[ASC-list] Statins proving to be a good debate for the understanding of medical research

Toss Gascoigne director at tossgascoigne.com.au
Fri Nov 8 08:16:04 UTC 2013


It reminds me of a program Catalyst ran about 10 years, when they looked at the issue of vaccinations for children.

They gave equal weight and time to opponents of vaccination as they did to orthodox medical opinions.

We can understand why 'balance' is an issue for non-specialists reporting in the news, an issue non-specialist journalists solve by giving equal time to both sides in a disputed area. 

For example: a comment by Will Steffan on climate change should be matched by one from, say, sceptics such as former Senator Nick Minchin or Ian Plimer, even though the broad thrust of climate science is supported by 95% of scientists active in the area.

But Catalyst?  Is it unreasonable to hope for a more sophisticated and intelligent approach?

  

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On 05/11/2013, at 7:56 PM, Chris Forbes-EWan wrote:

> The Catalyst programs led to much discussion on the Nutritionists Network
> ('Nut-Net', a professional nutrition email discussion list).
> 
> Here are some of the messages:
> 
> FIRST MESSAGE
> 
> You may be interested in Prof David Sullivan’s post on The Conversation:
> http://theconversation.com/its-not-even-debatable-saturated-fat-is-bad-for-y
> ou-19386
> 
> 
> SECOND MESSAGE
> 
> It is hard to accept that the ABC wouldn't do a better check on its sources.
> 
> It doesn't take long to discover that: 
> •         Nutritionist Dr Johnny Bowden sells a range of (expensive) detox
> supplements, bars, shakes, drinks and various anti-ageing supplements; 
> •         Cardiologist Dr Stephen Sinatra (who is also a bioenergetics
> psychotherapist) is the author of Sugar Shock and sells a huge range of
> supplements, including his Omega-3 slim which claims it will help you lose
> 30lb in 90 days; and
> •         Dr Michael Eades is the author of Protein Power (a v low carb
> diet) and also sells a range of very highly priced supplements, including
> protein powders and his Metabosol range of 'improved diet aides'.
> Cardiologist Dr Ernest Curtis - doesn't appear to sell supplements. He is
> the author of The Cholesterol Delusion.
> 
> Perhaps Media Watch might be interested
> 
> Rosemary Stanton
> 
> 
> THIRD MESSAGE
> 
> I thought the NHF response was very lame, and so did others. On the other
> hand, difficult to know what was edited from their responses by Catalyst.
> 
> Ultimately, though, the ABC Science unit has a lot of questions to answer
> about such a blatantly biased program.
> Paul R
> 
> 
> FOURTH MESSAGE
> 
> Nut-netters
> 
> Some may be interested in a piece I wrote for MJA Insight this week.
> 
> It is found at
> https://www.mja.com.au/insight/2013/42/rosemary-stanton-fat-facts
> 
> Rosemary Stanton
> 
> 
> 
> 
> Also, another article in The Conversation may be of interest:
> 
> http://tinyurl.com/o5mmdex
> 
> 
> 
> 
> -----Original Message-----
> From: ASC-list [mailto:asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au] On Behalf Of Niall
> Byrne
> Sent: Tuesday, 5 November 2013 6:35 PM
> To: asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au
> Subject: Re: [ASC-list] Statins proving to be a good debate for the
> understanding of medical research
> 
> Good to see this issue appear on the list. Is this a piece of great
> journalism or a shocking example of poor science communication. 
> 
> I've not seen the program but the promotion of it, and the nature of the
> Catalyst defence of the show rang alarm bells for me. It was just too
> strong. If they'd been more considered - "statins doing good but
> over-prescribed, reminds us that we still don't know what causes heart
> attacks etc etc" then I might have bought in. But their 'Today Tonight'
> style language, " certainly scientific fraud, and in its effect it's
> organised crime" was a worry. 
> 
> That was reinforced when I learnt of the leading Australian researchers who
> refused to participate - a very strong and unusual reaction in Australia. 
> 
> But Norman Swan's comments seal it for me. He waited, thought about it and
> responsed, "People will die as a result of the Catalyst program unless
