Tag Archives: bowel cancer

100 ways to live to 100: 10 drugs to avoid whenever possible

Part of a series on WDDTY’s “free” advertorial report “100 ways to live to 100

10 drugs to avoid whenever possible

WDDTY frame this with a truly staggering statement of faith:

After 24 years of publishing WDDTY, we’re still searching for one single drug out there besides antibiotics that actually cures something. We still haven’t found one. Virtually all drugs are for maintenance—that is, they manage, ease or suppress symptoms, but they do not cure. In spite of assurances from the pharmaceutical industry that drugs can target certain receptors in the body with laser-like accuracy, the fact is that many unrelated systems in the body have identical receptors—which is why drugs invariably affect other parts of the body indiscriminately and cause side-effects.

There is a better, alternative solution to virtually every chronic health problem except emergency medicine, which is where orthodox medicine comes into its own. If you’ve been shot, stabbed or run over, or suffer a heart attack or stroke, then modern Western medicine is without parallel for fixing you. In those cases, get to a hospital without fail. Otherwise, here are the10 drugs you might be better off avoiding. In no particular order:

We’re pleased to be able to help WDDTY out here. Again, since this is not the first time WDDTY have made this claim.

  • Tetanus antitoxin cures tetanus.
  • Antimalarials cure malaria.
  • Chemotherapy cures liquid tumours especially in children.
  • Antivenins cure venomous bites.

But why exclude antibiotics? Not only are they the best known and least ambiguous example of drugs that cure, but WDDTY also disputes their utility. The exclusion of this class of drugs seems to be capricious and specifically designed to assert that, excluding the vast number of illnesses they can cure, doctors can’t cure anything. Of course, unlike quacks, doctors don’t claim to cure disease unless they actually can, but n the end this reminds us of something:

But ultimately this is a categorical fallacy. Think for a moment: what is the definition of a chronic disease? It’s one that cannot presently be cured. A hundred years ago, syphilis was a chronic disease. Now it’s not. So WDDTY are taking a class of diseases defined by the fact that medicine cannot currently cure them, and asserting that, shockingly, medicine cannot cure them.

Is maintenance and management of symptoms necessarily a bad thing? Ask a type I diabetic or an asthmatic. 

Are there better alternative solutions to “virtually every chronic health problem”? No. Minchin’s Law applies: these things are alternative because they have not been demonstrated to be better. In most cases they haven’t been demonstrated to be as good. Many of them don’t work at all, and several are actively harmful.

71 Statins

These can cause cancer and definitely cause muscle weakness.

So they might, but the benefit outweighs the risks according to large studies.

A meta analysis of randomised controlled trials found:

Conclusion In patients without established cardiovascular disease but with cardiovascular risk factors, statin use was associated with significantly improved survival and large reductions in the risk of major cardiovascular events.

WDDTY has a long-standing agenda against statins, leading to its promotion of the idea that cholesterol is OK as long as it’s the “good” kind, but this is mainly arguing backwards from ideological opposition to statins. As always, the NHS has more nuanced and more accurate information.

72 Prozac and other antidepressants

These can cause rebound anxiety, suicide and addiction, and have been sold to us on a faulty premise—there is no brain chemical imbalance to fix.

This is pure propaganda. Antidepressants and antipsychotics have a role in the management of acute disease, and trying to tough it out without them can and does lead to suicide.

Epidemiological analysis shows that SSRIs reduce suicide rates. There is a specific problem with use in children, but it’s uncertain whether this balances out or not – however, this does not undermine the conclusion that:

[T]he strongly positive results of the TADS study indicate that medication treatment is vital for effective treatment of adolescent depression. With the confusing results of studies to date, fluoxetine is a good first choice for antidepressant treatment of adolescents. However, there may be reasons that clinicians choose to start other antidepressants instead. For instance, adolescents with a good prior response to another antidepressant, who are currently on another antidepressant with good response, or who have a history of poor response to fluoxetine, would probably be started or stay on another antidepressant.

In other words, follow the data not the dogma.

73 Tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-blocking drugs

Meant to replace painkilling COX-2 inhibitor drugs, they’ve been linked to tuberculosis and cancer.

Having “been linked to cancer” is a standard WDDTY weasel phrase. Yes, there is a plausible link between TNF inhibitor|TNF inhibitorsW and cancer. This applies to both synthetic drugs and natural TNF inhibitors such as curcuminW, catechins and canabinoids.

As with any effective treatment, it’s a question of risks versus benefits.

74 Atypical antipsychotics

These next-generation drugs, classed as the ‘new’ antipsychotics, include olanzapine (Zyprexa), quetiapine (Seroquel) and risperidone (Risperdal). Studies show they’re no better than the older variety, and may cause Alzheimer’s disease and hasten mental decline in the elderly. They also cause sexual dysfunction and depression, and so make any psychiatric condition worse.44

Reference 44: Clin Neuropharmacol. 2005 May-Jun;28(3):111-4. Use of ziprasidone in parkinsonian patients with psychosis. Gómez-Esteban JC, Zarranz JJ, Velasco F, Lezcano E, Lachen MC, Rouco I, Barcena J, Boyero S, Ciordia R, Allue I.

A source at last! So what does it say?

