Wheat intolerance? Processed breads are the real culprit, says researcher

There is no bullshit in the world so self-evidently fatuous that someone won’t assert it. Non-existent “wheat intolerance” caused by bread that has gone through some nebulously-defined “processing”? Sure, why not?

Most people who think they have a wheat intolerance actually have an aversion only to highly-processed wheat products, a controversial new study suggests.

Actually of course most people who think they have a wheat intolerance, have no such thing. This is especially true of those whose “intolerance” has been diagnosed by quack nutritionists using one of the legion of bogus diagnostics they use. A very common tool used to diagnose wheat intolerance is applied kinesiology.

In fact, unprocessed whole grain is good for us, and could even protect us against inflammation and gastro-intestinal cancers.

Gosh, really? It’s almost as if Wheat Belly is a fetid load of dingos kidneys.

Researchers from the University of Warwick even describe whole grain products as a super food that could be superior to fruits and vegetables.

The definition of superfood is “perfectly normal ingredient for which we can charge credulous people a bit extra”.

Lead researcher Rob Lillywhite argues that most health issues, such as gastro-intestinal complaints, are associated with highly-processed wheat products, rather than whole grains.

Did he? Did he really? Oh, wait, no he didn’t. He actually said pretty much the opposite. He said that there is no evidence that wheat is a problem other than for coeliacs, but he did point the finger at processed foods, just not processed bread.

Let’s be completely clear here: he is at pains in this article to point out that there is no good evidence that either wheat or rice cause any problem over and above the excess consumption of any food.

Even the Daily mail got this right. How does it feel to be a less reliable source of health information than the Daily Mail?

Whole grains are rich in dietary fibre, starch, fat, antioxidant nutrients, minerals, vitamins, lignans and phenolic compounds, all of which are linked to a reduced risk of cancer. Whole grain cereals can also protect against obesity, diabetes, cardio-vascular diseases and cancers.

Redux: Wheat is not bad for you, despite what you claimed in all these issues.

When he reviewed all the evidence, he said a direct link between wheat consumption and illness was difficult to establish, other than in the two per cent of the population with celiac disease.

Yes, what he said, Lynne, was that this story of yours, and virtually every other story you have ever published on the subject of wheat or gluten, is wrong. You know, like the cover story in August 2011. And all the others.

And you are too stupid and blinded by your distorting anti-science field that you published the quote anyway.

“What Doctors Don’t Tell You” – Dangerous advice

Reblogged from Swift at the James Randi Educational Foundation

If you want an alternative to reputable health magazines, look no further than What Doctors Dont Tell You (WDDTY) - the winner, once again, thanks to assiduous astroturfing, of a “people’s choice” award
for most popular website in the Health category.

This paean to quackery is published in the UK by US expatriate Lynne McTaggart and her husband Bryan Hubbard. Its editorial panel is a rogues’ gallery of “alternative” practitioners, several of whom are no longer licensed to practice medicine. It’s now being published in the US. 

Originally by subscription only, WDDTY’s editors promised to offer a well-researched independent critique of medical practice and never to take advertising, in order to stay pure. 

The former went by the wayside at roughly Issue 1, whose opening headline was “A Shot In The Dark: The measles vaccine in all its forms doesn’t really work.” The latter was jettisoned when the magazine relaunched in a glossy “lifestyle” format in September 2012 to sell directly through mainstream outlets such as newsagents and supermarkets.

It was this relaunch which brought WDDTY to wider skeptical notice.


Cover stories promoted vitamin C as a cure for AIDS and cancer, homeopathy as a cure for cancer and a range of other claims that will be familiar to students of Natural News and Mercola.com. Data mining through older issues also turns up some gems: Peter Duesberg’s HIV denialism, for example, and the claim that sunscreens cause cancer, which, combined with WDDTY’s advocacy of sunbathing (allegedly suppressed, I kid you not, by the sunscreen industry) actively endangers readers. 

The format changed but editorial policy did not. Research papers have always been systematically quote-mined,misrepresented and cherry-picked to place a quack spin on every story. For example:

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Chemotherapy isnt only useless against cancerit even encourages the tumour to grow, researchers have discovered  WDDTY, 28 January 2013.

