"Evidence-based medicine" and the expulsion of Peter Gtzsche – Salon

For eight months in 1975, Peter Gtzsche recalls driving around Denmark misleading doctors about a new, more expensive type of penicillin. He was 25 years old, with masters degrees in biology and chemistry. As a pharmaceutical representative for the Sweden-based Astra Group, he was tasked with promoting Globacillin, which was said to be more effective than regular penicillin. At the time, Gtzsche says he did not know that the claims he was making on behalf of his employer were not backed by high-quality evidence.

Gtzsche stayed in the pharmaceutical industry for another eight years, writing brochures, strategizing ad campaigns, and, eventually, presiding over clinical trials. It was here that disillusionment set in. Gtzsche in his telling, still a principled naf would watch with dismay as his superiors twisted or suppressed any unflattering trial results. Increasingly distraught, Gtzsche began pursuing a medical degree, leaving the industry for good in 1983.

His medical thesis, titled Bias in Double-Blind Trials, examined the claims of 244 reports of clinical trials for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, a group that includes ibuprofen and aspirin. Gtzsches writing strongly critiqued the marketing practices of his former employer, Astra-Syntex, pointing out that no good evidence existed for their claim that the higher the dose, the better the effect.

That thesis was read by an Oxford researcher and physician named Iain Chalmers. It confirmed his impression, Chalmers wrote to Gtzsche in 1990, that Gtzsche was doing extremely important research. Chalmers, founding director of Oxfords National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit, had spent much of the preceding decade hand-searching dozens of journals for studies relevant to care during pregnancy and childbirth. His idea was to collect these papers and compile them into reports so that doctors pressed for time would have authoritative, quickly-scannable syntheses of the best available data. In 1993, Chalmers sent an invitational letter to dozens of people, including Gtzsche, to help found a not-for-profit organization dedicated to gathering and summarizing the strongest available evidence across virtually every field of medicine, with the aim of allowing clinicians to make informed choices about treatment.

They called it the Cochrane Collaboration, after Archie Cochrane, a Scottish epidemiologist and one of the earliest and most prominent advocates for randomized controlled trials, the gold standard of clinical research. Cochrane today has 11,000 members with supporters in 130 countries, and many of the groups most high-profile findings that the placebo effect might be a myth; that mammography likely doesnt decrease breast cancer mortality, and turns healthy women into cancer patients via false or ambiguous findings emerged from Gtzsches research.

Gtzsche became the closest thing the world of statistical analysis had to a full-fledged celebrity. His findings were trumpeted, repeatedly, in The New York Times, with his mammography findings even making the front page in 2001. He became the subject of a documentary and was featured in at least one other. The Daily Show once had him play a kind of Big Pharma Deep Throat in a segment on the opioid crisis. Viewed by many as a relentless fighter who has accused entire disciplines of nigh-irredeemable corruption, Gtzsche's crusades earned him the respect of powerful peers and a loyal following of layperson-skeptics around the world.

So it came as a surprise, at least to outsiders, when Gtzsche was summarily expelled in fall of last year from the organization he helped found. He was voted off the board, then stripped of his position as director of the Nordic Cochrane Center, Cochranes Danish outpost. The stated reason for his termination was, according to a statement from Cochranes governing board, an ongoing, consistent pattern of disruptive and inappropriate behaviors, along with a breach of the organizations spokesperson policy, which requires collaborators to clearly identify whether theyre speaking on behalf of themselves or of Cochrane.

The seeming suddenness of his expulsion, and what critics view as its misguided pretext, has exposed rifts that go back decades: debates about the pharmaceutical industrys influence on medicine and about the research communitys tolerance of dissent. More fundamentally, Gtzsches expulsion has crystalized a longstanding debate about the proper role of data in the practice of medicine.

Whatever their differences, Cochrane and Gtzsche are both vocal supporters of evidence-based medicine, a movement that developed nearly 30 years ago to emphasize the use of well-designed research in medical decision-making. The problem is that neither side, nor really anyone, can agree on exactly what evidence-based medicine ought to mean. Some critics have characterized Gtzsche as a rigid intellectual who views assessing scientific data as a purely technical task that does not require the input of experts in a given field. Gtzsche calls such characterizations unfair, arguing that he simply advocates as everyone at Cochrane should for the use of rigorous methodology and the elimination of bias in assessing the efficacy of treatments. And while the organization has built its reputation on providing trusted evidence, Gtzsche now criticizes its methods, accusing Cochrane of bending to industry influence and overlooking important documentation of harms.

Cochranes reliance on published [randomized controlled trials], Gtzsche wrote in an email to Undark, makes Cochrane a servant to industry, which passively promotes what industry wants Cochrane to promote: messages that are very often untrue.

No one from Cochrane's leadership agreed to speak with Undark about the Gtzsche dust-up, or to respond to such charges, but in the organization's statement accompanying his ouster, they made their position clear: "Cochrane is a collaboration," the board declared, "an organization founded on shared values and an ability to work effectively, considerately, and collaboratively."

Gtzsche, they suggested, didn't seem to understand that.

* * *

In 1992, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a paper titled Evidence-Based Medicine: A New Approach to Teaching the Practice of Medicine. With more than 30 co-authors, it advocated a new paradigm for medical practice, deemphasizing intuitional and clinical experience in favor of the latest research data. We believed that the way we were practicing medicine was different from how it had been practiced before, the paper's lead author, Gordon Guyatt recalled, fundamentally different."

The paper had its origins at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, where David Sackett, an American-Canadian epidemiologist, had been arguing that doctors should be able to make sense of the literature and apply it to their practice. Among other things, this meant studying randomized controlled trials to determine whether an intervention really works.

In a randomized controlled trial, the participants are divided into two or more groups. One group gets the intervention a drug, for example and the others get a placebo, a varied dose of the drug, or some other form of treatment. By the 1970s, these trials were a standard component of drug approval. Still, even in the early 1990s, the results had a more modest influence on clinical practice than they do today. According to Guyatt, doctors did not typically keep up with the literature, and drugs were dispensed according to the guidance of local opinion leaders or influence from pharmaceutical representatives. The idea behind evidence-based medicine, then, was for clinicians to consult the literature before making a decision.

Chalmers had been a visiting professor at McMaster in the late 1980s. As the McMaster crew refined and exported their theories, Chalmers began building his own movement, distinct from but parallel to evidence-based medicine, and with significant overlap in ideology and personnel. Its roots lay in the Gaza Strip, where Chalmers had worked as a United Nations doctor in 1969 and 1970. I believe I would have done a better job, and that fewer of my patients would have suffered, if Id had access to a good source of reliable evidence for research, Chalmers said.

The Cochrane Collaboration was meant to rectify this problem by way of something called a systematic review: all the best randomized controlled trial data on a given treatment, sifted and synthesized into one readable report. "Basically, it was a bunch of troublemaking anarchists who wanted to do something which the establishment was not doing," Chalmers said. A skilled evangelizer ("In those days, to meet Iain Chalmers was to get hooked to his cause," said Jos Kleijnen, founding director of the Dutch Cochrane Center), Chalmers had no trouble assembling a global network of like-minded colleagues for his first symposium Gtzsche among them.

The Cochrane Collaboration was an extraordinarily powerful threat against authority, Sackett told the researcher and author Alan Cassels in his 2015 book on Cochrane. Individuals who had reputations based upon this is the way this disorder must be treated obviously were terribly threatened by what was going to happen with these young upstarts, and kids, and punks, and even laypeople challenging them about what they said must occur in terms of health care.

In an interview, Peter Gtzsche expresses his views on the criminality of pharmaceutical companies.

The backlash, then, was not surprising. And yet, by the end of the 1990s, the Cochrane Collaboration had attained more or less its present-day esteem, and evidence-based medicine was installed as the dominant paradigm of Western medical practice, a position from which it is has not budged in 20 years. The Collaboration's efforts were embraced by nurses and younger doctors, who for the first time had a means of challenging the decisions of their elders what proponents sneeringly called eminence-based medicine.

Cochrane, which began as an almost whimsical experiment among a group of like-minded colleagues an effort, according to Hilda Bastian, one of its founding members, to work out something like the total sum of human knowledge has morphed, in the course of a quarter-century, into one of the worlds most prestigious medical research bodies, with outposts in dozens of countries and yearly outlays exceeding $1 million apiece from the U.S., U.K., and Australian governments, plus large donations from groups like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which gave Cochrane $1.15 million in 2016.

Cochranes total income last year was roughly $13 million, most of it from royalties on its enormous library of systematic reviews, generated by Cochranes global network of research centers and licensed to universities and hospitals around the world. Historically, these research centers have been more or less autonomous, free to pursue their own projects under the Cochrane banner while Cochranes main office in London lobbied for and distributed funding.

In recent years, though, Cochranes leadership has adopted a more hands-on approach, attempting to centralize the efforts of its far-flung franchises. In November of 2018, 620 disillusioned Cochranites formed Cochrane Members for Change, to protest what one member, Robert Wolff, described in a blog post as a mismatch between these two approaches, a grassroots science-focused collaboration on the one hand, and a top-down more business-oriented organization on the other. Among this group, Gtzsches termination was interpreted as a troubling symbol of the new business-oriented direction.

