Increasingly, those at the very centre of Establishment medicine are joining the ranks of whistleblowers like What Doctors Don’t Tell You in shining a light on the dirty secrets of mainstream medicine.
One of the largest spotlights at the moment is Peter Gøtzsche, the head of the Nordic Cochrane Centre, the Scandinavian arm of the independent research centre known as the Cochrane Collaboration, which promotes ‘evidence-based’ medicine.
Gøtzsche is also acknowledged as one of the world’s leading interpreters of medical research. His latest book, entitled Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime: How Big Pharma has Corrupted Healthcare (Radcliffe Publishing, 2013), details how the drugs industry uses virtually every tactic used by the mob to sell its products, from extortion, fraud, bribery and embezzlement to obstruction of justice.
In our News Focus this month, we present his findings and suggestions for a full overhaul of the entire system used for evaluating drugs (page 18 of December issue of WDDTY).
One of Gøtzsche’s most extraordinary disclosures concerns his research into non-steroidal anti-inflammatories while medical director at Astra-Syntex. After studying his company’s products and carrying out his own investigations on 244 such studies, he discovered that the drug companies were manipulating evidence for their own products to produce favourable results.
In the process he made an even bigger bombshell discovery: anti-inflammatory drugs don’t reduce inflammation. That was just public relations spin made up by marketing men to give their products the edge over simple painkillers like paracetamol, he concludes.
Gøtzsche’s light on this dirtiest of medical secrets has prompted this month’s cover story together with perhaps the greatest light ever to be shone on osteoarthritis, a condition that afflicts one-quarter of us aged over 40. Research from Stanford University makes the extraordinary suggestion that most osteoarthritis does not result from old age and wear and tear, as doctors have always maintained, but from inflammation (page 34 of December issue of WDDTY).
This and other new evidence may soon kick away the central platform of medicine’s approach to osteoarthritis, which is that joint destruction is largely caused by physical loading and wear and so can only be treated by painkillers and, eventually, joint-replacement surgery.
This is not news to doctors using an integrative approach, who attempt to isolate the cause of the inflammation and so arrest the damage. We offer a checklist of what they’ve found to be the most common sources of inflammation in the diet and environment, and the top natural anti-inflammatories shown to successfully put out the fire.
We’re in the middle of the cold and flu season, but you may want to think twice before heading to the chemist for an over-the-counter medicine. In this issue, we also shine a light on new evidence showing not only that few of them actually work, but that they’re especially dangerous for children, particularly the very young. If you’d prefer to go natural, here are the alternatives shown to work—cutting colds by up to four days (page 46 of December issue of WDDTY).
And speaking of making light from darkness, read former ad man Chris Woollams’ heart-wrenching story of how he came to start the cancer charity, CANCERactive, after his daughter was diagnosed with brain cancer (page 62 of the magazine).
One of the most powerful healers of all may be nothing more substantive than the thoughts inside your head. Doctors have long recognized the power of the mind–body connection and this month, we explore all the ways thoughts and emotions can make us ill, change our bodies and help us heal (page 25 of the magazine).
’Tis the season to get some rest after all that pre-Christmas hustle and bustle, and our electrosmog expert Guy Hudson shows you the best ways to get sweet dreams unplugged, free of electropollution (page 58 of the magazine).
And if you’ve still got Christmas presents to buy, check out our Healthy Shopping section, bursting with non-toxic gift ideas for all the family (page 71 of the magazine).
From all of us to all of you, please accept our heartfelt holiday thank you for supporting us this year. May you have a healthy holiday season and may WDDTY continue to light your way in 2014.
A small group of people tried to
prevent you from reading this issue of What
Doctors Don’t Tell You. 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.
Why? Perhaps because we’d
announced the next issue as a ‘cancer special’ that would include interesting
new research about homeopathy.
Although not given any opportunity for right of reply, we
have published the facts about those allegations on our websites and Facebook
pages, our supporters have offered overwhelming support, and the story has gone
wildly viral across the internet as something of a cause célèbre.
But aside from the issues of censorship
and press freedom, this subject has great personal meaning to us. 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 no-hopers who were apparently outliving the
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.
What’s the point of the story? 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.
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 of further investigation. And some alternative therapies are
supported by a good deal of published evidence of success.
Many thousands of people have personal experience of
such anecdotes of complete recovery by taking a treatment path other than the
conventional alone. Journalist and author Laura Bond’s mother Gemma—whose story
is featured in this issue (page 26 of November issue of WDDTY)—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.
Laura has researched the kind of personality traits that make for a cancer
survivor (page 27 of Nov issue) and also the roles of ozone therapy (page 29)
and eliminating dairy products (page 34) in successful cancer treatment.
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).
Are we saying homeopathy can cure cancer? No. We’re
saying that it’s worthy of further investigation. In fact, investigating
alternatives is now an imperative.
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. 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. From the orthodox
perspective, the War on Cancer is decisively being lost.
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. 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.
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
Read all about it
And so we come to the suppression of WDDTY. Although we have been in
print since 1989, we only got everyone’s attention last year when we appeared
on the newsstands.
As soon as our first issue was
published in September 2012, the ‘charity’ Sense About Science, the self-proclaimed
‘guardian’ of all things ‘scientific’—partly sponsored by the Royal
Pharmaceutical Society, the official trade body for the UK’s drug companies,
among other Big Pharma organizations—tried to have us removed from the shelves.
Their spokesperson Simon Singh contacted our distributors, urging them to stop
supplying our magazine.
Singh then contacted all our outlets
(like WH Smith and supermarkets) and tried to persuade them to stop carrying
us. When they refused, Singh and a small cluster of his Sense About Science
associates began a mass email campaign, bombarding every supermarket and retail
group with emails and a hate campaign of trolls on our Facebook pages. When we
alerted our supporters to this, thousands of them sent emails of their own—one
of the largest waves of support the supermarkets said they’d ever seen.Singh’s
campaign didn’t end there. He then relentlessly pestered the Advertising
Standards Association with complaints about our advertisers in attempts to
scare them away.
This skirmish recently flared up again when we announced
that this November issue would be a cancer special. The Times newspaper ran an article on 1 October,
alleging that a group of “experts”, including “scientists, doctors and
patients” were “condemning” shops for carrying our magazine and wanted us
banned because of a ‘health scare’. The only “experts” quoted were Singh, and
two other Sense About Science members.
