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Author: VWheelock

273. The Dangers of Medicine

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...

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272. Consumerisation of Healthcare

“Be responsible for your own health, says leading GP” was the headline for an article in the Yorkshire Post recently. This was based on a comment made by Dr Clare Gerada, a former Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCPG). She was advocating that patients should be encouraged to take responsibility for their own health. She commented: “The idea that you need to consult me as the GP to tell you where to go is a nonsense in tomorrow’s world. In yesterday’s patronising world where I had the knowledge and I kept it from you, fine, but you are just as responsible. “If you don’t do that I am afraid that what is going to happen is that you have all the power and no responsibility. “We are going to end up with a burnt-out system where there won’t be health professionals because we can’t take that responsibility.” She went on to say that it was not the job of GPs to provide patients with information about health, fitness and diet. Instead, people should use the internet. In her own work as a GP she was using technology as an alternative to having a face to face consultation. In any event, the technological advances available to doctors means that a 10-minute consultation is becoming very complex. A sign of the times It is now very clear that...

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270. A Critical Look at Chemotherapy

Poor success rates Despite the enormous resources devoted to the development of drugs to treat cancer, the results are less than impressive. In a recent article in the BMJ, Dr Peter Wise former consultant of Charing Cross Hospital and Imperial College Medical School in London reflects on some of the ethical issues which have a bearing on the research, regulation and practice of drugs used as chemotherapeutic agents (1). Although there have been some successes, the fact remains that for 90% of patients, including those with tumours of the lung, prostate, colorectum, and breast, the effect of drug therapy was to increase five-year survival by less than 2.5%. This means that these patients had their lives extended by about three months. Those drugs approved by the US Food and Drugs Administration between 2002 and 2014 increased the survival time by just over two months. Fourteen recent drug regimes approved by the European Medicines Agency were even worse with an increased average survival time of just over one month. In an interview, here is how Dr Wise described what this actually means in practice (2): “I discovered that as many as 75% of patients with cancer assumed that drugs were more or less likely to ‘cure’ their cancer – which is in fact a dangerous illusion. In most instances even ‘control’ is very unlikely due to the development of adaptive...

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269. The Persecution of Professor Tim Noakes

Background I am sure many readers will be familiar with the “trial” of Professor Tim Noakes by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA), which has just been completed. Essentially Noakes has been accused of various aspects of misconduct on the grounds that he has advocated the benefits of diets low in carbohydrates and high in fat (LCHF). Anyone who would like to learn more about the background, details of the various sessions and the implications should refer to the numerous blogs by Marika Sboros that provide comprehensive coverage (1). Suffice it to say that Noakes was completely vindicated by the verdict. He and his supporters had presented a very powerful case to justify his stance and in addition had demonstrated convincingly that the evidence base used to formulate conventional dietary recommendations is full of holes. By contrast the HPCSA position was extremely weak and the legal team struggled to find credible experts to support their case, was effectively demolished by the defence advocates. After such an overwhelming defeat, one would expect that any reasonable individuals would accept the result and adjust their position. But not a bit of it. As Marika explains, the approach adopted by the Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA) seems to be to carry on as though nothing has changed (2). The ADSA President Maryke Gallagher has made it clear that dietitians...

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268. Professor Jane Plant RIP

Background  I have just learned that Jane Plant passed away at about a year ago. In 1993, despite several operations, chemotherapy and radiotherapy to treat her breast cancer, she was told she had only months to live. Jane was a first-class scientist and she decided to conduct her own research into the causes of breast cancer and as a result made fundamental changes to her diet, including a total elimination of all foods related to milk and dairy. At the end of the chemotherapy treatment all signs of the cancer had disappeared. At the time of writing the book six years later, she was still free of cancer. However eighteen years later in December 2011, cancer was detected in her lungs and close to her collar bone above an old mastectomy scar. At the time she admitted that she had been quite lax about complying with the strict dietary regime that she had formulated. She immediately returned to the oncologist, Professor Coombes at Charing Cross Hospital, who had treated her in the 1990s. He persuaded her to try a low dose of Letrozole, which blocks the production of oestrogen and she reverted to strict adherence to her dietary programme. By April 2012 the fluid in her lungs had disappeared completely and the lump beneath her collar bone was’ hardly palpable’. By the end of July she was pronounced clear...

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  • There is simply no reasonable scientific justification for official advice to consume very low intakes of salt. https://t.co/A5gaokmIAp
    about 29 mins ago
  • Tim Noakes responds to the charges at the hearing in South Africa. Devastating critique of US Dietary Guidelines. https://t.co/lIVprb4FZG
    about 49 mins ago
  • PHE advises unbelievable intakes of carbs. Even higher than the dubious SACN recommendations. https://t.co/uxtWCj27Tb
    about 1 hour ago
  • Why are patients not always presented with the harsh reality of the dangers of medical practice before treatment? https://t.co/Xx6DTTNfxB
    about 1 hour ago
  • The PM suffers from Type 1 Diabetes. She should shake up current NHS disastrous policy on diabetes. https://t.co/UB9WtZOuT7
    about 2 hours ago