What ‘What Doctors Don’t Tell You’ really told you

From Tetenterre:

The tacky health-scare magazine self-styled “journal”, What Doctors Don’t Tell You, has been getting a little hot under the collar recently about things that it claims it is reported to have said, but didn’t really say. It’s also been making some rather surprising assertions about other things. Some of these are clearly silly “couldn’t be bothered to check”-type errors, others are more than that. You be the judge. This post will be added to as time and information permits.
The Claim The Reality
McTaggart (said) her journal would accept no advertising – “we have to remain pure” – Not only is approximately a quarter of each issue devoted to advertising (based on June 2013 issue), in February 2013, the Nightingale Collaboration reported that the Advertising Standards Authority had adjudicated against advertising in WDDTY to the tune of 54 CAP-Code breaches. This is in addition to eleven “informally resolved” cases (i.e. the advertising was acknowledged to be in breach of CAP-Codes and was amended voluntarily.)
“…the Nightingale Collaboration, a ragtag group who meet in a pub of the same name…” Errr.. there is no pub called The Nightingale Collaboration.
“…the pharmaceutically backed organization [Simon Singh] fronts, ‘Sense About Science’….” Sense About Science is a charity. Its accounts are therefore open to scrutiny.

Less than 5% of its funding comes from companies; none of these is a pharmaceutical company.

WDDTY complained: “The Times stated: we said vitamin C cures HIV.”
“Five Live followed up with a television debate about our magazine.” Five Live doesn’t do TV debates. (Clue: It is a radio station!)
“It’s also apparent from the information published in The Times and in all the media following that not one journalist or broadcaster has read one single word we’ve written, particularly on the homeopathy story, and for very good reason: the article and the magazine containing it in fact have not yet been published.” Ummm — WDDTY published their claims for homeopathy months ago!And bragged on Facebook about doing so!
(To the Times) “You have no idea yet what we’re going to write about, so how can you say we’re going to write that homeopathy ‘cures’ cancer?” Ummm… Maybe they were referring to a claim WDDTY has already made? (See above)
“Just to clarify yet another lie about us: we are not ‘pro’ or ‘anti’ vaccine.” From WDDTY, June 2013: “The safest interpretation is that the MMR increases the risk of autism by 5 per cent”
“Not one of the newspapers, radio shows or television stations bothered to contact us, even to solicit a comment,,,” The Times journalist who reported on the campaign to get the magazine off supermarket shelves sent this email:

And phoned twice:

(Having had no reply from the “Editorial” department, he next tried “Accounts and General Management”)

“…the Swiss government decided that there is some proof of homeopathy…” It did nothing of the sort! See Zeno’s Blog for what really happened.
“For months, Singh, whose Sense About Science group has the sponsorship of the British Pharmaceutical Association…” If the The British Pharmaceutical Association actually exists and is not just something else made up by McTaggart, it is not a sponsor of Sense About Science.
“[Waitrose] are not one of our stockists” Curious. That’s not what the distributor thinks:

“The letter being sent out by the Times to our readers…” The Times is sending out letters to WDDTY readers?
Is WDDTY implying that the Times somehow got hold of the WDDTY subscriber database?
Has anyone ever actually seen one of these letters?
What does become apparent is that WDDTY needs some sort of disclaimer on a lot of what it asserts!

Advertisement: Healthy House

Healthy House electrosmog adAttached to the ridiculous article promoting the ridiculous idea of “electrosmog”, is a full-page advertisement for “Healthy House”.

The advert claims that “there is a great deal you can do to protect yourself and your family” from “electrosmog”, an alarmist claim designed to raise fear of a cause that has been rejected in every objective scientific study. There is no scientifically agreed definition of the term “electrosmog”, a term coined by the cottage industry of self-identified “electrosensitives” which is not tied, as the name implies, to any form of demonstrably harmful pollution. Continue reading Advertisement: Healthy House


“The symptoms described by ‘electromagnetic hypersensitivity’ sufferers can be severe and are sometimes disabling. However, it has proved difficult to show under blind conditions that exposure to electromagnetic fields can trigger these symptoms. This suggests that ‘electromagnetic hypersensitivity’ is unrelated to the presence of electromagnetic fields (systematic review of provocation tests for “electromagnetic hypersensitivity”)

The November 2013 issue of WDDTY has a lengthy advertorial for “electrosmog” products (and some pretty hefty advertising, too, much of which will end up before the ASA).

