Smoking Cessation

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death. There are effective pharmacological and non-pharmacological methods to help people stop smoking. Conventional medicine is often accused of ignoring prevention, just letting preventable diseases develop, and then only treating symptoms. And the Science-Based Medicine blog is often accused of ignoring the flaws of conventional medicine

New Blood Pressure Guidelines: Why Are Previously Normal BPs Now Classified as High Blood Pressure?

Under the new blood pressure guidelines, more people are classified as having high blood pressure; but the treatment emphasis is on lifestyle changes, not medications. The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology recently released new guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of high blood pressure. The highlights are reported here. Previously, high blood pressure (HBP)

Mainstream Doctors Actually Do What CAM Claims They Don’t

Alternative medicine proponents criticize mainstream medicine and think they can do better. Evidence from medical journals shows that their criticisms are not valid. Advocates of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), including naturopaths and functional medicine practitioners, constantly criticize mainstream medicine. The recurrent themes are: Doctors don’t do prevention They only prescribe drugs and surgery and

Genetic Testing: Does Knowing Risk of Disease Make a Difference?

Genetic variants may provide information you’d rather ignore The complete sequencing of the human genome by the Human Genome Project was a remarkable accomplishment and a cause for celebration. Several companies including 23andMe, Navigenics, and deCODE have capitalized on that scientific achievement by offering genomic testing directly to the public. They promise more than they can deliver, and

If You Think Doctors Don’t Do Prevention, Think Again

Prevention has long been a priority of conventional medicine One of the common criticisms we hear from alternative and integrative medicine proponents is that doctors don’t do anything to prevent illnesses and have no interest in prevention. They claim that doctors are only trained to hand out pills to treat existing illnesses. Sometimes they even

Smoking Cessation and the Affordable Care Act

A young child and a chicken — neither of whom should smoke. Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death. Each year it kills more than 5 million people around the world, 480,000 in the US alone. And for every person who dies, about 30 more have serious illnesses caused by smoking. On average, smokers die

Smokey the Bear Medicine and Prevention

When I was an intern, we used to joke that we were practicing “Smokey the Bear” medicine: stamping out forest fires. Patients would wait until a spark of disease had developed into a dangerous flame, and then they’d expect us to deal with it. We were mostly doing disaster control, and we wished we could

Defending Science-Based Medicine: 44 Doctor-Bashing Arguments …and Their Rebuttals

Supporters of alternative medicine and purveyors of quack remedies love to criticize conventional medicine and science. They keep repeating the same tired arguments that are easily rebutted. This handy guide will help skeptics answer common criticisms from doctor-bashers. Doctor-bashing is a popular sport practiced by believers in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and purveyors of

Different Strokes for Different Folks: Assessing Risk in Women

You may have noticed that men and women are different. I hope you have noticed. As the French say, vive la différence! It’s not just that one has dangly bits and the other has bumpy chests. Or that one has to shave a beard and doesn’t like to ask for directions while the other has menstrual periods

An Owner’s Manual for the Heart

In writing about science-based medicine, we give a lot of attention to medicine that is not based on good science. We use bad examples to show why science is important and how it is frequently misapplied, misinterpreted, misreported, or even wholly rejected. It’s a pleasure, for a change, to write about a straightforward example of