Twelve patients with Parkinson disease and psychosis were included in an open-label 12-week trial of ziprasidone. Two patients withdrew from the treatment because of adverse effects. The remaining 10 patients reported a significant improvement in psychiatric symptoms. Altogether, there was no deterioration of motor symptoms (UPDRS III score: basal 40.4 +/- 11.1, first month 41.1 +/- 10.8; final visit, 37.7 +/- 13.3). Two patients (20%) suffered a slight deterioration in motor symptoms and another patient suffered deterioration of gait. No analytic alterations or serious adverse effects that could limit the use of ziprasidone were observed. Although controlled trials are needed, the findings suggest that ziprasidone may be effective in parkinsonian patients with psychosis.

Is it just me, or does that say pretty much the opposite of what WDDTY claim? Be in no doubt: ziprasidoneW is an atypical antidepressant, the fifth such to be licensed by the FDA.

This is unusually dishonest even by WDDTY’s standards: the paper supports the use of the drug in Parkinson’s sufferers, but this is spun as a recommendation against it.

75 Anticholinergic drugs

These have a long list of side effects, including dementia.

This is not specific to anticholinergicW drugs, but to anticholinergics generally, including plants of the solanacae family, henbane and mandrake.

They also have a long list of beneficial effects. They suppress muscle spasms, for example, so are often used in gastritis and ulcerative colitis. But the major source of adverse reactions appears to be in recreational drug users, not least because medical use tends not to be long-term. One of the better known anticholinergics is butylscopolamineW, marketed under trade names such as Buscopan, which is used to control stomach cramps. It tends to be used episodically and not chronically.

76 Bisphosphonates

These osteoporosis drugs can halt bone loss, but they’ve also been linked to high rates of atrial fibrillation, a heart-rhythm disorder that can lead to stroke.45

Reference 45: N Engl J Med, 2007; 356: 1809–22: Once-Yearly Zoledronic Acid for Treatment of Postmenopausal Osteoporosis, Black et. al.

RESULTS: Treatment with zoledronic acid reduced the risk of morphometric vertebral fracture by 70% during a 3-year period, as compared with placebo (3.3% in the zoledronic-acid group vs. 10.9% in the placebo group; relative risk, 0.30; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.24 to 0.38) and reduced the risk of hip fracture by 41% (1.4% in the zoledronic-acid group vs. 2.5% in the placebo group; hazard ratio, 0.59; 95% CI, 0.42 to 0.83). Nonvertebral fractures, clinical fractures, and clinical vertebral fractures were reduced by 25%, 33%, and 77%, respectively (P<0.001 for all comparisons). Zoledronic acid was also associated with a significant improvement in bone mineral density and bone metabolism markers. Adverse events, including change in renal function, were similar in the two study groups. However, serious atrial fibrillation occurred more frequently in the zoledronic acid group (in 50 vs. 20 patients, P<0.001).

The question then would be: are you better off suffering a hip fracture due to untreated osteoporosis, or atrial fibrillation, which may or may not result in a stroke?

WDDTY claims to be all about informed choice, but by giving only a tiny subset of the information, they actively impede a properly informed choice. It’s about as much use as advising everybody never to leave the house in case they get knocked over crossing the road.

77Aspirin

It’s the ultimate just-in-case lifestyle drug, taken to ward off heart disease and stroke, but it actually increases the risk of stroke sevenfold.46 It can also cause serious gastrointestinal bleeding. Other NSAIDs now carry warnings regarding their cardiovascular and gastrointestinal risks—and guess what? They haven’t been proven to reduce inflammation.

Reference 46: Lancet Neurol, 2007; 6: 487–93 Change in incidence and aetiology of intracerebral haemorrhage in Oxfordshire, UK, between 1981 and 2006: a population-based study. Lovelock CE, Molyneux AJ, Rothwell PM; Oxford Vascular Study.

This is a long-term study of stroke risk which finds that in the over-75s long term use of antithrombotics (aspirin) is associated with an increase in stroke incidence. This is most likely to be based on a population with higher dosages, as the prophylactic dose recommendation has reduced over time.

Reliable sources support low dose aspirin as a prophylactic against heart disease and stroke, unreliable sources promote more aspirin (mainly out of date) or none (WDDTY and other natural-woo promoters).

The Mayo Clinic has a useful reference. One interesting point that WDDTY didn’t make is that if you’re already taking aspirin daily, stopping can cause a rebound effect and actually trigger a stroke. Let’s hope nobody suffers a stroke after following WDDTY’s advice and sues them.

The important thing to remember is that a paediatric dose confers most of the benefit, but most of the risk studies refer to an adult dose, two to four times as great. As always discuss it with your doctor, not some anti-medicine crank.

78 HRT and the Pill

Their cancer connections are finally indisputable, even though drug companies keep fighting the evidence.

We already covered HRT. The pill? WDDTY really are becoming more reactionary over time.

Here’s what Cancer Research UK say about the Pill:

  • There’s a small increase in risk of breast cancer, which reduces when you stop taking the pill and returns to normal by 10 years after you stop taking it.
  • There’s an association with cervical cancer, likely to be down to the fact that cervical cancer is rarely seen in women whoa re not sexually active.
  • There’s a reduction in the risk of ovarian cancer, and the longer you take the pill the lower the risk gets.
  • There’s a reduction in cancer of the uterus which lasts for around 15 years after you stop taking the pill.
  • There may also be a reduction in bowel cancer.

