Archived articles and radio interviews
The articles below have appeared since the beginning of 2015:
Consumers squeezed as private health funds cut 'lifestyle' benefits while raising premiums: Two of Australia's biggest health insurers, NIB & Medibank are cutting the amount they will refund patients for alternative therapies and gym memberships at the same time they are raising the cost of insurance.
Vaccination call after baby’s cough death: The vaccination debate has been reignited following the death of a four-week-old baby in Perth from whooping cough.
Reddit users send an image of a grieving doctor in California viral: Doctors and nurses are often not appreciated enough for the work that they do.
Quackdown: war on dodgy health practitioners: The Victorian Government is preparing new legislation to crack down on people who offer questionable and potentially dangerous health services, such as unqualified home birth assistance or alternative cancer treatments.
When will pharmacists finally stop selling homeopathic remedies?: Why do we need to keep reminding pharmacists who sell homeopathic remedies to the unsuspecting public that it is unethical to pretend they are more than placebos?
NHMRC releases statement and advice on homeopathy: The National Health & Medical Research Council review found no good quality, well-designed studies with enough participants to support the idea that homeopathy works better than a placebo, or causes health improvements equal to those of another treatment.
Homeopathy and the ethics of researching magic: With the growth of ‘Integrative Health’ in Universities, is it ethically acceptable to conduct research on pseudo-science based interventions at institutions that are required to follow internationally recognized research ethics standards?
Dr Ginna Mansberg: 'The medical profession has a problem': Patients are tuning out the advice from doctors and tuning into the internet. In their place and displacing science are the “wellness warriors” and paleo celebrities peddling supplements, cleanses and detoxes.
Doctors warning over potentially fatal acupuncture risk: Doctors have called for patients to be made aware of the risks of acupuncture after a case where the alternative therapy caused a potentially fatal lung condition.
What do doctors say to 'alternative therapists' when a patient dies? Nothing. We never talk:The alternative health industry, worth many billions of dollars, marches briskly. It will always attract unguarded patients who will cling to the faintest promise of recovery without associated harm.
Herbal Products and the Liver: A Review of Adverse Effects and Mechanisms: Herbal products are no safer than conventional drugs and have caused liver injury severe enough to require transplantation or cause death. Their efficacy, safety, and claims are not assessed by regulatory agencies, and there is uncertainty about their reported and unreported contents.
Fluoride safe, but final review pending: Australians have been reassured that fluoride in drinking water is effective and safe, despite international studies linked it to lower IQs and thyroid problems.
Defending Science-Based Medicine: 44 Doctor-Bashing Arguments ...and Their Rebuttals: Supporters of alternative medicine and purveyors of quack remedies love to criticize conventional medicine and science. They keep repeating the same tired arguments that are easily rebutted. This handy guide will help skeptics answer common criticisms from doctor-bashers.
A Really Bad Week For The Supplements Industry: Using DNA sequencing to test the ingredients in six types of herbal supplements, looking at different brands from multiple stores, a scientific study found that 79% of the supplements tested did not contain the primary ingredient listed on the label. Many of them contained other plant material, including plants that might cause an allergic reaction in unsuspecting customers.
A Cochrane review of manipulation and mobilization for mechanical neck disorders: Mobilization and/or manipulation for persistent mechanical neck disorders with or without headache is only beneficial when used with exercise. In the absence of compelling evidence for efficacy, any risk of neck manipulation would tilt the risk/benefit balance into the negative.
Chiropractic identity, role and future: a survey of North American chiropractic students: North American chiropractors want evidence based medicine, but on their own terms and without giving up their fundamentalist beliefs, concept and practices.
'Expensive' placebos work better: study: Patients who believe they are taking an expensive drug may derive more benefit than from one they are told is cheaper.
Should vitamin D supplements be recommended to prevent chronic diseases? Because clear evidence of benefit over harm for vitamin D has not been proved, we should not recommend vitamin D supplements for prevention of chronic diseases.
Danger in the Dietary Supplement Aisle. Again: In the US, the best way to ensure that consumers can safely purchase products such as dietary supplements off retailers’ shelves is for Congress to imbue FDA with real authority to properly regulate these products and the necessary funds to make it work.
Krill oil marketing: a case study of Australia’s broken regulations: Complementary medicines such as krill oil don’t always have the science to back up their claims.
Multivitamin use and cardiovascular disease in a prospective study of women: In this study of middle-aged and elderly women, neither baseline nor time-varying multivitamin use was associated with the long-term risk of major CVD events, MI, stroke, cardiac revascularizations, or CVD death.
A Double-Blind Randomized Placebo-Controlled Feasibility Study Evaluating Individualized Homeopathy in Managing Pain of Knee Osteoarthritis. A prospective, parallel-arm, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled pilot study was conducted involving 60 patients suffering from acute painful episodes of knee osteoarthritis. Homeopathy did not appear to be superior to placebo.
Advertising Standard’s Authority (UK) complaint against BICOM UK: In the UK, a complaint was upheld against advertising claims made by BICOM UK LLP for live blood analysis and their BICOM electrodermal device promoted as a treatment for a wide range of diseases & disorders including cancer. This device is listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG).
US anti-vaccination campaigner Dr Sherri Tenpenny cancels tour of Australia: A controversial US anti-vaccination campaigner has cancelled her Australian tour, saying she feels threatened by "pro vaccine extremists" and "anti-free-speech terrorists". However, the only threats made were by an anti-vaccine campaigner who threatened to burn down one property and bomb another if it cancelled her seminars.
Fish oil rules reviewed as study reveals consumers are being hoodwinked: Many fish oil producers have been deceiving the public about the content of their oil. This study drew attention to longstanding deficiencies in Australia’s complementary medicines regulation, which includes no pre-market evaluation of sponsors’ products against compositional quality standards or promotional claims, limited and poorly targeted post-market surveillance, and a lack of effective penalties that would deter sponsors from repeated breaches of TGA regulations.
Whooping cough: Victoria to reintroduce free vaccination for parents: Victoria will reintroduce free whooping cough vaccines for expectant mothers and parents of newborns amid concern about the rise in cases of the disease.
Tired, Sluggish, Bloated? Time to detox? “don’t buy the hype”: ‘Detoxing’ is heavily promoted in magazines, newspapers, television and via the Internet. While most of the products promoted might not be dangerous, they are all a waste of money
Effects of spinal manipulation versus therapeutic exercise on adults with chronic low back pain: a literature review: Chronic low back pain: exercise is better than chiropractic.
Natural therapy cover risk to private health rebate: Unproven natural therapies will be stripped of government subsidies, amid signs private health insurers and their members have embraced the so-called alternatives to traditional medicine and driven up costs.
We know too little about probiotics to proclaim their virtues: That your gut bacteria are critical in maintaining your health is well established. But we don’t know which bacteria are helpful and how they act. Until these questions are answered, probiotics and by extension prebiotics will struggle to fulfil their claimed promises. And manufacturers may need to learn to temper their language.
Taxpayers to fund teaching of 'pseudo-science':Profit-making colleges would receive taxpayer funding to teach students unproven alternative remedies such as homeopathy, flower essence therapy and iridology under the Abbott government's proposed higher education reforms.
Queensland records the nation’s lowest rate of whooping cough infections: Queensland Department of Health is only seven months into the implementation of its immunisation strategy, which has set a target of 95 per cent of all children being fully vaccinated and they are already achieving significant results, recording, in 2014, its lowest rate of whooping cough infections in a decade. Current figures show that around 91 per cent of one-year-olds, 93 per cent of two-year-olds and 92 per cent of five-year-olds are now vaccinated.
Health Department offers hypnotherapy, acupuncture cash to help staff quit smoking: The federal Health Department is paying for unproven therapies to help its employees quit smoking.
Websites closed in battle against illegal trade in medicines: THE UK Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said it close more than 1,600 websites illegally advertising and selling medicines in 2014. Enforcement officers also seized medicines with a value in excess of £3 million. These included quantities of erectile dysfunction medicines, slimming products, as well as powerful and often misused drugs like sleeping pills and antidepressants.
Allergy Clinic ad complaint upheld: THE New Zealand Allergy Clinic website has been found by the NZ Advertising Standards Authority Complaints Board to be in breach of the Therapeutic Services Advertising Code on a number of counts. The Board found that the site made unsubstantiated therapeutic claims about the efficacy of Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Techniques (NAET) and Quantum Reflex Analysis (QRA) and included testimonials which were outside the restrictions placed on them for medical conditions.
Vertebral artery dissection after a chiropractor neck manipulation: This report illustrates the potential hazards associated with neck trauma, including chiropractic manipulation. The vertebral arteries are at risk for aneurysm formation and/or dissection, which can cause acute stroke.
Uproar as US anti-vaccination campaigner Sherri Tenpenny announces trip to Australia: A broad media campaign has begun to stop an American anti-vaccination campaigner running a series of lectures in Australia in March.
Why we need to listen to real experts in science: If we want to use scientific thinking to solve problems, we need people to appreciate evidence and heed expert advice.
Enforceable undertaking: Nutrition Warehouse Pty Limited: Following an investigation by the Therapeutic Goods Administration on goods imported by Nutrition Warehouse Pty Ltd, the company has given an undertaking to engage a qualified compliance professional to ensure it does not commit any future breaches of the Therapeutic Goods Act.
2014, a Bad Year for Homoeopathy: News has ranged from the Draft Information Paper on Homoeopathy from the NHMRC, which concluded there was no reliable evidence for the use of homoeopathy in the treatment of the 61 health conditions, to the Federal Court which found that Homeopathy Plus! was engaged in misleading conduct over its homoeopathic “vaccines”.
Acupuncture for chronic knee pain: a randomized clinical trial: Acupuncture is not effective for patients older than 50 years with moderate to severe chronic knee pain. This trial, involving 282 patients and found that neither laser nor needle acupuncture conferred benefit over sham for pain or function.
Cancer often caused by ‘bad luck’, not genes, say Johns Hopkins researchers: Cancer is often caused by the “bad luck” of random mutations that arise when cells divide, not family history or environmental causes, US researchers say.
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