Cancer treatment road ahead: tripping over truth

By Marika Sboros

US physician Dr Michael Eades has written an extraordinary review of an extraordinary book on cancer treatment. He says everyone should read it. I couldn’t agree more. It is a revised version of Tripping Over The Truth, by Travis Christofferson. It is a challenge to orthodox medical dogma on the dread disease. Chirstofferson says that cancer research is “way off track”.

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Like Eades, I read it when Christofferson first published it in 2014. Eades says that in its revised version, Christofferson has produced “an absolute gem”, as “gripping” as a mystery novel.

He wrote the review while “hurtling through the sky somewhere over the North Atlantic” flying business class on his way back to the US from Germany.  Eades begins it with what can seem like a strange comparison: commercial aviation today compared with when he first flew to Europe in 1969.

What does that have to do with cancer? More than I wish were the case. Eades says that were he to get cancer today,  he would make a nasty discovery. Unlike commercial aviation, cancer treatment mostly wouldn’t be much different or any more effective than in 1969. Or even 1959. That’s “an awful realization”, Eades says. But there’s a lot more to why his review really is so remarkable.



New Noakes Banting book: small size, big science shift

By Marika Sboros

It’s a simple enough question: why is Banting so popular yet still so controversial in South Africa and globally? The answer, scientist Prof Tim Noakes will tell you, is also simple. Because it works. Banting is the popular name for low-carb, high-fat diets in South Africa. Noakes explains why and how Banting weaves its healing magic in a new book: The Banting Pocket Guide (Penguin Random House).  He has co-authored it with Bernadine Douglas and Bridgette Allan.

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It’s available in a Kindle edition. In print soon, it will be literally small  – just the right size to fit into your pocket or purse. Figuratively speaking, it’s big in nutrition scientific heart. It explains why Banting, as low-carbohydrate, high-fat (LCHF) lifestyles are called in South Africa, are such a powerful paradigm shift.

Note that  I say lifestyles, not diets. LCHF opponents – who were legion but are diminishing as the science grows – still call it a fad diet. This book is another nail in the coffin of powerful vested interests in medical and dietetic establishments and food and drug industries. All oppose LCHF because it threatens reputations, livelihoods, practices and profits. Here’s more on why this book is a small but significant scientific treasure trove.



TAUBES AND THE CASE AGAINST SUGAR: SWEET AND SOUR

By Marika Sboros

Unless you’ve just beamed down from another planet, you’ll know that US science journalist Gary Taubes has a new book out. It’s called The Case Against Sugar. I haven’t read it yet. I’ve only read the reviews, most of them favourable – except one. It is Bad sugar or bad journalism? An expert review of “The Case Against Sugar”. The author is US neurobiologist and obesity researcher Dr Stephan Guyenet.

Guyenet’s review is not a complete hatchet job. First, he damns Taubes with faint scientific praise. Then he sticks the knife straight into Taubes’s research heart. Guyenet says that Taubes “misunderstands (or chooses not to apply) the scientific method itself”. He accuses Taubes of “extraordinary oversight”. He also says that Taubes ignores “inconvenient facts”.

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US physician Michael Eades has read the book – twice – and reviews it in a post on his Protein Power blog. He has given me permission to republish it here. He comes to very different conclusions compared to Guyenet. Here’s the sweet and the sour of reviews.



BIG PHARMA: DOSE OF OWN MEDICINE FOR PROFITS OVER PATIENTS

By Marika Sboros

Is Big Pharma really as sinister as research suggests? Certainly, its products have been life-saving but also life-taking. And the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies have long had unhealthy effects on economies in many countries. Consequently, people’s health in those countries has become secondary to Big Pharma’s profits.

It is especially the case in the US, which spends the most per capita on prescription drugs than any other country. Research by The Law Firm shows that Americans filled 4.3 billion prescriptions for $374 billion dollars in 2014.

Rebecca Hill has developed an innovative infographic for the personal injury law firm on how Big Pharma spends its money. (Scroll down  to view it below).  It highlights the effect of the spend on the health and finances of Americans, says Hill. It also reveals who spent the most money – Genentech, which spent $388 million in payments to 1,888 doctors. And it points the way forward to reducing the burden of Big Pharma on people’s health and pockets, she says.



DOES DAA TARGET DISSIDENT DIETITIANS WITH FAKE NEWS?

By Marika Sboros

When the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) isn’t dishing up fake nutrition news to the public, it makes up fake news to try to discredit dietitians who cross it, say critics. It’s probably no coincidence, that those dietitians support low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diets to treat obesity, diabetes and heart disease and/or criticise Australia’s dietary guidelines and DAA’s food industry links.

