Vaccination: Kendrick dares to inject challenge to dogma

By Marika Sboros

Scottish GP Dr Malcolm Kendrick is a brave man. He dares not just to write about the great vaccination debate but to be even braver. Or foolhardy, depending on your point of view.

He dares to look at the official history of vaccination with a jaundiced eye. He questions the medical profession’s “unquestioned faith in vaccination”.

Before you read further, Kendrick, like many MDs who share his views, is no “anti-vaxxer”. (Neither am I – my most devoted, relentless MD Twitter troll notwithstanding – but that’s for another time.)

Vaccination remains one of the ugliest, most controversial and illogical of medico-scientific debate. Enter on the supposedly “wrong side” and you will get many (most?) MDs’ knickers in self-righteous knots.



Noakes celebrates anniversary: victory over diet mobsters

Prof Tim Noakes receives a  standing ovation in London in 2018, with Dr Aseem Malhotra (centre) and Dr Peter Brukner (right)

By Marika Sboros

Prof Tim Noakes celebrated a remarkable anniversary recently. It was June 8, 2018, a year since he became a free man, legally speaking.

On that day, the legal sword of Damocles that the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) had dangled over his head for more than four years, disappeared.

Given its behaviour so far, the HPCSA did what many thought it wouldn’t do on that day. It dismissed its prosecution lawyers’ appeal against its comprehensive not-guilty verdict for Noakes in April 2017.

The HPCSA’s own appeal committee confirmed the not-guilty ruling in its entirety. It found Noakes not guilty on all 10 aspects of a charge of unprofessional conduct. Click here to read a report and the full decision. That decision reverberates to this day through medical, dietetic and scientific fraternities globally.

Noakes and I have included a chapter on the appeal in our new book, Real Food On Trial. The subtitle says it all: How the diet dictators tried to destroy a top scientist (Columbus, 2019). It’s an update of Lore of Nutrition, Challenging Conventional Dietary Beliefs (Penguin 2017).



Shawn Baker: heavyweight medicine man in praise of meat

BakerVITAL SIGNS

By Marika Sboros

US physician and orthopaedic surgeon Dr Shawn Baker once dreamt of owning a cheesecake factory. He also dreamt of being able to eat all the cheese and sweets he wanted.

He has come a long way since his birth in Hof, a small West German town on the Czech border to an American father in the US Air Force and a South African mother. Ironically, given Baker’s vigorously anti-sugar stance these days, his mother hailed from a family with links to Hullett’s. The company remains dominant in South Africa’s powerful sugar industry.

In a Q&A Vital Signs profile, Baker tells how he conquered his chronically sweet tooth on his medical journey. He also tells how fought off establishment attacks after he advised his obese, diabetic patients to change their diets – and eat more meat – to reduce the needs for drugs and invasive surgery.



Facebook: real reason for take-down of top low-carb group?

By Marika Sboros

What’s really behind Facebook’s deletion of one of its biggest low-carb groups, the Banting 7 Day Meal Plans? The social media titan’s responses leave more questions than answers.

Did interests opposed to low-carb therapies sabotage the group? Did Facebook assist that agenda without checking for conflicts of interest?

Facebook claims that a “user” hacked and deleted the group. That made the deletion “voluntary” from within, it says. If so, what does that mean for the personal data of the group’s more than 1,6million users?

There are 1.1 million South African “Banters” – as supporters of low-carb, high-healthy-fat (LCHF) therapies are known in that country. The rest are scattered across the planet. Could the hack have compromised their data? Could the user have hacked Facebook as well?

Facebook has gone to great lengths to suggest otherwise. It reinstated the group on May 17 but not before its sudden removal on May 14 went viral. That precipitated a tsunami of protest from users and supporters around the world on Facebook and Twitter.



Why won’t UCT just say sorry to Noakes for academic ‘mobbing’?

UPDATED with UCT response received after publication today. Scroll down below.

By Marika Sboros

Extensive, uncontested evidence on public record shows that staff of the University of Cape Town and its Faculty of Health Science participated in what many see as the academic bullying of Prof Tim Noakes.

