The Experts

Dr Ross Walker
+ About Ross Walker

Now hear this

Friday, September 20, 2019

It is surprising to realise that one in four people over the age of 65 have significant hearing loss for a variety of reasons relating to genetics, chronic exposure to loud noises, various toxins including some medical therapies and a number of other medical conditions such as tumours, viruses and a whole host of less common conditions. It is also quite disturbing to realise that one in two people over the age of 75 also suffer disabling hearing loss.

Over the past few years there have been a number of studies linking hearing loss to a variety of diseases, specifically dementia, diabetes, chronic kidney impairment, depression, anxiety and even a tendency to falling. There have been a number of mechanisms suggested for this association including reduced stimulation from being able to hear what is happening in your environment to reduced brain function and thus the link with the various forms of dementia. Many people with poor hearing feel socially isolated with the potential for them feeling depressed and anxious.

Hearing, clearly one of our vital sensors, also plays a role in stability and thus contributes to falling. It is also suggested that nerve impulses in the ear may be an indicator of nerve degeneration in other areas. Conditions such as diabetes and chronic kidney disease are associated with the accelerated blood vessel deterioration both at a macrovascular and microvascular level. Small vessel function is intricately associated with blood flow to nerves and thus the potential association with these conditions and hearing loss.

But, you may ask - so what? If you’ve lost hearing, there’s not much you can do about it other than wear hearing aids and does this really have any effect on these other conditions? A recent study from the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society followed 115,000 individuals older than 65 years old who suffered varying degrees of hearing loss. They were tracked for one year before the diagnosis of dementia, depression, anxiety or falls and then for three years after the diagnosis to determine whether wearing a hearing aid was of any value.

The study showed that those people who wear hearing aids had an 18% reduction in dementia diagnosis, an 11% reduction in the diagnosis of depression or anxiety and a 13% reduction in falls. Probably even more disturbing from this study was that only 12% of people with hearing loss actually use and wear hearing aids.

The message is very clear. If you are having difficulty hearing or your friends and relatives are complaining about your inability to engage in conversations because of this issue, this should be a strong stimulus for you to see an audiologist and consider using hearing aids. It may not only improve your hearing but may also help you either detect a significant associated disease such as diabetes or chronic kidney impairment but also help you avoid developing some other very serious medical condition.


Hypertension, not cholesterol, is the key cardiovascular risk factor

Friday, August 30, 2019

There is no doubt that certain aspects of cholesterol and fat metabolism are important factors in the generation of heart disease but, it is my opinion that the place of cholesterol as a risk factor in heart disease is overemphasised by the medical profession. For many years, I have been saying that I do not treat cholesterol but rather cardiovascular risk. The only people who should have their cholesterols lowered, in my opinion, are people who have already suffered a heart condition, such as a heart attack, stent or coronary artery bypass graft or have proven atherosclerosis in other regions such as the cerebral circulation or the legs. The only other group that needs cholesterol lowering are people that have a high coronary calcium score.

In October 2015, the Journal of the American College of Cardiology released a large study of 5000 people over 10 years of which 77% of the people in the trial fitted the US criteria to be on a statin for high cholesterol levels. But, half of those people had a 0 coronary calcium score and their event rate was so low over the 10-year period that the conclusion of the trial was that statins were worthless for people with a low or 0 coronary calcium score.

But there is no doubt that hypertension needs to be treated at all times regardless of vascular history because of its potential to contribute to cerebral haemorrhage, stroke, atrial fibrillation, heart failure and chronic kidney impairment. A recent trial of 9000 people followed for 3 years known as the SPRINT study targeted half the patients to a blood pressure level of 140/90 and the other half to 120/80. This study clearly showed that lowering the blood pressure 120/80 reduced the risk for heart attack, stroke, sudden death and heart failure by around 30%.

A recent sub-study from the same trial published in the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at blood pressure control in midlife and the risk for cognitive impairment and potentially dementia later on. They collected 450 brain scans from people with an average age of 50 and looked at the white-matter lesions which are the connecting neurones within the brain. This study found that those people who were targeted to a blood pressure of 140/90 compared with those targeted to 120/80 had a significant increase in white-matter lesions which is a potential marker for cognitive impairment and dementia in later life.

A prior study showed that aggressive management of blood pressure led to reduced cognitive impairment.

When considering blood pressure management there are 5 lifestyle factors:

  1. Reduce abdominal obesity. Less than 95 cm waist circumference for a male and less than 80 cm for a female
  2. 3-5 hours of moderate exercise on a weekly basis
  3. Avoid sugar and salt
  4. Keep alcohol consumption to less than 3 standard glasses/day
  5. Stress management

There are 3 natural substances with an evidence base for blood pressure management:

  1. Kyolic age garlic extract
  2. Bergamot polyphenolic fraction-47% polyphenol extract
  3. 2 small pieces of dark chocolate daily greater than 70%

The final major factor related to the generation of high blood pressure is sleep apnoea. If you are waking unrefreshed and feel tired throughout the day, you should consider an evaluation for this condition and have this treated.

Despite all of the above therapies, many people need pharmaceutical treatment. The pharmaceutical management for hypertension, in my view, has been one of the major advances in medicine over the past century with a very strong evidence base and safety profile. I have a number of patients in my practice who for some reason are against using pharmaceutical therapies but this is one area where the medical science is absolutely solid and irrefutable. As hypertension is the major cardiovascular risk factor worldwide, proper management would see the rates of all forms of vascular disease plummeting.


Could the cycles of the moon influence your health?

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Over the centuries, there have been many myths regarding the influence of the moon on health and behaviour. The most bizarre myth, is that of the werewolf with a full moon triggering the change from a human to this mythical beast.

A recent excellent review from the website, “Medical News Today” looked at this very issue and I thought I would summarise their findings.

1. Menstrual cycles – some women refer to their menstrual cycles as moon cycles. The reason for this misconception is that an average menstrual cycle is around 28 days as is an average lunar cycle. Since the 1970s, there have been a number of studies suggesting that females experience menstruation during the full moon whereas they ovulate during the dark phase when there is a new moon. But, when all of the studies were reviewed, the relationship is very spurious and inconsistent.

2. Sleep – there have been many suggestions that a full moon disrupts sleep and leads to an increase in insomnia. In 2014 a small study was released in “Sleep Medicine” of 319 patients suggesting that a full moon did lead to lower sleep efficiency, spending more time awake or in a light sleep whilst in bed during a full moon.

A much smaller, but very interesting study performed in Switzerland took 17 healthy volunteers in their 20s and 16 healthy volunteers between the age of 57-74 and had them sleep in windowless, dark rooms at varying times during the lunar cycle. Their sleep structure, brain activity during sleep, melatonin levels and cortisol levels were measured with some very interesting findings. Around the time of the full moon, these healthy individuals took 5 minutes longer to fall asleep and the sleep duration was reduced by 20 minutes. They experienced lighter sleep and had lower melatonin levels. This is despite the fact that melatonin is released during the dark and suppressed during the day when it is light.

Therefore, these changes could not be explained by the light of a moon as the participants were kept in fully dark, controlled environments. Thus, it does appear that there is some effect from moon cycles and many aspects of quality sleep.

3. The moon and mental health – the term lunacy or lunatics comes from the long-held belief that psychiatric illnesses increase during a full moon. A 1984 study suggested there were increased crime rates with a full moon. A reasonable explanation for this, however, is that it is lighter during a full moon and thus easier for criminals to see at night which is the typical time when they may tend to commit crimes. A small study of 91 patients in 2009 suggested that 23% of admissions to psychiatric wards for violent and behavioural abnormalities were during the full moon which was double the number for other lunar phases. But the largest study released in 2019 of just under 18,000 individuals from 15 different psychiatric wards over 10 years said there was no evidence of increased aggression during for moon phases. Psychiatric abnormalities are not just manifested by increased aggression, but many other disorders such as depression, anxiety and various other thought and emotional disorders. Thus, I believe it is not clear either way as to whether there is any influence from the lunar cycles and mental health.

Regardless, it is fascinating to think that different aspects of our health are not purely due to a variety of internal and local external factors. The whole concept of energy medicine in its variety of forms is something that is not particularly considered by many conservative doctors typically placed in the too hard, fringe basket. Maybe it’s time people starting thinking outside the square.


