John Briffa is a doctor who writes diet books and formulates pills for food supplement companies. Briffa has recently blogged about arnica, which doesn’t seem to make sense. He makes his living from nutritionism, not homeopathy – so why support homeopathy by praising a study into arnica?
Well, possibly because it suits his image to praise something alternative that doesn’t make him money. The alternative nature of homeopathy sits well with Briffa’s alternative take on dietary advice and the fact that he is promoting a product that is not going to earn him money directly makes him appear more trustworthy – i.e., the kind of guy you might buy something from in the future.
His promotion of all things alternative (and his objections to mainstream opinions) is likely to endear him to the type of people who will be keen to buy diet books and Sucroguard tablets – the alternative type. What else has John been blogging about recently? Well, there’s been a couple of posts questioning received wisdom on cholesterol (to be fair, there’s nothing wrong per se with questioning the status quo – it just seems convenient that to do so will raise Briffa’s status in the eyes of his current and potential customers); the validity of BMI as a measurement; arsenic in drinking water and food additives (the post was mainly about MSG, but he also referred to aspartame).
As you can see, Briffa’s been busy. Casting doubt on current advice on lowering cholesterol, flinging mud at various unpopular food additives, complaining about the quality of tap water [ah, deja vu – Dr Aust’s Spleen], and querying the validity of BMI. In amongst all this general pro-altie, anti-mainstream stuff Dr John has also been blogging about vitamins, minerals and fatty acids. He recommends antioxidants to prevent AMD [age-related macular degeneration], without mentioning that stopping smoking might be a good idea for anyone wanting to avoid AMD. He also talks about low vitamin D levels being implicated in pain and recommends Zinc lozenges for the common cold. See? It all fits together – his pill formulating, his diet books, his recommendations for AMD or for the common cold, his support for homeopathy, his anti-vaccination views. All alternative, in fact all part of a consistently alternative viewpoint. The problem is, when someone is so wedded to the alternative they seem to assume that “alternative” somehow equals “true”. You can see the same thing with Holford and his support for Q-Link pendants or, um, his anti-vaccination stance. That’s right – nutritionist Patrick Holford and Doctor John Briffa share an anti-vaccine stance. Why? If fits in with their world view, that’s why. Er, and it probably helps attract customers – birds of a feather and all that.
[EDITED TO ADD:] You see, if you can get people to like you then you are more likely to be able to sell them something and one thing that helps us decide whether we like someone is how similar they are to us (whether their opinions are the same as ours, whether they are from the same area etc – having something in common helps). [Incidentally, another thing that helps is attractiveness – I’ll put it this way: Patrick Holford’s youthful good looks are certainly not a hindrance to his career as a nutritionist]
AMD and smoking: “The literature review confirmed a strong association between current smoking and AMD, which fulfilled established causality criteria. Cigarette smoking is likely to have toxic effects on the retina. In spite of the strength of this evidence, there appears to be a lack of awareness about the risks of developing eye disease from smoking among both healthcare professionals and the general public.” [Review on Pubmed].
Holford and anti-vaccination: HolfordWatch again.
Briffa and anti-vaccination can be found here, among various other links to posts on Dr John: Briffa – as bad as Holford.