Will UCT and the Faculty ever apologise for that academic bullying – or “mobbing” as it is now popularly known? The signs are not auspicious, says Noakes.

Academic mobbing is a global phenomenon. In South Africa, the uncontested evidence suggests that it’s a scourge. It has affected not just UCT but also other top universities: Stellenbosch, North-West (formerly Potchefstroom) and my alma mater, the University of the Witwatersrand.

Don’t mistake academic mobbing for academic politics.



Statins: attacks on doctors reveal ‘smoking guns’ on side effects?

UPDATED 17/03 WITH COMMENT AND BACKGROUND

By Marika Sboros

Is there really “a special place in hell for doctors who claim statins don’t work“? The UK Mail on Sunday health editor Barney Calman believes so. Or at least, that’s the headline to his opinion piece the newspaper published in March.

Calman also believes that some eminent medical doctors and researchers are “statin deniers” who peddle “deadly propaganda”. They are “putting patients at risk”, he writes.

Prof Sherif Sultan, president of the International Vascular Institute, vigorously disagrees. Sultan is also professor of vascular and endovascular surgery at the National University of Ireland Galway. Sultan joins other experts who see “smoking guns”  in media attacks on statin critics. They see these attacks as industry and medical establishment attempts to downplay growing evidence on seriousness of statins side effects.

He has said that Calman’s articles are defamatory and propaganda – and the Mail on Sunday acted “negligently” in publishing them. Sultan has called for an investigation into publication of the articles.

“Calman must declare his conflict of interest and publish who instructed him to write such unscientific articles and after what editorial meeting,” Sultan has written.

 



Fasting: quick ways to get rid of unwanted side effects

By Marika Sboros

Fasting really is as old as the hills of ancient Greece. It’s a bedrock that sages created for ancient traditional healing systems across the globe. Those sages intuitively saw fasting as a natural way to boost and protect health.

Yet many doctors and dietitians dismiss fasting as “dangerous”. They call it “trendy” and a “fad”, even in its “intermittent fasting” (IF) incarnation. However, many doctors and dietitians disagree. Even formerly diehard foes of fasting now see it in a new and positive light. But even staunch supporters of fasting don’t promote it as a panacea for all ills. They also acknowledge that fasts may cause unwanted, short-term side effects.

Canadian clinical nutrition researcher Megan Ramos says it’s easy enough to resolve these side effects.

Ramos is a specialist in therapeutic fasting and co-founder of the Intensive Dietary Management (IDM) program with nephrologist Dr Jason Fung. Fung is author of, among others, The Complete Guide to Fasting. Ramos has worked alongside Fung since 2003. She helped to co-found IDM in 2012 after doctors diagnosed her with type 2 diabetes. She was the program’s first guinea pig.



Malhotra takes aim at heart of media statin support

By Marika Sboros

The Guardian newspaper in the UK has been haemorrhaging readers for years.

The newspaper’s recent uncritical support for medical orthodoxy and dogma around diet, nutrition, drugs and cardiovascular disease hasn’t helped. Its treatment of ongoing controversy around cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins is raising red ethical flags.

Britain’s leading cardiologists, Dr Aseem Malhotra, is demanding that The Guardian retract its online article by health editor Sarah Boseley. Under the headline Butter nonsense: rise of the cholesterol deniers, it aims right at the heart of Malhotra’s credibility and professional integrity.

Malhotra has lodged a written complaint with The Guardian’s editor in chief, Katharine Viner. He has included the UK’s Independent Press Standards Organisation’s Board and Complaints Committee.



PCRM: FLAGGING VEGANISM, JUNK SCIENCE, ANIMAL RIGHTS?

By Marika Sboros

They call themselves the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). Critics say they should call themselves the Physicians Committee for Irresponsible Medicine (PCIM).

They say that the PCRM’s latest study with Czech scientists, published in the journal, Nutrients, is irresponsible. And misleading.

The authors conclude that plant-based, vegan meals may be a “more effective tool” to prevent type 2 diabetes (T2D) than meat-based meals. They say that they’ve used a “randomized crossover design”. And that they’ve compared effects of two different meals on gastrointestinal hormones, and satiety (feeling of fullness) on healthy, obese and diabetic men.