Still Alice

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

If it was possible to predict you were at higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease in 20 years’ time, would you really want to know? Researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis have published an article in the journal “Neurology” where they believe they have been able to do just that, with around a 94% accuracy.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and the evidence clearly shows that is due to a combination of increasing sluggishness in the microcirculation of the brain and reduced clearance of accumulated toxic proteins. Every time you have a thought or emotion, a chemical reaction occurs within the brain and a waste product is created by the reaction. It’s a bit like having a meal and having to remove the scraps off your plate by washing the plate or using the dishwasher. These toxic proteins accumulate over time because of defective clearance by the two mechanisms above. These toxic proteins are known as amyloid proteins and by measuring certain ratios in the blood stream and combining this with a person’s age and another well described Alzheimer’s associated protein known as APO E4, leads to this highly accurate prediction for Alzheimer’s disease, 20 years before the diagnosis.

Up to now, the gold standard has been a PET brain scan but it appears that this new blood test algorithm is even more accurate.

The study followed 158 adults older than 50 of which 148 were cognitively normal at the start of the study. The blood test and the PET scan agreed 88% of the time but interestingly when the false positive blood tests were examined a few years later, the PET scan became abnormal.

In summary, if you are older than 65 there is double the risk for Alzheimer’s disease every five years. If your APO E4 is positive, there is an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease somewhere between 3-5 times and when these two factors are combined with the positive amyloid blood tests, there is a 94% accurate prediction of Alzheimer’s disease.

But you may ask: why would I want to live with the sword of Damocles poised well and truly above my head waiting to strike? The answer to this is very clear. At present, the current management for Alzheimer’s disease is quite poor and the prognosis is dreadful in almost all cases. But there have been some very encouraging studies performed on new drugs in this area and in particular monoclonal antibodies have shown a stabilisation and even reversal in some cases. Another drug-Anavex, in a small study of only 32 people performed in Melbourne, showed significant reversal of the disease, not to mention studies of certain antidepressants and anti-inflammatories which have shown some benefit especially in laboratory animals and some early human work.

Professor David Smith at Oxford University performed the Optima trial of 271 people with mild cognitive impairment measuring MRI scans and neurocognitive testing at the start of the trial and two years later. This was a randomised, placebo-controlled trial of high-dose Multivitamins, showing a 30% reduction in progression to Alzheimer’s disease and in those patients with the highest homocysteine levels, a 50% reduction.

A recent study performed in the UK, known as the Whitehall 2 study of just over 10,200 participants show that maintaining high levels of social contact between the ages of 50-70 led to a significant reduction in progression to cognitive decline.

Dale Bredesen has written a book, The end of Alzheimer’s disease, and also published a pilot study of his MEND program of 11 patients with varying degrees of Alzheimer’s disease. This study showed reversal of the disease in 10/11 cases by the use of lifestyle modification, nutraceuticals i.e. evidence-based supplements, brain training and transcranial brain stimulation.

So, if you decide to have this blood test algorithm when it became available, if it was positive, giving you the potential for developing Alzheimer’s disease in 20 years’ time, there is already increasing evidence that there is so much you can do right now to prevent any progression to this horrible condition. Also, with significant advances in modern medicine, it is highly likely that we will have very effective therapies for this condition over the next 5-10 years. So would you want to know? I certainly would!


An aspirin a day keeps the doctor away – or does it?

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

For many years, there has been a relatively accepted notion that taking a baby aspirin every day (100 mg) was a good preventative strategy to prevent heart attack and stroke. The information to support this concept came from a number of trials in people with established vascular disease or those with strong risk factors, showing around a 25% reduction in vascular events by taking around 100 mg of aspirin on a daily basis.

Recently, however, there have been three major trials of primary prevention i.e. taking a therapy before the disease has manifested, to show no clear benefit from taking aspirin. There is no doubt that aspirin does reduce vascular risk and there have been a number of trials even suggesting a small but definite reduction in many of the common cancers (in particular bowel cancer) from taking this low-dose of aspirin on a daily basis.