> people understand at heart what the issues are."
> 
> I trust Norman. 
> 
> Niall
> 
> ________
> 
> Niall Byrne
>  
> Creative Director
> Science in Public    
> 82 Hudsons Road, Spotswood VIC 3015 
> PO Box 2076 Spotswood VIC 3015
> 03 9398 1416, 0417 131 977
>  
> niall at scienceinpublic.com.au
> Twitter scienceinpublic
> Full contact details at www.scienceinpublic.com.au
> 
> -----Original Message-----
> From: ASC-list [mailto:asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au] On Behalf Of Susan
> Kirk
> Sent: Tuesday, 5 November 2013 5:11 PM
> To: asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au
> Subject: [ASC-list] Statins proving to be a good debate for the
> understanding of medical research
> 
> As one who treats big Pharma with heavy scepticism; one with a history of
> familial hypercholesterolemia,and one that stopped taking statins over a
> year ago. I've been watching this debate with interest.   My CV risk has
> increased recently and I now have to make a decision about whether to
> continue taking this drug, more particularly whether it will reduce my risk
> and I believe the 'jury is still out.'
> 
> But interestingly, the issues which began with a catalyst program
> http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/heartofthematter/ might be a large lesson to
> all about the proper analyses of medical research and could be a bit of an
> eye opener, I believe, for the medical profession, who as Dr Ernest Curtis
> says, "tend to learn by route and are not critical thinkers." and quotes Max
> Plank (German Physicist) saying "new scientific theories are never adopted
> because the proponents of the old theories are brought around and see the
> light rather they have to die off and the next generation have to look at it
> anew and that's true."  He can't understand why the medical profession even
> accepted the pathological process of atherosclerosis.
> 
> For those with a subscription to Medical Observer there has been some
> murmurings.  Before the airing they called for the ABC to stop the program,
> based on fears by the medical profession that patients will discontinue
> statins
> http://www.medicalobserver.com.au/news/fears-patients-will-be-scared-off-sta
> tins#comments
> 
> Then this: http://vitualis.com/?p=505 which looks at a more critical way of
> deciding whether a patient (low risk) should be prescribed statins.  The
> outcome, no.  But seriously how much time does a Dr have to go through the
> process?
> 
> Today we have this commentary
> http://www.medicalobserver.com.au/news/catalyst-program-may-kill-people-abc-
> presenter-says?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=enews+05-11+new+format&utm_cont
> ent=enews+05-11+new+format+CID_bb15733850737fb316a16d06bbbec62e&utm_source=E
> mail%20marketing%20software&utm_term=Catalyst%20program%20may%20kill%20peopl
> e%20ABC%20presenter%20says
> 
> with some comments that need closer analysis (sorry if I keep spelling this
> word wrong) and interpretation. People will die.  Well I think that's at the
> heart of the debate isn't it?  Apparently the statins don't stop you dying.
> Then we have a statement about Aboriginal people?? Then Norman Swan, now
> respectfully, but really?  ³But nobody ever died of taking a statin, as far
> as I¹m aware. But if you are at high risk of heart disease, and you throw
> away your statins and go back to a bad diet, you could die.²  Yes going back
> to a bad diet is a def no no.  But what about this in the book The Great
> Cholesterol Con that states "the original statin cerivastatin was
> voluntarily withdrawn after killing rather too many people."
> 
> Now back to me celebrations.....
> 
> S
> 
> 
> 
> Susan Fairbairn (nee Kirk)   B.comm  freelance Journalist
> Member and Queensland Web Editor -  Australian Science Communicators (ASC)
> Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA)
> tel: +61 7 5478 6761 | mobile: 0414645953 | email: susan at susankirk.com.au
> www.susankirk.com.au |  Skype: susanakirk | Tweet: @SusanAKirk Facebook
> group: Plant Power
> 
> ³If you don¹t ask the right questions you won¹t get the right answers.²
> 
> 
> 
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