July 2015: the firehose of stupid at full blast

Your challenge: guess how much of this is valid information that doctors don't tell you.
Your challenge: guess how much of this is valid information that doctors don’t tell you.

The July 2015 issue of WDDTY is out.  You can tell from the cover that it’s going to be a cracker. HPV vaccine: new dangers revealed! Why low-cal sweeteners make you fat! Recipe for better breast health! How I beat Lyme disease! Staying sun-safe naturally! And the headline: 10 minutes to stronger bones.

Based on these I predict: an anti-vax diatribe based on misleading presentation of data with no balancing reference to the benefits of preventing cervical cancer; anti-aspartame conspiracist whacknuttery; pimping some refuted nonsense about breast cancer; favourite quack fake disease “chronic Lyme” cured by some quack nostrum; anti sunscreen bollocks; and something doctors already told you.

Let’s see how I do. Starting with the big headline:

10 minutes to stronger bones

To set the scene:

Conventional medicine tells us that the only way to avoid bone loss is with a lengthy regime of heavy weight-lifting and ‘strike’ exercises, but yoga expert Charlotte Watts begs to differ.

Really? Here’s a handy video from NHS Choices that summarises what doctors actually tell you:

So: vigorous exercise in early life to build a strong skeleton, gentle exercise later in life; calcium and vitamin D, with skimmed milk recommended as a good source of calcium.

It’s the old bait-and-switch: talk about osteoporosis, and cite medical recommendations for the healthy young adult as a contrast to the advertorial by the yoga vendor (follow the money only applies to things WDDTY doesn’t like, after all).

Mainstream advice is cited from mainstream websites, studies saying that yoga is as beneficial or more beneficial than other forms of exercise, are drawn from alt med “journals”.

No doctor is likely recommend heavy weight lifting and impact exercises for a newly diagnosed osteoporosis patient, even if they are only in their early 50s.

There’s also a mish-mash of vague references to inflammation, apparently  promoted by sugar and prevented by a plant-based diet, cited to J Altern Complement Med, 2012; 18: 662-7; Indian J Psychiatry, 2013; 55 (Suppl3): 5405-8; and Psychosom Med, 2010; 72: 113-21. If you spotted more bait and switch using quack sources and superficially similar statements from real sources, score a bonus point.

So, the headline item uses a straw man to encourage you to seek a yoga vendor instead of a doctor if you want to look after your skeleton. That’s because a person with a vested interest in something WDDTY likes is a more neutral and reliable source of information than a medically trained, experienced doctor with access to a range of treatments (including physiotherapies such as yoga). Because reasons.

HPV vaccine: new dangers revealed

The anti-vax crowd (of which Lynne McTaggart is very much a member) really really hate HPV vaccination. I suspect this is because there is no way to pretend that cervical cancer is a minor disease that makes your immune system stronger, as they do with measles.

There’s something very wrong with the HPV vaccines. Given to young teenage girls to prevent cervical cancer (and officially recommended for boys, too, to prevent other cancers), the jabs have a track record of serious adverse events-usually life-threatening reactions-that are double the number seen with any other vaccine. So far, they have generated 20,000 recorded events in the UK and 39,000-including 227 deaths-in the US.

This is what is technically known as a lie – unless you consider fainting to be “life-threatening”. Fainting is the major reported adverse reaction. And there is at least some possibility that this is largely due to the hysteria put about by the anti-vaxers.

The long list of scary-sounding reactions trumpeted by McTaggart are not actually proven to be due to the vaccine at all. But of course that doesn’t stop her from reasserting discredited anti-vax nonsense.

And let’s be absolutely clear here: when Bryan Hubbard writes that the HPV vaccine has “generated” recorded events “including 227 deaths” in the US, not one single one of those deaths has been shown to have been caused by the vaccine.

None.

The deaths are investigated on a systematic basis and every single one has been shown to be due to some other cause. When Bryan Hubbard includes the reference to deaths without this well-known and well-documented fact, he is engaging in wilful disinformation. There is simply no excuse for this. It is not carelessness, because a large number of people have gone out of their way to bring these facts to WDDTY’s attention (usually getting banned in the process).

They attribute criticism of HPV vaccine to a number of authorities including Dr. Diane Harper, a “leading researcher” at Merck. Oh, wait, no: she was some kind of manager, not a leading researcher.

And as Skeptical Raptor says:

I don’t get the math of the antivaccine crowd. They round down the consequences of not vaccinating to 0%, and round up the risk of adverse events to 100%–if this weren’t so serious, it would be one of the best statistics jokes ever.

Yup, that sums up this piece. So that’s two for two. On we go:

Why low-cal sweeteners make you fat

This leads with a corker:

the shocking fact is that there is hardly a single food or drink that is 100 per cent additive free, unless it’s raw organic produce or glass bottled water.