So, what is the problem? I think it is best to illustrate this with a personal anecdote. A number of years ago, when my mother was alive, she was living on the North coast of New South Wales and I had not seen her for over 9 months. She arrived at my house for a holiday and I noticed immediately that she was extremely short of breath and looked very pale and tired. I then switched into doctor mode and collected some simple blood tests showing that my mother’s haemoglobin level (an indication of the amount of red cells in the body) was incredibly low. I asked my mother had she had any gastrointestinal bleeding or noticed bleeding from any other orifice and the answer was no. Had she had a change in her bowel habit? The answer was no. Had she had reflux or any form of dyspepsia? Again the answer was no. I then asked was she taking any new medication such as arthritis pills and again the answer was no. I then said “Mum, are you taking aspirin?” She said “yes, I am taking aspirin.” I said why are you taking aspirin? She replied, I read it was good for the heart!

I pointed out to my mother that I had been a cardiologist for the last 25 years and she could have asked me. She replied, I did not want to bother you son and I answered by saying you are bothering me now. I organised a gastroscopy and colonoscopy and my mother had severe gastritis as a consequence of taking a daily aspirin.

A recent study showed that in the US alone there are over 6 ½ million adults who daily taken aspirin to prevent heart disease without a doctor’s recommendation. The study demonstrated that 50% of people over the age of 70 are taken daily aspirin as a form of primary prevention. Aspirin basically reduces platelet stickiness and thus thins the blood. But in people taking aspirin for primary prevention the bleeding risks appear to outweigh the cardiovascular benefits. It appears that 10% of people taking aspirin do suffer some form of upper gastrointestinal problem with peptic ulceration and/or bleeding. The risk appears to be higher in older people and those with a past history of peptic ulcer or gastrointestinal bleeding.

If you include a doctor’s recommendation to take aspirin it appears that ¼ of people over the age of 40 are taking aspirin which equates to 2 million Australians.

What is the answer here? It is my opinion from reviewing all the recent studies that there is no place for daily aspirin as a preventative but it certainly should be taken in people who have established vascular disease such as a prior heart attack, stent, coronary artery bypass grafting or stroke or are at high risk for cardiovascular disease such as those with cholesterol abnormalities, high blood pressure that is being well treated, cigarette smokers, those with risk for diabetes or a strong family history of early vascular disease. There is also probably some benefit for people who are at a high risk for bowel cancer. If you have poorly controlled blood pressure, there is always the risk for cerebral haemorrhage, which can be made worse by aspirin.

It is important to realise that aspirin is a pharmaceutical drug with significant side effects and with all aspects of medical care you should discuss this with your doctor prior to commencing any therapy. Although it is my opinion that aspirin is one of the greatest drugs ever discovered and prescribed, there are no totally safe pharmaceutical agents and it is important for an expert to decide whether the benefits outweigh the potential harm.


I’m just trying to earn a quid

Friday, August 02, 2019

Just over 11 years ago, my beloved childhood friend died from a rare, non-cigarette related lung cancer he acquired, almost certainly, from occupational exposure. He was a sheet metal worker for a major Australian airline and long before the days of occupational Health & Safety, would spend hours in the fuel tanks of aeroplanes repairing any damage to the tanks. He did not wear a mask and would inhale the toxic fumes for hours on end. He was cut down in his prime from this dreadful disease, leaving his wife and three adult children without a father. I’m more than happy to admit that I shed more than one tear at his funeral and continue to miss my beautiful friend.

For the vast majority of us in the working age group, we wake up during the working week and start our day preparing to get off to work to earn money for ourselves and our families so we can exist in this rather expensive world.

But, for most of us, you can expect to arrive back home that day ready, willing and able to start it all again the next day. Unfortunately, we hear, on a regular basis, people who are injured or even killed whilst engaging in their employment. The obvious example is no doubt people in the Armed Forces and the Police. Recently, there was that tragic example of the young man who was killed on a building site in Sydney.

Any of these examples are unacceptable, leaving families often without a source of income and, more importantly, having to tolerate the grief when a loved one dies.

Over the past few decades, there has also been increasing importance directed towards Occupational Health & Safety in an attempt to minimise, not only the acute tragedy of a severe injury or death, but also the health issues associated with long-term exposure to occupational hazards.

There has been, rightly so, significant publicity given to the severe respiratory consequences of previous exposure to asbestos. There has also been some emphasis on the health hazards of exposure to environmental smoke seen in firefighters. Of course, one of the big issues has been that of passive smoking in the workplace, seeing bans on smoking in enclosed areas as universal practice in most countries.

