Tue, 20 Feb 2018 21:14:18 +0000 Tue, 20 Feb 2018 21:14:18 +0000 en What Doctors Don't Tell You What Doctors Don't Tell You <![CDATA[Blame the Russians]]> The vaccine debate has taken a sinister turn. Any bad news you read about the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) and flu vaccines on social media sites has been placed there by Russian cyber units, plotting to destabilize the West, according to a British tabloid newspaper.

First they orchestrated Brexit, then they helped get Trump into the White House, and now those Kremlin hackers are targeting vaccines. The Daily Mirror reports that "Russian cyber units are spreading false information about flu and measles jabs, experts claim."1

The Mirror reports that "health chiefs have had emergency meetings over the spread of 'fake news' over vaccination campaigns," but unfortunately not a single expert the newspaper interviewed could back up the extraordinary claim with any evidence, and a closer read reveals nobody except the reporter actually made the claim in the first place.

It isn't entirely clear why the Russian hackers would seek to raise doubts about the safety of vaccinations, when government agencies do such a good job of it without any outside help, but the timing could have something to do with a sudden outbreak of measles in several of the UK's northern cities.

The outbreaks happened just months after a major health agency had applauded the UK for having 'eliminated' measles.

Last September, the European Regional Verification Commission announced that not a single case of measles had been reported in the UK for 36 months, an official measure of whether a contagious disease has been eradicated.

Taking the plaudits, the Head of the Immunisation, Hepatitis and Blood Safety Department at Public Health England, Dr Mary Ramsay, said: "National vaccine coverage of the first MMR dose in five-year-olds has hit the World Health Organization (WHO) 95 percent target." This is the magic number for achieving herd immunity.

The new cases have happened among children and adults who haven't been vaccinated, say health officials, and so it seems that a revision of the definition of herd immunity is in order. In fact, the outbreaks have happened in areas that have a mere 94 percent coverage. This alarming one percent failing is down to parents being scared off from having their children vaccinated after reading "false information on the internet," says the newspaper.

It all goes back to the MMR bogeyman Andrew Wakefield who, 23 years ago, feared that the triple vaccine could be causing autism. His discovery sparked a torrent of 'fake news' from the anti-vaccine crowd, according to the pro-vaccine groups, and now, to cap it all, along come the Russians.

This very magazine is considered to be among the anti-vaccine group (aka vaccine deniers). Over the years we've published articles that have revealed adverse reactions to many vaccines, the ineffectiveness of others, such as the flu shot, and generally pointed out that health agencies have been stingy about doling out all the evidence about the safety of the shots. As a result, parents haven't been able to give their informed consentsimply because they haven't been properly informedeven though it is a legal and moral requirement.

However, for those of you who are worried, we'd like to make the following statements:
We're not a Russian bot, nor do we have any connection with Russian hackers, cyber groups, trolls or even good balalaika players.
We are not, nor have we ever been, a member of the Communist Party.
We're not looking to overthrow Western civilization.

Instead, our concerns are always with the parentsnot with government agencies, who seek to achieve herd immunity, or with doctors who are paid a bonus for every child they vaccinate. Because parents deserve to know all the facts before consenting to have their child have a vast array of vaccinations, we look to serious and verified research, often conducted at some of the world's leading centers, such as Harvard, Oxford and Yale.

The problem with the Daily Mirror story is that it stifles all debate. Any negative story about vaccinations must have been placed there by Russian agentsbecause there is nothing bad to say about vaccines. They don't have any adverse reactions (which is odd because the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has paid out $3.6 billion in compensation for damages since its formation in 1988), and they work (also odd, because even proponents of vaccines say that average effectiveness is around 86 percent, which is why vaccinated people still get measles, mumps and the rest). But they could all be Russians, of course.

Thu, 25 Jan 2018 17:54:00 +0000 busterwddty
<![CDATA[It's all a Wonderland]]> Curiouser and curiouser, as Alice might have said if she'd seen some of the research papers that have been passing across the WDDTY desks in recent weeks. They're curious because they provide more evidence of the humbling fact that we have so much still to learn about how the body works and how (or why) disease develops.

And because we don't really have a clue, it's hardly surprising that conventional medicine and its tools of trade get it right less than half the time. On average, a drug benefits the patient in some way around 40 per cent of the time, while the British Medical Association has demonstrated that just one-third of drugs and therapies are effective. And by effectiveness, they mean it provides some benefit, such as a lessening of pain, but doesn't necessarily cure anything.

The first paper we looked at is about the microbiome. The microbiome is all the rage these days; it describes the micro-universe of bacteria that exist in our gut. Medicine has been dragged kicking and screaming to the realization that the microbiome influences the course of a vast array of diseases, from cancers to diabetes and even depression. Get the balance wrong between 'good' and 'bad' bacteria, and you raise the possibility
of disease.

But as medicine is still slowly wrapping its corporate head around this revelationnot that it's being taught in medical schools, or anything radical like thatthis new paper has just revealed that breast cancer can also be caused by bacterial imbalances. So far, on messageexcept that the microbiome isn't in the gut at all: it's a mini-microbiome present in the breast tissue itself.1

The implications are dizzying, and make medicine want to sit down in a darkened room, gently sipping a comforting cup of hot chocolate. For one, it could mean that there are mini-microbiomes scattered all over the body. For another, it completely changes the way that breast cancer could be treatednot with chemotherapy or surgery, but with prebiotics and probiotics that restore the bacterial imbalance within the breast's own mini-microbiome.

The second paper came from one of our favourite maverick doctors (we collect
them), Dr Malcolm Kendrick. Dr Kendrick is a family doctor who has become convinced that cholesterol, and especially 'bad' LDL cholesterol, has nothing to do with heart disease.

He has been derided by conventional medicine, which, at the same time, is slowly tip-toeing around to his point of view as it quietly drops the idea that fats have anything to with cardiovascular diseaseinstead, it's always been sugars, stupid.

Having won that little skirmish, Dr Kendrick has raised the bar a little higher by questioning the long-held convention that a heart attack, or myocardial infarction (MI) in medical-speak, happens when a coronary artery becomes blocked.

There's plenty of evidence to show that it doesn't always happen like this; in fact, the blood clot can form after a heart attack, as researchers like Carlos Monteiro have shown, and sometimes a blood clot never does appear.

One paper discovered that "a substantial minority of MI patients" don't have any obstruction in their arteriesand yet still had a heart attack.2 And to make it all curiouser and curiouser, other research has discovered that in some cases where an artery has become blocked, a heart attack happens days, or sometimes weeks, later.

There have even been cases where the artery has become completely blocked, and the patient never suffers a heart attack.3

Finally, there are heart attacks that aren't heart attacks at all: they are instances of Takutsubo cardiomyopathy, more commonly described as 'broken heart syndrome'. It has all the usual tell-tale signs of a heart attack, but it's caused by extreme stress and not a blocked artery.

So that's just how curious you are: you don't just have a gut microbiome, you have mini-microbiomes; bacterial imbalances in the mini-microbiome can cause cancer; a blood clot that is supposed to cause a heart attack can appear after one happens, and some people have a heart attack when there's never a blood clot at all. Still others never have a heart attack even when their arteries are completely blocked.

As Alice almost said, go figure.

Thu, 21 Dec 2017 14:07:00 +0000 busterwddty
<![CDATA[Fake real news]]> In more innocent times, there was news, pure and simple. We believed most of what we were told in newspapers and on TV. Now, in the Days of Trump, we also have fake news: blatant untruths like 'Hillary Clinton uses a body double' or 'Donald's tan is natural.'

But there's a gray area between these binary possibilities: fake real news. It's fake, because some group deliberately created it, usually for a commercial reason, and yet it becomes news because it enters the zeitgeist, and eventually it's seen as an accepted fact (even though it isn't).

Fake news, on the other hand, seems to have a half-life of days before it gets found out, and plenty of people never believe it to begin with.

Over the years, there have been numerous examples of fake real news. From the world of health and medicine there's been 'smoking is good for you' (yes, really, a classic from the 1930s and 40s), 'sugar won't harm your health' (we believed that one for 30 years), and 'cholesterol causes heart disease' (oh, you still believe that one?).

Fake real news has another name when it comes to stories specifically about healthcare and pharmaceuticals, processed foods and drinks: it's healthwashing, a play on 'whitewashing,' which is defined as 'a co-ordinated attempt to hide unpleasant facts.'

Healthwashing's cover was finally blown in 2015 when a New York Times writer discovered that Coca-Cola had spent billions of dollars funding scientists and organizations to create a public 'groupthink' that fat is responsible for the obesity epidemic, and not the sugar that its products are full of. And it worked. The food industry fell for it, and produced an enormous range of low-fat products, and the pharmaceutical industry created statins to lower cholesterol. And we all drank Coke to celebrate (and got fat).

An Australian university professor, Rob Moodie, has examined healthwashing, and has come up with some of its tactics; you may recognize a few of them.

Attack science: Use terms such as 'junk science' and 'bad science.' Withhold data that may damage your product. Fund your own research that gets the answer you're looking for. Fund 'sympathetic' researchers.

Attack scientists: Create doubt by attacking the integrity of a scientist who may have discovered some inconvenient truths about your products or industry. Sue, or threaten to sue, scientists. Infiltrate science groups.

Create arm's length organizations: Create front groups. Sponsor conferences and workshops. Distribute your message through pamphlets and booklets, and actively through social media.

Manufacture false debate: Create the impression there's a controversy. Demand balance, especially from journalists. Divert attention from harmful products. Focus on corporate social responsibility, and set up foundations. Focus on other issues as the problem, such as physical activity instead of diet, for example.

Frame issues in creative ways: Insist the problem is complex, and it would be premature to suggest remedies. Insist that parents, and not governments, should influence the behavior of their children. Use colorful imagery, and words like 'speculative,' 'oversimplified,' 'premature,' and 'unbalanced.' Diminish the severity of the problem.

Fund industry disinformation campaigns: Run disinformation campaigns, and co-opt celebrities and sympathetic 'expert' witnesses to represent your case.

Influence the political agenda: Donate to political parties. Invest heavily in paid lobbyists. Target former politicians or their advisers to become sympathizers to your cause.

These tactics work wonderfully, and Coca-Cola used most of them. In the early 1970s, when scientists were trying to figure out just why cardiovascular disease was reaching epidemic proportions, the corporation wanted to strangle at birth any suspicions that sugar might be the culprit.

There was already a move toward fats being to blame, thanks to the fake research of Ancel Keyes, but there was one problem: an English professor, John Yudkin, was certain that sugar was the real problem, and had even written a book, Pure, White and Deadly, to make his point.

Poor Yudkin never stood a chance. His research was discredited, 'alternative' research was carried out that proved him wrong, he was locked out of his facilities at his university, his talks were mysteriously canceled at the last minute, and he became a laughingstock of the scientific community. Yudkin retired a broken, and very disillusioned, man.

Of course, he was right, and he is championed by brave scientists of today such as Robert Lustig, a professor of pediatric endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco. "Everything this man [Yudkin] said in 1972 was the God's honest truth," Lustig has told journalists.

Of course it was, but it was up against fake real news, and there's only one winner in a fight like that.

Tue, 21 Nov 2017 11:13:00 +0000 busterwddty
<![CDATA[Chinese delivery]]> The Economist magazine has recently been voted the world's most trusted news source, but even such a highly rated title can get it badly wrong when it reports on alternative medicine. In an editorial, it has accused the Chinese government of state-sponsored 'quackery'for supporting the country's own ancient healing system, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).

It's quackery because it's unproven, the magazine thunders, and yet the Chinese government is set to promote the use of TCM remedies globally, while upping its investment in an already extensive domestic network of TCM clinics and hospitals.

China's leader Xi Jinping champions TCM and sanctioned a government white paper last year that noted the therapy's "positive impact on the progress of human civilization."

But that's nonsense, says The Economist's editorial: TCM is based on a universal energy field called qi, it uses the fungus from dead caterpillars to boost the libido, and the horns of the rhino to treat arthritis. The editorial dismisses most TCM therapieswhich include acupuncture and herbal medicineas "at best placebo and at worst a harmful distraction from the task of curing people, or downright dangerous."1

A day or so after reading the magazine, I came across new research from the University of British Columbia that has discovered that a TCM compound helps prevent bone loss and could be employed as a successful treatment for osteoporosis.

The compound, derived from red sage, works in the same way as some osteoporosis drugs, by blocking an enzyme called cathepsin K (CatK) that breaks down collagen in bones. But unlike the drugs under development, the TCM remedy doesn't have any side-effects. "All clinical trials [of CatK blocking drugs] to date have failed due to side-effects ranging from stroke, skin fibrosis and cardiovascular issues," said lead researcher Dieter Bromme.2

For years, Western researchers have demonstrated many benefits of TCM therapies. Acupuncture, which acts on the mysterious concept of qi energy flowing through our bodies, is routinely used as a painkiller, and its effectiveness has been vindicated by a multitude of studies, far beyond any placebo effect.

