New Drugs for Sickle Cell Disease: Small Benefit, Large Price

The FDA has approved two new drugs to treat sickle cell disease. They don’t do much, and they are prohibitively expensive.  Sickle cell disease is a serious condition, an abnormality of hemoglobin that is inherited in an autosomal recessive pattern, where both parents have to pass on the defective gene. The red blood cells take

Milk and Health: The Evidence

A useful review of all the current evidence about milk and health provides a lot of surprises. It shows that current recommendations are flawed and that much of what we have believed is wrong. Milk has been praised and vilified. Vegans eschew it. Babies thrive on it. Adults who are lactose-intolerant learn to avoid it.

Pitfalls in Research: Why Studies Are More Often Wrong than Right

Here is a course guide to episode 9, “Pitfalls of Research”, of my YouTube lecture series on science-based medicine. Alternative medicine relies heavily on anecdotal evidence and personal experience, but it knows it won’t convince mainstream science unless it can provide scientific validation. It is quick to crow about positive results from scientific studies, often

Ellura: A Supplement Backed By Evidence

Ellura is a dietary supplement marketed to treat recurrent urinary tract infections. There is promising evidence and a credible mechanism of action, and using it instead of antibiotic prophylaxis could reduce antibiotic resistance. These E. coli fimbriae facilitate infection by adhering to bladder wall In October, I wrote about SuperMannan, a dietary supplement that is supposed to cure

“SuperMannan Cures Bladder Infections!” Really?

The ads claim SuperMannan cures bladder infections. The science is a single uncontrolled study of 9 women; its design is a recipe for disaster. I was surprised to read that SuperMannan cures bladder infections. I’m a skeptic; I question and proportion my belief to the evidence. I wanted to know more. Who says that? How

There’s No Vaccine for HIV/AIDS, But There’s Truvada

Science has made great strides in understanding, treating, and preventing HIV/AIDS. We can hope for an AIDS vaccine, but meanwhile there is a pill that can markedly reduce the risk of becoming infected. Truvada: a good alternative while we wait for an AIDS vaccine. Image taken from the NIAID flickr page with a Creative Commons license. The story of

Ebola: Science Is Making Progress

Good news! Research on Ebola has identified a 100% effective vaccine and medications that produce a 90% survival rate. The Ebola virus There have been 24 outbreaks of Ebola virus disease (also known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever) in Africa since 1976. It spreads through contact with infected body fluids. Case fatality rates have ranged from

How Not To Do Science

According to research methodologist R. Barker Bausell, “CAM [complementary and alternative medicine] therapists simply do not value (and most, in my experience, do not understand) the scientific process.” They have seen their patients improve, and that’s all the “evidence” they think they need. They don’t understand that they may have been deceived by the post hoc ergo

Vitamin D and Diabetes: Another Case Where Supplementation Sounded Like a Good Idea But Wasn’t

A new study shows vitamin D supplements don’t prevent diabetes. But there are still unanswered questions. This cartoon shows vitamin D killing cancer. It doesn’t. It doesn’t prevent diabetes either. Low vitamin D levels appear to be a risk factor for diabetes. Observational studies have found a correlation between a low blood level of Vitamin

Vyleesi: New Drug for Hypoactive Sexual Desire in Women

New drug to treat hypoactive sexual desire in women, Vyleesi, is not very effective and has several drawbacks. It is NOT Viagra for women. The FDA has approved a new drug, Vyleesi (bremelanotide) that has been hyped as “female Viagra”. It is no such thing. Viagra is used to treat erectile dysfunction in men who

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