Gtzsche said that Cochrane was founded on the best of human motives honesty, generosity, fairness, transparency, openness. He believes his expulsion will dog the organization for years to come. It was a fundamental error they made, he said.

* * *

In person, Gtzsche can be a warm, appealing, gently ironic presence. At 70, he is tall and thin, with a faint dusting of gray hair. Both his eyebrows arch skeptically in the same direction. He delights in bad jokes irretrievably bad jokes, Chalmers said. Not rude or anything like that; theyre just not funny. He can be famously good company, and it is not hard to see why so many of the people he has mentored and worked with remain loyal to him. I just remember [Peter] as one of the most sincere scientists that I have ever met, said Kleijnen, the Dutch Cochrane Center founding director.

But when it comes to his books and public persona, he also has a famously take-no-prisoners approach. I dig so deeply in my research, Gtzsche said, that I find the skeletons people have buried down there. And when I put them up on the ground people yell and scream, and call me all sorts of names, because they didn't think anybody would ever find the skeletons.

It started with Gtzsche's 2012 book on mammography, a recap of the research and controversies attendant to his decade-plus campaign against breast cancer screening. Gtzsche's view was, and still is, controversial. His public profile rose a year later with his next book, "Deadly Medicines and Organized Crime. It excoriated the pharmaceutical industry, likening its tactics (bribes, kickbacks, serial fraud) to those of the mob.

Gtzsche's next crusade had markedly less currency, and planted him, in the eyes of some, on the outer edges of the fringe. Released in 2015, the book was called Deadly Psychiatry and Organized Denial. Its argument, more or less, is that much about the way psychiatry is practiced is wrong; that the specialty is built on myths, lies and highly flawed research; that the majority of practicing psychiatrists are, actively or through ignorance, deceiving and harming their patients, given Gtzsche's finding that prescription pills are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. and Europe; and that these same psychiatrists might have noticed some of this were they not helplessly compromised by industry money.

The main reason for the drug disaster he writes, is that leading psychiatrists have allowed the drug industry to corrupt their academic discipline and themselves. Gtzsche then goes on to compare the leaders in the field to primate silverbacks in the jungle and claims that psychiatric research is predominantly pseudoscience.

The psychiatric community had some quibbles with this. Cochrane did, too. When Gtzsche published a summary of his findings in the Daily Mail, Cochranes leadership took the unusual step of publicly distancing themselves through a statement on Cochranes website. In addition to stating unequivocally that the organization did not share Gtzsches views, it publicly chastised the Danish professor: He has an obligation . . . to distinguish sufficiently in public between his own research and that of Cochrane the organization to which he belongs.

This infuriated Gtzsche, and the encounter seems to mark the point of no return in his relations with Cochrane management. In the years since, Gtzsche, who has no special training in psychiatry, has become a fixture on the antipsychiatry circuit, criticizing the discipline in editorials, in presentations, and at various symposia about withdrawing from psychiatric medications. (He has since claimed that almost all Cochrane reviews on psychiatric drugs should not be trusted.) Up until his expulsion, Gtzsche listed his title in these outreach activities as director of the Nordic Cochrane Center, leading multiple parties to complain to Cochrane itself.

One of these complainants, Fuller Torrey, a researcher at the Stanley Medical Research Institute, a nonprofit that funds work on schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, shared his correspondence with Cochranes chief executive. Torrey wrote to call attention to Gtzsches association with an organization called the Hearing Voices Network, which, Torrey claims, promotes the belief that auditory hallucinations are merely on end of a normal behavior spectrum. Echoing other complaints, he added in a follow-up letter: It is very difficult to imagine how anyone with these views could possibly be objective regarding a Cochrane study of antipsychotics, thus impugning your credibility which is your most important asset.

In other words, Torrey seemed to be asking: Is this what Cochrane represents?

Gtzsche and his defenders argue that Cochrane is not meant to represent anything that Cochrane, as initially conceived, is simply a loose network of independent researchers, who will inevitably hold a range of opinions. But the organization Gtzsche was forced out of in September of last year was different in crucial respects from the one hed joined a quarter-century earlier. For one thing, it was no longer called the Cochrane Collaboration. It dropped the latter word in 2015, as part of a broader rebranding effort, and is now known simply as Cochrane.

In 2012, the organization hired Mark Wilson to serve as its CEO. Wilson, who does not have a science background, had spent more than a decade working in operations and development for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. In the view of Cochrane's latter-day detractors, Wilson is the driving force behind the organization's abandonment of its early, idealistic principles. According to them, he has corrupted the legitimacy of Cochranes systematic reviews by kowtowing to pharmaceutical companies and taking a relaxed stance towards conflict-of-interest issues. Former colleagues also describe Wilson as someone who uses business-speak as a weapon, rapidly jargon-ing subordinates into submission. You can't get a word in edge-wise, said Kay Dickersin, another founding Cochrane member and, until it closed last year, the director of the U.S. Cochrane Center.

For his part, Wilson did not respond to multiple interview requests sent by email. Similarly, other members of Cochrane declined to be interviewed. Having spoken with my colleagues, Cochrane spokeswoman Jo Anthony wrote in an email, I understand, at this time, none of them wish to follow up on your polite request and are happy for me to send you this note on their behalf.

Wilson has been praised for plotting a stable financial future for Cochrane, and for effectively consolidating an unruly, globe-spanning collective of scientists. Even Hilda Bastian one of Cochranes founding members, who parted ways with the organization over the boards refusal to remove the paywall from the Cochrane Library noted that Wilson is politically astute. Cochrane is lucky Mark Wilson hasn't abandoned them, turned on them, she added.

Cochrane started out as a movement, said Nick Royle, Wilsons predecessor as CEO. Over time, it became more business-like, and some of those early adopters perhaps didnt fit so well into the later framework. Thats just the normal evolution of an organization. Thats just how these things are.

Gtzsche has little patience for the new status quo. During a visit this past March, he was highly energized, particularly when discussing what he sees as Wilson's venality, power-lust, and imaginative bankruptcy. When he isn't denigrating Wilson, Gtzsche seems to impute to him an omnipotence somewhat disproportionate to his role as chief executive. In Death of a Whistleblower and Cochranes Moral Collapse, Gtzsche's book-length account of his Cochrane ordeal, Wilsons regime is compared to those of Voldemort, Big Brother, and Stalin. He is so powerful that he controls the whole governing board," Gtzsche told me. "He controls everything.

Disagreements over the direction of the organization came to a head last September. Ahead of its 25th annual colloquium, held at Edinburghs International Conference Center, governing board members voted to expel Gtzsche from the organization he had helped turn into a global force. The reason for the expulsion, as related later that month to STAT and Retraction Watch: Gtzsche had, among other things, used Cochrane letterhead on non-Cochrane-related business, in such a way as to potentially violate the organization's spokesperson policy.

(An independent legal team hired to review the dispute had not concluded prior to the expulsion that Cochranes policy warranted sanction.)

On September 16, the BMJ published a blog post by a researcher who worked with Gtzsche titled Cochrane a sinking ship? That evening, in Science: "Evidence-based Medicine Group in Turmoil After Expulsion of Co-founder." And a news article in Nature the next day: "Mass Resignation Guts Board of Prestigious Cochrane Collaboration." Similar articles were popping up in Italy, Colombia, and Sweden.

Near the end of the conference's second day, attendees took their seats for the Annual General Meeting in the conference hall's 1,200-capacity Pentland Suite. About 30 minutes in, the governing board's co-chair, Martin Burton, took the stage. (The meeting was recorded and posted on YouTube.) Gtzsche recounts in Death of a Whistleblower that before the meeting, he and David Hammerstein a fellow board member whod resigned upon Gtzsches expulsion had gathered signatures for a vote of no confidence in the present board, and the establishment of a new one right there in the conference hall. At Gtzsches signal, two of his colleagues were to stand and set the process in motion.

Gtzsche lifted himself from his seat and signaled to his colleagues across the room. But the colleagues stayed seated. (Neither would comment for this article, but in his book on the expulsion, Gtzsche suggests that at least one, Karsten Juhl Jrgensen, was worried about Wilson taking retributive action.)

No coup materialized. About a week later, Gtzsche was formally booted from the board. About a month after that, he was summarily fired from his job as the director of the Nordic Cochrane Center.

* * *

The Cochrane/Gtzsche split has by now been made to bear the weight of a number of disparate narratives by the journals and the medical press. One popular narrative posits Gtzsche as a truth-seeking maverick the spirit of evidence-based medicine incarnate going up against the creeping commercialism and bias-tolerance of mainstream science. Peter is willing to take positions that are sometimes very unpopular and probably create a lot of anxiety and even enmity in some circles," said John Ioannidis, a Stanford professor and prominent supporter of evidence-based medicine. We need people who are willing to take unpopular positions and provide the data.

