What Doctors Don’t Tell You don’t tell you

November 21st, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Apparently, one of the most misused terms being hurled at What Doctors Don’t Tell You, as a rebuttal, is the term ‘science’.

We have been accused of being unscientific, of pedalling unproven and harmful alternatives, as opposed to the real thing, true ‘scientific’ medicine.

Says Lynne McTaggart. But instead of rebutting the accusations that the stuff contained in WDDTY is at best nonsense, and at worst dangerous, Lynne McTaggart goes on the attack and accuses conventional medicine of not being “remotely scientific”.

To prove her point, Lynne gives three examples of why science is not scientific…

1. Most of the science behind standard treatments is fiction. As leading members of the medical establishment have made clear in recent books, the so-called ‘proof’ of most so-called ‘proven remedies’ is data that has been invented or manipulated by drug company marketing teams.

2. Most treatments haven’t been proven to work. The British Medical Journal has concluded that only about 12 per cent of all medical treatments have adequate evidence demonstrating that they work.

3. Most treatments cause harm. Modern medicine is the third leading cause of death in the western world. Fact. Prescribed drugs and medical error kills 204,000 people every year in America alone, with only cancer and heart disease claiming more

I’m assuming reason one is a reference to Ben Goldacre and his Bad Science and Bad Pharma books. Not being within the Medical Establishment, I don’t know if he is a leading member of it or not. There is undoubtably manipulation of results by the pharmaceutical industry, it could be so much more transparent, with better publication of negative results and other stuff, but to call it all a fiction and for most medicines to not have any proof of er, proof of umm… efficacy? Science?

I’m gonna let Lynne have item number two, as I don’t have the figures to refute the ‘most’ at the beginning of that point. Thanks to a commenter on Lynnes’ post, we can see that there is more than 12% of all medical treatments can demonstrate they work. Lynne doesn’t link to anything to back up her claims. Make of that what you will.

What Lynne is referring to with the ‘12%’ is this. (We’ll not quibble over 1%, eh?)


So, 11% of treatments reported as having beneficial effects. There’s another category, Trade-offs Between Benefits and Harms, with 7%. This one has, if the title is anything to go by, also adequate evidence the treatment works, otherwise the category would be labeled “likely to be…”. These treatments may have side effects, but they are still have benefits. Not possible benefits, but actual benefits.

So that 19% of treatments that do work.

Now, lets explore this curious category of “Unlikely to be beneficial”.

‘Unknown effectiveness’ is perhaps a hard categorisation to explain. Included within it are many treatments that come under the description of complementary medicine

‘Unknown effectiveness’ may also simply reflect difficulties in conducting RCTs [Random Controlled Trials] of an intervention…

Considering the difficulties of getting homeopathy and other alternative medicines to consistently return positive results in RCTs then it’s not surprising that they are in the ‘unknown’ category. (Why they’re not in the more negative categories is a long story and not for this post). But if this is the medicine doctors’ won’t tell you vs the medicine doctors will tell you, then you need to take out of the soup of numbers all the alternative medicines and then see what percentage of treatments are beneficial, otherwise, it’s 11% of all treatments, not just the ones proven by the so-called scientific method, which is what Lynne is stating.

Moving on to number three, that most treatments cause harm, is completely unsubstantiated. Lynne states that modern medicine is the leading cause of death of death in the western world is a ridiculous claim. Adding “Fact” after it doesn’t make it one. Apparently the leading cause of death is ischemia and not ‘modern medicine’.

I’ve no idea where Lynne got her figures from for the amount of people killed in the USA by prescribed drugs and medical errors, but the next cause down after heart disease and cancer in America is strokes, with 129,476 deaths.

Next Lynne starts talking about data from the Alliance for Natural Health. Read their views on vaccines and make your own mind up. Reading their opinion on Wakefield and MMR should tell you all you need to know.

Let’s look at so-called ‘unscientific’ natural health care, which supposedly causes so much harm.

Yes, Lynne. Lets look at some more figures.

The risk of dying from taking any herbal remedy or food supplement is around 0.01 per one million people. In other words, 100 million people would have to take a supplement or herb before there is a risk of one person dying because of it.

Compare that to the risk of pharmaceutical drugs, which kill 1000 people for every million people taking them.

