Not long ago researchers at Yale cast a pall over the use of complementary medicine in the care of cancer patients – a.k.a. “integrative oncology.” The negativity was based on a fundamental misclassification. Nevertheless, the wrong-headed results prompted a flurry of news accounts that suggested the users of complementary medicine “die earlier than those who didn’t.” A more expansive and deeper look at the potential values of integrative oncology can be gained via a recent Special Focus Issue on Integrative Oncology with its 6 invited reviews, 13 original research articles, 7 commentaries, and 2 editorials. The submissions came from 4 continents.
The lousy and non-collegial editorial review process that allowed JAMA Oncology to publish the erroneous data-mining article from two Yale researchers that stimulated my recent Retraction Needed? JAMA Oncology’s Bum Science Suggests People Die Faster Using Complementary Medicine continues to make waves. Many of you were interested in the topic. Here are some brief updates.
Multiple integrative oncologists question whether JAMA Oncology did the public a huge disservice in publishing the controversial data-mining, population-based research led by Skyler Johnson, MD and James Yu, MD, MHS. The study concluded that use of complementary therapies leads to shorter life spans. The New York Times was among the major media that posted the scare.
A conventional oncology clinician or a typical patient deciding whether to step out of the box and try a “complementary” treatment got a strong message from multiple major media outlets the past three weeks. A New York Times subheading was representative: “People who used herbs, acupuncture and other complementary treatments tended to die earlier than those who didn’t.”