Doctoring Data: How to sort out medical advice from medical nonsense
by Dr. Malcolm Kendrick
Book Review by Dr. Haynes
Almost all of the medical research is funded, conducted, and reported by the corporations with vested interests. Dr. Kendrick has been studying the problems in medical research for over 30 years. After reading his book, I will never look at health news or published research in the same way again. It turns out we simply can’t believe what we are being told.
Dr. Kendrick’s book was compelling and his witty, irreverent writing makes it a fun, if disturbing, read. He explains the basics of understanding a study and then shows us how to question data we’ve previously taken as fact. He tackles cancer, heart disease, blood pressure, hormone replacement therapy and more. He shares that the popularly accepted “cholesterol hypothesis” has been disproven for many years but continues to thrive due to profits made from statin medications.
As a naturopathic physician, people often expect me to be skeptical about Big Pharma medicine. But questioning the current medical system is not limited to those practicing alternative medicine. Both the New England Journal of Medicine and the Lancet are the most well respected, peer-reviewed medical journals in the world. Here’s what their own editors have to say about the state of medical science today:
“It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of the New England Journal of Medicine.” Dr. Marcia Angell, editor of the New England Journal of Medicine
“The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analysis, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness.” Dr. Richard Horton, the current editor-in-chief of the Lancet
With all this doubt about truth in medical research, what is a patient to do? I strongly believe in the tenants of Naturopathic Medicine and use them as guiding principles with all of my patients (see a more detailed description):
- First Do No Harm – primum non nocere
- The Healing Power of Nature – vis medicatrix naturae
- Discover and Treat the Cause, Not Just the Effect – tolle causam
- Treat the Whole Person – tolle totum
- The Physician is a Teacher – docere
- Prevention is the best “cure” – praevenire
I encourage all patients and practitioners interested in being savvy consumers of medicine and advocates of their own health to read Dr. Hendrick’s book. It is one of the most informative books I’ve come across and is enjoyable to boot!