Tag Archives: Vitamin C

July 2015 in review: part 2

So far we’ve looked at the cover stories and the first ten pages. Brace yourselves, there’s more to come.

Page 11 is a full-page advert for Cytoplan, who claim that their Wholefood Cherry C contains only pure, powdered acerola cherry because, as they say, “food supplement nutrients in the same form as those in food are always the most optimally effective”.

L-Ascorbic Acid (evil) Natural Vitamin C (not evil)
L-Ascorbic_acid-a L-Ascorbic_acid-g

Spot the difference. Continue reading July 2015 in review: part 2

Nothing compares to Altrient by Livon?

Those foolish enough to read WDDTY cannot fail to have noticed that the inside cover has for some time carried an ad by Abundance and Health Ltd. for dietary supplements.
abundance and health altrient ad
The introductory blurb leaves me somewhat perplexed. Firstly, because there’s only so much Vitamin C you can take into your system before you excrete it (it’s water-soluble) and secondly, WTF is Glutathione? I’ve never heard of it. Well, that’s easily sorted anyway. Stand back while I perform the Rite of WikiPedia using only the power of my mind and a computer keyboard…

Ah, it’s an antioxidant. Moreover, Wikipedia says:  “Glutathione is not an essential nutrient, since it can be synthesized in the body from the amino acids” and I for one would tend to accept that, since otherwise we’d be hearing a lot more about glutathione deficiency from the medical establishment. How much are this lot charging for something we do not, in fact, need?

The website says: only £55.95 for a box of 30 sachets and it’s supposed to last you between two and four weeks. The page also claims that “Physicians and researchers all over the world are excited about GSH”. Maybe they are, but certainly not about taking it in oral form. Trying to raise glutathione levels with oral supplements isn’t very effective.

This lot make the clear claim that their oral glutathione is effective in raising blood levels. I think the Advertising Standards Authority might be interested in that (checks with the Nightingale Collaboration) Yes, they were very interested in that: witness this post dated 9 January 2013. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it looks as if Abundance and Health’s idea of compliance is to change the name of the product and set up a new web domain. Is the ASA aware of this unashamed jiggeryfuckery?

From now on, I shall drop any pretence of assuming good faith on the part of Abundance and Health, because if you admit you can’t provide evidence for your claims and simply sell the same thing under a different label while maintaining some of the claims, you are quite blatantly not in good faith.

On to the Vitamin C, mainly because I mentioned it above, even though the glutathione rubbish and attitude towards the ASA alone are enough to show this lot are probably scammers.

They’ve dropped most of the dodgy health claims that the ASA objected to in the original ad, but still would have you believe that their powders (or gels or whatever the damn things are), are the most efficient way to supplement your vitamin C. This is complete bollocks: if your diet is balanced you don’t need any extra vitamin C, and 1000 mg is way over the adult daily requirement of 40 mg. Need a bit more? Eat some fruit. Incidentally, contrary to a statement elsewhere on the site, you can overdose on vitamin C: symptoms include stomach cramps, the squits and farting. Ask the NHS if you don’t believe me.

There’s a lot of pseudoscientific gibberish about bioavailability, which I shall pause only to sneer at, as we’ve already seen the whole thing is a waste of electrons. It’s only there to gull the marks. There’s the mind-boggling price of £29.95 for a box of 30 (Boots currently sell 20 tabs for £2.59). Now there’s a barefaced rip-off if ever I saw one.

And there is this astounding claim:

New research shows Altrient C makes skin 33% firmer

Really? I do not think that claim would stand up to close scrutiny. Let’s have a closer look:

Abundance & Health, today announces positive results of a 4 week clinical trial investigating the anti-aging skin firming properties of their lead product Altrient® C, the world’s first liposomal vitamin C gel sachets.

4 weeks? FOUR WEEKS? That’s not a clinical trial, those take years.

The placebo-controlled trial was conducted by Aspen Clinical Research, the clinical and cosmetic industry researchers.

This perfectly real and apparently pukka company is in Utah, so I looked up the US suppliers for A&H: Livon. Do you know, they don’t mention this amazing discovery at all?

The trial involved 60 participants with non-firm aging skin aged between 31 and 65+.

Not only is it a ridiculously short “trial”, it’s a ridiculously small one. If, in fact, it ever happened.

50% took 3 sachets of Altrient C a day for 4 weeks and 50% taking a placebo.

Remember what the NHS says the side effects are if you go over 1000 mg/day? Well, at least we know now why the “trial” was so brief.

Participants’ skin firmness and elasticity were measured at three points through the trial by Cutometer MPA 580, the Courage + Khazaka electronic GmbH elasticity measurement device.

It seems Aspen Clinical do use this device, but not over periods as short as 4 weeks. The conclusion is, of course, that “100% would change their current anti-aging routine by not just adding Altrient C to their skin regime, but replacing all products they currently use with Altrient C”, because if you’re going to spout complete bollocks, go all the way. The bigger the lie, the more likely people are to believe it.

Seriously, would you replace your moisturiser, aftershave lotion, hand cream etc with an overdose of incredibly expensive vitamin C?

Footnote: In her blog post of 24 Jan 2014, Lynne McTaggart whinged that people had “reported virtually every single one of our advertisers to an advertising standards body”, as if it had been done on purpose just to spoil her birthday party. No, I shit you not, that’s exactly how it reads. Obviously it doesn’t occur to the Blessed McTaggart (Saint and Martyr) that the advertisers were reported because they were not complying with advertising standards. And in this case at least, continue to do so.

 

Misinformation, Stigma and WDDTY – How not to write about TB

How not to write about TB
For WDDTY, the issue is simple: their freedom to state their beliefs is being suppressed by a small group of skeptics just because we hate natural cures and love big pharma.

In this article @NurtureMyBaby explains, more eloquently than I could, why for her it is not about freedom to state an opinion, but about the pernicious effects of agenda-driven falsehoods and misrepresentations, the false hope of unwarranted extrapolation, and the ridiculous notion that adjunct to antibiotics means better than antibiotics, which don’t work anyway.

This is the third article to expose WDDTY’s worrying denialist approach to antibiotics, one of the most successful health interventions we have. Further research is underway to determine if the editors, by all accounts fervent homeopathy believers, are straying into the territory of germ theory denialism so common among that particular band of charlatans.

Now read on…

Continue reading Misinformation, Stigma and WDDTY – How not to write about TB

Supplements. Because natural

Natural vitamins being crushed from fresh fruit by Fairtrade villagers. Or... not.
Natural vitamins being crushed from fresh organically grown fruit by Fairtrade villagers. Or… not.

WDDTY want us to believe that supplements are better than drugs because they are natural.

Is that true?

First up, rejecting “big pharma” puts you in the grips of “big herba” – and if you dig beneath the skin, you find that they are not only similar, they are often one and the same.

Second, you cannot be confident that your supplement contains what it says on the label. A random sample of 44 supplements found one in three contained none of the claimed ingredient, and many of the others contained fillers and adulterants.

Third, you never know what else is included free!pesticides, for example, and heavy metals. Granted these are usually within accepted safe levels – but the same applies for the non-organic produce that we’re told is full of “toxins” such as, you know, pesticides and heavy metals.

Fourth, the more you seek to escape “big whoever”, the worse the problem seems to get. Unlicensed products have virtually no safeguards. Continue reading Supplements. Because natural

Medical McCarthyism

Lynne McTaggart is angry, and she wants you to know it. She seems to think that the idea of getting people to stay within what is supportable from the scientific evidence, rather than making mendacious claims to cure disease while undermining genuinely valuable public health interventions and credulously repeating blatant propaganda, is comparable to McCarthyismW.

But do the arguments stack up?

Even journalists go by the old adage, ‘If at first you don’t succeed. . .’ After being fairly universally condemned for the first attack against What Doctors Don’t Tell You on October 1, the Times chose to run essentially the same article again about us last Saturday, November 2 – this time entitled “Magazine attacked by health experts over cancer ‘cure’ claims.”

See our commentary.

For this latest round the Times did speak to us, and for this alleged ‘attack’ assembled a few members of the cancer establishment, plus thoughtfully gave us some free publicity by publishing a decent sized photo of the cover of the latest issue.

They did last time, too. As was pointed out to you several times. Why do you keep repeating claims that have been proven to be categorically untrue?

The experts were three convenient rent-a-quotes (two from cancer charities) whose comments were solicited after the content of our current issue appears to have been misrepresented to them. It’s a cheap and nasty tactic in journalism usually resorted to when you don’t have a story.

Yeah, cancer charities. How evil can you get? Charities. That support cancer patients and fund research. The bastards.

But this business of misrepresenting things. You need to be a bit careful before you start people digging around your comments, because there’s rather a lot of evidence of you misrepresenting things, as we’ll see.