The article also said we’d claimed that vitamin C “cures”
HIV, that homeopathy could treat cancer, that we’d wrongly implied the cervical
cancer vaccine has killed “hundreds” of girls and that we’d told parents in our
latest (October 2013) issue not to immunize their children with the MMR
The Times didn’t bother to get hold of us to see
if anything they’d written was in fact fair and accurate.
It’s also apparent from the information reported in The Times article that not one journalist or
broadcaster had read much of what we’d written, particularly on the homeopathy
story, and for a very good reason: the article and issue containing it has not
yet been published. All we’d published were two sentences announcing our
intention to publish a story with some promising research in this current
Times article’s gross
inaccuracies and misrepresentations, it was suddenly open season on WDDTY, with other media simply
parroting the story. The
Wright Stuff show on Channel
5 quickly followed suit with a TV debate, flashing up a photo of Lynne, while
the BBC’s Five Live had a radio debate on our magazine. By
Thursday, when the Press Gazette got onto it, the headlines had escalated that
our health advice “could prove fatal” (a headline now withdrawn).
In all the furore, not one newspaper, radio show or TV
station bothered to get hold of us, not even to solicit a comment—which is
basic journalism when you intend to run a story on someone, particularly one so
negative. (The Press Gazette has since changed its story, as has
So why have we upset Sense About Science so much? There is,
of course, the most obvious reason: our information threatens the revenues of some
of its benefactors, most notably the pharmaceutical industry.
But, fundamentally, Singh and his
cohorts believe we are ‘anti-science’ and pedalling unproven alternatives that
could harm instead of heal.
It’s important here to make a distinction between
science—the open-minded pursuit of truth without fear or favour—and scientism,
a solidified set of beliefs around which academics, industries and professions
The resistance we’ve experienced has more to do with the
latter, and it is this that Sense About Science seeks to protect. This seems
clear from the way the scientism of medicine greets any discovery, breakthrough
or possibility that questions or threatens the current medical paradigm—by
dismissing such ideas out of hand as ‘quackery’, even when they are the work of
eminent scientists at prestigious institutions such as Oxford, Harvard and
Cambridge. These are the studies we report on, as anyone who reads our magazine
Medicine and indeed most of science is becoming ever more
fundamentalist, with grant money paid only to those who confirm the orthodox
point of view. That’s why chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery have remained
the only treatments of choice for cancer for so many decades.
For years, medical fundamentalism has only embraced the
pharmaceutical model. Drug companies sponsor medical schools, pay for what is
often manipulated research and reward doctors willing to prescribe their
products with gifts and trips abroad to exotic locations. Medicine has largely
become a drug-delivery system.
Drugs constitute a one-size-fits-all model, whereas every
human being is unique. Drugs that work on me may not work on you and vice
versa; drugs can’t be made smart enough to, say, slot tab A into slot B because
humans are holistic. As new evidence in biology is beginning to show, the
systems of the body interact as a complex, dynamic and highly individualistic
Biochemical individuality creates mayhem with drug trials,
which are designed to look for common results in everyone—one reason their
results are so often manipulated, massaged or even made up. The Scientific-Ethical Committee for
Copenhagen and Frederiksberg Municipalities, which carried out a review between
1994 and 1995 (published in PLoS Med 4(1): e19), estimated that as much as 75
per cent of a sampling of industry-sponsored studies—and possibly up to 91 per
cent—were ghostwritten manuscripts to achieve the ‘right ‘result for their
Richard Smith, former editor of the British Medical Journal, wrote
a foreword to a newly published book entitled Deadly
Medicines and Organised Crime: How Big Pharma has Corrupted Healthcare by Peter Gøtzsche, head of the Nordic
Cochrane Centre in Denmark (Radcliffe Publishing Ltd).
In the book, Smith says that Gøtzsche produces detailed
evidence to support his case that Big Pharma is guilty of all the offenses of
organized crime, from extortion and fraud, to bribery, embezzlement, and
When it isn’t possible to put a positive spin on the data,
the research is often buried so it never sees the light of day, as happened
with the painkiller Vioxx, held responsible for the deaths of 60,000 people
before it was taken off the market.
All of this begs the question: Which is the more dangerous
modality, the current order of treatment or the alternatives we report on?
Keep asking questions
Many conventional doctors are especially vituperative in
their dismissal of important work by innovators, while uncritically embracing
many surgical or drug-based solutions that are little more than modern-day
snake oil. This has bred a climate in which healers are polarized into
‘alternative’ or ‘orthodox’ camps rather than being in one common group in
favour of anything with a solid basis in either experimental or clinical
Medicine should be a gift to us
all rather than a money-making scheme for the pharmaceutical industry, as it
now largely is. With that in mind, we suggest that the following be
• An independent funding body should be created to
finance all medical trials, whether of drugs, other forms of therapy or
• Doctors should be required to
spend one year of their five-year training learning about nutrition,
alternative modalities and new
• Drug-company influence should
be entirely excluded from medicine, from training colleges and from trips
• Doctors should be rewarded for
adopting non-drug therapies, thus saving the nation at least one small part of
the £160 billion spent every year on drugs by the NHS.
But most of all, we need to open
up the entire field of cancer—our understanding of what it is, what causes it
and how it could be treated—while taking on board new understandings of the
body and the impact upon it of the environment, stress and emotions. As a
researcher once commented when asked whether research into alternative healing
should continue, “We can’t find the answers if we don’t keep asking the
The Times never
acknowledged our complaints, but took the unprecedented step of writing to our
supporters to say our version of events was wrong. The author himself
engaged in a long debate with our supporters on our Facebook pages, and
eventually made the extraordinary suggestion that we shouldn’t have run some of
our material, or should have run it with a disclaimer. In other words, the role
of a reporter is to support the status quo.
We believe the role of the press is something
different—that of watchdog over the status quo, whose role is not to censor bad
news. “Those who control or suppress access to such information say they do it
to protect an ‘ignorant’ public. Don’t be fooled. People who hide
information disrespect the public and act against its interest in taking
responsible personal action. Don’t trust the censors,” says James S. Turner,
Board Chair of Citizens for Health, a health advocacy organization.
And that’s how we will continue to publish this
title—unafraid to ask the unpopular questions and to publish the inconvenient
If we were asked to name the deadliest
weapon dispersed during the 20th century, we wouldn’t choose the A-bomb or the
efficient gas chambers of Auschwitz or drone warfare, or even sophisticated
microbiological weaponry. And we wouldn’t have to think very long about it,
There’s no contest. It has to be processed
sugar, by a couple of million country miles.
Refined sugar is essentially the modern
world’s Genghis Khan, responsible for more deaths than all other sophisticated
weaponry combined. Obesity, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer,
Alzheimer’s, eye disease, liver disease, virtually the whole of degenerative
disease in modern times beats a path back to the white stuff which, over the
years, has become the centrepiece of a silent war waged on all of us by the
processed food industry.
But as our Special Report reveals (see page
24 on the October issue of WDDTY magazine), there’s a new threat in food even
more deadly than ‘white gold’ per se, which has been brought about ostensibly
to make sugar cheaper and last longer on shelves and in products, particularly
in liquid products like soft drinks.
Today, the sweetener used in the majority
of processed foods is a Frankenstein mix called ‘high-fructose corn syrup’
(HFCS), the resultant sludge of a three-stage processing of corn syrup and fruit
sugar that, in many instances, makes use of mercury via the caustic soda
(sodium hydroxide) required in its manufacture. This, the most toxic metal
known to man, then finds its way into those foodstuffs and also in our air and
water supply. Just three HFCS plants in the UK, for instance, are responsible
for a third of all mercury emissions in the air and almost half of all levels
found in the British water supply.
Spot tests on HFCS products reveal that
about a third of samples of processed foods contain high amounts of mercury,
and that consumers of soft drinks and other processed foods could be ingesting,
on average, some 28 mcg of mercury—six times the levels that government
agencies consider safe—with teenagers swallowing twice that amount.
While we’re on the subject of food, the
other big bane of modern times is the state of our digestion. Faulty digestion
and problems labelled ‘irritable bowel’ may well be the most underrated
condition of all because it’s only an early signpost to the fact that you’re
just not processing your body’s fuel as efficiently as you could, which then
leads to all manner of puzzling illnesses. But in most cases, IBS isn’t one
condition but several—a faulty gut membrane, a bad bacterial balance, unwelcome
guests like parasites or even food allergies. Follow our seven-point checklist
(page 34 on the magazine) and you’ll be able to diagnose, treat and finally
beat your bad gut.
We may be highly critical of the tools of
modern medicine, but doctors are now starting to agree with us. Read about Dr
Jayne Donegan, a GP who became a vaccine sceptic after performing her own trawl
through the scientific literature (page 18 on the magazine). And even Carole
Kelly, once voted ‘GP of the Year’ by the Royal College of General
Practitioners, has left general practice behind to devote herself to
alternative medicine after a nutritional approach helped her overcome her food
allergies (page 76).
Besides food, we also examine drink this
month—especially how much is good for your health—in the midst of so much
conflicting evidence (page 22).
By now your children are settled back at
school, but for those who are struggling with the new tougher guidelines, our
Children’s Corner columnist, movement expert Anat Baniel, shows how tiny
variations in movement can cause big advances in learning, especially in
children with special needs (page 53 on the magazine).
For men only: read what we have to say
about vasectomy before going ahead with the snip (page 60). And for women, if
you suffer from cellulite, our Medical Detective tells you how to shed it (page
80 on the magazine).
Autumn is not just a good time to take
stock of your own health, but also that of your pets. Our resident natural vet
Paul Boland offers a full MOT for your dogs and cats to help them avoid
unnecessary medication (page 56).
As face oils are replacing moisturizers and
handwashes replacing bars of soap as the new must-haves, check out our
favourites in our Healthy Shopping section (page 83 on the magazine).
Raw-food chef Markéta Bola offers a master
class in sensual spices (page 63) and our Food as Medicine columnist Annemarie
Colbin argues that the best way to deal with a fever is to warm it up rather
than trying to cool it down (page 66).
And find out about resonant frequency, and
how it may well be the best drug of all (page 68 on the magazine).
living longer, but we’re not necessarily better off for it, at least not
according to modern medicine. Several months ago, the UK’s International
Longevity Centre released a statement announcing that less than a third of us
will reach the typical retirement age of 65 years in a healthy state.
the US, where one of every five Americans (or 72 million) will be 65 or older
by 2030, and the 85-pluses are the fastest growing segment of the US
population, Americans are older than ever before, but not necessarily
healthier. Some 14 million people over age 65 have reported some sort of
disability, mostly linked to chronic conditions like heart disease, which
translates into one in five who are impaired with major illness.
least, that’s the story doctors tell us, but their statistics rely entirely on
how ‘health’ and ‘illness’ get defined. As editor Bryan Hubbard discovered in
our Special Report this month, the goalposts in many areas of medicine have
been moved of late and definitions of disease in all major categories have
become far tougher. Millions of people—a full third of all those under medical
care—who would have been considered healthy a generation ago are now
categorized as ill and in need of one or more drugs, tests or surgical
cite just one example, in the US alone, 42 million additional Americans were
determined to be at risk of high cholesterol and in need of statin drugs when
medical boards decided to lower the level of cholesterol considered harmful
from 240 mg/dL to 200 mg/dL. As 200 mg/dL is the average level of cholesterol
among the population, all these millions of otherwise healthy people have been
diagnosed as ill literally overnight at the stroke of a pen.
you’re taking medicine, there’s a reasonable likelihood that you could be one
of the 30 per cent caught in the medical net by new (and largely arbitrary)
definitions, so check out our Special Report to find out if you or a loved one
are the victim of over-medicalization (page 24).
speaking of ageing, there are plenty of natural ways to do it gracefully; you
don’t have to resort to Botox to keep your skin wrinkle-free. Check out our
Natural Doctor’s Casebook to find a load of tips for keeping your skin young
(page 44 of September issue of WDDTY Magazine), and if you like your skincare
free of the usual nasties, we’ve done your homework for you with five
wrinkle-fighters that are clear of chemicals (page 84 of September issue
of WDDTY Magazine). Besides young skin, another key to the fountain of youth is
keeping your bones healthy, and our Food as Medicine columnist Dr Annemarie
Colbin offers the definitive word on which foods will keep your bones strong
(page 66 of September issue of WDDTY Magazine).
healthy and young is a balancing act—literally, according to our exercise
expert Paul Chek, who shows you four essential exercises to help improve
balance, which will enhance your sports and exercise regime (page 40).
the season to return to school, and if you have a school-age child or
grandchild, he or she will be facing a tougher new curriculum with the
government’s new programme coming into force. But you can boost your child’s
brain power and IQ—whatever his age—by following seven simple steps and
avoiding five kiddy brain killers (page 34). For those of you whose children
suffer from ADHD, our movement expert Anat Baniel offers an amazing, and
amazingly simple, method for getting your hyper child to instantly slow down
dog lovers, autumn often means the season to head to the vet to deal with all
the pests your pooch has accumulated throughout the summer months, but our
natural vet Paul Boland shows you how to get rid of all manner of worms without
resorting to dangerous drugs (page 56).
for the men folk, the most dreaded words you’ll ever hear are ‘you’ve got
prostate cancer’, a pronouncement made to 40,000 men in Britain and 230,000
American men every year. Invariably your doctor will get you in line for a
radical prostatectomy, but before you agree to go under the knife, read our
feature first, as it tells you who can avoid surgery and what to do instead
out our new section, ‘Your complete guide to good nutrition’, to determine
whether you’re suffering from a nutritional deficiency and in need of more
vitamins (page 90), and consult our feature on dirty electricity to find out if
you need to clean yours up (page 18).
don’t forget to take the best natural remedy of all—a close connection (page
68). As one scientist discovered, if you join just one social group this year,
whether a book club or church group, you halve your chances of dying. No
remedy, conventional or alternative, can quite make that claim.
European scientists finally isolated the reason for the sudden, puzzling
disappearance of entire colonies of bees. Although parasitic mites, deadly
viruses and bacterial disease have been variously blamed for the phenomenon,
study after study has now fingered the pesticides sprayed on garden plants and
food crops, which affect the ability of bees to navigate and ultimately damages
EU has now banned the pesticide thought to be most responsible, this discovery
begs the obvious question: if these chemicals are killing off the bees, what in
God’s name are they doing to us?
mounting evidence that chemicals of all varieties are making many people ill
(disorders like ‘sick building syndrome’ or ‘multiple chemical sensitivity’
come to mind), it’s difficult to demonstrate a clear cause and effect between a
particular chemical and actual physical damage. There is no way to determine,
for instance, if a single chemical is disrupting hormones by, say, simply
examining its molecular makeup. You have to subject it to a battery of tests
that, by the way, have yet to be devised. There’s also the sheer number of
tests you’d have to carry out—on at least 80,000 chemicals, one by one.
greater problem concerns the effect of these substances in tandem. We now know
that the combined effect of low levels of two or three pesticides found in most
ordinary modern environments magnifies by up to 1,600 times the effect of any
insecticide on its own.
Environmental Research Foundation publishes Rachel’s Environment & Health
Weekly, named after Silent Spring author Rachel Carson and, in one issue (13 June 1996), the
editors pondered the size of the task. “To test just the commonest 1,000 toxic
chemicals in unique combinations of three would require at least 166 million
different experiments (and this disregards the need to study varying doses),”
each experiment took just one hour to
complete and 100 laboratories worked round the clock seven days a week,
testing all possible unique three-way combinations of 1,000 chemicals would
still take over 180 years to complete.”
the unimaginable effect of each chemical magnified 1,600 times multiplied by
the 1,600-fold magnified effect of the 80,000 others. Or, to put it another
way, as People Against Cancer’s founder Frank Wiewel once did, “There just
aren’t enough zeros out there.”
staggering notion requires all of us to shout a little louder at chemical
giants like Monsanto, particularly as they and the pharmaceutical industry
increasingly control the information you’re likely to get (see page 18 of
August issue of WDDTY Magazine).
If you don’t
think there’s such a thing as consumer power against these giants, read our
cover story this month (page 24) about how one scientist from Argentina went
public with overwhelming evidence that Monsanto’s Roundup, considered the Darth
Vader of pesticides, caused an epidemic of health effects. And then how a
housewife in one small town mobilized her neighbourhood and ultimately won a
court order banning the use of Roundup near their homes.
kicking up a fuss, you can clean up your own back yard by checking out our list
of safe ways to rid your garden of common pests (page 28 of August issue of
WDDTY Magazine). And if you can’t sit out there when the pollen count’s high,
find out about Dr Harald Gaier’s secret homeopathic weapon to banish hay fever
and other allergies forever (page 67 of August issue of WDDTY Magazine).
venturing outside your garden to foreign and warmer shores this month, don’t
leave before you’ve read the second of our two-part series on travel vaccines
(page 32 of the magazine). And have a look at the sunscreens we’ve managed to
source, all free of of the usual nasties (page 72 of the magazine).
driving to their destinations with the family pet, our resident vet Paul Boland
offers ways to keep your dog or cat calm during travel without sedatives (page
50 of the magazine).
of natural, you never need to consider breast implants if you follow exercise
specialist Paul Chek’s programme for boosting your bust naturally (page 38 of
Sotheby’s chairman Henry Wyndham said ‘going, going, gone’ to his crippling
back pain through the Bowen technique (page 56 of the magazine), and find out
which alternatives work best for cystitis and chronic fatigue syndrome (page 44
of the magazine).
If music is
the food of love, it’s also the stuff of healing—everything from stroke to ADHD
and dementia. But only certain kinds of music are life-enhancing, so take our
simple muscle test to find your own pet sounds (page 60 of the magazine)
The whole of modern medicine rests upon the belief
that, to a great extent, your future health is out of your control. Biologists
and doctors in the main believe that the functioning and health of any organism
are largely due to DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), the coiled double helix of
genetic coding within the nucleus engine room that holds the blueprints for the
body’s proteins and amino acids.
According to this idea, the central dogma of biology, the body gets
created through an entirely self-sufficient process within its own boundaries:
personality, physical characteristics, indeed the sum total of what defines us
is crafted from the unique blueprint of DNA contained inside. Although we allow
for the effects of emotional stress on our personal psychic development and of
diet on certain aspects of our health, we assume that the raw clay of ourselves
takes permanent shape and then sets and hardens largely from a process that
moves outward from the gene through our cells to our organs.
The course of our lives, good or bad, is not thought to alter either our
own genetic blueprint or the one we pass onto our children, other than through
random mutations occurring over hundreds of generations.
Besides possessing the total power to control every aspect of our lives,
our genes are supposedly the harbingers of a preprogrammed future. We are only
as healthy as the genetic hand we’ve been dealt.
Or, to put it another way, genes are destiny.
In this issue, we take issue with this central dogma by examining the
recent case of actress Angelina Jolie. Jolie, as you no doubt have heard, chose
to have a double ‘just-in-case’ mastectomy because her doctors told her that
her ‘faulty’ genes gave her an 87 per cent chance of contracting breast cancer.
As WDDTY has discovered,
Jolie’s cancer risk was far less than the doctors told her. In fact, scientists
have begun to show that genes, far from being a blueprint, are simply a
potential path that we may follow or not, depending on our life circumstances,
and that certain environmental triggers like hormone replacement therapy are
more likely to cause cancer than mutant genes (page 18 on July’s issue of WDDTY
Research shows that one of the most vital influences is the life we’ve
chosen for ourselves: the friends we have, the partners we choose, the jobs we
work at—the sum total of how we live our lives. As American doctor Lissa Rankin
discovered, many of her ‘health-nut’ patients remained ill no matter how well
they ate or exercised because they were unfulfilled in their work and
relationships. In her view, the most important medicine of all is “living the
dream” you set for yourself and learning how to reduce the stress response
(page 58 on July’s issue of WDDTY Magazine).
And no doubt the food we eat is a vital part of preventative medicine
although, as Bryan Hubbard argues, today’s food isn’t what it once was, which
is why we need supplements more than ever (page 25 on the magazine).
Consult our special symptom checker to see if any health issues you have
are related to deficiencies of vital vitamins and minerals (page 26 on the
magazine). Dr Harald Gaier, our medical detective, offers dozens of examples of
illnesses prevented by eating your seven-a-day (as researchers now recommend),
including all manner of cancers. And do check out our at-a-glance guide to
which produce is least and most likely to be contaminated with pesticides (page
22 on the magazine).
And speaking of food, doctors told Alisa Vitti that her ovarian cysts
were incurable and she’d have to live on pills, but she found her own healing
path—through diet (page 62 on the magazine).
Pauline Carleton had a similar battle with medics who denied that her
son’s sleeping sickness was caused by a
vaccine (page 82 on the magazine).
For all of you racing off to a holiday in the sun, this month we offer WDDTY’s
safe summer travel special. First port of call: before you automatically line
up to get your travel vaccines, read about which ones have a spotty record of
safety or effectiveness (page 32 on the magazine) and what you can do to
protect yourself instead.
In our Healthy Shopping section, we offer the best bug sprays without
nasty chemicals like DEET (page 74 on the magazine), and to keep your hair
de-frizzed naturally, we’ve included the best natural hair oils (page 72 on the
magazine). Despite what the doctor tells you, the sun is vital for your health
and sun creams are possibly carcinogenic, so have a look at our 5 steps to
safer sunning (page 45 on the magazine). And since it’s swimsuit time, whatever
your age Paul Chek will turn your rear view into something enviable (page 43 on the magazine).
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January, after sustaining an injury to one knee during a particularly heated
hockey match, our 16-year-old daughter Anya, a sports scholar, was handed the
diagnosis most dreaded by athletes of any age: complete rupture of the anterior
cruciate ligament of the knee. The ACL, one of the crisscross ligaments
attaching the knee cap to leg bones, is pivotal to any movement of the knee,
and a complete tear such as Anya sustained can spell a death sentence for any
standard treatment is surgical reconstruction, which entails taking tissue from
a tendon or hamstring, attaching this onto a bit of borrowed bone, refashioning
something resembling an ACL ligament, and screwing the lot onto the thigh and
shin bones. After the operation, the patient is on crutches for weeks and then
undergoes some nine months of rehabilitation before getting back to normal
the orthopaedic surgeon and physio cautioned us that there was no other course
open to us; just leaving well alone, for instance, would spell an almost
certain end to her sports career, and lead to pain and arthritis in later life.
ACLs, they argued, don’t just heal by themselves.
didn’t take long to discover that the received wisdom of medicine, as is so
often the case, is wrong: ACLs apparently do heal by themselves. In one study
where victims of ACL ruptures were examined, 14 months later virtually all had
normal knee ligaments.
also discovered something called ‘prolotherapy’, which is little regarded by
the mainstream but has been used in various circles for more than 50 years.
More formally called ‘sclerosant therapy’, the treatment involves injecting an
irritant like dextrose and phenol into damaged tendons or ligaments to ‘shock’
the body into high gear, so provoking a healing response that lays down new
collagen and essentially rebuilds the injured connective soft tissue.
it’s been used for years to treat lax (floppy) tendons and ligaments and minor
tears, a few musculoskeletal and sports-injury specialists have successfully
used prolotherapy on cases of total ACL and Achilles tendon ruptures. After
seeking advice from specialists on both sides of the Atlantic, we located an
experienced British consultant for Anya, who has just completed the final set
knee is healing so nicely (and is now as stable as the other one) that we
decided to put American health writer Alison Levy on the case, who describes
how this little-known non-invasive therapy is transforming back pain issues as
well (page 68 on June issue of WDDTY Magazine).
speaking of received wisdom, with truth and reason in such short supply over
the recent measles outbreak, we’ve decided to revisit the subject and reveal
the facts that the media and government aren’t telling you (page 24 on June
issue of WDDTY Magazine). Another government cover-up concerns the UK’s blood
banks and the fact that they are highly contaminated with the deadly vCJD from
blood donated by silent carriers of this human version of mad cow disease (page
18 on June issue of WDDTY Magazine).
also taken issue with the latest UK and US ‘official’ dietary recommendations
about the amount of protein, carbs and fats that make up the ideal diet (page
34 on June issue of WDDTY Magazine), and offered up all the reasons why you
need a higher fat and protein alternative. Our Medical Detective Dr Harald
Gaier sorts out one reader’s health issues with seven good reasons to steer
clear of wheat (page 84 on June issue of WDDTY Magazine).
most important move common to any sport—whether it’s golf, tennis or Zumba—is
knowing how to twist your body, but it’s also the movement pattern never
included in any exercise regimes, according to WDDTY’s resident exercise
specialist Paul Chek. Follow his few simple exercises and you can get set to do
the twist (page 42 on June issue of WDDTY Magazine).
