The University of Arizona Med School adds Integrative Medicine

From UA’s website (emphasis mine):

The track will focus on integrative medicine – healing-oriented medicine that takes into account the whole person (mind, body and spirit), including all aspects of lifestyle. IM emphasizes the therapeutic relationship and makes use of appropriate therapies, both complementary and alternative, seamlessly blending conventional medical training with other modalities for disease prevention and to better trigger the body’s innate healing response.

“Preventive medicine is a crucial part of a medical professionals’ training and is often minimalized in conventional medical training,” said Dr. Andrew Weil, center founder and director. “Receiving this additional training early in their career will give UA College of Medicine students an advantage in their residency and practice and a more comprehensive set of skills for treating and communicating with their patients.”

Enrollment in the IM Distinction Track will be open to first- and second-year medical students at the UA College of Medicine-Tucson beginning with the fall 2011 semester.

It will require participation in the center’s month-long integrative medicine elective rotation, attendance at grand rounds presentations and patient conferences, monthly special-topics lectures, facilitation of a “healer’s art” course, completion of more than 30 hours of online courses, a capstone paper suitable for publication and an oral exam.

I have nothing to add other than what David Gorski of Science Based Medicine said at TAM9: “Integrative medicine integrates quackery with real medicine.”

This is post 36 of 49 of Blogathon. Pledge a donation to the Secular Student Alliance here.

Tall women more likely to get cancer, study finds

From CNN:

Researchers followed 1.3 million middle-aged women in the United Kingdom for several years, and found the risk of cancer increased by about 16% for every 4 inches or 10 centimeters of increased height.

But the question remains, why?

According to Jane Green, a clinical epidemiologist at Oxford University and the lead author of the study, the tallest group – women 5 feet 9 or taller – were 37% more likely to develop cancer than the shortest group – women 5 feet and shorter- regardless of factors such as age, socioeconomic status, body-mass index and amount of physical activity.

There were 97,376 incidents of cancers reported among the women, and height related increases were greatest for the following: colon, malignant melanoma, breast, endometrial, kidney, central nervous system, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and leukemia.

The study did not investigate what specifically about height led to the increased risk, but the research add to other studies that have found a link between cancer and height. The study authors aren’t sure what exactly increases the cancer risk, but they believe there are several theories that warrant more investigation.

For one, the authors propose that “taller people have more cells, and thus a greater opportunity for mutations leading to malignant transformation.”

Another possible culprit: Hormone levels resulting from insulin-like growth factors both in childhood and in adult life.“

Growth hormones increase cell growth and rate of division, and inhibit cell death,” Green explained in an email. “Both of these might be relevant to cancer either directly or perhaps just by increasing the number of cell divisions during which mutations can occur in the cell DNA.”

John: I thought that was because the cancer cloud hangs approximately 5 feet 10 inches off of the ground.

Well, add that to the List of Reasons Jen is Totally Going to Get Cancer, after family history, repeated terrible blistering sunburns, getting your first period before age 12, biology labwork, and hours of unintentionally inhaling lots of art supply fumes in confined spaces, and being alive.


This is post 35 of 49 of Blogathon. Pledge a donation to the Secular Student Alliance here.

Different types of polyamory

A lot atheists automatically think of Mormonism and Islam when you mention “polyamory.” It tends to conjure up images of oppressed women being forced into unwanted marriages with little say. That or HBO television shows.
But that’s really polygamy, which isn’t quite the same of polyamory. Polyamory is focused on love and consent. Though I’m not personally interested in it, plenty of people are much happier being in relationships with multiple people at the same time.

And I have no idea what the point of this post was other than clarifying that point. …So. Yep.

Are any of you in a polyamorous relationship? What sort of reactions have you had from the atheist community? From religious communities? Are there any frustrations you typically run into?

This is post 34 of 49 of Blogathon. Pledge a donation to the Secular Student Alliance here.

Harry Potter and Skeptical Thinking

I already talked a bit about why it’s okay to like fantasy stories like Harry Potter even when you’re a skeptic. But I’ll go one step further – Harry Potter has a lot of great skepticism in it.
Think about it. Even though their world is based on magic, they have their own version of supernatural, pseudoscience crap – basically everything that Luna Lovegood and her dad believe in. Most magical people easily accept unicorns and dragons and nifflers, but Crumple Horned Snorkaks? Ridiculous.

