If It Walks Like a Duck…

Remember Dr Jonathan V Wright of stomach acid fame? This should jog your memory:

When Theresa’s husband started leaving his socks in the fridge…

She was merely worried. But when he came back from a fishing trip minus the fish, his boat and his dog, they both decide to see Dr Wright. Vincent thought he was “losing it”, but it turned out he was actually missing the stomach acid he needed to break down his food. And without it, his brain cells weren’t being “fed” the nutrients they depend on. He’s sharp as a razor now!

Well, after months of milking that particular teat it seems to have run dry, so the good Dr Wright has moved on to another, namely benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). The standard treatment for this common (well, amongst grumpy old men, anyway) ailment is a drug called finasteride, variously marketed under other names, such as Proscar and Propecia (in its other use as a cure for male-pattern baldness).

Here is what Dr Wright has to say on the subject of finasteride:

Are you sitting down?
Researchers at the University of Southern California recently tested this assumption [that finasteride is good for the prostate] and the results couldn’t have been more alarming.

As recorded in the British Journal of Cancer, researchers studied 52 men with high PSA…

First they gave the men baseline biopsies to make sure there were no signs of cancer…
then they gave 27 of the men a one-year course of finasteride, the standard drug for benign prostate problems. The other 25 were given nothing.

When the year was up, researchers gave each man a second biopsy. Guess what they found?
Nearly 30% of the men taking finasteride DEVELOPED PROSTATE TUMOURS
Yet tumours were found in only one of the 25 men taking nothing.

This would indeed be alarming if the sample size were larger, and if the study actually exists, but a search of the British Journal of Cancer failed to find it. I did, however, find this one in the same journal, and I shall quote its conclusions:

Compared to medication non-users, overall prostate cancer incidence was not significantly affected in finasteride users (hazard ratio 0.87; 95% CI 0.63–1.19). Incidence of Gleason 2–6 tumours, however, was decreased among finasteride users (HR 0.59; 95% CI 0.38–0.91), whereas incidence of Gleason 7–10 tumours was unchanged (HR 1.33; 95% CI 0.77–2.30). The protective effect concerned mainly screen-detected tumours. Overall prostate cancer risk was not significantly reduced among alpha-blocker users relative to non-users, but decreased incidence of high-grade tumours was observed (0.55; 95% CI 0.31–0.96).
The detection of low-grade, early-stage tumours is decreased among men who use finasteride for symptomatic BPH. The protective effect of finasteride can also be expected in men with benign prostatic hyperplasia.

This was a study of a cohort of 23,320 men, somewhat more than 52. This study, and this one seem to agree.

So what is Dr Wright’s case? What is his motive for his campaign of misinformation? We get to that a couple of paragraphs later, under a photograph of a bemused looking elderly man being embraced by one with the blissful expression of a well-fucked woman:

Aaron was facing the surgery all men dread…But Dr Wright saved his sex life
After 4 years of painful BPH, Aaron couldn’t bear it anymore. His doctor was saying “surgery”, but his wife was horrified! “Aaron,” she said, “haven’t you heard enough from your brother about what surgery does? A good thing he’s a widower.”
Now Aaron and his wife are happy and fulfilled again. His prostate has shrunk, his pains are gone and he says, “I don’t have a problem anymore.” Details in your FREE BONUS GIFT
See page 22 to claim your FREE BONUS GIFT Dr Wright’s 82 Secrets for treating the “Incurable”

Of course, you only get the so-called free bonus gift if you sign up for an expensive subscription to Wright’s Health and Nutrition.

There are several red flags in Wright’s epistle (by the way, he’s stopped spamming me by email, he now sends his rubbish through the mail which means I have to type out quotes instead of cutting and pasting). His inaccurate (or at best selective) reporting of research, the “hook” he uses to suck the reader in and get him to part with money in the hope of the “miracle” cure and the silliness of the language, amongst others, are all indications that this is the work of a snake oil salesman, and this is confirmed by looking at Quackwatch.

If you value your health, use Wright’s pamphlets as firelighters or to line the bottom of your parrot cage—don’t under any circumstances buy his bullshit.

Creative Commons License
Grumpy Old Man by Mark Widdicombe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License

4 Responses to If It Walks Like a Duck…

  1. Con-Tester says:

    Yeah, this is of the same order of dangerous inanity as the tosh and falderal promoted by the kooks of Natural Health Dossier albeit that Wright’s hooey is more specific. It’s all “Big Pharma” and “What your doctors don’t know or won’t tell you” conspiracies. The essential difficulty is that physiology is hugely complex and there are many gaps in medical knowledge. Unfortunately there are far too many conceited deceivers out there preying on willing victims, the law will only prosecute harmful action (not harmless action or harmful inaction), and caveat emptor also applies in matters medical.

  2. Anke says:

    Nice one Mark!!

  3. Good day,
    This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out
    and tell you I really enjoy reading through
    your articles. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that go over
    the same topics?
    Thank you so much!

  4. Micah says:

    Fabulous, what a website it is! This web site gives
    valuable data to us, keep it up.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: