The corruption of academic medicine

Many doctors are genuinely puzzled why much of the general public does not trust what they say. For example, there’s the GOOP story. Gwenyth Paltrow sells lots of scientifically iffy wellness products on her website, and there’s many doctors and ‘health professionals’ frothing at the mouth trying to ‘debunk’ her theories. But, in the end, GOOP is selling millions of dollars of product. The public has voted with its money, and it chooses Gwenyth over the doctors. Why?

Then, there’s the anti-vaxxers/ vaccine controversy. Once again, celebrities like Jenny McCarthy claim that vaccines cause autism. Many doctors are frothing at the mouth and loudly ‘debunking’ these theories. Despite these protestations, we have occasional mumps outbreaks where children have not been properly vaccinated. Again, the public has voted with its children, and it chooses Jenny over the doctors. Once again, why?

There’s also the ongoing statin controversy. These popular cholesterol lowering medications may have benefits in those with known cardiovascular disease, but are increasing prescribed for ‘primary prevention’, that is, in healthy people to prevent heart disease. While it sounds good, this ignores the fact that all medications have side effects and that the benefits in a lower risk population is by definition, much smaller. Taking a tablet to prevent a single episode of heart disease may mean treating hundreds or even thousands of people for decades unnecessarily.

Many doctors blame ignorance and the media for these phenomena, but this is simply a patronizing attitude. The truth is this. Many people simply do not believe doctors any more.

But why? The answer is $$$$. Simply, the public does not trust doctors because they know that many doctors, especially those in academic medicine and the universities are on the take. A terrific study from Dr. Vinay Prasad illustrates the problem precisely. He reviewed 37 ‘expert’ physicians who spoke on behalf of drug companies. Not surprisingly, they were all getting significant amounts of money from Big Pharma – a median of $39,316. These were not simply run of the mill doctors either.

There is a clear correlation between the number of articles they had written (or been cited) and the amount of money received. This means that these ‘experts’ are those professors and doctors at all the best universities all over the world. These are the doctors that lecture other doctors and medical students. In general, the more prominent a physician, the more money he is taking from industry.

Some are receiving hundred of thousands of dollars. One was literally off the chart, claiming a ridiculous $2.8 million dollars from Big Pharma. $2.8 MILLION!!!

The sad part is that everybody recognizes the inherent conflict of interest. If a doctors is getting millions of dollars from a drug company, then there’s a good chance that his public opinion reflects this huge payment and is not an unbiased opinion. Further, doctors often try to hide this huge sponsorship from the public eye, making them far less believable.

For example, if LeBron James appears in a commercial for Sprite, we know that he is being paid for it. We aren’t exactly surprised if we find out that he probably rarely drinks sugary drinks, because, well, it’s bad for athletic performance and he’s not stupid. But LeBron never tries to hide his sponsorship, and may well be proud of it. That’s not the case with doctors. They try to obscure this fact everywhere they go.

Let’s look at the sugar controversy. Here’s Dr. Sievenpiper, a physician at St. Michaels Hospital at the University of Toronto arguing that fructose and sugar are actually GOOD for you. WTF???

Everybody and their grandmother knows that sugar is not good for you. Even if you think it is only empty calories (it’s way worse than that), you’d have to be kind of an idiot to believe that fructose should be ‘endorsed again’ as healthy. But here’s Sievenpiper saying exactly that.

But he’s a doctor, isn’t he? Well, he’s also massively on the take from the Corn Refiners Association. The National Post’s headline says it all “Canadian researcher have received hundreds of thousands from soft-drink makers and the sugar industry“. Sievenpiper has written 22 studies or opinions in the last 3 years that, surprise surprise, claim that sugar is not the culprit.

You could also look at the example of the statins. Dr. Aseem Malhotra, a leading cardiologist from the UK, along with Dr. Maryann Demasi and Dr. Robert Lustig, and who does not take any money from drug makers wrote an excellent commentary arguing that the cholesterol hypothesis is dead. In response, cardiologist Dr. Steven Nissen claimed that “internet-driven cults” were scaring people away from statins. Both are cardiologists. Who is right and who is wrong? The public has no way to know.

