Effecting Change in Glioblastoma
August 20, 2015 – Dellann Elliott Mydland
Bookshelf: Surviving Cancer: Our Voices & Choices
August 27, 2015 – Marion Behr
Diagnosis on a Chip? No Longer Science Fiction
August 27, 2015 – Len Lichtenfeld
Healing in the Key of C: Joy in Music for Cancer Survivors
August 26, 2015 – Khevin Barnes
First Line: Taylor Swift Donates $50,000 to Help Fan Fund Cancer Treatment
August 26, 2015 – Beth Fand Incollingo
Pneumonitis: A Delayed Reaction
August 25, 2015
A Cultural and Scientific Tug of War
August 25, 2015 – Debu Tripathy
Giving Caregivers a Hand
August 25, 2015 – Melissa Silverberg
Time Management Techniques for Caregivers
August 25, 2015 – Melissa Silverberg
Keeping the World in World-Class Cancer Care
August 24, 2015 – Mike Hennessy, Sr.
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Medical Marijuana: Smoking Out the Evidence
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Patients Unable to Work May Qualify for Disability Benefits
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New Treatments May Be Worth the Wait in CLL
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For Survivors of Cancer, Finding Love Involves an Extra Hurdle
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In the Spotlight: Young-Adult Cancer
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August 19, 2015 – Deborah Bell
Can a Low-Acid Diet Help Prevent Cancer?
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Effecting Change in Glioblastoma
August 20, 2015 – Dellann Elliott Mydland
Bookshelf: Surviving Cancer: Our Voices & Choices
August 27, 2015 – Marion Behr
Diagnosis on a Chip? No Longer Science Fiction
August 27, 2015 – Len Lichtenfeld
Healing in the Key of C: Joy in Music for Cancer Survivors
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First Line: Taylor Swift Donates $50,000 to Help Fan Fund Cancer Treatment
August 26, 2015 – Beth Fand Incollingo
Pneumonitis: A Delayed Reaction
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A Cultural and Scientific Tug of War
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August 24, 2015 – Mike Hennessy, Sr.
Comments From Readers
August 24, 2015
Medical Marijuana: Smoking Out the Evidence
August 24, 2015 – Andrew Smith
Patients Unable to Work May Qualify for Disability Benefits
August 21, 2015 – Deanna Power
New Treatments May Be Worth the Wait in CLL
August 21, 2015 – Erik Ness
For Survivors of Cancer, Finding Love Involves an Extra Hurdle
August 21, 2015
Non-Physician Practitioners Playing Larger Roles in Cancer Care
August 20, 2015 – Melissa Quintero
In the Spotlight: Young-Adult Cancer
August 19, 2015
Supporting Teens and Young Adults Through Cancer
August 19, 2015 – Deborah Bell
Can a Low-Acid Diet Help Prevent Cancer?
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A Cultural and Scientific Tug of War

Throughout the history of medicine, there has been an intriguing interplay between pop culture and science.
BY Debu Tripathy
PUBLISHED August 25, 2015
Throughout the history of medicine, there has been an intriguing interplay between pop culture and science. Two feature articles in this issue are emblematic of this dynamic. Our piece on medical marijuana highlights the duality of this field. On one hand, the discovery of cannabinoid receptors illustrates how exogenous natural and synthetic products can interact with our bodies and produce both wanted and unwanted biological effects. On the other hand, the push for medical marijuana was not so much driven by science, as the clinical studies to date are small and inconsistent, well below the threshold required for any drug to be approved by the FDA. Rather, the driving force was a declaration of the freedom that people have over their own bodies, especially when they are suffering from symptoms that they feel are best addressed by their own choice of medications. That is not to imply an absence of clinical benefit of the many compounds found in cannabis. There is, in fact, evidence that it can help with appetite, nausea, pain and neurological disorders such as refractory seizures. But without significant public and private funding, we will not have the high-level proof needed for mainstream adoption, despite the numerous states now legalizing its medical use.

Our article on pH balance and alkalinity is another example of folklore that could actually have a scientific basis. Cancer cells do exist in an acidic environment due to their high metabolism and restricted blood supply, but is this a cause or an effect? While our pH is tightly regulated, we may be able to control it at a regional level, or tweak it enough to have a biological effect. Even though there is not enough data to alter one’s lifestyle or diet solely for this purpose, research into cellular metabolism and the tumor microenvironment is growing at a rapid pace. This line of investigation has both diagnostic and therapeutic implications, but we are only scratching the surface. It would therefore be premature to completely sideline the notion of pH control – probably not by diet alone, but with other pharmacological (or possible natural product) means in the future.

The lesson to be learned from the cultural and scientific tug of war in medicine is that the two together may hasten our arrival to the truth of many matters. Remembering the many examples of ancient herbal remedies that form the basis of modern medicines, we should adopt a combination of open-mindedness (creativity) and skepticism (scientific rigor) – two ends of the spectrum that circle together to advance medicine, and much more.

DEBU TRIPATHY, MD
Editor-in-Chief
Professor of Medicine
Chair, Department of Breast Medical Oncology
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
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