Friday, October 22, 2010

A bad year for the AVN - A great year for child safety

Page 3 of the NSW Government Gazette, linked above contains the official announcement that the Australian Vaccination Netowrk has been stripped of it's charitable fundraising status.

This is the latest set-back from the anti-vaccination group that has fallen foul of the authorities. First an investigation by the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission concluded that the AVN website contains information that is incorrect and misleading. The AVN were requested to place a warning on their website clearly showing that they are opposed to vaccinations. They have refused to do so.

The latest set-back affects their ability to raise funds to further their campaign of misinformation and deception. An investigation from the Office of Liquor, Gaming & Racing (strangely, also responsible for charities) concluded that fundraising had not been conducted in good faith.

It may be too much to hope that this is the start of the end for this group, as I fear these people will continue to influence the unwary into actions that place the lives of their own children and other children within the community.

"The presence of belief, does not indicate the existence of truth."
"There is only one truth. How we interpret that truth is called belief."

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Anti-oxidants ineffective for cancer incidence

When it comes to our health, we are often told of the benefits of taking anti-oxidants, with a particular emphasis on cancer. Australian television is full of food manufacturers trying to establish a link between their products and anti-oxidants.

From a marketing point of view, the link is valuable as it may attract more buyers expecting to get a positive benefit. From a health point of view, the link continually fails to be proven. Another recent study in the Journal of the National Institute of Cancer followed 7,627 women from an Anti-Oxidant Cardiovascular Study, which was a randomised, double blind, placebo controlled trial.

I have yet to go through the full written study, but the results over 9 years indicate there is no significant difference between those who took the anti-oxidants and those who were on the placebo. Of those who developed cancer, there was also no significant difference in the mortality rate.

The study concluded that “Supplementation with vitamin C, vitamin E, or beta carotene offers no overall benefits in the primary prevention of total cancer incidence or cancer mortality”.

This is one of many cancer studies involving vitamins and their affect on cancer incidence and mortality. Despite the marketing hype, conclusive proof that anti-oxidants have any effect on cancer at all is still yet to be shown.

"The presence of belief, does not indicate the existence of truth."
"There is only one truth. How we interpret that truth is called belief."

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sickest in 35 years

December 16, 2008

Article from: The Australian

A SICK girl suffered brain damage after her father refused to take her to hospital because he distrusted conventional medicine, a court has been told.

The 11-year-old had been suffering from a heart infection for two weeks before her parents finally took her to hospital, the Brisbane District Court was told on Tuesday.

She was gravely ill when she was admitted to Toowoomba Base Hospital in September 2006.

Her temperature was 42 degrees celsius, she had been hallucinating and was weak, pale and could no longer walk.

The court was told her mouth was peeling, black and clogged from the alternative medicine her 45-year-old father had been giving her in extremely high doses.

The doctor who finally examined the 11-year-old told the court the girl was as "sick as the sickest person I've ever seen in my 35 years as a doctor".

Prosecutor Belinda Merrin said it was the father's distrust of conventional medicine that had caused him to delay seeking treatment.

Instead, he had been relying on the glyconutrient dietary supplement Mannatech to cure his daughter.

The court was told the girl's mother asked him on a number of occasions to seek medical treatment, but had not pushed the issue for fear her estranged partner would deny her access to her children.

When the girl was admitted to hospital she underwent an emergency heart bypass and valve replacement.

She spent some time in a coma after surgery because of bleeding on the brain, and it was a year before she was eventually allowed to go home.

She now uses a wheelchair and has severe, ongoing cognitive and fine motor skills problems. The father has pleaded guilty to one count of grievous bodily harm.

The mother has pleaded guilty to a charge of child cruelty.

None of the family members can be identified.

Judge Tony Rafter will sentence the parents later on Tuesday.

Often the proponents of Spurious Complementary & Alternative Medicine claim that their products are safe and can do no harm. While they may not be able to do direct harm, the above is a sad example of how the use of SCAM can prevent real treatment from being sought and/or provided with devastating results.

Don't be fooled. If sick, get help from a doctor that practices evidence-based medicine. Natural does not mean effective, particularly when it's just sugar.

"The presence of belief, does not indicate the existence of truth."
"There is only one truth. How we interpret that truth is called belief."

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Dummett Hunter

Australian SCAM practitioner Jeffrey Dummett has been dealt another blow earlier this year with a permanent ban by the New South Wales Office of Fair Trading. Other than being extremely busy over the last couple of years, this escaped my attention as the ban was actually in the name of Jeremiah Jeffrey Hunter.

Mr. Dummett probably decided that the name he was using when charged with the manslaughter of one of his patients was a liability when he moved his business to a new town. As the press release states: "While the life ban is a small win for the sick and desperate who turned to him for help to try and cure their illnesses, it will stop others falling prey to his dubious claims in the future."

While it is a small start, there are still too many charlatans out there who prey on the ill, ignorant and/or desperate.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Critique of Isagenix

The following article has been submitted by Dr Harriet Hall.

A friend inquired about a product, Isagenix (actually a whole family of products) that is being pushed by the leader of her weight loss group, claiming that "The Isagenix cleanse is unique because it not only removes impurities at the cellular level, it builds the body up with incredible nutrition. Besides detoxing the body, Isagenix teaches people a wonderful lesson that they don't need to eat as much as they are accustom to and eating healthy choices are really important and also a lot of the food we are eating is nutritionally bankrupt."

I went through the website ( and watched the promotional videos. There is so much to criticize that I hardly know where to start. It's all misinformation, unsupported claims, testimonials, and money-making ploys.

I couldn't find a critique of Isagenix on the Web, but that's not surprising. No serious medical scientist would take it seriously enough to bother about it. And it's basically all been done before; it's just a slightly new wrinkle on an old scam. You will find some information on related products at:
You can also go to the homepage and type in cleansing or type in detoxification.

The claims on the Isagenix website are a mishmash of pseudoscience, myth, misrepresentation, and outright lies. For example:

Americans are sicker than ever before.

Toxicity accounts for most diseases.

The body protects itself from toxins by coating them with fat, causing obesity. [The truth: some toxins are soluble in fat and can be taken into existing fat cells, but no new fat cells are created.]

The internal organs become clogged and deteriorate if you don't cleanse. Nutrients that cleanse, revitalize, rejuvenate - what does this even mean? The human body needs cleansing like air conditioners that need their filters changed and car engines that need oil changes. [This is nonsense: the human body cannot be compared to a machine: it is a living, self-regulating organism that does its own maintenance.]

They engage in scare-mongering about toxins, but provide no data to show that the tiny amounts we ingest lead to any significant adverse health effects. They also provide no evidence that their treatment actually removes any toxins from the body. Or that doing so would have any significant impact on health. There have been no properly controlled scientific studies of their "cleansing" treatments, only testimonials of the sort that abound on the Internet for hundreds of other ineffective products.

There is absolutely no rationale for the particular combination of ingredients in their products. They have LOTS of different products, and have included just about every nutrient and herbal remedy in existence: 242 of them! Some of these we know to be useless, some are potentially harmful, and we have no idea how the particular ingredients in the mixtures might interact for better or for worse.

They offer "ionic" minerals from "ancient plant deposits." Minerals are the same thing wherever they come from, and all "ionic" means is that it is in a form that can be absorbed - i.e. magnesium as milk of magnesia rather than as a lump of elemental magnesium metal.

They advertise "no caffeine added" for a product that contains green tea; green tea contains caffeine. They repeat the tired old myth that our food isn't as nutritious as in the "good old days." They put digestive enzymes in their products to help you assimilate them, not realizing that orally ingested digestive enzymes are themselves digested in the stomach before they can do anything. They say that their electrolytes "ignite the body's electrical system" - I have no idea what this means, and it certainly is not scientific terminology.

Their antioxidant mixture contains 15,000 IU of vitamin A as beta carotene plus 5000 IU as palmitate. The Medical Letter recently reviewed vitamin A and warned that no one should take high-dose beta carotene supplements, and that women should not take vitamin A supplements at all during pregnancy or after menopause. Among other things, they said: Vitamin A may also have pro-oxidant effects in vivo. A high intake of vitamin A from supplements and food has been associated with an increased risk of hip fracture in postmenopausal women and with teratogenicity when taken during early pregnancy. A placebo-controlled intervention trial in Finnish smokers found that 20 mg/day of a beta carotene supplement increased the incidence of lung cancer by 18%, which was statistically significant. Another large double blind intervention trial in smokers and asbestos exposed workers, terminated early because no benefit was demonstrated, found that combined therapy with 30 mg of beta carotene and 25,000 IU of vitamin A daily was associated with an increase in the incidence of lung cancer, cardiovascular mortality and total mortality.

The Medical Letter concluded: "A balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables may be safer than taking vitamin supplements. No biologically active substance taken for a long term can be assumed to be free of risk."

Isagenix claims to promote weight loss. All treatments for weight loss work the same way: they get people to ingest fewer calories than they expend. There is no reason to think that a person who restricts calorie intake and exercises will lose any more weight if they add Isagenix products. Diuretic and laxative effects, psychological factors, and enthusiasm for a new method may initially fool people into thinking they have benefited.

Their medical advisor, Becky Natrajan, MD, tells us on a video presentation that she is "excited about results" but she does not say what those results are or why she thinks the results are due to the product rather than to diet, exercise and other factors. Perhaps her funniest argument is that the $5 a day Isagenix costs you is less expensive than open heart surgery. As if it were a simple choice between the two!

She tells you to contact the person who told you about Isagenix. And one of the headings on the website is "Wealth." There you will find out how you can sell products from your home and become an associate, a consultant or an executive with increasing levels of financial return. This sounds like a typical multilevel marketing scheme, typical of products that can't be marketed effectively based purely on their merits.

In short, Isagenix is a slick marketing enterprise that lines the promoters' pockets by selling baseless hope. There is a disclaimer on the website that should be taken very seriously: "These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease."

Harriet Hall, M.D.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Guilty of peddling fear, hope

This week, an article in the Lexington Herald-Leader was brought to my attention. The article shows how much of an influence the peddlers of false hope can have an an individual's life and the tragic consequences that can have.

The situation is the same method of operation that is used frequently in the health fraud industry. Victims are falsely diagnosed with a variety of illnesses using tests that are not recognised as legitimate. Once the illness is diagnosed, the victims are then sold a treatment that are just as fake as the original diagnosis.

John Curran diagnosed 23 year old Amanda Doumato as having thyroid problems, parasites in her blood and cancer. She stopped payment of $15,000 to John Curran after her family doctor advised her thyroid was fine, there were no parasites and she did not have cancer. What she had was cealiac's disease, which is a digestive condition.

Over 300 people paid John Curran an estimated $1.4 Million for treatments. Many had been told they had parasites in their blood. This is a commonly diagnosed condition that many people hear, yet the only common parasitic blood infection is malaria. Others such as
babesiosis and trypanosomiasis are very rare and only occur in certain areas of the world.

Many people with potentially terminal conditions who follow the poor advice end up dying. What is most disheartening is that they often die still believing that the person who has given them false hope.

This was brought out in alarming clarity by a young cancer sufferer in the linked article by Valarie Honeycutt Spears, part of which is as follows:

Gary Alves, a chiropractor, and his wife, Rhonda, took their daughter Taylor to the top treatment centers in the Northeast when they found that she had a rare form of ovarian cancer. But after surgeries, chemotherapy and a stem-cell transplant, physicians told Taylor there was nothing more they could do.

One of Gary Alves' colleagues told them that his father had had good luck with Curran.
As a chiropractor, Gary Alves said, he knew that combining traditional medicine and alternative therapies might boost Taylor's immune system so that she would suffer less.

Curran surprised the Alveses by telling them that he could make Taylor healthy again.
He prescribed a dietary supplement, a green drink that he claimed to have formulated himself. (It was actually commercially available and he bought it from a distributor, prosecutors later learned.) He suggested that Taylor consume only the drink and numerous supplements.
The Alveses gave him $2,400.

"He told her that if she followed the regimen to the letter," Rhonda Alves said, "he could restore her health."

Taylor "had everything to live for," her mother said. "She soaked this up."

A talented and driven young woman, Taylor was an actress, model and filmmaker. HBO had purchased her documentary, The Art of Kissing, when she was 17.

She weighed 95 pounds when she went to Curran and, under his treatment, she lost another 15 pounds. She was losing a pound a day, her mother said.

On May 19, 2002, she ate one bite of a chicken sandwich because her aunt asked her to do it as a birthday present.

Immediately, Taylor blamed herself for breaking the regimen. "I've ruined it," she said.
From that moment until she died two weeks later at age 19, Taylor "blamed herself for her worsening condition," said Rhonda Alves. "I will never forgive John Curran for planting that seed in Taylor."

Alves said that she and Gary didn't initially file a complaint with the board of health because they aren't the kind of people who seek revenge. But she cooperated with authorities when they came across Taylor's case.

"I can still hear my daughter say, 'I ruined it,'" she said. "I can still hear my daughter's voice."
Curran's lengthy sentence was appropriate, said Alves.

"I feel like my daughter's voice has been heard."

Cases like this are what keeps this blog going. If just one person stumbles across this web-site and decides to visit a doctor rather than a naturopath, herbalist, chiropractor or other alternative medicine practirioner and gets the help they need for a serious medical condition, then the hours of work that go into this blog are worth it.

"There is only one truth. How we interpret that truth is called belief."
"The existence of belief does not indicate the presence of truth."

Monday, October 02, 2006

Man dies of Selenium overdose

I am often told by supporters of natural medicine that "alternative" or "natural" treatments are safe, simply because they are natural. A reminder that tobacco is a natural herb and uranium a natural mineral is usually all that's needed to point out that natural and safe are not synonymous.