From their answers, it seems evident that none of them have actually read the articles in question, or indeed have lodged complaints about WDDTY independently, but were led to believe that

1) WDDTY thinks there’s a secret cure that cancer researchers have discovered but are concealing from the public

Where on earth would they get that idea? Surely not from stories called “The Big Cancer Cover-Up“.

2) WDDTY has said that homeopathy can cure cancer

Ridiculous. All you ever said was that homeopathy reverses cancer. And you only said it the once. Or maybe twice. Totally different.

3) WDDTY urges its readers to just get vitamin C or homeopathy instead of drugs

How could anybody possibly come away with that idea?

So we thought we’d set the record straight about a few points:

WDDTY’s editors emphatically do not believe that cancer researchers have a secret cure they are concealing. Quite the opposite. That’s pretty obvious from the statistics.

Why don’t doctors tell you that cancer survival rates are stalled? Because it isn’t true.

Oh sure. You think they are ignoring all the cures. Because medicine only attracts total dunces, and PhDs are just pen-pushers, whereas an insurance salesman and former coal miner is exactly the kind of person likely to hit on a miracle cure for cancer.

The World Health Organization says that cancer accounted for 7.6 million deaths (around 13 per cent of all deaths) in 2008 and predicts the deaths will practically double to 13.1 million deaths by 2030.  Some cancers are going up, and some cancers are going down, but anywhere from 160,000 to 220,000 British people die from cancer every year, depending on who you speak to, and about 560,000 people in the US die. One thousand women die from breast cancer in this country alone every month.

And in the context of the “McCarthyism” title, that presumably means you’ve subscribed to the ridiculous political grandstanding of Nixon and his “war on cancer” – a war you think we should have won by now.

But as we all know from your commentary, you have no actual idea how the scientific quest for cures to cancers is progressing. You quoted a 12% survival rate, when in reality it’s 51%. Cancer survival times are improving. 5 year survival for Hodgkin’s lymphoma is over 80%, ten-year survival for testicle cancer has increased from under 70% to around 95% in the last 30 years, ten-year prostate cancer survival was around 30% in 1990 and it’s around 70% now, ten-year survival rates for breast cancer have around doubled since the 70s and are also approaching 80%.

This, to you, appears to be failure.

Unfortunately the NHS cannot afford magic wands.

It’s cheap to do clinical trials on homeopathy because it’s only water, so if they were worth doing they would already have been carried out. 

This may be true of laboratory cell lines, but not clinical trials.

Our story in the latest issue concerned the work of an Indian hospital using homeopathy to treat cancer that was deemed scientifically valid by the National Cancer Institute in America – enough to merit further research.

Oops! That claim is compete nonsense, and even the most cursory checking of the facts would have revealed it to be so.  It was nonsense the first time you published it, in March 2012, it always was nonsense and it always will be nonsense.

Your problem here is the same as your problem with most of your content: the only claims that receive even the vaguest scrutiny in WDDTY appear to be those made by real scientists.

Large scale clinical trials don’t come cheap. The average cost per-patient for a phase 1 clinical trial is about $22,000 (and the actual active substance, or drug itself isn’t the expensive part of the trial).  So if you want to do a trial of 200 patients, you need at least $440,000. And that’s only phase 1.  You need to do about several phases to get it approved. A decade ago, it was estimated that the average cost of bringing a drug to market in the US was $802 million. The active substance costs pennies compared to the cost of actually testing it on people.

The NCI is strapped for cash.  They received $231 million less from US Congress last year than the year before, and their appropriations from Congress have been flat for more than a decade.  They don’t have money to spend on trials of alternative medicine, even if the evidence is compelling.

Please feel free to take that up with the US taxpayer. Science is not free, and the more advanced it gets, the more expensive it gets. It was always cheap and easy to claim a miracle cure based on a complete misunderstanding of the biology of cancer, and if that was a good way forward, medical science would use it and save a fortune.

In the UK, the evil cancer charity CRUK spent £351m on cancer research. the bastards.

According to Cancer Research UK, just over half of cancer patients survive beyond five years. 

How dare they say such a thing, based on such flimsy grounds as facts and actual survival statistics. They should arrive at a figure by making it up, like you did.

This is the very attractive figure now being bandied about to convince us all that we’re winning the war on cancer. In fact the NHS told Lord Saatchi recently that it’s no longer necessary to have new avenues for cancer treatment because we already have a cure for cancer.

A GooglewhackW! Well done. Maybe they didn’t tell him exactly that?

