Thursday, August 24, 2006

Natural Menopause Cures Don't Cure

Australian Doctor of 4th August 2006 reports on "Natural menopausal therapies blasted".

Evidence supporting the use of complementary medicine to relieve menopausal symptoms is lacking, with a systematic review finding many beneficial treatment effects were attributable to placebo. The review of 70 studies examined the effect of protein, vitamin, diet and biological treatments, as well as various body therapies, on relief of menopause symptoms and concluded the quality of evidence supporting the treatments was lacking. [...] Leading gynaecological endocrinologist Dr Susan Davis said women were being misled by claims that nutritional supplements relieved menopausal symptoms. Professor Davis, director of the women's health program at the Alfred Hospital in Victoria, said the Therapeutic Goods Administration should review claims about many of the products. [...] "These products are a licence to make money on flimsy evidence and it's not fair because the community is misled," she said.

Is anyone suprised at these findings? It seems the whole of alternative medicine is based on little or no evidence, an over reliance on poor or minimal studies, and a heavy dependence on the placebo effect. Of the menopausal therapies studied, black cohosh showed some effect in improving vasomotor symptoms (in one study, three others found no effect). Therapies such as mind-body, energy, manipulative and Chinese or Ayurvedic medicine "showed little benefit". Other, presumably, than the benefit to the practitioners' income streams.

Regardless of the fact that one study found soy users increased their risk of endometrial hyperplasia, and users of black cohosh is associated with liver toxicity, the alties see no conceivable harm in their treatments.

Sydney Menopause Centre director Associate Professor John Eden said herbal treatments were safer than drugs and should not have to face the same testing.

Far be it from an old stuffed donkey to naysay an Associate Professor, but herbal treatments are drugs. But it's so much easier when you know the result a priori (ie "herbs are safe"). Obviously, you don't need to do the testing under those presumptions. Professor Eden also bemoans the cost of running studies, claiming

"Only the pharmaceutical industry can afford to spend that sort of money."

Strangely, elsewhere in the same issue it is claimed that fish oil supplements alone are worth $40 million a year (and fish oil use is also based on incomplete studies). The rest of altie medicine is a multimillion dollar enterprise.

And the issue also includes a report on a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner in New South Wales who was fined $12,000 for her traditional treatment of a woman's haemorrhoids (she tied silk "soaked in a traditional Chinese preparation" around the haemorrhoid, reassuring her hapless victim that it would drop off in about five days - when the tissue turned necrotic the woman spent 10 days in hospital). So much for "traditional", "gentle", "noninvasive", "safe", and "effective" being synonyms in the altie dictionary. Though at least they saved space by removing the words "gullible" and "study" from the dictionary.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, I watched mike on denton too. I was waiting for denton to say that he is an atheist, but he is basically a little too polite to do so. He did say that on one of his shows when he was interviewing a few members "of the cloth". And I have loved him ever since for it.

    Mike's reasons for believing he was having a premonition are no different from thousands of other peoples.

    Many people are nervous fliers. When they get on a plane they think about what will happen if it crashes, the fear, the terror, how they will cope, what if there is a god? etc etc.

    The interesting thing is that 99% of the time the plane never crashes even though the fear and anxiety has been present everytime the person has flown.

    If, on the other hand, the plane DOES crash, this fear and anxiety of flying, (which has always been present at some level), becomes "evidence of a premonition."

    The mind tries to recreate after the event, a logical or plausible reason for the fear. Basically I I think this is what mike has done. It is post hoc revisionism.

    Looking back, the person says " I was really scared for a reason and the reason must have been that I knew that the plane would crash."

    So, the anxiety is revised to "I had a premonition of disaster." Or I had knowledge before the event.

    Rather than, what they would have had if the plane hadn't crashed, which was FEAR of a possible life threatening event.

    The act of "giving themselves and their life over to god" is an act of desperation and fear based on the emotionally mind-numbing realisation that a plane dropping out of the sky is not good for soft squishy organisms.

    The scenario :

    You are in a plane which is flying like a brick doesn't.

    All your anxiety and fear associated with mortality are staring you straight in the face.

    You are physically helpless to alter the course of events rushing past your window at high speed.

    In an act of desperation and fear (quite natural I think considering most people's dislike of dying), you promise to give your life to the god of your childhood indoctrination.

    (Sounds fair, I mean he is unlikely to give his life to Allah or Shiva as most people in times of stress revert back to their cultural /religious memes.)

    That is, they revert or appeal to something with which they have familiarity and cultural empathy.

    Because the person survives, this is taken by them as evidence that not only does god exist, but it is the god of their cultural childhood which exists.

    Whereas, it may have just been that it was NEVER going to be a fatal crash in the first place.

    People who claim, like mike is, that he was saved by god and that he also saved his friend because of his combined appeal to god for both of them, come out the experience feeling powerful.

    They believe they have made a successful appeal to a powerful being and that the powerful being decided to smile upon them.

    Interestingly, there is nearly always a justification for why god didn't spare everyone, or for why some people had their legs broken or whatever horrendous things happen during an accident of this kind.

    They don't quite get around to asking "Well why didn't god save EVERYONE?" And if they do ask it, they concoct a plethora of reasons for god as to why Billy Jo's legs had to be amputated after the plane crashed. Maybe god was upset about the way she ate her cereal or something... Who knows..

    I understand why people do this. By such beliefs and actions, they can reinvent their lives and feel confident that they are living with purpose.

    Perhaps this is the way some people can find purpose and meaning, where purpose and meaning was lacking before.

    Afterall, religion and god belief has always been popular for those very reasons.

    This of course is regardless of the fact that I think they are finding purpose and meaning by unknowingly deceiving themselves.


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