The world's largest randomized controlled trial of the use of acupuncture in hospital emergency units has discovered that it's
as effective for pain relief as standard drug regimens.

The method was tested on 528 patients who went to an emergency unit in one of four hospitals in Melbourne, Australia, over two years for the treatment of acute low back pain, migraine or ankle sprain.3

It's a real alternative to standard painkilling drugs, such as opioids, to which a patient can all too easily become addicted, says lead researcher Marc Cohen, from the RMIT School of Health and Biomedical Sciences.

TCM can even kill cancer cells. The TCM preparation compound kushen injection (CKI) is already used routinely in China, often as an adjunct to chemotherapy, to treat a range of tumors, and now oncologists in the West are starting to show an interest. Researchers from the University of Adelaide recently found that CKI could kill breast cancer cells in laboratory tests and shed light on the genetic pathways that it acts on.4

If TCM is effectiveand way beyond placeboas studies have shown, why isn't it being more widely adopted in the West? Skepticism, as displayed by The Economist, persists, often because it's all just so exotic and different, and rooted in traditions and a lexicon that are thousands of years old.

Even if we can prove it works, we really don't understand why, and falling back on mysterious energy forces doesn't convince the Western scientific mind.

Trying to bridge the divide, two Chinese academics have explained that TCM is founded on spirituality, religion and philosophy, which makes it magical and mysterious to Western medicine, which has evolved from observing biological processes.

TCM's underlying premise is that the mind and body are inseparable: to be in good health, a person must have good spirit and pay attention to cultivating their spirit. "Good health and longevity are what we pursue. More and more people are concerned about ways to prevent disease and strengthen their bodies, which is the emphasis of TCM," say Lin Shi and Chenguang Zhang.5

TCM is about prevention and balance. It's a lesson that the West could take to heart: instead of pouring countless billions of dollars, pounds and euros into treating the sick, without ever really understanding why people get ill in the first place, an understanding of the whole person could be a useful new avenue for Western medicine to follow.



The Economist, September 1, 2017


J Bone Miner Res, 2017; doi: 10.1002/jbmr.3227


Med J Aust, 2017;206:494-9


Oncotarget, 2016;7(40):66003-19


Pastoral Psychol, 2012;61:959-74

Wed, 25 Oct 2017 15:32:00 +0100 busterwddty
<![CDATA[Reasonable doubt]]> Proof of vaccine damage is now down to common sense.

Courts of law deal in probabilities. If the defendant pleads innocence, a jury must assess all the evidence and come to a verdict that is "beyond reasonable doubt." This means that the juror may still have some doubts, but the evidence is strong enough to support a verdict.

Parents whose child suffers a serious reaction after a vaccination haven't been granted the same privilege. They have had to jump through a much higher legal hoop, that of "beyond a shadow of a doubt."

Most legal experts agree that this is almost an impossibility, and this is especially so for establishing cause-and-effect in matters of health. The first place to look is the medical evidence. If no research can be found to support the defendant's claim, the claim is invariably immediately dismissed. If there is some evidence, the claim will still probably fail because it cannot be established beyond a shadow of a doubt that the vaccine was to blame on that particular occasion.

Instead, it could have been some other factor at play, or, at best, the child had a genetic propensity, and the vaccine merely accelerated the process.

Not surprisingly, very few cases of vaccine damage are accepted, and compensation payments from governmentswhich take on a vaccine manufacturer's liabilityare rare. A result for the government, and confidence is maintained in a national vaccine program, perhaps, but the parents may be left with a child who has suffered permanent damage, and for whom there is no financial support.

Accepting the unreasonableness of establishing vaccine damage, the European Court of Justicewhich has ultimate jurisdiction over the 28 member states of the European Union (EU)has lowered the legal requirement to that of "beyond reasonable doubt."

It is now sufficient in a European court for the evidence to satisfy four criteria, and the first of these is that there is "specific and consistent evidence" around the time of the vaccination. In other words, it is reasonable to assume that the vaccine is responsible if, for instance, a perfectly healthy child starts rocking his head or loses the ability to speak within days of being vaccinated.

The second relates to the child's state of health, and is linked to the first proof: up to being vaccinated, the child has always enjoyed good health, and has suffered none of the symptoms before.

The third is also related to the first and second proofs: there is no family history of
the child's sudden post-vaccination health problem.

Although all the tests are grounded in common sense, the fourth is perhaps the most common-sensical of them all: are the symptoms common in children soon after they have been vaccinated? Collectively, a court could therefore reasonably assume that "the administering of the vaccine is the most plausible explanation" for a child's poor health, provided the evidence is "sufficiently serious, specific and consistent." Interestingly, the ruling doesn't look for scientific evidence, which has upset the pro-vaccine lobby.

It came about when the court was asked to make an ultimate ruling on the case of a French man, known only as J.W., who developed multiple sclerosis (MS) a year after he had the hepatitis B vaccine in 1998. He sued the manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur, in 2006, and his case eventually reached the French court of appeal, which ruled that there was no evidence that linked the vaccine to MS, and so dismissed it. Although J.W. died in 2011, the French Court of Cassation took his case to the European Court of Justice.

The court wasn't ruling on J.W.'s case specificallyand it may well be that it would have failed the fourth test, as it's not common for someone to develop MS after the hepatitis B vaccinebut was setting general markers for courts to follow going forwards.

To establish that a vaccine may do individual harm, it's enough to produce reasonable, and not absolute, proof. It's what we require of someone facing a criminal charge, and it should be enough for parents who had their child vaccinated, and who believed the vaccine was safe.

Tue, 26 Sep 2017 11:01:00 +0100 busterwddty
<![CDATA[Quiet as mice]]> I'm not a mouse; nor, I suspect, are you (unless you're a highly intelligent one who reads our magazine when you're not eating cheese or whizzing around on one of those running wheelsfun, aren't they?)

If you don't have a very serious identity crisis, this is not earth-shattering news, although it could be if you're a drug company. Mice are usually on the front line when drug companies begin testing the safety and effectiveness of a new drug. If the mice give it the paw's up, the drug will be given to healthy young medical students who aren't anything like the frail and elderly people who'll actually be the targets of the drug.

But researchers from King's College London and Lund University in Sweden have just pointed out something obvious: mice aren't people. Drugs that do well in animal tests may not fare quite so successfully when they're given to humans.

They've discovered that two types of laboratory mice that have been used for more than a century in medical trials aren't very much like us after all. This astonishing insight came to them when they looked for receptors in mouse and human cells that produce insulin.1

Humans don't have anywhere near as many insulin-producing receptors as the mice do, and so drugs that are designed to stimulate or repress insulin production could have different effects in mice and humans. A diabetes drug that seems to be successful in tests on mice could have no effector even a harmful effectin people.

This would explain the problems drug researchers have always experienced when they've tried to replicate results from animal studies in tests on human cell lines. "This is well known, and a source of great frustration for researchers and the pharmaceutical industry," says Albert Salehi from Lund University. "Is it then right to continue to develop drugs based on research conducted on mice, when these drugs cannot be used on humans?"

Good question, and he's not the first to raise it. Researchers at the London School of Hygiene took a look at six animal trials and discovered that none of the 'successes' could be replicated in tests on humans. One trial of a corticosteroid drug for head injuries helped the problem, at least according to the animal study, but was of no benefit at all when humans tried it, while a heart drug that was extremely effective in animal studies actually made things worse in humans.2

Human drug trials can sometimes go very wrong after a new drug has passed safety tests on animals. In 2016, six men suffered severe brain injuries, and one subsequently died, after they took a painkiller that was 'safe.' It had been tested on mice, rats, dogs and monkeys, and in doses that were 400 times greater than those given to the human volunteers.

Ten years earlier, a drug trial was stopped abruptly when six men were treated in intensive care with heart, liver and kidney failure after they had been given a drug to treat rheumatoid arthritis, which had proven safe in monkeys at doses that were
500 times higher.

Drug companies say these reactions are very rare, but then they would. In fact, they're under no obligation to reveal the results of early-stage trials, but one study discovered 11 serious adverse drug reactions in 394 trials.3 A Freedom of Information request discovered that, between 2010 and 2014 in the UK, 7,187 people suffered serious reactions and 761 died while participating in a drug trial.

In the US, a drug trial was stopped suddenly when five of the 15 participants suddenly died, and even a late-stage trial was abandoned in 2016 when several participants died while taking a drug for blood cancer, although the actual number of fatalities has never been revealed.

None of this is new. Back in 1984, three professors opined: "The methods of assessing toxicity in animals are largely empirical and unvalidated... it is necessary to know whether the tests as in fact conducted have sufficient predictive value to be justifiable, or whether they are a colossal waste of resources to no good purpose."4

The good professors miss the most important point of all: animal tests are cruel and cause unnecessary suffering, because mice and people really are different.



Sci Rep, 2017; 7: 46600


BMJ, 2007; 334: 197-200


BMJ, 2015; 350: h3271


Laurence DR et al. Safety Testing of New Drugs: Laboratory Predictions and Clinical Performance. London, Academic Press, 1984

Tue, 29 Aug 2017 19:13:00 +0100 busterwddty
<![CDATA[Don't trust me (I'm Big Pharma)]]> When you start something, are you prepared to see it through to the bitter end? Whatever the outcome or consequences? Without fear or favour?

These are questions that a group of brave souls will need to answer if they're going to achieve their ambition to clean up medicine. The group, mostly made up of doctors and researchers, wants to put evidencerather than money or other inducementsat centre stage when determining best practices or choosing the most effective drugs for treatment.

Experts from Oxford University's Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine have teamed up with the editorial panel from The British Medical Journal to produce a manifesto that lays out nine steps to make medicine ethical, patient-focused and, yes, scientific.

This bold proposal wants to bring patients into the decision-making process (patients deciding their own treatment?whatever next) as well as put health professionals and policy makers in the driving seat of medicine. Presumably, that means the drug companies are pushed into the back seat, like a troublesome in-law on a long car journey.

It's a bold and brave move that, if successful, should turn medicine on its head. Not that the drug companies can complain: they've been fleecing taxpayers and health insurers for years with their products that are often supported by only the dodgiest research.

And that seems to be the spur driving the ambition of the group's manifesto. Research studies are poorly designed and executed, says Prof Carl Heneghan, editor of the journal Evidence-Based Medicine, and then the results are withheld (if unfavourable) or released only piecemeal. It's a problem that's getting worse, he claims, and this has compromised medicine's ability to provide affordable, effective, high-value care to patients.

Together, these failings "contribute to escalating costs of treatment, medical excess . . . and avoidable harm".1

They've certainly caught the mood among doctors. More than 80 per cent of them don't trust medical research, a recent survey has discoveredwhich is pretty worrying, as that's what they're supposed to base their clinical decisions on.2

In a poll of more than a thousand doctors across the UK, 82 per cent said they doubted the results of any clinical trials into drugs funded by the manufacturer. And as the drug company is almost always the sole funder of research into its own products, most doctors are doubting the outcomes and conclusions of their own science.

The public is nearly as sceptical: around two-thirds of the 2,000 people questioned also doubted the reliability of clinical research. Instead, they took their health advice from family and friends.

Let's take pause and recap here for a moment: the multibillion-dollar drugs industry is being driven by doctors who don't believe the science that tells them the drug is safe or effective, or both, but who are nonetheless prescribing them to people who also don't believe in the science behind whatever it is they're taking.

Meantime, the UK taxpayer is throwing around 112 billion a year at the National Health Service while, in the US, many billions of dollars more are being coughed up by health insurers for a medical system that nobody believes in and which everyone knows is crooked. As such, it's a scandal and a confidence trick being perpetrated on the publicor it would be if patients didn't seem to have their eyes open.

So what is sustaining the system? Essentially, no one can imagine an alternative, so everyone puts up with a mediocre or inadequate service that can, on occasion, work. This is especially true of surgeryand of emergency treatment in particularbut even this is questionable. Professor Andy Carr, an orthopaedic surgeon working for Oxford University Hospitals, has suggested that many surgical procedures are unnecessary and that any improvement the patient experiences is actually down to the placebo effect.3

Because of ethical concerns, very few surgical procedures have ever been tested against a placebo, where the surgeon does nothing. But when a procedure has been tested against non-treatment or a placeboas has happened with knee surgery for arthritis, spinal cement injections for vertebral fracwtures and gastric balloon proceduresthere's scarcely been any difference in outcome.

So, hats off to the evidence-based crowd. But will they see it through to the bitter end and its inevitableand medicine-transformingconclusions?



