Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

Yes I have wondered and I found an answer

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on May 29, 2010

But maybe the Dr. can show me the right way to think about this. No I don’t mind the stammering, uncomfortable twitching or the stupidity, please go on. Aha, hmmm, I see, uh uh, oh I have a question: did your mum drop you on the front of your head as a child or the back?

Study: Shark Cartilage No Help for Cancer

Posted in News by Skepdude on May 26, 2010

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT WEBMD

Drug Derived From Shark Cartilage Did Not Extend Lives of Lung Cancer Patients

May 26, 2010 — Hopes that shark cartilage would prove to be a useful treatment for cancer were not borne out in one of the most rigorously designed and executed studies of an alternative therapy ever conducted.

Adding a drug derived from shark cartilage to standard cancer treatments did not improve survival among patients with late-stage lung cancer in the study, funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM).

Shark cartilage has been touted as a potential alternative or complementary cancer treatment for several decades. Dozens of shark cartilage products are sold as dietary supplements, but almost none have been studied in humans.

Testing the Usefulness of Shark Cartilage

The trial examined a carefully formulated and regulated liquid shark cartilage product developed as a drug, rather than one of the commercially available, but unregulated, supplements.

Researchers from multiple academic and community cancer centers in the U.S. and Canada enrolled almost 400 patients with inoperable non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in the study.

Half received standard chemotherapy and radiation, and half received standard treatment and the shark cartilage drug, known as AE-941.

No difference was seen in overall survival, progression-free survival, time-to-disease progression, and tumor response rates between the two groups.

Patients who got the shark cartilage treatment lived for an average of 14.4 months, which was a month less than the average survival of patients who did not take shark cartilage.

The study was published online today and it will appear in the June 16 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

“It is clear from these findings that this pharmaceutical-grade shark cartilage extract is not an effective treatment for this cancer,” study researcher Charles Lu, MD, tells WebMD.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT WEBMD

Skeptify this poll

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on May 24, 2010

Brother and sisters in, metaphorical, arms: Skeptify this poll.

Do you think vaccines are related to autism?

It’s just too bad they did not have a “Seriously????” option; that’s the one I would’ve gone for, instead I had to settle for the simple No. Go on now my minions, all 4 of you, make your master proud!

Organic foods may not really be healthier

Posted in News by Skepdude on May 24, 2010

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT MSNBC

No strong evidence shows more nutritional benefits than conventional foods

NEW YORK – Consumers who opt for organic foods often believe they are improving their health, but there is currently no strong evidence that organics bring nutrition-related health benefits, a new research review finds.

A “disappointingly small” number of well-designed studies have looked at whether organic foods may have health benefits beyond their conventional counterparts’, according to the review, by researchers with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Health in the UK.

Moreover, they found, what studies have been done have largely focused on short-term effects of organic eating — mainly antioxidant activity in the body — rather than longer-term health outcomes. And most of the antioxidant studies failed to find differences between organic and conventional diets.

The review, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, adds to findings reported last year by the same research team.

In that study, the researchers combed through 162 articles published in the scientific literature over the last 50 years, and found no evidence that organic and conventional foods differ significantly in their nutrient content.

For the current review, the researchers were able to find only 12 published studies that met their criteria for evaluating the health effects of organic foods.

“A surprising and important finding of this review is the extremely limited nature of the evidence base on this subject, both in terms of the number and quality of studies,” write Dr. Alan D. Dangour and his colleagues.

Research in the area does appear to be increasing, Dangour’s team notes; 4 of the 12 studies they reviewed were published in 2008 or 2009.

But in the future, the researchers add, studies — both in humans and animals — need to be better-designed.

Of the 12 studies the researchers identified, 6 were short-term clinical trials that looked at whether specific organic foods changed markers of antioxidant activity in participants’ blood.

Those trials showed no strong evidence that organic eating boosted antioxidant activity, but the studies were also very limited in scope: they were small — with the largest including 43 men — and lasted no longer than a few weeks.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT MSNBC

MMR doctor struck from register

Posted in News by Skepdude on May 24, 2010

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT BBC NEWS

The doctor who first suggested a link between MMR vaccinations and autism is to be struck off the medical register.

Dr Andrew Wakefield

Dr Wakefield still stands by his research

The General Medical Council found Dr Andrew Wakefield guilty of serious professional misconduct over the way he carried out his controversial research.

It follows a GMC ruling earlier this year that he had acted unethically.

Dr Wakefield, who is now based in the US, has consistently claimed the allegations are unfair. He now says he will appeal against the verdict.

