I really like reading the common sense essays of Pennsylvania physician Dr. Lucy Hornstein. She’s also the author of the book, Declarations of a Dinosaur: 10 Laws I’ve Learned as a Family Doctor. I like her writing mostly because I agree with almost everything she says. She’s brilliant, really. Last month, Dr. Lucy took aim at one of my own pet peeves: advertising for questionable health products that claim the benefits of such products are “clinically proven”.
For example, she picked on a radio ad for a colon cleanse product that helps remove the ‘five to ten pounds of waste some experts believe are spackled along the inside of the large intestine’:
“But ‘some experts‘ also believe the moon landing was a hoax, the Holocaust never happened, and homeopathy is effective medicine. Somehow this colon cleansing stuff helps you preferentially lose belly fat. Not really sure what belly fat has to do with five to ten pounds of stuff spackled inside your intestine. But they’re not selling logic. Call right now for your free sample. Or not.
“The word clinical is an adjective referring to ‘that which can be observed in or involves patients.’ It’s the hands-on part of medicine that can’t be replicated in a lab, nor taught from a book.
“There is virtually no such thing as ‘proof‘ in the scientific sense. Laboratory and patient-based medical research can strongly suggest things. Scientific evidence can accumulate supporting things; the more the better, of course.
“Clinically proven is a meaningless combination of words that means someone is trying to sell something.”
© 2011 Dr. Lucy Hornstein
Read the rest of Dr. Lucy’s essay called Clinically Proven: Completely Meaningless