Skip to content
Home » Cochrane Collaboration » Page 5

Cochrane Collaboration

Antioxidant supplements–hype doesn’t match reality

I’ve never been a fan of vitamin supplements.  Aside from a very few supplements intended for a few specific clinical conditions, like vitamin C and scurvy, they have little use in preventing or treating diseases.  In fact, because mammalian physiology has evolved a homeostasis for these chemicals, any excess amount that can’t be stored is cleared by the kidneys and becomes part of your urine.  I’m willing to venture that the urine of many Americans is quite expensive, with all of the cleared vitamins and other micronutrients.  A balanced diet over several weeks is sufficient to provide the body with all of the nutrients and vitamins to be healthy and strong.  In fact, you are not even required to have all vitamins and nutrients every day, as storage of a few nutrients will be released as necessary, and clinical manifestations of nutrient deficiency may take weeks or months.  

Read More »Antioxidant supplements–hype doesn’t match reality

iPhone and iPad Apps–skepticism and atheism (update 1)

When I write about skepticism, sitting at my trusty MacBook Pro, I have access to every source and bit of information that is required to write about evolution, vaccines, global warming, and the existence of sasquatch.  If I need to dig up a link to an article that debunks some silly anti-vaccination lunatic’s claim, it’s easy to do.  However, since people make pseudoscientific claims all the time, it’s always good to have access to information right at the tip of your fingers.  Of course, it’s relatively easy to put your question in google, in the hope of getting a good answer.  Then again, you have to weed through the 100 hits that might actually support the bogus claim.Read More »iPhone and iPad Apps–skepticism and atheism (update 1)

Skeptics guide to skeptical iPhone apps

When I write about skepticism, sitting at my trusty MacBook Pro, I have access to every source and bit of information that is required to write about evolution, vaccines, global warming, and the existence of sasquatch.  If I need to dig up a link to an article that debunks some silly anti-vaccination lunatic’s claim, it’s easy to do.  However, since people make pseudoscientific claims all the time, it’s always good to have access to information right at the tip of your fingers.  Of course, it’s relatively easy to put your question in google, in the hope of getting a good answer.  Then again, you have to weed through the 100 hits that might actually support the bogus claim.Read More »Skeptics guide to skeptical iPhone apps

Preventing and treating the common cold

It’s cold season, so everyone tries various lotions and potions to either prevent the common cold or, at least, to reduce the course of the disease.  Alternative medicine’s favorite disease to treat is the common cold, mainly because it’s an easy disease with not too many consequences.  Also, it’s very subjective, since the patient has a difficult time making an accurate determination of the length and severity of the attack.  Confirmation bias is usually the reason one hears that something works for the cold.  They forget all the times it doesn’t.  Or completely misjudge the actual effects of any treatment.Read More »Preventing and treating the common cold

The importance of Cochrane Reviews to evidence based medicine

Cochrane Collaboration Copyrighted from the Cochrane Collaboration

The Cochrane Collaboration is a critically important source in evidence-based medicine, and a useful tool in providing analytical evidence that can debunk pseudoscientific beliefs. Cochrane’s goal is to organize research data and publications in an logical way that helps physicians and researchers make appropriate decisions about a proposed new therapy, medication or clinical idea. Cochrane Reviews are:

…are systematic reviews of primary research in human health care and health policy, and are internationally recognised as the highest standard in evidence-based health care. They investigate the effects of interventions for prevention, treatment and rehabilitation. They also assess the accuracy of a diagnostic test for a given condition in a specific patient group and setting.

Each systematic review addresses a clearly formulated question; for example: Can antibiotics help in alleviating the symptoms of a sore throat? All the existing primary research on a topic that meets certain criteria is searched for and collated, and then assessed using stringent guidelines, to establish whether or not there is conclusive evidence about a specific treatment. The reviews are updated regularly, ensuring that treatment decisions can be based on the most up-to-date and reliable evidence.Read More »The importance of Cochrane Reviews to evidence based medicine

How the placebo effect proves nothing and means nothing

Recently, there has been a large uptick in interest about the so-called placebo effect, mostly from the complementary and alternative junk medicine (CAM) crowd.  Evidently, they feel that being equivalent to doing nothing is good enough to be real.  A recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Why Placebos Work Wonders, is indicative of this recent pro-placebo point-of-view.  I’ve got other bones to pick with WSJ on global warming, but I’ll save that for another day.

What exactly is the placebo effect?  The definition is often misused, implying some beneficial effect from a sugar pill or sham treatment.  But in medicine, a placebo is actually a failure.  If a new pharmaceutical, procedure or medical device shows no difference in efficacy compared to a placebo, then it is rejected.  But the CAM-pushing herd thinks that proves its a success when one of its potions and lotions is equivalent to a placebo.  What?  A failure of a modality in evidence-based medicine is somehow converted into a successful product in the CAM world?Read More »How the placebo effect proves nothing and means nothing