15 Studies That Challenged Medical Dogma in 2018


January 15, 2019

My favorite scientific papers are the ones that challenge the prevailing wisdom, or dogma. Here are 15 such articles from 2018, in no particular order. (Some are from the tail end of 2017.)

  1. Maybe the womb isn't sterile after all, according to a news feature in Nature.

  2. Probiotics (with antibiotics) may delay gut healing rather than speeding it up, a study in Cell found.

  3. Is it somatic mutations that increase the risk for cancer as we age, or a decline in the immune system, as this paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) argues?

  4. A "speech and language gene" thought to have gained prominence in humans by positive selection may not be specific to humans at all, said this study in Cell.

  5. Type 1 diabetes is being diagnosed until age 60, long after the age once thought, according to a paper in The Lancet.

  6. The benefits of combination chemotherapy go beyond additivity and synergy, said a study in Cell (2017).

  7. "[F]ocusing on end-of-life spending does not necessarily identify 'wasteful spending,'" a new analysis in Science found.

  8. Dairy products: not so bad for health? (The Lancet)

  9. Low-dose aspirin doesn't protect against cardiovascular events and may in fact increase risk, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine.

  10. Salt intake may be dangerous for those at risk for cardiovascular events and stroke, but only in populations that consume more than 5 g per day, said a paper in The Lancet.

  11. Diclofenac, widely used as a painkiller, "poses a cardiovascular health risk compared with non-use, paracetamol use, and use of other traditional non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs," a study in the BMJ found.

  12. It has been unclear what macrophages do in the heart, but apparently they play roles in conduction and remodeling, according to a study in Cell (2017) and Nature Medicine.

  13. She has her father's mitochondria: A study in PNAS suggests that mitochondrial DNA doesn't only pass through eggs.

  14. Vitamin D to prevent bone fractures? Maybe not, said a meta-analysis in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

  15. "[A] new cellular narrative for airways disease": What's happening in cystic fibrosis? (Nature)

What would you add to the list? Let me know with a comment here or on Twitter: @erictopol and @medscape.

Thanks to Miguel Galan de Juana, MD, @BizarMD, Ana Betty Villaseñor, and Tim Spector for their contributions.


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