BMJ, 2017; 357: j2973



Fri, 21 Jul 2017 12:15:00 +0100 busterwddty
<![CDATA[Thinking makes it so]]> Here's a very radical thought: suppose it's all placebo. Does the thought that a remedy will work actually make it workwhether you've been given a prescription drug, a placebo or dummy drug, or a homeopathic pill?

The idea that the mind can make us feel better when we're given any kind of pill isn't new to medicine. It's the basis of the double-blind placebo-controlled trial, where a group of participants is given either an active drug or a 'dummy' placebo drug, and no onenot even the researchersknows which they've been given. The drug is deemed a success if its positive effects outperform those of the placebo, even if by just a few per cent.

But with fraud now so rife in medical researchit's been reckoned that around 70 per cent of studies have been 'massaged' to get a positive result for the drug company, which has invariably funded the whole projectwas there really ever any difference between the drug and its dummy version?

It's not just that we feel bettera relaxing piece of music or a hot bath might achieve something similarbut people given a placebo report that physical symptoms, even long-standing ones, have disappeared. Linda Buonanno, of Methuen, Massachusetts, said her chronic symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which she described as worse than labour pains, reversed after she took a placebo pill for just four days. The intense cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and pain, which she had endured for 15 years, suddenly went away and have never returned.

Here's the most extraordinary part of Buonanno's story: she knew she was being given a placebo. She was taking part in a study run by Ted Kaptchuk, at Harvard Medical School, who has been studying the placebo effect for years. For this study in 2010, he wanted to push the envelope and run an 'open-label' placebo trial, where half the 80 IBS sufferers, including Buonanno, were told they were being given a placebo, while the others were given no treatment at all.

Even though they knew they were taking a sugar pill, Buonanno and her fellow sufferers reported "significant" improvements in their symptoms, including a fivefold reduction in pain, as determined by an independent IBS measure.1

Kaptchuk repeated the experiment six years later when he treated 83 chronic low back pain sufferers with open-label placebos, although this time, half of them carried on with their usual treatment, such as pain-killing medications and massage. Again, the placebo delivered the best results, with pain and disability reduced 1.5 timesand similar results were found when the two groups switched treatments.2

Looking beyond Kaptchuk's work, Jeremy Howick of Oxford University led a team that looked at 24 reports and found five trials, involving 260 participants, which had used open-label placebos for a range of health problems, including IBS, depression, allergic rhinitis (hay fever), back pain and ADHD. Overall, the approach had "positive clinical effects compared to no treatment," Howick concluded. In other words, the placebos worked.3

But how can a dummy pill cause physical changesespecially when the patient knows it's a fake? One theory is that patients are subconsciously boosting their levels of endorphins and neurotransmitters when given a placebo by a trusted doctor who may, in the past, have helped them to positively recover. Another suggestion is that the patient's expectations of the placebo working may be raised by the knowledge that it helped others who've had the same health problem.

But neither theory explains why conventional treatments have failedas those same conditions are in place when a real drug is prescribedwhereas the placebo succeeded.

Kaptchuk thinks the answer may be found in a new theory known as 'embodied cognition'. This suggests that the brain isn't the centre of everything, but that our body, and the experiences it has had, influence cognition itself. But, again, this doesn't entirely explain why conventional treatments have failed.

So, going back to our radical idea at the beginning, suppose everything is a placebo (or nothing is, whichever you prefer). On its own, the therapy per se is not the essential point; instead, it's just one component of a complex mix that may include trust in a doctor, belief in the therapy, the current mental state of the patient, support from family and friends, and so on. Only when
all of these aspects are positive does healing become possible.

Just a thought, I knowbut then, a thought may be all you need.


1) PLoS One, 2010; 5: e15591

2) Pain, 2016; 157: 2766-72

3) J Evid Based Med, 2017; doi: 10.1111/jebm.12251

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 21:52:00 +0100 busterwddty
<![CDATA[First mad, then destroyed]]> Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad.

Medicine's governing bodiesthose who determine the truth about disease, its causes and proper treatments at any given timeclearly took a leaf from Euripides's book when it came to dealing with malcontents, nay-sayers and iconoclastsor, in other words, people who disagree.

The history of medicine is littered with visionary folk who were right, told they were wrong, then driven mad in the process before their careers and reputations were destroyed. When they were safely out of the way (as in dead, retired or banished), someone from the 'right' side of the fence would pop up, say exactly the same thing and be applauded for his wonderful insight.

You don't have to look too far back in time to find an example. Step forward John Yudkin, the nutritionist physiologist who set up the nutrition department at the University of London. Back in the 1970s, Yudkin was banging on about how sugar was the real cause of heart disease. But by then, saturated fats had been fingered as the culprit, based on the theory expounded by Ancel Keys and 'proven' by what has since been revealed to be some pretty dodgy science.

No matterit launched the multibillion-dollar statin drug industry and the even more lucrative low-fat food and diet-drink industry. With that sort of money at stake, Yudkin was about as welcome as a mime act on a radio show.

So, taking lesson one from the Euripides Guidebook for Sorting Out Malcontents, the process of making Yudkin go mad began. The British Sugar Bureau started the ball rolling with a press release that dismissed him as "emotional", while the chorus was bolstered by the World Sugar Research Organisation, which described his theory as "science fiction".

Yudkin fought back and sued the organizations. They quickly retracted their slanderous remarks with this apology: "Professor Yudkin recognizes that we do not agree with his views and accepts that we are entitled to express our disagreement." So, having been slandered, it now read as though he was the narrow-minded bigot who couldn't stand being contradicted.

Then stage two of the Madness Process kicked in. Yudkin found himself suddenly, and inexplicably, uninvited to conferences, and even the ones he had organized were mysteriously cancelled. Papers he submitted were left out of publications, and his own college refused to let him use the research facilities he had created once he had retired.

As he once wrote: "Can you wonder that one sometimes becomes quite despondent about whether it is worthwhile trying to do scientific research in matters of health? The results may be of great importance in helping people to avoid disease, but you then find they are being misled by propaganda designed to support commercial interests in a way you thought only existed in bad B films."

He died in 1995, a forgotten and discredited scientist.

Move the clock forward to today and guess what? Sugar is becoming recognized as the real cause of heart disease. Poor Yudkin: driven mad, then destroyed.

Wouldn't happen today? Just ask Prof Tim Noakes or Dr Gary Fettke. Noakes is the scientist at the University of Cape Town who, over the years, has become an advocate of the high-fat/low-carb diet. A couple of years back, he found himself in front of the Health Professions Council of South Africa for sending a Tweet to a breastfeeding mother about giving her baby high-fat breast milk, then weaning it onto high-fat foods.

It wasn't clear what the charge against him was, as it wasn't apparent what rules, if any, he'd breached. Not surprisingly, he was eventually acquitted, but the country's Nutrition Society, which had started the whole rigmarole, remained unrepentant. In a statement, it said: "We are glad that the hearing has been finalized after almost three years, unless there is an appeal. The judgement, however, has absolutely no bearing on the current or future status of nutrition or the dietary guidelines in South Africa."

So, having been left hanging for three years, Noakes could still face a new hearing, and he is still wrong, say his persecutors, and always will be. About what? Having a different point of view, it seems.

In the case of Gary Fettke, a surgeon in Australia, he has been "banned from giving nutritional advice to his patients or the public for the rest of his medical career". Fettke is another high-fat/low-carb advocate who happened to recommend the diet to a patient who had type 2 diabetes. Although the patient saw his diabetes reverse, Fettke hadn't followed the standard dietary protocols, which attest that diabetes can't be cured by diet (even when it is). By now, some of you may be quietly whispering the name of Andy Wakefield under your breath, but I couldn't possibly comment.

Wed, 24 May 2017 13:35:00 +0100 busterwddty
<![CDATA[Prove it!]]> Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) groups could soon lose their tax-advantageous charitable status in the UK unless they can demonstrate that the therapies they represent benefit the public.

It's the test for every group that's a charity. For some, like Oxfam and Christian Aid, it's easy to demonstrate that their work benefits the public, and you might think the same would apply to alternative therapy groups as well.

But the Charity Commission has been faced with a legal challenge, engineered by the self-appointed scourge of all things alternative, Simon Singh (whose own groups, the Good Thinking Society and Sense About Science, both enjoy charity status).

That means the burden of proof becomes tougher. Anecdotal accounts of how a therapy has helped someone simply won't do, nor will a properly conducted trial if it's been published in a second-division medical journal.

What the Charity Commission is looking for are 'robust' (that loathsome word du jour) trials that have been published in prestigious medical journals, and it mentions The Lancet and British Medical Journal by way of examples.

The commission's approach is safe, but nave. Surprisingly few medical trials are robust, even when they're published in leading journals, as two new reports have made clear. One was prepared by Dr Tim Errington, an immunologist at the University of Virginia, who has become so concerned about fraud and spin in scienceand medical studies in particularthat he's created The Reproducibility Project, so named because the ability to reproduce somebody else's results is one of the cornerstones of science.

He took a look at five medical trialsincluding one for a cancer treatmentthat had been published in medical journals so prestigious they would make even the Charity Commission swoon. He spent two years going over their methods, their analyses and their conclusions, and was able to fully reproduce the results of only two of them. Two others were 'inconclusive', and the fifth was impossible to replicate.1

"It's worrying because replication is supposed to be a hallmark of scientific integrity," said Dr Errington.

Similar worries are being raised in the UK. Retraction Watch has been set up to monitor fraud in medical research, and its findings are alarming: in the past five years, there have been at least 300 allegations of fabrication, inaccuracy and plagiarism reported at 23 of the 24 research-led universities the group investigated.2

Medical breakthroughsthe kind beloved by national mediaare the most common type of fraud, and there has been a 10-fold increase in these over the past decade, says Retraction Watch. Worse, industry watchers reckon only a tiny fraction of fraudulent research is ever exposed.

Why does it happen? There are commercial pressures from drug companies that pay for research and expect to see their new drug pass with flying colours, and there are pressures from universities and research centres that are dependent on grants and funding, and wish to be seen as the reliable 'go-to' place to deliver the results everyone wants.

The prestigious journals are keen to publish this kind of research too. If they can be the publisher of major, and exciting, research, their publication will rise even higher in the consciousness of the medical community.

Finally, there's the human factor. The researcher needs to make his mark and put his name to that breakthrough piece of research that changes the landscape of medicine.

As Dame Ottoline Leyser, director of the Sainsbury Laboratory at Cambridge University, summarizes the problem: "It's about a culture that promotes impact over substance, flashy findings over the dull, confirmatory work that most of science is about. Everyone has to take a share of the blame. The way the system is set up encourages less-than-optimal outcomes."

The controversy has even reached the doors of the Houses of Parliament. The science and technology committee at the House of Commons has launched an inquiry into scientific integrity. "Where research has been found to be fraudulent at a later point, it has a big impact on the public," said committee chairman Stephen Metcalfe.

It does more than that, of course. It means treatments can be recommended and drugs prescribed that aren't effective and may even be dangerous; it means that doctors and patients can be duped by commercial interests dressed up as science.

The nuances of these arguments are no doubt lost on the Charity Commission, and probably elude Mr Singh as well, who will continue to use the heavy cosh of science to beat the world into a shape that satisfies only him.



eLife, 2017; 6: e23383


Wed, 03 May 2017 18:14:00 +0100 busterwddty
<![CDATA[The spaces between facts]]> William Halsted is revered among surgeons. He died in 1922, and yet is still considered one of the most influential surgeons ever, with many of his innovationssuch as the use of rubber gloves and a surgical procedure on the digestive tractstill in use in operating theatres today.

He also developed the radical mastectomy procedure after some women he operated on for breast cancer relapsed when the cancer spread to other parts of the body. Halsted was convinced that the operation wasn't 'clean' and had left behind some of the tumour, so he began to remove the breast, lymph nodes and chest wall muscles to ensure no trace of the cancer was left behind.

Radical mastectomy quickly established itself as the standard operation for breast cancer even though it was never tested, and surgeons were happy to go along with Halsted's strange ideas about 'unclean' surgery. Even when surgeons like Sir Geoffrey Keynes questioned the approach in the 1940s, they were shouted down and ignored.

In 1980around 80 years after Halsted introduced the procedurethe first-ever randomized trial was carried out and tested against conservative, breast-saving surgery. But it was hard to find surgeons prepared to try out this latter alternative, so convinced were they that radical mastectomy was the only ethical and effective response to breast cancer.

Eventually the researchers found enough recruits to test the more conservative approachand, to their amazement, they discovered that the death rate among women who had a radical mastectomy was the same as those who had the conservative surgery.

As no one could believe the results, the researchers took another look in the 1990s and then again in 2000. Eventually, everyone had to agree that radical mastectomy had been a false direction. Sadly, by then, more than 500,000 women had undergone the unnecessary surgery in the US alone.

Halsted had got it seriously wrong. It wasn't that some of the cancer had been left behind after surgery: long before the women had gone under the knife, their cancer had already spread and that's why they suffered a relapse.

The story of Halsted has now been told by leading oncologist Siddhartha Mukherjee in a TED talk and subsequent book, The Laws of Medicine (Simon & Schuster, 2015). It's an example of how doctors work with incomplete knowledge and sometimes fail. It's the space between the facts, as he describes it.

These spaces, rich with quantum uncertainty, can make a 'typical' case of cardiovascular disease suddenly veer into unknown terrain, or a drug that's been effective in thousands kill the next patient, or convince an eminent surgeon of 'unclean' surgery.

Far from being a science, medicine is "a lawless, uncertain world. I wondered if the compulsive naming of parts, diseases, and chemical reactions was a mechanism invented by doctors to defend themselves against a largely unknowable sphere of knowledge," said Mukherjee.

As if trying to put a Band-Aid across the chasms created by a massive earthquake, Mukherjee has come up with 'three laws' to help guide him through medicine's otherwise lawless landscape.

His first law reminds us that strong intuition is much more powerful than a weak test. No test is perfect and all will throw up their share of false positivesseeing a disease that's not actually thereand false negativeswhere it fails to see a disease that really is there. So how can you know the result is true? Without prior knowledge, you can't, but a fair slice of common sense and a little bit of information about the person being screened can reduce the odds.

The second law states that 'normals' teach us rules, while 'outliers' teach us laws. Most diseases and treatments follow a similar patternthese are the normalbut it's the unusual and unexpected that teaches doctors something new. Outliers are also known as 'anecdotal', a term that sends a shiver down the spines of most researchers, because the anecdotal is the exception to the rulebut it shouldn't be ignored.

The third law, inspired by Halsted and his unclean surgery, tells us that, for every perfect medical experiment, there is a perfect human bias.

All of this suggests that, despite the progress that's been made, Voltaire's caustic view of medicine still holds true three hundred years on: Doctors are men who prescribe medicines of which they know little, to cure disease of which they know less, in human beings of whom they know nothing.

Fri, 31 Mar 2017 12:25:00 +0100 busterwddty
<![CDATA[Sugar and spite]]> It's a belief that still underpins our most popular weight-loss programmes and, if truth be told, somewhere deep down you probably believe it too. It's this: the more you eat, the more weight you'll put on.

It seems logical enough, but it's not entirely true. The idea of the equality of calories was started by the sugar industry in the late 1950s, and has been endorsed and promoted by supposedly independent researchers and our health guardians ever since. The National Institutes of Health in the US states that obesity is the result of "an energy imbalance"you're eating more than you're burning offand the UK's National Health Service tells us that "obesity is generally caused by consuming more caloriesparticularly those in fatty and sugary foodsthan you burn off through physical activity. The excess energy is stored by the body as fat".

But calories aren't equal, of course, and it's more to do with what you eat than the quantity, as perhaps we're all slowly starting to realize.

The self-evident 'truth' of the equality of calories had inauspicious beginnings. It saw the light of day in a newspaper advertisement the sugar industry paid for to counteract the publicity shots of President Dwight D. Eisenhower following doctor's orders and using saccharin to sweeten his coffee.

The advert explained that there was no such thing as fattening food. Instead, "all foods supply calories and there is no difference between the calories that come from sugar or steak or grapefruit or ice cream." A calorie is a calorie is a calorie, and the source doesn't matter.

The trouble was, there was barely any evidence to support the claim. So the sugar industry paid to get some, as some papers uncovered last year have revealed.1

They paid the equivalent today of $50,000 to three Harvard scientists to 'prove' that sugar wasn't the problem, but saturated fatsmainly from meatwere.

The seminal paper was published in the prestigious The New England Journal of Medicine in 1967, which helped launch the low-fats industry. The report also threw off the scent any researcher who might have been suspecting that sugar also had something to do with weight gain.

And these weren't just the shenanigans of a dim past: in 2016, scientists announced that diet drinksmanufactured by the sugar industrywere about the same for losing weight as plain water. However, it was later revealed that the lead researcher was sponsored by Sugar Nutrition, which itself is funded by the sugar industry, and six of the 11 researchers who helped him had some association with the sugar industry too, with sugar manufacturers directly employing two of them.2

All the while, real science was going on, but it wasn't sexy and it wasn't supporting the sugar industry. As health researcher Gary Taubes explains in his new book, The Case Against Sugar (Knopf, 2016), endocrinologythe study of hormones and hormone-related diseasesand biochemistry were making extraordinary discoveries.

Even as early as the 1960s, scientists knew that we metabolize different carbohydrates, like glucose and fructose, differently. It may be subtle, but over the years, these differences add up, and consuming the 'wrong' sugars long term has created the obesity epidemic we're seeing today.

Taubes is a fierce critic of sugar, believing it to be more deadly than tobacco. "The disorders for which it is the prime suspectobesity and type 2 diabetesin turn elevate our risk of virtually every major chronic disease, from heart disease to cancer and Alzheimer's," he writes.3

But he doesn't just blame the sugar industry. Like a mother hen protecting its chicks, the sugar industry has been defending its commercial interests and those of its stakeholders and shareholders.

Not so the scientists-for-hire, who were happy to say exactly what their paymasters wanted them to say. The Harvard researchers were recruited by the sugar industry, which also paid them and told them the results they were expecting.

Like schoolboys eager to please, the researchers sent their paymaster early drafts of what they intended to write. "Let me assure you this is quite what we had in mind, and we look forward to its appearance in print," wrote back their funders.

It's hard to believe how these scientists, and the many others who followed them, could believe they were practising objective, without-fear-or-favour science.

No, they took the money and duped generations of trusting people who, influenced by their 'discoveries', accepted that a calorie is a calorie is a calorie.

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 18:12:00 +0000 busterwddty
<![CDATA[Post-truth medicine]]> Last year was the start of something big, and it even gave birth to a new word: post-truth. Critics argued that much of the Trump presidential campaign was hallmarked by post-truthsand preposterous post-truths at that, such as President Obama being the founder of ISIS and opposition candidate Hilary Clinton running a paedophile ring from a pizza parlour.

Only a tiny handful of voters really believed Clinton was a paedophile mogul (or even ate pizza), one would hope, and their vote for Trump was perhaps more a rebel-yell emphasizing that its hard to believe anything were told. In that sense, our new post-truth era is an age of cynicism.

The neologism does, however, imply that, at some point, we were being told the truth. But truth has always been a slippery commodity, even back in the days when Pontius Pilate was deciding the fate of Jesus. The news that we watch and read isnt so much the truth as a perspective, valuable though it may be.

Science is supposed to be the one place where truth can be established. The scientific method is objective, seeks independent verification and isnt influenced by money, position or people doing the research. At least, thats the theory. But we know the human factor does play a part, usually through a phenomenon known as a paradigm. The paradigm is the prevailing truth based on the evidence amassed thus far. Paradigms can change, but only very slowly. In the meantime, its a brave or foolhardy academic who dares to utter that hes discovered that our current view of reality isnt quite what we thought.

Medicine prides itself on being a science, but its also a commercial enterprise, which means its truths may be influenced more by money than by the position or reputation of the researchers. In fact, theres good evidence to suggest that medicine is too often a for-profit undertaking that dresses itself in the cloak of science.

Around 70 per cent of all the medical studies published contain some element of fraud or spin and, sometimes, the paper isnt even written by the researchers credited with running the study in the first place. Instead, drug companies hire marketing firms known as medical education and communication companies (MECCs) to put the project together, find the subjects and come up with the right answerwhich can only be a glowing testimonial of the efficacy and safety of the drug in question.

The New York Times newspaper once got hold of the transcript of a telephone call made between the MECC IntraMed and representatives of the drug company Norvartis. During the call, the IntraMed employee said: We would like to help draft this manuscript, and then submit it to you for your . . . editing and approval. In response, the Novartis representative replied that the company just wanted a quick, down and dirty article. Not quite the pure utterances of science.1

And yet, its hard to shake the beliefthe hope, perhapsthat medicine is always a good thing. But, as Dr Marcia Angell reminds us in her excellent book, The Truth About the Drug Companies (Random House, 2005), We need to remember that much of what we think we know about the pharmaceutical industry is mythology spun by the industrys immense public-relations apparatus.

Nevertheless, scientific trials are the basis of evidence-based medicine, as the new generation of doctors are calling it. Two of them recently railed against the herbal detox kits that can be bought at the local health shop after they treated a woman who had become critically ill after taking a cocktail of herbs and excessive amounts of water as part of a detox cleanse. The complementary medicine market is very popular in the UK and the concept of the New Year detox with all-natural products is appealing to those less concerned with evidence-based medicine and more with complementary medicine, they wrote.2

So there you have it. Alternative and complementary medicine is quackery, and medicine is evidence-basedexcept, of course, its not, or not anywhere near as much as it should be.

All of this matters. With post-truths, we can elect presidents, go to war (remember the non-existent weapons of mass destruction?), and take drugs in the belief they are safe and effective.

Lets hope that in this new post-truth age, we become a little more sceptical, so when were handed a prescription for a drugespecially a new one in the marketplacewe exercise a bit of caution too.




BMJ Case Rep, 2016; doi: 10.1136/bcr-2016-216348

Tue, 24 Jan 2017 15:26:00 +0000 busterwddty
<![CDATA[Do nothing]]> It should be the golden rule of medicine (yet its never taught in medical school): first, do nothing. Instead, the fledgling medic is cast in the mould of the hero, ready and waiting to intervene at the drop of a blood-pressure reading.

To help him in his quest to restore health to all are the paraphernalia of the newest technologies, including computer-aided screening tests, scans and X-rays, and the latest breakthrough drugs.

The trouble is that much of it is either unnecessary, untested, unproven or ineffectiveand, in some cases, all four.

A recent survey of more than 5,000 doctors discovered that 83 per cent admitted requesting a scan or prescribing a drug that they knew was unnecessary or useless. They often did so, they said, either out of fear of litigationin other words, as long as the doctor is seen to be doing something, even if its useless or harmful, hes in the clearor because of demands by the patient. Youre the doctor, do something.

But its also to do with box-ticking, says Simon Stevens, head of the UKs National Health Service (NHS). Doctors pay is, in part, linked to treatment targets, so the more they prescribe, the more they get paid.

The UKs Academy of Medical Royal Collegeswhich represents 22 royal medical collegeshas just released a list of 40 treatments that are routinely given, yet are useless or unnecessary. Controversially, perhaps, the list includes giving chemotherapy to patients with advanced cancer, but also includes ordering X-rays for lower-back pain, regular scans for terminally ill patients and routine checks for patients who have had every-day surgery, such as a cataract procedure.

Prof Dame Sue Bailey, the AMRCs chairman, said, Patients should ask what would happen if I do nothing?a question that could just as reasonably be posed by the doctor. And the unspoken answer is invariably . . . nothing.1

This is just the start. The AMRC plans to come up with a list of 150 useless treatments before long, and that shouldnt be a difficult task, either. The 2007 BMJ Clinical Evidence Handbook calculated that only 13 per cent of drugs and procedures are, without question, beneficial, while a further 23 per cent are likely to be so. That means just 36 per cent of all drugs, surgical procedures and other interventions will probably or certainly do you good.2

The initiative is an echo of the Choosing Wisely campaign thats been running for a few years in the US. The campaign has brought together more than 70 groups, each representing a medical specialty, which listed the five most unnecessary or ineffective treatments in their field. They included prescribing antibiotics for sinusitis, ordering an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan for back pain and requesting an exercise
stress test for someone with no signs of a
heart condition.

Its all a terrible wasteof time, money and resources. Estimates by the American College of Physicians and the Institute of Medicine are that overtreatmentanother word for the commissioning of unnecessary tests and proceduresrepresents an eye-watering $700 and $765 billion, respectively, which is about a third of the total health bill in the US every year.3 And some researchers suspect the true figure could be higher still.4

Just as in the UK, overtreatment is often driven by fear of litigationwhich is an even bigger threat for doctors in Americaand because patients ask for it. But its also because doctors just dont know what is actually appropriate for their patients.

Theres another consequence of ordering up a panoply of pointless procedures that is not being talked about by healthcare professional groups: the patient. No procedure, test or drug comes without a potential side-effect or harm, which means that the patient runs a gauntlet of risk of something going wrong every time he is given any sort of treatment

The thought that someone could be harmed or suffer life-destroying effects from a procedure that wasnt even necessary in the first place is sacrilegious and blasphemous in the face of medicines god, Hippocrates. He famously said: first, do no harmwhich, despite what everyone thinks, is also not taught in medical school.

Perhaps its time that first, do nothing is.

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 08:18:00 +0000 busterwddty
<![CDATA[The real med diet]]> Been down to the Med lately? If you have, youll have noticed that the locals dont eat the Mediterranean dietor certainly not the idealized version celebrated by medical researchers. Yet, theyve been urging us to eat oily fish, fresh vegetables and fruit, with lashings of olive oil, all rounded off by a plate of nutsjust like the Mediterraneans do.

Except they dont. Instead, they eat plenty of red meat, eggs, and dairy products like cheese, cream, butter and milk, and they love white processed breadwhether theyre baguettes, croissants or the Italian panini (grilled sandwich). Or, as food and obesity researcher Dr Zo Harcombe put it, If it moves, they eat it + white things.

The thinking behind the idealized Mediterranean dietor FMD (fictitious Mediterranean diet), as Harcombe describes itis that eating too much saturated fat from red meat raises cholesterol levels, which then block our arteries and cause heart disease.

Its a theory thats had an interesting history. It all started at around the turn of the 20th century when two Russian pathologists noticed that the cholesterol levels in rabbits rose when they were fed animal meat. The fact that rabbits are herbivores and that meat is an alien food to them didnt seem to trouble the pair overly much.

Their strange paper gathered dust for years until a young researcher from the University of Minnesota stumbled upon it, and thought it might explain the epidemic of heart disease that had started to sweep across the US after the Second World War.

The researcher, Dr Ancel Keys, struck an early blow on behalf of the saturated fats theory when he produced a striking graph that showed a strong connection between deaths from coronary disease and the amount of fats the patients had consumed. The graph was based on data that Keys had collated from seven countriesthe starting point for his famed Seven Countries Study.

But he omitted to mention that he had, in fact, been monitoring 22 countries. When the data from the missing 15 countries were included, the association between saturated fats and heart disease disappeared.

Thats not so surprising. Countless reviews have established that the foods that contain cholesterolmeat, fish, eggs and dairydont alter cholesterol levels. This finding has also been seen in studies of indigenous peoples whose diets are rich in animal fats and, yet, have very few cases of heart disease.

Keys also appears to have got his food groups mixed up too, as Harcombe points out in a new book shes written (along with 20 other authors).1 For one, he classified cakes and ice cream as fats when theyre mostly carbohydrates. But his biggest errorand the one on which his entire theory standsis in believing that animal fats are saturated while fats from plant foods like vegetables are unsaturated. In fact, says Harcombe, every fat-containing food comprises all three types of fat: saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.

But unaware of such niceties, Keys criticized the natives of one region of Italy for eating butter, cream, meat and eggs, which are loaded with saturated fatty acids and cholesterol. But he was wrong again: a sirloin steak is just 2 per cent saturated fat, while the 10 g of fat in 100 g of egg is 37 per cent saturated fator 3.7 per cent of the egg.

Moving east from Italy, Keys praised the people living in the Croatian region of Dalmatia, where the locals consumed vast amounts of olive oil instead of animal fats, while excoriating the people of Slovenia for eating too much animal fatespecially pork fatinstead of the healthy oils.

But he either didnt know or just didnt mention that 1 Tbsp of olive oil has more than a third more saturated fat than 100 g (3.5 oz) of pork chop.

Come to that, no one else seemed to know either, as his Seven Countries Study, published in 1970, launched the multibillion-dollar low-fat-food and cholesterol-lowering statin drug industrieswhile the idea that animal fats somehow clog up our arteries entered our collective consciousness.

At around the time Keys was starting to run with the saturated fats theory, another researcher was suggesting that the heart disease epidemic had more to do with sugar. Sixty years on, were slowly coming around to that ideahaving consumed plenty of low-fat, high-sugar foods along the way.

Of course, theres nothing wrong with the FMDin fact, theres a lot right with itbut it has next to nothing to do with the health of our cardiovascular system. White processed baguette anyone?


1 Rosch P et al. Fat and Cholesterol Dont Cause Heart Attacks and Statins are Not the Solution. Cwmbran, Wales: Columbus Publishing Ltd, 2016

Thu, 27 Oct 2016 14:29:00 +0100 busterwddty
<![CDATA[Beyond your genes]]> When it comes to cancer, modern medicine is in firm denial. For all the triumphalism over the latest claims that approximately 50 per cent of people survive cancer for at least 10 years, the bald fact remains that cancer incidence rates in Great Britain have risen by 23 per cent in men and by 43 per cent in women since the mid-1970s, cancer deaths account for more than one in four deaths and more than 430 people a year,or one person every four minutes, dies from cancer. Does that sound like a war that's being won?

At least that's the dismal batting average for the typical oncologist. Dr Patrick Kingsley, now retired, had a different track record. Most of the thousands of patients he's treated for cancers of all varieties reversed their cancers and survived.

He's not making this up. As I discovered, patients travelled to his little village of Osgathorpe in Leicestershire from all over the world; taxi drivers in the village called him 'the miracle worker'. All his patient records, with their full histories and progress under his approach, are still there for all to see.

The only mystery is why no one among the medical orthodoxy is curious to find out more about his unique arsenal against cancer.

What distinguishes Dr Kingsley's approach from the orthodoxy is his understanding that cancer doesn't just start with your genes, but almost always has one of six hidden causes-from nutritional or hormonal imbalance to infection. This month, he reveals how you can become your own cancer detective by using certain tests and treatments ignored by most doctors (page 32 of July's issue of WDDTY Magazine).

And speaking of ignoring a cancer success story, doctors also don't want to know what Sue Olifent did when diagnosed with the deadliest of all forms of cancer: a two-inch tumour on her liver. Read how the life-threatening tumour was reduced to simple scar tissue by just a radical change of diet (page 56 of July's issue of WDDTY Magazine).

It's beach weather-and if you've struggled for years with your weight, new evidence shows that your yo-yo diet syndrome may have less to do with calories and more to do with imbalances of your 'fat' hormones. Find out which superfoods can help restore that balance so the pounds easily fall off (page 24). Besides those fat hormones, inflammation in the body can wreak havoc with your other hormones as well, leading to hard-to-shift weight gain. Nutritionist Julie Daniluk reveals which meals can heal inflammation and get you slim besides (page 62 of July's issue of WDDTY Magazine).

Much of inflammation in the body has to do with processed foods, including the so-called 'low-fat' food industry. Recently, medicine has suddenly woken up to what WDDTY has been saying for 25 years: fats aren't the cause of heart disease; it's actually sugar. Read publisher Bryan Hubbard's account of how they got it all wrong about fats and your heart, and have done for more than 30 years (page 18).

With the fine weather (at least at the time of writing), you're no doubt playing summer sports, but before you pick up a racket or golf club, read this month's article by fitness expert Paul Chek. There's more to a great golf and tennis game than good form and expensive equipment. You've also got to work on developing flexibility and stability-which will hold you in good stead for the rest of your activities too (page 42 of July's issue of WDDTY Magazine).

Most dogs and cats these days suffer from any one of a plethora of modern pet afflictions, and in the experience of natural vet Nick Thompson, there's mostly one cause of these conditions: a processed-food diet. Here's why you should let them eat raw (page 49).

If your life's made hell by persistent itchy eczema, try our promising alternatives (page 54). This month we've also sourced some natural remedies for blepharitis (page 46 of July's issue of WDDTY Magazine).

Men are usually the strong, silent type when it comes to discussing any problems with their water works, so Dr Harald Gaier offers a number of natural medicines to help calm the worst symptoms (page 68).

It's salad days right now, and raw-food chef Mark'eta Bola urges you to get creative with leaves and greens besides iceberg (page 52 of July's issue of WDDTY Magazine). And for all those summer bugbears like dry skin and nightmare frizz, managing editor Joanna Evans has sourced a batch of natural saviours. She's also managed to find natural flight-friendly hair and skincare essentials-all under 100 mL. As it turns out, there is a cure for the summertime blues...

Fri, 27 Jun 2014 13:09:00 +0100 Bryan Hubbard
<![CDATA[Catching it early]]> It's all over the newspapers. Deaths from breast cancer have almost been halved, and the bow belongs to screening with routine mammography.

So persuasive is the catch-it-early argument that governments have spent millions putting into effect mass screening programmes, with women the primary targets for wholesale breast and cervical cancer campaigns.

In the latest invitation that comes through your door offering you a breast screening test, the National Health Service claims that regular mammography saves 1,300 lives a year by detecting breast cancer early and that it's been responsible for uncovering some of the breast cancers diagnosed. But as co-editor Bryan Hubbard discovered this month, virtually every claim made about routine mammogram screening is untrue.

Three new studies (one of which took a fresh look at the science upon which the UK's screening programme was launched) have uncovered the fact that: 1) regular screening by mammography is not responsible for the decline in breast cancer; and 2) mammograms don't save lives because 3) any benefit is outweighed 10 to 1 by the number of false positives detected by the technology. For every one woman whose cancer is detected, 10 will be subjected to chemotherapy, surgery or radiotherapy for a cancer that was never there. In some instances, for every one cancer found, 100 women will be told they have cancer.

These scientists join a large body of researchers such as the Nordic Cochrane Centre in Copenhagen, led by Dr Peter Gotzsche, who claim that mammograms cause more harm than good, particularly as there are other, safer and more accurate ways to diagnose breast cancer (page 18 of June's issue of WDDTY Magazine).

Speaking of cancer, we are thrilled to publish the first of an exclusive two-part extract from Dr Patrick Kingsley's new book The New Medicine. Over his 40-year career as a physician, Dr Kingsley treated more than 5,000 patients with end-stage cancer-many consigned by modern medicine as beyond hope-most of whom survived. Now retired, Dr Kingsley can speak freely about his unorthodox approach and his highly successful anti-cancer diet, plus other do-it-yourself tips for things you can carry out in conjunction with your medical treatment (page 32 of June's issue of WDDTY Magazine).

If you've been suffering from Candida overgrowth, an irritable bowel or parasites that just don't seem to go away, look no further than the fillings in your mouth. A new study confirms the work of scientists at the University of Georgia, the first to isolate evidence that amalgam fillings may be responsible for many intractable gut problems like Candida. Here's how to determine if the metal in your mouth is giving you a problem gut and some ideas for what you can do about it (page 24 of the magazine).

And speaking of unwanted guests in your gut, read how Alan Hunter, who'd been plagued by parasites for years, finally discovered a simple dietary plan that raised his temperature and made his body permanently hostile to these bothersome bugs (page 56). In case you'd like to follow his lead, check out our raw-food chef Mark'eta Bola's recipes for a weekly one-day fast (page 44).

And for anyone with a sweet tooth, we've sought out the best grab-'n'-go sweet snacks that are entirely free of refined sugar (page 74 of June's issue of WDDTY Magazine).

Find out how Jessica Ortner cured her own weight problems with Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), or tapping, and how it can overcome the cravings, stress and self-doubt lurking behind most weight problems (page 61).

'Functional' is the new buzzword in the exercise world, a fancy term that simply means training for the moves you use in everyday life. International movement expert Paul Chek sorts out which exercises give you maximum range of motion and why you should eschew exercise machines (page 40 of the magazine).

And if doing anything strenuous brings on an exercise-induced attack of asthma, check out our Natural Doctor's casebook for some alternative ways to end the wheeze (page 46).

For June, we've put together a batch of natural ways to mend the heart-human or otherwise. Learn which foods will lower blood pressure naturally (page 52), which homeopathic treatments work best for atrial fibrillation (page 68 of the magazine) and which alternatives to heart drugs can best treat dogs with mitral valve disease (page 49).

Finally, if you're stuck for a present for Father's Day, we've sourced a super-natural selection of grooming products for men. These hair and skincare must-haves are a healthy way to say thanks, Dad.

Fri, 30 May 2014 10:15:00 +0100 Bryan Hubbard
<![CDATA[Farsighted]]> Failing eyesight has become so closely associated with old age that medicine has applied a number of adjectives synonymous with 'geriatric' to conditions like 'age-related macular degeneration' and 'senile cataracts', and it's just taken for granted that your eyes are going to wear out even faster than the rest of you.

As Dame Judi Dench once commented about her AMD, which has now made it difficult for her to read scripts: "I've got what my ma had, which you get when you get old."

We gently beg to differ. New and largely buried research from Tufts University reveals that all the supposed conditions that rob the sight of millions of people in the West-from AMD and cataracts to diabetic retinopathy-largely have a single cause: a diet high in processed sugar. And far from being an inevitable part of old age, these conditions are close relations of the other major causes of Western degenerative illness, from heart disease to Alzheimer's, and like them can be largely prevented-or even reversed-by making certain lifestyle changes.

Our cover story this month (page 24 of May's issue of WDDTY) details the aspects of your lifestyle that will prematurely rob you of your vision and those special natural supplements shown to reverse the major eye diseases.