Oh, and you tend not to get pregnant.

Your doctor knows all this, it’s safe to take your doctor’s advice rather than the ideological nonsense form WDDTY.

79 Antiepileptic drugs

These can lead to suicide and also cause potentially fatal liver failure. Many of the newer ones like Keppra (levetiracetam), Topamax (topiramate) and Sabril (vigabatrin) increase the risk of depression and suicide or self-harm threefold.47

Reference 47: Neurology. 2010 Jul 27;75(4):335-40. Use of antiepileptic drugs in epilepsy and the risk of self-harm or suicidal behavior. Andersohn F, Schade R, Willich SN, Garbe E.

Once again, WDDTY misrepresents the source. Here’s what it actually says:

Newer AEDs with a rather high frequency of depressive symptoms in clinical trials may also increase the risk of self-harm or suicidal behavior in clinical practice. For the most commonly used other groups of AEDs, no increase in risk was observed.

So: older AEDs do not increase the risk of suicide. Newer ones might, so doctors should be on the lookout for symptoms of depression. Which may well be partly due to the well documented tendency of practitioners to be more conservative and report more adverse reactions in new drugs than for well understood ones, where they know that symptoms are unlikely to be directly related.  Nothing to see here, move along please…

It’s hard to express how inappropriate it is to issue a blanket warning against antiepileptic drugs based on a misrepresentation of early studies on an entirely new class of drug that’s only recently entered clinical practice.

80 Zetia and other second-generation cholesterol-lowering drugs

Not only do these drugs not work, but they’re also hard on the liver.

We totally understand: cholesterol is natural so trying to control it is evil. Heart attacks are natural too, as is dying by the age of 40.

NICE don’t endorse ezetimibeW other than in cases where statins are not well tolerated, or as an adjunct to statins where cholesterol remains stubbornly high. It’s a relatively new class of drug and the evidence base is changing fairly quickly. Your doctor should be reading up on this, so it’s worth discussing the findings of ENHANCE and, when published, IMPROVE-IT with your doctor. As always, the advice form your doctor is likely to be evidence-based not ideology-based like WDDTY.

Cholesterol levels are a proxy marker and the jury is still out on whether reducing cholesterol levels is a valid end in itself; however, the outcome of statin trials does indicate a significant reduction in cardiac events so it does seem likely.


Errata and corrections:

  • Thanks to Andrew Crysell for spotting a schoolboy howler in the first section, fixed on 27/12/2013

100 ways to live to 100: Your healthy children

Part of a series on WDDTY’s “free” advertorial report “100 ways to live to 100

Your healthy children

It’s not clear how your children’s health could help you live to 100, though if you follow WDDTY’s anti-vaccine advice you certainly need them to be as healthy as possible to minimise the chance of death or permanent harm from vaccine preventable disease.

41 Get fit before you conceive

Work with a doctor experienced in preconception nutrition who will check your nutritional status and help you correct any deficiencies, hidden infections, heavy-metal toxic overload and the like, all of which can contribute to infertility and pregnancy loss. Contact Foresight for their complete programme of preconceptual care (www.foresight-preconception.org.uk). The organization reports a 90 per cent success rate of healthy babies born to the nearly 1,600 couples who completed the full Foresight programme, many with a previous history of lost pregnancy or infertility.

This is  a blatant sales pitch. Foresight’s website scores easily 8 ducks on the Quackometer – anything inspired by a “psychiatrist-with-vision” can’t score less!

The chances of anyone living a normal middle-class British lifestyle having “heavy metal toxic overload” are vanishingly small. Unless you ask a chelation quack like Dr. John Mansfield, a member of the WDDTY editorial panel. And most British women conceive without any special measures, so don’t throw your money down the drain until you’ve at least satisfied yourself you have a problem – and if that is the case, be sure to consult only a doctor who is registered and licensed to practice in the UK. The GMC has an online register which is a tad cumbersome but allows you to check for a name and verify that if, say, they qualified before 1976 at Guy’s, they are not licensed to practice in the UK.

In short: the heading is misleading. WDDTY are promoting quackery before conception. Avoid like the plague.

42 If you are pregnant, minimize your exposure to prenatal tests like ultrasound scans

Scans have been linked to low birth weights, delayed speech and dyslexia. Unless a problem is suspected, wait till after your baby is born to take its picture

“Scans have been linked” is classic WDDTY weasel words. Of course women with red flags for suspected problems will be referred for scans to see if the baby is developing normally. That doesn’t mean the scan has any effect on development.

Ultrasound is safe, cheap, and reassuring especially to the anxious primagravida. It can also pick up serious defects such as cleft lip and palate and prepare parents for informed choices at an early stage.

Some forms of diagnostics lead to many false positives and undesirable outcomes. Antenatal ultrasound is not one of these. It is an entirely reasonable check for developmental abnormalities, which is why virtually every doctor and midwife recommends it.

43 Breastfeed

Give your child this lifelong gift and breastfeed for as long as possible—at least one year, according to the WHO. In addition to providing the perfect food and the full complement of essential fatty acids, for your child, it also protects against allergies and helps improve vision and IQ. Resist the suggestions of experts to add supplemental feeds unless something is clearly wrong. The baby is usually getting enough if allowed to feed on demand.

Can anybody name the doctors who “don’t tell you” this? It’s entirely mainstream. Unfortunately, it is also so deeply embedded in the middle-class psyche that women who find they can’t breastfeed, for whatever reason, may feel bullied and inadequate (warning: Daily Mail). This is not just tabloid hysteria.

44 Get informed about vaccination

There’s no such thing as a totally safe vaccine; official organizations like the US National Academy of Sciences and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tacitly acknowledge that all vaccines have the potential to kill or cause serious harm. Assess every last jab with the following questions: How necessary is this vaccine? How effective? How safe? Especially question vaccinations against illnesses that are rare or generally not life-threatening in healthy, well-nourished children. This includes the MMR (measles–mumps–rubella), cervical cancer, Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b) and meningitis C vaccines.

Informed consent is good, as long as the information is reliable. WDDTY’s information on vaccines is grossly unreliable. Its claims for harm are massively inflated, its anti-vaccination agenda was established from the very outset and no story about vaccines has ever been published in any edition of WDDTY, as far as we can tell, which is accurate, positive, or correctly reflects the balance of risk and harm. A recent story claimed that “Andrew Wakefield was right”. He wasn’t. A story in this very issue repeated the vicious anti-vaccine lie that HPV vaccine has seriously harmed 1,700 girls. It hasn’t.

The best source for accurate information about vaccines is, and always has been, your family doctor. The implication that doctors claim vaccines are 100% safe or 100% effective is false, official documents have never supported this. they are, however, extremely safe and at least very effective.

Measles, pertussis (whooping-cough), Hib and other vaccine-preventable disease are killers. The anti-vaccine agenda is denialism at its most selfish, relying on others taking the tiny risk to provide the herd immunity that allows anti-vaccinationists to claim that vaccine preventable diseases are rare anyway.

45 Suspect allergies first

If your child has any chronic problems like earache, eczema, bowel problems or hyperactivity, suspect food/chemical allergies, and get them identified and treated.

Allergies are more common and more diverse than many parents think, and less common and less diverse than WDDTY would have you believe. If your child has a chronic health problem there are three very important things to remember:

  1. Intolerance is not allergy.
  2. Many children grow out of both intolerance and allergy.
  3. Avoid any allergy diagnostic services that claim to find yeast overgrowth, leaky gut and the like, and instead ask your GP for a referral to the local NHS allergy clinic.

Allergies, and chronic disease generally, are fertile hunting ground for quacks. Just look at the back pages of WDDTY.

46 Avoid plastic toys containing phthalates

These chemicals have clear evidence of causing ‘feminization’ and abnormal gonadal development in boys.

So all the boys who have ever played with Action Man are eunuchs? Get real. But don’t worry, the problematic pthalates have been banned from toys since the end of last century.

47 Be wary of giving your child unnecessary chemicals and drugs like antibiotics for benign conditions

Antibiotics have been linked to childhood diabetes; cold and flu medications can be deadly in small children; and steroids are responsible for many paediatric deaths. Avoid medications like salbuterol for asthma—it doesn’t work and can make the condition worse.

Dangerous nonsense. The basis on which WDDTY claims that cold medications are deadly is primarily evidence that you should only use the dose and type of medicine indicated for a child of the correct age; the adverse effects tend to be overdoses from giving infants doses designed for older children or even adults. Accidental and deliberate overdoses are both included.

WDDTY’s long-standing agenda against antibiotics is more puzzling: as a class of drugs, antibiotics have saved more lives than any other except perhaps vaccines. Oh, wait…

Past stories indicate that WDDTY believe you should allow your children to suffer ruptured eardrums rather than give them antibiotics for ear infections. Because natural. This may qualify as child abuse.

48 Avoid Ritalin and other drugs for hyperactivity

They can increase cardiovascular risk and trigger new psychiatric symptoms plus sudden death. If your kids are hyperactive, suspect sugar or processed foods. Artificial colours like tartrazine used in juice drinks or ‘squashes’ and salicylate foods can all cause hyperactivity and attention deficit.

Ritalin was never as widely used in the UK as in the US (where drugs are marketed direct to patients). NICE maintains a useful database of evidence. And this is what an evidence-based discussion might look like. Do you see how it includes both risks and benefits, unlike WDDTY?

In the UK, Ritalin is used only for serious cases, not for self-diagnosed or questionable diagnoses. As usual, it’s safe to say that your doctor is probably better informed on the risk / benefit balance for your child than some shrill anti-medicine harridan.

49 Avoid toothpastes with fluoride, and filter your water if it’s fluoridated

High levels of fluoride in drinking water can dramatically lower IQ in children, say Harvard scientists—enough to cause learning difficulties in children who already have lowish IQ.26

Reference 26: Environ Health Perspect, 2012; 120: 1362–8  Developmental fluoride neurotoxicity: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Choi AL, Sun G, Zhang Y, Grandjean P.

And by high levels, they mean levels dramatically above the safe limits in drinking water. No water company adds these levels of fluoride.

It’s astonishing that as we approach the half-centenary of Dr. Strangelove, cranks are still repeating Major T. J. “King” Kong’s fulmination against fluoridation of water. The provable effect is a reduction in dental caries. And that’s it.

As always in medicine, anything given to healthy patients is subject to much more scrutiny than a drug given to the sick. Vaccines are another example. The evidence of safety has to be much more robust than for , say, a new antibiotic, because the risks of side-effects are offset only by potential benefits. Fluoridation of water (and toothpaste) has been studied intensely for a long time. There is no credible evidence of harm. Fluoridation is safe.

There is no credible reason at all to avoid fluoridated toothpaste. It might be wise not to snack on it, though.

50 Throw kids outdoors

Most infants and toddlers have low levels of vitamin D, some with levels below those needed to maintain and grow healthy bones.27 One school of thought maintains that by ‘protecting’ children against exposure to dirt and germs, we are inadvertently destroying their immune system’s ability to respond appropriately to infection and other stimuli. Diseases like eczema are far less prevalent in children who live in less sanitized conditions like farms and rural communities.28

Reference 27: Pediatrics, 2010; 125: 627–32 Adherence to vitamin D recommendations among US infants. Perrine CG, Sharma AJ, Jefferds ME, Serdula MK, Scanlon KS.

Reference 28: Clin Exp Allergy, 1999; 29: 28–34 Prevalence of hay fever and allergic sensitization in farmer’s children and their peers living in the same rural community. SCARPOL team. Swiss Study on Childhood Allergy and Respiratory Symptoms with Respect to Air Pollution. Braun-Fahrländer C, Gassner M, Grize L, Neu U, Sennhauser FH, Varonier HS, Vuille JC, Wüthrich B.

The idea that being in the outdoors is good for you is plausible and uncontroversial. WDDTY’s obsession with vitamin D, the idea that sunlight is “natural” and so “safe”, and their bizarre agenda against sunscreen, combine to make nonsense out of sense.

Australia has one of the best developed networks for surveillance of skin cancer. Guess what? Rural Victorians (those who get “thrown outdoors”) are 24% more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma.

So even when WDDTY advice has “truthinessW”, it turns out to be questionable and potentially dangerous, because WDDTY cares only about what WDDTY cares about, whereas medical advice usually cares about everything.

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100 ways to live to 100: Your healthy digestion

Part of a series on WDDTY’s “free” advertorial report “100 ways to live to 100

Your healthy digestion

11 Cut down or avoid eating wheat

Lots of people can’t tolerate this relatively new food in the human diet, particularly as it’s been so genetically tampered with. Each grain contains wheat-germ agglutinin (WGA); in small quantities it can inhibit nerve growth factor, which is vital for healthy neurons.8 WGA can disrupt endocrine function,

causing rheumatoid arthritis, ulcers, insulin resistance, and kidney and digestive problems;9 it can also bring about cell death10 and chronic inflammatory conditions. Switch to carbs like millet, buckwheat, quinoa, rice and corn.

Reference 8: Scand J Gastroenterol, 2010; 45: 1197–202; Positive serum antigliadin antibodies without celiac disease in the elderly population: does it matter? Ruuskanen A, Kaukinen K, Collin P, Huhtala H, Valve R, Mäki M, Luostarinen L.

Reference 9: BMJ, 1999; 318: 1023–4 Do dietary lectins cause disease? David L J Freed

Reference 10: Toxicol In Vitro, 2004; 18: 821–7 Studies on the joint cytotoxicity of Wheat Germ Agglutinin and monensin. Dalla Pellegrina C, et. al.

Those references don’t support the overall claims, of course. The first finds that “Although AGA positivity is of clinical relevance only in a subset of elderly people, it seems to be related to rheumatoid arthritis and depression, both conditions linked to celiac disease”. This is testable using tTG antibody testing. Valid, worth pursuing, narrowly applicable as the summary suggests. The second says “The evidence is suggestive—and raises interesting possibilities for treatment”, again valid but speculative, and if we don’t have something firmer than speculative nearly 15 years later, perhaps it’s not that significant.

The third reference is a corker. It suggests that eating wheat could treat cancer – the self-same apoptosis that is promoted by some of their quack advertisers. But of course that would never do, wheat is a baddie not a goodie, so it’s spun as “causing cell death”.

There are at least a couple of other problems with the section itself, in addition to the sources not saying what WDDTY claims for them.

First, wheat is an excellent source of essential dietary fibre, while quinoa is ethically and environmentally dubious. Second, wheat intolerance is massively less common than rancid quack tomes such as Wheat Belly would have you believe. Coeliac is the best known and is relatively common – up to 1% of the UK population – but that can be objectively tested, and those with genuine wheat intolerance do not have coeliac.

It’s unlikely that as many as 5% of people have wheat intolerance.

Wheat is the bête noire of many a quack nutritionist, but solid evidence to support this status is lacking. Intolerance and allergy is more common in children than in adults (children often outgrow it), and it introduces non-trivial restrictions on diet.

Bottom line: do not self-diagnose as allergic or sensitive to anything, and don’t allow anyone else to diagnose you either unless they are a fully trained and qualified dietician or doctor. Remember, even prominent TV “nutritionists” can turn out to have bought their worthless degrees off the internet.

