White Coat Underground

Archives for May, 2010

From the medical journals

Common osteoporosis drugs do not increase the risk of unusual fractures (probably): Bisphosphonates (such as Fosamax and Actonel), a class of medications used to prevent fractures in osteoporosis, are effective in preventing certain types of common back and hip fractures.  As we’ve developed more patient-years of experience with the drugs, we’ve found certain problems, such…

The Pill and altmed idiocy

We’re now fifty years into the history of oral contraceptive pills, and we’ve learned an enormous amount. We’ve learned about various therapeutic uses of the Pill and unanticipated risks. We’ve learned to adjust the amount of medication to a lower effective dose. We’ve given women the opportunity to very effectively control their own fertility in…

Bad science, done badly. It’s bad.

So-called “morgellons syndrome” is an interesting phenomenon. This syndrome is not at this point generally recognized by the medical community, but its sufferers describe many different systemic symptoms, such as “brain fog” and fatigue, and characteristic skin lesions which they describe as containing or extruding an unknown substance. The patients are most often diagnosed as…

It’s not my fault!

You know that big oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico?  It turns out that the folks who drilled it, the folks who pumped it, and the folks who worked on it weren’t at fault—at least according to their sworn congressional testimony.  And I sure as hell know it’s not my fault.  I mean, I…

You pulled that out of where?

Last week I gave you a refresher course on the invalid arguments used by altmed boosters. The Turf Battle Fallacy and Pharma Shill Gambit are classics for a number of reasons. The most amusing thing about these gambits is their hypocrisy.   The alternative medicine movement is  essentially a collection of businesses selling unproven supplements…

Who doesn’t hate smallpox?

Smallpox was one of the world’s most devastating diseases, and its eradication one of medicine’s most spectacular successes. Over the course of a couple of centuries, this disease went from killing and maiming millions (200-500 million in the 20th century alone), from helping to depopulate the Americas of their original populations, to an historical artifact.…

Alternative medicine is very profitable. Herbs and supplements are a multi-billion dollar industry. The practice of primary care medicine is not terribly lucrative, and adding on some “integrative medicine” can turn that around. A primary care doc can significantly increase their income by selling supplements and offering unproven tests and treatments. These are not covered…

So I gave that talk yesterday at the Great Lakes Homeland Security Expo. It went better than I had expected, as the audience was willing to be interactive and ask tough questions. The audience was a mixed group of health care professionals, first responders, communications directors, and disaster planners. Most had facebook accounts, and many…

A spring day

Most mornings, I get up with my daughter, or more accurately, I wake her up. We have our little morning rituals—I turn on her lamp (or this time of the year, open her shade), pick her up and take her downstairs (something I might not be able to do for much longer). I turn on…

Papers please

Many years ago, when fascist Jean-Marie Le Pen was riding a wave of racist sentiment in France, I was a young student out with friends on a perfect spring evening along the Seine. There was at that time always a vigorous national police presence in Paris. The CRS with their sub-machine guns were visible outside…