“What Doctors Don’t tell you”

Andy Lewis of the Quackometer tweeted a photo of a magazine called ‘What Doctors Don’t Tell You’ that, on just the front cover, boasts some very concerning health advice, while possibly encouraging a mistrust of trained health professionals. I was personally shocked that trusted high street stores would stock such a publication, and add the ‘as sold at W H Smith/Sainsbury’s/Waitrose’ authority to it that it does not warrant. Simon Singh had tweeted about it too and I asked him what he thought we, as a community, could do about this and he provided a link to the complaints page on the WH Smith’s website and I decided to submit a complaint. I encourage others who are concerned to do the same.

I don’t like to censor other people and I recognise the importance of allowing alternative opinions to be aired equally, but there is a line that this magazine has crossed with dangerous health advice such as

“Sunbathe your diabetes away”
“Unsteady Gran? It’s the drugs that cause falls, not old age”
“Asthma exclusive: ease your child’s wheezing without drugs”
“Cervical Cancer Alert: What every mother and daughter should know about the jab”

As Andy Lewis of Quackometer says

There is a very good reason that doctors do not tell you the things in this magazine – because it is nonsense, quackery, conspiratorial rubbish designed to sell vitamin pills and other useless treatments.

The email addresses you need are:

customersupport@waitrose.co.uk
Customer.Relations@WHSmith.co.uk
customerservice@sainsburys.co.uk

Below is what I wrote in the body of my complaint

I am extremely shocked and disappointed to see that your stores stock and sell the magazine ‘What Doctors Dont Tell You’ that provides potentially dangerous and misleading advice about a range of serious health issues. I think that you should be aware that this magazine and the organisation behind it has a reputation for unscientific and potentially dangerous health advice, which includes being highly antagonistic towards vaccinations. A quick look at the cover will reveal some of its bizarre attitudes to health. A look at the website is even more worrying, steering visitors away from mainstream medical advice. http://www.wddty.com/breast-cancer

Lynne McTaggart, who is behind the magazine and website, has come in for considerable criticism http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2006/feb/18/infectiousdiseases.birdflu

I feel that as a trusted high street retailer you have a duty of care towards your customers, and this breaches the trust that many hold in your brand. Stocking and selling this magazine goes beyond offering customers a choice, or what they want. It provides a platform for dangerous “alternative medicine” advice that can – and does – have damaging consequences. People die every day because they ignore the advice of trained health professionals – such as their Doctors – and follow alternative advice instead. This magazine seems to promote both a mistrust of health professionals and misleading health advice. By stocking it you are giving it the authority that it does not warrant. If you truly respect your customers and the trust they have in you as a retailer you will consider taking this magazine from your shelves.

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26 Comments to ““What Doctors Don’t tell you””

  1. I agree with you entirely and I think the more people complain, the better. Hopefully they will listen.

    If it helps, I’d be happy for anyone to copy and paste anything from my message.

    “I believe it is dangerously irresponsible of WHSmith to stock the magazine ‘What Doctors Don’t Tell You’.

    This magazine encourages mistrust in qualified health professionals, discourages people from taking the advice of their doctors, frightens people off prescription medication and pushes unproven and disproven ‘alternative medicine’ and associated theories and ideas. This magazine is promoting quackery.

    This could have serious consequences. For example, there is an asthma exclusive – with the suggestion you could “end your child’s wheezing without drugs”. There is also the suggestion that you could “sunbathe your diabetes away”. There is the suggestion (headlined ‘Unsteady Gran’) that falls in the elderly are caused by drugs, not old age. Asthma and diabetes are both life threatening conditions that need to be controlled with medication.

    It is unbelievably irresponsible to spread mistrust in doctors and medicine to those who need medicines to keep them alive.

    I believe WHSmith should not stock this magazine and to do so could be damaging to your reputation.”

  2. Thanks, Hayley.
    Waitrose is also stocking this vile publication. They can be contacted similarly by going to
    http://www.waitrose.com/content/waitrose/en/home/about_waitrose/contact_us/Other_Enquiries.html
    and clicking “other enquiries”.

  3. I support and echo Hayley’s complaint — this is dangerous rubbsh, potentially very harmful to vulnerable people. Do not give it your implicit endorsement, even if you do make money selling it!

  4. Thank you for the information. I too will be making some complaints. Unfortunately vulnerable people tend to gravitate to quackery at times of need.

    As a matter of information I visited the WDDTY website and found the following:-

    Cancer busting – Dr Hamer goes to jail

    In the fight against cancer, we need all the help we can get. Every therapy should be exhaustively studied, no matter how strange. One such approach is that of Dr Ryke Geerd Hamer, who has advocated that cancer is a response to some emotional conflict.

    His theory has been tested on thousands of end-stage cancer patients, and anecdotal evidence suggests that it has been very successful.
    So can we assume the medical establishment is busily researching his theory? Sadly not. Instead he’s been arrested and put in a prison in Madrid, and is to be extradited to France where he can look forward to three…

    You’re a click away from some of the best health information on the Web” (I think not!)

    I checked out Ryke Geerd Hamer on Wikipedia and he was struck-off because he was causing many unnecessary deaths. Amongst other interesting information I read this: Hamer purports that his method is a “Germanic” alternative to mainstream clinical medicine which he claims is part of a Jewish conspiracy to decimate non-Jews.

    …. What?!

  5. [...] over at hayleyisaghost posted this, with advise on how to complain to [...]

  6. Paul Morgan (@drpaulmorgan) // 27 September, 2012 at 2:52 pm // Reply

    Totally agree, this is irresponsible at best. There are enough avenues available via so-called “health advice” books and multiple internet sites for people to get their fill of sCAM. Smith’s does sell many magazines which one might regard as having dubious content (e.g. astrology) but largely their readers unlikely to be harmed. Following advice contained in this magazine, however, has the potential to have a direct adverse effect on readers and their families. As a health professional, I have to acknowledge the limitations of what conventional REAL medicine can do, but sCAM therapies by their very nature are either not proven to work or proven not to work.
    Complaint submitted!
    Should we also be questioning the publisher’s motive and understanding of this?

  7. Yes doctors and pharmacies are all a big conspiracy!

    hurry go build a fallout shelter or bunker in your yard and hang out there with canned food and an army tank and wait lol

  8. I agree with your sentiment
    This mag is dangerous bs.

    though on a very minor note while this encourages hysterical mistrust (and for very poor reasons), fundamentally I think we should mistrust – to a very limited extent- trained health professionals.
    They work exceptionally hard and learn a hell of a lot, but they are capable of *human error* in their knowledge – an unavoidable reality really. (I guess general practice is most susceptible to this?)

    Not that I have an easy solution and I certainly dont advocate quackery.

    Im not invoking ‘science is the belief in the ignorance of experts’ – that would be outrageously too strong here – but you get my drift :)

  9. I’m going to cause a big fucking stink in my local WHSmith tomorrow lunchtime.

  10. Here’s what Lynne McTaggart had to say on the WDDTY facebook page (she has also posted a photo of copies of WDDTY in WHSmith). It shows the sort of awful antivax misinformation covered in the magazine:

    “Here’s our October issue of WDDTY in WH Smith’s in the UK! This issue has a big expose of the Selling Gardasil, which is being introduced in the UK with NO information about the fact that it is officially the most dangerous vaccine in the US! And also how Merck invented the problem (that cervical cancer is huge danger) to sell the solution! Plenty of other stories showing that diabetes can be healed by, believe it or not, sunlight; how healing problems can be reversed, how many of the problems we associate with the elderly are caused by drugs, and much, much more!”

    • Paul Morgan (@drpaulmorgan) // 27 September, 2012 at 7:14 pm //

      Dangerous, deluded conspiracy theory claptrap. Really is Woo Central. Just reported Facebook page as “spam or scam”.

    • Stephen Sadler // 28 September, 2012 at 8:25 am //

      “Plenty of other stories showing that diabetes can be healed by, believe it or not, sunlight;”

      Er… not?

  11. Encouraging mistrust in ‘trained medical professionals’ isnt always wrong

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKmxL8VYy0M
    Ben Goldacre: What doctors don’t know about the drugs they prescribe

  12. Flagged this up on our fb group recently when it popped up on my facebook feed shared by a friend.
    Has anyone managed to get their hands on a copy in the wild? Quite a few of my lot are looking out for it but it doesn’t seem to have made it way into this neck of the woods yet.

  13. I’ve had a reply from Sainsbury’s:

    “Thanks for your email. I’m sorry your upset that we stock the magazine What Doctors Don’t Tell You. I can appreciate how disappointed you must be as you have strong concerns about it. Magazines like these are available in most stores that sell a comprehensive range and as a major retailer of newspapers and magazines, we aim to meet the demands of a wide range of cutomers. We expect our customers to make an informed choice of what type of magazine they read. They views expressed in this product are not they views of Sainsburys’. If you have any concerns about the content of this item you should contact its publisher. I’ve logged the details of this on to our system and will pass your comments on to the relevant department. We take feedback of this nature seriously. We appreciate you taking the time to contact us and look forward to seeing you in store again soon.”

  14. Sounds like the Quibbler in Harry Potter.

  15. Why target the seller? Why not the publisher?

  16. I believe concerns have also been raised with the publisher.

    Also – the magazine is available in Tesco too.

    Their Customer Service form is here:

    https://www.tescohelp.com/tesco/forms/cs_form.html

    As I and others had already complained to Waitrose, WHSmith and Sainsbury’s I thought it only fair to contact Tesco too – though I’m not expecting their reply to be substantially different from the others.

  17. I gave it the mockery it deserved: http://yfrog.com/1qomcsp

  18. [...] Lynne McTaggart had argued in favour of free speech, even referring to critics such as Singh and Hayley Stevens as ‘bully boys’ and [...]

  19. [...] “What Doctors Don’t tell you” Hayley Stevens, Hayley is a Ghost, 27/10/12 [...]

  20. […] had been missed off the list of retailers on the initial WDDTY post by Hayley Stevens and also missed off the subsequent ‘bully boys’ facebook update by magazine owner, […]

  21. […] As Andy Lewis rightly said on The Quackometer blog: […]

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