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Where Is The Worst Health Information On The Internet? The Huffington Post

Going to the Huffington Post for medical information is perhaps comparable to going to Vito Corleone for advice on income tax compliance.  Another prominent blogger refers to is as “that hive of scum and quackery,” a lovely and accurate epithet for a media outlet which provides refuge and cover for anti-vaccationists, homeopaths and practictioners of reiki and other such pseudoscientific twaddle. I avoid the HuffPo like the plague.  But, like a moth to the flame, sometimes I can’t help myself, and when a facebook friend (and former blogger) pointed to this contrarian article, my interest was piqued and I had to check it out.

Is High Blood Pressure Overtreated? Dr. Dennis Gottfried, Associate professor, University of Connecticut Medical School

First of all, I don’t know Dr Gottfried, and I don’t want to cast aspersions on him professionally. He might be a faith healer and snake-handler, or he might be a prominent researcher and expert in the field. I have no idea, and other than his questionable judgement in being affiliated with the HuffPo, I don’t want to make any judgement on him as a physician or a scientist. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Movin' Meat*

Komen, Cancer, And Colbert: “Lawsuits For The Cure”

Comedian Stephen Colbert, who says he is “a huge supporter of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation,” nonetheless took a sarcastic swing at the organization this week “for spending almost a million dollars a year in donor funds to sue…other groups” for using the phrase “for the Cure” in their promotions.

We blogged, “Who owns pink ideas or cure slogans? Welcome to the Charity Brawl” back in August after the Wall Street Journal (to our knowledge) first reported the story.

Then in December, the Huffington Post reported that “Komen has identified and filed legal trademark oppositions against more than a hundred of these Mom and Pop charities, including Kites for a Cure, Par for The Cure, Surfing for a Cure and Cupcakes for a Cure — and many of the organizations are too small and underfunded to hold their ground.”

Colbert said: “If they don’t own the phrase ‘for the Cure,’ then people might donate money thinking it’s going to an organization dedicated to curing cancer, when instead it’s wasted on organizations dedicated to curing cancer.”

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*This blog post was originally published at Gary Schwitzer's HealthNewsReview Blog*

Homeopathy: Fibromyalgia, A Woo Magnet

Over the weekend, my wife and I happened to be in the pharmacy section of our local Target store. We happened to be looking for one of our favorite cold remedies, because both of us have been suffering from rather annoying colds, which have plagued both of us for the last week or two.

As we perused the Cold and Flu section of the pharmacy, we were struck at how much shelf space was taken up by Airborne (which was “invented by a schoolteacher.“) Nearly three years ago Airborne had to settle a case brought against it alleging false advertising to the tune of $23 million. Despite that, Airborne is still being sold, and there are even a whole bunch of knock-off products copying it.

Then, as we continued to look for our favored cold remedy, we noted that, sitting right next to the extensive shelf space devoted to the various flavors and types of Airborne supplements, I saw Boiron’s homeopathic remedy for colds containing oscillococcinum, which is derived from duck liver and heart and diluted to 200C (a 10400-fold dilution). Yes, I was a bit depressed after that. Now I know what my skeptical friends in the U.K. go through every time they walk into a Boots pharmacy.

Still, even though homeopathy is not as popular in the U.S. as it is in the U.K. and the rest of Europe, it’s obviously making some inroads if it’s being sold in Target. Steve Novella made a point at a panel at TAM8 in July to point out that it’s also being sold in Walmart, but since I rarely, if ever, shop at Walmart, I hadn’t noticed, although I had noticed various dubious concoctions being sold at Walgreens and CVS, two large pharmacy chains here in the U.S. Its relative popularity in different parts of the world aside, ever since I learned what homeopathy is and what its precepts are, I’ve always been fascinated how it can possibly be taken seriously. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Science-Based Medicine*

Diabetes: Be Part Of The Cure

(And no, this doesn’t mean you have to become Robert Smith.)

With more than two decades of diabetes clocked in, my faith in a cure has been shaken with every diabetes anniversary. Each September, I realize that more has been done to improve the quality of life for people with diabetes, but little has been done in giving us the hope that a cure — a real cure — is possible in our lifetime.

Except last year, when I made a trip to Florida to visit the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI), my hope was reignited. The Diabetes Research Institute is functioning solely to provide research for a cure for diabetes. And I have cautious hope that they will be the ones to make great strides in curing type 1 diabetes. If not for me, then for the generation after me.

Which is why I am part of The Cure this month for American Diabetes Month. I made a small donation to the DRI and uploaded my photo to the Cure collage. (You can find me in the bottom left hand corner of that sassy little “E” there.) 

Be part of the Cure!

Camillo Ricordi, Scientific Director and Chief Academic Officer of the University of Miami Diabetes Research Institute, stated in a recent interview on the Huffington Post: “I started this work to cure diabetes. My goal has not changed. I will keep working until I get the job done.”

I can get on board with that.  Be part of the Cure.

*This blog post was originally published at Six Until Me.*

The Medical Misinformation Of The Huffington Post

Today I refer you to an excellent post by Peter A. Lipson, M.D., at the blog Science Based Medicine entitled “HuffPo blogger claims skin cancer is conspiracy.”

The post focuses on an article by someone who contends that the link between sunlight and skin cancer is a conspiracy by dermatologists and the cosmetic dermatology industry. Dr. Lipson’s highly insightful analysis about the “interview” process and how doctors must act these days on behalf of their patients concludes:

This article shows a misunderstanding of journalistic ethics, medical ethics, and medical science. It’s a disaster. And it’s no surprise that it’s in the Huffington Post.

While this is a medicine story, my question relates to why an organization with a lot of great front-page news so frequently posts medical articles that are wrong and, sometimes, downright dangerous.

Read the article first, then read Dr. Lipson’s analysis.

Disclosure: I am an occasional contributor to Science Based Medicine but, like all contributors there, receive no compensation.

*This blog post was originally published at Terra Sigillata*

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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