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.
We recently fell foul of the Cancer Act 1939. It’s the same pernicious act that forced the cancellation of an alternative cancer conference in Totnes, Devon the other month, which was to feature the Italian oncologist Tullio Simoncini. For us, we have been stopped from advertising our cancer books and recordings with some of the world’s great cancer pioneers.
The act is brutal in its simplicity. It prevents the advertising to the public of any cancer therapy. It matters not if the therapy has saved lives, has been proven to work, or is carried out by qualified doctors – nobody is allowed to advertise the fact.
The ban was a very English affair. A very nice lady from the local Trading Standards office knocked on our office door one day, and said she had received complaints from several other trading districts about our cancer products.
Looking over the act, or, rather, the two paragraphs that applied to our activities, quickly made me see that, indeed, we were bang to rights. Failure to comply could result in a fine, then a larger fine, and finally imprisonment.
While I love porridge, I decided I didn’t like it that much, and so agreed to remove the advertisements. Now, instead of explaining what you might read if you bought our Cancer Handbook, for instance, we are allowed to describe it only thus: ‘Cancer Book’.
I’d like to think that the intention behind the act was an honourable one. People who have cancer are more vulnerable, and should be protected from snake-oil salesmen who sell them a useless product. Quite right, too. But what about the therapies that do work, and have been demonstrated to work in helping thousands of cancer patients? Don’t people have a right to hear about those?
The answer is supplied in the act’s small print: it was written in association with the then National Radium Trust, the authority that managed radiology, one of the two main conventional treatments for cancer. The act also permitted the Treasury to lend up to £500,000 to the trust, roughly equivalent to £90 million in today’s money.
Because there is no distinction made between ‘quack’ therapies and those that have proven and demonstrable merit, the act denies the cancer patient the right to truly informed consent.
The path to hell is paved by good intentions – but perhaps the intentions of those who drafted the act weren’t so pure in the first place.
The recent bank bail-out left a bitter taste. Apparently too big to fail, the banks enjoyed state support to keep them afloat, then cut off credit to small firms, a decision that threatens to plunge us back into recession, and began paying enormous bonuses the moment they moved back into profit.
All of this has been allowed to happen because banks enjoy the privileged position of being both commercial enterprises that exist for the benefit of their shareholders, and an integral part of society.
But it’s not unique – pharmaceutical companies have a similar relationship. Although they have never needed state bail-outs, they are protected by laws, by governments, and even by the media, and yet exist primarily for the welfare of their shareholders. This is because, like the banks, the drugs industry is seen as an essential contributor to the fabric of society.
But having been granted this special position, the drugs companies – like the banks – play fast and loose with the enormous privileges they are granted. A news article this month, for example, reveals that nearly two-thirds of people who take a prescription drug suffer an adverse reaction, often because the truth about the dangers of the drug is never revealed.
Worse, some drugs do more harm than good, as our Special Report on depression explains (http://www.wddty.com/the-great-depression-deception.html
). The antidepressant SSRIs can’t be helping depression – because they are based on the theory that it is the result of low serotonin levels. The theory hasn’t been proved, and, as our report demonstrates, it isn’t true.
The drive for profit flattens everything before it, including the truth, including accountability, including any concern for the safety of the patient. As with the banks, it all seems to be a poor return for a society that offers it special protections.
What can be done? The fundamental flaw in this wretched scenario is the idea that banks – and drug companies – are too big to fail, that the fall-out would be too monumental for us to cope with.
This wasn’t true about the banks, and it’s not true of the drugs companies. The banks could have failed, and the money poured into the bottomless pit of sub-prime debts could have created a new bank, and one that better served the people and small business.
Similarly, ethical, state-run, drug companies – that had an eye on human benefit and safety before profit and shareholder dividends - could also be established.
Anything less leaves a nasty taste.
Aside from death and taxes, life’s only other certainty is that you have a body, over which you have complete sovereignty and which is protected by law, including human rights legislation. If somebody attacks you, the assailant will be prosecuted and punished – indeed, any action on your body carried out without your full consent is a criminal offence.
The only people who seem to disregard this absolute right are doctors, as our Special Report this month explores (http://www.wddty.com/the-dark-heart-of-medicine.html). They pay lip service to the legal concept of consent, especially before surgery and other interventions, but their requirement is nothing more than a signature at the end of a long document, almost never read by the patient.
However, the doctor has to negotiate two hurdles before any procedure can begin: not only must he seek consent, that consent has to be fully informed. In other words, the patient should understand why the procedure is needed, its success rate, its risks – no matter how small – and any alternatives.
