In Do You Believe in Magic?, medical expert Paul A. Offit, M.D., offers a scathing exposé of the alternative medicine industry, revealing how even though some popular therapies are remarkably helpful due to the placebo response, many of them are ineffective, expensive, and even deadly.
Dr. Offit reveals how alternative medicine—an unregulated industry under no legal obligation to prove its claims or admit its risks—can actually be harmful to our health.
Using dramatic real-life stories, Offit separates the sense from the nonsense, showing why any therapy—alternative or traditional—should be scrutinized. He also shows how some nontraditional methods can do a great deal of good, in some cases exceeding therapies offered by conventional practitioners.
An outspoken advocate for science-based health advocacy who is not afraid to take on media celebrities who promote alternative practices, Dr. Offit advises, “There’s no such thing as alternative medicine. There’s only medicine that works and medicine that doesn’t.”
Medical expert and health advocate Dr. Paul A. Offit offers an impassioned and meticulously researched exposé of the alternative medicine industry.
A half century ago, acupuncture, homeopathy, naturopathy, Chinese herbs, Christian exorcisms, dietary supplements, chiropractic manipulations, and ayurvedic remedies were considered on the fringe of medicine. Now these practices—known variably as alternative, complementary, holistic, or integrative medicine—have become mainstream, used by half of all Americans today seeking to burn fat, detoxify livers, shrink prostates, alleviate colds, stimulate brains, boost energy, reduce stress, enhance immunity, eliminate pain, prevent cancer, and enliven sex.
But as Offit reveals, alternative medicine—an unregulated industry under no legal obligation to prove its claims or admit its risks—can actually be harmful to our health. Even though some popular therapies are remarkably helpful due to the placebo response, many of them are ineffective, expensive, and even deadly. In Do You Believe in Magic? he explains how
- megavitamins increase the risk of cancer and heart disease—a fact well known to scientists but virtually unknown to the public;
- dietary supplements have caused uncontrolled bleeding, heart failure, hallucinations, arrhythmias, seizures, coma, and death;
- acupuncture needles have pierced hearts, lungs, and livers, and transmitted viruses, including hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV;
- chiropractic manipulations have torn arteries.
Dr. Offit debunks the treatments that don’t work and explains why. He also takes on the media celebrities who promote alternative medicine, including Mehmet Oz, Suzanne Somers, and Jenny McCarthy. Using dramatic real-life stories, he separates the sense from the nonsense, showing why any therapy—alternative or traditional—should be scrutinized. As he advises us, “There’s no such thing as alternative medicine. There’s only medicine that works and medicine that doesn’t.”
Paul A. Offit, MD is the Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and the Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Dr. Offit is also the Maurice R. Hilleman Professor of Vaccinology, and a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He is a recipient of many awards including the J. Edmund Bradley Prize for Excellence in Pediatrics bestowed by the University of Maryland Medical School, the Young Investigator Award in Vaccine Development from the Infectious Disease Society of America, and a Research Career Development Award from the National Institutes of Health.
Dr. Paul A. Offit has published more than 130 papers in medical and scientific journals in the areas…more
Offit begins his book with a the case of Joey Hofbauer, a 10-year-old boy who died in 1980 of Hodgkin’s disease. Joey’s parents eschewed radiation and chemotherapy, often curative for Hodgkin’s in children, and, instead, took him to Jamaica for treatments with laetrile. This drug, produced from apricot pits, gained popularity in the 1970s as a “more natural” cancer therapy. Thousands went to Mexico or the Caribbean seeking laetrile, which was illegal in many states, and repeatedly proven ineffective against cancer. By the time of Joey’s death, several states had legalized laetrile, influenced not by science but by lobbying groups, the testimony of actor and cancer patient Steve McQueen, and public opinion. “By the end of the 1970s,” Offit writes, laetrile wasn’t just a drug; it was a social movement.”
Offit points out that the key elements of the laetrile story can be seen today in Jenny McCar-thy’s crusade against vaccines, Dr. Oz’s promotion of coffee enemas and homeopathy, and celebrity anti-aging programs: patients eager for relief, distrust of conventional medicine, charismatic spokespeople — and huge profits. He highlights the irony that those who decry “Big Pharma” embrace alternative medicine, which is highly lucrative and virtually unregulated.
Even before writing “Do You Believe in Magic?,” Offit had ardent admirers and detractors. The coinventor of a vaccine against rotavirus, which causes the diarrheal disease that kills hundreds of thousands of children worldwide annually, Offit is a hero of modern medical science to many. His financial ties to the vaccine industry and his outspoken opposition to the antivaccine movement have made him a villain to many others.
Reportedly, Offit gets a lot of hate mail. “Do You Believe in Magic?” will no doubt add to the pile. Feelings about alternative medicine run so strongly that Offit’s new book is more likely to validate the opinions of readers who agree with him than convince those who don’t. But Offit’s clear, well-documented arguments may make even the most avid fans of glucosamine for aching joints, vitamin C to prevent colds or other forms of alternative medicine pause to ask why they are spending money and even risking their health on treatments that have been shown ineffective.
via … bostonglobe.com