Another narrative describes Gtzsche as a practitioner of an older, perhaps outmoded model of evidence-based medicine in which reviewing study data is viewed as a narrow task as, essentially, math which has since been superseded by the more open, pluralistic version supposedly taken up by Cochrane since Wilsons hiring.

Both views were recently unpacked in a 2019 paper published in the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice. The papers corresponding author, University of Oxford professor Trish Greenhalgh, has in recent years emerged as one of the most prominent internal critics of the direction the evidence-based medicine movement has taken since its inception. In the 2019 paper, she takes particular issue with how the movement prioritizes clinical trial data over and above a physicians intuition or knowledge.

(Greenhalgh said she could not comment for this article, citing the possibility of a legal challenge to her piece from Gtzsche. Gtzsche, in a private, 11-page rebuttal he sent to Greenhalgh, which he shared with Undark, claims that the article is libelous and riddled with biases, errors and inexcusable oversights.)

Evidence-based medicines detractors further point out that its very name makes it difficult to criticize. How do you argue against evidence-based medicine? asked Mark Tonelli, a professor of medicine at the University of Washington. One way would be to destabilize the very concept of evidence.

Randomized controlled trials, which are typically conducted by scientists who dont practice medicine, and often funded by people who want to sell drugs, are not designed with the patient in mind. For one thing, as Tonelli pointed out, these trials tend to weed out patients with more than one illness, meaning these drugs are being tested on people who bear little resemblance to huge swaths of the patient population. (What elderly diabetic patient doesnt have comorbidities? asked Tonelli.) And as Greenhalgh pointed out in a 2014 paper titled "Evidence-Based Medicine: A Movement in Crisis?" which set off a fervent round of soul searching in the evidence-based medicine community the results of randomized controlled trials may be statistically but not clinically significant.

More importantly, according to these same critics, in elevating randomized controlled trials, the evidence-based medicine movement has consciously demoted all other forms of knowledge: observational studies, clinical experience, and the unique, un-averageable needs of the patient on the other side of the doctors desk. Greenhalgh suggests, in her Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice paper, that this has lately begun to change, citing an epistemic crisis in the movement. Gtzsche, she argues, is trying to resist the epistemic forces that are redefining his world.

The implication is that in sacrificing Gtzsche, Cochrane is taking a step towards a reformed, less aggressively doctrinal evidence-based medicine. The problem, from what Gtzsche has argued, is that he agrees with much of what Tonelli and Greenhalgh have to say. Rather than relying solely on randomized controlled trials, he says, observational studies and case reports can be very important for finding harms.

In any case, exactly how dismissing Gtzsche would lead to any real change in Cochrane is unclear, as is any specific way in which this epistemic crisis has led to tangible changes for the better. According to Tonelli, these concerns have not trickled down to clinical practice. For people like Greenhalgh in particular, theres a feeling that this can be solved, he said. For me, its more of a true epistemic limitation and the only way to get past it is to acknowledge the severe limitations of clinical research for practice and then re-broaden our approach to how we view medical knowledge. Despite being primarily targeted at patients, the conclusions of "Deadly Psychiatry" might provide one example of an evidence-based medicine troublingly abstracted from real peoples needs.

David Healy, a psychiatrist, prominent psychiatry critic, and sympathetic ally of Gtzsche's, pointed out that if youre not constrained by the need to actually treat people and dont see that medications can be helpful, then its easy to drift into thinking it would be best if we didnt have them. And I think Peter has toppled a little bit too much over that way."

* * *

This past March, Gtzsche launched an organization called the Institute for Scientific Freedom, which aims to preserve honesty and integrity in science. It was part of Gtzsche's campaign to avenge himself for the perceived wrongs visited upon him by Cochrane, and to further the work he once did at the Nordic Cochrane Center. (The article he wrote to announce the institute, published on the psychiatry-skeptic website Mad in America, contained 12 paragraphs on his expulsion from Cochrane and on Cochranes perceived moral rot, and roughly one sentence on what the institute would actually consist of.)

Gtzsche's home, 20 to 30 minutes by car from the center of Copenhagen, hummed with activity on the afternoon before the institute's opening symposium, which was to be held the following day. Among those milling about the kitchen were Peter Wilmshurst, the British cardiologist who in 1986 had blown the whistle on Sterling-Winthrop, a drug company which had tried to suppress his negative findings about the cardiac drug amrinone. (He was able to blow the whistle a second time, two decades later, when a medical device company that had recruited him for help tried passing off misleading data.)

Also in attendance was the U.S. psychiatrist Peter Breggin, who at 83 years old, is still capable of generating controversy as when, last year, he served as an expert witness for Michelle Carter, the woman who, as a teenager, pressured her boyfriend into killing himself. (Breggin has made his name in part as an expert witness for people who commit crimes while on prescription drugs, which Carter was at the time.)

Pamela Popper, another of the next day's lecturers and a prominent advocate for healthy eating as a substitute for medication and a business partner of Breggins was also visiting. A naturopath, Popper runs a popular YouTube channel, and it had driven some of sign-ups for the next days conference. She wasn't surprised, she said, by what happened to Gtzsche. "We've all been come after," she said. "It's a badge of honor really, to be pursued by them. It must mean you're doing something right."

With Gtzsche, of course, the pursuit is reciprocal. He is infamous for coming after people, even his own colleagues. Two months before Edinburgh, Gtzsche co-authored a critique of Cochrane's recent HPV vaccine review, which had concluded that there is high-certainty evidence that HPV vaccines protect against cervical precancer in adolescent girls and women. Gtzsche's paper accused Cochranes researchers of excluding nearly half the relevant trials and incompletely assessing certain adverse events and safety signals.

From all the available evidence, this paper was not the cause of Gtzsche's expulsion. His two co-authors, also members of Cochrane, were not removed from the organization. The news coverage, though, tended to link the two events, and Gtzsche was subsequently taken up as a hero by anti-vaccination groups, who assumed he shared their worldview. The Danish researcher appeared to outside observers not to be at pains to disabuse his new followers of this notion. If anything, he appeared to be courting it.

A few weeks before the symposium, Gtzsche's face had cropped up in the promotional materials for a workshop run by Physicians for Informed Consent, a prominent anti-vaccination group, to be held just a few days after the opening of his institute. Gtzsche was to deliver its keynote, alongside such anti-vaccine luminaries as Toni Bark and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. When the news was picked up on Twitter, Gtzsche quickly pulled out. When asked about it, he claimed he hadn't realized who the other speakers would be.

The Institute for Scientific Freedoms symposium was held at Bethesda, a historic church in central Copenhagen. The one-day event was to be made up mostly of short talks (sample titles: "Medical journals are an extension of the marketing arm of pharmaceutical companies"; "The many forms of scientific censorship in psychiatry") with two audience Q&As, one before the lunch break and one at the end. There were about 80 or 90 people in attendance, some who appeared to be in their 20s, but most who looked to be at or beyond middle-age. Gtzsche, appropriately, looked nearly priestlike, standing on the stage in all-black.

The fact that Gtzsche had inadvertently organized a kind of impromptu anti-vaccination convention became clear during the first Q&A, after the fourth or fifth successive question about vaccines. One questioner asked Peter Aaby who conducts vaccine research in Africa why, given the apparent abundance of studies showing that measles is actually good for you, we don't try and study what happens when you give certain African children large doses of Vitamin C instead of "injecting them full of toxins" (i.e., giving them the measles vaccine).

"Could I perhaps ask also for questions about ... not vaccines?" Gtzsche asked eventually.

The next questioner promptly took the mic and said they had a question about vaccines.

"Please, please, please talk about something else now!" said Gtzsche.

"I just want to say that the BCG part of tuberculosis, which is in the BCG vaccine, was never on the schedule in the U.S., and tuberculosis was the number two killer in "

"But please, excuse me, this is still "

The woman talked over him, so Gtzsche raised his voice to match: I ask you very kindly to not ask a question about vaccines at this point in time.

Iain Chalmers had flown in from London to attend the event. Hed had to duck out early, but said later by phone that he had been troubled by much of what hed managed to see.

The older psychiatrist, he said, referencing Peter Breggin, "basically, he seemed to feel that undying love was a good treatment for psychosis. And referencing Pam Poppers talk: She seemed to think you could stay healthy all your life if you eat the right foods. Not to mention the audience, and their worryingly sustained applause at certain lines from the stage, notably those seeming to be against vaccination.

It had become clear to Chalmers, at least, that in taking on the establishment, Gtzsche had attracted the wrong crowd. He didn't mention any of this at the conference. But before leaving for the airport, Chalmers relayed one bit of tough-love advice: namely, that Gtzsche should reconsider making himself the public face of his new organization. Nothing against him it's just, he isn't much of a showman. Sort of an anti-showman, really.

There had been plans to publish a transcript of the Q&A, but these were quickly scuttled "too embarrassing," Gtzsche admitted later. The whole thing seemed to alarm him. "We were quite disturbed by these people," he said.

