Researchers: “Osteoarthritis treated with drugs/surgery instead of recommended guidelines”

When I had arthroscopic surgery on my right knee to repair a torn cartilage, my orthopedic surgeon also found evidence of osteoarthritis in that knee.  Not surprising, really, given my age and family history, but new research says many docs would now be recommending drugs or surgery that they shouldn’t for that new diagnosis.

This month’s issue of the journal Arthritis Care & Research suggests that doctors are disregarding standard medical guidelines to manage the joint inflammation condition of osteoarthritis (OA) through lifestyle improvements (like exercise or weight loss) – and instead relying on drugs and surgery.   Continue reading

British surgeon threatened with lawsuit for daring to question ‘Boob Job’ cream

According to The Guardian, a prominent British plastic surgeon named Dr. Dalia Nield of The London Clinic has been threatened with a libel action by the manufacturer of a cosmetic cream because she publicly questioned whether it worked as the company claimed. Dr. Nield had also told a newspaper reporter: “The manufacturers are not giving us any information on tests they have carried out.” The company, Rodial Limited, claims that its £125 ($192 Cdn) Boob Job cream, if applied regularly, can increase a woman’s breast size by up to 8.4% within 56 days. According to the company’s website, here’s how Boob Job works:

“As your fat cells move around the body after eating, Boob Job ‘blocks’ the fat into the area where the product has been applied, so the bust and décolleté areas. You will see a gradual increase in cup size within 56 days as well as gaining an instant lifting and firming effect.”  Continue reading

First greenwashing, then pinkwashing – now SUGARWASHING!

The chickens are getting into bed with the foxes, folks.  For example, after the charity Save the Children received a $5 million “gift” from Pepsi Cola, the non-profit organization suddenly and inexplicably decided to drop its advocacy campaign to tax sweetened soft drinks as one way to combat childhood obesity.

A mere coincidence, or a backroom agreement to hush Pepsi’s vocal adversary, sweetened by a $5 million “gift”?

And now Roger Collier, writing in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, tells us of yet another example of these surprisingly questionable marketing partnerships between charities and corporate advertisers – this time, it’s UNICEF and their new best friends over at Cadbury chocolates. Collier explains:

“Some health experts believe UNICEF made a poor choice by partnering with a company that makes high-calorie food targeted at children, especially considering that one of the charity’s causes is promoting proper nutrition for children.”   Continue reading

Mayo Clinic: “Beware of alternative health care fraud”

A fellow heart attack survivor recently praised a miracle heart disease treatment called chondroitin sulfate. This supplement, she said, had been studied by a “brilliant doctor” during the 1970s, but is no longer heard about very much.  She attributed this fact to one of those “what your doctor doesn’t want you to know’ alternative medicine conspiracies. Alternative medicine practices are those not typically used in conventional medicine. When an alternative practice is used with conventional therapies, it’s called complementary medicine. Together, these treatments are referred to as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).

I’m very interested in CAM, but my skeptical self accepts nothing – especially things my doctor doesn’t want me to know! – without suspicious scrutiny.  Continue reading

“Post hoc ergo properter hoc” = Latin for “Don’t drink the water!”

As a good Catholic girl at Mount Mary Immaculate Academy, I studied Latin for five years in school, and still have a particular affection for this dead language. So does science. Take the medical field, for example, and its common Latin phrase “post hoc ergo properter hoc”, which means “after this, therefore because of this”.

This belief is applied by researchers when they conclude that because a result happened after something else happened, the ‘something else’ must have caused the result.  But in medicine, as in life, we know that correlation does not equal causation.

For example, the weekend before my first heart attack symptoms, I attended a birthday party (my own) where we celebrated the occasion by enjoying lots of very good wine and my friend Lynnie’s gorgeous homemade birthday cake. If correlation did in fact equal causation, we might reasonably conclude that wine and birthday cake are in fact the causes of heart attack.   Continue reading

The Five A’s of Empty Arguments

A common warning sign of the misuse of science is trying to make the science appear conflicting and undecided (when it isn’t) by burying us in conflicting studies. Consider climate change research, for example, and internal documents found at Fox News ordering staff to cast doubt when reporting on all climate change science news.

The very cheeky Dr. T over at Thinking is Dangerous reminds us that, unfortunately, these techniques can be quite effective in confusing the public.

This is particularly true when people don’t understand how to recognize a well-designed, strong study of merit versus a poorly-designed weak one. So to help us all better understand, he presents us with his Five A’s of Empty Arguments:

Continue reading