Critics say that  DAA’s Big Food sponsors don’t like those dietitians either as they affect product sales. In the final of a four-part series on DAA’s conflicts of interest, Foodmed.net looks at the cases of three dietitians who fell foul of DAA and its long-time CEO Claire Hewat. DAA also thought nothing of going after one of the dietitians in another country. It tried and failed to silence a top dietitian academic in New Zealand for her views on LCHF.

Hewat flatly denies that LCHF or its industry links had anything to do with actions against the dietitians below. Here, Foodmed.net looks at whether that claim stands up to scrutiny.



DAA CLUELESS ON LCHF – DIETITIAN DOWN UNDER

Feng-Yuan Liu

Feng-Yuan Liu, of Metro Dietetics, is a relatively rare but growing species Down Under: a dietitian who is a member of Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) and brave enough to speak up publicly for LCHF (low-carbohydrate, high-fat) diets to treat obesity and diabetes. DAA’s antagonism towards low-carb diets for diabetics is legendary.  Also becoming legendary is DAA’s response to some of its members who support LCHF. On January 30, 2017, Foodmed.net will publish the final of a four-part series on DAA’s links with Big Food. It will look at three dietitians who have fallen foul of DAA for various reasons.

Here, Liu goes head to head in a blog with DAA over the information it dishes out to the public on LCHF for diabetes. She quotes verbatim from DAA statements on its website and presents research in rebuttal. It’s another long read, but a fascinating one scientifically. Along the way, Liu shows that DAA uses a discredited study by South African researchers to discredit LCHF. She also suggests that DAA is clueless – she describes it as ‘confused’ – about just what constitutes LCHF. It will be interesting to see how DAA reacts to another of its members who believes that LCHF is a safe, effective option for diabetics.  – Marika Sboros



WHY DAA MAY REGRET ‘SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY’

By Marika Sboros

It’s no real surprise that Big Food loves the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA). DAA has quietly carved out close to a monopoly for its members on giving dietary advice to the public.

It regularly dishes up messages that feed Big Food’s interests and product sales. Critics say that it makes sense, then, that processed food and drink industries happily pay oodles of boodle to keep that monopoly going and messages flowing. They say that DAA’s self-regulated status makes it even more attractive to those interests. It means that DAA can pretty much do as it pleases and it does.

Yet there’s a downside to DAA’s cosy relationship with food industries. British obesity researcher Dr Zoë Harcombe has called it “sleeping with the enemy”. In a critique of conflicts of interest in her groundbreaking book, The Obesity Epidemic, What Caused it? How Can We Stop It?, she looks at the consequences. Harcombe was referring to the US dietetics fraternity. She could have been talking about DAA. In Part 3 of this series, Foodmed.net looks at why critics say that DAA may bitterly regret getting into bed with Big Food.



DAA TALKING HEADS: TIME FOR NEW CONVERSATION?

By Marika Sboros

One reason for the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) credibility problem, say critics, is its public face. They say that by default or design, DAA media spokespersons regularly dispense low-fat, high-carb dietary advice that serves the interests of food-industry partners. Such advice lacks evidence for safety and efficacy to treat or prevent obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

DAA spokespersons also regularly show special antipathy towards Paleo and low-carb diets to treat these conditions, despite growing evidence. As well, some spokespersons are prominent university academics. Thus, critics say this leaves DAA open to a common industry tactic. It is the “halo effect” that results from “eminence-based” rather than evidence-based nutrition information. It helps to embed unhealthy products as healthy in public consciousness

In Part 2 of this series, Foodmed.net takes a look at some of those talking heads. We also look at why critics say that the conversation needs to change.



IS DOWN UNDER’S DAA REALLY IN BED WITH BIG FOOD?

By Marika Sboros

Is the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) in bed with Big Food? It’s nearly two years since US public health lawyer Michele Simon first raised the question. She worded it slightly differently at the time. Her answer was an unequivocal “yes” in And Now A Word From Our Sponsors in February 2015. But has anything changed in the interim?

DAA says that it is not in bed with Big Food now and never has been. It claims that its sponsors – “partners”, it prefers to call them – have no influence on the advice it dishes out.  It also claims to take “great care to guard against conflict of interest”.

Its critics say otherwise. They say that DAA is heavily conflicted and has been for decades. Critics also say that DAA is little more than a front for the food industry. Read on and make up your own mind.



NOAKES VS ILSI ‘QUEENPINS’ TRYING TO NAIL HIM

By Marika Sboros

So, it has taken a brilliant US investigative journalist to expose all the food industry’s “biggies” trying to silence scientist Prof Tim Noakes. True, signs of food industry involvement were there from the start. CrossFit’s Russ Greene joins the dots to confirm it.

However, Greene adds damning dots that don’t just implicate Big Sugar and Big Soda. He joins them in one straight line leading to a big food industry arm. It’s the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) that influences global food and health policy. (Scroll down for a link to Greene’s report. It’s long but well worth the read.)