* * *

Gtzsche had some trouble getting his recent book, "Survival in an Overmedicated World," published in English. He said he never needed an agent before, but had to hire one this time. After a round of rejections, Gtzsche says, the agent informed him that American publishers thought it somewhat irresponsible to publish a manual about how to bypass doctors and seek out the best medical information via the internet. You should not trust your doctor. You should look up the evidence yourself, he told me, explaining the books thesis.

This project might represent, depending on your perspective, either the vilest perversion or the perfect apotheosis of the evidence-based medicine ethos. If we reduce the practicing doctor to an algorithm, mechanically relaying the relevant treatment as prescribed by the latest data, then dispensing with that doctor with her biases, her blind spots, her susceptibility to the latest marketing or lobbying efforts seems a sensible next step.

The book has appeared in several languages, with the English version published at the end of April. Its opening paragraph is instructive:

"'You do not ask a barber if you need a haircut.' Most people have heard this expression or something similar. Yet we willingly allow our doctors to subject us to various diagnostic investigations and treatments which may be financially beneficial for themselves. Health care is riddled with financial conflicts of interest, and even when your doctor does not directly benefit, there are many other reasons you should be on the alert."

Having started his career critiquing the drug companies, Gtzsche's circle of scorn has since widened to take in mammographers, psychiatrists, scores of his own colleagues, and, now, seemingly every single doctor in the world. According to him, he has another book Vaccines: Truth, Lies, and Controversy, coming out in February.

As for whether he's through with Cochrane, Gtzsche said:"It's not over yet."

* * *

Daniel Kolitz is a writer living in Brooklyn.

This article was originally published on Undark. Read the original article.

Originally posted here:

"Evidence-based medicine" and the expulsion of Peter Gtzsche - Salon

Medicine Hat outscores Thunderbirds in up and down game – MyNorthwest.com

Henrik Rybinski scored his 10th of the year but it wouldn't be enough as the Medicine Hat Tigers won 8-5. (Ryan McCracken)

Through 40 minutes of play Saturday night, the Seattle Thunderbirds hung with the leagues top-scoring club.

Seattle trailed the Medicine Hat Tigers 5-4 at the start of the third period and was on the power play, with a chance to tie. On the opening faceoff, the Thunderbirds turned the puck over and it led to a short-handed goal by Medicine Hats James Hamblin, 12 seconds into the period.

It was a backbreaker goal that the Thunderbirds could not recover from as Medicine Hat would take the game 8-5.

We give up that, that one hurts, Seattle head coach Matt ODette said. We were pretty amped up and fired up going into the third, the same situation as last night, chance to win a game going into the third by taking over momentum and capitalizing on some of the good work wed put in. That put us back, it was one of those key moments that we werent dialed in.

Seattle (14-20-2-1) wasted a hat trick from Andrej Kukuca as well as two-point nights from four other players in the loss. Medicine Hat (25-11-1-1) had two players score twice, including Brett Kemp who also added a pair of assists.

After a strong first period where Seattle erased an early 2-0 deficit to tie the game at 3-3, Medicine Hat was able to turn the game into an up and down affair in the second. Its the type of game that benefited the home club.

The Tigers outshot the Thunderbirds 20-9 in the second, scored twice and left with a one-goal lead.

I thought we had our game going in the first, that was a really good first period, ODette said. The track meet started up in the second period. Thats their style, thats what they want. I thought we hung tough and gave ourselves a chance going into the third and it just got away from us there.

Seattle had its chances Saturday.

Medicine Hats style allowed the Thunderbirds to create a number of odd-man rushes for themselves. While they scored five goals, they missed on several more that could have made a difference.

Weve got guys developing into those offensive type players that finish those chances, ODette said. Its a work in progress. Weve got some dynamic offensive guys that dont miss very often.

Kukuca didnt miss, and Saturday was another strong game for the Thunderbirds top line.

Henrik Rybinski scored a goal and added an assist, playing in Medicine Hat for the first time since he asked for a trade from the Tigers last season. Playing on Rybinskis wing, rookie Conner Roulette added a goal and an assist while Jeri Keltie-Leon had two helpers.

The goals were positive for Seattle, and the Thunderbirds have scored 10 times over the first two games of their weekend swing, but the up-and-down play is not in their DNA.

Seattle got sucked into the track meet at the cost of getting the puck low and wearing down the Tigers.

Its hard because they are risky off their offense, and they do give up odd-man rushes going the other way, ODette said. I thought we could have defended better at times. Some of the set plays, they scored two goals directly off faceoffswe need to be dialed in and focused in on those plays.

The loss didnt cost the Thunderbirds in their quest for a playoff race as the Tri-City Americans lost in Portland on Saturday. The two teams remain tied for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Seattle will finish off its busy weekend Sunday afternoon with a game against the Swift Current Broncos.

Game Notes

The Thunderbirds are playing without defenseman Simon Kubicek who was playing in the World Junior Championships in the Czech Republic. Kubiceks Team Czech has been eliminated but ODette said that Kubicek wouldnt rejoin the team in time for Sundays game.

Kukucas hat trick gives him 14 goals on the season and just like last year, hes getting hot in the second half. He had a five-game point streak snapped on New Years Eve but has been back to scoring in the two games to follow. Over his last eight games, hes scored seven times while piling up 15 points.

Rybinskis goal was his 10th on the year and the Florida Panthers prospect has points in five straight games, four of which were multi-point outputs.

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Medicine Hat outscores Thunderbirds in up and down game - MyNorthwest.com

WVU Medicine doctor offers tips on how to make resolutions stick throughout the year – WBOY.com

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. With the start of a new year, also comes new resolutions. However, some find that it can be very hard to stick to those goals, but one WVU doctor wants to help.

Dr. Dana King, a professor of family medicine at WVU Medicine has tips that he said that can help people stick to their health-related resolutions in 2020.

King said that many people dont think resolutions are a good idea but that hes actually a fan because they are a good way to set the course for the rest of the year. However, he encourages people to not shoot for the moon by aiming for something unattainable.

He said proper dieting and exercise, for example, are two things that should be done in conjunction if you want the best results. King said he knows this because he and his colleagues have done the research but that its not necessary to overwhelm yourself with both.

If you say Im going to go for a walk every day youre not exactly having to join a gym or get new clothes. So physical activity and diet and of course stopping smoking or vaping, all working together would be great but really pick one and go for it this year.

King said he encourages people to consult with their primary care providers because they can give advice on dieting, exercising and tips on smoking cessation.

Specifically, he said, patients should get in touch with WVU Medicine and its physicians because they have free classes on how to quit smoking or vaping, and on proper diet and exercise.

We offer classes here starting Jan. 6 right here at University Town Center at WVU Family Medicine, King said. Theres a free class for smokers at 6 oclock, theres also a free class about dieting and weight loss either at 10:30 in the morning or at 5. But there are loads of resources throughout the community and classes, obviously, are starting this year because they want to take advantage of your new years resolutions.

At the end of the day, King said, he just wants people to remember that resolutions are a good and positive thing, as long as they are reasonable.

Sometimes people think of new years resolutions as something negative or something you have to give up for the year but really you can make a positive one, King said. You can say Im going to eat one vegetable at supper everyday or Im going to be grateful and have a grateful moment every day. So you can turn it into a positive.

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WVU Medicine doctor offers tips on how to make resolutions stick throughout the year - WBOY.com

UW Medicine on how to deal with winter SAD and gloomy weather – MyNorthwest.com

A study released in November 2019 declared Seattle the gloomiest city in the nation. That being so, there are ways to battle low winter mood that descends upon many here in the Pacific Northwest every year.

Study names Seattle the nations gloomiest city, Seattleites shrug

The November assigned something called a gloom score to each city. Seattles was a whopping 90.90.

Its hard because a lot of time you wake up in the morning, its dark, you come home in the afternoon, and its still dark, said UW Medicines Dr. Megan Feng. A lot of people come in with concerns about feeling a little down.

Dr. Feng suggests a variety of different methods to battle whats known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, or aptly, SAD, for short. Among those methods is purchasing some sort of a light therapy device.

Including brands like HappyLight, these devices mimic the presence of sunshine during the winter months, and can even help with the process of waking up on dark mornings.

Rainy weather and dark skies overtake Puget Sound for foreseeable future

Normally what you want to do is turn it on early in the morning, usually within 10 minutes of waking up, Feng described. Then, youll kind of just put off to the side as youre doing your daily activities, eating your breakfast, reading the paper. Just having it in your vicinity, letting your eyes absorb that light stimuli can be helpful.

Other methods for treating SAD include exercising, eating healthy foods, and keeping up with social activities.

More and more were recognizing that these are really significant and impactful to peoples quality of life, said Meng.

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UW Medicine on how to deal with winter SAD and gloomy weather - MyNorthwest.com

Pacific College of Oriental Medicine To Change Name To Pacific College of Health and Science – PRNewswire

SAN DIEGO, Jan. 2, 2020 /PRNewswire/ --Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) announced that effective today it will be formally changing its name to the Pacific College of Health and Science.