Dr. Matthew Lam contacted the study’s authors to confirm this and they replied:

“It is very, very unfortunate that these groups routinely misquote scientific studies. The paper says nothing of the sort. The objective of the study was to identify resistance mechanisms to cancer therapeutics and to target them to make standard therapies more effective.

Our study has been misquoted and misinterpretedI believe on purpose–by several of these groups. However, I have not wanted to expend a lot of effort trying to correct this, unless asked directly, as it only adds visibility to their claims.”

Not even anti-vaxers are immune to being misrepresented, and if a study fails to say what WDDTY wants they are not above simply making it up. Recent issues include 100 things to help you live to 100”, every one of which was either flat wrong or misleadingly presented.

As with most supporters of SCAM, WDDTY subscribes to the idea that all of medical science is an elaborate conspiracy to support “big pharma”. That doesn’t stop them promoting commercially motivated claims. A recent example is New supplement best for preventing bone loss, says study”, which uncritically repeats a press release based on a 39 personstudy funded by the manufacturer of the supplement, and a long story on how “chronic Lyme” was “cured” by ahomeopath. (Chronic Lyme, a quack diagnosis, is currently limited in scope in the UK but as with most nocebo effects will likely increase due to advocacy). And of course there’s “Much more than placebo: Homeopathy reverses cancer”, whichrests entirely on the claims of the Prasanta Banerji Homeopathic Research Foundation. 

The main and repeated focus of WDDTY, though, is vaccines. Dr. Ben Goldacre has described McTaggart as viciously, viciously anti vaccine and this is borne out by a review of the contents. I have 268 issues of WDDTY on disk and there appear to be 204 which mention vaccines, way ahead of any other single keyword I have tried. Many issues have numerous anti-vaccine stories: Google search finds over 1,400 mentions of vaccines on WDDTY’s website. I have reviewed a large number, certainly in excess of 100, and have yet to find a single one which is even neutral, let alone positive. For example: ‘Safe’ HPV vaccine kills up to 1,700 young girls (WDDTY, 30 July 2013). 

Incredibly, that enormously inflated and completely bogus figure is actually supposed to be a correction! Those who follow vaccine denialism will instantly recognise the standard anti-vaccine trope of citing VAERS figures as if they were provably caused by vaccines, and why that is profoundly stupid. In this case McTaggart also represents a total of 1,671 serious events as Gardasil killing “up to” 1,700 girls – while zero is indeed in the range 0-1,700, CDC states 

Between June 2006 and March 2014, VAERS received 96 reports of death after people received the Gardasil® vaccine. CDC and FDA review all available information on reports of death following any vaccine, including Gardasil®. Among the 96 reports of death, many could not be verified, because there was not enough information reported; 47 could be verified through clinical review of medical records, autopsy reports, and death certificates. Detailed review of every report of death following a person’s receipt of the Gardasil® vaccine has shown:

  • *  There is no pattern of death occurring with respect to time after vaccination
  • *  There is no consistent vaccine dose number or combination of vaccines given
  • *  There is no diagnosis at death that would suggest that the Gardasil® vaccine caused the death
McTaggart had originally claimed up to around 2,000, revised it to 96 (which is taken directly from the CDC document that shows nobody at all has provably died from Gardasil) and then revised back up again based on… well, who knows on what basis anybody could make such an obvious error, other than massive ideological bias.

This is not sloppiness; it is clearly deliberate editorial policy and it has been constant throughout the entire life of WDDTY. Ideologically consonant claims are uncritically repeated, and any contrary information is discounted because big pharma, duh.

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All this makes it pretty obvious why the presentation of this magazine at supermarket checkouts was seen as a bad thing by the reality-based community. Simon Singh wrote to the publishers and was threatened with a libel writ for his pains. I started What Doctors Don’t Tell You Don’t Tell You”, a group blog to critique WDDTY’s content. Josephine Jones has an extensive Master List of critical commentary.

Since the sceptical backlash began, WDDTY has gone into full-on paranoia. Apparently a group of skeptics in hock to the pharma industry is trying to have WDDTY “banned”, which is a problem because free speech (which apparently confers an obligation on commercial organisations to market said speech). Meanwhile McTaggart and WDDTY to actually censor any critical content from social media pages and engage in creepy personal attacks against those who hold them to account for their misleading content.

