Dr Robert Verkerk has written an opinion piece for the April 2014 issue of What Doctors Don’t Tell You. Verkerk’s article is essentially a complaint about Big Pharma being involved in selling vitamin pills, and he ends by recommending that people use ‘natural’ forms of supplements not made by Big Pharma as these are never found to be harmful. It’s the synthetic, Big Pharma vitamins that are bad. If there were references in his article to the evidence that backs up his claims, I missed them.
Down the left hand side of the article, Verkerk is described as “the executive and scientific director of the Alliance for Natural Health International, a consumer group that aims to protect our right to natural healthcare and nutrition”. But that’s not all he does. Read the rest of this entry »
Here is an online news story from What Doctors Don’t Tell You… and here [PDF] is their source. I’ve previously written about WDDTY’s reporting of a paper by DeStefano et al. This isn’t quite as bad, but there are a couple of mistakes in what is a very short article. Read the rest of this entry »
The magazine What Doctors Don’t Tell You has this week issued a bizarre statement in response to a Times article by Tom Whipple. Among other things, they seem to be upset that the article claimed “that we’d told parents in our latest (October 2013) issues not to immunize their children with the MMR”. Read the rest of this entry »
Now, I don’t believe that around 200,000 people a year are dying because of What Doctors Don’t Tell You magazine. But nor do I believe that in the region of 1700 young girls have been killed by the HPV vaccine. WDDTY, apparently, do believe this. They’re certainly happy to tell people that this is the case, in the highly misleading headline of this article. So, where did WDDTY get their figure of “up to 1700” from? Read the rest of this entry »
In an article on MMR and measles in the June issue of What Doctors Don’t Tell You (WDDTY), Bryan Hubbard reports on the DeStefano et al paper that found no association between autism and the number of antigens children receive from vaccination. That is what the paper actually found. What Hubbard reports is something quite different. I have no idea how Mr Hubbard manages to get it so wrong. I’d have thought pretty much anyone would be able to figure out what the researchers studied, but apparently not. Now, I’m no expert – far from it – but I think even an ignorant layman like me can work out what research question the authors were investigating. Read the rest of this entry »
After the What Doctors Don’t Tell You magazine’s October issue was published, Margaret McCartney, a GP, had an article in the BMJ criticising it. Some of the criticism related to Lynne McTaggart’s commentary on the HPV vaccines (something I wrote about here). McCartney took issue with the comments regarding deaths following HPV vaccination, stating that “to suggest that it has led to death is alarmist and does not reflect or explain the evidence collated by the Food and Drug Administration”. McTaggart has now responded to McCartney’s article in a blog post. Read the rest of this entry »
The magazine What Doctor’s Don’t Tell You (WDDTY), who have apparently threatened Simon Singh with legal action, are at the centre of a row over the content of their magazine and its appearance on the shelves of several major retailers. Blogger JQH gave his views on the magazine’s content here and Andy Lewis of the Quackometer blog asked the question should WHSmith stock the magazine. (Josephine Jones has now gathered a list of blogs covering the complaints and legal threat here.) I decided to take a look at the WDDTY article on the HPV vaccine. I was not impressed.
Warning: some of the quotes in this blog post may contain misinformation. Please carefully evaluate what you read.
On page 29, the article by Lynne McTaggart claims that the vaccine is “a dubious, untested, ineffective and highly dangerous solution” to the problem of cervical cancer.
A CDC page describes a number of randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies of Gardasil. It seems to me that to describe the vaccine, without any qualifiers, as “untested” is misleading.You can find further studies of Gardasil on Pubmed, including systematic reviews. Like this one, for example. The article later claims, in large text, that “Gardasil was never tested in young teenaged women”. This is number 10 in a list of 14 ‘facts’. Here is the full text of a paper that looked at HPV vaccination in young people. They didn’t use the same outcomes as the previous trials referred to but they did test the immunogenicity and safety of the vaccine in over 500 girls aged 10-15. It’s worth noting that none of the serious adverse events suffered by participants was linked to the vaccine. Gardasil may not have been tested in the manner that McTaggart would like it to have been, but it most certainly is not “untested”.
The CDC’s section on efficacy describes the vaccine as having “a high efficacy for prevention of vaccine HPV type HPV 6-, 11-, 16-, and 18-related persistent infection, vaccine type-related CIN, CIN 2/3, and external genital lesions (genital warts, VIN and VaIN)” in participants receiving three doses of the vaccine who had no protocol violations and had not previously been infected with HPV. It seems that Gardasil does in fact do what it is claimed to do – prevent HPV infection and the abnormal growth of squamous cells on the surface of the cervix. In this, it is effective.
McTaggart uses VAERS data to support her suggestion that the vaccine is dangerous. Sorry, “highly dangerous”. Here’s what the VAERS website says about interpreting data:
When evaluating data from VAERS, it is important to note that for any reported event, no cause-and-effect relationship has been established. Reports of all possible associations between vaccines and adverse events (possible side effects) are filed in VAERS. Therefore, VAERS collects data on any adverse event following vaccination, be it coincidental or truly caused by a vaccine. The report of an adverse event to VAERS is not documentation that a vaccine caused the event.
McTaggart also refers to deaths in India. As Andy Lewis points out, these deaths included a drowning, a snake bite and the effects of malaria. Using deaths that are clearly unrelated to the vaccine in order to spread fear about Gardasil is, well, an interesting way to make your case.
I think the kindest way to interpret McTaggart’s use of VAERS data and the deaths in India involves assuming that she was unaware of both the nature of the information in the VAERS database and the fact that many of the deaths reported following administration of the vaccine have actually been clearly and unambiguously unrelated to the vaccine. I know of no deaths that have been attributed to the vaccine after investigation.
If people’s decisions on healthcare are being influenced by magazines such as WDDTY, then these magazines have a duty to be very, very careful not to inadvertently mislead anybody on topics such as HPV vaccination. I think they need to be rather more careful than they currently are.
I’ve just typed around 600 words arguing against a fragment of a sentence. There is so much wrong with the HPV article and the magazine as a whole that to address it all would take an age. Here are just a few further (brief) comments on some of the problems with WDDTY.
In the HPV article, there is a boxout on page 30 that is headed “first invent the problem”. Lynne McTaggart might not think that cervical cancer is the most serious or the most common problem women face, but it’s certainly not been invented by the vaccine manufacturers. Hundreds of women die each year in the UK from cervical cancer. In the US, there are thousands of deaths.
On page 35, McTaggart points out that HPV expert Dr Diane Harper has distanced herself from Merck’s marketing tactics. She fails to mention Harper’s views on the vaccine itself. Fortunately, Ben Goldacre did, in 2009. “I fully support the HPV vaccines,” she says. “I believe that in general they are safe in most women. I told the Express all of this.”
I’ve only looked at the HPV article, but I think it would be a mistake to assume that the rest of the magazine is any better. JQH points out that the research on vitamin D that is discussed is not as clear-cut as WDDTY would have you believe. He also points out that there is a recommendation in one article to take Ginkgo Biloba, but no mention is made of potential side-effects of this remedy.
A company called Rodial have threatened a doctor with a lawsuit after she raised doubts about a “boob job cream”. While Rodial’s lawyers letter states that Rodial would have provided information on “clinical assessment and product ingredients” on request, they failed to do so when contacted by Ben Goldacre. Read the rest of this entry »