Unhealthy rays Starting with this issue, we are launching a monthly column on the effects of ‘dirty’ electricity on health and how to protect yourself against it

Paydirt for quacks. A condition that is treated (justly) as psychosomatic, so the quacks can “treat” it by playing along with the delusion and yield the inevitable improvement when the delusional cause is “reduced”.

I can see why that would be a great source of advertising revenue for you. Continue reading Electrosmog

WDDTY: November 2013 editorial

This is the editorial from the WDDTY November 2013 issue, with comments.

A small group of people tried to prevent you from reading this issue of What Doctors Don’t Tell You.

This is false. The issue is not whether people read it, but whether it is actively promoted to unwary buyers. Subscribers (to whom the editorial is obviously primarily targeted) would have been unaffected.

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.

This is false. The only length to which people went was: writing about the dangerous misinformation you promote, and alerting shops to the fact that this dangerous misinformation endangers their customers.

There is no evidence that Tom Whipple’s piece in The Times was “stage-managed”. There is no evidence that it was anything other than his own opinion, i.e. independent, without the need for scare quotes.

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

No, because you consistently print bullshit. In this case you were promising “interesting new research” on homeopathy for cancer – a well-known and despicable fraud – but as it turned out what you delivered was not new anyway, just warmed-over propaganda.

Although not given any opportunity for right of reply,

This is false. You were contacted before the Times article and before other coverage.

we have published the facts about those allegations

This is false. You have published assertions, many of which have been conclusively proven to be false.

on our websites and Facebook pages, our supporters have offered overwhelming support,

Of course – and anybody not offering unconditional support was summarily banned, because free speech. And then you made false assertions about them being aggressive and bullying. Because you have a persecution complex.

and the story has gone wildly viral across the internet as something of a cause célèbre.

Yes, as a result of this the #WDDTY tag is dominated by people ripping you a new one.

But aside from the issues of censorship and press freedom,

There are no such issues. The right to publish does not confer the right to be stocked by anybody.

Or do you mean your ruthless censorship of dissenting opinion in your Facebook pages?

this subject has great personal meaning to us.

Yes. It’s your source of income.

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.

This is a sad fact – believers in alternative woo have scared the shit out of people with horror stories of cancer treatment for so long that people are now more terrified of the doctors than the disease. You must be so proud.

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.

This sounds like cancer en cuirasse, a horrible disease that was rarely seen for a generation until the hippy-dippy woo bullshit merchants came along.

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.”

And of course this is the root of many cancer woo anecdotes: medical prognoses are brutal and honest, but they are not something you can mark in the calendar and book the hearse for an advanced discount.

To be honest, we were frightened and far from certain we had any answers. Fortunately, because of our work, we were able to contact WDDTY columnist Dr Patrick Kingsley, a medical pioneer in Leicestershire who has helped people with a variety of conditions, including cancer.

There are many great anecdotes of survivors using “The New Medicine”. I am still wading through them looking for any that are independently verified and published in the peer-reviewed literature. He apparently has the same number of peer-reviewed publications as “The UK’s No. 1 cancer researcher” – i.e. none at all.

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.

So he asks how much money you’ve got and then tailors a programme to your wallet? Prince of  a man.

There is no credible evidence that vitamin C megadoses cure cancer.

There is no credible evidence that hydrogen peroxide cures cancer (and I’m damn certain it’s horribly painful for it to be injected intravenously – AT).

You do not describe how a diet of “standard British fare” can be pursued in the absence of dairy, wheat and sugar (as a coeliac I know that simply removing wheat is hard work on its own).

You do not name any other treatments that could have had the effect (woo-believers commonly “forget” to mention that it was woo plus standard of care).

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, had completely disappeared. Edie lived on for many more years until her husband died and she, divested of any further purpose, died six months after him.

Several, eh? Well, an anecdote from a believer in homeopathy and vitamin C as a cure for AIDS is certainly worth much more than any peer-reviewed publication there.

Worthy alternatives

What’s the point of the story?

The point is exactly the same as the conversion miracle stories of Born Again Christians. It’s to reinforce your faith and recruit others to the fold. Thanks for asking.

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.

By sometimes, you mean in every known and documented case of long-term survival.

By sometimes you mean in excess of 80% 5-year survival for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, testicular cancer, melanoma, breast cancer and prostate cancer.

By sometimes you mean more than 50% 5-year survival for most cancers.

Here are the stats.

So as usual you are bigging up the woo and talking down the medicine.

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

Yes, it really does. If it doesn’t pass properly controlled clinical trials, all you have is opinion. And opinions are like arseholes: everybody has one. And quacks talk out of theirs.

And some alternative therapies are supported by a good deal of published evidence of success.

False. A treatment that has published evidence of success is no longer alternative. It may be emergent, but it is not alternative.

A treatment that has many anecdotes but no evidence will be alternative.

Many thousands of people have personal experience of such anecdotes of complete recovery by taking a treatment path other than the conventional alone.

Allegedly. Funnily enough, though, these claims tend to fail the test of independent replication. Odd, that.

Journalist and author Laura Bond’s mother Gemma—whose story is featured in this issue (page 26)—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.

Then that is a world first and needs to be properly studied and written up, because there is precisely bugger-all credible evidence that enemas cure cancer.

Laura has researched the kind of personality traits that make for a cancer survivor (page 27) and also the roles of ozone therapy (page 29) and eliminating dairy products (page 34) in successful cancer treatment.

There is no credible evidence that personality type affects survival, but it does affect quality of life. Believers in woo feel more in control and think they will live longer. In fact, they die sooner, even after adjusting for the fact that they typically present later.

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).

Nope. There is literally no reason to think homoeopathy should work, and literally no way it can.

The claim that NCI is interested is mendacious. Look at homeopathy on their website, it takes you to NCCAM, who damn it with the faintest of faint praise. The Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine is the quackademic division of NCI This is the place that has shown limited interest in the marketing claims you recycle as fact, and they can’t get funding because NCCAM no longer funds studies on homeopathy, considering that they are unethical and a waste of time.

The claim that NCI is interested, originates solely with the Banerjis, whose advertorial makes up the meat of your propaganda.

Are we saying homeopathy can cure cancer? No.

This is false. You have said exactly that and you say it again in this issue, though not necessarily in so many words.

We’re saying that it’s worthy of further investigation. In fact, investigating alternatives is now an imperative.

Your problem is that you never acknowledge a point at which the investigation should be abandoned. NCCAM does: that is why they have stopped funding studies of homeopathy.

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.

This is false. David Gorski nailed that one recently and the theme is ongoing.

Some cancers can now be treated extremely effectively or cured altogether. Others cannot, at this time. The number of cancer cures that have been originally proposed by the alternative health market in the last 20 years and which have been proven to work is, to the best of my knowledge, zero. The number of early results which have been seized on by the alternative market and promoted as a miracle cure despite subsequent refutation by science, is not zero.

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.

If you were responsible journalists, you would not make that false and irresponsible claim. In case you care (which you plainly don’t) about 15 seconds’ Googling brings up the CRUK page which shows an aggregate treatment success rate of 51% for all cancers.

From the orthodox perspective, the War on Cancer is decisively being lost.

The war on cancer was a stupid publicity stunt by Richard Nixon – how many other statements he made are considered to be honest or worthwhile these days?

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.

And his former sister-in-law’s late husband wrote a powerful and moving book ripping great chunks out of that kind of shit.

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.

Oncologists don’t need to be “allowed” to do anything, they are perfectly competent to decide the best evidence for themselves. This is pure “health freedom” bullshit: a transparent attempt by quacks to gain access to large pots of money and vulnerable, desperate people.

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.

