Category Archives: Medicine

Should ‘alternative medicine’ be taught in universities?

The use of complementary therapies on the NHS will be explored in a More 4 documentary, which will reveal that £12m has been spent on homeopathy over the last three years.

Why does it matter? Homeopathy – where patients are treated with a diluted dose of the substance that caused their original symptoms – has been widely discredited as little more than “sugar pills” by scientists.

After a six-year campaign by Professor David Colquhoun at University College London, the last BSc in homeopathy was suspended by Westminster University in March after it failed to recruit enough students. Five homeopathy degrees have been scrapped since 2007.

But there are still plenty of complementary and alternative medicine (Cam) courses available in universities, and the NHS continues to offer a variety of therapies, including homeopathy, despite a lack of research evidence to show their effectiveness.

The Liberal Democrat science spokesman, Dr Evan Harris, says the NHS is wrong to spend money on unproven treatments and effectively to give them a “stamp of approval” by doing so.

But Dr Peter Fisher, of the Royal London Homeopathic hospital, argues that there is strong evidence that patients benefit in the long term.

What do you think? Should universities be allowed to run such courses, or the NHS to provide patients with these alternative therapies?


Parents choose religion over their child’s life

OREGON CITY, Oregon (AP) – An Oregon judge has rejected defense claims of selective and vindictive prosecution in the manslaughter trial of a couple whose 15-month-old daughter died of pneumonia while they prayed for her recovery.

Clackamas County Judge Steven Maurer told lawyers for Carl and Raylene Worthington that the couple had a duty to seek medical care for their daughter, Ava, despite their religious beliefs. A state medical examiner has said the toddler, who died in March 2008, could have been treated with antibiotics.

The Worthingtons are members of the Followers of Christ — a small Oregon City church that advocates spiritual healing instead of medical care.

If convicted, the couple faces up to 10 years in prison.


McTimoney Chiropractors told to take down their web sites

The Quackometer reports;

This letter has been issued from the McTimoney Association to all its members…

Date: 8 June 2009 09:12:18 BDT

Subject: FURTHER URGENT ACTION REQUIRED!

Dear Member

If you are reading this, we assume you have also read the urgent email we sent you last Friday. If you did not read it, READ IT VERY CAREFULLY NOW and – this is most important – ACT ON IT. This is not scaremongering. We judge this to be a real threat to you and your practice.

Because of what we consider to be a witch hunt against chiropractors, we are now issuing the following advice:

The target of the campaigners is now any claims for treatment that cannot be substantiated with chiropractic research. The safest thing for everyone to do is as follows.

  1. If you have a website, take it down NOW.

When you have done that, please let us know preferably by email or by phone. This will save our valuable time chasing you to see whether it has been done.

  1. REMOVE all the blue MCA patient information leaflets, or any patient information leaflets of your own that state you treat whiplash, colic or other childhood problems in your clinic or at any other site where they might be displayed with your contact details on them. DO NOT USE them until further notice. The MCA are working on an interim replacement leaflet which will be sent to you shortly.
  1. If you have not done so already, enter your name followed by the word ‘chiropractor’ into a search engine such as Google (e.g. Joe Bloggs chiropractor) and you will be able to ascertain what information about you is in the public domain e.g. where you might be listed using the Doctor title or where you might be linked with a website which might implicate you. We have found that even if you do not have a website yourself you may still have been linked inadvertently to a website listing you or your services.

CHECK ALL ENTRIES CAREFULLY AND IF IN DOUBT, CONTACT THE RELEVANT PROVIDER TO REMOVE YOUR INFORMATION.

CHECK OUR PREVIOUS EMAILS FOR SPECIFIC ADVICE AND KEY WORDS TO AVOID.

KEEP A LOG OF YOUR ACTIONS.

  1. If you use business cards or other stationery using the ‘doctor’ title and it does not clearly state that you are a doctor of chiropractic or that you are not a registered medical practitioner, STOP USING THEM immediately.

5. Be wary of ‘mystery shopper’ phone calls and ‘drop ins’ to your practice, especially if they start asking about your care of children, or whiplash, or your evidence base for practice.

IF YOU DO NOT FOLLOW THIS ADVICE, YOU MAY BE AT RISK FROM PROSECUTION.

