Respectful Insolence

I’m really starting to hate the Huffington Post.

It used to be that I just disliked it intensely. The reasons are, of course, obvious. Ever since its very beginning nearly four years ago, HuffPo has been a hotbed of antivaccine lunacy. Over the years, it’s served up pseudoscience and antivaccine nuttery from such “luminaries” of the antivaccine movement as David Kirby, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Dr. Jay Gordon, Deirde Imus, among others, in an unholy tradition that continues to this very day. HuffPo didn’t limit itself to just antivaccine lunacy, either. It wasn’t long before the Dark Lord of All Things Woo, the Sauron of Woo himself, Deepak Chopra joined the woo crew at HuffPo.

But still that was not enough.

Just this year, HuffPo added still more pseudoscience. While continuing to host the stupid stylings of the likes of old guard HuffPo antivaccine activists David Kirby and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. spewing nonsense far and wide, it has recently added to its stable some up and coming woo-meisters. For example, there’s Srinivasan Pillay, “certified master coach, psychiatrist, brain imaging researcher and speaker, who’s served up the woo hot and steamy and stinky (just like a turd) in the form of promoting “distant healing,” The Secret, and hilarious attempts at discrediting science because scientists don’t always behave rationally. Let’s not forget, also, the addition of “Dr.” Patricia Fitzgerald, author of The Detox Solution: The Missing Link to Radiant Health, Abundant Energy, Ideal Weight, and Peace of Mind, whose promotion of detox quackery doesn’t quite reach the wackiness of Pillay, but it does, unfortunately, uphold (or should I say “downhold”) the low standards for which HuffPo is legendary when it comes to medicine.

Move over, Srinivasan and Pat, there’s a new woo-meister on HuffPo, and she’s outdoing you all! She may even be approaching Chopra territory, and that’s not an epithet I use lightly. Meet Kim Evans, author of Cleaning Up! and the creator of The Cleaning Up! Cleanse. In an article in the HuffPo entitled Antibiotics Cause Cancer? that PalMD has correctly characterized as nothing more than a blogger infomercial for her book. Such pure, unabashed quackery promoted credulously and confidently, is rare to see, although the ignorance behind it is, alas, not.

As with many purveyors of–shall we say?–questionable therapies, Evans starts out sounding semireasonable:

Antibiotics are widely used by the medical establishment and even by animal farmers. In fact, these days more antibiotics are given to animals that are consumed than are distributed to people, which means that a lot of people are getting these drugs second-hand. And many people still believe that antibiotics are helpful; we’ve all heard stories of mothers and patients coming close to demanding them. But did you know that antibiotics can cause a great deal of long-term harm in the body? Let me explain…

It was at this point that I wanted to say, “Please don’t,” as I knew pain was coming, pain to every neuron. Yes, that neuron-apoptosing pain that I complain about so much from antivaccinationists, as the waves of pure, unadulterated, burning stupid wash over me. Yes, antibiotics are overused, but if you have a serious infection that requires antibiotics, they will save your life. As for “long-term harm” due to antibiotics, that only occurs with prolonged use of antibiotics. although short term use can certainly cause significant problems, too. As with any medical intervention, it’s a risk-benefit ratio, and for most antibiotics the risk is relatively low. In any event, I braced myself for the pain of burning stupid that was coming, and Evans did not disappoint:

Antibiotics kill bacteria in the body; it’s commonly known and it’s actually the reason they’re taken. But what isn’t widely known is that the body has healthy bacteria, called probiotics, lining our intestinal tract. These healthy bacteria, which should be in abundance in our guts, dine on unhealthy bacteria and yeasts in our bodies, serving to keep these problems in check for us.

Actually, these healthy bacteria form the basis of our immune system — or they did until we took antibiotics because antibiotics regularly kill our healthy bacteria. And that can set you up for numerous problems down the road — including some very serious problems.

Um, no. These healthy bacteria do not “form the basis of our immune system.” They do not “dine on unhealthy bacteria and yeasts in our bodies; rather, they fill ecological niches in every part of your body open to the environment that doesn’t destroy them (such as the stomach), such as your skin, mouth, nasal passages, colon, ear–basically everywhere they can get to from the outside. In the colon, they even help with the absorption of certain nutrients. There they form ecosystems that vary with the location. In essence, they crowd out pathogenic bacteria, which have a harder time gaining a foothold. Also, many of the bacteria that live in our body can indeed be pathogenic. Antibiotic-associated colitis, which can sometimes be life-threatening, is due to Clostridium difficile, anaerobic bacteria that start growing and secreting toxins that result in colitis and diarrhea, which can be mild or severe. C. difficile is an organism that normally lives in the colon. Other bacteria don’t “eat it”; in a normal colon, it lives in–I hate to say it–harmony with the rest of the hundreds of other species of bacteria that live there. Indeed, Evans misinterprets the contents of a link that she later presented in the comments to defend herself.