And Hermione is a wonderful skeptic. Just look at this quote from the 7th book about the Deathly Hallows:

“But that’s – I’m sorry but that’s completely ridiculous! How can I possibly prove it doesn’t exist? Do you expect me to get hold of – of all the pebbles in the world and test them? I mean you could claim that anything’s real if the only basis for believing in it is that nobody proved it
doesn’t exist!”

Hermione just destroyed all Christian apologetics. …Too bad the Deathly Hallows actually existed. *cough*

…I know I originally had more examples, but my memory is starting to go. If anyone has any other skeptical Harry Potter examples, feel free to leave them in the comments.

This is post 32 of 49 of Blogathon. Pledge a donation to the Secular Student Alliance here.

Bill O’Reilly is a misogynistic moron

What’s new, right? Here’s what Bill had to say about the recent recommendation that birth control be subsidized:

“Many women who get pregnant are blasted out of their minds when they have sex. They’re not going to use birth control anyway.”

Yep. Women only get pregnant because they’re drunk sluts who don’t care about birth control.

…I don’t even have to say anything else, do I?

This is post 31 of 49 of Blogathon. Pledge a donation to the Secular Student Alliance here.

How effective are energy drinks?

This is a question I’m pondering more and more as the night goes on. Last night when I was preparing for Blogathon, I asked people for energy drink recommendations since I usually don’t try them. While recommendations for everything under the sun rolled in, a couple people remarked that most energy drinks rely on pseudoscientific claptrap, false advertisement, and placebo effects.

First of all, screw you for ruining my potential placebo effect when I need it the most.

But I am a skeptic, and this was a topic I had never really given much thought to. How many energy drinks are based on BS? Are they really anything more than caffeine and sugar?

From a cursory googling, the answer seems to be “probably not.” One psychology professor at Vanderbilt says that a peanut butter sandwich with orange juice would have just as much effect as a bottle of 5-Hour Energy, and probably be way healthier for you. Most of the random ingredients in this kind of stuff haven’t been shown to actually increase energy at all – it’s mostly just caffeine.Taurine? Ginseng? Milk thistle? Homophobia? What the hell did you guys recommend I buy? Boo hiss!

But I admit, I haven’t done a lot of research into this, nor am I going at this moment. If anyone’s more informed, please enlighten us in the comments!

This is post 30 of 49 of Blogathon. Pledge a donation to the Secular Student Alliance here.

A guest appearance

Jason: *starts chatting on Google video chat*
Me: Who’s that? I didn’t give you permission to chat with anyone.
Jason: Don’t you recognize his voice?

John: Who’s that?
Me: That’s Hemant! …From Friendly Atheist?
John: Never heard of him.
Me: Ouch.
Hemant: I’m going to go back to taking off my shirt now, bye.

No, there’s really not more context than that.

This is post 29 of 49 of Blogathon. Pledge a donation to the Secular Student Alliance here.

How to cure feminism

According to the purported manifesto of Anders Behring Breivik, who recently confessed to being responsible for the Norway killings:

1. Limit the distribution of birth-control pills (contraceptive pills): Discourage the use of and prevent liberal distribution of contraceptive pills or equivalent prevention methods. The goal should be to make it considerably more difficult to obtain. This alone should increase the fertility rate by 0,1 points but would degrade women’s rights.

2. Reform sex education: Reform the current sex education in our school institutions. This may involve limiting it or at least delaying sex education to a later age and discourage casual sex. Sex should only be encouraged within the boundaries of marriage. This alone should increase the fertility rate by 0,1 points.

3. Making abortion illegal: A re-introduction of the ban on abortion should result in an increased fertility rate of approximately 0,1-0,2 points but would strip women of basic rights.

4. Women and education: Discourage women in general to strive for full time careers. This will involve certain sexist and discriminating policies but should increase the fertility rate by up to 0,1-0,2 points.

Women should not be encouraged by society/media to take anything above a bachelor’s degree but should not be prevented from taking a master or PhD. Males on the other hand should obviously continue to be encouraged to take higher education – bachelor, master and PhD.

He’s right. Want to control women? Reduce them to baby making machines.

(Side note: Why is it still okay for women to get PhDs? …Why am I trying to use logic to analyze something like this?)

The really scary part? While people while be eager to dismiss this as the crazed ravings of a madman, these are the exact tactics the religious right is using in the United States. And that’s a hell of a lot more than one person.

(Via Pharyngula)

This is post 28 of 49 of Blogathon. Pledge a donation to the Secular Student Alliance here.