There has been some recent publicity given to a less well-known condition causing occupational lung disease. Silica is found in high levels in artificial stone and one in five stonemasons exposed to the substance, typically through working on stone benchtops, are developing some degree of this incurable lung disease. Silica dust is fine and collects in the lungs. There is no known treatment. Recently there have been 160 cases diagnosed in Queensland and as stonemasons are a relatively common occupation, we certainly need more publicity and information around this condition.

Every human being who wants to contribute to their family’s well-being and security, not to mention contributing to society by working and paying taxes, has the absolute right to feel safe and secure in their workplace. This includes not only minimising any exposure to potential toxic substances but also minimising exposure to toxic human beings that may induce all manner of psychosocial issues for their workmates.

As we spend so much of our week at work, it is vital that all people involved create a safe and enjoyable environment that makes work something you look forward to rather than an enforced chore that many people dread.

The commonest time for a heart attack is 8am on a Monday morning. Isn’t that a pity?


Oh doctor I’m in trouble

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The common’s cause of death and disability in the world is cardiovascular disease — it keeps me in a job. Coming in second and closing in fast is cancer and disturbingly, the third biggest killer in the developed world is western healthcare. Over the past decade, there has been increasing evidence emerging regarding the concerns around harm from modern medicine. It is estimated that anywhere between 40-80,000 deaths per year occur purely from misdiagnosis. It is also estimated that somewhere between 80,000 to 160,000 serious cases of harm occur, again, from misdiagnosis.

The Johns Hopkins Medical School published recently in the Journal Diagnosis analysed 11,000 cases from the extensive data base from US malpractice. It may surprise you to learn that there are over 10,000 diseases affecting modern man, which can each manifest with a variety of different symptoms and signs making an accurate diagnosis very difficult in many cases. The researchers refer to the “Big 3” being cancer, cardiovascular disease and infections accounting for three quarters of all cases of serious harm related to misdiagnosis. Of all cases of misdiagnosis, death or disability from cancer account for 1/3, cardiovascular issues 22% and infections 13.5%. The most serious type of infection, sepsis, accounts for most cases of misdiagnosis in this category.

Typical scenarios of misdiagnosis include missing the symptoms and signs of heart attack, meningitis, pneumonia, blood clots occurring either in the legs or lungs, misdiagnosing skin cancers and missing prostate and breast cancers. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, is that in the emergency situation, cardiovascular disease and infections are misdiagnosed whereas cancers are often missed as outpatients.

It is important to understand that this study comes from the malpractice data base and not from the original medical records and thus the results certainly may be skewed.

The second study comes from the University of Manchester published in the Journal British Medical Journal-Today, reviewing 70 observational studies including 337,000 patients who were mainly adults. They looked at 28,150 cases where a person underwent harm from medical intervention, where just under 15,500 were calculated as preventable.

Basically, this study suggested that 1 out of 20 people involved in the medical system were affected by preventable harm of which 12% led to permanent disability or death. Half of these included the mistaken prescription of medications and complications from invasive procedures.

To some extent in defence of my noble profession, many of these people would have been seriously ill and may have died from the underlying condition without medical intervention. But doctors are in a powerful position to provide care but also induce harm. Although I believe it is vitally important that we maintain a long-term relationship with a trusted doctor as part of our life management team, it is also important that each person becomes their own advocate, asks questions and is fully educated as to their  possible diagnoses and treatment options. It is important also to ask questions regarding the risks of investigations, along with the possible side effects & complications of all the potential therapies.

It's your body, ask the right questions!


The sports car and the bicycle

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

The commonest cause of death and disability across the world is cardiovascular disease. This is closely followed by cancer. The third commonest cause of death and disability in developed countries is Western healthcare, the so-called true evidence-based medicine. In the US alone, there are an estimated 780,000 deaths on a yearly basis caused by the intervention of orthodox doctors. This does not include any disability caused by the medical profession. It is estimated that there are over 100,000 deaths a year from the appropriate prescription of pharmaceutical preparations; two thirds of which come from blood thinners and diabetic treatments. A study was done on coronary angiography in the New York area and an independent body assessed that 65% of angiograms performed were unnecessary. It is estimated that every year in the US there are 20 million unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions written. We hear often of significant side effects from the long-term use of commonly prescribed pharmaceutical preparation such a statin drugs, peptic ulcer preparations and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, to name a few.