The change reflects the interests of the school's students, faculty, and alumni that now extend well beyond Chinese medicine. The time has come for the college to adopt a name that embraces that diversity and which will meet the needs of future generations, as well as today's nursing, acupuncture, massage, and health science students. The change also signals Chinese medicine's entrance into the mainstream of healthcare and medical science. No longer just complementary or alternative, Chinese medicine will be taught side by side with nursing and the science of human performance. Pacific College COO Malcolm Youngren states, "The school's central vision of being a recognized leader in delivering traditional medicine and integrative health science education remains as consistent as it has in the past while looking forward to the future."

Pacific College's newest offerings include the Master of Science in Health and Human Performance and the Medical Cannabis Certificate based on the standards of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. Additional undergraduate and graduate nursing degrees are currently under development, all of which include a Chinese medical component.

According to Pacific College President Jack Miller, "By teaching nurses and other healthcare providers the principles of Chinese medicine, a truly integrative, patient-centered medical team is created. There are so many promising developments across the entire spectrum of health and sciencethat can and should be embraced by institutions of Chinese medicine for the benefit of their students and alumni, and ultimately, their patients."

While the name change reflects the forward thinking nature of the institution's academic leadership, the values and mission remain the same: improving lives by educating and inspiring compassionate, skilled leaders of traditional medicine and integrative health sciences.

To learn more, please reach out to Nathalie Turotte: nturotte@pacificcollege.edu

SOURCE Pacific College of Health and Science

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Pacific College of Oriental Medicine To Change Name To Pacific College of Health and Science - PRNewswire

‘Evidence-Based Medicine’ and the Expulsion of Peter Gtzsche – Undark Magazine

While the tone of the article is that Gotzchke is now questionable because his questions have extended toward the field of medicine in general, one would ask why should this be surprising or indeed, unethical? He has spent his time trawling through the negative depths of the medical industry and perhaps has uncovered even more than he expected.

The man should be judged on the data he produces and not through any bias toward those who question vaccines or medications. Indeed, everyone should question everything which is done to their body. That is common sense.

Doctors are not gods and they often make mistakes as we see from the death rate, in third place, from conventional medicine, most of it from prescribed drugs. More so because the chemists control the medical industry and influence research outcomes as has become increasingly clear.

It is not just Gotzche who has raised questions about the reliability of research. Editors of both The Lancet and The New England Journal of Medicine have done so and the work of Dr John Ioannadis concluded, most published research is false.

Methinks the writer of this article betrays his own prejudices rather than revealing Peter Gotzches.

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'Evidence-Based Medicine' and the Expulsion of Peter Gtzsche - Undark Magazine

Opinion | Laughter and gardening make the best medicine – Grand River Sachem

Happy New Year everyone! This year, you will be able to astound your friends and family with these little-known facts about gardens and plants.

For example, did you know that a sunflower is actually made up of 1,000 to 2,000 individual flowers on one stalk?

Or, that there are more micro-organisms in one teaspoon of soil than there are people on Earth? They keep your soil full of nutrients.

In addition, according to studies, plants really do respond to sound. So, keep talking, singing and playing music to keep your plants happy and growing.

Also, did you know that butterflies are more attracted to weeds than to your plants? This is because the breeding process for many of the flowering plants we buy in stores has eliminated a lot of their fragrance. Make sure you sow heirloom variety seeds and plants for more butterflies.

Heres another interesting tidbit: if you sprinkle baking soda into your tomato soil, it will sweeten your crop and make them less acidic.

Composting doesnt have to be a long and laborious process. For a quick way to cheat on composting, apply coffee grounds, eggshells, chopped banana peels and other organic matter directly into the soil when planting.

Now we all know some fun (and silly) facts about gardening. Share them with your friends for a chuckle. Laughter combined with gardening makes the best medicine.

Why not join other happy gardeners and would-be gardeners at the Dunnville Horticultural Societys next program night, Jan. 16?

We will be welcoming local garden expert and group favourite Lester Fretz.

We meet every third Thursday at the Optimist Club Hall, 101 Main St., from 7 to 9 p.m. Or visit us online at our Facebook page, or website http://www.dunnvillehortandgardenclub.org

For questions or comments, contact president Deb Zynomirski at 416-566-9337 or debzyn@gmail.com.

Marlene Link is a member of the Dunnville Horticultural Society.


Opinion | Laughter and gardening make the best medicine - Grand River Sachem

Poachers in South Africa slaughter 16 lions and hack off faces and claws for medicine – Metro.co.uk

Just one lion cub survived the mass slaughter in South Africa (Picture: Jamie Pyatt)

Sixteen lions have been brutally murdered and their faces and claws hacked off to be sold as traditional medicine.

Evil poachers broke into an enclosure in South Africa to kill the big cats, including lionesses who were within days of giving birth.

It is believed they were fed poisoned chicken meat and just one newborn cub survived the slaughter.

The lions were living with Gert Blom at Predators Rock Bush Lodge in Rustenburg, North West Province.

He went down to their enclosure on Friday morning and found his two male lions and six lionesses missing.

He followed drag trails to behind a perimeter wall, where he found them all butchered.

Gert said: They had hacked off 32 paws for the claws and eight of their snouts for their teeth after killing them with poisoned chicken which is a really agonising death for the lions.

It is cruelty that is beyond belief and an absolutely terrible sight to behold when you see magnificent predators lying there covered in flies minus their faces and their paws.

Two of the lionesses were heavily pregnant and a post mortem showed that they died with three unborn cubs inside each.

Another lioness had given birth the day before she was poisoned and two of her cubs perished after drinking her poisoned milk.

Just one survived, who has been named Yoda, and the two-day-old is currently being bottle-fed by Gert.

He added: With the eight dead cubs six unborn and the two that were almost certainly poisoned from their mothers milk that means the poachers effectively killed 16 lions.

The poachers scaled two 2.4metre-high walls and threw poisoned chicken over an electric fence and into the enclosure.

They then used bolt cutters on a number of gates and dragged the lions corpses behind a wall to butcher them.

Gert said he believed there were four poachers as he had found four sets of footprints.

The poisoned lions were all aged between three and four.

The male lions were called Aslan and Hollow and the females Noela, Sia, Sussie, Misty, Lilly, and Frye.

South African Police spokesman Brigadier Sabata Mokgwabone said they were investigating but there have been no arrests.

Traditional witch doctors or healers us the lion body parts to make potions known as muti for local customers who believe it gives them powers to ward off evil spirts or bring luck.

There is also a growing international trade in lion bones as traders in East Asia turn the bones into wine and medicine.

Many of the lions have been killed in the canned hunting trade, where big cats are bred to be shot by hunters.

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Poachers in South Africa slaughter 16 lions and hack off faces and claws for medicine - Metro.co.uk

Bargain Shop closing their doors – CHAT News Today


Back to Back Losses

Missing key forwards, Bandits fall 6-5 in Camrose

CAMROSE, AB - For the first time this season, and first time since November 24th, 2017, the Brooks Bandits (36-3-1) have dropped back-to-back regular season games. The Bandits fell 6-5 to the Camrose Kodiaks Saturday night at Encana Arena.Brooks was without three key forwards, as captain Jakob Lee (64 pts in 34 games),...


Avalanche death

UPDATE: One person confirmed dead after Merritt-area avalanche

Merrit, BC - Update - RCMP have confirmed a man has been killed after getting caught in an avalanche Saturday afternoon."The victim was located by searchers, but sadly he did not survive," Cpl. Jesse O'Donaghey, spokesman for the BC RCMP stated in a news release. "The BC Coroners Service has been notifie...


Park Bookings

Parks Canada opens online campsite bookings this week

Grande Prairie, AB - Parks Canada will be launching reservations for campsites over the summer starting Jan. 7 in Alberta with Jasper National Park with online bookings for other parks opening throughout the week.Waterton Lakes National Park will open its reservations on Jan. 9 while to the east of Medicine Hat, Grassl...

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Bargain Shop closing their doors - CHAT News Today

Human body parts found rotting next to abandoned medicine after thieves broke into medical waste compound – The Sun

HAZARDOUS body parts were found rotting at a medical waste site by two burglars nearly a year after it closed down.

Intruders Barry Watson and Jamie Pollard broke into the compound in Newcastle over two days to swipe medication left lying around.



But the pair had to undergo decontamination due to the biohazard they had been exposed to after the medical waste was left to rot, Chronicle Live reports.

Investigators also discovered decomposing body parts left abandoned after Healthcare Environmental Services Ltd lost their NHS contract and went bankrupt in December 2018.

The companystopped trading after becoming embroiled in a waste stockpiling scandal.

Shocking pictures show bin liners full of hazardous waste piled up in skips inside the closed-down compound.

Prescription drugs in buckets were also "easily accessible to people who breached the security", Newcastle Crown Court heard.

A backlog of hundreds of tonnes of clinical and human waste was finally cleared last month.

Watson and Pollard have now been sentenced to six months suspended for 18 months with a community order after admitting two counts of burglary.

The court was told the pair simply forced a shutter to get into the site on September 6 before returning the next day to stock up again.

