Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Still Not A Doctor, Still Providing Health Advice


'Dr' Peter Dingle is out spruiking his forthcoming book on the Great Cholesterol Deception, as evidenced by a recent spate of posts on his (normally hibernating) blog:

6 April 2010: More Cholesterol Deception

6 September 2010: Cholesterol debate

8 September 2010: Even more on cholesterol

EoR had a really good laugh at the first post, where 'Dr' Dingle reveals:

Unfortunately it is another example of statin statistics where they are not giving you all the real information and what they are giving you is designed to mislead everyone (especially doctors who don’t know how to read stats).

Quite apart from the false sweeping generalisation, isn't 'Dr' Dingle a doctor (it says so right at the top of his blog)? Therefore he is obviously part of the set that "don't know how to read stats". So he clearly admits that he doesn't know what he's writing about.

'Dr' Dingle discusses the difference between relative and absolute risk (an important point and one which is normally misunderstood) but then goes on to make ridiculously hyperbolic claims:

My option [of feeding the population almonds] of course would not only reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke a lot more but also reduce all chronic illness and save hundreds of lives out of 500 people. Where has all the common sense gone.

All chronic illness? Really? EoR would love to see the supporting trials for that. Clearly, the common sense has not fled to 'Dr' Dingle. Nor is his understanding of economics all that brilliant:

At $3.50 a pill, to prescribe the statin for 500 people for a year would be $638,000 to prevent one heart attack. At that price you could have free almonds for everyone, gym membership and personal coaching thrown in for a year.

Well, it wouldn't be free 'at that price' because the money would still be spent, except in this case it would be on the magic mung beans that 'Dr' Dingle prescribes.

Also annoying is 'Dr' Dingle's final exhortation to spam:

Please copy this blog and send it on to everyone you know.

'Dr' Dingle's second post makes many claims, but provides no references at all, not even vague names of researchers, so it is impossible to determine whether or not he is interpreting data correctly (or what data) when he claims that "the cholesterol hypothesis" is only a hypothesis. Indeed, the fact that new evidence is discovered, and the science refined and corrected (a major principal of the scientific method) is actually evidence that the science is fake, according to the eminently scientific 'Dr' Dingle:

First it was just saturated fat and cholesterol, then it was cholesterol, then it was LDL cholesterol, then LDL and HDL ratios, then VLDL, then HDL and the number of changes just keep happening.

'Dr' Dingle's form is to include at least one unsubstantiated accusation per post, and this is not ommitted:

if a hypothesis is tested and it fails it is no longer considered a valid hypothesis except in medicine where money and the volume of media whitewash it all.

'Dr' Dingle doesn't seem to realise that such sweeping generalisations weaken his argument. It could just as well be argued that all Associate Professors believe six impossible things before their breakfasts of muesli and yoghurt. It would equally be (probably) untrue.

Oh, and encourage that spamming to continue folks:

Also note that this information is exactly what the pharmaceutical companies don’t want out there so please spread it around.

'Dr' Dingle really is getting into the tin foil hat brigade here, claiming this is the "greatest lie that has ever been sold to the public". Surely there are other contenders for that claim? Such as the baseless claim that homeopathy can cure cancer, for example?

'Dr' Dingle's most recent post does include full references to two papers. It seems he's only prepared to reference selected papers. But that's probably scientific and independent according to his particular standards, because he's an enemy of Big Pharma (but a friend of Big Altie) and clearly independent and just ignore the fact that he's hawking his new book.

Cue the baseless accusation again:

It could save a lot of pain and suffering (because of the serious side effects) and a lot of money? Why? All the major political parties get donations from the big pharmaceutical companies. Yes I have a chapter on that too.

And the call to spam on and on:

Please circulate this information to everyone you know it might save their life and money.

It might, of course, just waste their time and money.

Despite his protestations that he has never claimed to be a medical doctor, 'Dr' Dingle gives health advice to two commenters suffering serious health problems. They could have got as equally qualified information from their plumbers. Or their homeopaths.

There probably is a debate about the effectiveness of statins (or any drug or intervention for that matter) but 'Dr' Dingle's approach of baseless accusation, cherry picking data, and pushing his beliefs in a book are far from the 'scientific' approach he urges.

Peter Dingle is not a medical doctor. People who believe he is are treading on dangerous ground.

Unlike 'Dr' Dingle, who clearly knows the full (and suppressed) truth about statins, the Mayo Clinic is more level headed:

Already shown to be effective in lowering cholesterol, statins may have other potential benefits. But doctors are far from knowing everything about statins. (...) Whether you need to be on a statin depends on your cholesterol level along with your other risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

And, in contrast to 'Dr' Dingle's conspiracy theories about Big Pharma's control of mathematically illiterate doctors who are all in the pay of faceless controllers, the Mayo Clinic says lifestyle changes are the most essential component of cholesterol control. Oh, how will they ever get their Big Pharma pay cheque now? The Mayo Clinic also provides lengthy information about side effects.

Patient UK advises:

Note: a statin is just one factor in reducing your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Just as important are: eating a healthy diet, not smoking, taking regular exercise, losing weight if you are overweight, reducing blood pressure if it is high, and taking a daily low dose of aspirin if advised to do so.

Isn't it strange how Big Pharma is failing to control these balanced viewpoints? Isn't it strange how considered these discussions are, in contrast to 'Dr' Dingle's hyperbole and conspiracy theories? Isn't it strange how not having a commercial interest means you're more likely to get independent information? Isn't it strange how 'Dr' Dingle continues his crusade to provide health advice to the world (even though he's not a medical doctor)?


  1. Shall we start the countdown to his appearance on either Sunrise, Today Tonight or Sattler?

    Maybe we should spam his message around, but with an appropriate preamble and links to some recent news items.

  2. please find the references included below
    it would only allow me to post one chapters worth but i can provide many more if you require. i love what you are doing. this is really about time we had a public debate

    Rosenberg, H. and D. Allard (2007). Evidence for Caution: Women and Statin Use. Winnipeg, Canadian Women’s Health Network.
    "Narrative review: Lack of evidence for recommended low-density lipoprotein treatment targets: A solvable problem." Annals of Internal Medicine 145(7): 520-530.
    University of British Columbia (2003). "Do statins have a role in primary prevention? A review by the Therapeutics Initiative of the Department of Pharmacology & Therapeutics of the University of British Columbia." Therapeutics Letter (48).
    Fidan, D., B. Unal, et al. (2007). "Economic analysis of treatments reducing coronary heart disease mortality in England and Wales, 2000–2010." QJM 100: 277-289.
    Franco, O.H., A. Peeters, et al. (2005). "Cost effectiveness of statins in coronary heart disease." Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 59: 927-933.
    Franco, O.H., E.W. Steyerberg, et al. (2006). "Effectiveness calculation in economic analysis: the case of statins for cardiovascular disease prevention." Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health 60: 839-845.
    Capewell, S. (2008). "Will screening individuals at high risk of cardiovascular events deliver large benefits? No." British Medical Journal 337: a1395.
    Nuovo, J., J. Melnikow, et al. (2002). "Reporting number needed to treat and absolute risk reduction in randomized controlled trials." Journal of American Medical Association 287: 2813-2814.
    Miall, W.E. and G. Greenberg (1987). Mild Hypertension: Is There Pressure to Treat? An account of the MRC trial. New York, Cambridge University Press.
    Shepherd, J., S.M. Cobbe, et al. (1996). "Prevention of coronary heart disease with Pravastatin in men with hypercholesterolemia." New England Journal of Medicine 333: 1301-1307.
    Heart Protection Study Collaborative Group (2002). "MRC/BHF Heart Protection Study of cholesterol lowering with simvastatin in 20,536 high-risk individuals: A randomised placebo-controlled trial." Lancet 360: 7-22.
    Ravnskov, U. (2002). "Statins as the new Aspirin. Conclusions from the heart protection study were premature." British Medical Journal 324: 789.
    Ridker, P.M., E. Danielson, et al. (2008). "Rosuvastatin to prevent vascular events in men and women with elevated C-reactive protein." New England Journal of Medicine 359(21): 2195-2207.
    Ray, K.K., S.R.K. Seshasai, et al. (2010). "Statins and all-cause mortality in high-risk primary prevention: A meta-analysis of 11 randomized controlled trials involving 65 229 participants." Archives of Internal Medicine 170(12): 1024-1031.
    de Lorgeril, M., P. Salen, et al. (2010). "Cholesterol lowering, cardiovascular diseases, and the Rosuvastatin-JUPITER controversy: A critical reappraisal." Archives of Internal Medicine 170(12): 1032-1036.
    Brugts, J.J., T. Yetgin, et al. (2009). "The benefits of statins in people without established cardiovascular disease but with cardiovascular risk factors: meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials." British Medical Journal 338: b2376.
    Franco, O.H., A. Peeters, et al. (2005). "Cost effectiveness of statins in coronary heart disease." Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 59: 927-933.
    Fidan, D., B. Unal, et al. (2007). "Economic analysis of treatments reducing coronary heart disease mortality in England and Wales, 2000–2010." QJM 100: 277-289.
    Liao, J.K. (2002). "Isoprenoids as mediators of the biological effects of statins." Journal of Clinical Investigation 110(3): 285-288.
    Holman, J.R. (2007) Some docs in denial about statin side effects. DOC News 4(12), 1-12.

  3. So you've posted a list of references Dr Dingle. You're about as qualified to interpret, analyse and debate them as I am, which is to say not at all.

    You may have some points, but I don't give them any credence because they're not based on research. If you have a serious interest in changing the dominant paradigm when it comes to health science, why don't you actually conduct your own research? You have a PhD: you might need to do further study in the issues you're interested in (which involve physiology, chemistry, anatomy, food science and so on) but you could proceed from there with your scientific training.
    There are people out there challenging dominant views and the might of the pharmaceutical industry, and doing proper science, not writing garbled blog posts and paperback books with cartoons on the cover - for example Kirsch and his excellent work on the inefficacy of antidepressants at University of Hull. (also, I'm a nitpicky English graduate and I wonder how you think you can have any academic credibility when you write things like 'i am a scientist' and fail to use poper punctuation).

    Oh that's right. You can't make money selling books, appearing on radio and tv (well I think those days are probably gone) to sell your books, and speaking on topice you're totally not qualified in, if you're stuck in a lab chasing funding, designing and conducting studies, analysing data and writing up your results.
    Far more lucrative, and much easier, to read stuff that other people have worked long and hard on, and make shit up.


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