I zipped off this quick podcast from my phone on Monday and put it on my secondary blog, which I run for scrappy stuff. People seemed to like it a bit so I’m reposting here. There’s more audio stuff coming, a bit of video too, and I’ll work out good feeds and iTunes stuff over the next couple of weeks. Cheery pip.
This week the food and nutrition pills industries are complaining. They like to make health claims about their products, which often turn out to be unsupported by the evidence. Regulating that mess would be tedious and long-winded, the kind of project enjoyed by the EU, and so the Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation was brought in during 2006. Since then, member states have submitted tens of thousands of health claims on behalf of manufacturers about cranberries, fish oil, and every magical ingredient you can think of. This week it turned out that 900 have been examined so far, of which 80% have unsurprisingly been rejected. Read the rest of this entry »
Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 20 February 2010
You might have read the case of Ying Wu this week: a fully qualified traditional chinese medicine doctor operating out of a shop in Chelmsford who for several years prescribed high doses of a dangerous banned substance to treat the acne of senior civil servant Patricia Booth, 58, reassuring her that the pills were as safe as Coca-Cola. Following this her patient has lost both kidneys, developed urinary tract cancer, had a heart attack, and is now on dialysis three times a week. Judge Jeremy Roberts gave Wu a two-year conditional discharge, saying she did not know the pills were dangerous and could not be blamed, because the practise of traditional Chinese medicine is totally unregulated in Britain, a situation which he suggests should be remedied. Read the rest of this entry »
* Ben Goldacre
* The Guardian, Saturday November 8 2008
Last week I failed to distinguish satisfactorily between the fantastical miasmatic theory of disease in the middle ages and the fantastical miasmatic theory of disease as meant by some homeopaths. This made no difference to my argument – that the science of a disease is more interesting than made up nonsense about it – but it was an error, it was mine, and there is no ignominy in clarifying that.
So you’re reading Woman’s Own, and you get to the “Real life – health” pages, and you see “Most people jump when the phone rings unexpectedly, but for Jackie Dewhurst, 39, it could be deadly”. Read the rest of this entry »
Like many professions who kill people with some regularity, doctors have elaborate systems for seeing what went wrong afterwards, and the answer is rarely “Brian did it”. This week the papers have been alive with criticism for quack nutritionism after the case of Dawn Page, a 52 year old mother of two who ended up being treated on intensive care, with seizures brought on by sodium deficiency, and left with permanent brain damage, after following the advice of “nutritional therapist” Barbara Nash. She denies liability. Her insurers paid out £810,000.
Paranormal phenomena are on the rise this spring, as any viewer of Street Psychic, Most Haunted Live, The Psychic Detective, Psychic Investigators, Mystic Challenge, and Psychic School would know. In Durham, Easington district council has paid for psychic Suzanne Hadwin to exorcise a poltergeist from the home of one of its tenants, who complained of objects moving, doors slamming, and a dressing gown floating down the stairs.
The family report that the spirit has now gone, and the house has a “lovely atmosphere”: an excellent psychic service at a competitive price (only £60).
But there is a darker side. In February a psychic was called to investigate a reported zombie in underground tunnels at an Eastbourne sewage plant. “It’s not funny going to work and worrying that a zombie might be around the corner,” said one plant worker. It’s even less funny for a consumer to be cynically exploited by a psychic, because everybody knows that although psychics have their merits, they are entirely useless in this situation: to kill a zombie, you must destroy its brain. Read the rest of this entry »