A security officer saw Pollard and Watson attempt to flee with a plastic bag full of drugs and gave chase.

Barry Robson, prosecuting, said: "He ran after them and shouted at them to stop but they didn't.

"Watson turned at one point and swung a punch towards him which missed and Pollard shouted 'Just do him'.

"The security guard let them escape because he feared for his safety."

After the second break-in, the pair were caught and firefighters had to be called due to the biohazard and both burglars had to be decontaminated before going to hospital.

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Vic Laffey, for Pollard, said: "It doesn't take much research to see there were dozens of large bin liners in the yard.

"Quite how this situation developed is beyond belief, quite frankly.

"On entering the premises, it seems that outdated prescription drugs were freely available and lying around and they went back the second day because of that."



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Human body parts found rotting next to abandoned medicine after thieves broke into medical waste compound - The Sun

Yes, Socialized Medicine Will Lead To Waits For Care – The Federalist

Recently, a liberal think-tank, the Center for American Progress (CAP), issued a policy paper that promised the truth on waiting times in government-run health systems. If you want the truth about the issue, however, youll have to wait a long time for it if you choose to rely on CAPs disingenuous analysis.

The CAP report cherry-picks facts to try to make an argument that a single-payer health-care system wont result in rationing of health care. Unfortunately, however, even supporters of single payer have admitted that government-run care will increase waiting times for care.

CAPs paper starts out by criticizing President Trump and other conservative groups, who have asserted that a single-payer system would lead to massive wait times for treatments and destroy access to quality care, as Trump stated in his recent executive order on Medicare. CAP calls these assertions false, and then claims:

Patients in peer nations generally have similar or shorter wait times than patients in the United States for a variety of services, refuting the argument that universal coverage would necessarily result in longer wait times in the future. [Emphasis added.]

The above sentence, like the rest of the paper, uses clever semantic wordplay to obscure the issue. CAP claims that universal coverage wouldnt necessarily result in longer wait times, but Trump and the right-leaning groups have criticized one specific form of universal coveragesingle payer, in which the government serves as the sole funder of health care. (CAP repeats those misleading tactics by referencing the impact of prior coverage expansions in the United States, many of which used private insurers and none of which directly equate to a universal, government-funded health system.)

Of the papers four peer nations with universal coverage systemsAustralia, France, Germany, and Swedenonly Australia and Sweden have government-run insurance plans. By contrast, France and Germany rely on private insurers to implement their universal coverage systems.

While it includes other systems without single-payer coverage in its analysis, CAP specifically excludes Britains National Health Service, known for its waiting times and rationed access to care. CAP claimed to omit the NHS in its analysis because no candidate currently running for president is proposing nationalizing health care providers a la the British modela true enough statement, but a self-serving one.

If CAP included non-government-funded systems in its analysis, it certainly should have included the government-funded NHS. That it did not suggests the analysts wanted to rig the papers outcomes by relying solely on favorable examples.

The CAP papers most deliberate omission comes in the form of our neighbor to the north: Canada. The paper examined four metrics of access to care, based on data from an analysis by the (liberal) Commonwealth Fund of 11 countries health systems. Given the shabby results Canadas health system showed on health care access, it seems little wonder that the leftists at CAP failed to disclose these poor outcomes in their paper:

As I discuss in my book, Canadas health system suffers from myriad access problems, based on other metrics from Commonwealth Fund studies that CAP chose not to mention in their paper:

With results like that, little wonder that the liberals at CAP didnt want to highlight what single-payer health care would do to our health system.

That said, some socialist supporters of single payer have conceded that the new system will limit access to care. As I noted last year, the socialist magazine Jacobin said the following about one analysis of single payer:

[The study] assumes utilization of health services will increase by 11 percent, but aggregate health service utilization is ultimately dependent on the capacity to provide services, meaning utilization could hit a hard limit below the level [the study] projects.

Translation: People will demand additional care under single payer, but there wont be enough doctors and hospitals to meet the demand, therefore resulting in waiting times and rationed access to care.

Lest one consider this admission an anomaly, the Peoples Policy Project called a recent Urban Institute study estimating the costs of single payer ridiculous and unserious, in large part because of its comical assumption about increased demand for care: There is still a hard limit to just how much health care can be performed because there are only so many doctors and only so many facilities. Again, socialists claim that single payer wont bust the budget, in large part because people who seek care will not be able to obtain it.

With analysts from the right and the socialist left both admitting that single payer will lead to rationed health care, CAP can continue to claim that waiting times wont increase. But the best response to their cherry-picked and misleading analysis comes in the form of an old phrase: Who are you going to believeme, or your lying eyes?

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Yes, Socialized Medicine Will Lead To Waits For Care - The Federalist

Medicine in motion: How Tai Chi heals body and mind – CNN

"It is the most unbelievable, beautiful, harmonious, blissful exercise," Fung says, as she lifts her arms to the sky in the preparatory movement called Wu Chi.

"We breathe in, we open palms down, absorb the energy from Earth. We breathe in, palms up towards the sky, absorb the energy from heaven," she explains, bringing a dancer's innate elegance to the motions.

It was dance that brought Fung to the practice of Tai Chi, as she searched for ways to heal multiple injuries she sustained as she practiced her craft.

"As a ballerina, you always strive harder to break through the limits," Fung said. "Your body is getting sick and is injured all the time.

"Why Tai Chi has good, amazing health benefits is because it's a self-healing process." she said. "When I started, I thought, 'This is quite phenomenal.'"

A balance of yin and yang

Evolving from ancient martial arts, the core principles of Tai Chi are based on Taoism, an ancient Chinese philosophy which stresses a natural balance between two opposing forces called yin and yang.

Think of yin and yang as the complementary but opposite sides of a coin that together form a perfect whole.

"Yang is your mind, it's a cerebral activity. It's your emotions. Yin is your body," Fung said. "By practicing Tai Chi, you connect these two parts, and you balance the yang energy with the yin energy."

"When these two things balance, then harmony is achieved," she continued. "When harmony is achieved, then transformation follows. And the transformation is -- you feel better."

When you are in balance you feel your "chi" or life force which traditional Chinese medicine considers a form of energy that can heal mind and body. When chi is unlocked and flowing through the body, Fung said, it can address the body's injuries.

"When the chi actually start working, your body improves. Your balance gets better. You sleep better. You have enhanced vitality, energy," said Fung, who now teaches classes in Hong Kong combining dance and Tai Chi. "And it keeps flowing. That's why it's amazing."

Science behind the mystery

While all that sounds rather mystical, science shows Tai Chi can improve health. Researchers have discovered that even a shorter, modified exercise series of Tai Chi movements can improve muscle strength, balance and flexibility, while also reducing stress and lowering blood pressure.

Tai Chi also reduces falls and improves balance in the elderly, and is easier than traditional exercise for some with frail health or physical limitations.

Cardiovascular disease: Tai Chi and Qigong, a very similar centuries-old system of movement, breathing and meditation, have shown to be extremely beneficial for cardiovascular health.

Mental health: The calming, meditative trance needed to do a Tai Chi series has been shown to greatly reduce anxiety and stress, even lowering levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, in the blood of participants.

A city of healthy elderly

In Hong Kong, where Fung lives, the practice of Tai Chi is common.

In addition to a healthy diet of fish, rice and vegetables, access to green spaces and a lack of crime, experts point to the health benefits of Tai Chi as a reason lifespan has increased in Hong Kong over the last 50 years.

"For women, it is 88 years," said geriatrician Timothy Kwok, a professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. "Less in men, it is 82 years."

The health benefits are so impressive the Hong Kong government promotes the practice of Tai Chi by providing free classes.

"All around the parks in Hong Kong, every morning, you have some people just getting groups of people and teaching them how to Tai Chi," Kwok said. "It is all for free."

For Fung, the ancient Chinese movements are a key to self-healing she cannot live without.

"If you understand how it works, you understand the nature, the fundamentals, the inner workings of what Tai Chi is," Fung said," then when you apply it, and when it works, then it's no turning back."

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Medicine in motion: How Tai Chi heals body and mind - CNN

Link between herpes virus infections, Alzheimer’s refuted – Baylor College of Medicine News

Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine report today in the journal Neuron evidence that refutes the link between increased levels of herpes virus and Alzheimers disease. In addition, the researchers provide a new statistical and computational framework for the analysis of large-scale sequencing data.

About 50 million people worldwide are affected by Alzheimers disease, a type of progressive dementia that results in the loss of memory, cognitive abilities and verbal skills, and the numbers are growing rapidly. Currently available medications temporarily ease the symptoms or slow the rate of decline, which maximizes the time patients can live and function independently. However, there are no treatments to halt progression of Alzheimers disease.

Like all types of dementia, Alzheimers disease is characterized by massive death of brain cells, the neurons. Identifying the reason why neurons begin and continue to die in the brains of Alzheimers disease patients is an active area of research, said corresponding author Dr. Zhandong Liu, associate professor of pediatrics at Baylor and the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Childrens Hospital.

