Aromatase inhibitors are antiestrogen drugs frequently used to treat breast cancer. Unfortunately, they can cause significant joint pain. A recent study of acupuncture for joint pain caused by these drugs was basically negative, but the authors did their best to spin it as positive. Same as it ever was for acupuncture studies.
Two prominent advocates of "integrative medicine" bemoan the "practice drift" they see in their specialty, in which doctors drift farther and farther away from their training. What this means is (although it would never be admitted) is that these "integrative medicine" doctors are drifting further and further into quackery. Too bad this is a feature, not a bug.
The latest issue of the official journal of the European Atherosclerosis Society features a credulous article on traditional Chinese medicine. TCM is presented as a system of medicine whose use should "spread to Western societies." Sadly, the editors failed here, as the article consists of revisionist history, pseudoscience, and false equivalence.
Dr. Robin Berzin founded a concierge functional medicine practice, Parsley Health. Her practice is growing and has expanded to three major cities thus far, and she's begun a foray into pediatrics? Are holistic concierge medical practices the future of "integrating" quackery into medicine, be it functional medicine or other models?
The Department of Family Medicine at the University of Michigan has embraced integrating quackery with medicine in its "integrative medicine" program. But what is it teaching its trainees? Unfortunately, I've started to find out.
Helene Langevin has been named the new director of the National Center for Complemenary and Integrative Health. Given her history of dodgy acupuncture research, my prediction is that the quackery will flow again at NCCIH, the way it did in the 1990s when Tom Harkin zealously protected it from any attempt to impose scientific rigor on it.
We know that alternative medicine use is associated with poorer survival in cancer, but what about the use of so-called "complementary medicine," "complementary and alternative medicine," or "integrative medicine"? Bad news. There's still a negative correlation between the use of pseudoscientific and unproven medicine and cancer survival, even when used with conventional cancer therapy rather than instead of it.
Earlier this week, the New York Times ran a fascinating feature about Gwyneth Paltrow and Goop. In it, we learn—surprise! surprise!—that Gwyneth Paltrow does not like fact-checking. We also learn that the criticism of Goop's selling of pseudoscience and quackery has reached the point where Paltrow has given in and plans to hire a fact checker. Unfortunately, I strongly suspect that it will do no good and that skeptics will have as much work to do refuting Goop's quackery after the fact-checker is hired as we do now.
In 2014, the Society for Integrative Oncology first published clinical guidelines for the care of breast cancer patients. Not surprisingly, SIO advocated “integrating” dubious therapies with oncology. Last week, the most influential oncology society, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), endorsed a 2017 update to the SIO guidelines, thus endorsing the “integration” of quackery with oncology and paving the way for insurance coverage. The advance of quackademic medicine in oncology continues apace.
Science is the most effective means of determining medical treatments that work and whose benefits outweigh their risks. Those who promote pseudoscientific or prescientific medicine, however, frequently appeal to other ways of knowing, often ancient ways of knowing from other cultures, and pointing out deficiencies in SBM to justify promoting their treatments. Do their justifications hold water?