And speaking of miracle supplements, you can get exposed to the best and brightest of them just outside your front door. The sun is still our best source of vitamin D, which isn't so much a vitamin as a major steroid hormone, regulating some 30 tissues in the body. What's more, new evidence shows that vitamin D is a powerful cancer fighter and that vitamin D supplements can even slash the risk of women from dying of breast cancer (page 18 of May's issue of WDDTY).

If you're wondering how your doctor keeps up with all the latest in modern medicine, look no further than the drugs salesman. The drugs industry spends some $27 billion (about 88 per cent of its total marketing spend) on 'educating' doctors, including face-to-face visits, gifts (a new PC, perhaps?), a bucketload of samples to hand out and even a trip to the Seychelles. Don't forget the wife and kids (page 22 of May's issue of WDDTY).

But the most powerful drug of all may be your thoughts. As Dr Joe Dispenza discovered, what we think and feel has a profound effect on either activating or silencing our genes and the healing molecules within our bodies. Even when you know you're taking a sugar pill, the expectation of healing can make it work (page 32).

As promised, this month we offer part two of our special on osteoporosis from fitness specialist Paul Chek, who reveals the best exercises for rebuilding your bones from head to toe (page 38 of May's issue).

If you've recently suffered from the pollution coming up from the Sahara, help is at hand in the form of the best natural treatments for hay fever-from pineapple-derived enzymes and plant pigments to Ayurvedic herbs and green tea (page 44). And if you're at risk of stroke and keen to avoid taking 'just-in-case' aspirin, check out the recommendations of our natural doctor's casebook, which offers a plethora of ways to tip the odds in your favour (page 46).

You've seen the ads from British Gas, now read the fine print from electrosmog expert Guy Hudson on the risks of smart meters-the latest source of invisible radiation (page 53). And if you've got angina, our medical detective Dr Harald Gaier offers a batch of proven alternatives (page 68 of May's issue of WDDTY).

Our raw-food chef Mark'eta Bola will fix you up with some delicious morning smoothies, plus some new information about why juicing is even better than eating your five-ahem, seven-a day (page 56). And publisher Bryan Hubbard uncovers another daily habit that's good for your health-namely, taking off your shoes (page 62).

Read the astonishing story of Jessica Willard, who survived a disastrous fall and a coma, and claims a little-known therapy called the Bowen technique had a good deal to do with it (page 58).

It's time to get ready for summer skin, and managing editor Joanna Evans has just the thing for it: a selection of our favourite face masks, all without the usual chemical nasties (page 72 of May's issue of WDDTY).

And we didn't limit ourselves to grown-ups. We've also sourced a batch of the kindest skincare buys for baby, some good for healing eczema, cradle cap and nappy rash-enough to keep all of you in the pink (page 74 of May's issue of WDDTY).

Mon, 28 Apr 2014 11:43:00 +0100 Bryan Hubbard
<![CDATA[Inventing the problem]]> Economist John Kenneth Galbraith was one of the first to identify 'revised-sequence' markets which, unlike the ordinary consumer-driven variety, are driven by a corporation, which controls the consumer's attitudes and values and so creates product demand. Or, to put it more simply, theyinvent the problem to sell the solution.

As American political activist Ralph Nader once remarked, "In any industry, the sellers become very acute in appealing to those features of a human personality that are easiest to exploit. Everyone knows what they are. It's easiest to exploit a person's sense of fear . . ."

Drug companies are past masters at this, particularly when it comes to women after the menopause. Through advertising and information drip-fed to the charities they support, Big Pharma has managed to convince every woman over 45 that with middle age and the end of her childbearing comes the inevitable collapse of her bones. Allow menopause to unfold without medical intervention and you face becoming a humpbacked old dowager in your declining years-with a potentially deadly hip fracture to boot.

Consequently, most doctors and many practitioners in a number of disciplines believe that women can only look forward to healthy old age and strong bones by constantly monitoring bone loss with X-rays and taking some sort of medicine-hormones or drugs like bisphosphonates-to stave off the inevitable.

In our cover story this month, a special two-part report on osteoporosis, we explode the major myths on which most of these medical recommendations are based: that bone loss is an inevitable aspect of ageing, that low bone mass equals low bone strength and that osteoporosis is irreversible (page 25 of April issue of WDDTY Magazine). Far from being a normal part of the ageing process, osteoporosis is a lifestyle disorder, the end result of your body's desperate attempt to maintain its biochemical balance.

We also tell the story of Shelly Lefkoe, who managed to reverse her full-blown osteoporosis without drugs or hormones, and offer a four-point diet, supplement and exercise plan, similar to the plan she followed, to help you maintain or rebuild your bones (page 32 of April issue of WDDTY Magazine).

And speaking of received wisdom, most doctors will tell you and your daughters that the contraceptive pill is perfectly safe, but we beg to differ after having an up-to-date look at the evidence of side effects. Follow the five good reasons we've discovered to ditch the Pill, and find out about the many other-and safer-ways to prevent pregnancy (page 43 of April issue of WDDTY Magazine).).

Twenty years ago Nobel laureate Dr Linus Pauling announced that vitamin C could kill cancer, and although he was vilified for this view, science is finally catching up with him. New research in ovarian cancer patients shows that large intravenous doses can kill cancer cells while also leaving healthy tissue alone. And when Pauling's original studies were revisited, researchers discovered that he indeed was on to something-as we discovered with Bryan's mother when she had cancer (page 18).

Besides vitamin C and cancer, medicine also maintains there's no such thing as electrosensitivity, but one doctor disagrees-after figuring out that her own puzzling symptoms were due to Wi-Fi and her household electrosmog (page 53 of the magazine).

With everything you've heard about aerobic fitness, there are a number of misconceptions over exactly which activities achieve cardiovascular fitness, says Paul Chek; in fact, many stalwarts at the gym have actually conditioned their bodies to not burn fat. Find out the best moves that are good for your heart and all the rest of you too (page 38 of the magazine).

If your pet's not 100 per cent, one little-known but tried-and-tested therapy is acupuncture, says natural vet Paul Boland, who recommends the needles to sort out a common skin condition plaguing a reader's dog (page 50).

And speaking of alternative therapies, the latest research on autism offers more evidence that it's indeed a condition that starts in the gut-as the discredited gastroenterologist Andrew Wakefield first proposed. And one 'mind-over-matter' healing therapy has had an amazing effect on 18 children who were treated in a controlled study (page 58 of the magazine).

For Easter we've sourced a cracking selection of healthy 'good eggs'-from dark-chocolate to gluten-, dairy- and even cocoa-free varieties. And if you're feeling energetic, our raw-food chef Mark'eta offers a recipe for do-it-yourself eggs (page 56) that are not only fun for your kiddies, but good for their hearts too. Nothing says lovin' like something not from the oven, in this case...

Mon, 31 Mar 2014 11:16:00 +0100 Bryan Hubbard
<![CDATA[Back-door solutions]]> The statistics speak for themselves. At some point, 85 per cent of us will suffer from back pain and yet medicine is still at a loss for how to treat this medical epidemic. Despite all manner of sophisticated gadgetry and high-tech surgery, including lumbar surgery, spinal fusion and surgery for slipped discs, surgical success only happens in some 1 per cent of cases.

As Gordon Waddell, orthopaedic surgeon at Glasgow's Nuffield Hospital who helped draft the Royal College of General Practitioners' guidelines for treating back pain, once wrote: "Our failure is in the 99 per cent of patients with simple backache, for whom, despite new investigations and all our treatments, the problem has become progressively worse."

One reason for medicine's persistent failure in treating back pain is that it looks upon it as a disease in itself rather than as a symptom of another medical condition. Co-editor Bryan Hubbard has unearthed evidence showing that back pain is often caused by hidden infections, heart disease, bladder issues or even stress, and dealing with those primary causes usually resolves the pain in your back. But even if your back pain isn't caused by these four hidden factors, we offer a recipe of the best supplements and treatments with solid evidence to help keep you flexible and pain-free for good (page 24 of March issue of WDDTY).

Medicine keeps changing its mind about what exactly constitutes safe blood pressure levels and when they become hypertension, and determining high blood pressure has long been more a matter of fashion than good science. Lately, a group of leading cardiologists uncharacteristically raised the bar on the line between safe and unsafe, so that anyone aged 60 or over with blood pressure up to 150 mmHg is now considered healthy (the previous bar was 140 mmHg). That's a handy decision as the evidence is coming in that beta-blockers, the mainstay of treatment for hypertension, can be a killer (page 18 of March issue of WDDTY).

Besides hypertension, another medical myth concerns the dangers of home births, and the need to have your baby in hospital in case of emergency, but the facts show that, all things considered, when it comes to giving birth, there's no place like home (page 22 of the magazine).

And while we're on the subject of received medical wisdom, indefatigable science author and broadcaster Tony Edwards, who has written a new book-The Good News About Booze-explodes a number of myths about alcohol, including the entrenched view that booze makes you fat (page 32 of March issue of WDDTY).

You know all about the benefits of eating your dark leafy greens, but new evidence shows that how you store them plays a huge role in whether the vegetables you buy still pack a nutritional punch. Our raw-food chef Mark'eta Bola offers tips on how to retain nutrient levels and also gives us greens to help us detox (page 53 of the magazine).

And speaking of healthy practices, if you've got to do one exercise to improve your mobility and your daily life, let it be the squat, says our resident exercise expert Paul Chek (page 40). And for those of you with cats, if your pet has taken to excess grooming, here's a simple regime to sort out its hair and skin issues (page 50 of March issue of WDDTY).

Find out how Susan Lake brought her mum Lorrie back from dementia, and how a woman who couldn't even recognize her daughter was singing complicated arias by the end of her treatment (page 58 of the magazine). If you've had a bad smear test, discover the many alternatives to recovering cervical health, and also holistic ways to keep your gums in the pink (page 44).

Wi-Fi is fantastically convenient and has given us instant access to the internet, but is it safe? A growing body of research suggests otherwise, so this month, our electrosmog doc Guy Hudson offers simple ways to stay plugged in without being constantly bombarded by those invisible rays
(page 56 of March issue of WDDTY).

Medical detective Harald Gaier offers a handy guide to which drugs given to the elderly interact with other medications, along with 12 simple steps to avoid drug toxicity (page 64 of the magazine).

If you're still recovering from the Christmas splurge and January sales, in our Healthy Shopping section managing editor Joanna Evans has sourced the best budget buys and found a load of non-toxic goodies for under a tenner (page 70). And if you could do with a good night's sleep, check out our selection of natural ways to beat insomnia, all likely to gently lure you off to the land of Nod.

Fri, 28 Feb 2014 11:11:00 +0000 Bryan Hubbard
<![CDATA[The third diabetes]]> Governments of the West have finally woken up to the fact that we have an epidemic of dementia on our hands. The incidence of Alzheimer's disease is growing so quickly (the worldwide incidence is set to treble to 135 million in 35 years), and the death rates are so high (it's the sixth leading cause of death) that last December, ministers from the G8 leading nations met in London to pledge to coordinate efforts to research a cure.

Although the pharmaceutical industry is never slow to investigate new revenue streams, it's hit such a stalemate with dementia-none of the five drugs on the market have any evidence of doing any real good at all-that it has stopped looking for a magic bullet.

As our cover story this month makes clear, research to date has ignored the elephant in the room. New and largely ignored evidence shows that insulin resistance from a high-sugar diet may be responsible for the toxic plaques that develop in the brain, eventually robbing it of neurons. What happens in the brain with Alzheimer's is essentially what happens to the rest of the body with diabetes. In fact, some researchers are going as far as to call Alzheimer's 'type 3 diabetes'.

In addition to revelations laying the cause of diabetes at the feet of the processed-food industry, we also offer evidence about those natural herbs and nutriceuticals with solid clinical and laboratory evidence for reversing neural damage that has already begun (page 30 of February issue of WDDTY Magazine).

One of our most comforting thoughts is that modern medicine is a lofty and reputable science, arrived at by exhaustive testing and review. But according to the British Medical Journal Evidence Centre, that faith is misplaced. Less than a third of the 3,000 treatments and drugs assessed by the BMJ's centre's investigators have any evidence whatsoever that they cure or alleviate symptoms.Use our handy guide to separate out 'the Good'-the medicines that might work for particular conditions-from 'the Bad' (the medicines likely to do harm) and 'the Ugly' (those treatments that have never actually been evaluated; page 25 of February issue of WDDTY Magazine).

One practice worth questioning is taking aspirin as a 'just-in-case' remedy. New evidence shows that the benefits-prevention against heart attack-are outweighed by the risks of gastrointestinal bleeding and stroke, and that good old aspirin could be killing 100,000 people worldwide every year and putting another 500,000 in hospital (page 18 of February magazine). But if you want to live a long and healthy life, there is one practice guaranteed to tip the odds more than any other. A special diet? Wrong. A particular exercise regime? Wrong again.

