Silicone wrist bands and other “performance jewellery” have become commonplace among sports stars (see Paul Collingwood and Andrew Strauss, England cricketers, who are bedecked in several varieties). Power Balance, Harmony, Ionic, Q-Ray, Balance, Bio-Ray, IRenew and Rayma are some of the many brands that you might see online or in sports stores. I have been writing about negative ionsandbalancebands for a few years now, but most of that focused on the inherent lack of a plausible mechanism by which the things could work. Since I wrote those posts, there have been a number of clinical trials published, and I thought it would be worth trying to pull some of those together to provide an overview of the science. I have linked to all the studies so you can check them out yourself.
Summary: I found seven studies: four journal articles, one MSc thesis, one research poster, and one conference presentation which was an expansion of a journal article. The studies included a total of 193 participants and looked mainly at balance, strength and agility, all using the Power Balance band (in which holograms are the supposedly active part). None showed any improvement in performance with the band, but study quality varied. Interestingly, some studies suggest that the placebo effect might not even be present. However, another study showed that the placebo effect with this product is strongly dependent upon prior beliefs, and that performance may even suffer while wearing a band if the participant does not believe that the band will help. I was not able to find any tests of bands in which “ions” were purported to be the mode of action.
Presumably as the result of in-depth clinical trials (how else would they know that their treatments can cure so many severe and varied diseases and conditions?) the experts at the Correactology Centres (which I have discussed before) have removed “cancer” from the list of “ailments” that Correactology can treat. A quick scan from an archived version of their “Ailments Treated” page from 4th November 2007 shows 127 ailments, but that list on the current version of the page is only 126. In case you are wondering whether I am serious, I want to be absolutely clear that a PubMed search for “Correactology” produces zero results. The removal of cancer from the list was an edit to the website, rather than a contribution to scientific research. There have been no trials. There are no datasets. There are anecdotes and testimonials that score very low on the evidence pyramid. Nevertheless, Correactologists take money from patients, claiming to be able to treat all kinds of diseases. I will leave you to browse their (wish) list at your leisure, but I wanted to highlight a couple that are particularly unpleasant:Read More »
“Men’s Rights Activism” (MRA) is a dirty phrase in many circles. The MRA movement is a fairly diverse beast ranging from claims of inequality in child custody cases to accusations of full-blown, societal-scale misandry typified by higher death rates in men and lower levels of social investment. One claim in particular that the MRAs make is that breast cancer (a cancer that predominantly, though not entirely, affects women) receives substantially more money in terms of research funding than prostate cancer, despite similar numbers of people dying from each. First I’ll review some of the specific claims made, I’ll look at the data on funding, then we can delve into a few stats on the impacts of these two cancer types (bear with me!). I’ve also included some more detail on whether younger men are more at risk from prostate cancer as an appendix for those who are interested.Read More »
I’ve blogged about Correactology before, and that post has been pretty popular (for one of my posts, anyway…) so I thought I would revisit the topic. Supply and demand and all that jazz… Also, I was moved by a comment on the earlier post (reproduced in full below the fold), where a woman described a terrible experience with a Correactologist because she (a) had not been familiar with the nonsense treatment before, and (b) had nowhere to go to complain (the particular practitioner she was treated by is actually a Director of the “Canadian Association of Correactology Practitioners”). Helping people like this is one of the reasons that I set up this blog:Read More »
This is the second of three segments that I presented on The Reality Check, Canada’s weekly skeptical podcast. On episode #205, I talked about allergy testing. Advances in medicine have completely eradicated diseases such as smallpox, and we are well on our way to doing the same for polio. Yet more diseases are firmly under control through most of the developed world through the use of vaccines. However, as we remove some causes of ill health, we notice that others have grown in prominence over the past few decades. Allergies are a good example of one of these increasingly diagnosed conditions, but the general public tends to have a fairly poor understanding of what allergies are, how they come about and how they can be diagnosed.Read More »
I was lucky enough to be invited on as a guest presenter on The Reality Check, one of Canada’s largest skeptical podcasts. I recorded a couple of shows before I left Ottawa and it was immensely fun and interesting. I had made fairly extensive notes for the segments, and it seemed a shame not to post them here.Read More »
I saw this sign literally yards from my home in Ottawa. So close to the border between Ontario and Quebec, there is a lot of competition for services, competition which is enhanced by the fact that there are two different tax rates in the provinces. In this case, the Ontario naturopath is arguing that the customer (and let’s face it, users of naturopathy are really more customers than patients) would be better off using a provider from a province within which naturopathy is licensed and regulated (i.e. Ontario) rather than a province where the practice is unregulated (i.e. Quebec). Of course, this really boils down to a debate over whether or not the Emperor’s new clothes were made by a tailor who was part of the Tailors’ Guild… Read More »
Since my involvement with the 10:23 Campaign here in Ottawa in February 2011 (see our media coverage), I have had a Google Alert set up to notify me when the words “homeopathy” and “Ottawa” occur together in a news article. This alert has been blissfully silent… until today! Read More »
[I really should have discussed this before having launched into reviews of evidence from clinical trials as it is fundamental to the issue of what constitutes “evidence”. You will notice, if you read back, that I have peppered my previous posts with links to this article where appropriate.]
I have mentioned in a number of previous posts that there is some evidence for efficacy for some fairly outlandish alternative medicine treatments. This evidence comes in the form of significant statistical tests in clinical trials. Now, clinical trials (double-blind, placebo-controlled and properly randomised) are the gold standard for evidence-based medicine but (as with all statistics) you have to know how to interpret them for them to be of any use. There are three places where care needs to be exercised in the interpretation of clinical trials:Read More »