Medicine






Shirley S. Wang reports on the increasing clinical use of placebos for the Wall Street Journal: Say “placebo effect” and most people think of the boost they may get from a sugar…



PrayerTrine Tsouderos reports in the Chicago Tribune:

Thanks to a $374,000 taxpayer-funded grant, we now know that inhaling lemon and lavender scents doesn’t do a lot for our ability to heal a wound. With $666,000 in federal research money, scientists examined whether distant prayer could heal AIDS. It could not.

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine also helped pay scientists to study whether squirting brewed coffee into someone’s intestines can help treat pancreatic cancer (a $406,000 grant) and whether massage makes people with advanced cancer feel better ($1.25 million). The coffee enemas did not help. The massage did.

NCCAM also has invested in studies of various forms of energy healing, including one based on the ideas of a self-described “healer, clairvoyant and medicine woman” who says her children inspired her to learn to read auras. The cost for that was $104,000.


The left/right paradigm is coming to a quicker end than I thought. Robert Schiller writes at Al Jazeera: Economics is at the start of a revolution that is traceable to an unexpected source:…



Chicken Pox PartyRight, because you’re “afraid” of vaccines, let’s deliberately put pathogens in the mail. Reports KPHO CBS 5 News:

PHOENIX — Doctors and medical experts are concerned about a new trend taking place on Facebook.

Parents are trading live viruses through the mail in order to infect their children. The Facebook group is called “Find a Pox Party in Your Area.” According to the group’s page, it is geared toward “parents who want their children to obtain natural immunity for the chicken pox.”

On the page, parents post where they live and ask if anyone with a child who has the chicken pox would be willing to send saliva, infected lollipops or clothing through the mail. Parents also use the page to set up play dates with children who currently have chicken pox. Medical experts say the most troubling part of this is parents are taking pathogens from complete strangers and deliberately infecting their children.


Via NPR:

It was just over two centuries ago that the global population was 1 billion — in 1804. But better medicine and improved agriculture resulted in higher life expectancy for children, dramatically increasing the world population, especially in the West. U.N. forecasts suggest the world population could hit a peak of 10.1 billion by 2100 before beginning to decline. But exact numbers are hard to come by — just small variations in fertility rates could mean a population of 15 billion by the end of the century.







PenicillinThe good ol’ days of penicillin …. Michelle Roberts reports for BBC News:

UK doctors are being told the antibiotic normally used to treat gonorrhoea is no longer effective because the sexually transmitted disease is now largely resistant to it. The Health Protection Agency says we may be heading to a point when the disease is incurable unless new treatments can be found.

For now, doctors must stop using the usual treatment cefixime and instead use two more powerful antibiotics. One is a pill and the other a jab.

The HPA say the change is necessary because of increasing resistance. Tests on samples taken from patients and grown in the laboratory showed reduced susceptibility to the usual antibiotic cefixime in nearly 20% of cases in 2010, compared with just 10% of cases in 2009.


[disinfo ed.’s note: the following is an excerpt from The Protein Myth: Significantly reducing the Risk of Cancer, Heart Disease, Stoke and Diabetes while Saving the Animals and the Planet courtesy of…



Olivia Solon writes on Wired: Japanese researchers have developed a chemical agent that turns biological tissue transparent, allowing for vivid imaging of neurons and blood vessels deep inside mouse brains. The aqueous reagent —…


Scientists at the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University are creating headway in being able to grow human organs in laboratories. If you need a new liver or finger, it may soon be as easy as pressing print. Via Reuters: