In a previous blog I used the term “constructive ignorance” to describe the action of the Health Professionals Council in South Africa (HPCSA) in charging Professor Tim Noakes with professional misconduct for his views on a diet, which is low in carbohydrates and high in healthy fats (LCHF). This is certainly not an isolated example as there have been essentially similar issues in other countries. Constructive Ignorance has been defined by my colleague Richard North as follows: “There was a time – a long time ago – when I thought that information was the antidote to ignorance. All I had to do, I thought, was to get to the right people and tell them what they needed to know – the correct information – and all would be well with the world. Only latterly did I identify what I came to call “constructive ignorance”, after “constructive dismissal”, where people quite deliberately foster a state of ignorance. Largely, I surmised, they have adopted their narratives and need to protect them with a wall of ignorance. Otherwise, they crumble under the assault of facts, and their holders are faced with the inconvenience of having to rebuild them.” (1). The latest is in Ireland, where Patricia Daly has been in trouble with the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland (ASAI). One of her websites offers training courses for those looking to implement a...Read More
A flooded house If you are unlucky enough to be flooded at home because of a burst water pipe, the first thing you would do is to locate the source and stop the water coming in as fast as possible. You would be absolutely astounded if you were told that this could not be done. There are uncanny parallels between this household disaster and Type 2 Diabetes (T2D). The only difference is that the flooding is caused by excessive amounts of sugar in the body. Water is essential if a house is to function effectively while the body needs some glucose. A household has a plumbing system to ensure that the water is controlled. Similarly the body uses the hormone insulin to control the glucose. If these systems are defective, then the water and glucose can no longer be controlled. As a consequence the water causes extensive damage to the property and the glucose does exactly the same in the body. Tackle the source So the obvious way to treat T2D is to cut down on the quantity of glucose that enters the body. This is easily done by reducing the amount that enters the body in the diet by eating much less sugar and foods, which contain starch that is broken down to glucose. All of this is perfectly logical and reasonable. Yet unbelievably, this advice is rarely...Read More
Background At the Public Health Collaboration Annual Conference in Manchester I met Dr Tanya Malpass who explained how she developed cancer but has recovered. When we spoke she was looking very well and so I asked her to describe her experience. Here is her story. The initial stages The first indication I had that there was anything wrong, was back in January 2015 when I started talking in spoonerisms. It was all a bit of a laugh to start with and most people didn’t notice when I got tongue-tied (apart from close friends), but it was totally out of character (and out of my control). After a couple of weeks, my friends persuaded me that it was no longer funny and forced me to seek help. The GP tried to assure me that it was probably attributable to stress or tiredness, but because I had enough ‘ticks’ on the clinical algorithm for a possible stroke, he referred me for an urgent MRI. To be frank, I think he was ‘bending the rules somewhat as I has no neurological signs whatever, apart from saying ‘soon’ instead of ‘spoon’ or ‘exact’ instead of ‘extract’. I doubt I would have been referred so promptly if I had not been a doctor myself! Bob the Blob Sitting with a neurologist, my scan up on the screen, I heard him say: “Well, it’s not a stroke”. I...Read More
It is about forty years since the dietary guidelines were introduced in USA. Most other countries followed suit. Here in the UK, the report by the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food Policy (COMA) on “Diet and Cardiovascular Disease” in 1984 focussed on fat (1). It recommended that total fat and saturated fat (SFA) should be reduced but that the polyunsaturated fat (PUFA) be increased. The big problem is that it was at about that time, the incidence of obesity and diabetes started to increase. Even the most ardent advocates of these recommendations accepted that the available evidence fell short of proof that their implementation would definitely be effective. The MRFIT study Round about that time, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to attend a number of international nutrition conferences, where the introduction of the dietary guidelines was a hot topic in discussions that often continued into the early hours. It is interesting to recall that many of those ardent advocates of the advice to reduce fat and SFA accepted that the evidence to justify the recommendations was not conclusive. However I was assured that proof would soon be forthcoming because there was a massive investigation under way, which assuredly produce the proof that was required. This was the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial (MRFIT) (2). The work started out with 350,977 men aged 35 to 57. Participants...Read More
For some time, I have been concerned about the harm that may occur as a result of medical treatment such as adverse effects of drugs or damage caused by exposure to radiation. I have just come across a paper entitled “Death by Medicine” (1), which presents a picture that is absolutely horrendous. Although it deals with the USA and was published in 2004, the information is almost certainly still relevant and is applicable in many countries. Deaths It was estimated that the annual death rate in the USA attributed to medicine is 783,936. This figure is higher than the 699,697 deaths caused by heart disease and 553,252 due to cancer in 2001. Hence the medical system is the leading cause of death. The specific causes and the number of related deaths are shown in Table 1. Table 1. Annual mortality and economic cost of medical intervention Condition Number of deaths Cost, B$ Adverse drug reactions 106,000 12 Medical error 98,000 2 Bedsores 115,000 55 Infection 88,000 5 Malnutrition 108,800 —- Outpatients 199,000 77 Unnecessary procedures 37,136 122 Surgery-related 32,000 9 Total 783,936 282 The above values are based on conservative assumptions, which may provide an under-estimate of what actually happens in practice. In reality there may be as many as one million deaths per year. As long ago as 1994, Lucian Leape published a paper in the...Read More
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