Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lifesaving, safe vaccines

Great article (link, courtesy of Bad Astronomer):

Lifesaving, safe vaccines

No time to comment this week, but it well worth reading, as it is another perfectly put argument from a rather independent source.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Get Your Holistic Fix

Last weekend, I noticed an interesting article in the print and on-line versions if the St. Petersburg Times:

Hepatitis C outbreak at Brandon holistic clinic blamed on syringes

A hepatitis C outbreak at a holistic medical clinic in Brandon was likely caused by the reuse of syringes on patients undergoing intravenous therapies, a state health official said Friday.
The news above would not be that interesting, as it can happen anywhere, although I do not think it happens too often at hospitals anymore, however, it's the reason people went to this "clinic" that makes me sad:
Dr. Carol Roberts, director of the clinic, said the eight patients were undergoing chelation therapy to remove what she described as toxic metals from their bodies.
So, we have a clear case, where alt-med (or, as some prefer to call it, SCAM - So-called Complementary and Alternative Medicine) really, really can do harm. I can almost bet that most of the people who were getting this therapy did not have anything wrong with them, but were sold this unproven, unnecessary and dangerous modality as a way to "get the toxins out of their body". It can't do any harm, it's holistic (or natural), you know!!!
As pointed out in the article:
Chelation, which uses IV medications to grab heavy metals and minerals out of the blood and remove them from the body, is approved by the FDA only for lead poisoning and heavy-metal toxicity. The use of it by some practitioners for conditions like autism and heart disease has drawn controversy to the practice.
Hopefully, a bit of attention in the news will help to steer a few people away from this (or other "holistic") woo-woo nonsenses.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Health Care Reform

My personal opinions about the proposed health care reform notwithstanding, it makes me really worried, when I see what we all could be paying for if we have a universal health care system in the US.
I open today's (3/18/2010) St. Petersburg Times, and the front page has an article entitled "Here's what non-politicians think" (pdf). Among the "non-politicians" is a Christian Science practitioner Robert Clark, who believes in healing through prayer, which is basically a form of wishful thinking.
What's even worse, this article is continued inside the paper (sorry, they don't seem to have an on-line version), under a big, bold heading "Pros' take on health care bill"!!!
PROS??? Since when Christian Science (why is it called science anyway?) "practitioners" are called "Pros"? Pros in faith, maybe, but not in anything that even remotely resembles medicine!
You can see how effective it is here: Wisconsin Parents Get Probation Plus Jail in Daughter's Prayer Death
What really worries me is what Mr. Clark said:
If everyone has to participate, then everyone should be able to choose the kind of care they get.
I would not want to fund any kind of woo science, and pay for it's "procedures" out of my taxes. This includes Christian Science, homeopathy, chiropractic, and acupuncture, just to name a few.
This means that the new health care bill should have very strong, and most importantly science-based, checks and procedures for selecting what is included as a medical procedure, paid by our taxes.
If Christian Scientists get in there, I'm pulling my Green Dragon from my garage and setting up a healing shop too!

Related: Health Care Debate - No Coverage for Woo-Woo

Monday, March 15, 2010

If You Had Any Doubts Left...

If you still have doubts about vaccines, and their autism connection, the latest ruling from the "Vaccine Court" should put those fears to rest:

Last Friday, a special vaccine court ruled on three cases in which parents were suing on behalf of their autistic children. In each case, the parents claimed that thimerosal had caused their child’s autism. In each case, the Special Master (a judge) ruled definitively against the parents. The result was a slam-dunk win for science.
Vaccine Court Ruling: Thimerosal Does Not Cause Autism

Most of the bloggers out there agree that this win will probably do nothing to those hard-core ant-vaxers and their misguided beliefs. But for the sane part of the society this (along with the rest of the overwhelming evidence) should be enough to put the question to rest. FINALLY!!!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Ms. McCarthy Is At It Again...

Ahhh... our favorite "authority" on scientific medicine, vaccines and autism is at it again!

Who's Afraid Of The Truth About Autism?

I'm a bit surprised it took her that long to come back, but I guess she needed to gather her thoughts after all the studies that found no link between autism and vaccines. Since her here, Dr. (probably not for too long) Wakefield has been completely discredited, she needed to find a new goal post to stick to.

It seems that one of her new sticking point is a "benefit vs. risk" idea:
Perhaps its better to say vaccines have both benefits and risks? Who's afraid of being honest about the good and the bad of vaccines?
This is something I actually agree with: it is about benefits vs. risks, except that the way she puts it is so skewed and just plain dumb, it hurts. Yes, vaccines have risks, but those are so tiny and insignificant, compared to all the risks associated with the diseases they prevent, there is no contests in this duel. We, as parents, have forgotten about all the terrible childhood diseases because they had been practically wiped off the face of the Earth by vaccines, so we think they are not there. However, as experience teaches us (see recent outbreaks of measles in the New York area), they will be back if we stop vaccinating our kids.
Jenny is, as always, spreading misinformation and bad, bad advice. I certainly hope, the time will soon come, for her to stop, since so far her anti-scientific views caused nothing but suffering to those children who became ill, or worse, as a result of her "campaigns".