The stupid doesn’t end, unfortunately:

A problem called candida, or candida overgrowth, is a common fungal problem that develops after using antibiotics without replenishing your healthy bacteria with probiotics. Now, that may sound like a small problem because you may not have heard of it, and therefore you may think it doesn’t apply to you. But not when you understand two things.

First, an estimated 90 percent of the population has a problem with candida overgrowth, although most don’t know it. And second, candida overgrowth can be the root cause of literally hundreds of different problems in the body.

The problems can be many for a couple of reasons. One, candida overgrowth is a fungus that can grow and nest in any number of areas in the body and it will generally cause problems wherever it is. And two, candida is a living breathing organism that, similar to how humans release carbon dioxide as a by-product of respiration, releases about 80 different chemicals as a by-product of its existence. All of those chemicals are toxic and one of them is chemically similar to formaldehyde. And every time you eat sugar or refined carbohydrates, you’re feeding the overgrowth its favorite foods and giving it the fuel it needs to keep growing.

While it’s true that perhaps as many as 90% of people have Candida albicans living somewhere in their bodies, it is untrue that 90% of people have “candida” overgrowth. Candida is another one of those normal, commensal microorganisms that we live with. It’s in our colons, mouth, and nasal passages. It’s true that it can “overgrow” when for some reason the immune system is compromised or when the normal other commensal organisms are killed off by antibiotics. It’s called candidiasis, and when it occurs in the mouth, it’s called oral thrush. It’s frequently well-handled by a “swish and swallow” with topical antifungals. Also, candidiasis can occur in perfectly healthy individuals. Young women, for example, are prone to vaginal candidiasis. No antibiotics needed. No immunosuppression needed. It’s true that antibiotics can make candidiasis worse, but without true immunosuppression it’s uncommon for candidiasis to be anything close to life-threatening.

Then, of course, just like so many “alternative” medicine mavens, Evans invokes the dreaded “toxins” gambit. Oh, no. Those horrible candida are making horrible, horrible toxins. They’re even making formaldehyde, you know, the same horrible toxin that’s in vaccines. So you know it must be bad! Well, actually not. Our bodies make a fair amount of formaldehyde as a consequence of normal metabolism. Also note the hilarious double standard. The normal bacteria living on and in our bodies far, far outnumber candida. Does Evans think they don’t make all sorts of waste as a “by-product of their existence”? Of course they do! Yet, to Evans, toxins from candida are bad, while from bacteria they’re good. It’s all a load of B.S., and, by the way, something like one third of the weight of a turd is made up of bacteria and dead colon cells, if I recall my basic physiology correctly. In any case, the whole “we’re all being poisoned by fungus!” bit is a subset of quackery that views candida and other fungi as the cause of virtually all disease–which Evans then goes on to enumerate:

The symptoms of candida overgrowth can vary widely from person to person, but I’ll give you a short list. Dandruff, eczema, headaches, allergies, rashes, acne, aches, pain, PMS, brain fog, sore muscles, fibromyalgia, anger, depression, and many, many, more can all be symptoms of this overgrowth. Remember, that’s the short list. And depending on your diet, you may not see any symptoms until years after you’ve killed off your healthy bacteria.

Geez, is there any condition candida overgrowth can’t cause? I particularly like the “brain fog” bit. If this article or her website is any indication, clearly Evans needs a candida detox, STAT, to get rid of her brain fog. Of course, it’s amazing how virtually anything can be attributed to candida overgrowth. Anger? That’s not a disease; it’s an emotion! How does candida overgrowth cause that? Consistent with most quackery, the problems attributed to candida overgrowth are vague and in general nonspecific. Either that, or they’re conditions whose etiology is unclear, which leads quacks to ask: Well, how do you know they’re not caused by candida overgrowth? Well?

Now, you may already be clutching your head, as your brain tries to ooze out of your ears in protest over the assault on its neurons from Evans’ nonsense. I understand. But the worst has not yet come. This is the worst:

It’s also fascinating that an oncologist in Rome, Dr. Tullio Simoncini, says that cancer is a fungus and actually an advanced form of candida overgrowth. You can read more in his book, Cancer is a Fungus, in which he scientifically explains that the cause of cancer “is always and only candida.” Because Dr. Simoncini is having a great deal of success eliminating cancer in the body very quickly, I believe he’s one to listen to.

Nooooo! Not the cancer über-quack Simoncini! Is Evans so clueless that she doesn’t recognize that Simoncini is about as big a quack as there is. He’s right up there with Hulda Clark and her blaming a liver fluke as the One True Cause of all cancer and AIDS. I’ve even covered him before! I can’t stand to write much more about him and his fungus among us woo, in which he claims that all cancer is a result of the body’s reaction to candida infection, basing his claim on, among other observations, that “all cancers are white” (which, by the way, any first year surgery or oncology resident could tell you is false). From Simoncini’s quackery and her own–shall we say?–flawed understanding of microbiology and physiology, Evans concludes that “antibiotics cause cancer.” Truly, her post is a black hole of stupid, from the event horizon of which no rationality, science, or reason can escape, as she combines candida woo with the standard “detox” woo in which we’re all poisoned by all these unnamed “toxins” that she can’t identify (from her website):

The truth is that most people carry an extraordinary burden of toxicity in their bodies and are completely unaware of it. I promise, just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there!

