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Why do some registered medical practitioners promote CAM interventions?

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Posted 27 June 2020

An opinion, published in the Friends of Science in Medicine newsletter.

Why do some doctors, equipped with a science-based degree offering so many opportunities for a satisfying  professional  career,  join  the  ranks  of  raggle-taggle  quacks and  self-proclaimed experts?  These  range  from  outright  shonks  (eg  Gwyneth  Paltrow)  to  the  sincere,  but  befuddled, followers of rigid, ancient, pre-scientific belief systems.

I offer some thoughts on what might or might not answer this question.

  1. Science is hard work
    Learning can be described as ‘shallow’, ‘deep’ or ‘strategic’. Some students manage to scrape through  their  medical  degree  without  a  genuine  understanding  of  biomedical  science.  How  else could one explain their willingness to embrace pseudo-science?
  1. ‘Transactional’ medicine is unsatisfying
    Rather  than  simply  expanding  their  concept  of  good  medical  care,  some  make  a  ‘mind-body’  connection  through pseudo-science. They don’t realise that psychological medicine is as heavily reliant on science as is
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Why SECTION27 and TAC are involved in a court case about complementary medicines

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Posted 01 June 2020

28th May 2020 Tendai Mafuma and Julia Chaskalson

Those who manufacture or sell complementary medicines often make claims about what these medicines contain and all the diseases they prevent or cure. As the public, we might assume that the claims must be true since some authority would stop the sale of these products if the claims were untrue. Unfortunately that is not something we can take for granted.

A set of regulations published in 2017 tasked the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) with regulating complementary medicines – essentially so that the public can have confidence that these products contain what they are claimed to contain and that they do what they are claimed to do. This was an important step forward for the public’s right to know and right not to be misled by quacks.

But yesterday (27 May 2020) the Pretoria High Court Read the rest

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It’s time to stop giving snake oil salesmen the benefit of the doubt.

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Posted 20 May 2020

Centre for Enquiry April 13, 2020

[CamCheck does not focus on homeopathy. However, the points made in the article are appropriate for CamCheck by substituting ‘alternative medicine’ for homeopathy. Editor]

The makers of homeopathic medicine want it both ways.

  • They want their “drugs” to be treated like real medicine, to be able claim they can treat all kinds of ailments, and sell them right alongside evidence-based medicines on pharmacy shelves.
  • They also don’t want their products to be held to the same rigorous standards of safety and efficacy as real medicine. They don’t want to have to prove their stuff actually works, because, of course, they know it doesn’t.

Homeopathy is perhaps the most obviously phony form of alternative medicine, and we simply can’t assume that those who manufacture and market it are acting in good faith, any more than we assume positive intent from Read the rest

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Death toll fears amid claims patients choose ‘natural remedies’ over conventional medicine

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Posted 28 January 2019

By Linda Hall -22 January 2019 @ 14:301

EuroWeeklyNews

THOUSANDS of people could be dying each year in Spain because they trust alternative medicine.

Between 1,210 and 1,460 deaths can be attributed to complementary and “natural remedies” according to Spain’s Association for Protection against Pseudo-Scientific Therapies (APETP).

Homeopathic products are available in most Spanish pharmacies and although universities are gradually withdrawing tuition, many still offer alternative medicine courses.

The situation is particularly serious in Madrid and Valencia, non-profitmaking APETP maintains, where at least 60 members of the Official Colleges of Physicians offer “dangerous pseudo-therapies,”

APETP members include patients affected by the effects of pseudo-medicine as well as doctors and medical researchers who welcomed the national government’s “war” on alternative therapies.

Last November Health and Science ministries presented ambitious plans which, if approved, will prevent both public and private health centres from offering treatments not backed by Read the rest

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‘Natural’ does not mean best, better or even good

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Ivo Vegter • 7 January 2019

Daily Maverick

A pervasive myth has arisen around the word ‘natural’. When applied to food, medicine, cosmetics or cleaning products by marketing experts, it invariably implies not just a derivation from nature but also that it is better than manufactured alternatives. In fact, it often is significantly worse.

Marketers know very well that the label “natural” is a winner. “Natural goodness,” they’ll declare on an item of food. “Pure and natural,” they’ll gush, on face cream or body scrub. “100% natural, chemical-free,” they state on a hair conditioner. Millions of products and tens of thousands of books extol the virtues of everything from natural foods to natural remedies to natural health for dogs and cats.

