Ten top tips to boost your disease free survival

In quieter moments, pondering the end of your life, how many years to you think you might be effectively house-bound with a number of chronic diseases before you pop off? The jargon for describing this unappealing state is YLD (Years of Living with Disability) and according to a big report in the Lancet earlier this […]

The evidence–free drug that costs the NHS 70 million a year

Just as Catholic cardinals condemn paedophilia, so mainstream medicine formally rejects treatments not supported by evidence in the form of clinical trials. But in reality interfering with novices or failing to come up with the evidence, providing of course a drug is involved, doesn’t necessarily mean banishment. Both dodgy priests and drugs can remain on […]

Ways to cut antibiotic resistance but will drug companies allow it?

Most of us are aware that antibiotic resistance is growing. Nasty infections and one-time killers, such as pneumonia, gonorrhoea and tuberculosis are threatening to return in new forms, impervious to the drugs that kept them at bay for over 70 years.   A warning, one of many, was issued by Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally […]

The link between South Staffs hospital scandal and losing weight

The Francis report on the dreadful doings at the Mid Staffordshire  hospital can only be welcomed. The events were horrific, something went terribly wrong and heads should roll. But could what happened be a symptom of a wider problem? Does it tell us anything about the way medicine is practised in general? The most common explanation for […]

Prescribing drugs with no evidence just got a bit easier

Recently I had a revealing “discussion” with a very senior and respected academic about whether illegal marketing by drug companies was putting patients at risk. By the end he was claiming my view – it clearly is dangerous and even heavy fines were not enough – merely enriches lawyers and pushes up prices paid by […]

Silver Bullet Award for dangerous drug promotion

When I saw recently that Simon Singh,  energetic “quack buster “ and scourge of  homoeopaths, chiropractors and their ilk, had established an award called the Golden Duck to be presented to the person who had “supported or practised pseudoscience in the most dangerous or irresponsible manner” , my first thought was: How unfair!     What […]

Coconut outtakes: what the Mail didn’t say

So you’ve read the Daily Mail story today about how it’s possible that coconut oil can help with some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. No one knows for sure because the idea has never been properly tested but there is a good reason why it might work – by supplying the brain with a natural […]

Alzheimer’s pill put profit before patients

Here’s a particularly shocking example of the kind of irresponsible and evidence-free, so-called health journalism found in sensational tabloids like the Daily Mail. It’s a story claiming that coconut oil can cure Alzheimer’s. This is the worst sort of quack claim giving false hope to vulnerable people.  Oh whoops I am the journalist who wrote […]

Possible Alzheimer’s treatment? Try patient power

Ever been on a high-fat/low carb Atkins-type diet? Upside of rapid weight loss; downside of constipation and bad breath. How about if you could get the benefits without having to endure the rigours of the diet? That’s the promise of some fascinating research that I’ve written about in the Daily Mail today.  Professor Kieran Clarke,an […]

Alzheimer’s: another reason to be sceptical about statins

The front page of the Daily Express on Friday led with a new warning about statins – combining them with certain blood pressure pills could raise your risk of muscle pains, lung disorders and kidney damage. Hmm yes well.  Even as a cholesterol/statin sceptic I thought that was remarkably over-hyped – statin side effects are massively […]