It’s the case because normal living provides many means to become extraordinarily toxic – even if you’re cautious… Our bodies simply aren’t designed to be bombarded by toxins, yet they are, day in and day out. We may not feel it the day we take them in – but as years pass we start to feel the cumulative affects – we call them health and often emotional problems.

Truly, HuffPo has hit a new low. I thought it couldn’t go any lower than all its antivaccine idiocy that it’s been promoting for the last four years. I really didn’t. I didn’t think it could go any lower than all the Deepak Chopra quantum woo it’s published for the last few years. It did. It brought in The Secret and distant healing. I didn’t think it could go any lower than that. It did. It brought in Kim Evans, cluelessly credulous promoter of Tullio Simoncini’s cancer quackery.

I fear very much what sorts of “health bloggers” HuffPo may bring in next.

Comments

  1. #1 Damgerous Bacon
    April 21, 2009

    What happens when Fungus, Cause of All Cancers, meets Liver Fluke, Cause of All Cancers? Does a sort of World Wrestling Federation superbout ensue in your innards?

    Maybe that’s the key to health – encourage these beasties to exhaust themselves fighting each other, while your probiotics build to unchallengable levels. Then you can tell all the toxin cleanse quacks and commercial spokespeople like Jamie Lee Activia to take a hike.

  2. #2 Scott
    April 21, 2009

    Anybody who takes the position that bacteria which normally live in the body are necessarily benign is cordially invited to ingest a nice culture of E. coli.

    Is there any woo which *doesn’t* involve gross oversimplifications of complex questions?

  3. #3 Jason Thibeault
    April 21, 2009

    Bacon: reminds me of when Mr. Burns went to the doctor and was informed he owed his longevity to the perfect balance of all the diseases he carried, all of which kept him weak as a kitten but each counterbalancing the others preventing his death.

  4. #4 Inoculated Mind
    April 21, 2009

    Let’s not exclude Jeffrey Smith, the woo-meister of manufactured doubts about genetic engineering. Each one of his web ‘columns’ on HuffPo is filled with poorly researched claims and even outright lies. Recently, he has been claiming that Obama has said things that he did not. After letting him know about his mistakes, he continues to repeat them with greater force.
    http://www.biofortified.org/2009/04/jeffrey-smith-still-putting-words-in-obamas-mouth/

  5. #5 MarkW
    April 21, 2009

    All hail Orac’s neologism of DOWNHOLD lol

  6. #6 Kemist
    April 21, 2009

    Anybody who takes the position that bacteria which normally live in the body are necessarily benign is cordially invited to ingest a nice culture of E. coli.

    Or maybe they could meet that teen mother who lost her legs and fingertips (and nearly her life) to flesh-eating bacteria. Or one of our former prime ministers, who lost both legs to the same. Those “harmless” critters all live on healthy people’s skin.

    I get the same feeling when somebody extolls on “natural” or “chemical-free” (whatever that means) stuff. I just point out that taxol and vincristine, both cytotoxic chemo agents, are quite “natural”.

  7. #7 chip
    April 21, 2009

    “It’s the case because normal living provides many means to become extraordinarily toxic – even if you’re cautious… Our bodies simply aren’t designed to be bombarded by toxins, yet they are, day in and day out. ”
    Someone should send her a med phisiology book chapter on THE LIVER! NATURAL detox at it best…all natural and you dont need to take anything to make it work. I just drank some beer last nght and I used my liver very successfuly to detox myself. Orac can i sellout and market live detox?
    DAMN YOU ETHICS!!

  8. #8 DLC
    April 21, 2009

    Wow. Just freakin wow. this woman is nuts.
    Doesn’t Huff-Puff ever freakin vet it’s authors ?
    Apparently not. Any pseudoscientific crap is good for them.

  9. #9 Mu
    April 21, 2009

    I think we should start advertising a detox regime based on light beer. We know it flushed the kidneys, and if we add that toxins are more soluble in alcohol so they get flushed out too …

  10. #10 Comstock
    April 21, 2009

    I’m pretty ignorant about HuffPo. So, who’s the editor in charge of collecting all this nonsense in one place? I would expect that behind all this there are one or two people making decisions about what alterna-health, anti-science mumbo jumbo to publish.

  11. #11 Michael Simpson
    April 21, 2009

    I used to read HufPo, because Bush was president, and I needed to make certain that I found a beacon of liberalism out there. I just ignored the medical articles, but now I can’t thanks Orac and others.

    I hate sounding suspicious and cynical, but I’m beginning to think that most of these woo-meisters are more interested in getting new-age dollars than anything else.

  12. #12 Hap
    April 21, 2009

    “For every complex problem, there is a a solution that is simple, logical, and wrong.” I guess if you discard the “logical” part, this stuff applies.

    I wonder if HuffPo has a medical plan? That’s one expensive benefit that (if some of their writers are self-consistent) they shouldn’t need.

  13. #13 Scott
    April 21, 2009

    Doesn’t Huff-Puff ever freakin vet it’s authors ?

    I’m sure they do – they couldn’t be so consistent otherwise. Apparently they use the Bush test. If the ideology is correct, they’re hired, and don’t worry about actual ability or qualifications.

    Always interesting to notice the similarities between the extremists on both ends of the spectrum.

  14. #14 DBR
    April 21, 2009

    HuffPost must be filching writers away from Mothering Dot Commune. I thought that’s where the anti-antibiotic (biotic?) crazies congregated, but it looks like they’re oozing out into mainstream society (if HuffPost can be considered mainstream). Scary.

    Interesting tidbit: Paul Offit, favorite punching bag of the antivax loons, published a book in ’99 titled “Breaking the Antibiotic Habit”. Who’s a pharma shill now, hmm?

  15. #15 Prometheus
    April 21, 2009

    I sprayed coffee all over my keyboard with this one:

    “These healthy bacteria, which should be in abundance in our guts, dine on unhealthy bacteria and yeasts in our bodies, serving to keep these problems in check for us.”

    In a word: NO.

    You see, bacteria can’t “eat” other bacteria or yeast because they lack the ability to ingest them. The ability to engulf and devour other cells is pretty much limited to the eukaryotes, which does not include any bacteria.

    And it just gets worse from there.

    The worst part is that she occasionally brushes up against the truth, but keeps shying away from it.

    The microbial ecology of our gastrointestinal tract is terribly complex, but that doesn’t mean that it is also terribly fragile.

    Broad-spectrum antibiotics can disrupt this microbial community and lead to problems from simple diarrhea to Clostridium difficile enterocolitis. However, in almost every case, the gut re-seeds itself with the “proper” organisms. It doesn’t need “probiotics” or “supplements” for the simple reason that most people aren’t that fastidious about hand-washing after the toilet. (Too much information?)

    Our gut “flora” has evolved in step with us and we with them – our gastrointestinal tract helps the “good” bacteria settle in and set up shop and they, in turn, crowd out (not “eat”) the “bad” bacteria (most of the time) and provide us with little tidbits we can’t make ourselves (vitamin K, for instance).

    If this ecosystem were as fragile as Kim Evans seems to think it is, we would have died out as a species long ago. And the idea that cancer is a form of fungus? Well, if you believe that, you’ll believe anything.

    Prometheus

  16. #16 Toaster
    April 21, 2009

    I emailed the Huffington Post (info@huffingtonpost.com or mario@huffingtonpost.com for press inquiries) loudly (but respectfully, because I figured swearing wouldn’t help anything) decrying this terrible, dangerous piece of complete and utter BS. And I closed it by offering to write a layman’s summary of current scientific knowledge on the human microbiome. I haven’t heard back from them yet…

    I still can’t get over her claiming “[good] bacteria form the basis of the immune system”. Unbelievable.

  17. #17 HolfordWatch
    April 21, 2009

    What happens when Fungus, Cause of All Cancers, meets Liver Fluke, Cause of All Cancers? Does a sort of World Wrestling Federation superbout ensue in your innards?

    All Joss Whedon fans know that it is more like Buffy v. River.

  18. #18 Dawn
    April 21, 2009

    Brain fog…ah yes. Those who believe in chronic Lyme disease also state that brain fog is a sign of that, too, and that long term antibiotic therapy can CURE it. Maybe the chronic Lyme people should talk to the Antibiotics-Cause-Cancer people and figure out whose brain fog is cured faster.

    (note: I am NOT talking about those people who have untreated Lyme disease. I am talking about the people who CLAIM to have Lyme disease and blame all of their problems on that…thinking of one patient I had who: got Lyme disease from “killer mosquitoes”, gave it to her husband through sex (!!) and then passed it on to her child during birth (!!!). And no, none of her real tests for Lyme disease were ever positive, but Doctor’s Data labs tested her urine….

  19. #19 dt
    April 21, 2009

    Dawn, I had an identical patient about 4 years ago. Could they possibly have been the same one?

  20. #20 RobC
    April 21, 2009

    “You see, bacteria can’t “eat” other bacteria or yeast because they lack the ability to ingest them.”

    Though there are bacteria like Bdellovibro that parasitize other bacteria by penetrating and living within them. (Not that that is remotely what she was getting at, I just think they’re the coolest things ever).

    http://www.ebi.ac.uk/2can/genomes/bacteria/Bdellovibrio_bacteriovorus.html

  21. #21 Interrobang
    April 21, 2009

    Always interesting to notice the similarities between the extremists on both ends of the spectrum.