Food as Medicine columnist Annemarie Colbin shows you which foods can sort out
your particular hair and nail problems, including patchy balding (page 52 on
June issue of WDDTY Magazine).Anat Baniel shows how small but novel movements
retrain your brain to overcome limitations in your back and neck (page 66),
while Kathy Glenn describes how the Alexander Technique saved her from a
lifetime of painkillers after she’d damaged her back (page 78).
out the alternative treatments for insomnia and fibromyalgia (page 47) and,
from our resident Alternative Pet Vet, discover the connection between your
cat’s cystitis and changes in its routine (page 56). And if you or another
family member is scheduled for bypass surgery, be sure to read this article
first (page 58).
our new Healthy Shopping section, you’ll find a host of safer products for home
and personal care, including sugar-free energy bars and skin cleansers that are
truly squeaky clean (page 87).
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When Lynne’s mother was 24,
her dentist unwisely extracted a tooth while she had the flu. Within days her
neck had ballooned with a streptococcal infection and she was rushed to
hospital. Lynne’s father, then her fiancé, wept helplessly at her bedside while
priests filed past him after administering
last rites. And then the wonder
drug arrived. As a last resort, Lynne’s mother was given penicillin—still in
experimental use then. Within a day or two the swelling that had almost
obscured her face simply melted away. Lynne’s ordinarily doubting father rushed
off to church and humbly knelt before the altar, convinced that he had
witnessed a miracle.
In those days,
antibiotics were being tested to combat deadly bacterial infections. As a
result of the work of Alexander Fleming and others, penicillin began to be used
gingerly during the Second World War against such life-threatening illnesses as
septicaemia, meningitis and pneumonia. There is perhaps no other family of
drugs that has so revolutionized—indeed defined—modern medicine.
Just 60 years on and
the scenario of Lynne’s parents is upon us once again. Two months ago, Dame
Sally Davies, the UK’s new Chief Medical Officer, made the front pages with her
‘state of the nation’s health’ report by announcing the arrival of a superbug
that is resistant to every antibiotic. After decades of overuse, this century’s
wonder drug has now become increasingly powerless against clever and constantly
mutating bacteria, she warned, and unless medicine finds a new antibiotic quickly,
we face the equivalent of microbial Armageddon.
As this month’s
special cover story (page 26 on May issue of WDDTY Magazine) investigates, a
highly effective weapon against the deadliest of superbugs—the
bacteriophage—already exists and has been at medicine’s disposal for some 80 years,
but has largely been ignored by the drugs industry. In fact, Big Pharma has
generally abandoned antibiotic research as ‘unprofitable’ despite the superbug
crisis, preferring, as always, to follow the money.
Rather than waiting
for another wonder drug, you can fight off the worst of superbugs yourself with
a host of powerful natural antidotes—many of which sit in your kitchen cupboard
(page 34 on May issue of WDDTY Magazine).
Speaking of medical
mayhem, WDDTY’s editorial panellist Dr John Mansfield casts a critical
eye at the so-called ‘heart-healthy’ low-fat diets and current government
nutritional guidelines recommending carbohydrates as our dietary staple.
Low-fat and high-carb, he argues, have simply made us fat (page 36 on May issue
of WDDTY Magazine), and there are other diets with better evidence of success
in helping you shed the pounds.
Today’s woman may be
equal, but she’s not built the same as a man, so she shouldn’t exercise like
one, says our exercise guru Paul Chek. This month’s just-for-women exercise
regime is guaranteed to get you fit and hit the spots most other exercise
programmes don’t reach (page 46 on May issue of WDDTY Magazine).
You’ve no doubt heard
about the connection between mind and body, and one type of energy psychology
called Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) shows that pain often has an emotional
component—tackle the emotion, says EFT specialist Nick Ortner, and you get rid
of the pain (page 74 on May issue of WDDTY Magazine).
The mind doesn’t just
have an effect on health but on movement too, and in our new holistic back
feature called ‘Back to Health’, international movement specialist Anat Baniel
shows you that it’s with variety of movement, not stretching, that your clever
brain learns how to let go of tight back muscles (page 66 on May issue of WDDTY
Find out how medical
detective Harald Gaier helped one reader solve his gut issues when the problem
wasn’t Candida (page 84 on May issue of WDDTY Magazine), and read
Arielle Essex’s extraordinary story about how her brain tumour disappeared once
she’d changed her thoughts about her life (page 54 on May issue of WDDTY Magazine).
Natural vet Paul Bolan
offers simple alternatives for one of the great curses of many canine breeds—doggie
hives (page 64 on May issue of WDDTY Magazine)—while raw-food chef Markéta
shows you how tiny powerhouses like nuts and seeds can pack a huge nutritional
wallop (page 72 on May issue of WDDTY Magazine).
In this month’s WDDTY
we launch an entirely new section called ‘Healthy Shopping’ (page 87 on May
issue of WDDTY Magazine), which sources a range of home and beauty products
that are better for your health. In honour of our belated spring, we’ve managed
to find the best chemical-free fragrances (page 90 on May issue of WDDTY Magazine)
and, for all you DIY decorators, non-toxic house paints (page 88 on May issue of
There’s a breathtakingly ignorant comment that has done the
rounds of late, and it goes like this:
there are only two types of medicine, that which works and alternative medicine. This suggests that modern medicine is an open
house, a “come all ye” of every therapy and treatment that has been proven to
work, while alternatives are the festering dump of scoundrels, fraudsters and
quacks who prey on the weak and desperate. As quantum physicist Richard Feynman said of
very daft theories, the statement is so far off the grid that it isn’t even
Modern medicine is an interesting amalgam of church and
industry: as a church it has set beliefs about the body and disease, and any
other opinions are dismissed as heresy, and, as an industry, its primary
purpose is to deliver drugs to the sick
To maintain its beliefs and purpose, it will—if absolutely
necessary—commit fraud, massage data, and sneer at any alternative. This modus operandi is brought into sharp
focus by our Special Report this month on cancer. Inspired by the recent High Court struggle by
Sally Roberts to block radiotherapy on her son, Neon, it reviews the evidence
for the efficacy of conventional cancer treatments, and the unseemly way it has
traduced promising alternative therapies.