12 Dump homogenized or pasteurized lowfat dairy

People who consume large quantities of dairy products have higher levels of circulating insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), linked to an increased risk of numerous cancers.11 Men with the highest IGF-1 levels quadruple their chances of getting prostate cancer with low-fat milk, which strips away the anticancer protective effects of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).12

Reference 11: Recent Pat Anticancer Drug Discov, 2012; 7: 14–30 Insulin-like growth factor: current concepts and new developments in cancer therapy. King ER, Wong KK.

Reference 12a: Science, 1998; 279: 563–6 Plasma insulin-like growth factor-I and prostate cancer risk: a prospective study. Chan JM, Stampfer MJ, Giovannucci E, Gann PH, Ma J, Wilkinson P, Hennekens CH, Pollak M.

Reference 12b: Am J Clin Nutr, 2005; 81: 1147–54 Dairy, calcium, and vitamin D intakes and prostate cancer risk in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Epidemiologic Follow-up Study cohort. Tseng M, Breslow RA, Graubard BI, Ziegler RG.

This is a rehash of WDDTY’s “is dairy cancer food”. We checked that question and found that the answer is probably “no”, and the sources WDDTY use to support it, generally don’t support it and occasionally say pretty much the opposite.

13 Root out any allergies or food intolerances

Besides wheat, suspect the other big seven: corn, soya, sugar, nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, aubergines, sweet and chilli peppers), yeast, egg and dairy. Find out if you’re intolerant by following an elimination diet (see WDDTY November 2012).

This is also a rehash of old material including the silly article on arthritis. WDDTY seem to have a particularly schizophrenic view of tomatoes. They contain lycopene (which apparently makes you immortal), are part of the immortality-conferring mediterranean diet, but it turns out they also cause all manner of illnesses.

According to the Mayo Clinic the eight most common food allergies are:

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts (such as almonds, cashews, walnuts)
  • Fish (such as bass, cod, flounder)
  • Shellfish (such as crab, lobster, shrimp)
  • Soy
  • Wheat

Corn, Solanaceae, yeast and sugar do not figure at all. The FDA has the same list, the NHS has a longer and more specific list split into allergies common in children versus adults, again:  corn, Solanaceae, yeast and sugar do not figure at all.

It’s so confusing! Unless you look at the actual evidence rather than a filtered, cherry-picked version in an anti-medicine rag promoting the quackery of so-called nutritionists, of course.

14 Eat your greens for calcium

Dairy products actually accelerate the rate at which calcium is lost from the body, and calcium supplements as a rule are not properly absorbed; in one large study, an increased consumption of pasteurized milk did not protect against bone fractures. Just one serving of green, leafy vegetables a day, rather than once a week, can cut the risk of hip fracture in half.13

Reference 13: Am J Clin Nutr, 1999; 69: 74–9 Vitamin K intake and hip fractures in women: a prospective study. Feskanich D, Weber P, Willett WC, Rockett H, Booth SL, Colditz GA.

Another rehash of the arthritis article’s claims, and continuing the WDDTY agenda against dairy. Needless to say the source does not support the claim: it finds that “Low intakes of vitamin K may increase the risk of hip fracture in women. The data support the suggestion for a reassessment of the vitamin K requirements that are based on bone health and blood coagulation.”

15 Check out your stomach acid

If you suffer from acid reflux or poor elimination, get your stomach acid levels tested by Biolab Medical Unit (9 Weymouth Street, London W1W 6DB; www.biolab.co.uk; tel: 0207 636 5959) or Genova Diagnostics (63 Zillicoa St, Asheville, North Carolina 28801, USA; tel: (828) 253 0621).

This message was brought to you by our sponsors. Biolab is a respectable lab but it also runs some distinctly dubious tests. It refers patients to a number of the WDDTY editorial panel (can you say “undeclared conflict of interest”? I thought you could) for treatment of medically unrecognised conditions based on questionable tests.

16 Find out if your gut is ‘leaky’

If the walls of the large intestine are excessively permeable, allowing larger food molecules through, this will reduce food absorption and lead to allergic symptoms. Confirm the diagnosis through Biolab or Genova (see the infobox) and repair the gut wall with probiotics, plus the amino acid glutamine and glutathione, an important antioxidant. If you have digestive difficulties, get checked for Candida overgrowth and parasites by doing a stool test (Contact Genova Diagnostics Europe, Parkgate House, 356 West Barnes Lane, New Malden, Surrey KT3 6NB; tel: 0208 336 7750; www.gdx.net/uk).

This message was brought to you by our sponsors.

Leaky gut syndrome is a quack diagnosis.Candida overgrowth is a quack diagnosis. If WDDTY were a responsible publication they would tell you this, rather than feeding you to labs which will diagnose non-existent or unrecognised conditions and refer you to quacks who will “treat” them.

17 Give up the white stuff

Besides causing tooth decay and diabetes, just 10g of any simple sugars, brown white, will temporarily suppress immune system white cells by a whopping 40 per cent.14 Consuming sugar is linked to inflammatory bowel disease, gallstones and kidney stones, high blood pressure, stomach and endometrial cancer, and even shortsightedness. It’s just plain bad for you, full stop.

Reference 14: Dent Surv, 1976; 52: 46–8, Sucrose, neutrophilic phagocytosis and resistance to disease. Ringsdorf WM Jr, Cheraskin E, Ramsay RR Jr.

