Alternative treatments: why do news media constantly fall into Big Pharma traps?

All Black great Sir Colin Meads, interviewed by Stuff this week about his endorsement of "magic water". PHOTO: Stuff

OPINION

By Ian Wishart

The current moral panic in the news media over “quack” water Te Kiri Gold – claimed by its inventor to treat cancer – illustrates a wider problem facing daily news journalists: their gullibility coupled with a lack of critical thinking skills.

It usually crops up when journalists cover the fields of science and health. That’s because – for the most part – those in the daily media have no formal training in those areas nor do they have the mindset to cope with the intricacies and uncertainties of science. In high school students generally split two ways – arts or sciences. Journalists are almost always from the arts camp. Even those who cover science and health in the media have only marginally more understanding of the subjects than their colleagues.

I see their confusion and muddle-headed analysis all the time. In climate science, the journalists writing about it don’t have a clue what they are talking about and rely on climate scientists to explain it to them. I found this out the hard way in 2009 when covering a news conference thrown by climate scientists and New Zealand’s Royal Society for the media ahead of the Copenhagen climate conference.

The attending journo’s sat there lapping up every  bald-faced fib being fed to them by NIWA, the Ministry for the Environment and Victoria University climate scientists. When I started asking inconvenient questions (because unlike my photogenic TV colleagues I actually had the latest peer reviewed studies and knew how to read the data) I was deliberately thrown out of the media conference under the guise of “a technical problem with the conference line from Auckland”.

A couple of daily media journalists were smart enough to understand the points I was making and that I had been shut down before the rest of the media figured it out, but most of the journalists attending were simply too out of their depth to realise and too much in awe of the guys in white coats to care.

I still see that same gullibility nearly every time Newshub broadcasts a a bulletin, or rife in the pages of our two main newspaper chains.

Uncritically, they broadcast claims as “gospel” that recent floods and cyclones are the result of human caused “climate change”. We were treated to a Newshub story this weekend telling us that Lower Hutt river levels were rising because of the climate change.

Yet only last month the climate scaremongers at US climate agency NOAA were admitting there has so far been NO detectable impact of climate change on storms:

“Has Global Warming Affected Hurricane or Tropical Cyclone Activity?

Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory/NOAA

Last Revised: Mar. 17, 2017

A. Summary Statement

Two frequently asked questions on global warming and hurricanes are the following:

  • Have humans already caused a detectable increase in Atlantic hurricane activity or global tropical cyclone activity?
  • What changes in hurricane activity are expected for the late 21st century, given the pronounced global warming scenarios from current IPCC models?

In this review, we address these questions in the context of published research findings. We will first present the main conclusions and then follow with some background discussion of the research that leads to these conclusions. The main conclusions are:

  • It is premature to conclude that human activities–and particularly greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming–have already had a detectable impact on Atlantic hurricane or global tropical cyclone activity

If there has been any impact of climate change, NOAA goes on to say, it is so small that it cannot even be detected yet. So every time you hear the media or the Green Party scolding you over climate change and storms and talking about “the new normal”, remember the media and Green politicians are broadcasting #fakenews.

Which brings me to the main subject of this post.

Taranaki farmer Vern Coxhead has been getting media publicity for his special “water” that a number of cancer patients including All Black legend Colin Meads have turned to.

The media has rightly pointed out that no clinical trials have been done on this stuff, and they’ve then labelled it “quack water” and a rip off.

Maybe at $1700 a course, it is. Maybe it isn’t. But the moral police come out in force every time an alternative treatment for cancer is proposed. Is their outrage justified? To my mind in most cases, no, and here’s why.

I lost my mother to cancer a while ago. Doctors had thrown everything at her including the kitchen sink and courses of non-Pharmac subsidised experimental chemotherapy drugs at around $30,000 a dose. Big Pharma does not hesitate to offer whatever it can to treat cancer. It makes vast profits from oncology treatment.

