Thursday, October 28, 2004

Anti - vaccination group promoting children's playgroup.

This is a letter that I sent to a radio station after they promoted a children's playgroup under the name of an anti-vax group.


I was surprised to hear a Community Service Announcement this morning on your radio station promoting the organisation known as the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN). The fact that you promoted this organisation indicates that you may not be fully aware of the activities.

Firstly, the name they use is exceptionally misleading. They could be more accurately described as the Australian Anti-Vaccination Network. A look at their web-site should more than clarify this for you.

Despite millions being wasted on research showing that there is no link between vaccines and autism, (
1,2,5,6) world anti-vaccination groups, including the AVN, promote this non-existent risk as a tactic to scare parents into leaving their children unvaccinated. Anti-vaccinationists also claim vaccines cause cancer (3,4,5), ADHD (5), Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (6), Shaken Baby Syndrome (6) and numerous other illnesses.

Many deadly childhood diseases of the past are starting to make a comeback, as was seen in the recent Pertussis (whooping cough) outbreak in Adelaide (
7). This can be directly attributed to a falling vaccination rate, which in turn can be traced to the activities of organisations such as the AVN.

The activities of the anti-vaccinationists sunk to a new low, when they aligned themselves with a convicted child killer in the US (
8,9,13). The AVN and other anti-vaccination groups must be stopped. Promoting any of their activities is a dis-service to the community.

I have provided refernces to source material to support every claim in this letter, such as copies of letters, criminal records of Alan Yurko, published studies etc if you wish to check any of the information provided.

I suspect you have promoted this organisation based on false or incomplete information supplied by them. I simply request that you cease doing so, and alert other media outlets so they avoid making the same error.

Thank you for your time and assistance in keeping this insidious organisation away from vulnerable parents and safeguarding the health of our children.

Yours sincerely,

Kevin Paine (former victim of health fraud)
Australian Council Against Health Fraud

The station manager responded saying that they will re-considering the announcement.

One small step for fighting SCAM, one giant leap forward in the protection of our children's health.

(9) - Listed under "International Support Growing"
(10) - 23rd name left column Meryl Dorey - President AVN
(11) - Search for Alan Yurko
(12) - Journal Articles, Vol 20, No 2 Shaken baby Syndrome on shaky ground OR

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Court to decide fate of brain dead boy - Updated

The parents of Jesse Koochin in the US declared brain dead by doctors have taken court action to have him released into their care so they can have him brought back to life by alternative medicine. His father stated "We believe we can wake him up from the coma using vitamins, minerals, mineral baths."

Jesse had been diagnosed with cancer and had a large cancer removed from the brain. He also had radiation therapy to help fight the remaining cancer.

His parents then took him to Tijuana in Mexico, where "natural medicine" clinics operate without having to comply with US health laws. During his stay in Mexico, he slipped into a coma and his cancer had tripled in size. He returned to the US to see another "holistic" medicine practitioner, which resulted in him getting back into a real medical facility.

Now declared brain dead, the parents want to take him back to Mexico so the alternative medicine clinics can bring him back to life. The doctors have tested for brain activity twice and both tests came back negative. The body has reportedly started decomposing.

This is one of the worst type of health fraud cases and one that occurs more often than people may believe. Tijuana lays claim to a number of alternative medicine clinics that claim to be able to cure cancer, AIDS, autism and every other illness known to man. When all else fails, these clinics will provide false hope. They prey on the grief and desperation of those who are facing death and/or their carers.

There is no evidence that vitamins, minerals and mineral baths are able to cure death. In fact, there is no known cure for death. Anyone claiming to be able to cure death for money is a fraud, a fake and a charlatan. The Tijuana clinics need to be closed down and the people operating them put in jail and the keys thrown away.

I can feel for the parents who wish to see their son back, they are obviously desperate and prepared to do anything to have their son back. I hope the court makes the sensible decision and refuses the parents request.

More information has come to light in this case. After the radiation treatment, the doctors wanted to use chemotherapy to treat the cancer that could not be removed surgically. The parents refused and tried an untested "naturopathic" chemo treatment.

Jesse's parents had published their own web-site promoting how they had used Alternative Medicine to beat the cancer in their son. A google search shows that this site has been promoted as a success story to show how alternative medicine can beat cancer.

While there are a plethora of people who claim to be able to cure cancer with alternative medicine, the reality is less than impressive. The SCAM believers have to keep changing their examples of how their therapy cures cancer, because their victims keep dying.

I am reminded of a quote from Australian cancer surgeon, Dr Crea. Although he refers to breast cancer, the quote is still effective. "There is no alternative therapy to cure a breast cancer. Women can think there is if they like, but they end up dead."

With the size and severity of the cancer, the chances of survival were very low. To shun real medicine for quackery reduced the survival chances to zero.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Vitamins and fish oil improve reading & writing skills

A report by the Daily Mail claims to have shown that students who took vitamins and fish oil had improved reading and writing skills.

This is typical of the poor science and reporting that keeps perpetuating the myth that vitamins have special abilities. If you look at how the study was done, the reason for the better results from the students is fairly obvious.

The students who took part on the study took the vitamins and had 12 weeks of extra lessons. Yes believe it or not, in the world of SCAM, the extra lessons are ignored in order to come up with the conclusion that vitamins and fish oil improve brain power. Surely extra lessons for 12 weeks would have nothing to do with improved reading and writing skills, would it?

Rather than this bogus study, how about doing a study where all the children get the same lessons. Then give the students bottles of tablets to take. Some will contain the vitamins, some will contain fish oil and some will contain a placebo. (Something that looks and tastes the same but has no vitamin or fish oil).

Who is getting the vitamins and who is getting the placebo should be determined at random by someone independent of the school, students, teachers and the people measuring the improvement in ability. This information is to be kept secret until after the 12 week trial and after every single child has been tested and their improvement recorded.

Once the information has been recorded, then the code is broken so we can see who had the vitamins and who had the placebo. Lets see if those taking the vitamins did any better or worse than those on the placebo.

Supporters of SCAM will continue to conduct poorly designed studies like the one in the report to try and prove their point. The sick, the desperate and the ill-informed will continue to believe them, while the vitamin manufacturers will continue to make millions by selling useless pills based on false promises.

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

Saturday, October 02, 2004

"Auntie Who?"

Australian Television viewers may remember the response by a primary school child to his mother telling him that her tea was packed with anti-oxidants. "Auntie Who?"

It would be hard not to watch television, listen to radio or read a magazine without stumbling across the idea that anti-oxidants help to combat free radicals and reduce the chances of getting cancer.

This theory has been tested through the use of placebo controlled trials and found to be as truthful as most vitamin claims. Another case of health fraud.

In a review of 14 studies involving 170,000 people, tests have shown that taking the most common vitamin based anti-oxidants (Vitamins A, C, E, Beta Carotene and selenium) does not reduce the rate of cancer. In fact, Beta Carotene actually increases the risk of contracting lung cancer.

This report should have responsible SCAM peddlers ceasing to use the free radicals & anti-oxidant stories to sell their vitamin capsules. Sorry, I should have realised, that if they were responsible, they wouldn't be involved in an industry that specifically peddles treatments for which there is no evidence of efficacy.

Somehow I suspect that this story will be met with the usual claims of a conspiracy by "Big Pharma" to keep making money while watching people die, rather than allow the cheap and effective "natural" cure to cut into their profit.

I also suspect that some unscientific twaddle printed in a SCAM sheet masquarading as a medical journal will soon appear that refutes this latest study. Why not? I have already seen these so-called journals declare that praying has been proven to cure, even if the person didn't know they were recieving the prayers. I have seen people calling for the release and compensation to be paid to Yurko and any other child killers charged with shaking their babies to death. Many still continue to support the ultimate in stupidity, homeopathy.

The only thing that distilled water (i.e. homeopathy) has ever cured is thirst.