A widespread campaign of criticism and mockery has resulted in a few shops (e.g. Waitrose) withdrawing the publication. It was withdrawn from the large British supermarket chain,Tesco, and then apparently reintroduced after pressure from followers. It’s recently been withdrawn from WH Smith, Britain’s largest chain of newsagents. This is clearly hitting the editors in the wallet, because they have turned the paranoia up to eleven and now claim that pharma-sponsored trolls”are to blame for the “censorship” and “banning” of the magazine.

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McTaggart’s angst is understandable: a glossy magazine is expensive to publish and she can’t sustain it without bothadvertising revenue and mass market sales. Advertising revenue may be taking a hit since skeptics are actively watching the content and many of the advertisements in WDDTY have been adjudicated by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) as misleading, Some advertisers are listed as persistent and unrepentant offenders on ASA’s “non-compliant” list. Some advertisers also write editorial content, including Guy Hudson “The Electrosmog Doctor”, whose content is basically undeclared advertorial. His advertisements have also been found by the ASA to be misleading.
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Lynne McTaggart is also the author of a number of sciencey-sounding books, most notably The Field, which gives scientific proof of the paranormal including “psychic activity, remote viewing, the power of prayer and homeopathy”. Has she claimed the million dollar prize? Apparently not. We’re told by the publisher that it has gained “a almost cult following.” (sic)

In summary, then, WDDTY is a nasty paranoid conspiracist anti-medicine, anti-science propaganda organ written and published by cranks and packed with misleading advertisements. It’s sold in mainstream outlets and its editors are unable to tell the difference between opposing the commercial propagation of dangerous nonsense and attempts to stifle free speech. They apply the characteristic SCAM double standard where by all science is conflicted unless it’s sponsored by the SCAM industry. If you see this magazine in a retail outlet, I encourage you to challenge it with the shop’s buyers.

 

Vaccines won’t protect our children, say 74 per cent of parents

The stupid. It burns.

WDDTY’s story “vaccines won’t protect our children, say 74 per cent of parents” covers a publication which shows that 74 per cent of parents understand that antivaxers are a public health risk.

Yes, that’s right: McTaggart says that anybody who understands the dangers of unvaccinated children, believes that vaccines won’t protect their kids.

Most parents don’t believe in the protective effects of vaccinations.

Why do you think that might be? Anything to do with the antivaccine lobby? Including the “viciously, viciously anti-vaccine” Lynne McTaggart?

According to one survey, 74 per cent of American parents said they would remove their vaccinated children from a daycare centre if there were any children attending who weren’t up-to-date with the vaccine schedule.

Very sensible – no vaccine is 100% effective and unnvaccinated children are one reason why the US is currently seeing outbreaks of measles and pertussis, both of which had been virtually eliminated prior to the Wakefield farrago.

Although it’s mandatory for every child attending a daycare centre in the US to be vaccinated with the MMR and other childhood vaccines, they do not have to have received all the vaccines.

Thanks to assiduous lobbying by antivaxers, yes. You must be so proud.

In a US survey carried out by the University of Michigan, most parents believe that the centres should police vaccination schedules, and 74 per cent said they would consider boycotting a centre if they knew that as many as one in four children was not fully up-to-date with vaccinations.

It’s almost as if there is a resurgence of vaccine preventable disease, isn’t it?

The questions didn’t mention children who were still unvaccinated.

On the grounds that an unvaccinated child is, by definition, either too young to have been vaccinated, so up to date, or not fully up-to-date with their vaccines. How is this not obvious?

Just 10 per cent of parents were relaxed about the idea of children who weren’t fully vaccinated.

Still far too many. But the public education campaigns should fix this in time, as long as WDDTY and their antivax fellow-travellers never mention vaccines ever again.

All of which beggars the question: isn’t your child supposed to be protected anyway?

No, Lynne. Your story beggars belief, but the report does not beg the question, because anybody who is even slightly educated about the vaccine issue recognises precisely what it means: three out of four parents think you and your ilk are a public health danger.

