Malhotra takes aim at heart of media statin support
By Marika Sboros
The Guardian newspaper in the UK has been haemorrhaging readers for years.
The newspaper’s current uncritical support for medical orthodoxy and dogma around food regimen, vitamin, medicine and heart problems hasn’t helped. Its remedy of ongoing controversy around cholesterol-lowering medicine often known as statins is elevating pink moral flags.
Britain’s main cardiologists, Dr Aseem Malhotra, is demanding that The Guardian retract its online article by health editor Sarah Boseley. Underneath the headline Butter nonsense: rise of the ldl cholesterol deniers, it goals right at the heart of Malhotra’s credibility and professional integrity.
Malhotra has lodged a written grievance with The Guardian’s editor in chief, Katharine Viner. He has included the UK’s Unbiased Press Standards Organisation’s Board and Complaints Committee.
He says that Boseley’s article is misleading, inaccurate, distorted and defamatory. He calls it a “hatchet job”. If The Guardian doesn’t retract the article, it’s going to “continue to cause significant damage to public health with a negative effect on millions of people”.
The Guardian has a “duty to monitor independence”, Malhotra writes. “Never more so than when reporting on issues when lives are at stake”.
Prime medical docs agree with him. Malhotra’s letter of grievance consists of comment by BMJ (British Medical Journal) editor in chief Dr Fiona Godlee.
Godlee says Boseley’s article “seemed to be a blatant attempt to suppress that debate by attempting to discredit those who question the merits of statins in people at low risk of heart disease”.
It was “misleading and fell well short of the standards for accuracy or impartiality expected of a credible and trusted publication”, Godlee says. It warrants “at least very substantial correction”.
Sir Richard Thompson, past president of the Royal School of Physicians and former private physician to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, agrees. He says that there’s at present scientific debate on whether or not cardiovascular disease is intently related to blood levels of cholesterol. There’s also debate on the frequency of statins side-effects. And whether or not benefits are giant sufficient to justify widespread prescription.
Massive Pharma’s ‘criminal acts’
“Attacking doctors who genuinely hold opposite views, such as labelling them ‘cholesterol or statin deniers’, should be no part of this healthy debate,” Thompson writes. “Rather, we must all try to move towards a scientific consensus for the benefit of patients.”
Final yr, Malhotra spoke alongside Sir Richard in the European Parliament on over prescription of drugs, together with statins. Sir Richard has criticised the drug business for “criminal acts” and referred to as for an unbiased inquiry into how medicine are accredited. He has additionally referred to as statins “a total fraud”.
BMA (British Medical Association) Board of Science Dr JS Bamrah has also tweeted support for Malhotra. He stated: “@sarahboseley is changing the face of medical journalism by such biased, crude, one sided reporting. I just wonder what her incentive is to attack you (referencing myself) in this way. Might she be too cosy with the other side? Can’t think of any other motive.”
Even Boseley’s colleagues have been crucial of her article. Unusually, two well-known, respected female Guardian columnists on food and health despatched Malhotra unsolicited messages of support.
One referred to as the article “shockingly bad”. Another stated she had “never seen a character assassination that long minus a quote from the subject under attack”. She added: “I certainly would never get away with that.”
In fact, The Guardian just isn’t alone in what many critics see as “gutter journalism”. The Mail On Sunday did one thing comparable in an article by health editor Barney Calman. Calman targeted Malhotra as well as Scottish GP Dr Malcolm Kendrick and public well being researcher Dr Zoë Harcombe.
He referred to as them statin “deniers”, despite their well-documented, evidence-based views on statins. Calman’s reporting has also dragged Britain’s Well being Secretary, Matt Hancock, into the statins debate.
Nevertheless, Malhotra, Kendrick and Harcombe don’t deny that statins have benefits. And as Malhotra informed iNews just lately, the important thing point is whether benefits outweigh unwanted side effects of the medicine for the affected person?
“In many cases, they don’t,” he stated.
Thus, crucial problem is making certain that patients are absolutely aware of absolute benefits and dangers. That, subsequently, permits them to make an knowledgeable choice on whether to take or cease the drug.
“This is the ethical practice of true evidence-based medicine,” Malhotra stated.
(Click on right here to read a full version of Malhotra’s letter. It’s also possible to find it on Facebook.)
Malhotra says that his letter of grievance comes from a background as a as soon as “proud Guardian contributor”. Since 2008, he has written 19 opinion editorials for the newspaper group.
His contributions embrace three front-commentaries in The Observer on the subjects of hospitals promoting junk food. Subjects coated embrace risks of “too much drugs“ and the menace posed to population health of extra sugar consumption.
Ruffling feathers …
In so doing, Malhotra has clearly ruffled many feathers amongst medical docs and professors. It’s in all probability no coincidence that many are heavily conflicted with close hyperlinks with meals and drug industries.
In making the case for retraction, Malhotra says that Boseley’s intention in writing her article was not simply to undermine his credibility. She sought to “undermine other respected doctors, scientists and courageous medical journal editors whose primary purpose is”to advance professional scientific debate and enhance population well being”.