A report written up in the Medical Journal of Australia details the death of a 75 year old male who had a prostate cancer scare. An initial report showed elevated antigens for prostate cancer. Before further test could be completed to verify or exclude the presence of prostate cancer, the man used the internet to see what he could take.

The "natural" supplement he chose to help him with his (as yet unconfirmed) cancer was selenium. A google search for selenium and "prostate cancer" done while writing this blog found 454,000 matches. With that many hits it's easy to understand how he could have determined that selenium can assist with prostate cancer.

Our patient then purchased selenium supplements from 2 different pharmacies. (In Australia, most supplements are sold by the same people licensed to dispense prescription only medications) The National Institutes of Health's tolerable upper intake of selenium is 400 micrograms. Luckily, many supplements are very low in the active element, with glucose being used as a filler. The unlucky man in this case purchased sodium selenite, which is much higher purity at 96%.

After ingesting 10 grams, some 250,000 times greater than the tolerable limit suggested, the man became very ill. He took the selenium at 7:00 am, was in hospital by 10:30 am and despite the best efforts of the medical staff, was deceased by 1:00 pm.

There is growing evidence of a correlation between low selenium levels and prostate cancers. However, there still needs to be further research to confirm the nature of the link and then, if proven, determine what level of selenium is optimal. There also needs to be research to work out how the selenium works and what side effects, if any, may occur. This research is going on in places such as the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo NY and many universities.

It is also important to understand that a substance that may reduce the incidence of cancer will not automatically cure a cancer if taken in large quanitities. Rather than help, this case shows that large amounts of supplements can be deadly. This case shows clearly that natural does not mean safe and that more is not always better.

In all cases where your health is concerned, see your medically trained doctor. Don't try to self-medicate and don't fall for the dangerous belief that natural means effective or even safe. If you are unsure, get a second opinion from another medically trained doctor.

"There is only one truth. How we interpret that truth is called belief."
"The existence of belief does not indicate the presence of truth."

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Triathlon (Dummett claim false)

This weekend was a good one for me. I managed to cut my time for the 10km run down by a fair margin and then continued another 10km at close to my old best time. Now you may be wondering what all this has to do with health fraud. I've been running, cycling and swimming in order to attempt my first triathlon next year. Who knows, one day I may even get to compete the the Noosa International Triathlon.

According to the anonymous comment on an earlier post, Jeffrey Dummett was the medical nutritionist, physical medicine and first aid practitioner for this event in 2004. Having an interest in triathlons, I contacted the people who run the Noosa International Triathlon. Their response is as follows:

We have never had a position as a"Medical Nutritionist" at NOOSA TRIATHLON - and have no record of Jeffrey Dummett being part of the official Medical Team in any of the 23 years of the event.

This is just the first of the many claims that I am currently investigating. A reporter from the Sydney Morning Herald wrote about the coronial inquest noting "Some of his qualifications appeared to have come from "dubious operators", many of which police could not verify existed, the court heard yesterday." This is something that I am familiar with, as I am having trouble tracking down some of the institutions named.

I have managed to track down more of these organisations from the claim, but have yet to receive a response confirming the details I have requested. If the "evidence" provided my Jeffrey Dummett in defending his manslaughter charges is as full of holes as the claims made in the comment on this blog, then I'd suggest Mr. Dummett be ready to spend a long holiday at the expense of the taxpayers.

"There is only one truth. How we interpret that truth is called belief."
"The existence of belief does not indicate the presence of truth."

If anyone is able to assist with information on Jeffrey Dummett and the claims made for him, assistance is more than welcome.
kpaine AT (replace AT with @)

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Jeffrey Dummett's Questionable Qualifications

In a comment left about the death of Mr Vecko Kreteski under the care of naturopath Jeffrey Dummett, I was told to get my facts straight. The comment then proceeds to explain some of Mr. Dummett’s past and lists his educational qualifications, memberships and accomplishments.

There was so much to be written and explained about the comment, I thought it best to do this via a fresh post, rather than add to the comments. Actually, this will take several posts to expose the lies, deception and misinformation contained in the comment.

Posts on this subject will appear from time to time as I take the time to try and track down some of the more obscure qualifications and memberships. Many of those claimed on behalf of Mr Dummett do not appear to exist. I may also have to take time out to deal with the threatened law suits for writing about Mr Dummett. Then again, that’s a simple case of laugh, print a copy for entertainment purposes and file, so it won't take long.

I will also try to keep readers updated on the progress of the court case as Mr Dummett faces manslaughter charges over the death of Vecko Kreteski. Finally, I'd like to thank the people who have been trying to silence me and defend the indefensible. Every now and then I need a reinvigoration of motivation, which has now been supplied.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The truth goes unheard

My attempt to get a weekly health column in the local newspaper to combat a new herbalist's column has been unsuccessful. The response to my request was as follows:


Thanks for your suggested alternate alternative medical column. Being somewhat of a skeptic I suppose I could write an alternative astrology column in the XXXXXX every day but I feel secure that my skepticism, mixed with a liberal dashing of tongue in cheek and a tad of pride does not allow me to.

After due consideration XXXXXX and I have decided against running the alternate, alternative column, however we offer you the age-old alternative of writing a letter to the editor. It doesn't get you published as often, but at least you get to make your point in public.


Regardless of the knock-back, I have decided to continue with the weekly health article. Each week I will submit an article to the newspaper and publish a copy here.

So. Here we go!

Welcome to the first critical thinking article on alternative medicine. Alternative medicine is those treatments that have either failed to be proven effective or have yet to be properly tested. It would be a surprise for many to realise just how widespread alternative medicine has become in Australia.

Evidence Based Medicine is not opposed to the use of herbs and natural therapies. When something is proven to work, such as the bark of the willow tree to relieve pain, Evidence Based Medicine will investigate and test the treatment. Scientists will determine which part or parts of the plant are the active ingredients that provide the positive effect. In the case of willow bark, the positive ingredient is salicylic acid.

The other factor to consider is that herbs and natural therapies can be dangerous. One of the greatest preventable killers in society today is the natural herb called tobacco. Arsenic, mercury and even uranium are naturally occurring substances. Natural does not mean safe. This is a problem with willow bark as the salicylic acid can burn a hole in your stomach.

The concentration of salicylic acid in willow bark varies from tree to tree and also from one part of the tree to another. There is no way to know how much of the active ingredient you are getting. Scientists have been able to manufacture the salicylic acid where they know the exact dosage. What’s more they found that if they converted it to acetosalicylic acid, the substance keeps its pain relieving properties, but is much less harmful.