Actually, as WDDTY has reported, after cherrypicking the very best clinical trials showing positive results, Australia’s leading oncologists found that chemotherapy’s contribution to five-year survival was only 2.3 per cent in Australia and 2.1 per cent in the US (Ann Oncol, 2013; doi: 10: 1093/annonc/mds636).

That claim is, to quote the authors, “quite misleading to cancer patients“. And there’s more:

[…] adjuvant chemo for breast and other cancers can have a substantial effect to improve long-term survival and there are many less common types (testis, lymphoma, leukemia, childhood cancers) where the effects are large.

It would be a tragedy if a young or middle-aged  woman with breast cancer or a man with metastatic testis cancer refused chemo because they believed there was only a 2% increase in long term survival.

So, if a young or middle-aged woman (i.e. a woman in your core demographic) took your claims on trust and refused chemo, it would be a tragedy, because she would significantly reduce her chances of survival.

Do you have any idea if this has happened? Do you care?

This is our problem with WDDTY. Chemo is the perfect example. It’s horrible while you’re going through it, you lose your hear, you vomit, you feel like death, you’re at the mercy of opportunistic infections. For several months. and then you come out the other side. Like my friend who has been completely discharged seven years post-diagnosis with no evidence or recurrent or metastatic disease. Just as well she wasn’t put off chemo by people making misleading claims like yours, or she might not be here today.

How can Cancer Research UK present such optimistic figures?  It all has to do with absolute vs relative risk. Let’s say you have osteoporosis, the brittle-bone disease. Your condition may be at a stage where your risk of suffering a fracture is 4 per cent, but the drug can reduce that risk to 2 per cent.

They present such optimistic figures because, unlike you, they have a completely neutral stance on chemotherapy and simply report the facts, rather than trying to make it look as bad as possible because they just don’t like it, which is where you apparently come from.

There are two ways of expressing the same thing: as a relative risk, the drug has a 50 per cent rate of effectiveness – it’s reduced your risk from 4 to 2 – and that sounds attractive, but in absolute terms its effectiveness is just 2 per cent.

Odds ratioW, it’s called. Absolute versus relative risk is one of the things doctors do tell you about. Without using figures in a seriously misleading way.

For years researchers have been presenting the effectiveness of chemotherapy in terms of relative risk, and this has influenced the way the media has reported on cancer too.

Which media? The Daily Mail or responsible journalists?

Stores are discontinued stocking WDDTY from last month

This is completely untrue. All the stores that stock us two month ago still believe in free speech and are continuing to stock us, including Waitrose, albeit at a lower grade of listing – at the individual discretion of store managers. That decision was made in July and had nothing to do with the Times’ October article, but more to do with the John Lewis Partnership’s aversion to controversy of any sort, particularly to a magazine with so controversial a name. Their communications to us has suggested that they have no quarrel with the content. If you want it locally, ask your manager to stock it.

Let’s unpack that.

People have looked for it in Waitrose, it’s not there. Not in my local Waitrose or any of the others we’ve seen.

Waitrose changed its policy after numerous communications for skeptics pointing out the dangerously misleading content. Whether it was that which caused the change in policy or the title of the magazine (which hasn’t changed of course) we’ll never know. What we do know is that your rationalisation is self-contradictory and self-serving.

Sainsbury’s have followed suit.

This is not, and never has been, an issue of free speech. You are free to make your misleading statements (though your advertiser aren’t) and your readers are free to read them. That confers no obligation on any retailer to stock the thing.

If no high street shop in the UK chose to stock your magazine (a condition which I hope will prevail soon), your freedom of speech would be completely unaffected.

WDDTY is advocating that people use vitamin C or homeopathy instead of drugs. 

As we explained four times in our interview, we are not telling people to get off chemo and onto vitamin C. This latest issue relayed the story of my mother-in-law, whom the medical profession had given up on. They told her she was going to die. An alternative-cancer regime saved her life and she lived many more years.  It’s a fact.  British Dr. Patrick Kingsley (now retired but available for comment) oversaw her treatment and saved her life. And the life of many hundreds of other cancer patients. Isn’t this worth investigating?

Chemo, no – you just undermine it systematically. vitamin C? You have form.

There is no evidence that the alternative regime your mother-in-law followed had the effect you claim. If there was, it would be part of the standard of care, because unlike you it appears, doctors do not file everything according to their visceral reaction to the idea of it.

So we now have the spectacle of a giant news corporation currently on trial for illegal phone hacking self-righteously leading the charge to curtail free speech on cancer and ban a small publication that is simply trying to open the debate on cancer.

