Garcinia cambogia

September 19, 2013

I have been growing portlier over the last few years. I don’t weigh myself, so this happened without my being consciously aware of it, although I did notice twinges in the joints as they protested against having to bear stresses for which they had not been intended.

But it was when I realised that I was having more and more trouble bending down far enough to put my socks on that I decided to do something about it. Coincidentally, I received an email at about the same time extolling a substance called Garcinia cambogia as a ‘miracle’ weight-loss medication. Needless to say, I was quite excited by this potentially easy way to lose weight, but as I read, red flags started popping up.
garcinia
The first of these was that the stuff had been recommended by Dr Oz. Now, Dr Oz has seemingly impeccable qualifications: graduated from Harvard, then received his MD from the University of Pennsylvania, and an MBA from Wharton. He is a professor at Columbia University. Yet he has a record of recommending quack remedies on his ridiculous TV show. Do they not teach anything about the scientific method at those prestigious institutions he attended?
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Canine Acupuncture

November 28, 2011

Alice had it good. Her Wonderland was sane and predictable compared to the surreal, bizarre world we occupy. Here is the latest manifestation of lunacy and horror to fill the columns of our newspapers.

To the East of Cape Town is a sprawling township called Khayelitsha. Its residents are poor. They live mostly in shacks made out of odd pieces of corrugated iron, cardboard, and timber scavenged from who knows where. They come from the impoverished rural areas to the east, and also from countries to the north: Congo, Mozambique, Ghana, Nigeria. All have come in the hope of achieving a better life for themselves and their families. Like humans everywhere they love their pet animals, but often cannot afford to have them neutered or spayed, so there are a lot of stray animals in Khayelitsha.
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More Prostate Palaver

November 3, 2011

Health is important. In fact, it’s a matter of life and death. It should–if you value your life at all–be of the gravest concern, yet there are those who spend more time selecting their brand of toothpaste than the providers of their health services. When my doctor prescribes medication for me I head to the internet to find out as much as I possibly can about it–side-effects, interactions and so on that may have a bearing on my particular circumstances and that my doctor may have missed–before I take it. But a lot of people will take anything recommended by some quack or other without devoting a single particle of thought to it. They see something like the following and rush out in their ovine flocks to enrich the person who penned the following:

Don’t let your prostate problems get the better of you…
Reclaim your sexual freedom
and endurance…
And I PROMISE
your wife will be begging for more!
Dear Friend,
Your doctor says it’s inevitable….

It’s the awkward part of getting older.

Your sexual vigour and desire drops… Your hair turns grey… Wrinkles form… Your eyes get weaker…

Your bones get brittle.

That’s just how it is, right?

Wrong!!!

Remember when you first met your wife?

When you simply could not keep your hands off each other. Every flat surface was an invitation you couldn’t resist and you had enough stamina for days.

Your wife might’ve had a lot to complain about at the time but it certainly wasn’t in that department… Do you remember how that felt?

The truth is that sex is an awesome, exciting, exhilarating and fun part of life. And as men it’s a big part of our identity.

And we’re supposed to just give that up? Who made these rules anyway???

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Out, Damned Spot

September 9, 2011

There’s a sucker born every minute.
–David Hannum


“Convergence” has been a buzzword in technology circles for a while now. Well, smartphones converged with pustular adolescent skins when two companies independently started to market smartphone apps that claimed to be able to cure acne. AcnePwner (“Kill ACNE with this simple, yet powerful tool!) attracted 3,300 downloads at 99c a pop, and AcneApp sold 11,600 at $1.99. Read the rest of this entry »


If It Walks Like a Duck…

August 11, 2011

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!

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Holford’s Folly

June 21, 2011

We have recently been bombarded with advertisements from a person called Patrick Holford who makes his nefarious living flogging unnecessary vitamin supplements to the gullible. It’s not surprising, therefore, that he defends the taking of vitamins in large doses for every conceivable ailment that could possibly afflict the human race, and if one happens to be healthy, then he advocates taking them anyway as a prophylactic measure. The problem with Mr Holford’s campaigns is that he is frequently economical with the truth to the point of comedy.

Here are some examples from a diatribe against the UK National Health Service (NHS), in which he criticises the NHS’s stance on vitamin supplementation. He claims that

The essential message is supplements don’t really work. They are probably dangerous and simply not worth the money. If you are sick what you need is drugs.

Which, needless to say, doesn’t suit Mr Holford’s interests. So he goes on the attack.