So that risk is: 0.01/1 million for natural substances vs 1000/1 million for drugs. In other words, the risk of lethal harm from modern medicine is 100,000 higher than that of herbal or nutritional medicine.

Firstly, Lynne seems to think that ‘herbal remedies’, ‘food supplements’ and ‘natural substances’ seem to be interchangeable. They’re not. Food supplements are different to herbal remedies and ‘natural substances’ is such a vague term it’s meaningless. But I digress. Those figures Lynne quotes are completely meaningless without pitting them against how many people had their condition improved. How many people took drugs and got better compared to how many took drugs and didn’t get better, with the same for alternative treatments. Then you’ll see a meaningful ratio for the effectiveness and risk of the various treatments. I’d be willing to bet, a higher proportion of people may have died from conventional medicine than Complimentary Alternative Medicine (CAM), but CAM would’ve successfully treated a much lower proportion, if any at all.

This beggars the basic question: which form of medicine is the least scientific?

Even with the capitalist manipulation of results from Big Pharma etc, you’ll find CAM is.

Lyne then waffles about science becoming rigid, and closed minded, in the usual way of someone fighting against the conspiracy of Big Pharma – Science has been captured by scientism, and so on.

In this post I have shown that Lynne uses the same techniques she accuses mainstream medicine of using to prove their case. When CAM can be explained, and shown to work using proper random controlled trials and not just anecdote, conjecture and made up words, then it will be taken seriously.

Until then, I’d rather listen to what my doctor does tell me than What Doctors Don’t Tell You tell me.

Homeopathy: all things to all men

February 12th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Via Gimpy’s blog (this post about homeopaths launching a hate campaign again Dr Evan Harris MP), I ended up at the Homeopathy Heals site. I will admit that I don’t read homeopathic stuff much. Why bother? It’s a load of old wank. I read various skeptics, if that is the right word for these guys that believe medicine should be subjected to proper trials with replicable, provable results, because they’re a good read with various levels of shock/outrage/’wtf-ness’/humour.

I’m not sure why though, but I though I would have a look at this Homeopathy Heals site. There’s nothing here that will surprise you, but anyway here is my tuppence on homeopathy.

You cannot randomly take homeopathic medicines, as they will only work, when carefully selected, for something that needs curing.


If a medicine has an active ingredient then there will be an effect, whether you are ill or not. That effect may not be the desired one, but there will be an effect. So, just remind me again why no one can overdose on homeopathic medicine?

Of course homeopaths know that one dose of however many pills taken together in one go, is the equivalent of only one dose, because each dose is a stimulus and it is the time frame that counts.


Oh, of course. The quantity of the supposedly active ingredient doesn’t matter. One dose of homeopathy is one dose when taken as instructed until someone takes large quantities and then they’re still taking only one dose. What is a dose of homeopathy is elastic, depending on how much you are actually taking.

Presumably then, homeopaths only put a teeny-weeny amount of the active ingredient in their medicine not because only a specific amount is needed or too much will be harmful, but to keep costs down.

But if the dose of homeopathy is a stimulus, it kick starts the body into healing itself, then surely a larger quantity of the bollox-in-a-bottle will stimulate more. Once again, this resulting stimulation may have an adverse effect and make someone iller rather than better, but it would have a effect. Wouldn’t you have thought?

According to it’s practitioners homeopathy is has no side effects. It doesn’t matter how much you take you can’t overdose. It is non-addictive, works fast in acute conditions, slow in chronic ones. Safe for everyone including animals and is cheap (apparently). It has, miraculously, no downsides at all.

It all sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? And we know what they say about things that are too good to be true, don’t we.

Via Le Canard Noir
(all links to the Homeopathy Heals site are rel=”nofollow”)

Only enough for half the population

April 28th, 2009 § 2 comments § permalink

Armageddon is on it’s way. We are all doomed

How dangerous is it?

Symptoms of swine flu in humans appear to be similar to those produced by standard, seasonal flu.

These include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, chills and fatigue.

Most cases so far reported around the world appear to be mild, but in Mexico lives have been lost

You see, lives are being lost and a couple of people here in Britain might have it too!