The other one out of four need to wise up.

Update

@Zeno001 reminds me that there re two messages here. The first is the bald assumption of the anti-vax trope “if vaccines work, why are we a threat”, which is based on the false assertion that medicine claims all vaccines to confer 100% immunity to the relevant disease. This is, of course, tosh, and is one reason why herd immunity is so important.

The other message is that large numbers of people – most, in fact – are not taken in by the anti-vax bullshit. This si great news for the reality-based community and it’s just a shame that it has taken deaths and serious harm in outbreaks of preventable disease to bring home to people why vaccination is important. We’ll never kill the zombie memes set loose by Wakefraud, but we can isolate them in small pools until they die out naturally. A well informed population is effectively vaccinated against bullshit, it’s not 100% effective but a high enough immunisation rate prevents outbreaks.

The jelly bean problem

If you’ve wondered why we are so skeptical about the studies that WDDTY cites (at least those where WDDTY does not misrepresent the findings, which is alarmingly common) then you may not understand the “jelly bean problem”.

From XKCD, released under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5. Which is awesome in and of itself.

David Colquhoun explains it perfectly in this superbly written and very readable paper published by the Royal Society: An investigation of the false discovery rate and the misinterpretation of p-values. If the editors could read and understand the implications of this paper, half of our work would be done.

New supplement best for preventing bone loss, says study

Churnalism. Don’t you just love it? The repetition of self-serving claims from press releases into press as if they were facts. Wikipedia calls this “fact-washing”.

WDDTY said they would not do this. It’s as true as their principled statement that they would never take paid advertising.

So it’s no surprise to see a tweet from WDDTY:

new-supplement

We know WDDTY well enough by now to be able to read the subtext. A new supplement (i.e. made by the whiter-than-snow big-pharma-suppressed all-natural supplement world) is superior to the current drugs.

And this is clear too in the story they link:

A new nutritional supplement is better than calcium and vitamin D for protecting the bones in older women, a new study has concluded.

There you have it: the supplement is better than the drug calcium and vitamin D. Except – wait – that’s a supplement too isn’t it? How can this be? Ah yes: calcium and vitamin D, usually branded Adcal or Calcichew, is made by big pharma.

KoACT is a calcium-collagen chelate—which means the two compounds are bound together—that prevents bone loss, and so reduces the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.

Well that’s plausible enough, but it rather runs against the narrative as the calcium-collagen chelate is produced by a pharmaceutical manufacturing process; the supplement is a form that does not actually exist in nature.

It’s been tested for a year on 39 older women, who were given either KoACT or calcium and vitamin D supplements. Women in the KoACT group had a 1.23 per cent loss in bone mineral density at the end of the 12 months trial, while those taking the supplements experienced a 3.75 per cent loss.

N=39 is a very small study. The difference in bone loss could be significant, or it might not.

Researchers from Florida State University, who carried out the study, say the results are “crucial” for women, and especially for those who have reached the early stages of menopause when bone loss can be rapid.

Do they indeed? Or is it, perhaps, that these words were planted in their mouths by someone?

You know what’s coming. You will have guessed the obvious right from the outset. But I won’t spoil your pleasure yet.

KoACT website: www.koact.net

(Source: Journal of Medicinal Food, 2014; 141014082953002).

Want to see that source? You bet. The journal link is  doi:10.1089/jmf.2014.0100 and it’s also summarised in Science Daily.

The Science Daily coverage is more comprehensive, giving a more neutral overview and not including claims that the results are “crucial” but instead the much more plausible:

Arjmandi acknowledged he was “pleasantly surprised” by the outcomes and hopes that the supplement will be used in the future as a way to prevent bone density loss.

And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for. There, at the bottom of Science Daily’s article is the one piece of genuinely crucial information, the essential fact omitted from WDDTY which necessarily colours any interpretation of this small, preliminary study:

Arjmandi’s study was funded by AIDP, Inc.

And AIDP Inc. is, of course, the manufacturer of the supplement.

What Doctors Don't Tell You
Why don’t doctors tell you that a calcium/collagen chelate is more effective for preventing bone loss than calcium and vitamin D?

Because the evidence to date is one rather small study funded by the manufacturer.

