Book Review: What Doctors Don't Tell You
The Truth About the Dangers of Modern Medicine by Lynne McTaggart, Thorsons 2005
This book is written by the US born journalist, Lynn McTaggart who had been raised in the heady days of the space race when we were told - and believed - that science had created every form of progress and had triumphed over chaos and darkness. We were assured that it was only a matter of time before modern medicine would conquer all disease.
She had watched Dr Kildare and knew that caring doctors cured diseases. Miracle breakthroughs were trumpeted daily and she was confident in the knowledge that highly trained scientists were working exhaustively in reputable laboratories and subjecting their findings to vigorous scrutiny in order to deliver the cures mankind so desperately needed.
That is, until she started to suffer with a mounting catalogue of health problems following a period of intense stress that modern medicine could not diagnose or treat. After doing the rounds of the allopathic medical community, she explored some of the further reaches of the alternative health world and in spite of learning a lot, still got no better.
As therapy after therapy failed, people started to believe that her illness was imagined and that she was an attention seeker. As she states, unless you have an identifiable disease like cancer or leprosy you are supposed to learn to live with it - to be ‘quietly dysfunctional without complaint’.
It eventually dawned on her that no one had the answer to her health problems and that she was going to have to do it herself - from diagnosis to cure. After all, no one else would care so much about her health as she would. Ultimately, in conjunction with an informed practitioner and with a year of application and improving her diet, she recovered.
She recounts that when she first began to investigate 'modern' medicine she felt as though she has gone 'through the looking glass' when discovering the tortured logic, sloppy studies and skewed analysis of statistics that passed for research. So that what started as a personal odyssey grew and led her to write this book and to found What Doctors Don’t Tell You (WDDTY).
She now says that it is outrage that fuels her as her mail bag is full of the 'collateral damage' of dangerous allopathic treatments and that she has written the book because doesn’t want you to be another statistic. The author sets out to save you from unnecessary treatment, 'prevention' and dangerous cures. She encourages you not to be the 'good patients' who follow orders and who sometimes die as a result.
At 400 pages and with 50 pages of references the book is solidly researched, but highly readable. Within its pages, Lynn McTaggart demolishes the myths of allopathic medicine one by one.
I first read this book when I started my own investigation into medicine. At the time I was still somewhat wedded to the conventional concepts I had been taught at dental school whilst, theoretically at least, being open to other viewpoints. I must admit to bristling at some of the information this book contained as she tackled one sacred cow after another. I found it compelling though, a little like watching a horror film. However, as I have learned more over the years, I have come to appreciate how thorough and valid the research she shares with us in this book is.
She divides the book into 12 chapters and 6 parts.
Part 1: Medicine’s False Science
She opens with the fact that with the notable exception of emergency medicine, there is a good chance that any medical intervention will leave you worse off than you were before. There is a 1 in 6 chance that you may end up in hospital as a result of a medical treatment gone wrong, a 1 in 6 chance of dying or being injured in hospital and an 8% chance of being killed or injured by hospital staff. In fact, if you live in the US you are three times more likely to be killed by a doctor than shot.
But, this is not for the most part the fault of the doctors involved, most of whom are well-intentioned, but the whole 'false science' of medicine. An issue of the New Scientist journal announced on the cover that 80% of all medical procedures have never been tested. Even a GlaxoSmithKline spokesman admitted that 90% of drugs don't work on the majority of patients. Most medical procedures rest on faith and if you ask the doctor "Why?" enough you will fairly quickly arrive at the answer “Trust me”.
“Modern medicine is neither an art nor a science. It's a religion.”
Dr Robert Mendelsohn
Part 2: Diagnosis
There are a mind-boggling 1,400 different tests a doctor can order from the simple such as blood pressure monitoring to the highly sophisticated such as MRI scans. The first thing that you need to know is that most tests are not that reliable because they have a significant rate of returning false positive or false negative results.
To overcome this some doctors protect themselves from law suits by ordering every test they can. The prescribed procedure is that a clinical history is taken, the patient examined and diagnostic tests performed. The fundamental assumption underlying this process is that all people are the same and that the various measurements should stay the same over time. However, there is a massive variation in a measure as simple as blood pressure over the course of a day which can easily vary by as much as 30 points - and is also likely to be higher in the doctor’s office when measurements are taken.
The results of blood cholesterol tests, for example, can also be invalidated by a vast array of conditions including thyroid disorders, liver disease, kidney problems, pregnancy and many prescription drugs. Even putting that concern aside, LDL cholesterol levels are not a reliable predictor of heart disease.
A staggering 10% of the health budget is spent on x-rays which are a useful diagnostic tool because the tissues absorb ionising radiation according to density. So the body always retains some ionising radiation after any x-ray and it is this factor that is thought to account for 90% of the total radiation exposure of the population. The cancers caused by x-rays are estimated to kill 700 people a year in the UK and 5,700 a year in the US and the mutations caused in the ovaries and testes will produce birth defects in future generations although none of this may be evident to either the patients or practitioners involved.
“Medical radiation is by far the largest man-made contribution to the radiation burden of the population in developed countries.”
Professor Wootton, Hammersmith Hospital, London
The author also examines the safety and reliability of many other tests including CAT and MRI scans, various laboratory tests and biopsies and gives you questions to ask your doctor before agreeing to any diagnostic test.
When it comes to prenatal testing, from the minute the pregnancy is confirmed, expectant mothers are subjected to non-stop rounds of testing supposedly intended to comfort the mother. The author recounts how having refused tests and especially invasive tests during her own pregnancy, she allowed herself to be talked into a 'reassuring' blood test in the latter part of her own pregnancy.