That’s because the word “additive” also parses as “ingredient”. Vitamins are additives. You have a problem with that?

Of course additives are “potential toxins” (news flash: water is toxic in sufficient doses), but let’s get onto the meat of the article which is the claim that artificial sweeteners “fool the body into thinking it’s getting food energy and nutrients when it’s not”.

Well, there is some truth in this, but the proposed alternative – “Naturally derived sweetener stevia doesn’t increase appetite or
weight; in fact, it increases insulin sensitivity” – is just another additive. The solution is to educate your taste to less sweet crap. The article rattles on about studies on rats and observational studies showing that diet soft drinks “cause” obesity (because in WDDTY correlation is always causation unless it’s unwelcome),

And there is a full-page scary run-down of “the main sweeteners to watch out for, and why”, including, as predicted, the long-debunked claims of carcinogenic and other effects of aspartame, followed by a masterpiece of special pleading and non-sequitur:

Yet all global authorities, including the US Cancer Institute and Food and Drug Administration, World Health Organization and European Food Safety Authority say that aspartame is safe at the recommended doses.

Really? I wonder why. Oh, wait: because according to the available evidence, it is.

Why this discrepancy, given the litany of health hazards? Possibly because most of the adverse effects have been found in animal studies, and not in the general human population. What’s more, not all studies agree on the hazards.

Indeed. There is a world of difference between feeding vast quantities of a substance to a rat, and very small quantities to a human. There’s also the fact that many of the studies set out to find an adverse effect, and in it is usually much easier to find evidence to support the thing you believe than to test it honestly and try to prove yourself wrong. Multiple inconsistent findings is often an indication that people have been p-hacking.

Nevertheless, PepsiCo has recently withdrawn aspartame in the US entirely for commercial and not safety reasons, they insist. Diet Pepsi drinkers everywhere else will still get aspartame (now renamed ‘AminoSweet’) while the new US
Diet Pepsi uses sucralose.

Sucralose? That is pure evil. At least if you believe the December 2014 issue of WDDTY (we recommend you don’t, obviously).

Recipe for better breast health

As might be expected, this story, hung on the hook of breast cancer awareness month,  freely mixed fact and fantasy. It ranges from “Eat a healthful, low-GI diet with plenty of high-fibre vegetables and plant-based fats” – good enough general advice (give or take the reference to the glycemic index fad) but in no way specific to breast health – to pimping vitamin C (does not prevent cancer, supplementation unnecessary in a well-balanced diet).

WDDTY never has a problem pimping drugs sold as “natural” and co-enzyme Q10 is a favourite, promoted in this article. There’s no good evidence at this time that it has any specific effect on breast health or cancer risk.

The worthless “iodine patch test” is promoted, as is the crazy idea that going bra-less prevents breast disease (convicted live blood quack Errol Denton promoted this too).  “Hormone balancing”? That’s “natural” drugs promoted by “natural” quacks, so all good. Mammograms? Hell no. Doctors promote them. Try thermography instead, because it’s vastly less accurate, generates far more false positives, misses a large proportion of cancers – in fact, all the criticisms of mammography apply to a far greater extent to thermography, with the sole exception of X-ray exposure.

How I beat Lyme disease

This article is so awful it needs a post all to itself. Quack diagnostics, quack treatments, quack devices – the only thing not quacking is the dog. It promotes the list of Lyme symptoms pimped by Joseph J. Burrascano Jr., a “Lyme literate” (i.e. exploitative quack) doctor. His list of symptoms of chronic Lyme is in fact a list of symptoms of life. And the piece promotes bioresonance, the worthless system that claims to cure disease with frequencies (hint: don’t ask for details of how they are arrived at).

Staying sun-safe naturally

WDDTY promotes sun exposure, but claims that sunscreens cause cancer.  So it’s time to promote “natural” sunscreens, obviously, and at the same time “natural” insect repellents.

Shopping for a sunscreen is hard enough without worrying about the long list of impossible-to-pronounce ingredients on the label.

Who wrote this tripe? The FUD Babe? Not being able to pronounce something doesn’t make it bad. I can’t pronounce ipecachuana. I probably can’t even spell it.

According to WDDTY sunscreens now cause endometriosis and infertility. And they don’t even stop you getting skin cancer. It’s another case of rounding the benefits down to zero and the risks up to 100. Apart from the brands they pimp, of course – which include Neal’s Yard and Dr. Mercola, to help keep your favourite peddlers of  refuted nonsense in pocket change.

As for the insects, how about the Superband Insect Repellent Wristband? Perfect to stop your kids getting bitten (on the wrist, anyway). But it’s 100% natural, apart from the plastic it’s made of.

Summing up

I reckon the contents was pretty close to expectations: a load of nonsense, uncritical promotion of their friends and advertisers, repeating refuted nonsense and long debunked antivax tropes – in fact, a classic edition of WDDTY.

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