WDDTY misrepresents antivaxer

Last year we reported a grossly irresponsible article in WDDTY: “Jayne Donegan on the MMR (measles–mumps–rubella) jab” (see also “Hygiene, Not Vaccine“). These refer to a WDDTY article retailing the discredited antivax trope that hygiene improvements, not vaccines, are responsible for the decline in vaccine preventable diseases.

What we did not spot was that Jayne Donegan, quacktivist though she be, is no happier with this festering pile of bullshit than we are!

1) I have never been interviewed by WDDTY.

2) In order for parents and the general public not to be mislead by statements purported to be quotes made by me in the October edition of ‘What Doctors Don’t Tell You’ and subsequent statements by them in various media, I am publishing the letter below on my website as WDDTY have refused to publish either this letter or any other form of correction/ clarification.

Now, it is just possible that the November article is a response to this. Possible, but very unlikely, as (a) the November edition must have gone to press before the page is dated and (b) the WDDTY article includes the very claims of which Donegan complains.

So it turns out that WDDTY can’t even honestly report the views of a homeopath, anti-vaxer and dissembler to the courts.

The old saying says: when you sup with the devil, use a long spoon.

Wheelbarrow of Stupid

Or How Wandering Teacake Wasted His Time Trying To Understand WDDTY’s Sales Figures

Reblogged with permission from Wandering Teacacke, please follow the comments there.

It’s been a while since I’ve written about What Doctors Don’t Tell You, the journal of record for those looking for an alternative to real medical advice. But here I am, pretty much back where I started my blogging career all those 12 long months ago.

Here’s why. Over the past 18 months or so, various individuals, myself included, have contacted various supermarkets and newsagents that stock WDDTY, expressing our concern at the content of this – how can I put it? – festering purulent pile of discarded, discredited and dangerous treatments. Over the years, some stockists have dropped the title, some have dropped it and then reportedly started again, some have just ignored us. But through it all, the editors of WDDTY have screamed about free speech and how the nasty Big Pharma shills want this magazine banned. Continue reading

Lynne McTaggart attacks critics with blatant lies

Lynne McTaggart tweets: “Last year drug-company lobbyists tried to ban WDDTY – but we WON. Please vote us Health Website of the Year TODAY”. This is of course a malicious lie – if she had any evidence she would already have published it. The sole grounds for this mendacious claim appears to be that McTaggart’s only experience is with people whose writing is blatant shilling for their own commercial interests; as a result, she does not seem to be able to understand any motive other than naked profit. Now read on…. Continue reading

Autism ‘caused by MMR using human fetal cell lines’

Another month, another paper flogging the zombie meme of MMR-Autism. This time in a superficially decent journal, albeit one where the subject is likely to be outside the specialist knowledge of peer reviewers (public health specialists are not normally going to be geneticists).

Impact of environmental factors on the prevalence of autistic disorder after 1979, Journal of Public health and Epidemiology, 2014; 6: 271-86

The first question is: who wrote the paper? All the authors list their affiliation as “Sound Choice Pharmaceutical Institute“, a religious fundamentalist group with an agenda against use of foetal cell lines, because abortion. You can probably stop there, actually. That really does tell you everything you need to know about this “study”: it’s an exercise in hunting for a predestined conclusion. Such exercises rarely fail.

The explosion in autism has been caused by the introduction of human fetal cell lines in the manufacture of MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccines, a major new study has concluded.

“Major”? By what definition? How does it compare with all the other reviews of the purported correlation between MMR and autism, covering over 20,000,000 individuals, and finding no correlation whatsoever?

Oh, wait: this is WDDTY. Major means “we like the result”. Like the “major” study proving that we live after death (that wasn’t and didn’t).

Before 1987, when the vaccines were produced with animal cell lines, autism cases were relatively low. Today, it’s been estimated that 1 in 50 children has autism.

No, autism cases were not low, autism diagnoses were. In fact the biggest driver of increasing autism diagnosis rates is probably that a far greater proportion of cases are diagnosed. The diagnostic criteria have also changed.