One theory that has gained traction in the past year is that certain microbial infections, such as those caused by viruses, can trigger Alzheimers disease. A 2018 study reported increased levels of human herpesvirus 6A (HHV-6A) and human herpesvirus 7 (HHV-7) in the postmortem brain tissues of more than 1,000 patients with Alzheimers disease when compared to the brain tissues of healthy-aging subjects or those suffering from a different neurodegenerative condition.

Presence of elevated levels of genetic material of herpes viruses indicated active infections, which were linked to Alzheimers disease. In less than a year, this study generated a flurry of excitement and led to the initiation of several studies to better understand the link between viral infections and Alzheimers disease.

Surprisingly, when co-author Dr. Hyun-Hwan Jeong, a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Lius group and others, reanalyzed the data sets from the 2018 study using the identical statistical methods with rigorous filtering, as well as four commonly used statistical tools, they were unable to produce the same results.

The team was motivated to reanalyze the data from the previous study because they observed that while the p-values (a statistical parameter that predicts the probability of obtaining the observed results of a test, assuming that other conditions are correct) were highly significant, they were being ascribed to data in which the differences were not visually appreciable.

Moreover, the p-values did not fit with simple logistic regression a statistical analysis that predicts the outcome of the data as one of two defined states. In fact, after several types of rigorous statistical tests, they found no link between the abundance of herpes viral DNA or RNA and likelihood of Alzheimers disease in this cohort.

As high-throughput omics technologies, which include those for genomics, proteomics, metabolomics and others, become affordable and easily available, there is a rising trend toward big data in basic biomedical research. In these situations, given the massive amounts of data that have to be mined and extracted in a short time, researchers may be tempted to rely solely on p-values to interpret results and arrive at conclusions, Liu said.

Our study highlights one of the potential pitfalls of over-reliance on p-values. While p-values are a very valuable statistical parameter, they cannot be used as a stand-alone measure of statistical correlation data sets from high-throughput procedures still need to be carefully plotted to visualize the spread of the data, Jeong said. Data sets also have to be used in conjunction with accurately calculated p-values to make gene-disease associations that are statistically correct and biologically meaningful.

Our goal in pursuing and publishing this study was to generate tools and guidelines for big data analysis, so the scientific community can identify treatment strategies that will likely benefit patients, Liu said.

This study was funded by the Huffington Foundation.

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Link between herpes virus infections, Alzheimer's refuted - Baylor College of Medicine News

The Daily Biotech Pulse: Positive Adcom Verdict For Merck, Homology Medicine Slips On Mixed Gene Therapy Efficacy Data – Yahoo Finance

Here's a roundup of top developments in the biotech space over the last 24 hours.

Scaling The Peaks

(Biotech stocks hitting 52-week highs on Dec. 17)

Down In The Dumps

(Biotech stocks hitting 52-week lows on Dec. 17)

Stocks In Focus Homology Medicines Reports Mixed Efficacy Data For Gene Therapy To Treat Phenylketonuria

Homology Medicines Inc (NASDAQ: FIXX) announced initial Phase 1/2 data from the pheNIX trial that evaluated its HMI-102 gene therapy in patients with phenylketonuria, with safety data from the Cohort 1 consisting of two patients administered low dose and Cohort 2 consisting one patient administered mid dose, showing that HMI-102 was well tolerated.

The efficacy data was mixed, with the Cohort 1 patients not showing a reduction in phenylalanine through Week 10 and 12. But the patient dosed in Cohort 2 showed a reduction in phenylalanine of 35% and 48% from baseline at Weeks 1 and Week 4, respectively.

The stock fell 21.84% to $17 in after-hours trading.

FTC Files Compliant To Block Illumina's Deal To Buy PacBio

The FTC saidit has authorized an action to block Illumina, Inc.'s (NASDAQ: ILMN) $1.2 billion buy of Pacific Biosciences of California (NASDAQ: PACB). In an administrative complaint, the agency alleged that "Illumina is seeking to unlawfully maintain its monopoly in the U.S. market for next-generation DNA sequencing systems by extinguishing PacBio as a nascent competitive threat."

The administrative trial is set to begin Aug. 18, 2020.

Pacific Biosciences shares declined 7.85% to $4.93 in after-hours trading.

See Also: After Amarin Snags Vascepa Label Expansion, Analyst Says Biopharma An Attractive M&A Target

Merck Keytruda Gets Thumbs Up From Adcom For Bladder Cancer

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE: MRK) said the Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee of the FDA voted 9 to 4 in favor of recommending the company's Keytruda for the treatment of certain patients with high-risk, non-muscle invasive bladder cancer.

The company expects a PDUFA action date of January2020, based on priority review.

Rigel Chief Commercial Officer Quits

Rigel Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: RIGL) said its chief commercial officer Eldon Mayer has resigned, effective Dec. 23, to pursue an opportunity with an emerging company. The company said it has begun a search for a replacement, and until a new person assumes office, the commercial leadership team will directly report to CEO Raul Rodriguez.


Neoluekin priced its previously announced underwritten public offering of 8.925 million shares of its common stock at $8.40 per share. The company expects to generate gross proceeds of about $75 million from the offering. The offering is expected to close on or about Dec. 20.

On The Radar Adcom Meeting

FDA's Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee will discuss Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee Epizyme Inc's (NASDAQ: EPZM) NDA for tazemetostat tablets for treating patients with metastatic or locally advanced epithelioid sarcoma not eligible for curative surgery. The briefing document released Monday showed that the FDA, though commending the company for exploring tazemetostat as a potential therapy for epithelioid sarcoma in a biologically rational way, expressed concerns about insufficient evidence to conclude that the investigational drug confers benefits in patients.


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The Daily Biotech Pulse: Positive Adcom Verdict For Merck, Homology Medicine Slips On Mixed Gene Therapy Efficacy Data - Yahoo Finance

Move over men, theres a movement in medicine – KELOLAND.com

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) For years, it was mostly men who applied to medical school in South Dakota, but times are changing.

This past year, for the first time in history, there are about the same number of women as men attending the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine.

One doctor in particular has been instrumental in turning those numbers around.

Chandler Jansen is really focused this year. Thats because shes finishing up her last year of med school at the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine.

Really as long as I can remember medicine was what I want to do, I cant really always explain why, but I always felt that drive to medicine, Jansen said.

Stephanie Kazi is a third year med student.

I kind of got my exposure to healthcare working at a nursing home in high school and thats kind of where I saw about the need for caring for individuals in medicine and I decided that was how I wanted to spend my time and kind of devote myself to a career, Kazi said.

Both are part of what appears to be an upward trend in South Dakota; women entering the medical field to become doctors.

For more than six decades, enrollment at USDs Sanford School of Medicine had been dominated by men. In fact, in all the graduating classes seen here, most of the students were men.

Women were not applying to medical school and we think that might be because women might have been told that, well if you want a family, dont go into a high powered career if you want children, Dr. Mary Nettleman, Dean of Sanford School of Medicine said.

Dr. Mary Nettleman, Dean of Sanford School of Medicine, has been instrumental in getting more women to apply to med school.

We dont create an advantage for somebody, right, we just try to remove barriers if we see them, Dr. Nettleman said.

She says for the longest time women didnt think they could take maternity leave if they were attending medical school. Dr. Nettleman introduced several programs to help young women become doctors.

We have a wellness program, we have pregnancy program, whereby you can get a woman, who gets pregnant during medical school, can have their baby, graduate on time, and take maternity leave, Dr. Nettleman said.

The students will not be penalized for missing any classes, clinics, or assignments because of maternity leave. Instead, the school will work with the student to create an academic makeup plan to ensure that missed course work is completed.

It takes a lot of time, resident Anna Bahnson said.

Anna Bahnson has completed med school and is now in her residency. Even though, she hasnt started a family, she has seen how the school has helped other students find balance between homework and family.

I think a lot of people are intimidated by the time commitment, but I think, you know, no matter what, once you graduate from college or high school or whatever, you know, the next phase is is work, and youre either, working in your job or you if youre in medicine, I think of medical school as, it was my job, Bahnson said.

Dean Nettleman, from the first year of school she gave us talks about that and how we had any, you know concerns that we could come to her and just kind get that process going if we didnt want to get started on, Kazi said.

These are high achieving young people in South Dakota. Theyre going to have a high achieving job. And anytime you do that, you have to balance your family, and your professional life. And its just as important to do that as a physician, as being a school teacher as being any one of them. Its something you just have to do. So we did that and now the class is about 48% women, Dr. Nettleman said.

You heard right, nearly half of all medical students now at USDs Sanford Medicine of Health are women.

Now as these three women look back at the past, they can already picture their future.

If its what youre passionate about follow it, theres always going to be challenges, no matter what career you go into theres always any time commitment. I mean thats not unique to the field of medicine so I wouldnt say being scared of Oh, is this going to take too much time because if youre passionate about it you can find a way to make it work, Jansen said.

For her efforts, Dr. Nettleman has been awarded the prestigious Elizabeth and Emily Blackwell Award for Oustanding Contributions to Advancing the Careers of Women in Medicine.

The award is only given to one doctor in the entire country.