Oh, but let’s look at Dr. Nissen’s payments from Big Pharma. According to ProPublica, Dr. Nissen had scored a cool $80,000 payday from drug firms last year. Nice. Oh, right, further he received money from 3 of the biggest drug firms (Amgen, Pfizer, and Astra Zeneca) on the planet to do research and write papers. Dr. Nissen hysterically claims that cults are scaring people away from life saving statins and that if we listened to them, everybody would die. Funny, Dr. Nissen seems to be engaging in a lot of fear mongering himself to scare people into taking their (highly-profitable) medications.

Is it true? Would people start dying in droves if they all stopped their statins? Well, this paper answers that question. In France, an intense statin controversy in 2013 drove discontinuations of that drug up by 50% compared to 2012 and 2011. Lots of people died as a result, right? Not at all

No ‘Health Tragedy’ occurred despite the hysterical hand-wringing of doctors. There were 2000 LESS deaths in 2013. For heart disease deaths, there were 1200 LESS deaths. Yes, you read that correctly. There were less deaths when people stopped their medication. I can’t say that one resulted from the other, but certainly the predicted disaster never happened. Once again, people are predicting disaster, as they did when Dr. Demasi produced her brave documentary ‘Heart of the Matter’.

The general public is not stupid. They understand that many doctors are on the payroll of Big Pharma but are desperate to hide this fact. They understand that the people that should be the most expert – the university professors and the physicians at the teaching hospitals and the researchers who write the articles are the ones that are taking the most $$$. They’re trading their academic prestige for cold hard cash in a form of intellectual prostitution.

Of the 22 members of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society, 20 received money from Big Pharma. The CCS is responsible for writing all kinds of guidelines that doctors follow in the treatment of heart disease. Yet 91% of the doctors writing these influential guidelines are directly in the pay of Big Pharma. Not surprisingly, these guidelines heartily endorse the liberal use of statins. It should be in the drinking water! The very people who should be safe-guarding the public have sold them out.

Then, there’s the money being funneled in things like the impressive sounding Canadian Heart Research Centre, with many University of Toronto professors. This is really just a money-laundering operation of the pharmaceuticals. All the big drug companies pour millions of dollars into this ‘Research Centre’ which produces thinly disguised infomercials aimed at your local physician.

For example, consider this program from a similar organization. “Insulin in Diabetes”  How exciting. Too bad that there is not a single study in the history of mankind that shows that insulin in type 2 diabetes improves health outcomes. Since 90% of diabetes is type 2, then this title implies a complete lie – that insulin benefits type 2 diabetes.

But yet, here’s the physicians who have agreed to participate. Dr Zinman, professor, University of Toronto. Dr. Cheng, professor U of T. Dr. Gerstein, professor McMaster University. Dr. Perkins, professor U of T. Dr. Yale, professor, McGill. Virtually the heads of all the endocrine departments in the major universities of Canada.

Did they all decide to give up their Saturday to educate GPs. Hardly. They are each taking thousands of dollars home while promoting obesity inducing insulin. Not a single lecture of this 8 hour program is devoted to proper diet or exercise. Nope. Drugs, drugs, drugs is what pays the private school bills. They are taking money from a cabal of insulin profiteers to deliver a biased, thinly disguised sales message at the behest of their pharmaceutical overlords.

Drug companies can pay these sham research organizations to put on these events (infomercials) and pretend they are supporting ‘research’. Money successfully laundered. It’s an open secret amongst the doctors. We all know that these things are not free to organize. Everybody gets paid.

For the GPs attending, there is free breakfast, lunch and snack. They take this tainted and biased presentation to heart, believing they are learning about the most recent developments in the field. They then pass this propaganda on to their patients in good faith, but bad medicine.

Of course, Big Pharma has bankrolled the entire thing to the tune of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. And they know they are getting a good return on their investment. The Journal of Clinical Oncology published an article which shows that in oncology (cancer), payments to doctors results in up to a 78% increase rate of prescription of medications.

So, why is the general public so mistrusting of doctors? Well, the public would have to be crazy to trust us, given the money sloshing around the system. But the fault is our own. A great first step is disclosure, as done in the USA and there is a movement in Canada for this, too. But that’s not enough. The only way to restore trust is to stop all these payments altogether. Honestly, is it really too much to ask that the ‘experts’ (American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, Canadian Cardiovascular Society) that advise the public on the best drugs, the best diets do NOT take money from drug companies?

