Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Study: Placebo or not, acupuncture relieves pain

Meta-analyses are hard to evaluate.  There is a lot of room for "fudging" in deciding what to include

Acupuncture gets a thumbs-up for helping relieve pain from chronic headaches, backaches and arthritis in a review of more than two dozen studies -- the latest analysis of an often-studied therapy that has as many fans as critics.

Some believe its only powers are a psychological, placebo effect. But some doctors believe even if that's the explanation for acupuncture's effectiveness, there's no reason not to offer it if it makes people feel better.

The new analysis examined 29 studies involving almost 18,000 adults. The researchers concluded that the needle remedy worked better than usual pain treatment and slightly better than fake acupuncture.

The results "provide the most robust evidence to date that acupuncture is a reasonable referral option," wrote the authors, who include researchers with Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and several universities in England and Germany.

Their study isn't proof, but it adds to evidence that acupuncture may benefit a range of conditions.

The new analysis was published online Monday in Archives of Internal Medicine. The federal government's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine paid for most of the study, along with a small grant from the Samueli Institute, a nonprofit group that supports research on alternative healing.

Acupuncture's use has become more mainstream. The military has used it to help treat pain from war wounds, and California recently passed legislation that would include acupuncture among treatments recommended for coverage under provisions of the nation's new health care law. That law requires insurance plans to cover certain categories of benefits starting in 2014. Deciding specifics is being left up to the states.

Some private insurance plans already cover acupuncture; Medicare does not.

In traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture involves inserting long, very thin needles just beneath the skin's surface at specific points on the body to control pain or stress. Several weekly sessions are usually involved, typically costing about $60 to $100 per session.


"Eat drink and be merry" is GOOD for the British taxpayer

Because abusers die younger  -- as even insurers recognize

Those with prohibitionist fantasies can bang on as much as they like about costs to the NHS of unhealthy lifestyles, but then it’s not their own money which is being discussed, is it?

If their salaries were linked to truthfulness of their statements, I think we’d see an entirely different rhetoric. After all, their current abject failure is simply not being punished, sadly.

The opposite applies to industries where proper, accurate economics – as opposed to the fairy tales told by ASH and Alcohol Concern, for example – decide what level of profit and pay actuaries are entitled to.

Binge drinkers are to be given better pension payouts by insurance companies, it emerged last night.

Those who swig more than four bottles of wine or 15 pints of beer a week could qualify for up to £2,000 a year more than someone who is clean living.

Set aside, for a minute, the laughable emotive claim that someone drinking just over two pints a day is a ‘binge-drinker’. The point here is that insurers have identified, quite rightly, that those who enjoy a drink here and there are – on a macro-economic scale – less likely to live as long as health nuts and are therefore a better financial risk.

By extension, the NHS should be very happy that the highly expensive parts of their creaking system – geriatric care – are lessened by those of us who enjoy life to the full and are quite happy to take the risk of careering into our box sozzled and stinking of cigars. The fact they are not just shows why we don’t go to our local surgery if we want a financial adviser.

It might help to explain why the NHS is bankrupt in many areas too.

Edmund Tirbutt, a health consultant and author of Help Them Beat the Booze, said: ‘There is a real danger of insurers sending out the wrong message.

‘It might make perfect commercial sense to offer more to drinkers, but it will verge on the irresponsible if insurers now start using it as a selling point.’

This is probably one of the most stupid things I have ever read from any health dickhead anywhere.

Safe in the knowledge that it isn’t his money he is risking (it never is with these people, is it?), he is adamant that the irresponsibility is with those who understand money and risk; who are the world’s prime experts at it; and realise that the insurance industry would collapse if they took idiot advice like this regularly.

Beggars belief, doesn’t it? The arrogance of the health lobby never ceases to amaze as they stray from their core knowledge base into professing themselves global experts in anything from market economics to global trade. When did the concept of doctors restricting themselves to what they are trained at, that is curing people when they are ill, cease to be applicable?

Remember, too, that insurers do not benefit from hugely inflated monetary contributions from smokers and drinkers like our government (and by extension, the NHS) does. The bonuses are being paid out despite all policy-holders paying an identical premium.

Next time you see the regular sheep-like refrain from some dull-headed online commenter that the NHS suffers financially from those who choose a lifestyle which includes booze or baccy, spark up a tab, pop open a cool one and toast their generosity in exhibiting their hilarious ignorance to the world.

Cold, hard, unbending numbers expose them as being weapons grade deludos


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