    Which “spectrum” are you talking about? The crankery-pseudoscience spectrum? Because if you’re talking about the political spectrum, you’re really, really wrong. Millions of foreign leftists, who are way, way further to the left than just about anybody who posts on Huffington Post (or anybody blogging out of the US), who nevertheless tend to be quite hardheaded when it comes to scientific things, would beg to disagree with you. I mean, you have to go over into hardcore Lysenkoist Communism to find that kind of nutso on the political left, and compared with those folks, the posters and writers at HuffPo are the running dogs of the capitalist swine, so to speak. They might be political partisans, but politically, they’re not idealogues.

    I’m not that far left myself, but I make most US liberal bloggers look centrist. Everything is relative, and my relatives took all my things, and all that.

  22. #22 Militant Agnostic
    April 21, 2009

    @Scott

    Is there any woo which *doesn’t* involve gross oversimplifications of complex questions?

    No

    But it is all much more wholistic than reductionist science based medicine. I think my brain just asploded.

  23. #23 gaiainc
    April 21, 2009

    Well, if antibiotics save lives and help people live longer, then I suppose you could make the argument that they cause cancer in that people who otherwise would have died from their infection now live and can develop cancer.

    That said, Kim Evans is an idjit and the stuff she’s spouting is pure stupidity. Actually, to call it stupid is to insult stupidity. Unfrickingbelievable.

  24. #24 Pareidolius
    April 21, 2009

    I made some perfectly benign observations and they evidently deemed my post unacceptable. Maybe it was the crack about Arianna and John-Roger. Check out msia.org, now that’s a woo freak-show par excellence and explains Mrs. Huffington’s penchant for credulousness.

  25. #25 Lyr
    April 21, 2009

    All cancers are white? What about melanoma?

    *shakes head*

  26. #26 Dr. P
    April 22, 2009

    Militant Agnostic posted-

    But it is all much more wholistic than reductionist science based medicine. I think my brain just asploded.

    – I’m sorry, short attention span, I can’t get beyond an image from Mars Attacks, I see a room full of skeptics going splat….It’s not pretty…

  27. #27 Skemono
    April 22, 2009

    Actually, these healthy bacteria form the basis of our immune system

    I… wait, what?

    My brother is studying to be a nurse, and recently started talking to me about how the immune system works. All I have is second-hand information from a student, and even I know that’s stunningly wrong.

  28. #28 Tess
    April 22, 2009

    This post made me wonder… How do babies’ intestinal tracts get colonised after birth?

  29. #29 LC
    April 22, 2009

    Well, considering how much crap (literal crap, fingers, parents skin, toys. etc) babies put in their mouth it’s a wonder they dont get overloads rather then a lack of.

    It could explain why baby crap is green… ;)

  30. #30 daedalus2u
    April 22, 2009

    There was a study relating antibiotic use and breast cancer that did show a correlation.

    JAMA. 2004;291:827-835

    What I found very interesting is that of all the antibiotics examined, the Nitrofurantoins had the lowest p value (but also had the lowest number of patients).

    My explanation relates to NO, the ammonia oxidizing bacteria are sensitive to essentially all antibiotics except the nitrofuratoins which they are virtually completely resistant to.

    Chronic inflammation is well known to produce cell damage that can lead to cancer. An infection will produce inflammation and more inflammation the longer it persists. The correlation of antibiotic use with cancer may be due to the correlation with infections, not any effect of agents used to treat those infections. NO is a good anti-inflammatory agent, and regulates the cell cycle by inhibiting cell division under conditions where DNA replication is likely to be of poor fidelity. I think this is part of why chronic inflammation tends to be associated with cancer, inflammation causes low NO at the site of inflammation, and over time will lead to poor DNA replication.

    The chronic inflammation of the metabolic syndrome is likely to be similar.

  31. #31 Natalie
    April 22, 2009

    Possibly stupid question: is there any benefit, then to consuming acidopholous (either in pills form or yogurt form)? It’s a pretty longstanding alternative “supplement”, only recently hijacked by Dannon and what have you to sell yogurt. It’s also been recommended to me (by a vet and two rescues) as a good dietary supplement for dogs. Obviously yogurt isn’t going to hurt me, but I’m wondering if it’s completely useless in helping ease indigestion, etc.

  32. #32 Scott
    April 22, 2009

    Which “spectrum” are you talking about? The crankery-pseudoscience spectrum? Because if you’re talking about the political spectrum, you’re really, really wrong.

    I am referring to the US political spectrum. Applying European standards to US politics is really quite meaningless (and vice versa). So you’re the one who is really, really, wrong.

  33. #33 skeptiquette
    April 22, 2009

    “This post made me wonder… How do babies’ intestinal tracts get colonised after birth?”

    Think about a natural birth. The fetus passes from a sterile environment through the vaginal canal (which is populated by bacteria and fungi)The fetus is therefore initially colonized by the bacteria and fungi present in the mothers vaginal canal(which is also in very close proximity to the GI tract/anus another source of commensal organisms)this colonizaion begins within minutes of birth.

