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Drug killing 10,000 in UK every year. How could you tell?

3 by / on 12 Feb 2014, / in evidence based medicine

Last week an email containing what looked like a great story arrived in my inbox – drug kills 800,000 in Europe in 5 years! A quick check revealed that that this was no wild or dodgy claim. It was based on research by a cardiologist at Imperial College Professor Darryl Francis, just published in the European Heart Journal.(Read more…)

How the TV bout Sugar vs. Fat was rigged

41 by / on 30 Jan 2014, / in low carb diet

Just how accurate and informative was BBC2’s Horizon program on Wednesday that aimed at scientifically answering the question: which is more deadly: Eating lots of sugar or lots of fat? The format was to feed two doctors who were also identical twins – Alex and Chris – unlimited amounts of one or the other. Alex got a low carb/high fat diet while Chris followed the traditional low fat/high carb diet with added the sugar. (Read more…)

Science and the great biomedical lottery

6 by / on 22 Jan 2014, / in evidence based medicine

Unfortunately for the rest of us today’s medical research is not driven by an abstract search for objective truth but by the need to produce a product. Unless there is a drug at the end of promising new line of research it’s unlikely to attract funding from the biggest payers – the drug companies. Instead it will be parked with the comment that it needs more research, the funding for which will be virtually impossible to obtain, however effective it is. (Read more…)

Vitamins – a waste of money or victims of bad science?

9 by / on 13 Jan 2014, / in vitamins

One New Year tradition, along with wondering how you could have spent so much on so little, is making healthy resolutions which may involve some sort of supplement. As a nutritional therapist I’ve been helping people for years to handle chronic disorders and stay healthier by recommending specific nutritional supplements based on risk, coupled with substantial changes in people’s diet. There’s plenty of evidence it benefits people but there’s lots we still don’t know and new well-conducted research is always welcome. (Read More…)

Companies claim drugs’ side effects are commercial secrets

1 by / on 7 Jan 2014, / in evidence based medicine

One of the comforting myths about the powerful drugs used in modern medicine is that they are prescribed on the basis of good scientific evidence. Proper randomised clinical trials, we are regularly assured, compare them with a placebo and the results can tell us which are safe and effective.
However this is an illusion. For nearly thirty years drug experts have known that there was a major flaw in this assumption, which doctors and the agencies set up to regulate drugs have chosen largely to ignore. (Read more…)

A guided tour around the statin wonderland

20 by / on 16 Dec 2013, / in statins

For years official advice on how best to protect yourself from heart disease has been wonderfully simplistic: high levels of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol are the major cause, so cut your risk by lowering LDL cholesterol production as much as possible with statin drugs.
Now it turns out that this advice was wrong. Not just according to long-term statin critics but it’s admitted by drug companies themselves. (Read more…)

SACN or Sack ‘em: the committee that’s confused about carbs

35 by / on 28 Nov 2013, / in low carb diet

About ten years ago for various personal reasons I became interested in the benefits of an Atkins-type low carbohydrate diet. I read a lot of research material, talked to many experts and became convinced that the advice to follow a low fat/high carbohydrate diet has been disastrous for our national health. (Read more…)

Great caution and profound shame

14 by / on 21 Nov 2013, / in vitamins

News that the Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies, is “profoundly ashamed” at the return of rickets is greatly encouraging. Rickets, the bone disease of children, is only one of dozens of diseases associated with, or known to be caused by, insufficient vitamin D in early life. At last it seems the risks of vitamin D deficiency are being taken seriously. (Read more…}

Cholesterol: I’ve never been wrong so fast or so right

17 by / on 16 Nov 2013, / in statins

Rarely have I been proven wrong quite so fast. After confidently informing the world that the post-statin cholesterol lowering drugs PCSK9 inhibitors would be launched upon an unsuspecting public in the near future, with billion dollar marketing budgets, it seems that I was wrong. Although who knows, I may be wrong about being wrong. (Read more…)

Why does the government ignore evidence for the benefits of Vitamin D?

12 by / on 16 Nov 2013, / in vitamins

Some years ago I became interested in how the government and the Department of Health deal with preventing illness. My own health had improved after I had lost a lot of weight and I felt so much better that I began researching what else could keep me feeling so well. One bit of advice that kept cropping up was to keep Vitamin D levels topped up. (Read more…)

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