Bent Spoons, a cautionary tale, missing ethics, and more…

FSM News & Articles

Natural Therapies Review Expert Advisory Panel (NTREAP) 2019-20: On 7 April 2019, the Minister for Health announced an updated review of natural therapies… Friends of Science in Medicine (FSM) has nominated our President, Assoc Prof Ken Harvey, for membership of NTRAC and provided the following comments:
1. To be comparable with the 2015 review, FSM argues that, in addition to assessing clinical effectiveness, the quality and safety of these alleged ‘therapies’ must also be assessed.
2. Other practices, such as yoga, tai chi and Pilates, can improve mobility, physical function, quality of life and minimise symptoms and/or ameliorate chronic disease. However, FSM is unaware that these practices are any more effective than supervised gym activities, … walking, [etc].
3. Greater government clarity is needed about the purpose and rationale of PHI. For example, if there is good evidence that exercise has health benefits, why should people who can afford extra PHI have some modalities subsidised, whereas those who cannot have to pay the full price? Is this fair or equitable? While this is beyond the scope of this review, this issue is fundamental.

FSM Friends News & Articles

Under the Spotlight: This year’s Bent Spoon nominations, which recognise “the perpetrator of the most preposterous piece of paranormal or pseudo-scientific piffle”, are trickling through. Nominees include the Good Price Pharmacy group, which “gives away a magazine called Natural Health Crusader which is in reality an advertising channel for Caruso Natural Health Products…. Although the propagation of unproven therapies alone should be enough to win them the award, they also use Pete Evans to push their products, with an interview ‘How Pete Evans Changed our Lives’.”

The other nominations so far this year are the University of Melbourne for “promoting animal acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine”, and SBS TV – Medicine or Myth, which “misinforms the public as to how products and therapies can or should be tested for safety and effectiveness”. Who else do you think deserves a Bent Spoon nomination?

Chiropractic experiment on VFL players did not have ethics approval: (Quackwatch) “The 2005 experiment tested whether high-velocity manipulation of the neck, spine and body, as part of an eight-month chiropractic treatment program, could cut the number of hamstring injuries players suffered. The controversial treatment, known as HVLA, includes holding an athlete’s head and sharply twisting the neck. It is a common chiropractic treatment. The serious adverse events that have been reported include stroke and death,” said Professor Chris Maher, director of the University of Sydney’s Institute for Musculoskeletal Health.


Olivia Newton John says medicinal cannabis is key to her cancer recovery: Don’t get me wrong, I am glad ONJ is doing well with her stage 4 breast cancer, but she is overstepping the mark. She is receiving conventional cancer therapies in addition to her home-brewed mix of cannabis and “Amazonian botanicals”. But she is ascribing the whole of her well being to the cannabis. She had been experiencing pain from her metastatic disease that has been controlled by the use of cannabis. That’s great, we know cannabis can be useful for symptom control. But she is determined to beat her cancer and the means will be the herbs she is taking. This is adding fuel to the “supressed” cancer cure conspiracy. She is a well-loved celebrity, people will believe her. Some may even forgo conventional cancer treatment altogether. I really hate to see this happen.

Anti-vaccination ideology in chiropractic continuing education and conference (again!)“Chiropractic regulatory boards should make it clear that advising patients and parents on vaccination is outside of the chiropractic scope of practice, other than to direct them to their primary care physician (who should not be a chiropractor).”

Type 2 diabetes – small reduction in alcohol, big reduction in heart disease risk: Our analysis showed that people who reduced their alcohol use by at least two units a week (about one or two pints of beer a week) in the year after their diabetes diagnosis, had a 44% lower risk of cardiovascular disease. The analysis also showed that people who reduced their calorie intake by at least 300 calories a day for one year had a lower risk of dying in the next ten years compared with people who did not change their calorie intake.

Great Moments in Health & Science

The invention of the Colonoscopy – examination of the colon: At its most basic, a camera on a flexible stalk, the colonoscope not only monitors for bowel cancer but can take biopsies of suspicious areas.

Today’s Abused Health Concept

Placental Biome – Why the placental microbiome should be a cautionary tale: For decades the placenta was thought to be sterile (in healthy pregnancies). This view was practically supported by experiments that were able to produce sterile mice. Since 2014 however, some studies have argued the existence of placental biome. Despite being controversial, this claim has been accompanied by predictions of a missing link to diseases. However studies searching for biomes carry the risk of contamination from the extraction kit itself. “That doesn’t matter when looking at organs like the gut, whose extensive communities of microbes overwhelm the faint signals from contaminants. But it very much matters when looking at places where microbes are rare or absent—like the placenta. There’s a huge risk that whatever you find comes from kits, not tissues. This problem, jokingly known as the “kit-ome,” has led to many spurious discoveries. Bacteria that thrive on sunlight, or that can’t grow at body temperature, have been identified in the human brain.“ Studies that controlled for contamination generally didn’t find a placental biome. “It is a bit startling that we are having a debate given that the ultimate experiment for sterility in the womb has been performed repeatedly, and routinely, for more than half a century,” says Maria Elisa Perez-Muñoz from the University of Alberta.

Thanks to Science

Ignorance of nutrition is no longer defensible: We understand that diet is behind many diseases of modern life… so why aren’t more people using dietary intervention? Clinicians learn the basics of nutritional pathways in their training, but when confronted with dietary issues, many patients still receive pharmaceutical or surgical treatments in addition to dietary consult. It is true that some patient may be reluctant to make lifestyle modifications, but evidence shows that clinicians may be failing to communicate the value of lifestyle in the patients treatment. How can we breach this gap in patient care?