Of course, true informed consent rarely happens. The doctor argues that he doesn’t have time to go into enormous detail with every patient, and some patients feel they shouldn’t bother the doctor who always seems to be too busy. Some doctors still hold to the paternalistic belief that they know best, and that talk of risks would only worry the patient unnecessarily. Unless the risk becomes an actuality, of course, but by then it’s too late.
Doctors sometimes don’t bother seeking consent of any kind, informed or not. The most routine practice by any doctor is the writing out of a prescription – but he almost never points out the drug’s risks or success rate.
Radiologists don’t even bother with any pretence of consent. As a medical screening is part of an investigative process, usually requested by another doctor, the radiologist perhaps believes that consent is not required. Yet each screening subjects the patient to some level of radiation, and, in the case of a CT (computed tomography) scan, that can be similar to levels monitored at Hiroshima when the A-bomb was dropped.
If doctors did follow their legal requirement to achieve truly informed consent, most surgical procedures would never happen, and some patients would seek out safer alternatives if they were told the real risks of prescription drugs.
Doctors know this, of course. That’s why they don’t tell.
Breast cancer is one of the major ‘ladykillers’ – and so governments want to be seen to do something, not least because it affects half the electorate. For the past 24 years – and at a total cost of £2.3bn - women in the UK over the age of 50 have been invited to have a regular mammogram screening in order to detect early signs of breast cancer.
The genesis of the UK’s mass screening programme was the Forrest report of 1986, headed by Prof Sir Patrick Forrest, who had been commissioned to answer two primary questions: would a mass screening programme benefit women and, if so, which technology should be employed? Forrest’s answers to both were emphatic: mass screening for the over-50s would reduce deaths from breast cancer by a third and with “few harms”, and, to the second, the best technology was x-ray mammography.
Unfortunately, there is no connection between the two answers. Screening might reduce the rate of breast cancer deaths, but mammography isn’t the technology to achieve it.
This started to become apparent just eight years after the mass screening programme was introduced. One of the programme’s guiding lights, Prof Michael Baum, pronounced that he feared mammography was doing more harm than good, and was putting women through the trauma of a ‘false-positive’, when cancer is wrongly detected.
Since then, we have discovered why. Researchers at Southampton University recently revealed that Forrest’s recommendations had been based on limited, and false, data, and had been collated at a time when the concept of a false-positive result was alien to radiologists.
Forrest also asked all the wrong questions about mammography’s competing technology, thermography. Before Forrest, the two were often used in conjunction in order to get the ‘complete picture’: mammography sees mass, thermography sees activity.
As it is, mammography’s harm is far outweighing its benefits – it is seeing cancers that aren’t there, most notably instances of DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ), which is invariably benign. Worse, it is unable to see fast-growing cancers that are invariably fatal.
Others since have echoed Baum’s concerns, most notably Cochrane researcher Peter Gotzsche, as our Special Report this month explains (http://www.wddty.com/the-great-mammogram-con.html).
But will our government be brave enough to act – or is it politically more expedient to be seen to be doing something, even if it is hopelessly wrong?
Imagine you’re a Venusian paying a visit to Earth, and I’m in the welcoming party. Over a bubbling Martian cola I tell you we have a major health problem on the planet – cancer. Our standard therapies kill cancer in 40 per cent of cases – if caught at the earliest stage – and around 5 per cent overall. In other words, most people die from cancer.
Even for a civilization as primitive as ours, this is very poor, you say. Don’t you have anything else?
Well, we don’t really know, because we’re not allowed to know, I respond. After much digging and investigation, I’ve discovered some excellent studies – double-blind, placebo ones – that demonstrate homeopathy is a powerful cancer fighter, far more effective than our standard treatments (as covered in our Special Report this month). Unfortunately, nobody talks about them, even though they’ve been funded by the US government, and carried out by researchers at an American university.
Why not, you ask, this is good news for all humans, no?
Yes, I say, but nobody believes it. Homeopathy isn’t a science, its detractors tell us. This is because the science behind it doesn’t make sense, so any response must be down to a placebo effect.
But a placebo effect isn’t powerful enough to defeat cancer, you say. So it must be working, which means you’ve got the science wrong – or, more kindly, your physics is incomplete.
There’s something else, too, I say. Money. Cancer care is controlled by the drugs industry, which, in turn, funds the research and the academics who proclaim that their medicine is the best, even if it doesn’t work very well. They’re always the ones who shout down homeopathy, too. The drugs industry makes a fortune from its chemotherapy drugs.
So let’s get this clear, you say. Cancer is killing most humans, you have a therapy that works against it, nobody adopts it although the science confirms it works, and that’s because it’s not scientific – rather, it’s impossible according to your limited science. Then you have people making a great deal of money from people’s deaths and sufferings, and they are paying off academics to keep the lid on things, and to keep their inadequate products as the only available choice. None of this is science – it’s prejudice, belief systems and profits before people.
Shaking your two heads in utter disbelief, you climb back into your Venusian craft. Strangely, you haven’t been back since.
Our main feature this month (http://www.wddty.com/kill-not-cure.html) highlights two disturbing
statistics about Big Pharma: in 2011, it was recorded as the most fraudulent
industry group in the world, while its drugs became more lethal than traffic
accidents, killing one person every 14 minutes in the United States alone.
These worrying facts beggar two obvious questions: why
hasn’t the media featured them? And why
aren’t our politicians jumping up and down, demanding immediate controls?
The answer lies in another statistic from the drugs
industry: for every pound and dollar it spends on research and development, it
spends two on ‘promotion’, which includes political lobbying and media
Rupert Murdoch’s The Australian newspaper recently accepted
an undisclosed sum from the drugs industry to run a series of ‘independent’
health policy articles.
Murdoch’s son, James, sits on the board of UK drug giant
GlaxoSmithKline’s corporate responsibility committee to review “external issues
that might have the potential for serious impact upon the group’s business and
reputation”. External issues such as The
Times, The Sun, The Sunday Times and Sky TV, perhaps, all a part of the News
International empire, which James helps to control.
It works the other way, too.
Doctors sit as ‘independent’ consultants on editorial panels that
determine the broadcasts that are fit and proper for us to read, see and
hear. Lynne McTaggart’s ‘regular’ column
in The Sunday Times lasted all of one week before the Chief Medical Officer
intervened, and the column was stopped.
Its influence extends to all areas of media, even
advertising. It is contrary to the UK’s
advertising standards to run any advertisement that might affect the sacred
relationship between patient and doctor, even if that which is being stated is
The drugs industry is the biggest political lobbyist in the
world, ensuring damaging legislation controlling its worst excesses are never
passed into law. When the lobby system
fails, it has enormous capital clout, and can threaten to close processing and
manufacturing plants, as it did recently in the UK.
Prime Minister Cameron quickly saw sense, and withdrew plans to slow the
process for new drugs approval.
Back in 1989 when we launched WDDTY, The Times described us
as a “voice in the silence” (James was a mere boy of 17 at the time). We still are – and we’re still among the few
reporting on Big Pharma’s excesses, and the damage they may do to you. And now you know why.
Praying for another’s wellbeing is problematic, even at this time of year when our thoughts might turn to miracles and healings of the sick. It’s not a problem for the sender or receiver, but it most certainly is for the scientist, the researcher, the doctor and the sceptic, especially the sceptic.
Prayer and its other distant healing cousins, such as reiki, faith healing, spiritual and remote healing, shouldn’t work – but, on balance, the evidence suggests they do.
For the sceptic, this is impossible. To suggest that prayer works also requires a new science of biology and a complete overhaul of what we think we are. And we won’t even get into the existence of a God who answers prayers.
The science already exists, of course. It’s quantum mechanics, and more specifically, non-locality, which suggests that something can affect something else even though it may be miles away. As Einstein rather unkindly put it, it’s “spooky action at a distance.”
The trouble for medicine is that its own science of measurement is hopelessly cumbersome and inappropriate to capture such elusive effects. This perhaps explains why the studies that have tried to monitor distant healing and prayer have been so contradictory. Some say prayer works, others say it doesn’t; a few even suggest that prayer has a negative effect, and the condition of the person being prayed for actually worsens, which, at least, suggests some effect, I suppose.
But when researchers carry out meta-analyses of all the ‘good’ studies, they invariably discover – possibly to their own astonishment – that prayer does work. Even arch-sceptic Edzard Ernst had to admit as much when he researched the subject.
And what are the metaphysical implications of this discovery? Does it mean God exists, or that people have remarkable self-healing powers that are released when they know they are being prayed for, or that all of us are connected by some force?
This is the stuff of our Special Report this month – Spooky Healing at a Distance – (http://www.wddty.com/spooky-healing-at-a-distance.html) - and it should give us all pause. It brings to mind Hamlet’s famous quote: “There are more things in heaven and earth than dreamt of in your philosophy.”
And if belief is a constituent part of successful prayer, perhaps including it in our philosophy increases its possibility.