In which the NCCIH is questioned…

Orac’s vacation continues apace.

Well, not quite. The main reason I’m in London right now is because I was invited to give an actual scientific (as opposed to skeptical) talk at a conference about—of all things—ion channels in cancer. That’s where I am right now, at the Sir Alexander Fleming Building at Imperial College London, and that’s where I’ll be all day today and much of tomorrow. Having been invited, I decided to make a vacation of it. Basically, it’s a big science sandwich, with two science days in the middle of two slices of vacation bread. I would also be lying if I didn’t admit to a bit of trepidation, given that I’m a surgeon who’s a relative neophyte and novice in the area of ion channels, having been dragged kicking and screaming to the topic by the direction the data generated by my lab’s research took. Such is science sometimes. At the very least, it’ll be cool to learn more about the topic, so as not to approach the problem of whether a drug I’m testing against cancer as simplistically as I have been doing.

Be that as it may, there is material for me to provide that requires little or no commentary. For instance, over at Reason, Todd Krainin has provided us with a report on The Alternative Medicine Racket: How the Feds Fund Quacks:

I’m told that the resources provided by my not-so-secret other blog were used to assist in the research for this report. It’s well worth checking out the video and the story. My only quibble is what the story says about Steve Jobs and his having foregone effective cancer treatment for several months in order to pursue “natural” therapies before coming back to science-based medicine; i.e., repeating the almost certainly erroneous line that Jobs might be alive today if he had been treated right away. I explained in detail why that take on Jobs’ decision, which very attractive to medical skeptics who support SBM, is almost certainly not correct. Don’t get me wrong; Jobs did himself no favors by delaying attempted definitive treatment, but, given lead time bias and the likelihood that his disease was already metastatic at the time of diagnosis, the outcome probably wouldn’t have been much different if he had undergone treatment right away. Probably.

Aside from that quibble, which I have a hard time not mentioning whenever I read about Steve Jobs, Reason has done a nice job of summarizing just what is wrong with the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). Here’s hoping it gets the attention of even larger media outlets, although I’m not that hopeful. After all, NBC has Nancy Snyderman, who, for all her strong advocacy of vaccines, has become completely enamored of quackademic medicine.