His 1998 Lancet study caused vaccination rates to plummet, resulting in a rise in measles – but the findings were later discredited.

The GMC ruled in January Dr Wakefield had acted “dishonestly and irresponsibly” in conducting his research, but under its procedures the sanctions are made at a later date.

The case did not investigate whether Dr Wakefield’s findings were right or wrong, instead it focused on the methods of research.

During the two-and-a-half-year case, the longest in GMC history, he was accused of carrying out invasive tests on vulnerable children which were against their best interests.

The GMC also said Dr Wakefield, who was working at London’s Royal Free Hospital as a gastroenterologist at the time, did not have the ethical approval or relevant qualifications for such tests.

And the panel hearing the case took exception with the way he gathered blood samples. Dr Wakefield paid children £5 for the samples at his son’s birthday party.

It also said Dr Wakefield should have disclosed the fact that he had been paid to advise solicitors acting for parents who believed their children had been harmed by the MMR.

Serious misconduct

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT BBC NEWS

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Wakefield intends to fight back

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on May 21, 2010

Although I’m not sure this is the fight he should be getting into!  He claims that the GNC’s conclusions that he acted carelessly were “predetermined” and plans to conduct research to vindicate himself.  Which is all good in my book. We can never really know the determination status of the GNC’s conclusions, and if he does prove scientifically that there is merit to his 1998 Lance retracted paper, than all the better. The point here is not blind adherence to one hypothesis or another, but finding out the truth. So, I say, good luck Andrew Wakefield.

I must say thought that, personally, I tend to be suspicious of someone with such grandiose views of himself. He is, some may say quite expectedly, portraying himself as someone who was sacrificed because he dared to take on the “vaccine industry”.

Andrew Wakefield, the British doctor who came to Austin after fueling a worldwide scare over vaccines and autism, said Wednesday that he expects to have his British medical license yanked next week in a final effort by the mainstream medical establishment to silence him and stop his research.

In his first in-depth interview since the council’s findings, Wakefield — hailed as a hero by some parents and a false prophet by many doctors — said the charges were unfair, false and pre-determined from the outset because he dared to take on the vaccine industry. He said he does not intend to fade away.

He’s got a book coming out soon.

Wakefield’s new book, “Callous Disregard,” will be out Monday, the same day the General Medical Council is scheduled to decide whether to invalidate his license. The book gives Wakefield’s side of the story and lays out what he thinks was behind his prosecution: an effort by the vaccine industry to stop him from probing into vaccines that could be causing harm.

Frankly, I’d rather see him write a book where he defends the science behind his 1998 study, but that’s his call; he can write whatever he wants, but he only diminishes his reputation even further if he refuses to talk science and instead chooses to engage in conspiracy theory stories.

Wakefield contends that he learned from a whistle-blower that Britain had told the medical schools to stop investigating unsafe vaccines and any potential link to autism for fear the government might be sued. The government, in turn, manipulated the media and furthered his prosecution, Wakefield said. The bias, he said, continues with the media giving credence to studies that dispute links between vaccines and autism and discrediting any that suggest an association.

Well I hope he has some proof to back those claims up besides an undisclosed “whistle-blower”. My only question would be this: even if Britain is engaging in this sort of behavior, what about the rest of the world? Where are all these studies that he hints about that suggest a link between vaccines and autism? Why not write a book about these studies I ask instead of getting into this whole conspiracy issue?

The Monkey Business Illusion

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on May 18, 2010

Question is: Do you still trust eyewitness accounts?

Study finds no brain cancer link to mobile phone use

Posted in News by Skepdude on May 17, 2010

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT YAHOO NEWS

PARIS (AFP) – The largest study to date of the safety of mobile phones has found no clear link to brain cancer, although it said further study is merited given their increasingly intensive use.

“The study doesn’t reveal an increased risk, but we can’t conclude that there is no risk because there are enough findings that suggest a possible risk,” the study’s chief author, Elisabeth Cardis, told AFP.

The results of the Interphone study, which included 2,708 cases of glioma tumours and 2,409 meningioma tumours in 13 countries over a 10-year period, is due to be published on Tuesday in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

It found no increased risk of glioma or meningioma tumours after 10 years of using a mobile phone, although it found “suggestions of higher risk” for the heavyest users.

The heavyest users who reported using their phones on the same side of their heads had a 40 percent higher risk for gliomas and 15 percent for meningiomas, but the researchers said “biases and errors” prevent making a causal link.

