Archives for July, 2017

Dr. Aviva Romm, one of Goop’s doctors, tried to distance herself from Goop’s pseudoscience. It didn’t go well.

Whenever vaccine uptake falls to a level below that needed to maintain herd immunity, the risk of outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases climbs. It doesn’t take that dramatic of a decline. Here’s a study that shows how a small decrease in vaccine uptake can lead to a large increase in disease.

Although it’s not uncommon for there to be conspiracy theories about police shootings, it is unusual for such a conspiracy theory to touch upon topics covered right here on this blog. Sadly, it’s happened in the wake of the police shooting of Justine Damond in Minneapolis.

Earlier this month, cancer quacks everywhere were touting a study that suggests that chemotherapy administered before breast cancer treatment can stimulate the spread of cancer, pointing to it as evidence that chemotherapy doesn’t work and even makes cancer worse. In reality, the study was far more nuanced. It didn’t show that chemotherapy doesn’t work (quite the contrary) but does point to ways we can make chemotherapy more effective.

The ubiquity of quackery and pseudoscience of the sort epitomized by Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop empire can be depressing if you’re a skeptic. Sometimes it feels as though it’s not worth refuting the nonsense she peddles. But it is. Just maybe not in the way you think.

A new study by Leigh Turner has found that dubious stem cell clinics are registering even more dubious “clinical trials” under ClinicalTrials.gov in which they charge patients to enroll. In this unethical practice, they are merely following the trail blazed by cancer quack Stanislaw Burzynski.

A little fan feedback

Sometimes, Orac’s fans call him. When he doesn’t have anything to post, sometimes he posts the audio of fools who leave him messages.

Paul Davies is a physicist turned Brave Maverick Cancer Researcher who thinks that, as an outsider, he’s had an insight to the origin of cancer. The problem is that his “insight” is 100 years old. Scientists rejected it long ago because it doesn’t fit with the evidence and produces no promising strategies to improve cancer care. Naturally, Davies cries “Big pharma!”

“Right-to-try” laws claim to help terminally patients by allowing them access to experimental drugs before they are approved, when, in fact, their purpose is to undermine and weaken the FDA and such laws strip legal and regulatory protections from patients using such drugs. Now advocates are making a new push to pass right-to-try by embedding it in the very law that funds the FDA. They might succeed if they encounter no opposition from constituents.

Gwyneth Paltrow’s goop website is a wretched hive of scum and quackery peddling dubious “wellness” products like vaginal “Jade Eggs” to affluent women. Yesterday, she corralled a couple of her “medical experts” to strike back at a persistent critic of goop’s pseudoscience and mystical woo. It did not go well—for goop or its enabling “integrative” physicians.

I’ve been warning about how school vaccine mandates have become increasingly politicized. HBO’s. VICE agrees.

Right now, Europe is in the middle of a massive measles outbreak that has resulted in 35 deaths. Is Europe a harbinger of things to come in the US?

An old “friend” of the blog, Kent Heckenlively, has started a WhiteHouse.gov petition for a five year moratorium on childhood vaccines, until the government answers his questions about vaccines that can never be answered and shows evidence of their safety that he’ll never believe. Yes, the delusion is strong in this one, but, sadly, he’s not alone.

When HHS Secretary Dr. Tom Price announced that Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald would be the new CDC Director, he breathed a sigh of relief because in her previous job as Georgia Commissioner of Public Health she was suitably pro-vaccine and pro-science. He should have looked a bit closer and gone a few years further back.

The usual stereotype of an antivaxer is a hippy dippy left wing granola cruncher. The case of Texas shows that increasingly the antivaccine movement is right wing. Worse, it’s becoming more political and harder for Republican legislators to ignore. I fear vaccine science is becoming as politicized as climate science, with results disastrous for public health.

Because of Donald Trump’s long history of antivaccine statements, his meeting with Andrew Wakefield during the presidential campaign, and his meeting with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. during the transition, antivaxers thought Trump would give them what they want. They were wrong, just the latest to realize that they’ve been conned. Is it so wrong for me to feel serious schadenfreude here?

Post-NECSS thanks

No new Insolence today, I’m afraid. But I have an explanation.

A recent systematic review has been touted as demonstrating that “mind-body” practices like yoga can reprogram our DNA. There are several reasons to doubt these claims, not the least of which is the history of bias in past studies on this topic.