IF YOU DO NOT FOLLOW THIS ADVICE, THE MCA MAY NOT BE ABLE TO ASSIST YOU WITH ANY PROCEEDINGS.

Although this advice may seem extreme or alarmist, its purpose is to protect you. The campaigners have a target of making a complaint against every chiropractor in the UK who they perceive to be in breach of the GCC’s CoP, the Advertising Standards Code and/or Trading Standards. We have discovered that complaints against more than 500 individual chiropractors have been sent to the GCC in the last 24 hours.

Whatever you do, do not ignore this email and make yourself one of the victims. Some of our members have not followed our earlier advice and now have complaints made against them. We do not want that to happen to you.

Even if you do not have a website, you are still at risk. Our latest information suggests that this group are now going through Yellow Pages entries. Be in no doubt, their intention is to scrutinise every single chiropractor in the UK.

The MCA Executive has worked tirelessly over the last week keeping abreast of development and contacting at risk members. We have decided that this is our best course of action to protect you and the Association at this time of heightened tension. This advice is given to you solely to protect you from what we believe is a concerted campaign, and does not imply any wrongdoing on your part or the part of the Association. We believe that our best course of action is simply to withdraw from the battleground until this latest wave of targeting is over.

Finally, we strongly suggest you do NOT discuss this with others, especially patients, Firstly it would not be ethical to burden patients with this, though if they ask we hope you now have information with which you can respond.

Most importantly, this email and all correspondence from the MCA is confidential advice to MCA members alone, and should not be shared with anyone else.

Please be aware that the office phone lines are likely to be busy, so, if you need our help, please send an email to the office and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

Yours,

Berni Martin

MCA Chair.

Best wishes,

Nicki

Stunning. What have they got to hide?

The McTimoney web site itself now just reads:

For all enquiries regarding McTimoney chiropractic, please contact :

McTimoney Chiropractic Association
Crowmarsh Gifford
Wallingford OX10 8DJ
admin@mctimoney-chiropractic.org
Tel : 01491 829494

The most stunning admission is that Chiropractors are told:

IF YOU DO NOT FOLLOW THIS ADVICE, YOU MAY BE AT RISK FROM PROSECUTION.

****************************************************************************************************

All the missing websites have been archived here: http://yaxu.org/tmp/chiros.html

Smashing job yaxu

PS Dont forget to sign the Simon Singh support campaign.

http://www.senseaboutscience.org.uk/index.php/site/project/333/


Should ‘alternative medicine’ be taught in universities?

The use of complementary therapies on the NHS will be explored in a More 4 documentary, which will reveal that £12m has been spent on homeopathy over the last three years.

Why does it matter? Homeopathy – where patients are treated with a diluted dose of the substance that caused their original symptoms – has been widely discredited as little more than “sugar pills” by scientists.

After a six-year campaign by Professor David Colquhoun at University College London, the last BSc in homeopathy was suspended by Westminster University in March after it failed to recruit enough students. Five homeopathy degrees have been scrapped since 2007.

But there are still plenty of complementary and alternative medicine (Cam) courses available in universities, and the NHS continues to offer a variety of therapies, including homeopathy, despite a lack of research evidence to show their effectiveness.

The Liberal Democrat science spokesman, Dr Evan Harris, says the NHS is wrong to spend money on unproven treatments and effectively to give them a “stamp of approval” by doing so.

But Dr Peter Fisher, of the Royal London Homeopathic hospital, argues that there is strong evidence that patients benefit in the long term.

What do you think? Should universities be allowed to run such courses, or the NHS to provide patients with these alternative therapies?


When Scientific News Reporting is no longer based on facts

Or rather the facts are not examined in the spirit of ‘neutrality’.

Forgive me, but when I read news and research articles I do expect the media agency to have done at least some basic fact checking, especially if they put themselves forward as a scientific or medical media agency. I am aware that you cannot believe everything you read, but I always assumed that there was at least a sliding scale of responsibility of the agency publishing a story to check the validity of claims and results; from scientific publications all the way down to say the Daily Mail or Sun/Mirror.

So what has wound me up? Well after reading a weak article and making a complaint about it basically been an advert for $cientology’s Narconon program based on unverified results and unpublished research I got the following response;

“If we take down the scientology article we would immediately be taking a non-neutral stance regardin[g] reporting and medical news.