This study is rapidly approaching its 40th birthday. NHS Choices offers much more moderate advice, that is also (obviously) more practical.

18 Periodically detox

Virtually all of us are walking around with a cocktail of some 100,000 ubiquitous environmental chemicals in our blood, some of which are now known to be ‘bioaccumulating’ in human fat and causing a variety of health problems.15 Take regular saunas, exercise and extra fibre plus Chlorella, Spirulina and coriander (cilantro), as they all show evidence of clearing heavy metals from the body (see pages 80–81 for more detox tips).

Reference 15a:  Altern Med Rev, 2000; 5: 52–63;

Reference 15b: Environ Health, 2011; 10: 9 Knowns and unknowns on burden of disease due to chemicals: a systematic review Annette Prüss-Ustün1, Carolyn Vickers, Pascal Haefliger and Roberto Bertollini

If there’s one thing that marks out a quack, it’s “detox”. Hysterical references to unidentified “toxins” building up in our bodies, are used to sell expensive treatments that vary between worthless and downright dangerous. Exactly what you’d expect, in fact, given that the first reference is to Alternative Medicine Review, a junk journal devoted to promoting quackery.

The second source is reputable, but does not support detox. It is instead discussing the human effects of dioxins and other known toxins (real ones, identified by name) and recommending means to reduce exposures to these. It does not mention detox even once.

And the reason the reputable source doesn’t mention detox? Detox is what your liver does.

The only known value of detox is as a red flag to avoid a quack.

19 Steer clear of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)

Found in virtually every processed food and soft drink (a standard cola has about 17 teaspoons’ worth), HFCS picks up deadly mercury during processing. Also avoid chemical sweeteners like aspartame, now characterized by many as an excitotoxin, shown to cause seizures and brain neuronal damage in animals.16 Aspartame also been linked to cancer in animal studies.17

Reference 16a: J Neuropathol Exp Neurol, 1972; 31: 464–88 Glutamate-induced brain damage in infant primates. Olney JW, Sharpe LG, Feigin RD.

Reference 16b: Eur J Clin Nutr, 2008; 62: 451–62 Direct and indirect cellular effects of aspartame on the brain P Humphries, E Pretorius and H Naudé

Reference 17: Am J Ind Med, 2010; 53: 1197–206 Aspartame administered in feed, beginning prenatally through life span, induces cancers of the liver and lung in male Swiss mice. Soffritti M, Belpoggi F, Manservigi M, Tibaldi E, Lauriola M, Falcioni L, Bua L.

Aspartame is another of WDDTY’s bogeymen. It’s also, according to the best available evidence, safe (and the unreliable evidence is equally unreliable, with mercola.com describing it as “by far the most dangerous substance on the market that is added to foods”. 1972 is the oldest source used anywhere in the entire article. Wikipedia has a nice discussion of aspartame controversyW. It’s one of the most heavily studied additives in use, and there is a vast amount of evidence indicating its safety.

20 Drink a bit of alcohol

Drinking lightly (a glass every few days) rather than heavily or abstaining seems to be the safest and healthiest overall drinking for preventing heart disease.18But make it red wine, which contains health-giving resveratrol, and also helps prevent inflammation.19

Reference 18:  Eur J Clin Nutr, 2010; 64: 561–8 Relationship between alcohol intake, health and social status and cardiovascular risk factors in the Urban Paris-Ile-de-France Cohort: is the cardioprotective action of alcohol a myth? Hansel B, Thomas F, Pannier B, Bean K, Kontush A, Chapman MJ, Guize L, Bruckert E.

Reference 19: FASEB J, 2009; 23: 2412–24 Resveratrol attenuates C5a-induced inflammatory responses in vitro and in vivo by inhibiting phospholipase D and sphingosine kinase activities. Issuree PD, Pushparaj PN, Pervaiz S, Melendez AJ.

Red wine may indeed be good for you in moderation, but these sources don’t prove it. The first is vulnerable to multiple confounders, the second does not discuss red wine, because the amount of bioavailable resveratrol in wine is unpredictable. It is possible that resveratrol is clinically useful, but the studies don’t compare it with other substances and don’t support its use along with the well-known and potent toxin: ethanol.

Leaky gut syndrome

Leaky gut syndrome
Leaky gut syndrome is a condition invented by nutritionists and sold by sciencey-sounding nonsense.

As we shall see, the diagnosis of “leaky gut syndrome” is a convenient catch-all to offer an illusion of knowledge to patients suffering from medically obscure symptoms. This is particularly pernicious, since in many cases such conditions have a psychosomatic component: the illusion of diagnosis is almost its own cure.

A competent and ethical health publication would urge caution around unproven diagnoses that make claims which should be verifiable from pathology, but aren’t.

WDDTY of course supports the nutritionist industry agenda.

Leaky gut syndrome

Leaky Gut Syndrome
‘Leaky gut syndrome’ is a proposed condition some health practitioners claim is the cause of a wide range of long-term conditions, including chronic fatigue syndrome and multiple sclerosis.

Proponents of ‘leaky gut syndrome’ claim that many symptoms and diseases are caused by the immune system reacting to germs, toxins or other large molecules that have been absorbed into the bloodstream via a porous (‘leaky’) bowel.

