Feb 182015
 

Sunday Express: Health chief slams statins (15 February 2015)

Two weeks ago, Obhi wrote to the Rt Hon Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, the Chair of the Commons Health Select Committee, to:

“… urge the Committee to investigate what I consider to be the chronic regulatory
failure which has led to the current dietary advice, the medical guidance to doctors and the
near-exclusive allocation of public research funding to commercial medical research,
without any obligation to publish the results.”

On Sunday, an article in the Sunday Express reported that Dr Wollaston had called for drug companies to release all their trial data on statin medications, saying “I’m concerned there may be side effects that have not been reported. Drug manufacturers should release all their trial data on statins so they are available for scrutiny.” Dr Fiona Godlee, the editor-in-chief of the BMJ, has to be commended for having led the calls for transparency of the research results.

As you may have seen from the You must be nuts! Twitter feed, there have been several other interesting developments over the past two weeks. Over in the US, the draft US Dietary Advice 2015 guidelines are poised to withdraw longstanding warnings about cholesterol. Meanwhile, researchers led by Zoë Harcombe concluded that “Evidence from randomised controlled trials did not support the introduction of dietary fat guidelines in 1977 and 1983“.

Unsurprisingly, NHS Choices, which continues to advise against eating cholesterol and saturated fat, quickly denied that this study was important, adding another web page to those recommended for deletion in Annex 1 of Obhi’s letter. Not even everyone at the NHS is convinced by the NHS Choices guidance, it seems. As part of its 100 days of change campaign, leading to NHS Change Day on 11 March 2015, story 32 revealed that:

“the Community Diabetes Team (Dietitians and Diabetes Specialist Nurses) launched a pilot programme of Low Carb Diet Groups, offering education and support for people with Type 2 Diabetes who wished to follow a healthy low carb diet and have the necessary support with their medication changes.”

Perhaps a clue to the reluctance to change the dietary advice comes from the news last week that researchers guiding the UK Government’s anti-obesity campaign had received hundreds of thousands of pounds of funding from the junk food industry. The BMJ published an editorial asking ‘Big food, big pharma: is science for sale?’. The editorial accompanied a 3-part investigation into Sugar’s web of influence (Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3).

It echoes a 2013 article by the previous editor of the BMJ, Dr Richard Smith: Is the pharmaceutical industry like the mafia? The article was based on his foreword to the book Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime: How Big Pharma Has Corrupted Healthcare by Peter Gøtzsche, the head of the Nordic Cochrane Centre.

The BMJ provided an interactive infographic to illustrate the connections between food industry companies/lobbies and members of the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition and the Medical Research Council’s Human Nutrition Research Unit.

This brings us back to the astonishing revelation from Sir Rory Collins that his team would [future tense!] ‘carry out a “challenging” reassessment of the evidence which will include studying all reported side effects. Although the original research looked at the effect of statins on the heart and considered cancer risks it did not examine other side effects.’ Dr Malcolm Kendrick has called for an apology from Sir Rory Collins, who had called on the BMJ to retract two articles critical of statins last year because he claimed they over-stated the adverse effects of statins.

Last year, NICE had recommended extending the scope of statin prescriptions apparently primarily on the basis of assurances from Sir Rory Collins’ team that statins were safe. As mentioned in Obhi’s letter, NICE’s methodology is to carry out a cost-benefit analysis (to “assess whether treatments and ways of managing a condition are good value for money for the NHS“). However, by relying on the recommendations from Sir Rory Collins’ team, NICE’s analysis could not have taken account of the adverse effects of statins.

A more transparent analysis is provided by the NNT (the number needed to treat before 1 patient benefits). Two recent articles in the New York Times highlighted its usefulness: Can this treatment help me? There’s a statistic for thatHow to measure a medical treatment’s potential for harm.

For statins, the NNT for patients who do not have heart disease suggests that the harms outweigh the benefits.

We believe the adverse effects of long-term statin medication contributed to the frontotemporal dementia, muscle pains and cataracts of Obhi’s father over at least the past six years. In the light of the news that Sir Rory Collins’ team has yet to explore the adverse effects of statins, it would seem appropriate for NICE to retract all its guidance to doctors recommending statins in primary prevention. Evidently, it has no data to support its positive analysis of statin use.

Thanks to the transparency spotlight of social media, we look forward to a time in the near future when the dietary and medical advice, as well as medical research funding, will be guided exclusively by scientific evidence, rather than by money from commercial interests. We hope You must be nuts! – the business of dementia and Obhi’s letter will contribute to this call.

Meanwhile, we look forward to the world premiere of Statin Nation II in London on 28 February 2015.

Dec 212014
 
Poster image for You must be nuts!

It has taken much longer to complete the film than we had intended when we published the 3-minute prequel on New Year’s Day 2014!

The prequel shows the puppets Alph and Chah-Lee in bed on a Saturday evening – the eve of the start of the film.

Now (at last!) everyone has the chance to see what Alph shows Chah-Lee ‘the next day’. After making a few technical adjustments following its unlisted test publication on Vimeo in November, the film is now on YouTube.

Many thanks to everyone for the very positive feedback so far. We have started to add closed captions to the film in English so that the film will be subtitled automatically in the 163 languages now supported by YouTube. If you want to help refine the subtitles in any language, please let us know via the comments to this post.