Stem cell researcher Theresa Deisher and others say that the correlation between the sudden explosion in autism cases and the introduction of the new MMR vaccines is too strong to ignore—although, as the old maxim goes, correlation doesn’t prove causation.

Stem cell researcher? Hmmm. This is someone who does write research on stem cells, but she is also listed as the driving force behind Sound Choice, so it is very likely that what she is actually doing is closer to pathological science, where ideology drives the results and confirmation bias is king.

But there’s another question here. The SEC filings of Sound Choice indicate a non-trivial sum of money, but I can find no information about where the money comes from. Is it really all small private donations? It seems unlikely.

Why is this relevant? Well, we’ve seen before that groups producing “science” to support fundamentalist Christian and other conservative agendas, often turn out to be funded by wealthy activists. Remember the claim that abortion increases breast cancer risk? There were bills on the floor of several State houses seeking to mandate that this “information” be forcibly presented to women seeking termination, and it took some time for these to die even after the purported link was refuted.

According to the published paper, “The author(s) have not declared any conflict of interests” though it was supported by the Murdock Charitable Trust, a body that has funded pro-life and libertarian groups, provided funding to the Discovery Institute and so on – in other words, a religious conservative foundation. There has even been an editorial in Nature discussing the lead author’s role in a lawsuit aimed at forcing the US Government to stop funding stem cell research.

In what way is a history as plaintiff in a faith-motivated lawsuit related to stem cell research, and funding from a religious conservative foundation, not a conflict of interest?

How many red flags do you need, exactly?

The ‘change point’—when the numbers of autism cases rose sharply—happened in the UK in 1987, just when the new MMR vaccine, using human fetal cells, was introduced. A similar correlation was seen around the same time in Denmark, while the autism change point in the US was 1980 to 1981 after the introduction of the new MeruvaxII and MMRII vaccines in 1979. Both vaccines used human fetal cells for the first time.

How convenient for those who, like the authors, have an ideological opposition to human foetal cell lines.

There are a few inconvenient facts omitted from WDDTY’s coverage, then.

  1. The research was conducted by a body that cites opposition to use of foetal-derived cell lines as a primary purpose.
  2. Research by groups not committed to finding adverse effects from foetal cell lines, find no association, causal or otherwise, between MMR and autism.
  3. Withdrawal of MMR in Japan following the fraudulent work by Wakefield had no effect on  autism diagnosis rates.
  4. Diagnostic criteria have changed since 1989.
  5. No plausible mechanism is referenced by which this purported effect might work. DNA does not recombine in this way. It does not enter the cell nucleus.
  6. We already have good evidence that autism is usually genetic, and there is emerging evidence that it can be traced to foetal development (unsurprisingly, if it is a genetically caused mutation in the brain). There is no evidence whatsoever linking these genetic markers to vaccinations.

Even if you want to believe the result, ask yourself this: if a new study showed that eating whale meat causes autism, and all the work was done by Greenpeace, would you believe it?

As usual the “viciously, viciously anti-vaccine” editors at WDDTY have seized on a result they like, ignored massive red flags for conflict of interest, and portrayed it as validating their anti-vaccine agenda even though it conflicts with many of the previous studies they claim support them (e.g. Wakefield’s “enterocolitis”and thiomersal, both of which turds have been polished to shining brilliance in the pages of WDDTY).

Once again, WDDTY prove that in anything related to vaccines, they simply cannot be trusted.

What Zombies Don’t Tell You

What Zombies Don't Tell You
What Zombies Don’t Tell You

You know, it’s a mystery why this title did not occur to us sooner.

Be that as it may, @GezBlair alerts us to the NHS Choices response to the life-after-death story: Questions about life after death remain unanswered.

We mention this for completeness and because it’s a timely reminder that NHS Choices is the perfect antidote to WDDTY, offering balanced analysis of health news from a reality-based perspective.

Incidentally, for those who think that there is something extraordinary about resuscitation victims showing some evidence of brain activity going through periods of clinical death, we’d like to draw your attention to the remarkable story of Anna Bågenholm, one of many fascinating cases discussed by Dr. Kevin Fong in his book Extremes, which shows again and again that life is plenty weird enough without recourse to making shit up.

What "What Doctors Don't Tell You" Don't Tell You

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