Woodford Files: On Horror, Skulduggery and Snake Oil

Finally, my favourite season has arrived. Autumn is the time when we reap what we’ve sown and give thanks for the harvest. So my biggest thanks goes out to you – our dear readers and loyal advertisers. Your support has made it possible for Vitality to thrive as an independent voice in the community for over two decades (this month marks our 23rd anniversary).

I am also thankful that Helke Ferrie is now back from a 4-month hiatus spent working on her new book, Respectful Non-Compliance – How to rescue yourself from the cesspool of modern medicine, to be released in Spring 2013. This month, she returns to us with a chilling feature entitled Medical Fraud ExposedFrom fraudulent research used to market drugs, to scientists and politicians being bought off to protect drug company profits, here you will find tales of corruption so creepy that they’d qualify as the plot for a horror movie.

Interestingly, our medical fraud feature is being released just as another story hits the news about new research showing that people with mild to moderate hypertension may not benefit from taking high blood pressure medications after all, and there is even the question of whether such patients are being harmed. According to CBC news,

“About 19% of Canadians aged 20 to 79, roughly 4.6 million people, had hypertension last year and about 80% of them were being treated with antihypertensive drugs.”

In the October 3rd issue of JAMA, U.S. researchers looked at whether the use of blood pressure medications (beta blockers) was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular death, nonfatal heart attack, or nonfatal stroke. It wasn’t. “Among patients enrolled in the international REACH registry, beta-blocker use was not associated with a lower event rate of cardiovascular events at 44-month follow-up, even among patients with prior history of [myocardial infarction] or heart attack,” Dr. Sripal Bangalore, of the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York, and his co-authors concluded. (www.cbc.ca)

In other words, big Pharma has managed to get millions of people hooked on their products without any real evidence that they work. What a cash cow! That is, until one little group of researchers decided to look into the question of whether these drugs live up to the manufacturer’s claims. (They don’t.) Ultimately, the real losers are the millions of patients with high blood pressure who went to their doctors seeking help. Instead of receiving genuine health care, what they got was phony snake oil that not only doesn’t work but may actually cause harm in the long run.

If all this pharmaceutical skulduggery has ruined your appetite, you’ll find it quickly restored with Pat Crocker’s feature on Roasting the Harvest. Here she describes an easy way to prepare those yummy fall vegetables that you just carted home from the market. And if you’re looking to ward off vampires or an unwelcome suitor, check out our Glorious Garlic feature containing favourite recipes by Peter McClusky. He is founder of the Toronto Garlic Festival which will bring together artisanal garlic growers, chefs, community cooks, and garlic lovers on October 13 and 14 at Evergreen Brick Works in Toronto. We’ll be there sampling the goodies and stocking up for winter.

Julia Woodford, Editor ~ Vitality Magazine

Julia Woodford founded Vitality Magazine in 1989, and has been its Editor-in-Chief for the past 30 years. Prior to a career in publishing, her studies included Political Economics at York University, Journalism at Ryerson University, and Psychology, PhysEd, and Anthropology at University of Toronto. She remains a lifelong student of herbalism, nutritional medicine, and the healing arts to this day. You can read her columns on the Vitality website. She is also the Show Manager for Whole Life Expo, Canada’s largest showcase of natural health and green living. Learn more at the Expo website In 2018 she received a “Hall of Fame” award from National Nutrition. In 2019, she was nominated for a “Person of the Year” award by National Nutrition.

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