We also hear of pharmaceutical companies making false claims about the benefits, whilst playing down the potential side effects of drugs. In 2012, The Medical Journal of Australia published an article by Elshaug et al suggesting 150 potentially ineffective and unsafe services were provided by orthodox doctors. Again in 2015, The Medical Journal of Australia published an article by Stephen Duckett et al, suggesting there are a number of inappropriate procedures that are typically unnecessary and may cause harm performed by orthodox medicine.

I’ve said on numerous occasions that I see orthodox medicine like a high-performance motorcar. You get from A to B very quickly but with the potential of crashing and killing yourself if you’re not careful, whereas, complementary medicine in my view is like a bicycle. It will get you from A to B much slower but you also get some exercise along the way. Clearly the rules for the high-performance motor have to be completely different than the rules for the bicycle.

There is no doubt that well designed, randomised controlled clinical trials over a few years should be seen as the gold standard for the evaluation of orthodox therapies. These are vitally important to ensure firstly that strong, synthetic pharmaceutical agents are effective. And secondly, that they do no harm. As most complementary medicines are closer to food in their safety, it is important researchers who understand complementary medicine scientifically evaluate these therapies. But we must realise that to get an answer, we need to follow many more people than the sickest of the sick, who are typically used for clinical trials of pharmaceutical therapies and also take the much longer time-frame, as demonstrated, for example, in the Harvard trials I mentioned previously. It is my opinion that in the complementary medical trials, all we need is surrogate markers of benefit. Demonstrating mortality and morbidity benefits for complementary medicines would require many thousands of patients studied for 10-20 years and this will just not happen because of the expense and manpower needed. 

It is my opinion that complementary medicines keep healthy people healthier and also makes orthodox therapies work so much better. Until a government body foolishly legislates to have complementary medicine on a medical prescription, I believe this still should be an individual choice. Also, it is unbelievably hypocritical for the self-appointed gatekeepers of so-called scientific information (i.e. many academics in the scientific medical world) to criticise a field in which they have little or no understanding, without first attempting to clean up their extremely flawed backyard.



A vitamin a day keeps hearts pumping away!

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Following on from my article published on this website yesterday (Monday 22 July 2019), let me give you some examples of the studies ignored by most proponents of orthodox medicine: one of the greatest learning and medical institutions in the world, Harvard University in the United States, has been running, for the last 30 years, the Nurses Health Study and the Male Physicians Trial in around 180,000 people. To use the example of a standard multivitamin, when you examine the randomised controlled trial in the doctors up to 10 years, there was no clinical benefit from taking a multivitamin every day. When the data was analysed at 10 years, however, there was a statistically significant 8% reduction in cataracts and common cancers. You may well say, 8% isn’t that much but we’re talking about something that many conservatives argue has no benefit whatsoever. When you look at the observational study in the women at 15 years, there was a 75% reduction in bowel cancer, a 25% reduction in breast cancer and a 23% reduction in cardiovascular disease.

Possibly even more striking, is the 20-year data in men, which showed a 44% reduction in cardiovascular disease, purely by taking a good quality multivitamin on a daily basis. This is better than average dose statin drugs to lower cholesterol!

A recent meta-analysis published in Mayo Clinic proceedings showed an 18% reduction in cardiovascular events in people who consumed high-dose fish oil supplementation or regularly consumed fish over a long period of time, but no benefit up to 5 years, which is typically the maximum time period for most of the trials in this meta-analysis.

The GISSI trial in Italy performed, in a uniform group of patients with acute myocardial infarction, given 1gm a day Omega3 fatty acids in supplement form for 12 months, had a 28% reduction in overall death and a 47% reduction in sudden cardiac death. Again, hardly no evidence for benefit…?

Over the last 10 years, I have been involved in research on the natural juice from bergamot fruit grown on the southern ionic coast of Italy. We have published a number of trials in well-respected medical journals showing clear reductions in cholesterol, blood sugar, improvements in liver function and profound benefits when combined with statin therapy. There are a number of ongoing trials that will be published over the next few years, showing even greater benefit for the regular supplementation with Bergamot polyphenolic fraction.

