Recently, the Hope4Cancer Institute, a quack clinic in Mexico has added a treatment known as Rigvir to its other offerings. But what is Rigvir? It turns out that it’s an import from Latvia with a mysterious history. Its proponents claim that it targets cancer specifically. Unfortunately, there is a profound paucity of evidence for its efficacy. The story of Rigvir is the story of an unproven treatment that, because of its origin in a small country, has flown mostly under the radar. Until now, that is.

Gwyneth Paltrow’s goop is continuing to sell snake oil promoted as the “empowerment” of women. Yes, that even includes a psychic vampire repellent, reiki charged.

Over the last couple of days I noted a disturbance in the antivaccine force, another study claimed to be slam dunk evidence that aluminum adjuvants in vaccines cause autism. It’s not. Also, a word to antivaxers challenging Orac to look at this study: Be very careful what you wish for…

Yesterday, the University of California, Irvine announced that Susan and Henry Samueli had donated $200 million to establish integrative medicine quackery there. Is this the shape of medicine to come?

Five years ago, IBM announced that its supercomputer Watson would revolutionize cancer treatment by using its artificial intelligence to digest and distill the thousands of oncology studies published every year plus patient-level data and expert recommendations into treatment recommendation. Last week, a report published by STAT News shows that, years later, IBM’s hubris and hype have crashed into reality.

An antivaccine blogger is amazed that big pharma has allowed its lackeys in the press to publish negative stories about the flu vaccine. Naturally, she thinks she knows why and sees a conspiracy. Not surprisingly, her conspiracy theory doesn’t make much sense.

Does the flu vaccine cause miscarriages?

A recent study claims to have found a link between influenza vaccination and miscarriage, and antivaxers are rejoicing. The study itself suffers mightily from post hoc subgroup analyses and small numbers in the subgroup, so much so that even its authors don’t really believe its results.

The antivaccine group SaneVax, which specializes in spreading misinformation about the HPV vaccine, has released part one of a three-part series of short films. Unfortunately, these are propaganda films disguised as an issue documentary.

Last week, I wrote about a naturopath imitating the worst of real doctors by running his very own dubious stem cell clinic. He even cosplays an interventional radiologist doing it. Unfortunately, he’s far from alone. There are many more naturopaths going down this road. Even more unfortunately, it is MDs who are showing the way. Basically, naturopaths don’t just cosplay doctors. They cosplay the worst of doctors as well.

Many are the PR firms and astroturf groups out there trying to influence the public. One favored technique is to publish an op-ed by an expert or “thought leader” in a major media outlet. Not infrequently, these op-eds are ghostwritten. Unfortunately, to its sorrow, STATNews found that out this week.

Britt Hermes is an ex-naturopath who realized that she had become a quack and had the bravery to quit and study to become a real scientist. Because she is an apostate, the church of naturopathy has a special antipathy reserved for her, which is why a “naturopathic oncologist” named Colleen Huber has engaged in legal thuggery to silence her. Not-a-Dr. Huber has apparently never heard of the Streisand Effect, because a look at her website and her incredibly badly done and incompetent clinical study claiming that her treatments plus eliminating processed sugar results in much better cancer survival would be very embarrassing…to her.

Hurricane Harvey devastated Texas two weeks ago, and the recovery effort will take years. As hundreds of thousands start to try to rebuild their shattered lives and homes, antivaxers have some helpful advice on how to avoid vaccines. That’s because to antivaxers, it’s always about vaccines. Always.

Recently, I came across a news story describing two cancer patients treated by naturopaths in New Zealand. Both died, one almost certainly unnecessarily, the other after enduring more suffering than she likely had to. These tragic cases and others reminded me of why it is so appalling that so many physicians are “integrating” naturopathy into “integrative medicine.” In reality, they are integrating quackery into medicine.

After nearly 13 years of blogging, I thought I’d seen it all. Then former naturopath Britt Hermes let me know that there is a naturopath in Utah offering stem cell treatments. My face is raw from the double facepalming.

Trolling the antivaccine trolls

Craig Egan is a man with a mission. He’s trolling the antivaccine trolls to promote science, and he’s been very successful at it.

Yesterday, I wrote about how right-to-try and an unethical offshore vaccine trial are part of free market fundamentalists’ attack on the FDA. Here’s another example, the “right to choose medicine.”

I’ve discussed so-called “right-to-try” laws, which promise to speed experimental drugs to terminally ill patients, but which in reality are about weakening and bypassing the FDA. Now über-Libertarian Peter Thiel is trying a new tactic to bypass the FDA by organizing an offshore clinical trial of a new herpes vaccine based on dubious science and not overseen by an IRB to protect patients. Both right-to-try and this trial are different fronts in the same fundamentalist free market war on FDA regulation.

There was a rumbling in the antivaccine underground a week ago about a recent ruling by the Vaccine Court compensating parents of a child who died of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). In a confused and scientifically highly flawed decision, the Special Master Thomas Gowen didn’t rule that vaccines cause SIDS, but did rule that they contributed to SIDS in this one case. Soon, the message will be that vaccines cause SIDS. They don’t. The Vaccine Court screwed up.

Tooth Fairy science is the study of a phenomenon before having actually demonstrated that the phenomenon actually exists. I can’t think of a better example than trying to construct an elaborate mapping system of body parts and organs to the surface of the external ear for purposes of sticking needles in them to heal and relieve pain (auricular acupuncture). Yet that’s what’s just been published.

American antivaccine activists have contributed to a massive measles outbreak among the Minnesota Somali immigrant community by spreading Andrew Wakefield’s misinformation. In the wake of the harm they’ve caused, they’re not apologetic. They’re doubling down.

In January, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. bragged about having met with President-Elect Donald Trump about chairing a presidential commission on vaccine safety. In the intervening eight months, no commission has materialized, but, if you can believe his account, Kennedy has been meeting with government officials to promote his antivaccine views at the behest of the Trump administration. As long as that continues, pro-science advocates can’t afford to rest easy.

By definition, alternative medicine has not been shown to be effective or has been shown to be ineffective. Thus, alternative medicine is ineffective against cancer and can best be represented as either no treatment at all or potentially harmful treatment. It is thus not surprising that cancer patients who choose alternative medicine have a higher risk of dying from their cancer. A new study confirms this conclusion yet again.

California’s new law that eliminates personal belief exemptions has been a success, increasing vaccine uptake after just one year. That isn’t to say that there aren’t problems. One potential problem is the increasing number of medical exemptions, likely fueled by doctors willing to write letters of support for them based on reasons that are not science-based.

Antivaxers fear and detest vaccines, but one of the types of vaccines they fear and detest the most is the HPV vaccine, such as Gardasil and Cervarix, which have been blamed for everything from sudden death to premature ovarian failure to autoimmune diseases. A couple of Mexican “researchers” from a cardiology institute try again with a “critical review” of HPV vaccine safety that lacks anything resembling critical thinking.

Naturopaths are fake doctors who fancy themselves to be real doctors, so much so that they call themselves “physicians” even when explicitly barred from doing so by law.