Marketers, of course, have only one job. They get paid to make you buy more stuff. If their slogans, labels and taglines do not make a company more profitable, they are replaced. … Read the rest

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Keeping therapies “complementary”, not “alternative”

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Posted 2 August 2018

Medical Journal Australia 30 July 2018

IN 2013, a 21-year-old Spanish physics student, Mario Rodríguez, died of leukaemia after refusing a second round of chemotherapy in favour of “natural” remedies recommended by his homeopath.

In the wake of his son’s death, Mario’s grieving father, Julián Rodríguez, launched a legal action against the homeopath for reckless homicide and “professional intrusion” (essentially, falsely pretending to have medical knowledge).

The homeopath had prescribed 4000 euros worth of alternative medicines to Mario, including vitamins, fungi and alcohol, according to a report in the Independent.

He denied allegations he had claimed to be able to cure cancer, saying: “we train the body to enhance recovery and if cancer is cured, then perfect”.

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“Complementary medicine” (CM) use linked to worse outcomes for cancer patients

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Posted 23 July 2018

From a national database of more than 1.9 million patients, researchers identified 258 users of CM who were diagnosed with non-metastatic breast, prostate, lung, or colorectal cancer from 2004 through 2013. This group was compared to four times as many nonusers of CM who were similar in neighborhood of residence, age, stage of cancer, concurrent health problems, insurance type, race/ethnicity, year of diagnosis, and type of cancer. All patients in both groups had undergone chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery, and/or hormone therapy. The modalities involved were herbs and botanicals; vitamins and minerals; probiotics; Ayurvedic medicine; traditional Chinese medicine; homeopathy and naturopathy; deep breathing; yoga; Tai Chi; Qi Gong; acupuncture; chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation; meditation; massage; prayer; special diets; progressive relaxation; and/or guided imagery. The findings included:

  • CM use was associated with higher stage of cancer, younger age, being female, having private insurance, higher socioeconomic status, higher income, and
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FDA warns against curcumin injections

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Posted 19 September 2017

The FDA has received reports of patients who experienced hypersensitivity reactions immediately after received intravenous infusions of curcumin (a component of the spice turmeric) compounded with polyethylene glycol 40 castor oil. The PEG 40 castor oil was a component of a curcumin emulsion product compounded by a pharmacy, ImprimisRx, located in Irvine, California. One patient was being treated by a naturopath for eczema; the other was being treated for thrombocytopenia (low platelet count) at a “holistic health center.”

Hypersensitivity reactions to other intravenous products containing polyethylene glycol castor oil have been reported and are the subject of warnings for a number of FDA-approved drugs. On June 23, ImprimisRx recalled all unexpired products containing the ungraded PEG 40 castor oil. The FDA is concerned about the risks associated with compounded drugs, particularly those that use non-pharmaceutical grade components and ingredients that lack a USP monograph. The problems Read the rest

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Alternative Medicine Kills Cancer Patients, Study Finds

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Posted 15 August 2017

“A team of scientists from Yale University perused the National Cancer Database, a collection of 34 million records of cancer patients along with their treatments and outcomes, to identify patients who elected to forgo conventional cancer treatments like chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery in favor of alternative medicine. They found 280 subjects diagnosed with nonmetastatic breast, prostate, lung, or colorectal cancer in 2004 who used alternative medicine (defined in the database as “other-unproven: cancer treatments administered by non- medical personnel”) and matched them with 560 control subjects who received conventional treatment.” 

“After five years, 78.3% of subjects who received conventional treatments were still alive, compared to only 54.7% of subjects who used alternative medicine. Even more startling, breast cancer patients who used alternative medicine were five times more likely to die. Colorectal cancer patients were four times more likely to die. Lung cancer patients were twice Read the rest

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NHS to stop paying for homeopathy, certain supplements, and many OTC drugs

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Posted 24 July 2017

NHS England has announced plans to stop paying for prescriptions for treatments that it considers “ineffective, over-priced and low value.” A formal public consultation has been launched on proposed guidelines.
[Items which should not routinely be prescribed in primary care: A Consultation on guidance for CCGs. NHS England, July 21, 2017]

The list includes homeopathic products, glucosamine, chondroitin, herbal products, lutein, certain antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids (some uses), gluten-free foods, and more than 3,200 nonprescription drugs.  
[NHS England launches action plan to drive out wasteful and ineffective drug prescriptions, saving NHS over £190 million a year
. NHS England news release, July 21, 2017] 

Public comments are welcome until October 21.

Source: Consumer Health Digest #17-29, July 23, 2017

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