Malignant Medical Myths

Malignant Medical Myths is written to make some concepts, such as the randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial, understandable. The trick in advertising: "do this and your risk of so-and-so will go down by 50%" is shown to be a relative and not an absolute number; the Introduction covers both topics.

In the USA you have the last word on what medical or diet advice you will act upon. Malignant Medical Myths provides you with the power to evaluate this advice, and shows how to find reliable sources of medical and diet information.

Myth 1 shows that daily aspirin does indeed prevent heart attacks, mostly non-fatal ones, yet does not reduce mortality in men, while typical doses increase mortality in women. Like Tylenol®, Motrin® and Celebrex®, aspirin puts plenty of people in the hospital, with staggering costs we all pay for in endlessly increasing medical insurance premiums and in taxes for Medicaid and Medicare. 
Myth 2 shows that advice to eat low-fat diets, especially low in saturated fat and cholesterol, the ubiquitous advice from every governmental agency and most non-profit foundations, has no basis whatever, and results in immense suffering and costs. For people who are carb-sensitive, or who have gluten or grain allergies, low-carb high-fat diets with plenty of saturated fat and cholesterol, can stave off obesity, NIDDM, celiac disease, Crohn's disease, and even cancer.
Myth 3 shows that the basis for using cholesterol-lowering drugs was pure mythology. Low cholesterol levels are dangerous; high ones usually are not. Cholesterol levels increase naturally with age, probably as a defense mechanism against inflammation and cancer. Clinical trials (RCTs) of statin drugs indicate no worthwhile overall benefit for primary prevention of heart attacks, but high risk of debilitating side-effects. Trials on secondary prevention indicate very minor benefits on the order of what might have been obtained from Bufferin®, and the benefits are unrelated to the achieved cholesterol levels.

In hospitalized men with CVD or demonstrated cytomegalovirus or inflammation, possibly caused by nanobacteria, the minor benefits of statin drugs have nothing to do with lowering serum cholesterol levels. It is unlikely that the adverse-effect-prone statin drugs are of any overall benefit in men, and certainly not in women. Any hype for alternative cholesterol-lowering treatments indicates a complete fraud since there is no reason for lowering cholesterol levels.

Myth 4 shows that blood pressure increases naturally with age, and is higher in women than in men of the same age. Very low blood pressure is dangerous. It was shown that only people in the 90% percentile of high blood pressure would obtain any benefit at all from antihypertensive drugs, and this would be minor as well as accompanied by severe side-effects. Broadening the fraction of the population taking these drugs was not supported by the results of clinical trials, quite the opposite.
Myth 5 shows that the slight protection from CVD conferred by 1-3 alcoholic drinks per day did not extend to other causes of death. The "special antioxidant" properties of red wine were inferior to those of a small dose of vitamin C, and no long-term trials exist on the effect of red wine specifically on all-cause mortality.
Myth 6 shows that extreme exercise causes heart failure and other injuries, quite the opposite of preventing them. Moderate exercise improves well-being, but there is the likelihood that we are seeing that well-being improves the ability and desire for moderate exercise.
Myth 7 shows that EDTA chelation does retard or reverse atherosclerosis with improvements in edema, wound healing and in walking distance before pain. This chapter also showed the first example that mainstream medicine does not "fight fair" in debunking alternative treatments any more than in promoting mainstream treatments.
Myth 8 shows that hysteria over low-dose ionizing radiation has been a costly excess of overzealous environmentalism. Not only is typical background radiation harmless, it is actually beneficial, and is usually less than the optimum amount. This means that small leaks from nuclear power plants, from radioisotopes in transit, from radon in homes, and from most medical exposures for imaging are harmless and probably beneficial.