Given that the heavyest users in the study talked an average of half an hour per day on their mobile phones, a figure which is not heavy by today’s standards, the researchers recommended further research.

They also cited the need for the study of the impact of mobile phone use among young people, who have rapidly become intenstive users, and who were not included in the Interphone study.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT YAHOO NEWS

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Study: Megadoses of Vitamin D Offer No Benefit

Posted in News by Skepdude on May 17, 2010

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT YAHOO NEWS

Sometimes too much of a good thing can be … not such a good thing. That’s the conclusion of the largest study to date of the effects of giving superdoses of vitamin D. The supplement helps bodies build bone and muscle, but the new study, published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), finds that megaquantities of the vitamin – a year’s supply given in an single dose, for instance – do not appear to reduce the risk of falling or suffering fractures in elderly women.

Most adults in developed nations, including the U.S., are vitamin D deficient, in large part because of lack of sun exposure. While the body naturally produces vitamin D when the skin is exposed to ultraviolet rays, concerns about skin cancer and the heavy use of sunscreens have contributed to a worrying deficiency in large populations. That’s why researchers continue to study the most effective dosing regimen for vitamin D supplementation, particularly in the elderly who are at increased risk for falls and fractures, which are a major cause of death. (See the top 10 medical breakthroughs of 2009.)

Encouraged by previous studies showing that 500,000 IU of vitamin D, given over multiple doses over a short period of time, and a single injection of 300,000 IU improved balance and strength and reduced fractures, Australian scientists at the University of Melbourne expected that a walloping single oral dose of 500,000 IU would also be effective. The study, led by Geoffrey Nicholson and Kerrie Sanders, involved 2,256 women, ages 70 years or older, who were considered to be at high risk of fracture. They were randomly assigned to receive 500,000 IU of cholecalciferol (a form of vitamin D) or placebo once a year for up to 5 years.

To the researchers’ surprise, women who received vitamin D actually suffered more falls and fractures than women who got the placebo pill. The trial participants experienced a total of 5,404 falls over the course of the study; compared with the placebo group, women taking the vitamin D megadose experienced 15% more falls and 26% more fractures.

Although women in the treatment group did have higher blood levels of vitamin D throughout the year than their placebo-taking counterparts, the added vitamin offered no protection again broken bones. “People have been exploring what is the upper limit of dosing that can be given,” says Nicholson, head of the department of clinical and biomedical sciences at the University of Melbourne. “And I think we inadvertently exceeded it. I think the take home message is that megadoses are not safe; that’s certainly going to be our approach until we have evidence to the contrary.”

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT YAHOO NEWS

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Crazy Iranian “boobquake” cleric still crazy

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on May 17, 2010

And getting worse! Following the worldwide mocking he got for his idiotic earthquake “theory”, he has defended himself and reinforced his position that immodesty and immorality (by his standards) lead to natural disasters.

TEHRAN, Iran – A prominent hard-line Iranian cleric elaborated on his claim that promiscuity and immodest dress cause earthquakes, saying Friday that God may be holding off on natural disasters in the West in order to let people sin more and doom themselves to hell.

Sure, because that is what a loving god does you see?

“Some ask why (more) earthquakes and storms don’t occur in the Western world, which suffers from the slime of homosexuality, the slime of promiscuity and has plunged up to the neck” in immorality, he said.

“Who says they don’t occur? Storms take place in the U.S. and other parts of the world. We don’t say committing sin is the entire reason but it’s one of the reasons,” he said.

Ooh, so only some of these disasters are due to sin, I get it. Thank’s for clarifying that.

But, he said, “sometimes, God tests a nation. … (God says) if believers sin, We slap them because We love them and give them calamity in order to stop their bad deeds.”

“And those who have provoked God’s wrath, He allows them (to commit sins) so that they go to the bottom of hell,” Sedighi said.

Are you feeling the peace? Unfortunately, even by his crazy theories, Iran must be swimming in the “slime of homosexuality, the slime of promiscuity” too, because this is what happened (emphasis added):

Iran is one of the world’s most earthquake-prone countries, and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has warned that a quake is certain to hit Tehran and that many of its 12 million inhabitants should relocate. Tehran straddles scores of fault lines, though it has not suffered a major quake since 1830.

Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, another prominent hard-line cleric, urged Iranians last month to give alms and pray for forgiveness to prevent earthquakes. Hours later, four small earthquakes struck different corners of Iran.

I’m sure it’s really the sins of the westerners that somehow are to be blamed for the earthquakes the “pure of heart” are suffering in Iran. Bad, bad ….Wild Wild West!

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