A Prescription for Alternative Medicine?

i-4d5c4663e54e0d912350b44b8b91c423-altbuzz.jpgLast month, lawmakers in Ontario, Canada introduced legislation that would award prescription rights to graduates of two naturopathic schools. Should students subject to different educational standards be granted the same powers of prescription? On Terra Sigillata, Abel Pharmboy calls it inconsistent for the naturopathic community to “want the right to prescribe regulated medicines while simultaneously decrying medicine and science-based investigative methods,” adding that “homeopathy is diametrically opposed to dose-response pharmacology.” You can learn more about homeopathy here. Then visit The White Coat Underground, where PalMD agrees with the skeptical maxim that there is “no ‘alternative’ to medicine; only that which is proven to work, and that which is not.” PalMD goes on to write that alternative medicine tends to inspire “oversimplification and naive, hyperbolic conclusions.” And finally, Greg Laden on his blog recounts the time when his friend slipped into a coma, bringing months of homeopathic floundering to a simple surgical conclusion.

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Mixed Signals on Mammography

i-28888d98b874099d6961e8e6ee1f4de3-mammbuzz.jpgLast month the US government released new guidelines for breast cancer screening mammography, a revision which Orac writes has “shaken my specialty to the core.” For most women, the guidelines now recommend beginning biennial screenings at age fifty, instead of annual screenings at age forty. Around the same time, a study came out which “suggested that low dose radiation from mammography may put young women with breast cancer-predisposing BRCA mutations at a higher risk for breast cancer.” Get some perspective on Respectful Insolence before breaking out the snake oil. Then visit Andrew Gelman on Applied Statistics, who reports that the Senate approved a health-care provision requiring insurance companies to offer free mammograms to women. Bemoaning the mixed signals, Gelman writes “none of this makes sense to me.” And on On Becoming a Domestic and Laboratory Goddess, Dr. Isis wonders if the new guidelines are racially insensitive, considering statistics that show black women are “at a higher risk for developing cancer before 40” and face a lower 5-year survival rate.

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Sciencewomen Take a Bow

After nearly five years online and two years with us here at ScienceBlogs, ScienceWoman is stepping away from the fray to focus on “Peace and Joy” for 2010.

This will be my last post as SciWo or ScienceWoman. I’ve come to peace with the realization that blogging as SciWo is no longer a source of joy for me. I treasure the true friendships I share with many of you, but I know that we can continue to revel in and grow those friendships even without this blog.

Alice Pawley is also hanging up her blogging shoes, so Sciencewomen will go dark. Stop by and say goodbye, wish well and carry on.

Talks in Copenhagen, More on CRU Emails

i-d928262a7a1c999778b98c95028d86b6-copebuzz.jpgA potentially historic climate change conference began in Copenhagen Monday and will run for the next two weeks as leaders and diplomats from around the world attempt to reach an agreement about global warming. Meanwhile, the stolen emails of Climategate are still making some headlines, but why? Dismissing cries of conspiracy, ScienceBloggers have moved on to consider the broader implications of the event. Josh Rosenau on Thoughts from Kansas decries the invasion of privacy, writing “I’m sure the server contained private notes to the researchers’ loved ones and family and a host of other content” that was never meant to be shared. On Framing Science, Mathew Nisbet says scientists need to update their public image, because “the public is expecting and demanding greater involvement in science-related decisions and greater accountability on the part of scientists.” Chad Orzel on Uncertain Principles writes that human stupidity was the only thing exposed by the climate hackers, and that “the belief that science is somehow above issues of perception and communication leads directly to this sort of catastrophe.”

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OSU Cans Primate Research

i-ce27b1e033be525d787d70135ae8aa47-osubuzz.jpgA raging ERV says we could see this coming in April, when the wife of 400-million-dollar contributor T. Boone Pickens wanted to bar the veterinary school at Oklahoma State University from receiving funds. Ms. Pickens cited the cruel treatment of dogs—doomed shelter animals who were apparently appeased with cheeseburgers before being operated on and euthanized. Now, a proposed “ethics panel approved, NIH funded” anthrax vaccine project using baboons as test subjects has been canceled by the school president. “WTF?” wonders ERV. DrugMonkey also gets up in arms, writing that the NIH is “the ONLY thing that can hope to oppose the power of the wealthy donor. The NIH has to come out swinging.” DrugMonkey goes on to consider the implications this decision has for OSU’s facilities, which were designed for primates and funded by a range of interests. For a concise all-around view of the situation read Scicurious’s open letter to OSU on Neurotopia, where she says animal research is “essential to the understanding of human and animal health and disease.” You can also find OSU president Burns Hargis’s response to these criticisms on DrugMonkey.

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New Embryonic Stem Cell Lines

i-e35bf3368d623c47f1f6f1910c0c659d-cellbuzz.jpgOn Wednesday, the NIH approved thirteen new embryonic stem cell lines for federally-funded research, with ninety-six additional lines still under review. These new approvals come as a direct result of the “Obama administration’s new rules on federal funding for stem cell research, which reversed the Bush policy of prohibiting such funding in most cases.” Read more about the new rules and a dismissed lawsuit against them on Dispatches From the Culture Wars by Ed Brayton. On Framing Science, Matthew C. Nisbet suggests that public attitudes toward stem cells are changing, and reminds us that much of the research currently underway uses stem cells of non-embryonic origin. Then for a different kind of cell line, Abel Pharmboy tells us about Henrietta Lacks on Terra Sigillata, a “woman whose cervical cancer gave rise to the most famous human cancer cell line.” Her cells live on today, as does her story.

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Living This Way

i-0e04765eca436db089c33d7650d20208-natbuzz.jpgWhen it comes to human nature, everyone’s an expert—so let’s argue about it, shall we? On Cognitive Daily, Dave Munger reviews an investigation into the truly fairer sex which suggests that “men are more tolerant of their friends’ failings than women.” Not convinced? Then counter your intuition on The Frontal Cortex, where Jonah Lehrer writes “nothing destroys a luxury brand like a sale.” Consider the possibility of pulling yourself up by the bootstraps on Laelaps, where Brain Switek discusses Louis Leakey’s “fuzzy” postulation that “the invention of stone tools allowed humans to domesticate themselves and accelerate evolution.” Go on and question the innateness of Good and Evil with Razib Khan on Gene Expression, in light of the finding that eighteen-month-olds don’t hesitate to lend strangers a helping hand. Finally, if you missed it, see David Sloan Wilson’s fascinating series about group selection on Evolution for Everyone, where he speculates that our ancestors used their rock-throwing prowess to “suppress bullying and other domineering behaviors within-groups.” Now write up some comments and let us know where we got it all wrong.

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