It’s a story of spin and half-truths that has sometimes even
beguiled the oncologist, not to mention the poor patient and the ever-obliging
media. A favourite trick of the researcher,
for example, has been to use relative risk instead of the more meaningful
absolute risk when presenting its conclusions; in relative terms, the
chemotherapy patient has a 50 per cent chance of living a further five years,
but in absolute terms, his chances are just 2 per cent.
Medicine is as fast and loose with the truth when it comes
to assessing alternatives, as Dr Nicholas Gonzalez found out to his cost when
his enzyme therapy was selected by the National Cancer Institute for a
controlled study. It ended in
tears. Bias from the outset resulted in
a poorly-conducted trial that yielded the results the head researcher wanted;
he, by the by, had been a pioneer of a new chemotherapy regime that was being
tested against Gonzalez’s therapy, and so independence was impossible.
Ultimately, we have to conclude that health and disease is
far too important an issue to be left in the hands of the church of medicine.
Medicine seems to divide itself between the miraculous interventions and the mundane. The latter is all the things medicine isn’t very good at: the nagging, chronic problems that are made bearable by drugs, although almost never cured by them. But the miracles—they’re the stuff of TV drama and newspapers headlines, and include emergency procedures, life-saving operations and processes that begin life, such as IVF (in vitro fertilisation).
With the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge about to become parents, the focus on IVF has intensified recently, especially among couples who are less fortunate than William and Kate. And it does indeed appear to be a miracle: a shaking of the fist at a fate that would otherwise have dealt us a poor hand.
However, as is so often the case with medicine, its miracles can sometimes have all the surface wonder of the Wizard of Oz while hiding a different truth behind the curtain, as our Special Report on IVF this month reveals.
The miraculous intervention takes us out of the picture. We aren’t masters of our fate, or even responsible agents that may have had a part to play in our health problem in the first place. Rather, the doctor takes on the mantle of a demi-god, one who can reverse the inexorable march of cause-and-effect. Sadly, as so often happens with self-appointed gods, their feet are made of clay. IVF, for example, comes with a high risk of cancer for the mother and birth defects for the child, while 80 per cent of harvested eggs are not healthy.
The miracle sometimes works, of course, and people are not always responsible for their health problems, but perhaps the time is overdue when gods become men, and men and women play a more active role in their own wellbeing.
In terms of IVF, that option of self-determination has existed for years with the Foresight method, which boasts an astonishing success rate of nearly 90 per cent.
But it’s neither the stuff of TV drama nor has it ever been heralded as a miracle. Instead, it’s all about couples working with practitioners, making radical changes to their diets and taking nutritional supplements. In short, they are helping shape their own destiny.
And because they know the path, they can tread it again for themselves, while recipients of miracles are none the wiser. For them, they remain in the thrall of the demi-god.
Only around 10 per cent of Britons take their health seriously; the rest rely on medicine. In other words, just one in 10 of us take responsibility for our well-being by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables every day and adopting a healthy lifestyle while the vast majority eats a nutrition-free diet and expects their ills to be sorted out by a ‘magic bullet’ pharmaceutical.
Most people fall woefully short of the modest five-a-day set by our health guardians, and even this is barely adequate to maintain reasonable health. A recent study from the University of Warwick has found that the healthiest and happiest are eating at least seven portions of fruits and vegetables every day, but just 10 per cent of us are doing that. A quarter of the population barely manages to eat even one portion.
The researchers concluded that their survey into the lifestyles of 80,000 Britons demonstrates the vital role that diet and nutrition plays in our lives, and “yet is often overlooked by other researchers”.
You can add doctors to the list. Nutrition is one of their blind spots; food is just something we eat in order to stay alive, and disease strikes randomly just as the rain falls equally on the just and the unjust. When it does, we have a pill for almost every ill.
Better yet, medicine can protect against disease with a vaccine, and, along with antibiotics, vaccinations are medicine’s great success story. Its latest flourish is this winter’s ‘Flu safe’ campaign, with millions of pounds of taxpayer’s money being spent on an advertising campaign that tells the vulnerable—mainly the over-65s—that the flu shot can protect them against the latest virus.
There are two things wrong with the message. The first is that the vaccine gives almost no protection, as the prestigious Cochrane researchers have demonstrated, although their ‘rigorous and robust’ research—the sort that health guardians apparently like—has been completely ignored this time.
It is also utterly irresponsible. Those millions of pounds should be spent on advising the elderly on the foods they should be eating in order to maintain health.
As Louis Pasteur, the father of modern vaccination, pointed out, it’s almost all to do with the field—the body and immune system—and little to do with the virus. A healthy body built up by a good nutritious diet trumps disease.
But, then, he was ignored, too.
Around 90 years ago, the pharmaceutical industry took over medicine. Inspired by the discoveries made by its sister companies in the burgeoning petro-chemical sector, it imagined medicine on a mass-production scale, available to everyone at their point of need.
There had to be a few things in place for the bold adventure to work. First, it needed legitimacy, and for that the new drugs-based medicine had to be recognised as a science.
But how do you create a science from an intimate one-on-one relationship between a doctor and a unique, and biologically dynamic, patient? You have to pretend we are all biologically similar, and so the disease is the same for everyone, treatable in the same way.
With that established, you can ‘prove’ the chemical agent works by testing it in large-scale ‘scientific’ studies, and you can train up the doctors through medical school to make them drug-delivery salesmen. You also insinuate your way into the media and government to ensure the message is reinforced, and you kill of any alternatives because there’s no evidence they work. Yours is the science.
Unfortunately, there’s one problem. Remember that bit about people being biologically unique? That was always rearing its head, and it invalidated most of the large-scale trials. It was pretty hard to get an effect much above placebo; using the scientific method, medicine was consistently demonstrated not to be a science after all, because a causal effect couldn’t be established, let alone replicated.