We receive hundreds of emails each day saying how many people have been killed as a result of receiving traditional medicine, going to a traditional medicine hospital, using such and such alternative therapies, belonging to this and that religion, being vegan, being meat-eaters, seeing a psychiatrist, not seeing a psychiatrist, etc. Literally hundreds each day. And we are pointed in each case to dozens of web sites claiming that many people have died as a result of taking different therapy routes.

As a neutral publication we cannot refuse with[out] justification.”

I can’t say I remember reading an article that promoted going to a voodoo shaman over other scientifically based and tested treatment programs. It’s bad enough that $cientology is getting to our kids through the Narconon program by preaching against all forms of drug use (Including NHS prescriptions).

So to be a ‘neutral publication’ now means that everything should be posted and reported irrespective of their claims or evidence (not) shown. Reporters for ‘scientific’ publications are now free to copy and paste company press releases without the need for critical thought or enquiry?

While this is obviously not true for all, I will be more likely in future to complain to editors when they print ‘scientific’ dribble and would encourage others to do the same.


Losing Virginity Later Linked to Sexual Problems

from ABC

While past research has linked early sexual activity to health problems, a new study suggests that waiting too long to start having sex carries risks of its own.

Couple Getting their freak on

Those who lose their virginity at a later age — around 21 to 23 years of age — tend to be more likely to experience sexual dysfunction problems later, say researchers at Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute’s HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies.

The study will appear in the January 2008 issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

Men who lose their virginity in their 20s, in particular, seemed to be more likely to experience sexual problems that include difficulty becoming sexually aroused and reaching orgasm.

The increase in sexual problems was also seen in those who had a comparably earlier sexual debut. And the researchers were quick to point out that there isn’t enough evidence to say for sure whether waiting to have sex necessarily leads to sexual dysfunction down the road.

“Our results do not allow for causal interpretations,” the study authors write.

Rather, they note in the study, there may be factors common to both the delay of sexual activity and the onset of sexual dysfunction — for example, they write, “[M]en with sexual problems may avoid sexual interactions and consequently start later.”

The researchers, who looked at data from the 1996 National Sexual Health Survey, conducted by the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies (CAPS) at the University of California, San Francisco, also found that men and women who begin having sex in their early teens had their share of problems. They were more likely to have risky sexual partners, to contract a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and to have sex while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

While sexuality experts not affiliated with the study agree that it is too early to draw a direct causal link about those who have sex later in life, they say the research offers some interesting new avenues for learning more about certain sexual problems that may be devastating to long-term relationships.

“Clinically, we see many individuals who marry late and who have had little or no sexual experience have great difficulty with developing a rich and satisfying sexual experience within their relationship,” said Eli Coleman, academic chair in sexual health at the University of Minnesota Medical School Program in Human Sexuality.

Sexual dysfunction is common. Difficulty in consummating the marriage is also a frequent problem,” he added.

Sexual Hang-Ups May Have Physiological Effects

Even though the research stops short of indicating a causal relationship between the age at which one loses his or her virginity and sexual problems they may experience later, Coleman said a number of possible factors could contribute to both of these things.

“From a clinical standpoint, there are often dynamics other than the desire to be abstinent until marriage, such as fear of intimacy, body image problems, alcohol and drug abuse, and sexual dysfunction,” he said. He adds that these factors “might influence the delay of sexual debut as a means of avoiding sexual issues.”

Conditioning that results in shame over sexual expression may also be a factor, said Gina Ogden, a Boston-based sexuality expert and author of “The Heart and Soul of Sex.”

“In my sex therapy office I see countless women and men who have received messages about sex that shame them about their sexual feelings and also terrify them about their sexual behavior.”

These messages, she said, can differ between men and women.

For women, she said, the message that “good girls” should not engage in or enjoy sex may cause women to shut down sexually, leading to dysfunction.

“One of the many dysfunctions that arises is that women never develop the ability to ask for what they want, which leaves them open for life-long disappointment, desire disorders, orgasmic dysfunction, and worse — they’re ripe for abuse and violence,” she said.