The meals: a processed-meat and cheese meal and a vegan meal with tofu.

US psychiatrist Dr Georgia Ede calls the study misleading. Whoever designed it “has some explaining to do”, she says. US physician Dr Tro Kalayjian is more forthright and calls it: “biased bullshit”.



Exercise: you’re never too busy for its magic!

44th US President Barack Obama gets incidental exercise with his dog, Bo.

By Marika Sboros

I’m a big fan of exercise – as we all should be. It makes, or should make, intuitive sense that exercise is good for overall health. Exercise builds endurance and keeps you supple and strong as you age

It also makes, or should make, sense that exercise is not the best weight loss tool. Despite what many MDs and dietitians still say.

They want you to believe that obesity the result of gluttony and sloth. That all you have to do to lose weight is eat less and move more.  That’s just food and drug industry propaganda.

It is not possible to outrun or outexercise bad diet.

And like many of us, you might think you are too busy to exercise. You’ve got that wrong. It’s dead easy to fit regular, incidental exercise. Take a leaf out of 44th US president Barack Obama’s lifestyle book, for starters.



TRUMP: OFFICIALLY OBESE, SHORTER … AND MORE!

By Marika Sboros 

It’s official. US President Donald Trump is obese and shorter than he claims to be.

Trump physician Sean Conley has released his patient’s latest physical exam results. Despite (or perhaps because of) the results, Conley declared Trump to be in rude, good health.

He also predicted that Trump’s “good” health would continue throughout his presidency. And forever after.

Conley is the first psychic physician to serve the White House incumbent. His medical crystal ball, however, is faulty.



STATINS REVIVAL: PACT WITH DEVIL OR DRUG INDUSTRY?

By Marika Sboros

If you think robust evidence of serious health risks has dealt a terminal blow to the billion-dollar statin industry’s heart, think again. Statins are still the world’s most prescribed drug and the drug industry’s most profitable medicine ever.

In a new meta-analysis in The Lancet, UK scientists attempt CPR on the drug’s ailing reputation. They want doctors to prescribe statins to more people over 75. They say that doing so will save 8000 lives annually. (That’s after some experts calling for doctors to put just about everyone, including children, on the drugs.) The authors also claim that statins produce “significant reductions in vascular events (heart attack and stroke) irrespective of age”.

Independent researchers say those are false claims and the study is riddled with terminal errors. They also say the authors remain hopelessly conflicted with long-term links with drug companies. 



THE DIET FIX: FINALLY, ‘LAST WORD’ IN WEIGHT LOSS!

Picture: Dreamstime

By Marika Sboros

Are you battling to lose weight? Confused by the minefield of conflicting nutrition and weight-loss advice out there?

Or simply and seriously concerned with your health or the health of those you care about?

If so,  this book is for you.

The Diet Fix is by British public health and obesity researcher Dr Zoë Harcombe. The sub-title says it all: How to lose weight and keep it off… One last time!

On the front cover, British consultant cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra calls The Diet Fix “a gamechanger”. It is that and more.



FIBRE: WHOLEGRAIN STAFF OF LIFE TO HALT EARLY DEATH?

By Marika Sboros

A large New Zealand-led study on health benefits of dietary fibre is making waves in scientific circles.

The authors of a meta-analysis in The Lancet claim “enormous protective effects” from eating more fibre found in wholegrain bread, cereals, pasta, nuts and pulses. They say it significantly cuts  risk of heart disease and premature death.

They say that a high-carb, high-fibre diet also protects against type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. And that we should all eat between 25-29g of fibre a day, preferably more. They call their study “good news” for high-carb, high-fibre diets and “bad news” for “fashionable” (ie “faddish”) low-carb diets. They say it’s a “defining moment” that should be “written in stone” in public health policy.

Such scientific certainty has raised eyebrows among other experts. They say it’s a “false message to the public”.



Kendrick, Wikipedia and ‘dark forces’ waging war on science

By Marika Sboros

When I heard that Wikipedia had deleted Scottish GP Dr Malcolm Kendrick’s profile, I was shocked. Not just because I’ve met Kendrick, have read his most well-known, groundbreaking books, written lots about him and have the greatest respect for him.