I should also mention the supplement Ubiquinol, the active component of CoenzymeQ10. Ubiquinol has been shown to reduce statin induced muscle pain along with improved cardiac function, not to mention general improvements in stress levels, sports performance and general energy levels.

One of the “new kids on the block” is vitamin K2, which has some very promising data around arterial decalcification, improved arterial flexibility and improvement in bone strength. Prof Matthew Budoff from UCLA Harbor Medical School has performed evidence-based studies clearly showing Kyolic aged garlic extract reverses atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease over a 12-month period in patients with proven disease, utilising CT coronary angiography.

Many conservative researchers, not working in the field of Complementary Medicine research, do not appear to know the difference between synthetic and natural vitamin E. Synthetic vitamin E has been shown in a number of trials to be of no benefit, and in some cases, possibly even harmful. Vitamin E does not work well without Vitamin C and the only two trials in the history of evidence-based medicine where natural vitamin E was combined with vitamin C both showed an average 25% reduction in the progression of coronary and carotid atherosclerosis. These two trials, IVUS & ASAP have been largely ignored by orthodox medicine.

I have shown above just a few studies from many that show the significant benefit of many aspects of complementary medicine, conveniently ignored by orthodox researchers who promote the benefits of pharmaceutical therapy and medical interventions at the same time weaken and downplay any contribution from complementary medicine.

But, I’m a proud member of the medical profession and feel many of our achievements do go unnoticed and are not recognised by the general public. That doesn’t mean, however, that doctors should be universally proud of the service they provide. Before there is a continued onslaught against our poorer cousins in complementary medicine, shouldn’t we start to try and clean up our own backyard first?

(This is the second in a series of three articles on this topic. The first article was published on 22 July and the third article was published on Wednesday 24 July 2019.


Another dig at complementary medicine

Monday, July 22, 2019

A study published recently in the well-respected journal, the Annals of Internal Medicine was titled: “Effects of Nutritional Supplements and Dietary Interventions on Cardiovascular Outcomes: An Umbrella Review and Evidence Map”.

The conclusion of this trial stated reduced salt intake, omega-3 PUFA use and folate supplementation could reduce risk for some cardiovascular outcomes in adults. Combined calcium plus vitamin D might increase risk for stroke. The headlines were released stating:

“Vast majority of dietary supplements don't improve heart health or put off death, study finds.”

Basically, the theme of the study was that there was no real benefit for the vast majority of supplements and, in most cases, these supplements have no place in the management of cardiovascular disease. This is yet another large trial that will warm the hearts (so to speak) of the conservatives in medicine who want everyone to believe all that works is a prescription pad or scalpel.

But when you read the study very carefully, there’s no mention in the body of the study about the vital aspects that will tell you whether this information has validity. I reviewed the entire article, including the appendix and it was only there that I found the average follow-up for these trials. I have included the table below noting that the authors purely gave average follow-up times that could vary between six months up to the very longest of 10 years. They didn’t specify which of the particular trials they examined fitted into any of the follow-up categories (i.e. short or long-term trials). They did not specify whether the vitamins used were synthetic, naturally sourced, or the dose, or whether the vitamins were used alone or in combination. There was also no specification regarding the type of people in whom these supplements were used i.e. primary or secondary prevention.

Primary prevention is where a person does not have the disease and you’re trying to prevent it. Secondary prevention is where the person has already suffered an event and you are trying to prevent further events. People in the second category typically have a much greater disease burden and the chance for further events is much higher. If any reader of this study wanted this vital information, then you’d have to review each individual trial of the nine systematic reviews and 4 new RCTs selected that encompassed a total of 277 trials, 24 interventions, and 992,129 participants. A total of 105 meta-analyses were generated. 

We will hear all the usual claims from conservative clones, supported by the findings from this very large review suggesting there is no evidence for the benefits of supplementation: “if you follow a standard diet, you are obtaining all of the micronutrients necessary without supplementation, and that complementary medicine is useless or in some cases may even cause harm.”

There are always the demeaning comments that all vitamins do is give you expensive urine, and that they are recommended by charlatans.