The single thing you can do that dwarfs every other intervention, including stopping smoking, is maintaining close social ties and staying connected. Our prescription for a healthy 2014: talk to two friends before bedtime (page 22 of February issue of WDDTY Magazine).

And speaking of risk factors, the evidence is mounting about the risks of constant mobile-phone use, with numerous countries now acknowledging the dangers.
But our electrosmog doctor Guy Hudson is on hand with a complete programme for using your cell phone safely (page 57 of the magazine).

February is one of the cruellest months when it comes to your skin, so in our Healthy Shopping section, we've highlighted a host of natural creams and balms to sort out all the harsh and drying effects of wintry weather (page 72). And for those with particular skin conditions, our Medical Detective Harald Gaier offers a handy list of those products containing medicinal plants that can heal without the toxins of ordinary products (page 68 of February issue of WDDTY Magazine).

Read how Donna Schwenk sorted out her high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and her family's other health problems with an ancient natural probiotic called 'kefir' (and try out some of her scrumptious recipes for breakfast and dessert). And if you have a cat with kidney problems, check out natural vet Paul Bolan's programme to keep your pet healthy until the end (page 50).

If you plan to celebrate Valentine's Day this month with your significant other, our raw-food chef Mark'eta Bola has come up with a Valentine's feast of natural aphrodisiacs to help get both of you in the mood (page 53 of the magazine).

We've also sourced a batch of natural and organic Valentine's Day gift ideas from some of our favourite alternative retailers (page 74). So whether you say it with flowers, chocolates, or even organic champagne, here's to a purer kind of love.

Mon, 03 Feb 2014 10:28:00 +0000 Bryan Hubbard
<![CDATA[Beyond three score and 10]]> A few years ago, we asked a bold question: what are the key ingredients to a long and healthy life? Specifically, what 100 conditions might best maximize your chances of living to 100?

From our research over the years we knew that the key to healthy longevity isn't a matter of a few resolutions on January 1 to follow some new weight-loss diet or kick off that exercise plan, or even target a particular condition.

A piecemeal solution is not the recipe for a long life, for full, robust health is holistic-a combination of a healthy mind, body, spirit, environment and community. The good life also requires a healthy scepticism toward some of the advice meted out by modern medicine.

We began poring through much of the material we'd written about diet, exercise, and spiritual and mental health over the years, and those practices that in our

view were most likely to contribute to the health of your children. We then studied the most important information we'd shared about cleaning up the toxic soup that constitutes the average modern home and workplace,

and sifted through disclosures about those practices in medicine that are the most potentially dangerous or useless, according to the latest evidence.

Next we looked to which practices most contribute to a robust spiritual life. As growing research shows, the greatest medical pill of all may be connection-to one's family, community and even a higher spiritual power.

We then distilled all this evidence into a handy list of the 100 best practices that in WDDTY's opinion are most likely to maximize your chances of living past the usual three score and 10. This year's list represents a fully updated version of our top 100 recommendations. Incorporating some of these 'apples' into your life every day may well help to keep the doctor away (page 24 of January issue of WDDTY Magazine).

One of the most potentially dangerous of your body's many activities is inflammation, which, if left unchecked, can play a key role in diverse illnesses, from heart disease to depression. But foods can improve or worsen the situation because they augment bodily processes that either promote inflammation or help put out the fire.

In her new book Meals That Heal Inflammation, noted American nutritionist Julie Daniluk has created a unique diet plan to help quell long-term inflammation in your body through scrumptious recipes-all made with anti- inflammatory ingredients (page 67 of January issue of WDDTY Magazine).

And speaking of foods, our raw-food chef Marke?ta Bola weighs in with enticing New Year's recipes, all made from four of the healthiest raw foods (page 61).

One key to healthy old age is a supple spine, but no body part is subject to greater punishment in this computer age. Make it your New Year's resolution to follow exercise expert Paul Chek's simple programme, designed to end back pain in seven easy steps (page 38 in the magazine). And speaking of getting moving, astonishing new research shows that regular exercise works better than taking drugs for many major conditions (page 18 in the magazine).

For those of you threatened with osteoporosis, read how one woman reversed her osteopenia and developed stronger bones by changing her diet and exercise programme (page 64). Plus, check out all the alternative possibilities for treating polycystic ovarian syndrome

Robust health is holistic-a mix of healthy mind, body, spirit, environment and community, plus cultivation of a healthy scepticism of advice meted out by modern medicine without drugs (page 45) and, for those of you with eye problems of any variety, see medical detective Dr Harald Gaier's list of the best alternative treatments to stave off the 'old age' diseases of cataracts and glaucoma (page 42 in the magazine).

Natural vet Paul Boland offers sage advice about alternative ways to prevent ???????????or treat your dog's bad tum (page 54), and electrosmog expert Guy Hudson details the best way to fend off the radiation in your kitchen (page 57 in the magazine). Anat Baniel, our resident expert in children with learning challenges, argues that the most support ive state for any parent is to bean 'inner cheerleader', quietly delighting in the tiniest of developmental forward steps (page 48).

Read how Anna Baudrain discovered that her puzzling neurological condition was down to lead poisoning (page 76). And for those you inclined to an annual heavy-metal detox, follow our eight-point plan (page 80 in the magazine).

Besides your body, you can also detox your handbag by getting rid of the toxic stuff in your makeup bag. In our Healthy Shopping section we offer our shortlist of the safest cosmetics to replace those everyday brands.

Here's to a health full NewYear, and may you enjoy many, many more of them!

Mon, 23 Dec 2013 12:46:00 +0000 Bryan Hubbard
<![CDATA[Light in the darkness]]> Increasingly, those at the very centre of Establishment medicine are joining the ranks of whistleblowers like What Doctors Don't Tell You in shining a light on the dirty secrets of mainstream medicine.

One of the largest spotlights at the moment is Peter Gotzsche, the head of the Nordic Cochrane Centre, the Scandinavian arm of the independent research centre known as the Cochrane Collaboration, which promotes 'evidence-based' medicine.

Gotzsche is also acknowledged as one of the world's leading interpreters of medical research. His latest book, entitled Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime: How Big Pharma has Corrupted Healthcare (Radcliffe Publishing, 2013), details how the drugs industry uses virtually every tactic used by the mob to sell its products, from extortion, fraud, bribery and embezzlement to obstruction of justice.

In our News Focus this month, we present his findings and suggestions for a full overhaul of the entire system used for evaluating drugs (page 18 of December issue of WDDTY).
One of Gotzsche's most extraordinary disclosures concerns his research into non-steroidal anti-inflammatories while medical director at Astra-Syntex. After studying his company's products and carrying out his own investigations on 244 such studies, he discovered that the drug companies were manipulating evidence for their own products to produce favourable results.

In the process he made an even bigger bombshell discovery: anti-inflammatory drugs don't reduce inflammation. That was just public relations spin made up by marketing men to give their products the edge over simple painkillers like paracetamol, he concludes.

Gotzsche's light on this dirtiest of medical secrets has prompted this month's cover story together with perhaps the greatest light ever to be shone on osteoarthritis, a condition that afflicts one-quarter of us aged over 40. Research from Stanford University makes the extraordinary suggestion that most osteoarthritis does not result from old age and wear and tear, as doctors have always maintained, but from inflammation (page 34 of December issue of WDDTY).

This and other new evidence may soon kick away the central platform of medicine's approach to osteoarthritis, which is that joint destruction is largely caused by physical loading and wear and so can only be treated by painkillers and, eventually, joint-replacement surgery.

This is not news to doctors using an integrative approach, who attempt to isolate the cause of the inflammation and so arrest the damage. We offer a checklist of what they've found to be the most common sources of inflammation in the diet and environment, and the top natural anti-inflammatories shown to successfully put out the fire.

We're in the middle of the cold and flu season, but you may want to think twice before heading to the chemist for an over-the-counter medicine. In this issue, we also shine a light on new evidence showing not only that few of them actually work, but that they're especially dangerous for children, particularly the very young. If you'd prefer to go natural, here are the alternatives shown to work-cutting colds by up to four days (page 46 of December issue of WDDTY).

And speaking of making light from darkness, read former ad man Chris Woollams' heart-wrenching story of how he came to start the cancer charity, CANCERactive, after his daughter was diagnosed with brain cancer (page 62 of the magazine).

One of the most powerful healers of all may be nothing more substantive than the thoughts inside your head. Doctors have long recognized the power of the mind-body connection and this month, we explore all the ways thoughts and emotions can make us ill, change our bodies and help us heal (page 25 of the magazine).
'Tis the season to get some rest after all that pre-Christmas hustle and bustle, and our electrosmog expert Guy Hudson shows you the best ways to get sweet dreams unplugged, free of electropollution (page 58 of the magazine).

And if you've still got Christmas presents to buy, check out our Healthy Shopping section, bursting with non-toxic gift ideas for all the family (page 71 of the magazine).
From all of us to all of you, please accept our heartfelt holiday thank you for supporting us this year. May you have a healthy holiday season and may WDDTY continue to light your way in 2014.

Fri, 29 Nov 2013 12:39:00 +0000 Bryan Hubbard
<![CDATA[The inconvenient truth]]> A small group of people tried to prevent you from reading this issue ofWhat Doctors Don't Tell You. They pressurized shops to stop selling our magazine and they were prepared to go to almost any lengths to achieve their aims, including the stage-managing of an 'independent' news article in a major newspaper that contained malicious falsehoods about us and our work.

Why? Perhaps because we'd announced the next issue as a 'cancer special' that would include interesting new research about homeopathy.

Although not given any opportunity for right of reply, we have published the facts about those allegations on our websites and Facebook pages, our supporters have offered overwhelming support, and the story has gone wildly viral across the internet as something of a cause c'el`ebre.

But aside from the issues of censorship and press freedom, this subject has great personal meaning to us. About 20 years ago, we had our own experience of looking for answers to cancer when Edie, Bryan's mother, then 78, was suddenly diagnosed with end-stage breast cancer. She'd privately nursed the cancer for several years without telling anyone, let alone seeing a medical professional.

When we finally learned of it and insisted she see her GP, he was shocked when examining her-her breast looked, as he put it, "like raw meat". So advanced was the cancer that it was too late to try chemotherapy or any other intervention other than powerful painkillers. Edie had three months to live at the very outside, the GP said to us privately. "And if I were you, I'd get her affairs in order."

To be honest, we were frightened and far from certain we had any answers. Fortunately, because of our work, we were able to contactWDDTYcolumnist Dr Patrick Kingsley, a medical pioneer in Leicestershire who has helped people with a variety of conditions, including cancer. We didn't know how successful he'd be with a case of terminal cancer, but we were encouraged to hear that he ran a local cancer group consisting of many other no-hopers who were apparently outliving the odds.

His therapy included high-dose intravenous vitamin C and hydrogen peroxide administered twice a week, and a modified healthy diet free of foods like dairy, wheat and sugar, plus a vitamin supplement programme tailored to the purse and tastes of someone reared on standard British fare.

We took Edie for treatment twice a week and, within a month, her breast started to heal. Several months later, Edie's GP, the one who'd delivered the death sentence on her in the first place, came to examine her and was astonished to see her walking around at all.

He took several tests and was rendered speechless. The cancer which had ravaged her breast, which he'd been so sure was beyond hope or treatment, hadcompletely disappeared. Edie lived on for many more years until her husband died and she, divested of any further purpose, died six months after him.

Worthy alternatives

What's the point of the story? It is emphatically not that we believe that everyone with cancer should take vitamin C. A good number of people have had their cancer successfully treated with one of the three standard treatments on offer: chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery. These do sometimes work, especially if the cancer is caught early enough.

Neither are we suggesting that people follow any particular course, whether conventional, complementary or alternative. Our job in these pages is not prescriptive but investigative-to dig out the best research we can about the 'other side of the story' on both conventional and alternative healthcare to allow our intelligent readers to make their own informed choices and decisions.

The point about Edie's story is that there are non-conventional therapies out there that work. Although the proof of their efficacy may still be 'clinical' or 'anecdotal'-meaning they haven't been thoroughly tested in a rigorous double-blind trial-that doesn't mean they aren't worthy of further investigation. And some alternative therapies are supported by a good deal of published evidence of success.

Many thousands of people have personal experience of such anecdotes of complete recovery by taking a treatment path other than the conventional alone. Journalist and author Laura Bond's mother Gemma-whose story is featured in this issue (page 26 of November issue of WDDTY)-refused to undergo any conventional treatment for her ovarian cancer. Instead, she tried a smorgasbord of alternatives, from vitamin C and enemas to hyperthermia and ozone therapy, and she's alive and well today and completely clear of her cancer. Laura has researched the kind of personality traits that make for a cancer survivor (page 27 of Nov issue) and also the roles of ozone therapy (page 29) and eliminating dairy products (page 34) in successful cancer treatment.

