Medescape

Skepticism, Medicine and Science News

Back From The Dead

Ok, so it has been a while since I last posted, but there was the Christmas holiday, and the beginning of a new term etc. But never mind that, the important thing is that the blog is back! Or rather, I’m back! 

Since I last posted there has been some cool news items, so I thought I should start this years blogging by bringing up a few of them.

Well, first of all, the voting for this years Weblog Awards just closed, and I am appalled by who won in the science category. There were some great nominees there, like Bad Astronomy, Pharyngula and Neurologica. These are all fantastic science blogs, but do you think any of them won? Oh no, the winner this year was this horrible, horrible global warming denial blog. That is just sad… 

Just today I read about a cool study in the Journal of Proteome Research. Some scientists in Italy have found abnormal proteins in the saliva of autistic patients, and the hope is that this will eventually give us some clue about the pathological biochemical processes of autism. Also, it could potentially be used as a biomarker in saliva-based autism tests. 

Now, this next one is a sad story, but it is a good example of why evidence-based medicine really should be the only kind of medicine. Russel Jenkins is, or rather was, a healer in Australia. One day, he stepped on an electrical plug in his house, and the small resulting wound later became infected. Even worse, the infection then turned gangrenous. Gangrene is a horrible condition of necrosis of body tissue. It looks really bad, and smells even worse. Instead of seeking medical help, Russel, being a healer, decided he would treat his condition by applying honey to the affected area. Naturally, this did not work out so well, and he later died from the gangrenous infection. 

This is of course an extremely sad story, but I think it is important to emphasize the importance of evidence-based medicine. I really don’t care much for the term Complementary and Alternative Modalities (CAM), because then it sounds like it is a scientific alternative to conventional medicine, which it isn’t. I can not stress this fact enough, that alternative medicine really is just a collection of inadequately tested and unproven drugs. And calling it complementary? A lot of people fail to tell their doctors that they are using these alternative remedies, and a result of that could be that they interfere with their conventional treatments. Because, as I said, they are drugs. Calling them natural is just a sales pitch. 

Ok, so the first post of 2009 turned out to be somewhat of a downer. But the next one will be positive! Promise.

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January 13, 2009 Posted by | General Science, General Skepticism, Medicine | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fine Polish

Scientists have developed a new method of protecting teeth from bacterial attacks. By using technology from the semiconductor industry, Igor Sokolov  and hh from the Clarkson University Center for Advanced Materials Processing used  silica nanoparticles to polish teeth down to nanoscale roughness. When polished this finely, the bacteria had difficulties sticking to the dental enamel, and could thus be removed fairly easily. Polishing teeth is in itself not new, but no one has thought to use nanoparticles to do it before Sokolov and Gaikwad.  The study was published in the Journal of Dental Research

To the left, the unpolished surface of a tooth. To the right, the surface of a tooth after nanoparticle polishing. 

December 22, 2008 Posted by | Medicine | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Perception of Pain

A recent study shows that pain hurts more of the person hurting you really means it (or rather, if the person being hurt believes the person really means it). The study was led by Kurt Gray along with Daniel Wegner, and published in Psychological Science

In the study, they paired up 48 participants with a partner who could either choose to give the other an electric shock or just play a audible tone for them. In the first set-up, the subjects received a shock when their partner chose this option (and to eliminate the factor of surprise, they were told in advance which option the partner picked). In the second set-up, the subjects were given a shock when the partner chose the tone, and vice versa. The resulting data showed that the subjects rated the pain from the intentional shocks significantly higher then that of the unintentional ones. This suggests that the perception of pain is closely tied with emotion, and that the latter can influence the first.

December 21, 2008 Posted by | General Science, Medicine, Psychology | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thinking Clearly

A new study published by researchers at North Carolina State University shows a correlation between high blood pressure and decreased cognitive abilities in seniors. This could indicate that stressful situations may make it more difficult for seniors to think clearly. In the study, the researchers looked at persons with a systolic blood pressure of >130 mmHg. When their blood pressure spiked, it was accompanied by a decrease in cognitive function. The study was published in the Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences.

December 17, 2008 Posted by | Medicine | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

15-Minute Diagnosis

Scientists have developed a method for diagnosing certain diseases similar to that of a pregnancy test.

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October 2, 2008 Posted by | Medicine | , , , , | Leave a comment

Carbon Nanotubes – What can’t they do?

Okey, so I’m not really going to write about what they can’t do. Instead, I’ll list some of the many possible applications of them, ranging from creating structural fibres to novel drug-delivery systems. 

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October 1, 2008 Posted by | Other | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment