Sunday, January 06, 2008

Need a new brain? Go to China.

Americans have been traveling to China [and other countries] as medical tourists for some time, but now there's a new wrinkle: you can get stem cell therapy for a number of problems, including injections of stem cells into your brain to treat Parkinsons.

Western doctors and medical scientists are decrying this, saying that with the lack of rigorous clinical trials and published, peer-reviewed research, Americans are just offering themselves up as guinea pigs for treatments that at best seem to work only a little and only temporarily.

I'm inclined to agree that it would still be playing Russian roulette right now, though if I had some horrible disease and no other hope, I might try it. Then again it's not like our clinical trials here are carefully and rigorously watched over by the FDA.

16 comments:

Michael said...

That sounds too experimental for me under any circumstance without a whole lot more safety studies, and there are a lot of other safer forms of alternative medicine that might be a good thing to try before you go leaping off a cliff.

Steve Bates said...

I almost posted this on NTodd's site recently in response to a similar suggestion by Michael regarding NTodd's often-discussed chronic depression. I cannot let it pass twice.

If one has a chronic medical condition or problem, the one thing one can be sure of obtaining in unlimited quantities is advice. People give that advice to be helpful, or to push an idea, an ideology or (in some cases) a product for sale. I speak from experience: everyone from my s.o. to bloggers who barely know me has given me medical advice. Enough. The only way one can have confidence in the process... not the outcome, but the process of being treated... is to do the research oneself.

Polite suggestions, offered once, and not associated with any commercial product, are generally welcome by people who have problems. Anything more is suspect. Sorry, Michael; that's how it is.

hipparchia said...

eh, steve, i love ya, man, but really, i 'd rather you bark at me instead of at my commenters. and besides, i liked the leaping off a cliff reference.

that said, i have to admit to sharing your frustration with winnowing out the chaff from the wheat when it comes to the plethora of medical advice.

hipparchia said...

michael, it sounds too experimantal to me too at this point, but if i were desperate enough and had the money, i'm not sure what i'd do.

i'm a true believer in rigorous testing, but two things...

first, i was struck by the arrogance of the assertion that our testing is so much more rigorous and ethical and controlled, especially given the current state of the fda.

and the problem with participating in experimental clinical trials here in the u.s. is that not only do you not get to choose whether you're in the control group or the experimental group, but you don't even get to know which one you're in. if you feel like the experimental treatment is your last-ditch possibility, i'd imagine there's an extra comfort in being able to actively choose that treatment.

hipparchia said...

also, i'd just really like to visit china someday.

Steve Bates said...

hipparchia - your and NTodd's commenter, not yours alone. I did not bark at Michael on his first pitch from the back of the medicine wagon. But I hear your message loud and clear: no interaction with other commenters. I shall comply.

hipparchia said...

compliance, huh?

[zips up black leather catsuit, pulls on tall boots, brings out whip and leash and spiked dog collar]

comply this!

nah, interaction is cool but barking scares the cats.

Michael said...

Steve, if hipparchia objects, she can object to my comment. I wasn't giving you medical advice, nor her. I do not really think you should be disputing with me here about whether I should or should not speak about certain things, but I have no commercial interests in what I say.

Michael said...

Steve, I've had some more to say on NTodd's blog in response to another commenter, so if you want to take it there and NTodd doesn't mind, I don't either.

Otherwise, I'll certainly avoid mentioning things you don't approve of on your blog.

And hipparchia, sorry for barking back, if I did. I don't want to make a mess of the place.

Steve Bates said...

hipparchia, is your policy about commenters not addressing their complaints directly to each other a uniform policy? or does it apply only to me?

It was a stupid thing for me to contend over in the first place. That's not so much an apology as an admission that life is too short to argue about such things.

Michael said...

I wish you would address me, Steve. You're welcome to stop over my blog and start a conversation about what upsets you, I'll make an open thread if you like.

Frankly I don't understand why you are upset. I have nothing for sale. Some sites have things for sale but I make no profit from them. So what?

hipparchia said...

policy: it's my blog, i get to growl when you get too close to my food. oh, wait, that's the policy for handing out treats.

steve, no, there's no policy. that would require me to adopt that hobgoblin of little minds, consistency. i've got myriad talents, but that's not one of them.

i did consider at one time stealing bryan's, but this blog has 10, maybe 12 readers and if any two of you get into a snit and go huffing off into the ether never to be seen again, i should probably just lie on the sofa, drape myself in cats, and read books. not that that would be a hardship. :)



michael, i think i understand what steve's objection is, because i think he and i had a conversation some time ago on a related subject. y'all are welcome to continue on here, or move to another venue, or whatever suits.


i apologize to both of you for jumping in snapping my teeth.

Steve Bates said...

So the policy IS unjust?

OK. I can live with an honestly stated, openly biased nonpolicy far better than a pretended fair policy. :)

I should not have introduced the comment/complaint the second time anymore than the first time. My frame of mind changed, and I did the ill-advised deed. Such statements never change anyone's mind anyway. And frankly, I have a couple of real-world issues absorbing a great deal of my psychological energy at the moment, and I just don't care to fight it. My original statement may be true or not; take your choice... but I retract any explicit or implied challenge. I just can't do this right now.

hipparchia said...

no no no! it's a NON-biased non-policy, randomly applied.

you've seen those signs? the ones that say this property protected by pit bulls three days a week; you guess which three. that's probably the closest to a comment policy i'll ever get.

oh, and i can out-issue you [and your pretty little kitties too] any day.

Steve Bates said...

"Smith and Wesson" ... in Texas, the signs say "Smith and Wesson," not "pit bulls."

hipparchia said...

obviously i've been away from texas too long. i'd forgotten that one.