The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment: A Fiasco with a Silver Lining

The Tuskegee syphilis experiment studied black men with advanced syphilis for 40 years. Patients were lied to and prevented from getting treatment. A black mark in the history of American medicine, it led to important reforms. The Tuskegee experiment was one of the most regrettable incidents in the history of medicine in the U.S. Conducted

Dr. Oz Sells Lemons

FacebookTwitterEmail Photo by Markus Spiske With his enthusiastic hype and on-air shenanigans, Dr. Oz has always impressed me as sounding more like a used car salesman than a respected cardiothoracic surgeon. A used car salesman may tell you the car is in pristine condition, was always kept in a heated garage, and was only driven round

Homeopath Quits Homeopathy but Thinks the Homeopathic Approach Has Value

A former homeopath shows that there’s nothing scientific about homeopathy; in fact, it contradicts all known scientific principles. Nevertheless she finds value in the homeopathic approach to the patient and thinks all providers can learn from it. Natalie Grams is a German MD who was an enthusiastic practitioner of classical homeopathy. She had a successful

The Magic Feather Effect: Placebos and the Power of Belief in Alternative Medicine

In her book The Magic Feather Effect, journalist Melanie Warner covers placebo research, shows that alternative medicine is placebo medicine, takes a “try it yourself” approach, and gives belief and anecdotes more credit than they deserve. In the movie Dumbo, a little elephant with large ears can fly by flapping them like wings, but he refuses to

Kidney Cancer and Incidentalomas

Kidney cancer diagnoses are increasing but there has been no increase in mortality or rate of metastases. Kidney cancer is most often diagnosed as an incidental finding on a CT scan that was done for unrelated reasons. Treatment may not always be needed. In the February 1, 2019 issue of American Family Physician, there is an

A Surfeit of Silliness

Is the world getting crazier? It seems so, but maybe I’m just more aware of the silliness. Here are just a few of the outlandish things I’ve run across recently. Photo By Marco Verch Divination by Asparagus The Mirror and several other news sources reported in January 2019 that a woman in Bath, England, named Jemima Packington can predict

Caffeine Withdrawal Headaches

Caffeine is not addictive. Regular users of caffeine can develop tolerance and mild physical dependence, and sudden withdrawal can cause headaches and other symptoms (but only in half the population). This is does not qualify as addiction. In the Feb/March 2019 issue of Free Inquiry magazine, there was an article by John Frantz, MD, titled “The Biology

Misleading Ad for Apeaz

An ad for Apeaz in Discover Magazine is misleading. Its active ingredient may provide some temporary relief of pain, but the claims in the ad are overblown. It is not a new blockbuster drug or an anesthetic. I saw a full-page ad in Discover Magazine for Apeaz, a “New blockbuster arthritis drug” in the form of a cream. Almost

Just How Addictive Are Opioids?

There is an opioid epidemic, with increasing overdose deaths from both prescription drugs and illegal drugs. Just how addictive are opioids? It appears they are safe when used appropriately, but there is a high risk of abuse, and they are deadly when misused, especially OxyContin.  We are in the midst of an opioid epidemic. Prescription