Even when it’s proven, consumers have the choice between eating the ground up willow bark, containing an unknown quantity of the active mixed with other substances or a guaranteed known dosage of the pure active ingredient. I’ll take the safer, known dosage. It can be found on any supermarket shelf labelled “aspirin”.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Herbalist Column

Below is a letter to my local newspaper sent this morning after seeing an interview with their new weekly columnist. I hope they take up the challenge and allow me to put the other side of the story.

However, I'm not holding my breath.

Dear Sir,

I note in your newspaper today, that you have a new column to appear each week written by a local herbalist.

If your new columnist continues with the misleading information that was contained in this week's newspaper, I fear that many people in Mackay could have their health placed at serious risk. There are good reasons that alternative medicine is so-called. If the various herbs worked as claimed, they would cease to be classified as alternative and become part of mainstream medicine. Most herbal remedies have not gained acceptance into mainstream medicine as they have failed to show proof of efficacy.

When something is proven to work, such as willow bark for pain or purple foxglove for blood pressure, mainstream medicine determines what is contained within the herb that works and provides a safe, known dosage of the active ingredients. This is the way in which we now enjoy the benefits of aspirin and digitalis. Other herbs have not been purified and used in mainstream medicine, because they just don't work.

I'm sure you have been advised that herbs are harmless and that no harm can come from taking these natural substances. I remind you that tobacco, arsenic and even uranium are "natural". Even the herbs that pose no threat to a person's health can be dangerous. A study at St Vincent's hospital in Sydney revealed that women with operable breast cancer who tried alternative medicine had their cancers become inoperable by the time they decided that the alternatives were not working. This delay to try herbal treatments effectively caused the death of the women in the study. This highlights one the main dangers to people's health of using herbal treatments or any other kind of alternative treatment.

I urge you to carefully check the information contained in each article for factual accuracy. If required I can provide detailed information including studies, clinical trials and articles from medical journals that show the scientific data about various herbal and other alternative treatments.

Alternatively, I would be prepared to write each week placing the truth before your readers so they can then make an informed decision. The health of your readers is too important to be left at risk.


Kevin Paine

"There is only one truth. How we interpret that truth is called belief."
"The existence of belief does not indicate the presence of truth"

Sunday, November 13, 2005

60 Minutes exposes Australian Health Fraud

The lack of regulation that allows the Australian Health Fraud Industry to prosper in Australia was the lead story tonight on 60 Minutes. Among the people featured on the show was Naturopath Jeffrey Dummett, who has featured on this blog with the death of a man he had placed on a de-tox diet.

The story showed the stark reality of the health fraud industry. The main danger in taking the compounds and treatments of your local naturopath, herbalist, homeopath is not in the treatment itself, but the fact that you are delaying real treatment. When it comes to cancer, this delay can be death sentence.

We can only hope that the program opens the eyes of the general public to alert them to the dangers of using SCAM. With the large number of viewers, now is the time to mobilise the public to demand the government act. Australia is still a county where you can have no license, no education, no training and no idea, yet still practice as an alternative medicine practitioner.

"There is only one truth. How we interpret that truth is called belief."
"The existence of belief does not indicate the prescence of truth"

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Water more deadly than fluoride

The recent death in the US from a college initiation prank was a tragic waste of a human life. In order to fit in with the group, the 21 year old student was subjected to a quiz, where the penalty for getting the answer wrong was to drink large amounts of water and exercise.

The student is suspected to have died from a hyponatremia. The high amount of liquids, dilute the level of essential electrolytes in the body causing organ failure. Excess fluid consumption can also cause the brain to swell, which can also cause death.

In the recent case, the exact amount of liquid consumed is not known. There were 2 people involved and the 114 litres (30 gallons) water was doused on them as well as consumed. With this information, it is likely that less than 20 litres was consumed.

With the recent anti-fluoride debate in the Queensland media, I'm left wondering. If 20 litres is enough water to cause death, then how is a 75kg individual supposed to consume the 69,975 litres of fluoridated water required to ingest a lethal dose of fluoride?

"There is only one truth. How we interpret that truth is called belief."
"The existence of belief does not indicate the prescence of truth"

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Aussies win Nobel Prize for Medicine

Australia is proud to have been the home of this year’s Nobel Prize winners in the filed of Medicine. This year’s prize went to West Australia’s Barry Marshall and J Robin Warren for the discovery of “the bacterium Helicobacter pylori and its role in gastritis and peptic ulcer disease”

This discovery broke new ground in medical science. For years people had believed that stress was the cause of ulcers. The two Australians proved it was caused by a bacterium that could be treated with anti-biotics and changed the ways ulcers would be treated.

This winning of the Nobel Prize is a vindication of how evidence based medicine works.
You come up with a new idea.
You provide the evidence.
Your idea gets accepted
If good enough, you get awards

Yet, strangely enough, the world of SCAM uses this as a vindication of all their crazy ideas. A Myth has sprung up that suggests the medical establishment tried to suppress the discovery, just as they suppress the theory that all cancers are caused by the liver fluke. The medical establishment tried to ridicule the discovery, just as they ridicule the theory that cancers can be cured by eating crushed apricot seeds.

The myth about the suppression of the Helicobacter Pylori bacterium is just that, a myth. Kim Attwood wrote an in-depth summary of the discovery and the science behind getting the discovery through to acceptance in the November/December edition of the skeptical enquirer.

After the original study that suggested, but not proved, the link, there were studies started by many scientists to try and test this new theory. The presence of the bacterium in apparently healthy people also confused the issue. Overall, it took less than 11 years to get from the initial discovery through to having acceptance by the medical establishment.

Compare this with acupuncture and homeopathy. Hundreds of years with no credible evidence and the SCAM proponents are still saying that they need time and resources to prove their beliefs. A couple of centuries is more than enough time to provide the proof, yet the SCAM proponents can’t.

"There is only one truth. How we interpret that truth is called belief."
"The existence of belief does not indicate the prescence of truth"

Saturday, August 27, 2005

5 y.o. Autistic boy dies during chelation therapy

News was released overnight confirming that a 5 year old with Autism, has died during chelation therapy in the U.S.

Chelation is the removal of heavy metals within the body with a binding agent. It is a legitimate therapy that is used in cases of heavy metal poisoning. The anti-vaccinationists and environmental medicine supporters have jumped at this treatment as a method to remove toxins from the body. One of the toxins they claim to be able to remove from the body is mercury, which the anti-vaccinationists claim is used in vaccinations and causes autism.

Their theory is that if mercury causes autism (which it doesn't) then removing the mercury will cure the autism. This leads alternative therapists to use chelation on people who will not get any benefit from the treatment. Chelationists treat for Mercury and other heavy metals without even testing to see if there is an excess amount of the metal in the victim's system.

EDTA, is just one of many chelating agents. This appears to be the agent of choice for many people, despite the fact that it is relatively ineffective in removing mercury. EDTA is administered intraveneously, where the much more effective DSMA is simply taken as a pill. Apart from being able to charge more for an IV treatment then a pill, it is hard to understand why EDTA would have been used.

So, will this needless death stop the chelationists? Not likely! Today I received a copy of an e-mail that is already being sent to medical and alternative practitioners. This e-mail is from a doctor who believes that mercury causes autism and offers EDTA chelation therapy. The letter warns people to ignore the upcoming poor media, claims that there has NEVER been an EDTA death when it is administered correctly and confirms "I hope those who have experience with it in their practice are NOT GOING TO STOP USING it.."

Straight from the horse's mouth. No talk about starting to look at the reality of no link between autism and vaccinations, no talk about not using the outdated and ineffective EDTA, no talk about stopping a practice which has no solid scientific evidence behind it.

"There is only one truth. How we interpret that truth is called belief."
"The existence of belief does not indicate the prescence of truth"

As further information comes to light and as I complete further research, this topic will be updated.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Prince Charles Charity Promotes Health Fraud

Australia's future head of state has just launched a promotion enticing doctors become involved in health fraud. Through his registered charity, The Prince of Wales's Foundation for Integrative Health, Doctors are being encouraged to provide patients with herbal treatments and vitamins, rather than medications.

This from the same unreliable source who last year tried to get the government to research Gerson Therapy (carrot juice and coffee enemas) as a cancer cure. Now I enjoy a good hot cup of coffee as much as anyone, but I don't think I'll be tempted to try a coffee enema. I prefer to drink mine. Obviously no-one has told Prince Charles about the study in the Lancet showing high levels of Beta Carotene actually increase the risk of cancer. (especially in smokers)

The Gerson Institute is now operated by the founder's daughter. While the office is in San Diego, the treatments are performed in licensed clinincs, mostly operating out the Mexican town of Tijuana. Why Tijuana? you might ask. The US government frowns upon organisations that charge US$4,900 per week with treatments that have no evidence of effectiveness. That's right, there is no clear evidentiary proof that Gerson Therapy works. Working over the border in Mexico, they are not subject to US laws.

Gerson supporters will immediately point you to a book that supposedly details the successful treatment of 50 patients, but those claims do not hold up under closer scrutiny. A retired Australian Surgeon, Peter Moran, has delved into the so-called 50 cases and completed a case by case review. The review points out that in most cases the cancer was not confirmed before the treatment. Having patients being cancer-free is a bit easier, when they never had cancer in the first place. The US National Cancer Institute has also reviewed 10 cases, selected by Dr. Gerson's patients, but they were unable to say if it was the Gerson therapy that was responsible for the improved health as the patients were also having regular cancer treatment.

This is also a popular way to claim success. Have the patient undergo chemotherapy and eat a carrot. If they are cured, it must have been the carrott, if they die, it's proof that chemo is a failure.

It is clear that Prince Charles has no real idea about the way in which cancer works. That he uses his influence to promote fraud is bad enough, but how on earth does he manage to get this fraud promoting organisation to be tax-free and eligible for tax deductible donations. Is this the type of person that Australians want as our next head of state? Is this the type of person who should be giving any medical advice at all? Would Prince Charles forgo conventional treatment and rely on Gerson Therapy if he was diagnosed with cancer?

Being advised that you have cancer can be a severe blow. It's something that only those of us who have been through it will ever really understand. While it may be tempting to try a "natural alternative", the consequences of that decision are devastating. A small study at the Westmead hospital in Sydney, Australia on breast cancer patients, showed that those with operable cancer who elected to delay conventional treatment to trial alternative therapies, had their cancer metastasize (spread to other parts of the body) by the time they decided the alternative treatment was not working.

The "natural alternative" may not kill you, but it may delay treatment so that a curable cancer does kill you. Dr. Crea, as quoted in a newspaper interview, said "There is no alternative therapy to cure a breast cancer. Women can think there is if they like, but they end up dead."

"There is only one truth. How we interpret that truth is called belief."
"The existence of belief does not indicate the prescence of truth"

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Home treatments put children in danger

Research by the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne has shown that parents had given more than half of their patients, treatments that are untested or have failed testing. In the majority of cases, the treatment was decided on advice from family and friends, not from anyone with medical training. What is more alarming, is that two-thirds of parents treating their children with these untested and failed remedies never discuss the use of the treatments with their doctor. (Links to study not yet available on-line)

This is a major concern as the various herbs, vitamins and other treatments can interact with real medicine. Herbs such as St John’s Wort and Ginko Biloba and some vitamins are known to magnify the effect of certain medications, while making others ineffective. It is vital for the health of each child, that doctors know what children are being given at home.

While we all need a certain amount of vitamins to be healthy, there is little evidence that taking vitamins in large doses is beneficial. In fact, with some vitamins, there is ample evidence that it can do more harm than good.

Several studies have shown a link between Vitamin A and osteoporosis. A 2004 study showed an alarming correlation between food allergies and children taking multivitamin supplements at an early age.

A healthy balanced diet should provide more than enough of the essential vitamins to avoid illness. If you are concerned that your children may not have enough vitamins, it is far safer to open the fridge and grab some fruit or vegetables, than to grab for a bottle of pills.

If in doubt, see your doctor first.

"There is only one truth. How we interpret that truth is called belief."
"The existence of belief does not indicate the prescence of truth"

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Echinacea another proven "natural" dud

For years, the promoters of Echinacea and the majority of the health fraud industry has been peddling the lie that Echinacea is effective in preventing and/or reducing the symptoms of the common cold.

In yet another study, this one published in the New England Journal of Medicine, (NEJM) showed that Echinacea is no more effective than a placebo. The recent study was not the first to show this type of result and I imagine it will not be the last.

In addition to people forking out hard earned money for something that is ineffective, you also have to contend with the prospect of spending your hard earned money on pills that don't actually contain Echinacea in the quantites noted on the label. A study done by the Australian Consumers Association and published in their magazxine "Choice" showed that the amount of active ingredients vary widely from brand to brand (and even between batches of the same brand). What's more, the concentration listed on the label was no indication of the amount of active ingredient in the tablets.

The brand that boasted the greatest concentration of echinacea, actually contained no chicoric acid at all and had one of the lowest concentrations of alkylamides.

If you're tempted to try echinacea for a cold, don't bother. It doesn't work. Even if it did, in Australia, you just don;t know what your actually buying when you get a bottle that has echinacea written on the side of the bottle.

"There is only one truth. How we interpret that truth is called belief."
"The existence of belief does not indicate the prescence of truth"

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Death by natural causes

As someone who has asthma, I know that asthma can kill. As a parent of a child with asthma, I know how important it is to seek urgent medical care if a major asthma attack occurs. Luckily, this situation has not occurred to me, yet.

In Seattle, the parents of Megan Wilson also knew to seek medical attention. Unfortunately, they did not understand that naturopaths are not medically trained and most have very little understanding of the science and reality behind most illnesses. When confronted by anxious parents with a child that was obviously having a severe asthma attack, the "natural health clinic" treated the condition with acupuncture, a B-12 injection and a tincture. As a result of not getting the medical care that was needed, the girl died.

