Yesterday I picked up a copy of a new magazine called “What Doctors Don’t Tell You” which is clearly linked to the website of the same name. If you think from the title that the contents would be full of alleged health secrets that the medical establishment are with-holding from you, you’d be right. This blogpost just covers a sample of the contents. To do them justice would require a whole series of posts which I don’t have time to research and write at the moment.
On page 9 it is claimed that doctors say the increase in heart disease and cancer is due just to us living longer. This is a bit of a misrepresentation; while it is true that these diseases take time to develop and thus will be commoner in a long lived population the medical professions are well aware of other causes and take steps to address them. I know this because I was diagnosed with coronory heart disease last year and was entered into Phase III of a cardiac rehabilitation program (I have not actually had a heart attack and the cardiologist judged surgery to be unnecessary in my case) which included life-style advice such as increasing excercise, healthy eating and smoking cessation.
There is also a large dose of antivax propaganda focused particularly on Gardasil, the HPV vaccine. I went through the pros and cons of this vaccine here and here and don’t propose repeating myself. Sufficient to say that very few serious side effects have been reported and the vaccine will prevent several hundred deaths per year.
This publication goes for nonsense claims such as “your chances of getting cervical cancer are only eight times greater than your chances of being killed by an asteroid” whichy appears in large letters on page 31. Since, as far as we are aware, deaths by asteroid are somewhere between extremely few and non-existant the clear implication is that your chances of developing cervical cancer are similarly minute. In fact the text on the same page admits that in the UK in 2009 there were 2747 cervical cancer cases (and 759 deaths). The bogus asteroid death statistic would thereforte suggest that there were 343 asteroid deaths in the UK that year. Don’t know about you but I missed them being reported.
On pages 36 -38 there is an article linking diabetes to vitamin D defficiency which starts out by saying we should get out in the Sun more but quickly moves on to pushing vitamin D supplementation – a fact which surprises me not at all. It is even claimed that “increasing your levels of vitamin D actually reverses type 2 diabetes”. In fact the research suggests the issue is much less clear-cut:
“Supplementation trials with regular vitamin D for the protection against the development of T1D and T2D have generated some contradictory data, but many weaknesses can be identified in these trials as most were underpowered or open-labeled. However, the overwhelming strength of preclinical data and of the observational studies make vitamin D or its analogues strong candidates for the prevention or treatment of diabetes or its complications. However, proof of causality needs well-designed clinical trials and if positive, adequate dosing, regimen, and compound studies are needed to define the contribution of vitamin D status and therapy in the global diabetes problem. There are many confounding factors that need to be taken into consideration when translating successful vitamin D therapies in animal models into humans, for example, gender, age, lifestyle, and genetic background. To come to solid conclusions on the potential of vitamin D or its analogues in the prevention of or therapy for all forms of diabetes, it is clear that large prospective trials with carefully selected populations and end points will be needed, but should also receive high priority.”
Another health issue of the middle-aged which is addressed is hearing loss due to listening to loud music in one’s youth. Among the remedies suggested on page 41 is a daily dose (30 – 200mg) of the herb gingko biloba to “improve blood circulation to the ears” which alleged effect allegedly restores hearing loss and we are further told that the “higher the dose the better the result”. No mention of potential problems is made. According to this
Ginkgo may have undesirable effects, especially for individuals with blood circulation disorders and those taking anticoagulants such as aspirin or warfarin, although recent studies have found that ginkgo has little or no effect on the anticoagulant properties or pharmacodynamics of warfarin in healthy subjects. Ginkgo inhibits monoamine oxidase, and, therefore, people who are taking certain types of antidepressants (such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), as well as pregnant women may experience side effects.
In summary – taking the advice on offer in this magazine may do no harm to the worried well but to people with underlying health problems, it is potentially dangerous.