A few years ago, an Australian TV show, Four Corners, presented a segment on US complementary medicine companies that showed very clearly that (most importantly, US) complementary medicines are made to food standard and not pharmaceutical grade. A study of 300 different products demonstrated the vast majority had contaminants and the ingredients written on the bottle were not actually in the tablets or capsules.

However, Australian supplements are made to pharmaceutical grade and are under strict regulation. There are no contaminants and the ingredients written on the bottle are actually what you get.

(This is the first article in a series of three. Check out the second tomorrow on this website.)



A major breakthrough for spinal cord injuries

The power of the gut

More evidence for the Brain-Gut connection to Parkinson’s disease

You’re much more than my best friend

Top billing: Exercise & the great outdoors

I can tell by the way you smell

And do you want pills with that?

Do you want your family to suffer?

Too old to be a Mum or Dad?

Is your appendix your friend or foe?

Colorectal cancer - a genuine breakthrough

Will stem cell therapy eradicate knee replacements?

Does stress cause heart disease?

Nutrition: how much is enough?

Is there a link between smoking & dementia?

What came first, the cholesterol or the egg?

Is there a link between some vaccinations and autism?

Let’s sleep on it

Should you be vaccinated against influenza?

Are we eating real food or lethal muck?

60 Minutes “trick or treatment?”

Is this a cure for cancer?

Pill testing: My response to an article in The Australian

Prolonging life or extending suffering and death?

The 5 keys to good health

Tests for cocaine, crystal meth, heroin

Is there a cure for Alzheimer’s in sight?

Are vitamins just expensive pee?

What's wrong with our modern diet?

Myth - High blood pressure is 100 plus your age

Does a drink a day keep the doctor away?

Flying cattle class

My 5 point plan to keep fit over Christmas.

Do you eat muck masquerading as food?

Fish oil & Vitamin D: do they help prevent disease?

Paraplegics walking again?

Can cancer be detected by a blood test?

Blood pressure down, lung cancer risk up?

The hippy hippy shake up

Is watching sports a health hazard?

An aspirin a day…

The rise of the super bug

Is booze a poison or a tonic?

Is coffee going to kill you?

Is salt good or bad for you?

Sleep - who needs it?

Metabolism - it’s what keeps us alive!

Supplements - Are we really wasting our money?

Medical cannabis for chronic pain

Can you be obese and healthy?

Type 1 Allergies - one of society’s most common conditions!

Antibiotics - the end of an era?

Cancer - not the death sentence it used to be

Women and heart disease

Do vitamin supplements help prevent cardiovascular disease?

Are there downsides to being too clean?

The common cold - could there soon be a cure?

Male Menopause - does it exist?

Are Omega-3 supplements a waste of money?

Is a personalised cancer vaccine the answer?

Vitamins - are they a load of hype?

Alcohol - how much should we drink?

Viagra - some more hard evidence for its benefits

A chocolate a day...

Are low calorie sweeteners safe for you?

Exercise - Is more really better?

Opinion: Media Watch needs to get its medical facts straight

5 major factors that make your ticker stop ticking

Frailty - all you need to know

Myth - Calcium is essential to prevent osteoporosis

It’s extraordinary what humans will put into their bodies

Hospital complications a leading cause of death

Opinion: Solving earth's overpopulation dilemma

What causes autoimmune disease?

Should medical cannabis be legalised?

Myth: Warfarin is a poison

Is it possible to slow, stop or reverse ageing?

Is there real science behind complementary medicine?

Myth - All milk is the same

Tips for keeping healthy over the Christmas break

Myth - all alcohol is equal

The case for compassionate medicine

Heart disease – is it reversible?

Exercise - is more better?

Depression: Is it just a brain disorder?

Is healthy eating always good for you?

Myth - An elevated PSA always means cancer

Choosing wisely

How long can we really live?

Low fat is dead

Sudden death - can it be prevented?

New study another nail in the coffin for E-cigarettes

Alcohol - is it all bad?

Breast cancer: What hurts and what helps

Overdiagnosis and overtreatment

Thinking - your brain needs it!

Can air pollution increase the risk of dementia?

Prevention is better than cure

Contraceptive Microchip

Weight loss - is it all about calories?