Given this blog’s commitment to tackling chromic disease by helping people change their lifestyle, I was delighted to discover that the BBC 1 was devoting its prime time 9.00 slot to a three part series about passionate young GP, Dr Rangan Chatterjee, who goes to stay with patients and turns their unhealthy lifestyle around.
Articles by: Jerome Burne
The sugar tax is obviously a very sensible idea but it’s much more than that. It’s prophetic, it’s a sign of a major change, it’s the swallow that could be heralding a medical summer. The tax is shorthand for a long running battle around what is a healthy diet, which turns out to be about a lot more than just diet.
Generally we don’t trust utopias. If they don’t remain fantasies but emerge into the real world, we expect them either to rapidly descent into rigid authoritarian hells or to disintegrate into factions and unproductive chaos.
It’s generally agreed that the NHS is not in good health but there’s no clear diagnosis. There are plenty of suggestions – lack of funding, uncompassionate nurses or box-ticking managers. But I want to suggest another one: the crisis in evidence based medicine (EBM).
If you aren’t confused about whether taking omega-3 will keep your brain sharp or is simply a waste of money, you haven’t been paying attention. Last week the media carried reports of a new study that found that taking a gram of fish oil a day didn’t protect elderly people from failing memory and poorer thinking skills.
Do you believe there is a new drug for Alzheimer’s just over the horizon? That there is no truth in the popular idea that B vitamins might cut your risk of getting this dreadful disease?
Well you are wrong on both counts but it’s not your fault, you’ve quite reasonably fallen for some very sophisticated marketing. Let me explain.
Professor Sir Rory Collins, the austere director of the institute in Oxford that produce much of the evidence supporting the increasing use of cholesterol –lowering statins, is in hot water once more. Last week he declared that he intended to investigate himself.
It’s no secret that there are serious problems with the practice of scientific evidence based medicine (EBM). It’s obviously a good idea to have a system for ensuring treatments are safe and effective. But as a defence against dangerous or poor drugs, the working of our current one makes the pre-crash banking regulation look rigorous.
As anyone who is involved with cancer knows, you have two options. Follow the standard, scientifically validated route – variations on surgery, drugs and radiotherapy – supported by proper clinical trials or venture into the unapproved, unlicensed territory of complementary medicine frequently described as quackery.
Here’s a radical idea. Why not use drugs for cases where they are appropriate, safe and effective. And don’t use them when they aren’t. Wild eh! It’s an idea that could save the NHS billions. Three clinicians I know are thinking along exactly these lines.