An HBO Documentary about the Theranos Fraud Raises Concerns

Elizabeth Holmes founded Theranos to develop a device that could do 200 tests on a single drop of blood in a minute. She lied; it failed; she is being tried for fraud and conspiracy. The HBO documentary The Inventor tells the story but has some flaws. We can learn lessons from what happened. Alex Gibney’s film The Inventor:

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

Osteopenia: When Does Decreased Bone Density Become a Disease Requiring Treatment?

Osteoporosis is routinely treated with bisphosphonates to prevent fractures. A new study suggests that osteopenia should be treated too. But questions remain.  Bisphosphonate drugs have been shown to increase bone density and prevent fractures in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis (remember Sally Field in those ads for Boniva?) but what about women with milder decreases in

Vertigo Voodoo: A Crazy-Sounding Cure That Actually Works

A sequence of positional changes sounds like voodoo, but is actually an effective way to cure benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). This will not be my typical Science-Based Medicine post. What it is not This will not be: About vaccines, diet, pseudoscience, quackery, or alternative medicine A critique of a questionable treatment, claim, or practice

Questioning the Annual Pelvic Exam

A new article in the Journal of Women’s Health by Westhoff, Jones, and Guiahi asks “Do New Guidelines and Technology Make the Routine Pelvic Examination Obsolete?” The pelvic exam consists of two main components: the insertion of a speculum to visualize the cervix and the bimanual exam where the practitioner inserts two fingers into the

Colonoscopy: More Misinformation from Mercola

Joseph Mercola, D.O., runs the website mercola.com which is full of misinformation, advocates all kinds of questionable alternative treatments including homeopathy, and discourages vaccination and other aspects of conventional medicine. Like Dr. Oz and Andrew Weil, he is more dangerous than easily recognizable quacks in that he combines some good medical information with egregious misinformation, and readers who

Dr. Joel Fuhrman Sells Useless Iodine Test

Joel Fuhrman, MD, who practices so-called functional medicine and integrative medicine, sells an at-home urine iodine test on his website for $131. He claims the test can assess if one is deficient in iodine. The test requires two urine samples (morning and evening) dried on filter paper and submitted by mail. Dr. Fuhrman recommends avoiding

MyMedLab Offers Expensive, Useless, Nonstandard Lab Tests

  One of our regular commenters forwarded to me an email that had slipped by her spam filters. It was from MyMedLab, whose slogan is “Lab Tests the Easy Way.” It starts out: What is glyphosate? Glyphosate was patented as an antibiotic Glyphosate kills bacteria in the soil The same bacteria exists in our gut

A Misguided Study to Test the Reliability of Traditional Chinese Medicine Pulse Diagnosis

Pulse diagnosis and tongue diagnosis are widely used in traditional Chinese medicine. They are based on imagination, not on anatomical and physiologic reality. Pulse diagnosis History of pulse diagnosis Pulse diagnosis was an important part of ancient medicine in Egypt, Greece, India, Tibet, and elsewhere. The specific methods used were ambiguous and varied widely from

ZYTO: An Electrodermal Diagnostic Device Is Tested and Fails Miserably

ZYTO is a bogus, illegal electrodermal diagnostic device that claims to evaluate organ function and make dietary recommendations. Repeat testing produced results that were wildly inconsistent. The device produces noise, not meaningful information. Dr. Stephen Barrett, the founder of Quackwatch, had abundant reason to believe the ZYTO electrodermal testing device couldn’t possibly work as claimed,