    On the otherhand, a c-section delivery bypasses this contact with the normal commensals of the mother and results in a different profile of colonization.

    After the newborn is born and in contact with the environment, many organisms have access (through touch, kissing by relatives/parents and any other means by which bacteria are transferred).

    How else could the microflora of a newborn be controlled/selected for?

    The answer is by the substrates provided for the bacteria/fungi, i.e. food. Well, a newborn doesn’t eat food, right? so either the breastmilk from the mother or formula further selects the bacterial populations present.

    With out digressing and going into a lot of detail, I will briefly discuss the impact of human milk oligosaccharides(HMO’s) on bacterial selection. Oligosaccharides are indigestible to the infant, and the third most abundant molecule in breast milk. This paradox confused researchers as to what their purpose has been, if the infant can’t utilize them, why in the heck are they such a large component of human breast milk? Well, they happen to be highly selective substrates for various bifidobacteria, and in a highly competitive environment such as the gut, those bacteria that can metabolize these substrates will have the advantage and survive.

    Indeed, formula fed infants have different profiles of colonization, just like the c-section delivered babies.

    There are other major modulators of the infant microbiota, such as secretory IgA passed via breastmilk to baby, but I think you can get the basic picture of “colonization” from what I have written.

  34. #34 roby Mitchell M.D.
    April 22, 2009

    I’d have to say the pot is calling the kettle black in the above critique. I see lots of name calling,but as with most extremist diatribes,solutions to problems are not addressed. What makes “woo meisters” popular is the failure of “scientology”,what economist John Kenneth Galbraith calls “conventional wisdom”. These are pseudo-truths that are treated as truth but in fact are more like medical folk lore. The cancer causing,thrombotic agent Premarin is a case in point. When I was in medical school it was “proven” with double blinded,placebo controlled studies that Premarin reduced the incidence of heart attacks. When real science was done,the opposite was found to be true. Premarin was so potent at causing heart attacks,the trial was aborted. Premarin was also found to be a significant contributor to breast cancer and colon cancer deaths.
    Someone above alluded to following the money trail.
    That has to be done with woo-meisters and scientologists. Scientology is paid for by drug companies. Bottom line is that the incidence of diabetes,obesity,heart disease,hypertension,fatty liver disease,auto-immune disease,Alzheimer’s etc continues to increase parallel to the amount of money spent on drugs. Drugs can be useful at times,but they haven’t solved the issue of chronic disease. Mostly because these have behavioral underpinnings and you will never medicate yourself out of a disease you behave yourself into.
    Many gastroenterologist are now treating patients with probiotics. One at the University of Alberta developed one,VSL#3 for severe GI dysbiosis such as in IBS and other forms of colitis. That science is solid. The “toxins”,in my experience come from the immune response in the form of prostaglandins,leukotrienes,super oxide anions,matrix metallo proteinases etc. The immune system is worked up about something. May be Candida,may be some other pathogen. But an activated immune system means a foreign antigen is elevated to the point it needs to be squelched. This is why MAB’s are becoming so popular.

  35. #35 Joseph C.
    April 22, 2009

    Bottom line is that the incidence of diabetes,obesity,heart disease,hypertension,fatty liver disease,auto-immune disease,Alzheimer’s etc continues to increase parallel to the amount of money spent on drugs. Drugs can be useful at times,but they haven’t solved the issue of chronic disease. Mostly because these have behavioral underpinnings and you will never medicate yourself out of a disease you behave yourself into.

    You “behave” yourself into MS and Alzheimer’s?

  36. #36 bparton
    April 22, 2009

    Scientology is paid for by drug companies? I thought it was “paid for” by the likes of Tom Cruise, John Travolta, et al.

    Sign me,

    Confused

  37. #37 rrt
    April 22, 2009

    Wow. Placebo-controlled double-blind studies aren’t real science. Guess the homeopaths were right after all.

    Orac: My apologies if this was discussed before elsewhere, but how does Simoncini explain cancer cell cultures, especially things like HeLa cells and the infectious craniofacial cancer in Tasmanian Devils?

  38. #38 Calli Arcale
    April 22, 2009

    bparton — I have a feeling that Dr Mitchell is unaware that the name “Scientology” is spoken for and has a very specific meaning that is very much at odds with pharmaceutical industry.

    Dr Mitchell, you may want to google “Church of Scientology”. It’s probably not what you think it is. It certainly isn’t funded by drug companies, nor does it have much of anything to do with mainstream medicine.

  39. #39 skeptiquette
    April 22, 2009

    “I’d have to say the pot is calling the kettle black in the above critique”

    That’s funny, I was thinking the exact same thing!

    They are both quite ill informed/ignorant when it comes to the above topic. I am glad I am not the only one who recognized this.

  40. #40 Mu
    April 22, 2009

    Me thinks that the “Dr. Mitchell” post is just an elaborate spambot to get the link to his supplement peddling website spread.

