Sleepiness, big spenders, crowd funding, and more…

FSM Friends news & articles

Update: More evidence supports delaying school start times for sleep-deprived teens: What the study cannot do is prove beyond all doubt that the increased sleep is what resulted in the improved outcomes. The students were not blinded. They knew that they were involved in the research and thus there could have been an observer effect. But data collected over the years certainly seems to be triangulating on the conclusion that if you allow kids to sleep more, they will do better in school and live healthier and safer lives. Transitioning to later school start times can be challenging. It takes buy-in from schools, parents, and the community. But it can be done. As I said in 2014, it certainly appears to be worth a difficult transition period. We shouldn’t ignore other modifiable behaviours that interfere with adolescent sleep, however.

Release Active Drugs – Homeopathy by another name: A number of publications touting the efficacy of ultradiluted ‘release active drugs’ have surfaced – they all share the same co-author who has founded a company selling homeopathic medicines.

Billions on herbal remedies and for what? How does this business opportunity sound? A retail market that is lightly regulated with few barriers to entry. No meaningful limits on what you can say about your product, and no responsibility to actually prove your product does what it says. And this market has experienced year-over-year of growth, doubling since 2004 to almost $8 billion per year with its biggest growth ever, 8.5%, in the past year. The recently released report from the American Botanical Council paints an impressive picture of the overwhelming financial success of the natural products industry. Who wouldn’t be impressed with a sales growth chart like this?

With herbal remedies, it’s all about the marketing, and the evidence is usually weak and occasionally nonexistent. If consumers had access to better information on efficacy and safety, would it matter? While there are signs that clear evidence of harm or non-effectiveness can resonate with consumers. the overall trends in sales of this category of products suggests that evidence may not be a primary consideration to consumers. Regrettably, there is little evidence that consumers are getting much in the way of health benefit for the billions they are spending on herbal remedies annually.


Med students fight false health info:  “Social media outlets make disseminating false information extremely easy and quick, while people tend to stick with people they already agree with online”.

Why Japan’s HPV vaccine rates dropped from 70% to near zero: Vaccine opponents disparage all vaccines, but the HPV vaccine has attracted particular attention from them. Which is amazing considering the HPV vaccines prevents women from developing cervical cancer, a cancer that is all too often diagnosed at an advanced stage with a poor outlook for survival. One of the arguments bandied about is “Why did Japan stop giving the HPV vaccine?” This article explains why. In short, one dodgy scientific study linked with a misleading campaign showing crippled young women led the government to withdraw its endorsement of the vaccine. This is anti-vaccine propaganda at its worst. And predictably, the rate of cervical cancer is on the rise in Japan, even as it drops dramatically in other countries. It’s just so sad.

Today’s Abused Health Concept

Crowdfunding: The fuel for cancer quackery (part 2): When patients turn to alternative medicine, they and their families often crowdfund to meet the excessive quack bills, sometime up to $10,000 a month just for ‘management’. This has become a significant factor in the scam medicine market. The emotional appeals are compelling. Campaigns and testimonials often are left up well after a patient has deteriorated or died. Snyder and Caulfield’s study analysed crowd funding for the most obviously useless of treatments – homeopathy. They found “…crowdfunding has the potential to exacerbate existing and create new problems within the market for alternative cancer treatments. Oncologists and other medical practitioners should be prepared to discuss these concerns with their patients. … Partnerships with crowdfunding platforms should also be sought to combat the worst forms of harm and misinformation …”

David Gorski – “There is a profound financial conflict of interest that makes [it doubtful] that GoFundMe will make anything more than cosmetic changes” and “Most physicians, even oncologists, are not familiar with the types and scope of unproven and disproven cancer treatments. That’s where skeptics, either as part of skeptical organizations or on their own, could be most helpful. … one role of the skeptic is consumer protection, to educate consumers to avoid the fraud of psychics, pseudoscience, and, yes, quackery. Here’s a perfect example where we could help.”

Great moments in Health and Science

Food Fortification. A world free from hidden hunger. Safe and affordable, food fortification ensures that vulnerable populations at risk of poor nutrition still receive certain important vitamins and minerals