anti-vaccination group struggling for new Id: The Australian Vaccination Network (AVN), which promotes the "benefits" of measles and believes vaccines cause autism, has lost its first battle to find a new name after failing in an attempt to “reserve” the name ‘Australian Vaccination - Sceptics Network’ with the Australian Securities & Investments Commission. AVN members have mocked disease-related deaths of children and spruiked a herbal product called black salve as a cancer cure.
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