54 Responses

  1. Very brave of you Doctor Fung! But thank God some one is starting to say it!

  2. thebigpicture

    This is definitely true, and let me say as an internal medicine physician that the system is rotten to the core, and part of the reason why I’m quitting. Costs keep exploding higher and are distributed to the insurance companies and patients. Patients go bankrupt, and the insurers keep raising premiums. Nobody has an answer, as is evidenced by the sorry state of the national healthcare debate.

    As a general rule, all doctors are incentivized to prescribe more medicine, while being more cautious with procedures (even though there is often little to no evidence for the procedures as well). Physicians now give little to no thought to the cocktails of medicines they are delivering to patients and the variety of costs and complications associated therein. The question of whether there is any benefit is also not thought through. Meanwhile, we are forced on the hamster wheel to see more patients for less pay, further incentivizing us to just prescribe medicine and get it over with.

    Because of this, as you point out, the prestige of medical science is diminishing and might wholly disappear. This will leave a vacuum which will be eagerly filled with charlatans and quacks of all stripes, further exacerbating the problem. Expect all manner of diseases to come back with a vengeance, and expect outcomes to worsen and mortality to increase. We are in dire straits and every attempt that I’ve made to ring the alarm has been met with silence. It’s group think all around – the same group think that says that the stock market and real estate rise forever, everything is just fine, Hillary Clinton will win the election, etc. etc.

    Really sad.

    • GraceInYourFace

      The love of money is the root of much evil. I was a pharma rep for many years and saw the co-mingling of doctors and pharma sponsored education dinners. Back then it seemed that the public looked at physicians as trust worthy and I felt as if only a few people were talking about how strange it is that pharma reps and pharma companies were so tight with so many physicians. Going into offices there were doctors I personally had much more respect for that seemed to be different than the norm. The ones that don’t want to take anything from drug companies beyond the drug samples and that would never be lured out to dinners at night for free food. Then there were the abortion doctors and they were the friendliest. The top script writer I had was that and he once brought his entire family to dinner including his nanny. That was awkward. I ran from that job as soon as I could. Doctors are just people that have gone to medical school. They are not special anymore than a baker or really anyone. Collectively we tend to exalt certain types of people but in the end we all are very similar. All that to say every doctor that stops taking what pharma has to offer and stops writing scripts just to get to the next patient will likely see difficult times in their practice. Unfortunately the system is rigged against the majority. This verse makes some sense to me of what is going on:

      We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against power, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

  3. Yes

  4. Roger Bird

    My perspective is different from Dr. Fung’s. Knowing about this corruption of doctors, for me, came long after I realized that there was a problem with medical doctors. My mentor, Ivy Duce, recommended that I try homeopathy in 1970 when I was depressed. I had not the slightest notion of any controversy about medical doctors hating homeopaths or if medical doctors were really at war with all competition. I was depressed and the homeopathy worked. When she suggested that I go to a chiropractor when I had a killer migraine and the migraine disappeared within a second of getting adjusted, I had no idea that medical doctors hated and oppressed chiropractors. I became interested in natural food; I did not know that medical doctors thought that what you ate was irrelevant. I learned that there were many things outside of maimstream medicine that worked wonderfully. As I was using natural healing and natural foods to heal myself, I came to learn that the very things that were helping me were things that medical doctors viciously attacked. But I trusted my experience, and the medical doctors simply made themselves look bad in my eyes because I knew from my own experience that the things that they disparaged worked really well.

    When 1990 rolled around and my new wife developed endometriosis, I knew to get a diagnosis from the medical doctor (which is something that they are good at) but I also knew that we would not be using their services for “healing”. But even I was surprised when the doctor recommended a radical hysterectomy, and she (the doctor) recommended that my wife not tell me. But using homeopathy and traditional Chinese Medicine, we cured the endometriosis and now have two wonderful adult children that young expecting couples see when they close their eyes and dream.

    I was true to my own experience and thinking, and I was willing to try new and different things. Consequently I don’t trust doctors.

    • GraceInYourFace

      Good on you Roger Bird. It is encouraging to see people not listen to “authoritative” advice that would have destroyed your natural ability to have children. Anyone that I trust there is a reason. We are taught growing up that we trust until that trust is broken and even if that trust is broken by someone like a priest, pastor, doctor, or whatever position man lifts up beyond approach then we give them another chance because now that it is convenient we say, “they are just human”. Subtle abuse and control not gone unchecked leads to much personal calamity.

  5. “The American Heart Association recently announced that coconut oil is bad for you. I’m a little angry that it took them this long to tell us. Before I found out, I was so misinformed that I spent YEARS accidentally being healthy from eating coconut oil. I feel like an idiot. But I appreciate the American Heart Association telling me I was mistaken all this time….”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_j-tBJ3Kss&t=3s

  6. THANK YOU DR FUNG!!! It was high time someone with your impeccable credentials called out this criminal behavior from medical professionals that are supposed to live by an oath! I believe that you have correctly pointed out the CRISIS that the main stream medical and health profession find themselves in, all in the name of $$$$$
    SHAME ON THEM!!!!

  7. sten bjorsell

    There are elephants also in this room of silent payments. Our elected politicians often know as much about health that many of us knew before we experienced sickness ourselves. Nothing, relying on the experts in the field. They make the decisions and that’s the way they do it. Professors and other medical experts sit in committees deciding on health policies “providing state of the art advice” to ministers and departments of health, worldwide in the western world, often at the same time being handsomely paid off for doing work for or lecturing for pharmaceutical companies. Anyone working for a pharma company would soon regard every penny invested in these experts with often direct access to power itself to be the most important, providing the best returns. In Sweden, a pharmaceutical company executive exposed his former employer through a book. It included how an industry paid expert also on a government board was able to fast-track approval for new a medication. That the book did not even result in prosecutions simply indicate the depth of corruption at these levels. Pandora’s box must remain closed.
    And when natural non-patentable low-cost medications are reviewed, such experts quickly step in and warn, protecting the profits of status quo, not even allowing trials. Before those elephants are evicted there will be very little change and diabetes-2 patients will continue to eat blood sugar raising foods and receive same drug treatments as they do today, treating symptoms instead of root causes, the proven recipe for sustained profits through lifelong medical treatment.

  8. Dr. Fung – a medal for bravery! Speak out, all those of you in the profession who agree with him.

    • thebigpicture

      I’ll quit or semi retire instead.

      I’m fighting the forces of money and corporate power, against these forces there will be no victory.

  9. I fully believe that vaccines cause autism-there is too much empirical evidence ignored by ‘Doctors’. Example-my niece was a healthy child, perfect mental abilities for her age until her first vaccine. At that point, exactly at that point, she because autistic, and ruined the lives of my wifes family. This story gets repeated over and over but ‘Doctors’ are so bough by big pharm they keep administering it in the name of ‘child safety and welfare’.
    If I had to raise my kids again id have never gotten them vaccinated and would have home schooled. The whole vaccination thing is a vile racket designed to enrich the medical industrial complex at the expense of innocent children.

    • I’m still not sure about vaccines, though I believe that many of the same problems occurring in statins and other drugs also occur to a large degree — possibly even more so — with vaccines. Also, there are no true double-blind, placebo controlled studies of vaccines.

      I’m an “adherer”, meaning if I’m told to take pills twice a day, every day, I’ll take them like that no matter what. My journey started with believing the “experts”, specifically nutrition and fitness experts. At one time, I kept my fat intake below 10%/day be calories, believing that was healthy. When I was young and exercising my butt off, that was OK. As soon as I got injured, though, I couldn’t understand why I had massive mood swings, depression, etc. After many years of this, I went on the Atkins diet. About 3 weeks into it, I woke up feeling great. How could I feel great? Didn’t I need carbs for energy? It still took me years to transition to a permanent low carb diet.

      After reading 20+ books in this area, I realized modern nutrition “experts” base their recommendations on what amounts to their opinion. I also realized that many other opinions couldn’t be trusted. I go see my doctor and she complains about my fasting blood sugar being over 100. I know that’s likely because I still haven’t licked my fatty liver, but she says I need to exercise more. What? She has no clue. I can fast for days with no problems, so having a value over 100 in the morning isn’t a big deal.

      I’ve slowly fallen into not believing anyone (including Dr. Fung, though I have found intermittent fasting to be great). I used to get my flu vaccine every year, then I read a Cochrane Collaboration study where they couldn’t determine a benefit to flu vaccines. I haven’t since gotten one. It’s gotten so bad for me that I pretty much don’t believe anyone, especially the American Heart Association (“Let’s double down on saturated fat!”), the CDC (“Get your flu shot or you WILL DIE!”), my doctors (Dr: “Are you watching your saturated fat?”; Me: “Absolutely!”; given that I eat nothing but meat and vegies and try to eat the fattiest meat I can find), pretty much anyone. Sometimes, I do have to put my hands in a doctor’s, though. I had a bone growth removed from my mouth, and had to let them operate on me, and I took antibiotics, as I didn’t know I was going to have to take them and didn’t have to time to analyze these.

      So, my distrust in “experts” started with nutrition, but now includes basically everyone.

      • Stephen T

        Bob, that’s the problem. Once you discover how wrong doctors have been on statins, diabetes and diet, and how much harm they’ve done, it destroys trust. What else are they wrong about? I have strong doubts about vaccines because they won’t do easy and obvious trials, or comparisons, on vaccinated and unvaccinated children.

        I’m interested in why you don’t tell your doctor about your diet? I’m very open with mine and I refuse appointments for the flu vaccine or ‘routine’ checkups with the overweight nurse who will advise me on diet.

    • Then your children and mine would living during the resurgence of polio, whooping cough (had an outbreak recently, small pox, etc. Problem is that autism often presents itself around the same period that the first childhood vaccines are adminstered. I have a son who is on the spectrum and it has been a struggle at times; however; I think his life would be much more difficult and short if he suffered from any of the many diseases that childhood vaccinations that were so prevalent only a couple of generations ago.

    • I’m on the fence on this issue Fred. I believe the pro-vaxxers understate risks/adverse effects but on the other hand some anti-vaxxers blame everything on it. The vaccines are not offering long-term protection so more boosters are being recommended, but not many adults are getting boosters so how can we have herd immunity? A Cochrane report found the flu vaccine to be quite ineffective and I don’t care what anyone says, the only time I got a flu was shortly after a new doctor talked me into it (probably getting a payback). Was sick as a dog after. Pro-vaxxers would say well if you didn’t get the flu vax you may well have died from it. Pfftt. $$$$ Never had anything so bad before or after. Reports from side effects of the Gardisil vaxx are very alarming. They would have to tie me down these days to inject anything in to me. Seems it’s ok to question statins and drugs etc but not the holy vaccine which gets a free pass.

    • Martin williams

      Get a grip, Fred. Your post is ridiculous. Idiotic.

      I honestly don’t know where to start. Just do a bit of online research on, say, smallpox or poliomyelitis or measles. Anything. Ten minutes.

      Vaccination may be the most important branch of medicine. The biggest saver of lives, with the possible exception of building clean water supplies. You can’t compare it with the pseuodoscience that dietetics has become, Or the controversy over statins.

  10. Great article.

    One quibble, that my mom gets me on time after time. FEWER. Not LESS.

    • GraceInYourFace

      Peter I could not agree with you more except to say. NOT SO MUCH Not FEWER. That’s just how my brain works.

    • Jeanmarie

      YES, thank you, Peter. It’s annoying to see basic grammatical errors repeated. FEWER is used for “countable nouns” (things that can be counted individually, such as people, or deaths), LESS is used for so-called “uncountable nouns”: less sugar, less heart disease, etc. “Uncountable” is sort of a misnomer, you can count with units of measure, such as cups of sugar, etc., but it’ll do.

      And no, GraceInYourFace, “NOT SO MUCH” is not the correct substitute for FEWER in the above examples by Dr. Fung, the correct usage is LESS heart disease, FEWER deaths from heart disease. And so on.

      And thank-you, Dr. Fung, for tackling this important subject and speaking so plainly about the problem of corruption. I was an editor at Bloomberg News for 10 years, lastly on the health-care industry and science team, and this issue of medical corruption by pharmaceutical payments has long bothered me.

  11. Basically, when it comes to chronic disease you are on your own. Of course that does not mean there is no corruption involved with acute care, and many acute conditions result from botching the chronic disease care.

    Fortunately people can more easily communicate now via the internet. You can buy your own blood tests, and you can run your own experiments (check out the Feldman protocol). Generally speaking if you want to be healthy the last place you should go is to your doctor’s office. Medical quackery is alive and well in the 21st century, and it is more profitable than ever, especially in your doctor’s office.

  12. loved it – I am sending to as many people as I can so they can read it – many doctors.

  13. Truth! A shamefully rare commodity in the era of big medicine. Appreciate Dr. Fung’s call from the wild.

  14. Andrew Miller, PharmD

    https://projects.propublica.org/vital-signs/

    Only works for US physicians but emphasizes the point made.

  15. KidPsych

    Don’t forget to implicate ignorance, too! While doctors at the top level are clearly driven by profit, those below might simply be lazy and passively uninformed. That’s certainly the case with my GP, who’s genial enough, but never seems to be on top of research. I’d been in recently and asked him about low-dose aspirin. He said no, your heart’s fine. I responded, uh, no, I just had a colonoscopy (and a benign polyp was removed), and would this be a helpful prevention? He scratched his head and said there was no reason to think that. When I noted there had been a well publicized RCT, he said, gosh, I’ll have to read that. As a professional who has to be on top of a wide range of research (both medical and psychological), I sympathize with the challenges of keeping up, but this seemed to be astoundingly ignorant to me.

  16. janej101

    Fabulous article. I have worked directly with physicians over my 30 year career in health care, first with GP’s, then Gastroenterology and finally General Surgery. What you have said is SPOT ON for many of them. The pervasive attitude of many physicians is the thinking their patients are ignorant, and that they as medical professionals are to be trusted at all costs. First rule of thumb…don’t question your physician (too much). Older generation patients trust their doctors implicitly, as they have been trained to, and they are the ones most at risk of being unnecessarily over-medicated. The “please doctor, isn’t there a pill you can give me?” mentality is still alive and well and certainly has benefited Big Pharma who is willing to treat any malady with pharmaceuticals, sometimes to terrible detriment.

    We must not forget the incredible work some physicians do…and indeed that some are willing to do what it takes to help people truly regain health. I remember the day I found your blog Dr. Fung – the absolute highlight of my year. Please keep up the fabulous work

  17. So so so true. Thank you for having the courage to use your impeccable credentials to write this to stand up for truth and integrity.

  18. Dr. Fung, thank you for being brave, ethical and look for root causes of medical problems. That is what Medicine should aim for. We’ve known for decades about the Obesity and Diabetes pandemic approaching. MDs and specialistis have known for decades that their medication only treats symptoms in the case of DMT2. Who else is actively looking for solutions? Who else is thinking about the patients? Only a small group of courageous doctors I can count with my fingers. Dr. Sarah Hallberg, the swedish doctor, Dr. Attia, some others I am not familiar with yet. Corruption, conflict of interest in this field (and also along the research field) is a huge crime. Thank you for opening a door to hope and alternate solutions. Thank you also for your videos (where I found you) and for sharing all this information on this blog. I like your logical, common sense, low cost approach. That is what the world needs. We are not all in Canada or the U.S. Most of us don’t have the big bucks. Oh, and… most probably you have already seen this article, but anyway, here it goes: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/13/well/eat/how-the-sugar-industry-shifted-blame-to-fat.html

  19. Dear Dr. Jason Fung,
    I have followed your LCIF diet for 15 months now. You have saved my life. I am fighting DII and have had great success. Weight loss and no more insulin. I can never say thank you enough. There is a place in heaven for brave and good men like you.

  20. Unselfish desire to see the best health outcome for the most people. Dr Fung sets the standard for compassion for his fellow man. What a wonderful world it could be were more people like him.

  21. The negative impact of physicians and medical organizations being ‘on the take’ goes beyond medical science. It contributes to public mistrust of science in general, undermines the credibility of legitimate organizations/research and fuels such things as climate change denial (as one example). We see this play out in politics ad nauseam.

    More about statins: A really good collection of articles: “Fat and Cholesterol Don’t Cause Heart Attacks and Statins are Not The Solution” – September 16, 2016
    by Paul J. Rosch MD, Zoë Harcombe PhD, Malcolm Kendrick MD, & 18 more

    Published by THINCS – The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics, http://www.thincs.org

    • I think the opposite is more likely. I focus mostly on health issues however I like the weather and have started to pay a bit of attention to climate discussions, and the level of bad/fraudulent science,from what I can tell, in the climate area makes health science look competent and honest by comparison. The climate “science” looks to be a blatant power and money grab and is not really science at all since only one answer is permitted. I actually think that as more people lose confidence in the “consensus of scientists” that more people will cast a skeptical eye on mainstream health science as well.

  22. 1) The slide down the slippery slope of corruption for doctors, researchers and medical professors who attain the status of Expert, is more insidious than it might appear. First of all, a pharmaceutical company will gravitate to a possible expert who already believes in their product/theory of disease. But once captured by the lure of riches some will acquiesce without being cognizant that, over time, they have been corrupted.

    2) Most people want a quick fix and have been conditioned to believe that a pill will cure the problem. Aspirin cures a headache. And antibiotic cures a sore throat. So, surely, a pill can cure diabetes, MS, obesity etc. Non medical people do not recognize the difference between chronic and acute diseases.

    3) The general public will change their diet and lifestyle with GREAT difficulty. Professionals have spent hours trying to educate patients how to change their diet to cure diabetes. But patients need a lot more coaching and support to actually make the changes necessary. A pill is so much easier. I know a physician, trained at Johns Hopkins who is pre diabetic. He knows and understands how diet can cure him. He has made a few changes, including fasting, but he prefers to take a pill so he can eat what he wants.

    4) Doctors advise patients on diet and lifestyle at their peril if it goes against medical guidelines for standard of care.

    5) You missed one on the bubble chart above. Continuing education credits for physicians that is very inexpensive because it is bankrolled by a pharmaceutical company. My husband is a physician and I have pointed this out to him so he is on his guard for biased “education.”

  23. The US is 1 of just 2 countries in the world that allows drug companies to advertise to patients. Ever wonder why the commercials say “ask your Dr. about ‘X’ drug”, and tell your Dr. if you have Y, or Z conditions which may interfere with the drugs? ….shouldn’t your Dr. already know if you have those conditions?….

    • That is very simple, first your doctor may only see you every few months, in the interim he has been seeing 250 other patients a week. If you are not the type of patient to make an impression…

      Next, if you go to a diabetes doctor he only works on that, if you have a heart question he will refer you elsewhere. My favorite is that there are kidney doctors and urologists and they are not always working together!

      Many patients are on so many medications they may forget to mention one. Recently went to a doctor who said, you need to bring every prescription bottle you have, not just the list. That is a smart practice.

    • We have an even more bizarre system, where drug commercials are not allowed to say what possible conditions they might address. There is just a lot of happy smiling people running around. With ED drugs they are able to communicate the cure very well, but other ones I have no idea. My psychologist wife who recognizes a lot of the drugs, gets a good laugh at my various guesses.

  24. Anna Dougall

    In Scotland we have a saying for those we admire and respect for their courage in speaking out and standing up to bullies and oppressors so:-

    “Go on yersel Big Yin”.
    Rough Translation- “Well said done and ultimate respect, Dr Fung

  25. Stephen T

    Well said, Dr Fung.

    There are whores on street corners who have more principles. And they are often fussier about who they sell themselves to.

    Thanks to the internet, people learn that memory loss or severe muscle pains are known adverse effects of statins and that the chance of benefitting is less than 1% in high risk people. It may well be no benefit at all, as all the even slightly positive studies were pharma funded.

    There is a diabetic’s rebellion in the UK, making front page news, because patients are becoming healthy, symptom and drug free, when they ignore official dietary advice to eat 50% of their calories from carbohydrates (glucose).

    Pharma has destroyed its own credibility and many doctors are buying swimming pools by doing the same thing.

  26. Fantastic, Jason, as always.

  27. Well said, Dr. Fung. I have found a good doctor that I can trust…I urge everyone to do the same.

  28. Ron Hunter

    From the first time I heard you drop an F bomb on a video, I thought, “This guy is going to tell it the way it is.”

    Again you proved me right. We need more doctors willing to say WTF!

  29. MIssing Link

    To be honest I am amazed that the establishment have not yet given Dr Fung the Noakes/Fettke treatment and tried to have him shut down. If not, I’m sure he has that to look forward to. Keep calling it as you see it Dr Fung, for everyone’s sake.

  30. Christopher

    Well done Dr Fung, thank you for shedding some light on the sticky darkness

  31. Mike Bravo

    Yeah, I followed my Dr.’s advice on statins, and had blinding cataracts and rhabdomyolysis within several weeks. He was merely following established guidelines when he made the recommendation, backed by a standard table saying I had an 18% higher probability of premature death due to my cholesterol values. Nary a word about side effects, and he told me later that cataracts were not one of the identified side effects (turns out they are).

    The Doc is generally competent and well meaning, as many are, but I’ve learned to be a lot more questioning, which is how I ended up here when he suggested I step up from tablets to insulin injections.

    Doing IF the last 8 weeks has my blood sugars much closer to 100-120 versus 180-200 earlier, with a reduction in meds, which he finds dumbfounding.

    It has been a journey of discovery for both of us.

  32. There is no conflict of interest at all here. Big Medicine runs the show from day 1 of medical school onward. The singular goal of conventional medical practice is to maximize profits and the goal of improving health is not even a consideration, in fact it’s better when they go against that, which they shamelessly do at every turn.

    A good rule of thumb actually is to take any advice that is given to you by conventional medical practitioners and do the opposite and now you’ll be on the right track. Whether this is driven by just pure stupidity or a combination of this and corruption, and there’s likely some of both involved, it doesn’t matter, their medicine is harmful, their advice is harmful, they aren’t at all interested in wellness, and they will go to great lengths to try to discredit any other approach with no regard to effectiveness, the fact that it is not theirs is enough.

    No conflict of interest here at all, this is where the sole interest of all of this lies.

    As more and more people get this, and we’re making more and more strides each day here, we’ll see more and more awakening and more and more people pursuing advice that works, like that of our friend Dr. Fung. There isn’t much money to be made though getting people to eat less, eat less carbs, fast, and so on, less money actually, less money isn’t the goal, now that would be a conflict of interest.

  33. What a good article, thanks for that. All this medical brainwashing had began with the Flexner Report and got even worse with the decades, I think that this situation has reached the point of no return.

  34. Thanks Jason, keep up the good work.

  35. Joseph Tart

    The doctors will stop taking money when the politicians do….never.

  36. Gill Hayes

    A very interesting article that reminds me of ‘What the Health”, a similarly sceptical and thought – provoking documentary film on Netflix.

  37. An excellent and helpful Blog post, in line with what many of us must suspect to be true. Not just about doctors being like normal people in terms of conflicts of interest (you can read books about lying to get the full picture), but about the need for each one of us to be the source and inspiration of our own health care.

    For me the problem of all this is the pernicious effect of the drive for profits. I know we have all accepted as real and proper the supposed wisdom of Adam Smith in his book -The Wealth of Nations- (“TWON”) and the invisible hand, the drive for profit maximization, etc.

    Except that’s not really the “message” of TWON at all: Adam Smith might easily have been one of the first “liberals,” and his book TWON points out (among other things) the results of a failure to pay a living wage to workers, and the “pernicious” effect of the drive by business owners for (maximum) profits, compared to other practical and historic aspects of business causes and effects and results.

    Not to get too sidetracked here, I raise chickens commercially, and the typical grower uses antibiotics as a “preventive” medicine. It seems to work well enough in that regard, but it is difficult to be sure, because no one really wants to experiment on a system that seems to be working. Things may be changing, as the push to drop antibiotics from anything but a way to cure disease seems to be growing. At last.

    The idea that having healthy people take statins falls into an even worse category (even though chickens don’t have much choice in the matter) because these statin tests are in a sense experiments being conducted on mainly uninformed human individuals supposedly “consenting” (meaning without a full understanding) to be test subjects, and thus life and death drug experiments on subjects who are not even sick.

    The same goes for drugs for diabetes, when applied in anything other than immediately life threatening or crisis interventions: The only way to deal with diabetes and related or similar metabolic issues is to deal with the cause of the problem: too much eating and continual eating, mainly of carbohydrates. Instead of that simple and inexpensive (and therefor unprofitable) “cure,” people are told to take drugs, as if by some shaman and based on some simple magic (not wishing to offend any particular shaman), they will be cured. But the reality is they are not cured. Not even close. A real shaman might be more helpful…

    As Dr. Fung has noted, one problem with drugs for diabetes is that they not do not actually work, and only appear to get the sugar out of the sufferer’s blood. Reducing blood sugar does not solve the actual the problem. Just like lowering the cholesterol “numbers” does not solve cardio-vascular problems.

    I guess I am very lucky, so far, at age 72, because I simply do not, and have never, taken any drugs as a “preventive” measure. I don’t take any medicines now, at all. I supplement with Vitamin D3 and K2, and some Vitamin C, and that’s it. I never really got into the “low fat” diet thing. I have never been noticeably over-weight. I probably over-indulged on vegetable oils, if anything. But at this point I do not have diabetes. I try to enjoy food, meaning even occasional cakes and cookies, and more commonly beer, but I try now to get most of my calories from fat in meats and from olive oil, coconut oil, and butter.

    I am very curious about the apparent “need” for Vitamin C…

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