The kindest thing Greene says about ILSI is that it’s a “Coca-Cola proxy organisation”. He also says ILSI is a “money launderer for purveyors of toxic substances”. And it’s a proxy for other food-industry giants, such as Kellogg’s, Unilever and Nestlé. One of Greene’s many strengths is that he shows all ILSI’s links to doctors and researchers driving the HPCSA case. I call them kingpins – or in this case one kingpin and many “queenpins”. There also appears to be a reigning queenpin. Here’s my review of what Greene shows they’ve all been up to, trying to nail Noakes.



FAT PHOBIA: WILL TEEN REBELS FREE YOU FROM ITS SHACKLES?

Will teens be the rebels who free you from the shackles of fat phobia forever this year? Sammy Pepys, one of my favourite nutrition bloggers, believes so. Pepys is author of the fabulous Fat is our Friend. He styles himself the ‘reluctant’ nutritionist. He has fat phobia firmly in his sights. You should have it in your sights too. – Marika Sboros

By Sammy Pepys

I’m an optimist. I’ve contributed to debates on food and health for a few years now with one core piece of communication. We won’t begin to fix the Western malaise of increasing obesity and related chronic diseases unless we first lose our fear of fat.

Change is starting but it’s running at a snail-like pace. As well, institutional indoctrination has been too effective. Take the 90% of UK citizens who choose low-fat or skimmed milk over the regular “from-the-cow” variety daily. Is it because it tastes better?



CANINE OBESITY: SCHULOF ON SCIENCE TO PROTECT BEST FRIENDS

Daniel Schulof and Kody

By Marika Sboros

You don’t have to love dogs to appreciate the brilliance of this book on canine obesity, but it helps. It makes it easier to see why Dogs, Dog Food, and Dogma really is a riveting read. One reason is the subtitle: The Silent Epidemic Killing America’s Dogs and the New Science That Could Save Your Best Friend’s Life. 

It reveals the bare bones of the raison d’etre: evidence-based solutions to the epidemic of canine obesity.

Another reason is that this book isn’t just about canine obesity. It’s also about another global epidemic: of human adipose tissue. That’s the medical profession’s euphemism for excess fat. This book looks at why obesity shortens lives, whether canine or human. And why even moderate obesity in dogs is more dangerous for them than smoking is in humans.

But this book’s biggest strength is probably US author Daniel Schulof. He is not a veterinarian, medical doctor or scientist. He makes no bones about that in his author’s note. In fact, he claims to be no expert of any kind. That’s not true, of course. He’s just humble and that’s a nice trait. Here’s his real expertise and the power of this book:



SWISS RE: DIETARY GUIDELINES A ‘FAILED HUMAN EXPERIMENT’

Photo credit: dzingeek via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

By Marika Sboros

Global reinsurer Swiss Re is calling for radical reform of low-fat, high-carb dietary guidelines. The call follows global investment bank Credit Suisse’s damning report on the guidelines in 2015. Swiss Re devotes its last medical newsletter of 2016 to a research demolition job of the guidelines.

In it, Swiss Re Chief Medical Officer Dr John Schoonbee calls the guidelines a “failed human experiment” over decades.

Credit Suisse is a $23 billion a year company with 48,000 employees. Swiss Re is even bigger at $35 billion with under 13,000 employees. These are big players in global financial markets. So, what’s in it for them to research and take sides in the scientific controversy around low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diets? A former Swiss Re head of health underwriting and claims explains.



LOOK WHO’S FIGHTING MEDICAL DIABETES GROWTH INDUSTRY!

The research team: left to right Chris Webster, Tamzyn Murphy Campbell, Prof Tim Noakes, Dr James Smith and Dr Salih Solomon. Picture: THE NOAKES FOUNDATION

By Marika Sboros

Many doctors and dietitians are still pessimistic about diabetes. They tell patients that diabetes is chronic, progressive and irreversible. They tell patients that they’ll need more drugs for the rest of their lives to manage their condition.

The Noakes Foundation has now received a full grant of R5.6 million (around $400 600) for ongoing research that could radically change that perception. That research is investigating reversal of diabetes through diet alone. It also aims straight at the heart of a powerful vested interest: the medical growth industry of diabetes.

It’s a big one – none bigger in the medical industry, says scientist Prof Tim Noakes. Its growth in profits last year alone was about 20%. “It is not interested in a possible cure or reversal of diabetes,” Noakes says. He has worked out who is protecting that industry’s commercial interests. Here’s who. 



IN PRAISE OF LOW-CARB: CANADIAN DOCTORS RISE UP AGAINST DOGMA!

fistBy Marika Sboros

This is big: nearly 200 doctors and allied health practitioners in Canada have signed an Open Letter to their government calling for urgent, radical reform of nutrition guidelines to include low-carb diets.