  41. #41 Mark
    April 22, 2009

    Scott, funny thing: E. coli IS ingested (as a probiotic wouldn’t ya know) in Germany. What YOU are referring to are particular STRAINS of E. coli that are pathogenic. And, of course, one would have to ingest enough innoculum (# of cells)to cause an infection.
    Then there is the untidy fact that some patients who have had the microflorae of their GI tracts to ravaged that they require fecal transplants. Hmmm.
    I’m not sure where the author of this diatribe lost the fact that IgG and secretory IgA are manufactured by probiotic (gut microflorae) organisms. Is s/he a doctor? Read a book since he left med school? Decided which half of his education was untrue? I think s/he may have thrown out the wrong half. There’s still time.

  42. #42 rrt
    April 22, 2009

    Mark:

    I highly recommend you check out Mark Crislip’s Quackcast episode on probiotics, episode 16 I believe. You’ll find it very interesting. Google or iTunes it.

    As to your snark against Orac, you’re both way outta your league and line. Not that he hasn’t faced much worse from much greater.

  43. #43 Phil
    April 22, 2009

    You should read Jim Carrey on today’s anti-Vax post if you want a real hair tearing out denial of reality.

  44. #44 Orac
    April 22, 2009

    Patience. I was traveling back from Denver today. However, this does demand a bit of the ol’ Insolence. So does another bit of idiocy from Generation Rescue.

  45. #45 Chris
    April 22, 2009

    I have this vision of Orac sitting in a cramped airplane seat typing furiously away, disturbing his fellow passengers with the rapid clickity-click on the keyboard, and a bit of alarm as it produces a wisp of smoke.

  46. #46 Militant Agnostic
    April 22, 2009

    Poor Orac
    So much idiocy
    So little time.

    I think Mark is just another supplement peddler spamming the blog.

  47. #47 rrt
    April 22, 2009

    Could he pick a worse blog to spam?

  48. #48 Rogue Medic
    April 22, 2009

    Bottom line is that the incidence of diabetes,obesity,heart disease,hypertension,fatty liver disease,auto-immune disease,Alzheimer’s etc continues to increase parallel to the amount of money spent on drugs. Drugs can be useful at times,but they haven’t solved the issue of chronic disease. Mostly because these have behavioral underpinnings and you will never medicate yourself out of a disease you behave yourself into.

    If bad behavior, such as overeating, lack of exercise, and poor choice of parents, are the cause of diabetes, then good behavior is the cure?

    Prior to the development of insulin safe for human use, diabetics died over a period of weeks from the onset of symptoms. If only someone could have convinced them to behave. Those were mostly juvenile diabetics. He is probably referring to adult onset diabetes.

    Some of this can be managed with diet and/or exercise. Competent doctors do encourage their patients, who are healthy enough, to try this method of blood sugar control. If bad behavior has caused severe damage, there is no good behaving your way out of diabetes. Good behavior can only help manage it.

    While he is correct that medications do not cure chronic disease, that does not mean we should jump to the illogical, and unrelated, conclusion that alternative medicine, or good behavior, or probiotics, or anything else will cure chronic disease. Behavior modification is important. Behavior modification should be a part of the conventional medical treatment of chronic illness. The others are just quackery, smoke, and mirrors.

    Alcoholism has behavioral underpinnings, but that does not mean that you can behave your way to a cure for cirrhosis.

    I’ll have to make a note to remind myself to behave my way to an Alzheimer’s cure.

  49. #49 sailor
    April 22, 2009

    However, there are poorly understood interactions between bacteria and the immune system. For example kids infected with helicobacter pylori have a lower incidence of asthma.

  50. #50 SocraticGadfly
    April 22, 2009

    Fungus beats liver fluke with a coating of slime, then takes on Grilled Jesus.

  51. #51 bozzy
    April 22, 2009

    “I’m not sure where the author of this diatribe lost the fact that IgG and secretory IgA are manufactured by probiotic (gut microflorae) organisms.”

    Wow! You mean those genetically modified bacteria have made it to the market without FDA approval. Amazing!

  52. #52 Prometheus
    April 23, 2009

    It’s always gratifying to see the woo-mongers hoist themselves on their own petard. Quoth Mark:

    “I’m not sure where the author of this diatribe lost the fact that IgG and secretory IgA are manufactured by probiotic (gut microflorae) organisms.”

    Sorry, Mark. IgG and IgA are produced by the cells of the host organism. Immunoglobulins are NOT produced by bacteria (or even archaea). Thank you for playing – here are some lovely parting gifts…..

    If this is Mark’s level of understanding, it is not surprising that he “believes” in probiotics.

    As for the need for “fecal transplants”, I have no doubt that it is possible that a few people have been on broad-spectrum antibiotics for so long that their entire gut microflora has been killed off. And it is also possible that they were given “fecal transplants” in an attempt to recolonize their gut.

    However, there is a huge difference between happening a few times in unusual circumstances and happening routinely in ordinary circumstances.

    Does everybody need “probiotics” after a course of antibiotics? No.