The Daily Mail, is of course trying to calm it’s readers down and reassure them that life, as we know it, will go on. Or maybe not. lets have a look

Private health firms have seen a surge in sales of anti-viral drugs folowing (sic) concerns that the Health Service would be unable to meet demand if a swine flu pandemic broke out.

Well, that’s the first box ticked. The NHS may not be able to cope. I wondered who’s concerned? It’s a pity we’re not told.

One company told the Daily Mail it had sold Tamiflu to 25,000 customers in one day, a further sign that swine flu panic is spreading

25,000? That’s a good days business by anyone standards. Surely the panic can’t be fuelled by our drama-queen press, though. Can it?

The firm, Healthcare Connections, said individuals were getting in touch because they did not believe they would be able to get the powerful drugs from the health service if there was a mass outbreak.

And we’re back to knocking the NHS. Why would people think that? Has the NHS suddenly become a haorder, unable to let go of anything?

The NHS has more than 33million doses of antiviral drugs – enough for more than half of the population – but there are fears the NHS would not have the capacity to get them to those who might need them.

The NHS unable to get drugs to the general population? Who fears it? Why do ‘they’ fear it? Have ‘they’ forgotten about the hundreds, if not thousands of pharmacies in the UK? This drug is a pill, it needs no special skills to actually administer the thing, unlike an injection.

Current plans are for those with symptoms to nominate a friend or relative without symptoms to pick up Tamiflu packs (pictured) from local NHS despatching centres, probably hospitals and clinics.

And pharmacies, maybe? They are the usual route for drugs to be dispensed (or is it called despatching now?) to non-hospitalised patients.
I love this next bit…

But there could be queues of thousands.

Isn’t it great? Everyone in your town, queued up at the same time, for the chemist. The line winding its’ way around the town. No cars on the road and everything else closed because everyone’s queued up to get they’re antidote to the biggest threat to mankind since, ooh, bird flu.

Healthcare Connections sidesteps this problem by dispatching the drugs to the customer’s front door when they are needed.

Thank goodness someones on the ball. Healthcare Connections are the only ones quoted in this Mail story. Would it be cynical of me to suggest this may be turning into an ‘infomercial’?

Louise Lloyd, from the company, said: ‘We make sure there are some of these drugs in the warehouse with your name on it. If there is a pandemic, and a medical adviser will confirm you need them, a car will be sent over with your drugs.

‘The Government does not have the infrastructure to do this.’

No. It wouldn’t be cynical.
Ok, Ms Lloyd. I probabably couldn’t argue against that point, But then the government deals in a slightly different magnitude of customers.
The government ‘only’ has enough of this drug for half the population and if it sent all those drugs out by car, which I doubt you do, as for £3.50 it’ll more than likely be a van on his rounds rather than a dedicated car as you make it sound, people like the Daily Mails’ readers, and of course the Taxpayers Alliance, would be apoplectic about a waste of money when all but the most isolated people (as in loneliest) can find someone to pop to the shops for them.
How many people can you supply? Not 30-fucking-million. And you can send them however you want without anyone complaining because your customer is paying for it [from Healthcare Connections main site]…

You can purchase the Antiviral Protection Plan for just £11.99* per person per year.

So, that’s more than a prescription on the NHS already, which is £7.20.
Still doesn’t sound too bad, does it. £11.99 and you’ve got a dose guaranteed allocated to you., rather than the virtually, pretty much guaranteed for you on the NHS. But if you actually get a bout of the swine flu, it gets a bit more expensive going private…

The table below shows how an upgrade to the full plan cost is broken down; to illustrate where the costs are allocated.
Healthcare Connections will only charge you for your private doctor to patient consultation, private prescription and distribution when you need access to medication.

Antiviral drug cost from manufacturer……………… £16.36
DHL medical despatch secure delivery service……. £ 3.50
Doctor to patient web consultation………………… £18.55
Private prescription/dispensary…………………….. £10.59
Total……………………………………………………. £49.00
Plus VAT @15%

£11.99/year just in case and then £49 when then poo hits the propellor. Plus VAT, it ends up just over £70 to your door.
And for £7.20 and a bit of sweet talking the Missus, I have the same result.

I think that’s a win for the NHS, for a change, despite how The Mail spins it.

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