There is little evidence to support this theory, and no evidence that so-called ‘treatments’ for ‘leaky gut syndrome’, such as nutritional supplements and a gluten-free diet, have any beneficial effect for most of the conditions they are claimed to help.

While it is true that certain factors can make the bowel more permeable, this probably does not lead to anything more than temporary mild inflammation of an area of the bowel.

NHS Choices

The world of alternative medicine has a certain fondness for inventing conditions in order to be able to sell a “cure” that medicine cannot offer. morgellonsW and chronic Lyme diseaseW are two of the better known. Another, particularly beloved of nutritionists, is leaky gut syndromeW.

Often there is an overlap with reality: in morgellons the condition is delusional parasitosisW, patients preferring the alternative because they repudiate the psychological cause; in chronic Lyme there is a genuine condition (post-Lyme syndrome) though many self-diagnosed sufferers show no evidence of borrelia burgdorferi, the cause of Lyme disease.

Other genuine disorders such as infectious mononucleosisW (also known as glandular fever) have lasting effects similar to chronic fatigue syndromeW (CFS).

In the case of “leaky gut syndrome” there is some substance to the idea that the gut wall can become more permeable in those suffering from inflammatory bowel diseaseW but the crossover between this and the alternative diagnosis of “leaky gut” happens early. However, the idea of a leaky gut syndrome, particularly as the cause of autism, CFS and even multiple sclerosisW, is entirely speculative and not supported by credible evidence.

Nutritionists typically pin the blame for “leaky gut” on whichever idée fixe they happen to hold: gluten is a frequent target, milk and candida overgrowth are also fingered.

leaky gut As an example, the website leakygutcure.com uses the illustration at right. This shows: top left, a normal gut wall; top right, villous atrophy, a diagnostic sign of coeliac diseaseW, and bottom, vague references to food and unspecified “toxins”.

I am not aware of any credible pathological findings of undigested food in the blood, as this suggests, nor is any such objective test proposed for “leaky gut”. Instead the diagnosis is one of – well, guesswork: usually exclusion diets, but with the nutritionist’s favourite bête noire always in the mix, and (it seems) always found to be the One True Cause.

Comparison with coeliac is illustrative. Coeliac is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks the gut wall where the proteins in gluten are absorbed. Diagnosis is by blood tests for tissue transglutaminase (tTG) antibodies, possibly confirmed by duodenal biopsy, which typically shows exactly the features seen at top right in the picture: blunting of the villi, enlargement of the crypts and invasion of the crypts by lymphocytes (white blood cells).

Candida overgrowth

Candida overgrowth
Alternative therapists love nothing more than an alternative disease. “Mainstream” medicine can’t detect it, so can’t cure it. The more nebulous the symptoms the better! Many quacks specialise in diseases of the worried well, but some seek out those whose symptoms are debilitating and medically unexplained. While medicine seeks a cause and a cure (often focusing on possible autoimmune disorders and cognitive behavioural therapyW to help patients manage the symptoms in the mean time), quacks are absolutely sure they have the One True Cause and therefore the One True Cure.

Naturally patients will seek help when their symptoms are at their worst. Naturally, regression toward the meanW and the natural history of the condition mean that they will improve anyway. Naturally the quacks claim to be responsible for this improvement. Naturally the lack of empirical validity of their treatment is proof positive of medicine suppressing “natural” cures.

Continue reading Candida overgrowth

HIV and AIDS: A bizarre letter

AIDS
According to WDDTY:

  • The HIV-AIDS link is controversial
  • AIDS denialists are worth listening to even if they have no subject matter expertise at all
  • AZT does not cure AIDS, because chemo
  • Mushrooms, oxygen, resonance, vitamin C and homeopathy do cure AIDS
  • AIDS tests don’t work

McTaggart thinks it’s about time she reviewed the subject again. We can hardly wait, and no doubt her advertisers are equally keen.

Continue reading HIV and AIDS: A bizarre letter

Arthritis: it’s not old age, it’s inflammation

Arthritis patients: Fertile prey for quacks.
Like any sufferer from a painful chronic condition, arthritis patients are fertile prey for quacks. Here WDDTY engages in its signature combination of legitimate new research, prehistoric papers beloved of cranks, and uncritical acceptance of practitioners with an agenda and a business to promote, to synthesise a claim that is not actually supported by the sources they cite.

“Doctors have long assumed that osteoarthritis is largely caused by traumatic injury or ‘wear and tear’, but new research suggests that the disease may actually be driven by low-grade inflammation”

Except that doctors are quite clear on the plausibility of autoimmune disorders as a contributor to osteoarthritis, the contribution of one factor does not contradict the contribution of other factors, and the cited studies acknowledge limitations that WDDTY airily waves aside.

The pièce de résistance is representing mainstream research on the side-effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs as “proof” of the quack diagnosis of “leaky gut syndrome“.

Continue reading Arthritis: it’s not old age, it’s inflammation

The WDDTY wars: why they don’t want you to read all about it

tweetLong experience indicates that the reaction of cranks to criticism is very often to reframe it in terms that reduce cognitive dissonanceW, for example by dismissing scientific evidence as coming from “pharma shills”.

On October 3, WDDTY tweeted the following commentary to its followers. Continue reading The WDDTY wars: why they don’t want you to read all about it