Social Media to the (Timely) Rescue

Yesterday, I read an e-mail from someone who wanted my thoughts on an article entitled, “Scientists cure cancer, but no one takes notice” The article published on HubPages.com  (which, by the way, “Helps Everyday Experts Publish & Earn”) was scientifically unsound, poorly written, and painful for me to read. It proposes that that dichloroacetate is a simple wonder drug for cancer but is so inexpensive that no one cares to study it further. I looked into it and it turns out that the original research that led to this article was done in 2007 – a long time ago in the field of medicine!

Of course, I tried to find out whether there were any more recent references to dichloroacetate. I won’t say I actually researched it, though. (After all, “googling” is to “research” as watching TV drug ads is to getting a pharmacist degree.) Interestingly, the very same day that I read my friend’s e-mail, this was posted on Twitter by Gary Schwitzer, Publisher, HealthNewsReview.org.

Science blogger @pzmyers deflates sensationalism of “Scientists cure cancer, but no one takes notice” story – http://ht.ly/4VF6O

It turns out that this is a resurrection of a sort of “conspiracy theory” on the web, one that was circulated a few years prior. “Science blogger,” PZ Myers, is a biologist and an associate professor at the University of Minnesota, Morris. His post, published online just two days ago begins with this sentence:

So many people have sent me this sensationalistic article, “Scientists cure cancer, but no one takes notice”, that I guess I have to respond.

Well, thank you, Dr. Myers for your timely response. Mostly, though, thank you for responding in a way that not only points out the sensationalism of the popular article, but also teaches your readers about the mechanism of how dichloroacetate works, its potential, and the issues surrounding research of it. Thank you for providing a link that I could forward to others who ask about it (because the “written” word seems to carry more weight than the spoken word). And I also hope that your article, which currently has 1,698 “Likes” on Facebook, eventually supercedes the number of “Likes” of the Hubpages.com article, which happens to be a mere 362,000, and counting….

About these ads

About Linda Pourmassina, MD

Internal Medicine physician.
This entry was posted in Current Events, Social Media and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Social Media to the (Timely) Rescue

  1. Paul Constantine says:

    You mentioned googling for information in this posting. Are you aware of Heal-WA? If not, Heal-WA is a suite of databases provided to Washington state clinicians by the UW Health Science Libraries. It is funded through a portion of your license fee. For more information, see heal-wa.org

    Paul Constantine
    Associate Dean of University Libraries
    UW

    • Paul,
      For the sake of this blog’s topic I did not do any formal research, but when I am looking more in depth, I use resources like PubMed, Ovid, etc to find appropriate journal articles. When I was in residency, I also took a course that specifically taught physicians how to do evidence-based searches online and use those tips often when actually delving into a clinical question. I had not heard of Heal-WA, though. Thank you for the link.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s