It’s not a free speech issue. Stop publishing dangerously misleading nonsense and you’re good.

As to the “debate” on cancer, it’s not a debate. The nature of science is that it is inherently neutral: the scientific consensus takes account of all views and al evidence. To “balance” science with the fraudulent claims of “practitioners whose treatments by the very definition of alternative lack sound scientific evidence, is ever bit as mad as “balancing” Buzz Aldrin with Bart Siebel.

On Friday morning before the story ran, when Hannah Devlin, the co-author (with Tom Whipple) of the Times article interviewed us, I asked her, why are you doing this story again, to which she finally let slip, ‘What do you expect? You wrote about us in your magazine.’

Yes, you only like “revenge journalism” when you do it and you always want to have the last word. We totally understand that.

Dial whine-on-one and ask for the whaaambulance.

So the true purpose of the story was a bit of face-saving, but largely revenge.

It’s called follow-up. You do it too. The difference is The Times checked their facts and got them right both times.

And guess what? Freedom of speech. Cuts both ways.

Of course the real issue here isn’t their second inept handling of this story but a creeping medical McCarthyism evident in so much of the general press, which assumes anything other than chemo and radiation and the official line is automatically to be viewed as quackery and not worthy of discussion.  Have you or have you ever been a user of homeopathy? 

The majority of cancers are solid and are primarily cured with surgery. Radiation and chemo are adjuvant therapies. They provably reduce the risk of late recurrence and metastasis. You present the figures about this in a dangerously misleading way. Your behaviour may lead to someone foregoing chemo when it may make the difference between life and death.

You systematically undermine doctors in their role of giving impartial advice to patients.

You seek to “balance” impartial advice with misleading advice that is not supported by the figures you use. You are careless with facts.

Happily, an increasing number of people disagree with this form of medical censorship, as evident from the overwhelming support we have received.

Yes, the comments on your Facebook pages are pretty much 100% positive. because, of course, you delete the ones you think might be skeptics.

Silence those who oppose freedom of speech!

If you agree that it’s worth having freedom of information about cancer, conventional medicine and alternative treatments, here’s what to do:

It is important to have freedom of information.

It’s harder to make a case for freedom of disinformation

BEYOND POSITIVE — OPINION: What Doctors Don’t Tell You – Dangerous Hypocrisy

Reblogged with permission from Beyond Positive, an online magazine for people living with HIV in the UK

Last week I was made aware of  a particularly disturbing publication. What Doctors Don’t Tell You (WDDTY) is a magazine available for sale in UK shops that peddles dangerous “natural alternatives” to “big pharma” – and they’re taking their dangerous nonsense to the next step.

AIDScoverOriginally starting as a website, and now in print form, WDDTY centres around a number of conspiracy theories all of which, they claim, result in your doctors withholding cheap and natural solutions to health problems from you – the patient.

One of their most frequently repeated (and saying something many times doesn’t make it true) claims is that our doctors are so far in bed with “big pharma” (drug companies) that they withhold these easy cures from us in order to line their own pockets. That’s quite simply, and objectively, nonsense. If the NHS could cure a patient by prescribing a banana and herb tea instead of spending hundreds, sometimes tens of thousands, on medication they would do so.

Far be it from WDDTY to miss out on a trick though. Their poorly written, badly researched and often dangerous articles are frequently accompanied by an advert for a ludicrously expensive vitamin supplement or miracle cream. So, WDDTY are annoyed that doctors are keeping us in the dark to make money from/for “big pharma”, but it’s OK to spout pseudo-science in order to push some hideously over priced potions? Hypocrisy thy name art WDDTY.

Many of their articles focus on low impact conditions such as acne or hay fever but earlier this year they published a piece entitled ‘Mega-cure for the incurables – Vitamin C fights it all from AIDS to measles’. The article claims that massive doses of Vitamin C can slow or even cure HIV, this is all based on decade old “research” that has been dis-proven time and time again in the subsequent years.

HIV is a complex retrovirus, for which there is no known cure. Billions upon billions of pounds, dollars and euros have been spent over the last thirty years in the attempt to both manage and cure HIV. If there was a cure already we’d know about it, and the pharmaceutical companies would be busy selling a vaccine to every person on the planet.

vitcNow, I get hundreds of emails each day – many of which are peddling some magic cure to HIV (the best one I had was rubbing beetroot on your feet). These people are out there, that’s a fact. But there’s a difference between a badly written email or blog claiming that someone cured their own HIV with pumpkin seeds, and a magazine using dis-proven science to push their own dangerous ideas.

