OPINION: What Doctors Don’t Tell You – Dangerous Hypocrisy
Last week I was made aware of a particularly disturbing publication. What Doctors Don’t Tell you (WDDTY) is a magazine available for sale in UK shops that peddles dangerous “natural alternatives” to “big pharma” – and they’re taking their dangerous nonsense to the next step.
Originally starting as a website, and now in print form, WDDTY centres around a number of conspiracy theories all of which, they claim, result in your doctors withholding cheap and natural solutions to health problems from you – the patient.
One of their most frequently repeated (and saying something many times doesn’t make it true) claims is that our doctors are so far in bed with “big pharma” (drug companies) that they withhold these easy cures from us in order to line their own pockets. That’s quite simply, and objectively, nonsense. If the NHS could cure a patient by prescribing a banana and herb tea instead of spending hundreds, sometimes tens of thousands, on medication they would do so.
Far be it from WDDTY to miss out on a trick though. Their poorly written, badly researched and often dangerous articles are frequently accompanied by an advert for a ludicrously expensive vitamin supplement or miracle cream. So, WDDTY are annoyed that doctors are keeping us in the dark to make money from/for “big pharma”, but it’s OK to spout pseudo-science in order to push some hideously over priced potions? Hypocrisy thy name art WDDTY.
Many of their articles focus on low impact conditions such as acne or hayfever but earlier this year they published a piece entitled ‘Mega-cure for the incurables – Vitamin C fights it all from AIDS to measles’. The article claims that massive doses of Vitamin C can slow or even cure HIV, this is all based on decade old “research” that has been dis-proven time and time again in the subsequent years.
HIV is a complex retrovirus, for which there is no known cure. Billions upon billions of pounds, dollars and euros have been spent over the last thirty years in the attempt to both manage and cure HIV. If there was a cure already we’d know about it, and the pharmaceutical companies would be busy selling a vaccine to every person on the planet.
Now, I get hundreds of emails each day – many of which are peddling some magic cure to HIV (the best one I had was rubbing beetroot on your feet). These people are out there, that’s a fact. But there’s a difference between a badly written email or blog claiming that someone cured their own HIV with pumpkin seeds, and a magazine using dis-proven science to push their own dangerous ideas.
The old adage “don’t believe everything that you read” seems appropriate here – the thing is many people do. By printing this dangerous nonsense in a glossy magazine and selling it through reputable high street stores they automatically gain a certain amount of credibility. I mean if an “expert” has written it and a magazine has printed it then it must be true – no?
Starting HIV treatment can be a big deal for lots of people. Your medication has to be taken at the same time every day – for the rest of your life. It can come with side-effects, and serves as a daily reminder that you’re living with HIV. So it’s far from surprising that some people wish to delay starting treatment for as long as possible.
These people, these vulnerable and worried people, are exactly the people who’ll come to harm from the nonsense peddled in WDDTY. Scared of HIV medication? Worry not, a glass of orange juice will cure that pesky HIV for you. Left unchecked and untreated over time a HIV infection will destroy your immune system and lead to death – that’s a fact. Thanks to modern medication we can live a full healthy life, but a tangerine isn’t a cure.
I’m asking, pleading if I have to, with the stores that stock WDDTY (including Tesco, Sainsburys, Waitrose and WHSmith) that they remove this dangerous publication from their shelves.
Store buyers and management: If you have a bad batch of burgers you withdraw them from sale to prevent your customers from e-coli. If you have a defective toy you recall it to stop children choking. You wouldn’t sell a magazine that promoted eating disorders or suicide. So I’m asking you to remove ‘What Doctors Don’t Tell You’ from your magazine selection before someone with HIV, Cancer or Diabetes follows these poisonous recommendations and dies as a result. By selling the magazine in your stores you are both legitimising WDDTY’s message and opening yourself up to potential law suits. Do the right thing here and withdraw WDDTY from sale, today.
Lisa Power, Policy Director at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “The claims made by this magazine about vitamin C are quackery. You can eat as many oranges as you like, but – if you have HIV – nothing will manage the virus other than your prescribed medication. We are shocked that major retailers continue to stock a magazine that carries such dangerous advice, and would urge them to have a serious rethink.”
Tom Whipple, Science Correspondent for The Times of London covered the ‘What Doctors Don’t Tell You’ story in today’s (01 Oct 2013) paper – you can read it here: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/medianews/article3883331.ece (paywall content)