It’s also not because I take Wikipedia at all seriously. The signs have been there for ages that Wikipedia falsely claims to be a “free encyclopedia”. It is proving to be part of something far more sinister and costly – by default or design.

I was shocked because I know how – and why – Wikipedia did something so stupid and self-destructive. And how it damaged its tattered reputation further by deleting someone of Kendrick’s knowledge, experience and standing. (Not surprisingly, Wikipedia ignored my tweeted request for comment.)



High blood pressure: your doctor’s ignorance the real disease?

By Marika Sboros

Can you turn something into a disease just by giving it a fancy Latin title? Scottish GP Dr Malcolm Kendrick says you can.

High blood pressure is just one example. Most medical doctors don’t know what causes high blood pressure in their patients, says Kendrick. At medical school, they learned that in most cases – around 90% – they’ll never know the cause, he says.

That percentage is probably higher, says Kendrick. But whatever the number, he says it’s rare to find a clear, specific cause. Here’s the real problem of the medical profession’s ignorance about causes of high blood pressure, as he sees it: Most doctors are not very good at admitting when they haven’t a clue about something. And haven’t ever been.



Herzegovina plays host to Keto Health Revolution

By Marika Sboros

How easy is it to stay not just low-carb but keto (very low-carb) over the holidays, specially  winter? Easy enough – when you know how. Just ask Greek nutritional therapist and keto evangelist  Apollonas Kapsalis.

He and Croatian wife Roberta are the power-couple behind the popular Greek Goes Keto website.They have arranged a unique keto event in Mostar, Herzegovina on December 8, starting at 17h00 (CET). Their aim: to begin the Keto Health Revolution in Herzegovina’s winter high-carb heartland.

If you can’t be there in person, they are livestreaming via Greek Goes Keto Facebook page. I will join them via Skype for a brief chat.



Dr Bourdua-Roy on a mission: First, do no harm!

By Marika Sboros

Canadian physician Èvelyne Bourdua-Roy is an MD on a mission. She is that rare but growing breed of MD who believes that nutrition lies at the heart of health.

She also gets a kick out of practising something she didn’t learn at medical school: “deprescribing medication”. It has become her “favourite thing”.

Little makes her happier than seeing the smiles on faces of patients for whom she writes a medication deprescription. As a society, we’ve become overly reliant on drugs, Bourdua-Roy says. We’ve “kind of forgotten” nutrition’s real place in health. It’s vital for doctors to learn about nutrition. And we should all question what “experts” have taught us, she says.



Harvard study: ‘Case against carbs, for fats grows stronger’

By Marika Sboros

It’s not the definitive word for best weight loss diets but it’s close. And it doesn’t venture into the contentious plant- versus animal-food divide. A major new Harvard study shows that replacing carbohydrates with fats speeds up metabolism.

It overcomes one of the biggest hurdles in conventional weight-loss diets: the “plateau”. That is the metabolism slowdown that prevents weight loss on conventional diets.

It’s why so many lose some weight but stay hungry and find it increasingly harder to lose more.

The Harvard study in the BMJ is well-designed and randomised. It is also one of the largest feeding studies ever conducted, say the authors. Add recent US research by Virta Health on low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diets to reverse type 2 diabetes and experts say it’s a recipe for speedy, safe, sustainable weight loss.



Dr Jason Fung’s single best weight loss tip!

 By Marika Sboros

Psst! If your MD or dietitian still subscribes to the CICO (calories-in, calories-out) obesity model, find another one. Quick!

According to the model, obesity is from gluttony and sloth. A calorie is a calorie. And all you have to do to lose weight and keep it off is “eat less and move more”.

The model is not just unscientific, it’s out the dark ages of nutrition science.

Yet many (if not most) MDs and dietitians still believe that CICO rules. Canadian nephrologist Dr Jason Fung is not one. As a kidney specialist, Fung sees many patients with obesity and type 2 diabetes. The two conditions are now so common that doctors refer to them as “diabesity”.

In the article below, Fung gives his top weight loss tip for those struggling with diabesity. Spoiler alert: it’s about as far from CICO as it’s possible to be.