Even homeopathy-that most unlikely alternative therapy which sceptics argue is just so much water and wishful thinking-has shown such considerable promise in its use in India and in US laboratory studies that America's National Cancer Institute wants to carry out further trials of its own (page 68).

Are we saying homeopathy can cure cancer? No. We're saying that it's worthy of further investigation. In fact, investigating alternatives is now an imperative.

For despite all the grandstanding, the pink ribbons and the attempts to cloak cancer treatment in the weighty mantle of science, the fact remains that the vast majority of modern medicine's arsenal against cancer doesn't work. As responsible journalists it's also our duty not to censor, which includes not censoring that the overall success rate of conventional cancer treatments is just 12 per cent. From the orthodox perspective, the War on Cancer is decisively being lost.

Advertising mogul Lord Maurice Saatchi arrived at a similar view to ours after watching his wife die from her chemotherapy as much as from her cancer. He is trying to gain support for a bill that would allow oncologists to try different approaches.

Right now they are struck off for straying from the conventional cutting-irradiating-poisoning treatment.

The Cancer Act has a similar stranglehold over the marketing of cancer therapies. No one can talk about or publish any product or service that features cancer therapy of any description without falling foul of trading standards.

Read all about it

And so we come to the suppression ofWDDTY. Although we have been in print since 1989, we only got everyone's attention last year when we appeared on the newsstands.

As soon as our first issue was published in September 2012, the 'charity' Sense About Science, the self-proclaimed 'guardian' of all things 'scientific'-partly sponsored by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, the official trade body for the UK's drug companies, among other Big Pharma organizations-tried to have us removed from the shelves. Their spokesperson Simon Singh contacted our distributors, urging them to stop supplying our magazine.

Singh then contacted all our outlets (like WH Smith and supermarkets) and tried to persuade them to stop carrying us. When they refused, Singh and a small cluster of his Sense About Science associates began a mass email campaign, bombarding every supermarket and retail group with emails and a hate campaign of trolls on our Facebook pages. When we alerted our supporters to this, thousands of them sent emails of their own-one of the largest waves of support the supermarkets said they'd ever seen.Singh's campaign didn't end there. He then relentlessly pestered the Advertising Standards Association with complaints about our advertisers in attempts to scare them away.

This skirmish recently flared up again when we announced that this November issue would be a cancer special.The Timesnewspaper ran an article on 1 October, alleging that a group of "experts", including "scientists, doctors and patients" were "condemning" shops for carrying our magazine and wanted us banned because of a 'health scare'. The only "experts" quoted were Singh, and two other Sense About Science members.

The article also said we'd claimed that vitamin C "cures" HIV, that homeopathy could treat cancer, that we'd wrongly implied the cervical cancer vaccine has killed "hundreds" of girls and that we'd told parents in our latest (October 2013) issue not to immunize their children with the MMR vaccine.

The Timesdidn't bother to get hold of us to see if anything they'd written was in fact fair and accurate.

It's also apparent from the information reported inThe Timesarticle that not one journalist or broadcaster had read much of what we'd written, particularly on the homeopathy story, and for a very good reason: the article and issue containing it has not yet been published. All we'd published were two sentences announcing our intention to publish a story with some promising research in this current issue.

DespiteThe Timesarticle's gross inaccuracies and misrepresentations, it was suddenly open season onWDDTY, with other media simply parroting the story.The Wright Stuffshow on Channel 5 quickly followed suit with a TV debate, flashing up a photo of Lynne, while the BBC'sFive Livehad a radio debate on our magazine. By Thursday, when the Press Gazette got onto it, the headlines had escalated that our health advice "could prove fatal" (a headline now withdrawn).

In all the furore, not one newspaper, radio show or TV station bothered to get hold of us, not even to solicit a comment-which is basic journalism when you intend to run a story on someone, particularly one so negative. (ThePress Gazettehas since changed its story, as has the BBC.)

Scientific fundamentalism

So why have we upset Sense About Science so much? There is, of course, the most obvious reason: our information threatens the revenues of some of its benefactors, most notably the pharmaceutical industry.

But, fundamentally, Singh and his cohorts believe we are 'anti-science' and pedalling unproven alternatives that could harm instead of heal.

It's important here to make a distinction between science-the open-minded pursuit of truth without fear or favour-and scientism, a solidified set of beliefs around which academics, industries and professions are framed.

The resistance we've experienced has more to do with the latter, and it is this that Sense About Science seeks to protect. This seems clear from the way the scientism of medicine greets any discovery, breakthrough or possibility that questions or threatens the current medical paradigm-by dismissing such ideas out of hand as 'quackery', even when they are the work of eminent scientists at prestigious institutions such as Oxford, Harvard and Cambridge. These are the studies we report on, as anyone who reads our magazine well knows.

Medicine and indeed most of science is becoming ever more fundamentalist, with grant money paid only to those who confirm the orthodox point of view. That's why chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery have remained the only treatments of choice for cancer for so many decades.

For years, medical fundamentalism has only embraced the pharmaceutical model. Drug companies sponsor medical schools, pay for what is often manipulated research and reward doctors willing to prescribe their products with gifts and trips abroad to exotic locations. Medicine has largely become a drug-delivery system.

Drugs constitute a one-size-fits-all model, whereas every human being is unique. Drugs that work on me may not work on you and vice versa; drugs can't be made smart enough to, say, slot tab A into slot B because humans are holistic. As new evidence in biology is beginning to show, the systems of the body interact as a complex, dynamic and highly individualistic whole.

Biochemical individuality creates mayhem with drug trials, which are designed to look for common results in everyone-one reason their results are so often manipulated, massaged or even made up. The Scientific-Ethical Committee for Copenhagen and Frederiksberg Municipalities, which carried out a review between 1994 and 1995 (published in PLoS Med 4(1): e19), estimated that as much as 75 per cent of a sampling of industry-sponsored studies-and possibly up to 91 per cent-were ghostwritten manuscripts to achieve the 'right 'result for their corporate sponsors.

Richard Smith, former editor of theBritish Medical Journal, wrote a foreword to a newly published book entitledDeadly Medicines and Organised Crime: How Big Pharma has Corrupted Healthcareby Peter Gotzsche, head of the Nordic Cochrane Centre in Denmark (Radcliffe Publishing Ltd).

In the book, Smith says that Gotzsche produces detailed evidence to support his case that Big Pharma is guilty of all the offenses of organized crime, from extortion and fraud, to bribery, embezzlement, and political corruption.

When it isn't possible to put a positive spin on the data, the research is often buried so it never sees the light of day, as happened with the painkiller Vioxx, held responsible for the deaths of 60,000 people before it was taken off the market.

All of this begs the question: Which is the more dangerous modality, the current order of treatment or the alternatives we report on?

Keep asking questions

Many conventional doctors are especially vituperative in their dismissal of important work by innovators, while uncritically embracing many surgical or drug-based solutions that are little more than modern-day snake oil. This has bred a climate in which healers are polarized into 'alternative' or 'orthodox' camps rather than being in one common group in favour of anything with a solid basis in either experimental or clinical practice.

Medicine should be a gift to us all rather than a money-making scheme for the pharmaceutical industry, as it now largely is. With that in mind, we suggest that the following be implemented:

o An independent funding body should be created to finance all medical trials, whether of drugs, other forms of therapy or alternatives

o Doctors should be required to spend one year of their five-year training learning about nutrition, alternative modalities and new


o Drug-company influence should be entirely excluded from medicine, from training colleges and from trips abroad

o Doctors should be rewarded for adopting non-drug therapies, thus saving the nation at least one small part of the lb160 billion spent every year on drugs by the NHS.

But most of all, we need to open up the entire field of cancer-our understanding of what it is, what causes it and how it could be treated-while taking on board new understandings of the body and the impact upon it of the environment, stress and emotions. As a researcher once commented when asked whether research into alternative healing should continue, "We can't find the answers if we don't keep asking the questions."

The Timesnever acknowledged our complaints, but took the unprecedented step of writing to our supporters to say our version of events was wrong. The author himself engaged in a long debate with our supporters on our Facebook pages, and eventually made the extraordinary suggestion that we shouldn't have run some of our material, or should have run it with a disclaimer. In other words, the role of a reporter is to support the status quo.

We believe the role of the press is something different-that of watchdog over the status quo, whose role is not to censor bad news. "Those who control or suppress access to such information say they do it to protect an 'ignorant' public. Don't be fooled. People who hide information disrespect the public and act against its interest in taking responsible personal action. Don't trust the censors," says James S. Turner, Board Chair of Citizens for Health, a health advocacy organization.

And that's how we will continue to publish this title-unafraid to ask the unpopular questions and to publish the inconvenient truths.

Tue, 05 Nov 2013 15:49:00 +0000 Bryan Hubbard
<![CDATA[White mischief]]> If we were asked to name the deadliest weapon dispersed during the 20th century, we wouldn't choose the A-bomb or the efficient gas chambers of Auschwitz or drone warfare, or even sophisticated microbiological weaponry. And we wouldn't have to think very long about it, either.

There's no contest. It has to be processed sugar, by a couple of million country miles.

Refined sugar is essentially the modern world's Genghis Khan, responsible for more deaths than all other sophisticated weaponry combined. Obesity, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer, Alzheimer's, eye disease, liver disease, virtually the whole of degenerative disease in modern times beats a path back to the white stuff which, over the years, has become the centrepiece of a silent war waged on all of us by the processed food industry.

But as our Special Report reveals (see page 24 on the October issue of WDDTY magazine), there's a new threat in food even more deadly than 'white gold' per se, which has been brought about ostensibly to make sugar cheaper and last longer on shelves and in products, particularly in liquid products like soft drinks.

Today, the sweetener used in the majority of processed foods is a Frankenstein mix called 'high-fructose corn syrup' (HFCS), the resultant sludge of a three-stage processing of corn syrup and fruit sugar that, in many instances, makes use of mercury via the caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) required in its manufacture. This, the most toxic metal known to man, then finds its way into those foodstuffs and also in our air and water supply. Just three HFCS plants in the UK, for instance, are responsible for a third of all mercury emissions in the air and almost half of all levels found in the British water supply.

Spot tests on HFCS products reveal that about a third of samples of processed foods contain high amounts of mercury, and that consumers of soft drinks and other processed foods could be ingesting, on average, some 28 mcg of mercury-six times the levels that government agencies consider safe-with teenagers swallowing twice that amount.

While we're on the subject of food, the other big bane of modern times is the state of our digestion. Faulty digestion and problems labelled 'irritable bowel' may well be the most underrated condition of all because it's only an early signpost to the fact that you're just not processing your body's fuel as efficiently as you could, which then leads to all manner of puzzling illnesses. But in most cases, IBS isn't one condition but several-a faulty gut membrane, a bad bacterial balance, unwelcome guests like parasites or even food allergies. Follow our seven-point checklist (page 34 on the magazine) and you'll be able to diagnose, treat and finally beat your bad gut.

We may be highly critical of the tools of modern medicine, but doctors are now starting to agree with us. Read about Dr Jayne Donegan, a GP who became a vaccine sceptic after performing her own trawl through the scientific literature (page 18 on the magazine). And even Carole Kelly, once voted 'GP of the Year' by the Royal College of General Practitioners, has left general practice behind to devote herself to alternative medicine after a nutritional approach helped her overcome her food allergies (page 76).

Besides food, we also examine drink this month-especially how much is good for your health-in the midst of so much conflicting evidence (page 22).

By now your children are settled back at school, but for those who are struggling with the new tougher guidelines, our Children's Corner columnist, movement expert Anat Baniel, shows how tiny variations in movement can cause big advances in learning, especially in children with special needs (page 53 on the magazine).

For men only: read what we have to say about vasectomy before going ahead with the snip (page 60). And for women, if you suffer from cellulite, our Medical Detective tells you how to shed it (page 80 on the magazine).

Autumn is not just a good time to take stock of your own health, but also that of your pets. Our resident natural vet Paul Boland offers a full MOT for your dogs and cats to help them avoid unnecessary medication (page 56).

As face oils are replacing moisturizers and handwashes replacing bars of soap as the new must-haves, check out our favourites in our Healthy Shopping section (page 83 on the magazine).

Raw-food chef Mark'eta Bola offers a master class in sensual spices (page 63) and our Food as Medicine columnist Annemarie Colbin argues that the best way to deal with a fever is to warm it up rather than trying to cool it down (page 66).

And find out about resonant frequency, and how it may well be the best drug of all (page 68 on the magazine).

Thu, 26 Sep 2013 12:51:00 +0100 Bryan Hubbard