Acupuncture has an effect on the human body, in the same way that scratching can soothe an itch. The counter irritation can cause the body to release chemicals to reduce pain. However, carefully controlled trials prove that the location of the needles is irrelevant. The location of special meridian points corresponding to different parts of the body has been shown to be a furphy. These points exist on many charts in many natural therapy offices, but they do not exist on the human body.

While there are thousands of articles to be found in "natural" and "alternative" magazines and internet sites claiming how effective this treatment is, a search of medical journals produces much less evidence. I could not locate a single trial of Vitamin B-12 as a treatment for acute asthma.

The other "treatment" used, was a tincture. This is the term for a homeopathic solution. Those who know the reality of homeopathy, would call it water. A tincture is a highly diluted solution that follows the ridiculous theory that the more you dilute something, the stronger it gets. What's more the item being diluted is chosen based on the old and disproven theory of like cures like. If you have an eye infection that makes your eyes water, onions will cure it because they make your eyes water as well.

The end result was that the child was not provided with medical treatment that could have saved her life. The investigation into the incident has now focussed on the naturopath, who claims to have advised the parents to take the child to the hospital. The parents claim that no such advice was provided.

The most infuriating part is that there was a hospital across the road. The child was so close to someone that could treat her, yet that treatment was withheld in favour of bogus therapies that did nothing to stop this preventable death.

What is the reaction of the naturopath involved?

'It's crap, bullshit stuff,' Dr. Lucinda Messer says of the Wilsons' charges of negligence. She asserts that it’s the Wilsons who were negligent for shunning conventional medical help. 'There was so much neglect here.' (Published by Seattle Weekly, June 8-14, 2005)

We have a person who holds themselves out to be a primary care provider and is licensed to do so in the State of Washington. This is a person then blames the parents for choosing her as a primary care provider. The first comment of the above quote explains what I think of that defence.

Asthma can kill. If you or someone in your care has a severe asthma attack, seek advice from a real medical doctor, not some "natural" healer pretending to play doctor.

"There is only one truth. How we interpret that truth is called belief."
"The presence of belief, does not indicate the existence of truth."

Monday, June 06, 2005

No insurance for bogus therapies

Australian health funds have been heavily advertising on television about the range of alternative therapies that they will now provide cover for. One advertisement shows two men in traditional chinese dress rushing out of the back of an ambulance to "help" a man injured on the side of the road.

Rather than competing for customers based on which fund can provide the most outrageous and worthless treatment, I'd like to see a fund advertise that they can keep their premiums low because they only cover proven treatments. That's a fund that would certainly get my business.

Australia could learn a thing or two from the recent decision in Switzerland. The Swiss government has determined that homeopathy, herbal medicine, traditional chinese medicine, neural therapy and anthroposophic medicine would no longer be covered under basic health insurance. These treatments have failed to meet the health insurance laws that demand therapies be cost effective, suitable and actually work.

Heaven forbid, imagine the gall of the Swiss government to actually insist that a medical treatment work before being covered by insurance. It's a pity the Australian insurers don't follow the Swiss lead.

How can claiming hundreds of dollars for water (aka homeopathic treatment) from a health insurance fund not be considered insurance fraud? Surely, claiming to have the mythical chiropractic subluxations corrected would also qualify as insurance fraud.

"There is only one truth. How we interpret that truth is called belief."
"The presence of belief, does not indicate the existence of truth."

Monday, May 02, 2005

Toxic Fluoride

Over the last couple of weeks, I have had a debate with an anti-fluoride opponent in the letters to the editor section of my local newspaper. The anti-fluoride debate is filled with half-truths and misinformation similar to that found with the anti-vaccination movement and most other areas of health fraud.

It can be easy to be mislead when it comes to scientific information. Much of the confusion can be traced to the use of particular words and phrases. Below is a list of claims made by my opponent and the full facts.

1. Fluoride is toxic.
A. Technically, this is correct. If you consume enough fluoride it can kill you. But then, virtually everything has a toxic level if you have enough. The dose at where 50% of people will die (LD50) from fluoride (Hydrofluorosilicic acid) is 933mg per kg. For a 75kg person, you would need 69,975mg. The concentration of fluoridated water is 1 mg per litre. So the 75kg person would have to sit and drink 69,975 litres of fluoridated water to receive a lethal dose.

2. Fluoride is industrial waste from fertiliser production.

B. This is a half-truth. Fluoride is a by-product of the fertiliser industry. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral. It is found in areas that also have high levels of phosphate, which is used as fertiliser. The extraction of fluoride from the fertiliser manufacturing is more accurately described as a by-product, not an industrial waste. Molasses is leftover from sugar processing, yet few would call it industrial waste.

3. The untreated industrial waste must be disposed of in a licensed hazardous waste facility.

C. This is true. The untreated waste from the fertiliser manufacturing must be disposed of correctly. However, the purified by-product, fluoride is not "untreated industrial waste". Why would companies go to the trouble of extracting the fluoride if it is just going to be dumped as waste? It is not the fluoride content that makes the waste dangerous. Phosphates in the river systems lead to algal blooms, fish kills etc. This is why the waste must be disposed of carefully.

4. Only 50% of fluoride we ingest each day is excreted through the kidneys, the remainder accumulates in our bones, pineal gland tissues causing other problems.

D. The excretion rate varies from individual to individual, but around 50% is not uncommon. A substance that accumulates in the body is not necessarily a bad thing. The fluoride is absorbed by the bones and teeth, making them stronger. This is the main reason for placing fluoride in the water in the first place. The original Hydrofluorosilicic acid can react to form non-toxic, inert compounds. One must also consider how much fluoride leaves the body whenever a tooth is lost!

If all of the fluoride remains in it's original form and 50% is excreted by the kidneys, a 75kg person drinking 2 litres of fluoridated water per day would take 191 years to accumulate a lethal dose.

5. I believe in the precautionary principle, If in doubt, leave it out.

E. This is something that I also agree with. In the case of fluoride, there is no doubt. There are decades of tests, studies and practical experience showing the safety and effectiveness of placing fluoride in the water. There is almost unanimous support for fluoridation by the scientific community. There will always be some who disagree, but this is natural when it comes to things scientific.

To place things into perspective, caffeine, which can be found in coffee, tea, chocolate, guarana and many other items is 4.8 times more toxic than the fluoride being placed into the water. I don't remember seeing people writing to ban coffee.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Another Australian Detox Death

Australian Naturopath Jeffrey Dummett was "helping" a patient by placing him on a detox diet. The patient stopped his dialysis to go on the detox program recommended by Dummett. The patient lost 11 kilos in 10 days. He also lost his life.

Investigations have discovered that many of the naturopath's qualifications cannot be verified. Then again, in Australia it doesn't matter if qualifications are held or not, as none are required.