There has not been a single death from taking high dose vitamin supplements anywhere in the world. In the 35 years I’ve been in this field I haven’t encountered one serious adverse reaction to a vitamin, mineral or essential fat supplement.

Well, this is simply untrue. It is a lie, a porky pie, a whopper and a brazen fib. According to the 2004 Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers Toxic Exposure Surveillance System there were 62, 562 instances of vitamin overdose in the USA in 2004, 53 of which were life-threatening and 2 deaths actually occured. I remember doing an arctic survival course many years ago in which we were exhorted not to eat polar bear liver lest we fall victim to vitamin A toxicity, never mind the injuries that might accrue in obtaining the polar bear’s liver in the first place, particularly if it was still in use by the bear. Vitamins can be harmful. Holford goes on

If a supplement has an ‘active’ ingredient (meaning it works) it’s referred to the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Authority, and classified as a medicine, and banned for over the counter sale.

Well, exactly. The muck Holford flogs isn’t banned for sale over the counter. Draw your own conclusions.

But why is the NHS spending money persuading people not to take supplements?

Um, because they’re charged with protecting the nation’s health, perhaps?

I don’t know about you but I am getting pretty fed up with the money that’s being spent on propaganda to keep the pharmaceutical and medical industry in power while we, the public, get sicker and broker.

I wasn’t aware that the pharmaceutical and medical industries were “in power”, but I can quite understand why you don’t like the NHS’s stance on supplements. It makes Patrick Holford broker (well, slightly less stinking rich).

Holford was also responsible for advocating mega doses of vitamin C as a treatment for HIV infection instead of AZT. This should give you some idea of the extent of either his crackpothood or, depending on how generous you are feeling, his voracious appetite for profit.

Since he isn’t a doctor, I can’t call Holford a quack, but if he were he would be. Don’t waste your money on this flake’s rubbish.

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


Base Station Blues

February 22, 2011

I recently received a letter from my local homeowners association regarding the erection of a cell phone base station in our suburb. They had received complaints about the proposed base station on grounds of possible adverse health effects, not because it would be an eyesore.

Base Station

The letter also stated that

several health organizations have expressed their concern regarding possible Tumours, Cancers, Chilhood Leukemia, changes in sleep patterns, headaches and other related diseases. 

I have asked for further and better particulars of these “health organizations” but have so far not received a reply.

It seems extremely likely that these fears are groundless. There are a number of reasons for this:

  • Cell phone base stations are an ubiquitous part of the urban landscape across the globe. If they were really a health hazard as stated in this letter, their statistical impact on health would have been noticed by now.
  • RF radiation from base stations is long wavelength, non-ionising radiation, which means it cannot break down the DNA molecule and cause cancer.
  • Cell phone base stations broadcast at low energy levels—much less than TV or commercial radio stations. These energy levels are about 0.2% of the ‘safe’ levels reccommended by health authorities.

The fears expressed in the letter can be broken down into two categories: the cancers (tumours, cancer and childhood leukemia) and more subjective ailments (changes in sleep patterns, headaches).

A recent study published in the British Medical Journal, Mobile phone base stations and early childhood cancers: case-control study came to the following conclusion:

There is no association between risk of early childhood cancers and estimates of the mother’s exposure to mobile phone base stations during pregnancy. 

The American Cancer Association agrees

Most scientists agree that cell phone antennas or towers are unlikely to cause cancer. 

The headaches, changes in sleep patterns can be lumped together under the heading of EHS, or electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS). A study in Environmental Health Perspectives snappily entitled Does Short-Term Exposure to Mobile Phone Base Station Signals Increase Symptoms in Individuals Who Report Sensitivity to Electromagnetic Fields? A Double-Blind Randomized Provocation Study concludes

Short-term exposure to a typical GSM base station-like signal did not affect well-being or physiological functions in sensitive or control individuals. Sensitive individuals reported elevated levels of arousal when exposed to a UMTS signal. Further analysis, however, indicated that this difference was likely to be due to the effect of order of exposure rather than the exposure itself. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has this to say on the subject of EHS

there is no scientific basis to link EHS symptoms to EMF
exposure. Further, EHS is not a medical diagnosis, nor is it clear that it represents a single
medical problem. 

I don’t care a jot whether or not they allow this base station to be built—I can’t see it from where I live and it may or may not improve my 3G data rates, but I certainly won’t lose any sleep over it, or worry about my health if they do decide to build it.

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