Celebrity fact-checks, heart trouble, spectacles, and more…

FSM Friends news & articles

Timothy Caulfield on Elle Macpherson, anti-Vaxx nonsense, and the opportunity to engage: Celebrities can—for better or worse, but usually for the worse—help to shape the way we think about healthy lifestyles and preventative strategies. There are many, many science-free health trends that probably would not exist without the promotional push given by celebrities.



Alternative cancer therapy survival risk: Cancer patients who use alternative therapies may be more likely to shun conventional treatments and risk their chances of survival, research suggests. “A study of 1,290 patients in the US found people who received such therapies often refused life-saving care such as chemotherapy or surgery. Fewer of them survived five years after starting treatment compared to those on standard care, researchers found. Experts urged patients not to ditch proven cancer medicines.”

Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop is getting a fact-checker:  (Warning for language on the linked post). You’ve probably heard of GOOP – Gwenyth Paltrow’s wellness website/empire that encourages women to put rocks in strange places, hosts a ‘medical medium’ who psychically communicates with a spirit that dispenses health advice and asserts that $90 a month vitamins are the sure thing to stop you feeling so darn tired.

Recently, many of GOOPs articles offering questionable medical advice (and outright nonsense) were re-categorised ‘for your entertainment’. It may be a step in the right direction, but I’ll bet many GOOPers will still take these articles at face value. Though really, if a celebrity can convince you that you should be steaming your genitals on the reg, you probably aren’t going to listen to qualified professionals anyway.

*** EDIT: For those following, this story has some more developments as of today – after the GOOP magazine deal with Conde Nast fell through, GOOP website are finally hiring a fact checker!

Complementary Medicine, refusal of conventional cancer therapy, and survival among patients with curable cancers: “Patients who received complementary medicine were more likely to refuse other conventional cancer treatment, and had a higher risk of death than no complementary medicine; however, this survival difference could be mediated by adherence to all recommended conventional cancer therapies.”

Women who have heart attacks receive poorer care than men: Heart attacks remain under-diagnosed in women, which is likely to stem from poor awareness among health providers and the general public. Because heart attacks have traditionally been thought to be a disease of middle-aged men, women are often quick to encourage their partners to seek medical attention when they develop worrying symptoms, while ignoring similar symptoms themselves. While it’s commonly thought that women take better care of themselves than men, research has found that women who have a heart attack are less likely to attend cardiac rehabilitation, less likely to take their medication regularly and less likely to make lifestyle changes to improve their health. Women who have heart attacks may have fewer classical symptoms such as pain in the centre of the chest and are more likely to experience breathlessness or nausea.”

Could vaccine for a common virus stop multiple sclerosis? Doctors think they have discovered the cause of diseaseAn interesting hypothesis on potential causes for MS. Note that in science we are able to consider complex inter-dependant causal factors, and then find ways to filter reality test to see what is actually true. Alternatives to science are generally only able recognise or describe the most simplistic of causal factors, and often fail even with those.


Great moments in Health and Science

The invention of spectacles: Widely used to assist in reading, improving independence and (more recently) to protect from sun damage, spectacles began not as glass, but polished quartz as the technologies of the time did not allow for glass to be manufactured of the required quality.

Today’s abused health concept

Beware the researcher who believes their own hype: It may be easy to say “if it sounds too good to be true, it is”. Much more useful is to recognise who think that they are too goo to be true. If an advocate or a researcher constantly calls conspiracy, and refuses to be corrected for their mistakes, it may be that they can’t be trusted.