This is not the first time that Mr. Dummett has been in trouble for his treatment of patients. The 2003 annual report of the New South Wales Medical Board mentioned Mr. Dummett and his activities.

"Last year the Board prosecuted Jeffery Dummett, an unregistered person for holding himself out as being entitled, qualified or willing to practice medicine or perform a medical service. He was convicted, fined and placed on a bond. This year the Board again prosecuted him for similar offences and he was convicted in relation to that prosecution."

The conviction was mentioned in a press release by the New South Wales Health Minister Craig Knowles.

"A recently discredited procedure was the Live Blood Cell Analysis by which a self-proclaimed naturopath claimed he could diagnose illnesses by examining a pinprick of a patient's blood under a microscope and devise treatments to cure whatever disease was found.

"But the naturopath, Jeffrey Dummett was fined almost $34,000 and court costs in May this year for making false health claims as expert medical evidence found Dummet's claims could not possibly be true. However, under current arrangements this does not prevent other spivs hawking the same technique.

Australian consumers beware. When you see a naturopath or other alternative medicine practitioner, you are placing your health in the hands of somebody who will provide services that are not supported by science, but by superstition.

"There is only one truth. How we interpret that truth is called belief."
"The presence of belief, does not indicate the existence of truth."

Monday, April 25, 2005

The return of Ephedra

Ephedra is naturally occuring substance with it's active ingredient being Ephedrine.

Ephedrine is a stimulant, with pseudoephedrine being one of the ingredients used to manufacture amphetamine, more commonly known as the drug speed. Because Ephedra comes naturally from a plant the DSHEA laws in the US, allowed ephedra to be promoted as a "natural" health product.

There were many promotions claiming that ephedra made your metabolism speed up, buring off fat at a faster rate and that it enhanced athletic performance. When combined with other stimulants, such as caffeine, the result can be dangerous. Importantly, there are no studies or tests proving that ephedra acts on the human body as stated by the promoters.

The popularity of ephedra climbed, as did the body count. When 23 year old athelete, Steve Bechler, a promising baseball player for the Baltimore Orioles died, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) finally acted to have the substance banned. The FDA weighed the benefits of ephedra against the risks and determined that with no proven benefit, that any amount was too great to risk.

Unfortunately, that decision has been overturned in a recent court case. An ephedra supplier, Nutraceutical Corporation claimed the FDA was wrong to ban it's product that would only supply 10mg on ephedrine if taken as labelled. The court ruled that the FDA was incorrect to use the risk/benefit model in determining the safety of a substance. the court concluded that with no study showing that ephedra at 10mg per day is dangerous, the decision to ban the product was wrong.

Now, wait a minute. There is no scientific evidence that ephedra provides any benefit at all. There is evidence that ephedra is dangerous at higher copncentrations. This shows that the DSHEA laws are working exactly as they were intended. Not to protect the public against dangerous and unproven substances, but to protect those who wish to sell these unproven treatments without having to provide any evidence that they work.

Those in Australia and New Zealand thinking that this is one of those "only in America" stories, I have some bad news. The Australian body that regulates medicines, the Therapuetic Goods Administration (TGA) has similar rules. Listed items (SCAM) are not required to show any scientific evidence of efficacy. Regardless of the rules, there are always companies willing to sell banned products.

Surely, any item that is being sold to the public with health claims should be required to be able to prove those claims. Our current system where you can sell anything until there is proof that the substance kills would be laughable, if it was not responsible for so many deaths each year.

Health & medicine must be based on scientific fact, not superstition and faith.

"There is only one truth. How we interpret that truth is called belief."
"The presence of belief, does not indicate the existence of truth."

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Mercury Rising???

Those who believe the false claim that the mercury used in dental amalgams causes all manner of illnesses, including autism have long promoted a video that they claim shows the mercury vapour being given off by a tooth.

The tooth is warmed to 37C in a water bath. Ultraviolet light is used with a fluorescent screen to show the "mercury vapour". The vapour absorbs the ultrviolet light, which then shows on the flourescent screen. For those who have seen the video it looks pretty conclusive. That is until you start to look at some of the science behind the claim.

Mercury vapour is not the only gas that absorbs ultraviolet light. Water vapour just happens to be another gas that absorbs UV light strongly.

The gas from the tooth rises, whereas mercury is very heavy. Jim Laidler provided the following calculations:

Mercury has a very high molecular weight (200 grams per mole) when compared with the nitrogen (28 grams per mole) and oxygen (32 grams per mole) that make up the atmosphere. Water, on the other hand, has a molecular weight of only 18 grams per mole.

Now, bear with me.

When molecules vaporize, the volume they fill depends on the number of molecules and their temperature. At standard temperature and pressure (STP - one atmosphere and 0 degrees C), that volume is 22.414 liters per mole. At room temperature (20 degrees C), the volume expands to 24.055 liters per mole. (at 37 degrees C - body temperature - it is 25.452 liters per mole) Whether a gas will rise or sink depends on the difference (if any) between that gas and the surrounding gas. Hot air rises because the same mass of "air molecules" expands to fill a larger volume. Since density is mass divided by volume, the hot air is less dense than the surrounding cooler air and so rises.

Since air is a mixture of 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen (and a few other gasses), it has an "averaged" molecular weight of 28.8 grams per mole.

Therefore, its density at room temperature is:
28.8 grams per mole / 24.055 liters per mole = 1.20 grams per liter

Water vapor at 37 degrees C has a density of:
18 grams per mole / 25.452 liters per mole = 0.71 grams per liter
Water vapor at 37 degrees C will rise in room temperature air, as a result.

Mercury vapor at 37 degrees C:
200 grams per mole / 25.452 liters per mole = 7.86 grams per liter

In layman's terms, what Mr. Laidler is showing is that mercury vapour is much heavier than the normal air, where water vapour is lighter. If this was mercury, the gas would sink, not rise. If we have a rising vapour coming from a tooth in heated water, then what we are seeing is water vapour, NOT mercury vapour.

If the anti-amalgam proponents are peddling false information about what gas is rising from the tooth in their video, what else are they saying that is untrue?

"There is only one truth. How we interpret that truth is called belief."
"The presence of belief, does not indicate the existence of truth."

Monday, April 04, 2005

Wheatgrass? Why-grass?

Last week, a couple of fellow workers were discussing wheatgrass juice in the lunch-room.

They mentioned that although expensive at $5 for a small shot-glass (est. 30ml) of the stuff and despite it tasting horrible it was worth it because of it's health benefits. Of course, they could not specifically mention exactly what wheatgrass does that is good for you, just that it is healthy.

This prompted me to start searching for information on the health benefits of wheatgrass. Unfortunately, pubmed comes up blank, as does quackwatch (apart from being mentioned as an ineffective anti-cancer treatment).

The search for reliable data that shows wheatgrass to have positive health benefits has come up blank. The closest I could get was a Dutch study on rats showing that a diet that had Chlorophyll (found in wheat grass) was better than a diet which was almost exclusively red meat.