They say that authorities told Canadians to follow guidelines for nearly 40 years. During that time, nutrition-related diseases, such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease, increased sharply. The doctors are also concerned about sharp increases in childhood obesity and diabetes rates.

They say that the evidence does not support conventional low-fat dietary advice. In fact, they say it worsens heart-disease risk factors. They say that those responsible must be free to compile dietary guidelines without food and drug industry influence. They want the guidelines to promote low-carb diets as “at least one safe, effective intervention” for people with obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

At heart, the letter’s signatories call for mainstream medical advice to include low-carb, healthy-natural-fat. Here’s more of these doctors’ powerful challenge to orthodoxy.



FOR HEART’S SAKE, EAT SATURATED FAT: NORWAY SCIENTISTS

By Marika Sboros

Photo credit: mysza831 via Foter.com / CC BY

Norwegian researchers dispute the scientific pillar on which official dietary guidelines rest in most countries. It is the so-called diet-heart hypothesis that saturated fat causes heart disease.

The hypothesis just happens to be the pillar on which the Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) rests its case against scientist Tim Noakes. It also lies at the heart of the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) muting of orthopaedic surgeon Gary Fettke. AHPRA doesn’t want Fettke talking to patients about sugar now or ever again.

The Norwegian study is a small, well-designed, randomised controlled trial (RCT). Scientists consider RCTs the “gold standard” of research. The study authors say that a very-high-fat diet reverses obesity and disease risk. They also say that experts have greatly exaggerated alleged health risks of saturated fat for hearts. Here’s more:



WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF NOAKES REALLY IS FOUND INNOCENT?

Tim NoakesBy Marika Sboros

A South African news agency has published an anonymous article about scientist Tim Noakes. The headline: What will happen to Noakes if he really is found guilty? (Emphasis theirs.)

Health24 refers, of course, to the Health Professionals Council of South Africa (HPCSA) charge of unprofessional conduct against Noakes. It states that the HPCSA will “likely not be forgotten for erroneously reporting” that it had found Noakes guilty. It speculates on six penalties Noakes would face should the HPCSA find him guilty.

I’d say it raises another question: What will happen if Noakes really is found innocent? (Emphasis mine.) I speculate on five penalty areas facing the HPCSA and all those who have helped to prosecute Noakes. Read on and tell me what you think is more likely to be the case: 



VICTORY FOR TEICHOLZ IN BATTLE OF BUTTER

Nina TeicholzBy Marika Sboros

US investigative journalist Nina Teicholz calls it “a victory for science.” South African scientist Tim Noakes says it proves that one person can “change the world.” I say it’s a decisive defeat for medical, scientific and dietetic establishments in their ongoing war against the critics.

The BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal) has announced that it will not retract the peer-reviewed investigation it published by Teicholz in September 2015. The feature documents in detail how the US Dietary Guidelines (DGAs) have ignored vast amounts of rigorous scientific evidence. This evidence is on key issues such as saturated fats and low-carbohydrate diets.

Teicholz’s article has been the target of an unprecedented retraction effort that was organized by an advocacy group that has long defended those guidelines. The BMJ stance is becoming a lesson in unintended consequences for those attempting to stifle debate on the topic. It raises fundamental questions about who was behind the retraction effort and their motivation.



NOAKES: PROOF THAT SA SCIENTISTS TRIED TO SMEAR HIM?

Tim NoakesBy Marika Sboros

Did researchers at top South African universities make multiple mistakes in a major study deliberately? Was their aim to discredit low-carbohydrate, high-fat (LCHF) diets? And was their real target scientist Prof Tim Noakes? Or are they just human, fallible and in this case, hopelessly error-prone?

A new study in the SAMJ (South African Medical Journal) re-examines a 2014 study by University of Cape Town (UCT) and Stellenbosch University (SU) scientists. It shows that the scientists made many material errors that undermine their conclusions. It raises the question: mistake or mischief? Read on and make up your own mind.



FETTKE: VICTIM OF KANGAROO COURT DOWN UNDER? Part 2

Dr Gary Fettke and Belinda Fettke

Dr Gary Fettke and Belinda Fettke

This is the final of a two-part series on the strange case of Australian orthopaedic surgeon Dr Gary Fettke. The country’s medical regulatory body has banned him for life from talking to patients about their sugar intake. Fettke says that he just wants to save patients’ limbs and lives. Senators have come to his aid in an Australian Senate Inquiry and wife Belinda speaks up when Fettke feels he can’t speak out. Here, they look at anomalies in AHPRA’s case against Fettke.

By Marika Sboros

On November 16, 2016, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) issued an ambiguous statement relating to Dr Gary Fettke. AHPRA said that by law it could not disclose details of Fettke’s case unless he gave permission. However, AHPRA then proceeded to do just that: disclose details. Not surprisingly, senators conducting an inquiry into AHPRA’s medical complaints process were none too happy with that.