Fucking-A-right. And so it should be.

It exists because of people like you, who place religious devotion to bullshit ideas above the careful process of scientific evaluation.

The entire thrust of medicine over the last hundred years has been to try to separate opinion from fact. The result has been marginalising of those whose opinions are wrong. You and your ilk are trying to roll back the clock and bring about an age of endarkenment.

I hope you fail.

WDDTY: An Evil Cancer Agenda

wddty cancer
The cancer quackery fiesta

Le Canard Noir writes:

The latest November issue of What Doctors Don’t Tell You has appeared and has delivered on its promise to devote an issue to cancer treatment with homeopathy and other quackery.

It has been a tense month for the magazine owners as an impromptu campaign has happened where people have been writing to High Street retailers, such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s, warning that the magazine contains serious health misinformation and a dangerous approach to healthcare. The magazine has seen this action as conspiratorial attack by Big Pharma lead by the bogeyman charity Sense About Science. The issue was picked up by the mainstream media and reported in the Times, radio and TV.

Much was made in the campaign about the forthcoming November issue in that it was promised to focus on cancer and homeopathy, a deadly combination….

Read the full story

What WDDTY officially didn’t tell you: “homeopathy cures cancer”

"Homeopathy cures cancer" - This absolutely never happened.
This absolutely never happened.

One of the criticisms of WDDTY that Lynne McTaggart rejected is that it promotes homeopathy as a “cure” for cancer.

That excuse was pretty thin the first time round, after the March 2012 advertorial. The November 2013 issue (which kicked off the calls for supermarkets to stop stocking this irresponsible rag) was based in part on advance claims that the November issue would major on a reprise of the same true-believer bullshit.

It did.

The November 2013 issue is utterly uncritical, repeating refuted, irreproducible and speculative claims, quoting PR materials from the Banerji foundation as if they were fact, and generally putting their fingers in their ears and chanting “laa laa I’m not listening” to the numerous debunkings of the nonsense they cite.

Did Lynne McTaggart claim that homeopathy cures cancer? Yes, she did. Did she do this on the basis of evidence that is even remotely credible? No.

Why don’t doctors tell you that homeopathy cures cancer?

Because it’s not true.

What WDDTY officially didn’t tell you: “Vitamin C cures AIDS”

Vitamin C Cannot cure AIDS or polio
This never happened, according to Lynne McTaggart

Lynne McTaggart insisted the Press Gazette take down a story because it contained the claim that WDDTY had said “vitamin C cures AIDS”.

The story “Vitamin C and the incurables” was promoted with the image at right. It begins:

Modern medicine retains a 19th-century view of infectious disease. Many of the major viral and bacterial diseases—polio, diphtheria, pneumonia, tuberculosis, malaria, leprosy and tetanus—are viewed just as they were at the turn of the 20th century—as deadly and largely incurable diseases.

Other than antibiotics for infections of bacterial origin, doctors maintain that the only solution to most serious infection is prevention, which is why many of these diseases are vaccinated against—often with dire consequences.

However, there is a considerable amount of buried evidence in the medical literature that vitamin C is a simple, all-purpose elixir that can cure many of those so-called ‘incurable’ deadly infections.

When McTaggart says “buried”, she means – as usual for peddlers of pseudoscience, quackery, alternatives to medicine and other fringe nonsense – early results that were not borne out by later and more comprehensive study.

The claim that Vitamin C cures AIDS was at the centre of vitamin überquack Patrick HolfordW’s attempts to silence Ben GoldacreW. It is, needless to say, complete bollocks.

Why don’t doctors tell you that Vitamin C cures AIDS?

Because it’s not true.

Welcome to WWDDTYDTY

This website is devoted to everyone’s favourite alternative to a health magazine, “What Doctors Don’t Tell You“.

It will point out the dangerous misinformation and the implausible claims made without a shred of evidence.

It will not be gentle with statements so stupid and false that they can – and in some cases did – kill.

In short, we explain What Doctors Don’t Tell You is bollocks. And this is what What Doctors Don’t Tell You doesn’t tell you.

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