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Latest Posts

Is Red Meat Hazardous To Your Health?

Red meat consumption has been linked to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and several types of cancer (breast, colorectal, stomach, bladder, prostate, and lymphoma).

There are plausible mechanisms: Meat is a source of carcinogens, iron that may increase oxidative damage, and saturated fat. But correlation and plausibility are not enough to establish causation.

Is red meat really dangerous? If so, how great is the risk? A couple of recent studies have tried to shed light on these questions, but they have raised more questions than they have answered. Read more »

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

Alternative Medicine: A Great Medical Discovery?

In his new book Breakthrough! How the 10 Greatest Discoveries in Medicine Saved Millions and Changed Our View of the World, Jon Queijo describes what he believes are the 10 greatest discoveries. Nine of them are uncontroversial discoveries that have been on other top-10 lists, but his 10th choice is one that no other list of top discoveries has ever included. 

Queijo realizes this, and even admits in his introduction that a former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine refused to review his book because there is no such thing as alternative medicine, only treatments that work and treatments that don’t. But he “respectfully disagrees.” Read more »

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

Dosage Disclosure Denied For Sleep Remedy’s “Perfect Blend”

A new product, Dream Water, is designed to help one relax, fall asleep and improve the quality of sleep using the “perfect blend” of all-natural ingredients melatonin, GABA and 5-HTP (tryptophan).

A single-dose 2.5-ounce bottle retails for $2.99. They also offer a more dilute formulation in an 8-ounce bottle. They suggest drinking half a bottle, keeping it at your bedside, and drinking more if you wake up during the night.

What dosage will you get from half a bottle? From a whole bottle? There’s no way to know. They offer a money-back guarantee, free shipping, free samples, and lots of testimonials. But they refuse to disclose how much of what is in their product. Read more »

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

Modern Surgery Founded On The Kitchen Table: The Amazing Dr. William Halsted

One night in 1882, a critically ill 70-year-old woman was at the verge of death at her daughter’s home, suffering from fever, crippling pain, nausea, and an inflamed abdominal mass. At 2:00AM, a courageous surgeon put her on the kitchen table and performed the first known operation to remove gallstones. The patient recovered uneventfully. The patient was the surgeon’s own mother.

This compelling story is the beginning of an excellent new biography of William Halsted, the father of modern surgery, Genius on the Edge: The Bizarre Double Life of Dr. William Stewart Halsted, by Gerald Imber, M.D. Read more »

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

Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Caused By Retroviruses?

When I first heard that a retrovirus had been identified as a possible cause of chronic fatigue syndrome, I withheld judgment and awaited further developments. When I heard that two subsequent studies had failed to replicate the findings of the first, I assumed that the first had been a false alarm and would be disregarded. Not so.

It’s a classic case of wishful thinking outweighing good judgment. One unconfirmed report of an association between the XMRV virus and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) resulted in a rush to test for the virus, speculation about possible implications, and even suggestions for treatment. And the subsequent negative studies did little or nothing to reverse the trend. Read more »

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

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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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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