    Do the “probiotic” manufacturers want us to “believe” that we need “probiotics” to live a healthy life? You bet! It’s all about creating a need – simple Marketing 101.

    Prometheus

  53. #53 T. Bruce McNeely
    April 23, 2009

    Prometheus,
    Just to verify what you’re saying about probiotics:
    Antibiotic use does alter gut flora, but usually recolonization with the original organisms takes place after the course is finished, Occasionally, a secondary intestinal infection by Clostridium difficile can occur, causing a severe diarrheal illness. This usually can be treated by a single course of another oral antibiotic, metronidazole or vancomycin. Very occasionally, the C. diff recurs despite multiple treaments. That’s when fecal transplants may be effective. It’s still an investigational treatment, however. Probiotics are also used as an adjunct, not as a primary treatment.
    And as far as bacteria producing IgG and IgA – whoah, dude. Where did that come from? I find it hilarious that Mark presumes to lecture us on our “ignorance” and simultaneously demonstrates his own.

  54. #54 Merkuto
    April 25, 2009

    Am I the only one who hopes this is all just a big set up for a musical number featuring the song “Blame Candida”?

  55. #55 Mujaku
    February 27, 2011

    Our Medical-Industrial Complex is still working on trying to figure out what cancer is, and how to cure it without chemo, surgery and burning/radiation. So far they haven’t made any forward progress. Keep in mind that since 1900 the cancer mortality rate has tripled. Also keep in mind that the number of physician caused deaths is staggering—some 250,000 a year. So keep listening to the medical narcissist who runs this blog who like the rest of his friends should probably be put in jail for murder.

  56. #56 Travis
    February 27, 2011

    Wasn’t there another necromancer earlier today? They seem to come in waves so I wonder if there will be more soon.

    No progress in treating cancer? Where did you get that idea? And why should they have to find treatments that are not chemo, or radiation? Sure, it would be nice to have a simple pill one could take but that is not possible right now. But to say there has been no progress is downright silly and ignorant.

    Keep in mind that since 1900 the cancer mortality rate has tripled

    Citation needed.

    As for the last comment. How would you know anything about the blog owner as you have made it clear from your post you have barely read this blog. If you actually had read the posts on this blog you would realize that your post has been made many times before by others. They have made the exact same points and these have been address over and over. It is tiresome. Please come up with something new.

  57. #57 novalox
    February 27, 2011

    @55

    Yawn, stupid troll making dumb comments again. Not even mildly entertaining, just making same old tired “pharma shill” comments.

    @56

    Unlikely we’ll see this idiot necromantic troll again. Seems to be a hit-and run version, make a vapid and unscientific comment and runs away with his/her its tail between the legs.

  58. #58 Antaeus Feldspar
    February 27, 2011

    To the necromancer troll: Your post is long on rhetoric but short on sense. There are still many questions unanswered about cancer, and it’s reasonable to think that the quest will always continue to find means of defeating cancers with as little collateral damage as possible. “They haven’t made any forward progress?” What idiocy! That’s the sort of lie I’d expect to read from a liar like Joe Mercola or Mike Adams. It’s certainly not something I’d read from someone who actually knew what they were talking about – and of course, such a person would understand that the primary reason for the cancer mortality rate going up since 1900 is that more people are living long enough to get cancer. (Or did you think that the decrease of infant mortality by 90% by 1900 was rendering people immune to death from all other causes?) Starfield’s much-bandied-about figure of 250,000 iatrogenic deaths a year suffers from similar flaws, making the unjustified assumption that every person for whom the proximate cause of death is iatrogenic is a person who would otherwise have lived — an idiotic assumption when you consider the obvious fact that many of those people would have been under the care of doctors because they were already very sick.

  59. #59 Yelruh
    October 19, 2011

    Let me say that I am not trying to troll, I am looking for answers. I am the parent of a child with what is supposed to be a grade 1 astrocytoma. After resection and 15 months of chemotherapy, we are looking at possible tumor recurrence. I have read abstracts on studies from the 1970s through today which state that chemotherapy (specifically using the aforementioned Vincristine),even when response is good, has no effect on curing cancer, stopping it from spreading, or changing the survival rate. Please let me know of the progress we have made in treating this form of cancer. I am looking for something that affects survival rate. All of the options we are being given have either been being used to no effect for the past forty years or have no significant effect on survival rates. We are being treated at one of the top five hospitals in the nation with one of the best neurosurgeons in the nation. We have access to gamma knife, and all the latest treatments with the exception of PDT. With every treatment we undertake we have increased risks of long term side effects and death, and five year survival rates decline. To me progress would be less dangerous side effects and an actual statistically measurable increase in survival rates. Please let me know of the progress in this area. Thank you.

  60. #60 notyou
    February 21, 2012

    it would be interesting to see if cancer rose with penicillin (a fungus) use.

  61. #61 Natasha
    May 14, 2012

    It is long known that prolonged use of antibiotics can remove the friendly bacteria in the gut, but this bacterial balance does come back after a period of time.