For men, the opposite message — that “real men score” — may lead to negative mindsets both among those who lose their virginity early and those who become sexually active only later — mindsets that impact their ability to perform sexually.

Because of the intimate link between the psyche and sexual performance, some sexuality experts say the results of these conditions most likely bring about sexual dysfunction through their psychological impacts.

“There are mostly, if not exclusively, psychological factors at play here, based on poor sexual skills that lead to a poor sexual debut, with lasting negative effects,” said Patti Britton, president of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists and Los Angeles-based author of books including “The Art of Sex Coaching.”

Coleman, however, said that biological factors may also be involved.

“There are probably both biological and psychological factors at play — which cannot be elucidated from this study — but suggests that further research needs to be conducted to explore those factors,” he said.

The Role of Abstinence-Only Education

The researchers say this preliminary evidence may point up detrimental effects of abstinence-only education.

The authors write that the study “lends credence to research showing that abstinence-only education may actually increase health risks,” adding that other approaches may better equip young people to avoid both short- and long-term sexual health consequences.

Many sexuality experts agree.

“In my view as a sexuality therapist since the 1970s, the abstinence-only approach is a public health hazard,” Ogden said. “Sexual relationship is complex, and the moment of marriage is not a magic marker.

“Instead of making young people pledge ‘no’ until marriage, we need to be encouraging them to understand their own sexual responses and orientations, learn how to engage in sexual practices that are safe, and acquire intimacy skills that will lead them into caring relationships.”

Said Coleman, “While abstinence only programs seem to be helpful in delaying onset of sexual activity, there have been suggestions that this approach could cause more problems when sexual debut takes place due to insufficient preparation and knowledge of responsible sexual behavior.

“This study is interesting because it suggests that sexual experimentation is a normal developmental process, and when this process is inhibited or not guided, there can be poor sexual health outcomes.”


MPs to force religion into the NHS

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Chaplaincy in the NHS – which is supported by 40 MPs from different religions – has said it will “name and shame” hospital trusts failing to provide chaplains from a required range of religions. The new grouping will attempt to force all NHS hospitals to provide a Catholic chaplain by making it a legal requirement.

The new group was formed with backing from former Conservative leader and Catholic Iain Duncan Smith, and will be chaired by shadow Health Minister, Mike Penning, an Anglican. The group will press for all major religions and denominations to be represented in hospital chaplaincies if they are present in the local population. Mr Penning said such hordes of clerics were necessary because the idea of “multi-faith” chaplains was “unsatisfactory”. All these chaplains are to be employed at the NHS Trusts’ expense.

Father Peter Scott, a national chaplain liaison officer and chaplain co-ordinator at Westminster Diocese, who pushed for the formation of the parliamentary committee, said: “The aim is to make chaplaincy services a statutory requirement, as it already is in prisons, the armed forces and higher education, but not in hospitals. In the NHS core principles there is nothing specific about the religious and spiritual needs of patients and staff.”

This latest push follows from the publication of a report from the Theos “Christian think tank” which revealed that hospitals in dire financial straits were cutting chaplaincy services in order to save medical and nursing jobs. Since then, the pressure has been increasing from the churches for this trend to be reversed.

When it was discovered that the Worcester Royal NHS Hospital Trust had cut its chaplaincy service to save money, the churches went into overdrive. Their pressure – as usual – has paid off and the Trust has been forced to announce that chaplaincy provision for its three hospitals will be part of the budget again next year – albeit that this is only a third of the previous complement.

As the churches push to dip into the stretched funds of hospitals around the country, the Bromley Hospitals Trust has announced that it has debts of £99 million and will have to lay off hundreds of staff. Drug orders have been slashed. London NHS doctors face a reduction in the supplement they get for living in the capital. The London Evening Standard reports that a superbug vaccine that could save thousands of lives has been shelved because of a funding crisis.

Perhaps the time has come, in the face of the financial crisis within the NHS, for the churches to examine their conscience and ask what moral right they have to demand money from such a service to finance something that should be their own responsibility? Why don’t they pay for the chaplains out of their own gigantic resources?

We’ve said it before, and we stick by it: these chaplains are parasites on a service that is there first and foremost to provide medical treatment and health care. When are we going to see the All Party Parliamentary Group for Making the Church Pay its Share?