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Move over men, theres a movement in medicine - KELOLAND.com

Class of 2019: From Military to Medicine, Grad Discovers His Life’s Duty – University of Texas at Dallas

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Dec. 19, 2019

Editors Note: Every Comet follows a distinct path to UTDallas, and members of the Class of 2019 are no exception. A few soon-to-be fall graduates shared their thoughts about their journeys as they get ready to tackle new challenges after commencement.

Timothy Culbertson, 24, of Plano said he was drawn to UT Dallas specifically because of the healthcare studies program in the School of Interdisciplinary Studies. A transfer student and a U.S. Navy reservist, he found the courses offered at UTDallas both rigorous and a perfect fit for his interest in medicine.

My brother also came here [to UT Dallas], and I knew it was going to be challenging, Culbertson said. So I came prepared to study.

He found a second home on campus through the UTDallas Military and Veteran Center (MVC), where he worked as a Peer Advisor for Veteran Education (PAVE). His passion for serving in the military, he said, had a tremendous impact on his chosen career field medicine.

After graduation, Culbertson will begin his studies at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houstons McGovern Medical School next fall. His primary goal is to serve veterans.

Culbertson will also soon celebrate another milestone before heading to medical school hes getting married in June.

What will you miss most about UTD?

The MVC. Ive made good friends, and probably my best times and best memories at UTDallas were hanging out there.

Would you rather have to retake a final exam or be Temoc for a day?

It depends on the final exam. If its one Im prepared for, I love the post-exam feeling. But if Im less prepared? Id rather be Temoc for a day.

What is a fun fact about you?

Ive never pulled an all-nighter while at UTD I always got at least four hours of sleep.

What are the best ways to survive a Monday?

Chick-fil-A Chick-n-Minis.

Whats the most Instagrammable spot on campus?

I dont have an Instagram, but if I did, it would be the main mall by the fountains.

Whats the first thing youll do to celebrate your graduation?

Im probably going to spend time with family and eat a nice, juicy steak.

What accomplishment/project are you most proud of from your time at UTD?

I would say mentoring both through PLTL (Peer-Led Team Learning) and PAVE. I had a lot of good mentoring when I first started here, and it was nice to pay it forward and give back to the UT Dallas community.

UT Dallas alumni make their mark wherever they go. How will you make yours?

After medical school, I really want to work with veterans, provide humanitarian aid overseas, serve my country and serve those who have served it as well.

Literature Grad Is Thinker at Heart

Communication Disorders Grad Finds Right Balance at UTD

PhD Lights Way for Women To Pursue Computer Science

ATEC Graduate Relishes Quest in Video Game Design

Healthcare Management Program Combines Grads 2 Loves

Biology Graduate Builds Career Path in Public Health

Economics Grad Demonstrates High Degree of Diligence

Media Contact: Katherine Morales, 972-883-4321,[emailprotected]or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [emailprotected]


Class of 2019: From Military to Medicine, Grad Discovers His Life's Duty - University of Texas at Dallas

signs Andrews Institute as official sports medicine provider – University of West Florida Newsroom – UWF Newsroom

Andrews Institute currently serves as the official medical partner, providing UWF athletics with team physicians. UWF and Andrews Institute signed a contract in which Andrews Institute will continue serving in this role and expand the partnership as the official sports medicine provider of UWF athletics for health care, orthopedic and sports medicine. Andrews Institute is the exclusive Official Medical Partner and Official Sports Medicine Provider of University Athletics Department for medical services including, but not limited to athletics, athletic training, physical therapy, orthopedic and sports medicine.

We are excited to expand our great relationship with the University of West Florida, said Dr. David Joyner, Andrews Institute executive director and senior vice president. What the University of West Florida stands for is truly astounding. We see this partnership as our world-class team taking care of another world-class team.

Andrews Institute will provide certified athletic trainers and athletic-training services for the 400 UWF student-athletes under the medical direction of team physicians Dr. Roger Ostrander and Dr. Joshua Hackel. Andrews Institute will also grant UWF athletes access to a full-time sports medicine physical therapist at Baptist Medical Park Nine Mile on University Parkway.

Two great organizations are joining to forge a transformative partnership that provides the highest quality care for our student-athletes, said Dave Scott, UWF athletics director. We are grateful for Andrews Institutes support and thrilled to have this world-class organization right in our own backyard.

UWF fields 15 athletic teams. The rich UWF athletics tradition includes nine national championshipsin five sports, 102 conference titles, 15 GSC womens all-sports trophies, eight GSC mens all-sports trophies and the GSC overall all-sports trophies every year since its inception in 2013-2014. The UWF football team will play Minnesota State at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 21, in McKinney, Texas, for the NCAA Division II national championship. This marks the second national title appearance for program in only its fourth year of existence.

Andrews Institute provides certified athletic trainers and team physicians to all 23 public high schools in a four county area, Chipola College, Pensacola Christian College and Pensacola Christian Academy.

For more information about the University of West Florida Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, visit http://www.goargos.com.

For more information about Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, visit http://www.andrewsinstitute.com.

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signs Andrews Institute as official sports medicine provider - University of West Florida Newsroom - UWF Newsroom

School of Medicine Faculty Member Dr. Andrea Meyer Stinson to Serve as Partner on $200K Grant to Develop Trauma Informed Community in Middle Georgia -…

MACON Andrea S. Meyer Stinson, Ph.D., associate director of the Master of Family Therapy Program and associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences/pediatrics in Mercer University School of Medicine, will serve as a partner and consultant on a two-year, $200,000 grant from the Pittulloch Foundation, in partnership with Resilient Georgia, to integrate trauma awareness into the Central Georgia community.

The Pittulloch Foundation and Resilient Georgia have offered grants to four cities and the surrounding counties to provide a regional emphasis on trauma informed awareness, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and child sexual abuse prevention training as a basis to transform systems and procedures crossing both public and private sectors.

The Resilient Middle Georgia grant will be managed by the Community Partnership, a Bibb County collaborative that has been dedicated to making an impact in the lives of children and families for more than 20 years.

Dr. Meyer Stinson, who is a board member for Resilient Georgia, will serve as a partner on the Resilient Middle Georgia Project, alongside Jill Vanderhoek, executive director of Community Partnership in Bibb County, and the Community Foundation of Central Georgia. The project will focus on building awareness and a common language around trauma, adversity, ACEs and resilience in Bibb and other Middle Georgia counties.

Traumatic experiences often create long-lasting effects, and creating more opportunities in our area to inform providers of those effects will allow them to better serve the community, said Vanderhoek. We are grateful to the Pittulloch Foundation for providing this grant to help Middle Georgia and to Resilient Georgia and the Community Foundation for their support.

The primary aim of the grant is to bring together multiple stakeholders, including education, health care, social services, mental health providers, law enforcement, juvenile justice, families and community champions, to align conversations and build awareness and trainings that will better support children and families coping with adversity and trauma.

Adversity and challenges occur in all families, however some children and youth experience an accumulation of severe stressors that can impair their development and functioning, Dr. Meyer Stinson said. By bringing together our community to talk about and recognize trauma and ACEs as an important public health concern, we can move towards a common understanding and language about ways to help reduce the potential impact of these experiences.

Dr. Meyer Stinson will serve as a consultant for the grant and liaison between the School of Medicine and Resilient Middle Georgia. She will help in developing community-wide awareness events, coordinating renowned speakers, analyzing and reporting data, as well as planning education and training opportunities for School of Medicine students, faculty, staff and physician preceptors.

In order for individuals to thrive physically and mentally, it is essential to address both the family and the community in which they live, especially for rural and underserved areas, said Jean Sumner, M.D., dean of Mercer University School of Medicine. Dr. Meyer Stinsons involvement in this project will support our mission of working with rural and underserved individuals, while also building a network of well-trained and trauma informed healthcare providers for the broader region.

About Mercer University School of Medicine (Macon, Savannah and Columbus)

Mercer Universitys School of Medicine was established in 1982 to educate physicians and health professionals to meet the primary care and health care needs of rural and medically underserved areas of Georgia. Today, more than 60 percent of graduates currently practice in the state of Georgia, and of those, more than 80 percent are practicing in rural or medically underserved areas of Georgia. Mercer medical students benefit from a problem-based medical education program that provides early patient care experiences. Such an academic environment fosters the early development of clinical problem-solving and instills in each student an awareness of the place of the basic medical sciences in medical practice. The School opened a full four-year campus in Savannah in 2008 at Memorial University Medical Center. In 2012, the School began offering clinical education for third- and fourth-year medical students in Columbus. Following their second year, students participate in core clinical clerkships at the Schools primary teaching hospitals: Medical Center, Navicent Health in Macon; Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah; and The Medical Center and St. Francis Hospital in Columbus. The School also offers masters degrees in family therapy, preclinical sciences and biomedical sciences and a Ph.D. in rural health sciences.

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School of Medicine Faculty Member Dr. Andrea Meyer Stinson to Serve as Partner on $200K Grant to Develop Trauma Informed Community in Middle Georgia -...