However, the blood test designed to comfort revealed the alarming news that her baby might have Down’s syndrome which then raised the complex issue of what to do with the information – whether to have a termination of a much wanted child or not. Both she and her partner agonised over the decision before deciding to ignore the test only to subsequently give birth to a perfectly healthy boy.
Lynn McTaggart also devotes a chapter to the concept of early intervention including cervical smear cancer screening, mammograms, and early detection of prostate and ovarian cancer and whether any kind of screening is indicated unless at you are at special risk.
Part 3: Prevention
Allopathic medicine is caught up in the notion of a single primary risk factor for disease and also in the idea of a single therapeutic intervention that will resolve any given illness. As the author rightly points out, the difference between the native and the modern diet is that we no longer eat whole foods, and have abandoned the concept of community with every man for himself and it is these factors which increase the risk of heart disease two to three-fold.
She devotes a chapter to the problems and evidence surrounding vaccination and this chapter was the most revelatory and shocking to me when I read it. She discusses how adverse reactions to vaccines are routinely dismissed as coincidence and the hardships faced by the families whose children have been damaged by the vaccination programme. In the US there are currently 34 mandatory vaccinations required by the time children go to school and in the UK there are 25 and this number is growing all the time.
The atmosphere around the topic of vaccination is highly charged as doctors keep 'the faith' in the face of overwhelming evidence, shouting down and bullying dissenters and critics. She demolishes one by one the myths surrounding vaccines: that they have eliminated diseases, that the diseases are deadly, that the vaccines provide protection against disease and that the side-effects of vaccination are rare and mostly mild. She examines the excipients in vaccines and the creation of new diseases by means of vaccination and the evidence supporting a link between MMR and autism.
This chapter is absolutely required reading before getting your child vaccinated or submitting to another vaccine yourself.
Finally in this section she addresses the current approach to hormone supplementation and suggests that doctors make uncritical enthusiasts who are quick to embrace the pharmaceutical companies' new breakthroughs and slow to consider the supporting evidence. She looks at many of the claims surrounding HRT and its side-effects and the alternatives.
Part 4: Treatment
Most pharmaceutical medicines work by blocking chemical reactions within the body, so that you get anti-inflammatory, anti-depressant and ovulation blocking medications. The fundamental problem with medicine is that it does not understand why we get ill and it insists on looking for a single pharmaceutical solution to every medical problem. She discusses the practice of testing of drugs on the public and the torture of data to achieve the desired outcome of the study.
Even when it comes to the use of antibiotics which we know to be highly effective, studies have shown that a staggering 97% of the time they are prescribed inappropriately or for conditions they cannot treat such as viral infections.
She addresses one by one the drugs used in the treatment of asthma, eczema, arthritis, hypertension, heart disease, epilepsy, depression, migraines, hyperactivity and cancers before looking at the side-effects of steroids and Viagra and listing the questions you need to ask before taking any pharmaceutical drugs.
She then turns her attention to dental treatment and in particular the use of mercury-containing dental amalgam fillings and the evidence supporting links between its use and multiple sclerosis (M.S.), myalgic encephalomyelitis (M.E.), problems during pregnancy, fertility, hair loss, allergies, gut dysbiosis, Alzheimer's disease, heart disease and mental illness. Finally, she looks at the lawsuits involving the use of dental amalgam and at issues to consider when having your amalgam fillings replaced.
Part 5: Surgery
As Lynn McTaggart states, this area of medical practice is probably the least scientific and has more to do with the particular surgeon and their preferences and the fashions of the day than any hard facts. She examines heart bypass surgery, hysterectomies and surgery for back pain, breast cancer, hernias and prostate cancer in addition to the issues surrounding blood transfusions and gives you the questions you need to ask prior to consenting to such surgical procedures.
She discusses the advances in surgery including keyhole surgery, laparoscopy, joint replacement, angioplasty, assisted conception and lithiotripsy (ultrasound breaking of stones) and considers adverse surgical incidents.
Part 6: Taking control
The author opens by recounting the story of her superstitious 'peasant' Italian grandmother who had managed to stay out of the clutches of the doctors for 90 years and ended up being restrained in a straight-jacket on the one night she was taken in to hospital for indigestion.
She states that it is not only that many procedures don't help with the healing process, but many actively hinder the body's attempts to repair.
She also recounts the story of her mother-in-law who was diagnosed as having end-stage breast cancer and given weeks to live by her doctor who prescribed antibiotics for the open wounds and tamoxifen to control the spread of the cancer. She subsequently collapsed most likely as a side-effect of the drugs after which she threw the drugs away and sought treatment with a noted natural therapist.
He gave her hope, encouraged her to eliminate foods to which she was intolerant, suggested supplements and gave her intravenous vitamin C twice weekly. These measures cured her cancer in a matter of weeks, and she lived on cancer-free for 7 years until losing the will to live following the death of her spouse.
The reverse is also true, and Lynn McTaggart reports cases of people who died believing they had a terminal disease when in fact there was nothing organically wrong with them. The all important role of the mind and of will and hope in recovery is only now being recognised under the banner of the emerging speciality of psychoneuroimmunology by allopathic medicine.
The author discovered for herself after a long struggle with intractable health issues that her problems were due to nutrient deficiencies, a chronic Candidal (yeast) infection and an intolerance to wheat. She rightly says that healing is actually a complex process of accepting responsibility for your own life rather than trusting or expecting someone else to repair you.
I started my journey into natural medicine with this book and if you too are struggling with health problems or the solutions offered by allopathic medicine and you are ready to step up and start taking full responsibility for your health, then this book is one of the best and most comprehensive places to start.