Are Prenatal Ultrasounds Dangerous?

Several questionable sources are spreading alarms about the possible dangers of prenatal ultrasound exams (sonograms). An example is Christine Anderson’s article on the ExpertClick website. In the heading, it says she “Never Liked Ultrasound Technology.” [She] has never been sold on the safety using Ultrasounds for checking on the fetuses of pregnant women, and for the

Electrodermal Testing Part II: Legal and Regulatory Aspects

Last week I described electrodermal testing. I’m sure many readers thought, “There oughta be a law against that.” Well, there are laws. Unfortunately, having laws and enforcing them are two different things. Some of these devices are not approved at all. Most have received 501(k) approval from the FDA as biofeedback devices so similar to

Virtual Colonoscopy Can Be Hazardous to Your Health

The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that everyone aged 50-75 be screened for colon cancer with any one of three options: colonoscopy every 10 years, flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years, or fecal occult blood testing (FOBT) every year. Conventional colonoscopy is considered the “gold standard” since it allows for direct detection and biopsy


Dr. H. Gilbert Welch has written a new book Over-diagnosed: Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health, with co-authors Lisa Schwartz and Steven Woloshin.  It identifies a serious problem, debunks medical misconceptions and contains words of wisdom. We are healthier, but we are increasingly being told we are sick. We are labeled with diagnoses that

Questioning Colonoscopy

Everybody knows that colonoscopy is the best test to screen for colorectal cancer and that colonoscopies save lives. Everybody may be wrong. Colonoscopy is increasingly viewed as the gold standard for colorectal cancer screening, but its reputation is not based on solid evidence. In reality,  it is not yet known for certain whether colonoscopy can

Time to Care: Personal Medicine in the Age of Technology

In 1925, Francis Peabody famously said “The secret of the care of the patient is in caring for the patient.” A new book by Norman Makous, MD, a cardiologist who has practiced for 60 years, is a cogent reminder of that principle. In Time to Care: Personal Medicine in the Age of Technology, Dr. Makous

Genomic Testing – Are We There Yet?

Ten years ago the Human Genome Project reported the complete sequencing of human DNA, one of the greatest accomplishments of modern science. Having a map of our genome opens the door to exciting new possibilities for medical research and personalized medicine. Futurist Ray Kurzweil predicted “Genomics testing may soon be able to predict precisely what

Screening Tests – Cumulative Incidence of False Positives

It’s easy to think of medical tests as black and white. If the test is positive, you have the disease; if it’s negative, you don’t. Even good clinicians sometimes fall into that trap. Based on the pre-test probability of the disease, a positive test result only increases the probability by a variable amount. An example:

PSA – To Screen or Not to Screen

The prostate specific antigen. You’ve all heard the dramatic testimonials in the media: “I had a PSA test and they found my prostate cancer early enough to treat it. The test saved my life. You should get tested too.” The subject of screening tests is one that confuses the public. On the surface, it would

Genewize – Not Wise, Not as Advertised

Genewize a new company offering “100% Product Personalization from Your Personal DNA Assessment.” They analyze your DNA to identify certain selected SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) and use the data to tweak the ingredients of the nutritional products they want to sell you (containing everything from vitamins to spinach powder). They previous offered a therapeutic