Myth 9 shows that annual mammography to detect breast cancer is a needless expense and pain with no effect on all-cause mortality rates, and a reduction in RR for breast cancer death to 0.8 at best. Even this is likely to have been due to the beneficial effects of the low-dose Xrays used in mammography in the past. Other imaging methods have their advantages, especially when breast cancer is detected initially some other way, which can be by means of palpation or a simple AMAS test on a blood sample. The case is made that treatment of breast cancer does not change the all-cause death rate and may change the cause of death to heart failure or something else other than cancer.
Myth 10 shows that oncologists and others pretend that they can cure 60% of cancers when nothing of the sort is true. It was also shown how the 5-year survival rates have been manipulated and used to mislead, how poor mainstream treatment is, and how seriously patients are misled about its adverse effects. Mainstream opposition to alternative treatments, while often justified, has held up at least two useful treatments for decades.
Myth 11 shows that highly respected corporations and federal government agencies conspired to dispose of fluoridated waste products in our drinking water. A minor benefit to baby teeth was magnified out of proportion, and long-term side-effects were not even considered, then denied when found.

Until about 1990, like most people, Kauffman believed that most medical and diet advice was reliable, especially from government agencies we pay so much to take care of us. About $30 billion annually goes to the National Institutes of Health alone. The USA health bill is about $2 trillion! per year.  He took baby aspirin, ate trans fat, drank fluoridated water and had his cholesterol measured in the belief that others were looking out for us by basing their recommendations on the best evidence from trials.When medical brochures and advertisements referred to papers in peer-reviewed medical journals, I assumed that these papers were honest and complete, based on my own experience as the author of 80 journal papers myself, which were subject to rigorous peer review.

Determined to understand medical papers, Kauffman struggled with jargon and slowly caught onto the tricks of the trade, such as incomplete and misleading abstracts. The abstract of a paper is supposed to summarize the purpose, choice of subjects, trial protocol, and results. When key results are left out of the abstract, such as all-cause mortality and side-effects, they remain left out of any press release, newspaper article and sales literature. Often we can only get the abstracts by searching PubMed, Free Medical Journals, or individual journal websites.

The cost of complete papers of $20-30 each is reasonable if it relates to your employment, but not if the dollars come out of your own pocket. When the whole paper is examined, shocking cover ups come to light, in many cases, such as excess cancer deaths even when some easily measurable stuff, like cholesterol, is lowered, which is supposed to be a benefit, but is not. People who would most benefit from a diet intervention are often excluded from the chosen subjects. Very high dropout rates because of treatment side-effects usually do not find their way to the abstract.

Another of Kauffman's awakenings was finding that promoters of alternative treatments were sometimes even less scientific than the mainstream promoters. And that debunking of all alternatives (some are valuable) was carried out routinely by more powerful commercial interests and the government agencies they control. Websites that appear to be those of self-help groups with certain ailments can be owned by corporations making products for those ailments.

joel_kauffman_150In 1958 Joel M. Kauffman received a Bachelor's degree in Chemistry from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy & Science, now called the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. A Ph. D. in Organic Chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology followed in 1963. Employment in the chemical industry for 11 years included the fascinating fields of polymers and polymer addtives, explosives, fluors for determining low-level radiation, laser dyes, a novel synthesis of the key phosphonic acid used in bone-scanning kits. A number of commercial products resulted, some of which are used to this day. Four years at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy under the leadership of Prof. William Owen Foye provided a good grounding in exploratory drug development.

A move to University of the Sciences in Philadelphia in 1979 led to promotions eventually to the grade Professor of Chemistry, now Emeritus. More drug development was carried out with graduate students, Postdoctoral Fellows and visiting professors for a total of about 14 years experience. More research on fluorescent materials continued as well, including more work on fluors, fluorescent stains for biochemical research, and ultraviolet protective eyewear. His work was significant enough to result in invited talks to researchers involved with detection of high-energy particles from accelerators.

Overall, about 70 publications in peer-reviewed chemical journals and 12 patents were obtained. In 45 years of practicing chemistry, he saw only 2 examples of deliberate fraud in chemistry journals.

Beginning in 1999 the conflict between recommendations on long-term use of aspirin to prevent heart attacks was so striking that I dug into the medical journals to find out the truth about aspirin. The result became Myth 1 in my book Malignant Medical Myths. Also he was able to publish 10 or so papers on medical subjects in peer-reviewed journals, establishing credibility in this field. This also led to invited talks at meetings of The International College of Integrative Medicine and The Weston A. Price Foundation.

Joel M. Kauffman. Ph.D.

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