There is a large overlap between medicine and biology, a lot of medical questions are in the end questions about human biology. Where do we want to draw the line on medical questions, when are they off-topic here?

  • $\begingroup$ Those reading this question may be interested in the Area 51 Proposal for Health.SE $\endgroup$ – Rory M Mar 24 '12 at 13:50

In my mind, the line should probably be drawn between "What should I do?" and "How does this work?". Biology is the mechanistic explanation for most of medicine, so those questions should be on topic.

  • $\begingroup$ I think that is a really good distinction. $\endgroup$ – Rory M Dec 19 '11 at 15:50
  • $\begingroup$ Agree with the above. $\endgroup$ – Poshpaws Dec 19 '11 at 16:59
  • $\begingroup$ Would questions about medical procedures (e.g. the history of them and their benefits over alternative procedures) be considered on topic, as long as they are referencing the direct benefit of the procedure rather than its effect on the symptom or ailment? $\endgroup$ – Polynomial Dec 19 '11 at 18:16
  • $\begingroup$ @Polynomial I think again it's a question of mechanism or advice. "Why did antibiotics supplant phage therapy for infectious diseases?" could be answered biologically. $\endgroup$ – Fomite Dec 20 '11 at 21:28

I think that any question asking for medical advice is very much off topic (and gets into a potentially ethically or legally dubious area).

I agree that many (most?) medical questions are human biology questions. But I would take it one step further: medicine is best understood using basic concepts of biology.

I think that, if marginal medicine questions are asked, we should work to reformat them as biology questions. In the end, this serves two purposes: (1) we have a better question base and (2) we can educate the public about biology and why they should care (i.e., their health).

I like this question: Why Does Salt Water Help Sore Throats?, which could have been posed as a medicine question, but really is more of a membrane biology/biophysics/microbiology question. Imagine the question as "Will gargling with salt water help my sore throat [see photo]?"

  • $\begingroup$ Good point. Any medicine question that can be reformatted as a biology question should be valid, but only as the latter form. Anything about specific medical advice should be closed as off topic (medical, not biological) or as too localised. $\endgroup$ – Polynomial Dec 18 '11 at 21:58

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