The old adage “don’t believe everything that you read” seems appropriate here – the thing is many people do. By printing this dangerous nonsense in a glossy magazine and selling it through reputable high street stores they automatically gain a certain amount of credibility. I mean if an “expert” has written it and a magazine has printed it then it must be true – no?

Starting HIV treatment can be a big deal for lots of people. Your medication has to be taken at the same time every day – for the rest of your life. It can come with side-effects, and serves as a daily reminder that you’re living with HIV. So it’s far from surprising that some people wish to delay starting treatment for as long as possible.

These people, these vulnerable and worried people, are exactly the people who’ll come to harm from the nonsense peddled in WDDTY. Scared of HIV medication? Worry not, a glass of orange juice will cure that pesky HIV for you. Left unchecked and untreated over time a HIV infection will destroy your immune system and lead to death – that’s a fact. Thanks to modern medication we can live a full healthy life, but a tangerine isn’t a cure.

I’m asking, pleading if I have to, with the stores that stock WDDTY (including Tesco, Sainsburys, Waitrose and WHSmith) that they remove this dangerous publication from their shelves.

Store buyers and management: If you have a bad batch of burgers you withdraw them from sale to prevent your customers from e-coli. If you have a defective toy you recall it to stop children choking. You wouldn’t sell a magazine that promoted eating disorders or suicide. So I’m asking you to remove ‘What Doctors Don’t Tell You’ from your magazine selection before someone with HIV, Cancer or Diabetes follows these poisonous recommendations and dies as a result. By selling the magazine in your stores you are both legitimising WDDTY’s message and opening yourself up to potential law suits. Do the right thing here and withdraw WDDTY from sale, today.

(Read and comment on the original article, published 30 Sept. 2013, here)

Edie’s anecdote

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

The November 2013 WDDTY contains in its editorial a touching anecdote about Lynne McTaggart’s mother-in-law, Edie:

About 20 years ago, we had our own experience of looking for answers to cancer when Edie, Bryan’s mother, then 78, was suddenly diagnosed with end-stage breast cancer. She’d privately nursed the cancer for several years without telling anyone, let alone seeing a medical professional. When we finally learned of it and insisted she see her GP, he was shocked when examining her—her breast looked, as he put it, “like raw meat”. So advanced was the cancer that it was too late to try chemotherapy or any other intervention other than powerful painkillers. Edie had three months to live at the very outside, the GP said to us privately. “And if I were you, I’d get her affairs in order.”

To be honest, we were frightened and far from certain we had any answers. Fortunately, because of our work, we were able to contact WDDTY columnist Dr Patrick Kingsley, a medical pioneer in Leicestershire who has helped people with a variety of conditions, including cancer. We didn’t know how successful he’d be with a case of terminal cancer, but we were encouraged to hear that he ran a local cancer group consisting of many other nohopers who were apparently outliving the odds.

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

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

He took several tests and was rendered speechless. The cancer which had ravaged her breast, which he’d been so sure was beyond hope or treatment, 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.

Cancer staging

A few things about this do not ring true, according to emails sent to us.

  1. A GP typically does not diagnose cancer and apparently typically does not have the conversation about prognosis; this is usually the preserve of an oncologist.
  2. End-stage cancer means metastasis. Nonetheless, the 5-year survival rate for stage IV breast cancer is still 22% – better than one in five patients will still be alive five years past diagnosis.
  3. No details are given of other treatments.
  4. The description sounds like cancer en cuirasse, a rare but terrifying progression of breast cancer that was almost extinct in the West until people started substituting quackery for proven medicines, but there are other potential explanations of the symptoms and McTaggart (characteristically) fails to provide the detail that would establish what was actually going on.

As oncologist Orac notes, this kind of testimonial is typically misleading.

Was Lynne McTaggart’s mother given additional years of life by therapies long debunked as quackery? It seems unlikely, and she has failed to provide sufficient detail to make any objective assessment.

There is a small irony in McTaggart promoting a “cure” that was actually not a cure, in the context of demanding examples of cures other than antibiotics in medicine. A demand which, as it turns out, demonstrates her ignorance rather than a point against medicine.

Why don’t doctors tell you that stage IV cancer can be treated effectively with intravenous vitamin C, hydrogen peroxide and supplements?

Because the evidence says it isn’t true.

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.

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.