Last week, The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (JACM) published a Special Focus Issue on "integrative oncology." In reality, it's propaganda that promotes pseudoscience and the "integration" of quackery into oncology.
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 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.
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.
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.
I’ve documented the infiltration of quackery into academic medicine through the “integration” of mystical and prescientific treatment modalities into medicine. Here, I look at a seemingly small incident, a veritable pebble in the quackademic avalanche. Is it too late for the pebbles to vote?
Last week, the media were awash with reports of the "interstitium," which was dramatically described as a hitherto undiscovered "organ," a narrative that was definitely a triumph of PR over science that went beyond what even the investigators claimed in their paper. Worse, the investigators themselves even speculated that their discovery could "explain" acupuncture and other kinds of alternative medicine, thus providing an opening for quacks to run wild with their discovery, something I expect to see very soon.
More and more, alternative medicine practitioners are offering unproven, almost certainly ineffective, and potentially dangerous stem cell therapies. How are they doing it?
A couple of weeks ago, I was interviewed by the a reporter from the Georgetown student newsletter about its integrative medicine program. It got me to thinking how delusion that one’s work is science-based can lead to collaborations with New Age “quantum” mystics like Deepak Chopra. "Integrative medicine" doctors engaging in what I like to refer to as quackademic medicine all claim to be "evidence-based" or "science-based." The words apparently do not mean what integrative medicine academics think they mean.
Over the last 25 years, medical academia has increasingly embraced "integrative medicine" (i.e., the "integration" of pseudoscience and quackery with medicine). However, it has had help normalizing this new situation. That help comes from the press. Here's yet another example.