Dr. Ruth Simkin once wrote, in an editorial entitled Women’s Health: Time for a Redefinition published in The Canadian Medical Association Journal: (1)
“In medicine, the male has been viewed as normative in research, treatment, societal constructs and, until recently, health care provision. Most of us are aware that much of the published medical research has involved male subjects only.”
Perhaps the best-known example of such research – what Dr. Simkin in fact describes as “the height of ludicrousness” – was the 1986 study at New York City’s Rockefeller University on breast and uterine cancer.
Despite the clearly obvious reality of these malignancies in women, all of the subjects in this study were men. Continue reading
In November 2003, psychiatrists at the University of Minnesota used the threat of involuntary commitment to force a mentally ill young man named Dan Markingson into a profitable, industry-funded study of antipsychotic drugs. Dan, who was mentally incapable of giving informed consent to participate in this research, was recruited into the study over the objections of his mother, Mary Weiss.
For months Mary tried desperately to get him out of the clinical trials, warning the psychiatrists in writing that Dan’s condition was deteriorating and that he was in danger of killing himself.
The psychiatrists refused to listen to her.
On May 8, 2004, Dan committed suicide, and Mary Weiss lost her only child. Continue reading
Just because a scientific paper sounds authoritative, it doesn’t mean we should always take what’s published in journals as gospel. For example, here’s what scientists might really mean when they pontificate:
“It has long been known” . . . [I didn’t look up the original reference]
“A definite trend is evident” . . . [These data are practically meaningless]
“Of great theoretical and practical importance” . . . [Interesting to me] Continue reading
Well, that was embarrassing, wasn’t it? The prestigious Harvard teaching facility Brigham and Women’s Hospital had to apologize for its study suggesting a potential cancer risk from consuming the artificial sweetener aspartame.
In fact, BWH even admitted that their research on this risk was “weak”. Ooops. Continue reading
As merely a dull-witted heart attack survivor with a relatively recent interest in scientific research (and only because it can influence how my doctor and yours practice medicine), I like to think that university researchers are a noble lot. But in an essay called The Dawn of McScience, Dr. Richard Horton delivers a surprising indictment of academic research.
In his New York Review of Books column about the book called Science in the Private Interest, he cites its author Dr. Sheldon Krimsky of Tufts University School of Medicine, who lumps universities in with industry like so:
“Universities have become little more than instruments of wealth.
“This shift in the mission of academia works against the public interest. Universities have sacrificed their larger social responsibilities to accommodate a new purpose – the privatization of knowledge – by engaging in multimillion-dollar contracts with industries that demand the rights to negotiate licenses from any subsequent discovery.” Continue reading