The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is the national organization that advocates for the interest of physicians in Canada. They also publish the well regarded Canadian Medical Association Journal. The CMA has a vocal public advocacy function and routinely speaks out on different public health issues and the sustainability of medicare. Recently they have been in the news speaking out against the Province of Ontario lifting its ban on Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) competitions. Does the CMA really think we don’t know MMA is dangerous?
The CMA Says This Is Dangerous (Thanks CMA!)
It doesn’t take a medical degree to know that when someone enters the octagon, there’s a pretty good chance that they’re going to get hurt. It’s not clear what CMA is trying to accomplish by calling for the banning of MMA and others similar combat sports (they also want boxing banned). With these events, the fighters entering the ring have seen other matches, are highly trained, and are almost certainly aware of the risks. Why would the CMA speak out about MMA, when there’s lots of meaningful advocacy it could be doing to demonstrably improve the health of Canadians?
If the CMA truly wanted to make a genuine improvement in Canadian’s health, they could start by discussing the growing popularity of alternative health practices like acupuncture, chiropractic, chelation therapy, or even homeopathy. An evidence-based evaluation of the merits of these practices would be a welcome addition in a country that is increasingly embracing these practices. And let’s be clear about the risks here: From the impossible to the improbable to the unproven, these practices lack evidence of benefit, may have the potential to directly harm, and could lead people to seek out ineffective treatments instead of scientific ones. Unlike MMA, alternative medicine directly involves millions of Canadian consumers – and unlike the fighters of MMA, many people that use these controversial treatments do not even know that there are risks.
One only needs to spend a few minutes perusing the tragic cases catalogued in the medical section of the website WhatsTheHarm.net to see what the risks of alternative medicine can lead to.
While the CMA is protesting MMA, the Japan Medical Association (the JMA) has joined with other Japanese physicians and scientists to call out homeopathy. The CMA have already stated that they are in favour of evidence based medical treatments. All they need to do now is be brave enough to join with the JMA and call out specific treatments as unscientific. The CMA’s silence on these controversial treatments is deafening.