But in many cases those treatments don’t work or they only buy a few weeks, months, or at best a couple of years’ remission. Taxpayers collectively pay more than $100,000 to treat each cancer patient, and some families pay privately on top of that.

Yet Big Pharma and its shills scream blue murder about quackery when people turn to alternative medicine which for the most part is far cheaper.

Does Te Kiri Gold fit that description? It’s not cheap, and there is no reason for it to be expensive when it is simply electrolysed water (according to media reports), which creates a slight chlorination effect. Chlorinated water is a disinfectant. Tap water in the big cities is chlorinated to kill bugs. It is possible that scoffing chlorinated water might make your bloodstream slightly more inhospitable to cancer cells – I don’t know – but I do defend the right of the public to try alternative remedies if they wish.

Let’s face it, if Big Pharma had 100% cancer cure rates for their $100,000 treatments, one could accept their protestations and warnings as valid. But they don’t have cure rates anywhere near that, and some cancers like bowel and pancreatic will get you every time barring a miracle (I have seen miracles, but that’s a different story).

If I’ve been told by my oncologist to arrange my affairs, see a priest and book a plot at Pleasant Meadows, why the heck shouldn’t I be allowed to try fairy water, magic beans or whatever else takes my fancy? Doctors have no hesitation in offering experimental chemo that drains your bank account faster than a Nigerian scam artist.

That’s one of the reasons I have covered alternative cancer therapies in my book “Show Me The Money, Honey: The Truth About Big Pharma’s War on Salt, Chocolate, Cholesterol & The Natural Health Products That Could Save Your Life”.

I looked at Apricot kernels (laetrile). They don’t appear to work, so I didn’t bother giving them any oxygen in the book.

One of the treatments I did publish in the book was high dose intravenous Vitamin C. Scientists have found that megadose Vitamin C injected directly into the bloodstream actually DOES appear to kill cancer, by making the blood too acidic for the cancer cells. For years this idea has been described as “quackery” by most oncologists in NZ, but they get their information (and free trips and gifts) from pharmaceutical companies who have a vested interest in selling very expensive chemotherapy drugs. Anything that threatens Big Pharma’s profits is to be publicly ridiculed.

Big Pharma can’t patent Vitamin C or Vitamin D. There is no money to be made from them, and indeed a lot of money to be lost if some of these natural approaches to cancer catch on and are successful.

Another one I covered in the book is a highly concentrated wheatgerm extract, which in clinical trials killed cancers left right and centre. One trial in melanoma patients found those given the natural supplement with their chemotherapy “were much more likely (86%) to be cancer free after a seven year follow up than those on chemotherapy alone, and 50% more likely to be alive.” That’s a far higher survival rate than the best new drugs on melanoma can offer.

Would I pay hundreds of dollars a month to take it if I had cancer? In a heartbeat. I published the trial results in the book for everyone to see.

But my daily media colleagues are locked into Big Pharma’s traps. They ignore books like Show Me The Money Honey, and instead tend to treat everything Big Pharma says as gospel.

Where the heck is critical thinking?

My book has published peer-reviewed medical research revealing the Ministry of Health dietary advice on salt intake in New Zealand and Australia is wrong: that adopting the new salt guidelines will in all probability shorten your life by decades. Has the news media reported these findings? Not one.

Cholesterol is the same. The book proves that Big Pharma’s war on Cholesterol is a get rich quick scheme for the medical industry. They sell statin drugs by the truckload to give you low cholesterol, but are deliberately not telling you that numerous studies are now confirming that low cholesterol levels can triple your risk of dying young.

Don’t take my word for it. Read the book. The clinical trials are published in it. And not one pharmaceutical company or health official has dared to challenge Show Me The Money, Honey in the eight months the book has been on sale.

If most journalists knew how to read a scientific paper or clinical trial data, they’d be reporting this stuff to you. But they are not. Because they don’t understand it. They continue to pay homage to the folk in white coats who tell them what to think.

That’s why I write books. To give you the information the media can’t.

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