Even though it was unlisted on Vimeo, over 700 people have watched the film so far in 37 countries. Thanks particularly to Deborah Walker and the Natural Health Radio team for helping to promote the film to their listeners. Deborah interviewed Obhi about how he has been applying his research to treat his father’s dementia and about the film. You can catch up with the interview here.

If you are looking for more details about the treatment given to Obhi’s father, Obhi wrote a guest post on the HealthInsightUK blog about it in August. The film’s Twitter feed (@youmustbenuts) highlights the latest developments on dementia, and the food, drugs and chemicals which may cause it.

Jan 182014
 
Medical journalist Jerome Burne

In this second part of our interview with medical journalist Jerome Burne, he explains why coconut oil could ease Alzheimer’s. Here is the article he wrote for the UK Daily Mail about this: Can coconut oil ease Alzheimer’s? Families who’ve given it to loved ones swear by it . The article was published on 8 January 2013.

Jan 082014
 
Justin Smith, Producer/Director of Statin Nation

This is the first part of our interview with Justin Smith, Producer/Director of the investigative documentary Statin Nation. In it, he explains the background to his decision to make Statin Nation.

Since we filmed the interview, with the backing of a crowd-funding campaign which reached its initial target in record time, Justin has started to make Statin Nation II.

A few days ago, he published the first intro clip from Statin Nation II, which looks at the new cholesterol guidelines introduced in the US last month.

Apparently, these new guidelines are set to double the number of people taking statin medications.

The crowd-funding campaign to finance Statin Nation II is now close to its second target. If you want to see the rewards on offer and contribute to the crowd-funding campaign, visit the Statin Nation II web page.

Coming soon: Part 2 of our interview with Justin Smith, in which he explains why he thinks that there has been ‘consistent misinformation about what constitutes healthy eating’.

Jan 042014
 

While we put the finishing touches to You must be nuts!, we will gradually upload the full interviews we have filmed with Jerome Burne, Paul Burstow MP, Patrick Holford, Dr Stephanie Seneff and Justin Smith. They will be embedded on the interviews page of this website for future reference.

Regrettably, we are not able to include the full interviews in the film itself. However, by posting the full interviews here, this should allow those interested in knowing more to access the full and detailed explanations provided by our interviewees, who kindly gave us their time to contribute to the film.

This is the first part of our interview with Patrick Holford for You must be nuts! In it, he explains what he thinks could prevent Alzheimer’s.

Apart from being the chief executive of the Food for the Brain Foundation, Patrick Holford is the author of The Alzheimer’s Prevention Plan , as well as 34 other books in the field of nutrition medicine and psychiatry.

Jan 012014
 
Poster image for You must be nuts!

Poster image for You must be nuts!

I should introduce you to my friends Alph, Beel and Chah-Lee. They are puppets. You must be nuts! tells the story of how their exploration of the film’s interviews changes their lives.

Here’s the prequel:

The puppet family

Alph and Chah-Lee are husband and wife. They live in the UK.

Chah-Lee is the more health-conscious of the two. Every time a new diet becomes popular, she has been following it in the hope of returning to her once-slim figure.

Alph is the one I know best and through whom I met Chah-Lee and Beel. He is fascinated by current affairs and science. His iPad is his window on the world and we came to know each other through an online science discussion forum.

Beel is Chah-Lee’s Spanish father. He has travelled extensively and has lived in Spain, the UK, Latin America, the US and France. He met and married Chah-Lee’s mother while he was living in the UK.

Chah-Lee’s keen interest in health developed partly in reaction to seeing her mother gradually put on weight. As Chah-Lee was growing up, her mother started suffering health problems related to her obesity and diabetes.

As a result, after Beel had worked for many years as a senior executive, he and his wife decided to live in Spain. They set up ‘Beel’s Beach Bar’ together on its Mediterranean coast. Although Chah-Lee’s mother passed away a couple of years ago, Beel continues to run the bar.

The background to the puppets

Needless to say, Alph, Beel and Chah-Lee are fictitious characters. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Of course, Alph, Beel and Chah-Lee could be anyone – A, B and C – and they could be living anywhere in the world. Their dialogue is derived from various informal conversations with friends and colleagues over the past year about dementia, dietary advice, prescription drugs and/or what constitutes a healthy diet. It aims to cover all the typical questions which arise in any such discussion.

The puppets were kindly created for the film by Enrique Nicanor. His past credits include creating and animating the original puppets for the children’s TV series The Magic Roundabout and producing and directing the Spanish version of Sesame Street for its first three years.

Elisabeth Christ provided the voice of Chah-Lee, Enrique provided the voice of Beel and I provided the voice of Alph. Kaberi was the puppeteer behind Chah-Lee while Enrique was the puppeteer for Alph and Beel.

Amid the increasingly grim findings of my research and the challenges of caring for someone with dementia, Alph, Beel & Chah-Lee provided a welcome source of light relief. The two days of filming the puppet sequences were strenuous but fun. My father was our fascinated and patient live audience while we filmed the breakfast scenes over several hours on Saturday.

Wishing you a dementia-free 2014 … and beyond.

Jun 092013
 
The star of You must be nuts! - Coconut oil

The star of You must be nuts! – Coconut oil

This weekend, I started preparing a brief video introduction (or “teaser”) to You must be nuts!. The first image required by the script was an image of coconut oil. So let me introduce the star of the film … .