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Monday, June 26, 2006

The Savvy Shopper

I have recently bought a book called 'The Savvy Shopper' by Rose Prince. This is not a nutrition book per se, but contains a directory of foods and gives details about their manufacture. It is intended to be used as a guide to purchasing ethically responsible food, and also those which have the safest processing methods. For example, we have all heard stories about apples being kept in cold storage for up to a year before reaching our supermarket shelves, well this book will tell you exactly how apples are harvested and where they come from. And it covers a whole range of foods and drinks.

An extremely useful book!

Conference Season

Last week I was at the British Dietetic Association Annual conference, which was very interesting actually. It was a good opportunity to meet with other therapists and learn about latest nutrition research. The trade exhibition was also good, and I picked up some information about new products.

Next week I am away again, this time in Aberdeen for the Nutrition Society Summer meeting. I think this might be more academic, but will be good to learn about new developments in the field of nutrition.

Friday, June 02, 2006

More Journalists Like this Please!

Here is an extract from an email from Patrick Holford:

No doubt some of you will have all the anti-alternative medicine propaganda in the papers. I wholeheartedly agree that good medicine needs to be properly proven to work, which is why I abhor the fact that almost a third of all drugs are prescribed ‘off label’, meaning that they are given to groups of people for whom no benefit has been proven.
I thought the most astute response to this cry against alternative medicine was that made in the Times by Jerome Burne, kindly reproduced below:

‘Professor Michael Baum, who laid into alternative medicine, is quite right to be concerned about wasting scarce NHS funds on “unproven or disproved” treatments. Unfortunately he has the wrong target in his sights. If he’s looking to root out marketing dressed up as science and protect patients from being damaged by side-effect that have been deliberately kept hidden, he would do far better to focus on problems with prescription drugs.

While some are life-saving, far too many are marginally effective and carry risks out of proportion to the conditions they are designed to treat. Drug side-effects now kill around 10,000 people a year in the UK – three times the number killed on the roads - and cost the NHS over £4 billion. Patients are being perfectly rational in seeking alternatives and it is simply out-dated medical arrogance to condemn them for it.

Only last week it emerged that one of the anti-depressant SSRI drugs actually increased the risk of young adults committing suicide – a possibility the companies had always strenuously denied even though in 2003 doctors had been advised not to give these drugs to anyone under 18 because of a suicide link. The evidence for that official ruling dated to 1996 but had never been published. During the intervening years UK doctors were prescribing more SSRIs to children than any other country in Europe and yet there was no proper evidence base for this at all. Treating those children by changing their diet or with acupuncture seems sane and responsible by comparison.

The scandal surrounding the anti-inflammatory drug Vioxx - withdrawn from the market in 2004 because it doubled the risk of developing heart disease and other vascular problems – is another example of a drug that was heavily over-hyped prescribed to millions for whom it was not appropriate. Evidence that there was a danger was once again downplayed or ignored; one expert estimate puts just the number of Americans killed or damaged by a drug they took to ease aching joints at 140,000.

Professor Baum demonstrates no understanding why people are searching for alternatives to his remedies. In any other business, blaming your customers for deserting you would be regarded as a bizarre and self-defeating management strategy. If he’s serious about patient safety and cutting costs, he could start by demanding that drug disasters are followed by an official enquiry and that testing of promising non-drug therapies is properly funded.’

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