He says that the Guardian would profit from an inner investigation into Boseley’s article. This might forestall a recurrence and keep its credibility as one of probably the most trusted newspapers within the UK.
In her article, Boseley calls Malhotra a “young telegenic cardiologist working in private practice”.
But, as he points out, the overwhelming majority (>95%) of his medical work is seeing patients within the NHS. He sees only a small number of personal sufferers in Harley Road on an advert hoc foundation.
Boseley additionally made inquiries, a number of days before publication of her article, to the top of communications of the respected unbiased health think-tank, The King’s Fund. She asked whether Malhotra was nonetheless a Fund trustee and why he was appointed ahead of different candidates.
The top of communications emailed an in depth reply explaining that Malhotra is a practising clinician and a public health campaigner, and each roles are relevant to his appointment.
Malhotra’s profile is on the King’s Fund web site. It features a reference to his Honorary Advisor Cardiologist position within the NHS. Boseley omits any point out in her article.
Malhotra’s Pioppi Food regimen
Boseley also focuses on Malhotra’s e-book, The Pioppi Food regimen, citing comment from the closely conflicted British Dietetic Affiliation (BDA). The BDA referred to as it one of their “ five worst celeb diet books in Britain”.
Malhotra factors out that this is identical BDA that brazenly declares itself “delighted to work with the sugar bureau”. The BDA also has company sponsors from the ultra-processed food and drinks industries.
Boseley fails to mention the various unbiased, respected docs, scientists and dietitians who endorsed Malhotra’s e-book. They embrace the Chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Schools, Professor Dame Sue Bailey. Bailey referred to as The Pioppi Eating regimen a “must have for every household and a must read for every medical student and doctor”.
The former chair of the Royal School of Basic Practitioners Dr Clare Gerada also reviewed it favourably within the British Journal of Common Follow. Gerada stated that the guide is “not just a guide for individuals to rapidly improve their health from making simple lifestyle changes”.
It also “explains why policy changes to improve the food environment and our dependence on medicines also needs to happen. In addition, a revision of dietary guidelines is required to reverse the UK’s obesity epidemic and sustain the NHS.”
Malhotra also finds it “odd” that Boseley finds area and time to say Andy Burnham and Keith Vaz MP as “trying the (Pioppi) diet”. She fails to say probably the most high-profile politician who endorsed the food regimen: deputy Labour Celebration leader Tom Watson. Watson lost virtually 100lbs in lower than a yr following the plan. He also sparked media headlines for utilizing the food plan.
And Boseley omits to say that Malhotra has declared that he is giving all personal royalties for e-book gross sales to charity.
She additionally quotes one of the UK’s main statin supporters, Professor Sir Rory Collins, of Oxford College. She repeats Collins’ considerations that media scaremongering on statin unwanted side effects is endangering lives.
Malhotra points out that in contrast to Collins, a tutorial who does not see patients, he has prescribed and managed hundreds of sufferers taking statins for close to 20 years.
“It is doctors on the front line that have gained the greatest insight into the side effects that interfere with the quality of life for many patients,” Malhotra writes.
Boseley implies that these questioning the traditional cholesterol hypothesis and the value of mass prescribing of statin medicine are a small vocal minority. And that this small minority lacks credibility, in comparison to the “unbiased” specialists she has chosen, Malhotra writes.
That is clearly not the case.
And it’s clear, as Malhotra describes it, that the controversy round statins hA develop into “a complete mess”.
Statins are the world’s most prescribed drug and the pharmaceutical business’s most lucrative billion-dollar, blockbuster drug ever. And in the UK alone, more than 6-million individuals take statins. The medicine have a well-documented position in secondary prevention of heart attack and stroke. Nevertheless, strong evidence means that in many instances, risks outweigh advantages.
Malhotra stresses that there at the moment are “legitimate questions over whether there are any benefits in high risk/secondary prevention”. And critics embrace French heart specialist Dr Michel De-Lorgeril, who is “convinced there are none at all!”
De-Loregil is writer of Cholesterol and Statins: Sham Science and Dangerous Drugs.
The Guardian does look like in want of in depth status rehabilitation, say its critics.
Current revelations that an animal activist group paid the newspaper a whopping US$886,600 to publish a collection of articles haven’t helped its picture. The collection paints animal farming as inhumane, unhealthy and environmentally harmful.
- To learn Malhotra’s complaints letter in full, click right here. Or go to him on Fb.
- Makes an attempt to succeed in Viner and Boseley for remark by way of telephone and e mail yesterday have been unsuccessful. The company’s spokespeople stated both have been unavailable. An automated e mail from Boseley stated she was on depart and wouldn’t be accessing emails. If that state of affairs modifications, Foodmed.internet will report.
- EDITOR’S UPDATE: The Guardian has responded by way of e-mail in the present day to say: ‘A complaint has been passed to our independent readers’ editor.’
- Comply with me on Twitter @MarikaSboros
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