Doctors, dietitians, schools and various other organisations have been putting the message forward to eat a balanced diet that contains fresh fruit and vegetables. While wheatgrass is unlikely to do any harm, for the same $5, you could buy a kilo and a half of broccoli or a couple of bunches of spinach. Eating these would provide much more chlorophyll (as well as vitamin B) and give the added advantage of providing more fibre than in the juice.

I often wonder where these stories come from about the health benefits of certain items. Regardless of the source, at $5 for around 30ml, I'm sure there are growers and health food shops laughing all the way to the bank.

I'll continue to spend my money of broccoli, rather than wheatgrass juice. From a parent's point of view, why buy something expensive that the kids won't eat, when they have been eating the cheaper, tastier version for years?

"There is only one truth. How we interpret that truth is called belief."
"The presence of belief, does not indicate the existence of truth."

Sunday, March 20, 2005

The fight continues

Anyone stumbling across this blog, (I'm enough of a realist to acknowledge the chance of people reading on a regular basis is remote) may note that it has been months since my last post. Between trying to rear a child single handed, settling into a new full time job and keeping a local welfare organisation running in my local community, I have had little time to write material. In fact, this weekend I was seriously contemplating giving up both this blog and my involvement in the Healthfraud discussion newsgroup.

Two posts from the discussion group prompted me not only to stay involved, but to make this post and put aside at least 1 hour each week to make more posts. Last weekend, I heard of another 3 innocent children that have lost their lives due to the scourge that is alternative medicine.

9 year old Rachel Bundy died of what is believed to be viral meningitis after being ill for about a month. Her parents did not get real medical help, but relied upon S.C.A.M. to treat their child. The news article does not state exactly what S.C.A.M. treatment was used, but does mention a logbook of treatments and that the police are investigating homeopathy. It looks like this may be yet another case of death by water.

For those who are not familiar with homeopathy, I recommend you read some of the articles listed on Paul Lee's Homeolinks site. For a harder edged and less tactful view, read Peter Bowditch's article titled "All the idiocy that fits". For those who wants the short answer, it's water (shaken, not stirred) or if in tablet form, it's sugar.

Many people have told me that there is nothing wrong with natural medicine, that homeopathy can't do any damage. 9 year old Rachel Bundy appears to be another example of how wrong these people are. While technically, the homeopathic treatment may not kill, withholding real medical treatment from a child for a month, while expecting mere water to cure certainly can.

Homeopathy kills by preventing or delaying the administering of real medical care.

The other post was a story about 2 children, aged 2 and 4 who were shot by their mother, Charlene Dorcy. Charlene suffers from paranoid Schizophrenia and had been on medication for the condition. Unfortunately, she decided to swap her scientifically proven medication for unproven herbal remedies, that are rumoured to have fewer side effects. The end result is that her condition worsened and she killed her two children.

We will never know if the deaths would have been avoided if the correct medication had been used, but we must question why an untested herbal treatment was substituted for a proven medical treatment. Are these two more children that could have been saved if not for the intervention by S.C.A.M.?

Both of these incidents occurred outside Australia's door, but it makes you wonder why in Australia, our government allows unlicensed, unqualified, untrained people to make recommednations such as taking a homeopathic treatment or stop taking medicine in exchange for an untested herbal remedy.

I downloaded a copy of the report into the Australian S.C.A.M. industry that was released recently after the Pan Pharmacueticals debacle. The laws in Australia require no evidence of efficacy, just label the ingredients correctly. Pan failed to even get that right.

For reigniting the fire within I would like to thank fellow Australian and oncologist Peter Moran for posting the Rachel Bundy information, Dr Terry Polevoy for posting the Charlene Dorcy case and Peter Bowditch & Paul Lee for allowing me to link their web-sites.

Why do we bother? "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke (1729-1797)

The following comment was posted, but I can't get it to come up on the comments section, so have added the comment to the original article.

Peter Bowditch said...

For some reason, Mr William P O'Neill of the Canadian Cancer Research Group chooses to attempt to be anonymous. He fails. For more about Mr O'Neill you can go here, and you can see him in Gutless Anonymous Liar mode here.This comment was posted by Peter Bowditch, who is not afraid to use his own name when challenging people who lie and commit fraud.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Toxic Ginseng

One of the dangers with "herbal" medicine, is that you never really know what it is that you are getting. This danger was made even clearer on December 16th when the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) had to seize imported Ginseng that was contaminated with pesticide chemicals, including procymidone and quintozene.

There is no declared safe limit for these two chemicals in food. As a result the FDA have obtained a court order to seize the Ginseng and warn consumers that the contaminated Ginseng is currently on the market. It is not known how widespread the contaminated Ginseng has been distributed.

The contamination was first discovered on July 23rd with a warning being issued on October 4th. A further warning was issued October 21st, but it appears that the company did not comply with the requests of the FDA, requiring firmer action to be taken.

With the time lag between the discovery of the contamination and the seizing of the Ginseng, I can only wonder how many people have been affected by this product. Particularly when the toxic fact-sheet for procymidone advises it can affect male fertility and is unsafe to unborn babies. Proof again that "Natural" and "Safe" are not the same thing.

Under the DSHEA Act, this Ginseng is classed as a food and not a medicinal product. Therefore, it is not required to be tested prior to sale, nor is it required to be proven effective at treating any health condition.

"There is only one truth. How we interpret that truth is called belief."
"The presence of belief, does not indicate the existence of truth."

Sunday, November 07, 2004

De-tox in sweat lodge kills 37 y.o.

A 37 y.o. Melbourne man died and a 30 year old man is still in hospital after spending time in a sweat lodge. This is not the first time that a sweat lodge has been responsible for a death in Australia. A 30 year old Byron Bay woman died last year in a similar incident that apparently included a ceremony where snake poison was ingested.

For the unwary, a sweat lodge is a native american teepee that is filled with hot rocks. The victims close themselves into the teepee and pour water onto the rocks to create a steam tent. It is said to remove toxins and align the mind, body and spirit. The chanting and consumption of dangerous substances is supposed to make the process more spiritually uplifting.

Detoxification is a common feature of alternative medicine, but I have yet to find anyone who can name the toxins that need to be removed from the body or explain how each treatment will remove these toxins.

If toxins accumulated in the body as is now suggested by practitioners of "natural medicine" then the human race would have died out centuries ago. There were no detox diets for the knights of the middle ages.

While many people swear by the detox system, there is no valid scientific evidence to suggest that they have any positive effect at all, apart from making the promoters richer. While the chance of death is still small the total lack of discernable benefit makes detoxification treatments too risky.

If anyone suggests a detox sytem for you, ask for the details in writing and report it to your local health and consumer affairs advocate. Maybe a few charges of misleading advertising will make these people think twice about promoting bogus therapies.

"There is only one truth. How we interpret that truth is called belief."
"The presence of belief, does not indicate the existence of truth."