No matter, there’s nothing money can’t solve. Pay the PR people to make up the stuff, then pay an academic to put his or her name to the paper, get it published in a prestigious medical journal, then wave it in front of the doctor, who will be comforted to know he is doing the right thing by prescribing the drug.
Around 75 per cent of ‘scientific’ medical trials are created that way, yet even with that level of fraud going on, the BMJ’s Clinical Evidence Handbook shows that just 12 per cent of drugs and therapies have any evidence to suggest they work, as our Special Report this month highlights. Take into account fraud, and you’re down to around 3 per cent.
Now, that isn’t a science. Fancy boarding planes that crash 97 per cent of the time? But then, healing never could be reduced to a mass-production system: a shame for the shareholders, perhaps, but good news for the patient.
The news that the European Parliament is expected to ban mercury fillings throughout the 27 member states, including the UK, raises two questions: why was mercury ever put in our teeth in the first place, and why have the dental associations always been so ready to defend the use of one of the most toxic elements?
The answer to the first question is now lost in the mists, although cost appears to have been an over-riding factor when it was mooted as an acceptable filler of dental cavities around 160 years ago. Gold was the only material available, and mercury was more pliable, durable – and far less expensive. By mixing it with copper, tin and silver – thus creating an amalgam, the name given to the fillings – dentists believed the mercury would be stabilised and ‘locked in’. And as the early patients seemed able to stand and walk out of the surgery, dentists believed it was safe.
But the mercury wasn’t locked in. By the 1970s, sophisticated technology such as mass spectrophotometry could ‘see’ mercury vapours coming out of the fillings, forcing the dental associations to shift their ground. The fillings were releasing such small amounts of mercury that it wasn’t doing us any harm, unless we had a ‘mercury sensitivity’ (doesn’t everyone?), and that applies to just 3 per cent of the population, reckons the British Dental Association. It’s a conservative estimate, but it still represents an epidemic, according to official public health definitions of what an epidemic looks like.
From the vapours being released from the fillings, the mercury makes its way into all our tissues and organs, and especially to the kidneys. Indeed, the European Commission states that we ingest more mercury from our fillings than from any other source, including fish. The amount varies, of course, depending on the number of amalgam fillings we have, but it can up to five times the levels our bodies can tolerate and dispose of.
Conspiracy theorists believe the dental associations won’t come clean about amalgam fillings because of the deluge of legal claims that would follow, but absolute proof that dental fillings have directly caused a chronic health problem is almost impossible to establish.
Rather, we think it’s because it would cause a national panic. Most dentists have not been trained in removing amalgam – and the release of mercury during the procedure could be catastrophic.
Instead, it takes the European Parliament to make the decision while dentists – quietly, quietly – move to safer materials, as they started to do 20 years ago.
One of the drug industry’s tactics for selling more remedies is to invent a disease. ‘Social phobia’ springs to mind as a classic from around 10 years ago.
Now they have a new one, this time courtesy of the psychiatric profession. It’s ‘internet addiction’, and an addict is anyone who spends more than 38 hours on the web, on social platforms such as Facebook, or texting messages. While five-plus hours a day sounds a lot, most teenagers are addicts according to these parameters.
Most of us probably agree that hours of Facebook posting and texting are irritating, and even anti-social, but few think our teenagers should be taking a powerful psychotropic drug, such as Prozac.
But, from next year, internet addiction becomes a compulsive-impulsive spectrum disorder, treatable with drugs, as our Special Report (http://www.wddty.com/prozac-for-the-internet-addict.html) this month explains.
This all seems heavy-handed, but there’s a twist in the tail: the American Psychiatric Association believes that internet addiction causes depression. There’s a considerable body of research that shows an association between depression and excessive internet use – but that does not demonstrate a cause.
Instead, the depressed and socially phobic use the internet excessively, so they are depressed before they start. We’re sure playing on-line games and watching porn don’t help the condition, but that’s not the point.
It is astonishing that the pharmaceutical industry is prepared to drug a new generation; actually, that’s wrong. It’s not astonishing at all, that’s its natural impulse.
But it is worrying that the psychiatrists are happy to go along with this ‘new marketing opportunity’ and nobody in government is prepared to stop the drugging of our teenagers.
The faint-hearted among us often question the suicidal bravery of mountaineers who risk their lives to climb the world’s highest peaks. When asked why they climb the mountain, the stock-in-trade explanation is something like, “because it’s there”. It’s similar to the response of the strong who do things against the public will or good “because they can”.
Because it’s there and because we can are two of the primary driving forces for the recent phenomenon of ‘medicalisation’, the subject of our Special Report this month (http://www.wddty.com/overdiagnosed-how-medicine-makes-the-healthy-sick.html
). From a desire to catch and treat disease early – and, along the way, increase the market for its sponsors, the pharmaceutical industry - medicine is today harming the well.
Around one-third of people who regularly take drugs or undergo treatment don’t need to; they are victims of ‘medicalisation’, and one of its three manifestations: arbitrary and tighter definitions of disease, over-diagnoses and over-treatment.
Many millions more of us are ‘sick’ today than we were even a generation ago. It’s nothing to do with living longer, or even eating a nutritionally-poor diet: it’s because some diseases are determined by the whims of medicine that regularly move the boundaries of conditions such as osteoporosis, high blood pressure and ‘dangerous’ cholesterol levels, and make patients of the healthy literally overnight.
Some members of committees that determine the parameters of disease have direct links with the pharmaceutical industry, whose products suddenly have a market that has mushroomed.
Then there is the use of sophisticated, and sensitive, screening technology, such as x-rays, mammography, MRI and CT scans. These technologies not only pick out tumours, they also see abnormalities. Abnormalities are extremely common, and they rarely – if ever – develop into disease, such as cancer.
This pattern of interpreting an abnormality as a potential killer has already got its own name in medicine: a pseudo-disease, yet it is treated as aggressively as any cancer, leading to medicalisation’s third ugly side: over-treatment.
With over-treatment, women can have a full mastectomy, men undergo debilitating surgery and both can be on powerful drugs for the rest of their lives – all to treat a pseudo-disease.
Medicine is slowly waking up to the awful truth that it not only treats the sick, it also harms a growing minority of healthy people, too. Perhaps it has the conscience to see it must be reined in and curbed, and its close alliance with Big Pharma loosened, otherwise it is in danger of being the monster that ate itself.