British Chiropractic Association: poor quality research on posture

The British Chiropractic Association (BCA) claims to represent a certain expertise regarding backs and bodies. BCA states that:

Chiropractic is a primary health-care profession that specialises in the diagnosis, treatment and overall management of conditions that are due to problems with the joints, ligaments, tendons and nerves of the body, particularly those of the spine.

I was therefore interested to see that they had released some research on posture in 2009, for the Straighten Up campaign which is linked to Chiropractic Awareness Week*. The BCA carried out some research into posture in the UK. Given the expertise claim for Chiropractic, I was expecting a detailed assessment of people’s posture in different circumstances (sitting, standing, walking etc.) However, the BCA’s website reports that:

New consumer research by the British Chiropractic Association shows that, in just two years, the incidence of poor posture appears to have risen at an alarming rate. Over half (56%) of the UK population currently believe they have a bad posture, compared to 38% in 2007, an increase of 16%.

There are big problems with self-assessment of posture: it can be hard to know whether you are holding yourself ‘right’. This type of self-reporting is therefore very problematic.

To make matters worse, I can’t seem to find basic details about this research on the BCA’s site : what questions were asked, the sampling of research subjects, the size of the sample, etc. This research – and the BCA’s publication of it – is therefore very weak. It is hard to see how one can draw meaningful conclusions from what is described on the BCA website. For an organisation which works to come across as a credible representative of healthcare professionals, publicising ‘consumer research’ in this way is really rather unfortunate.

* Which, pleasingly, this year coincided with the end of the BCA’s ill-fated libel case against science writer Simon Singh.

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Holford claims a study shows his recommendations reduce Alzheimer’s risk

We were interested to see Holford’s blog trumpeting a new study by Yian Bu et al, on Alzheimer Disease and dietary patterns: claiming that the study shows that “Holford diet reduces Alzheimer’s risk”. Holford’s blog argues that the
study

findings are completely consistent with out recent 100% Health Survey and the diet I recommend in the Alzheimers Prevention Plan book.

These principles are also incorporated into the Holford Diet which also factors in eating a low GL diet. In our 100% Health survey we found that the consumption of sugar-based snacks and sugar were strongly associated with worsening memory and concentration. All the other findings in this recent study, soon to be published in the Archives of Neurology (Arch Neurol. 2010;67[6]), are completely consistent with our survey results.

However, the study states that

We identified a DP [dietary pattern] strongly associated with lower AD risk: compared with subjects in the lowest tertile of adherence to this pattern, the AD hazard ratio (95% confidence interval) for subjects in the highest DP tertile was 0.62 (0.43-0.89) after multivariable adjustment (P for trend = .01). This DP was characterized by higher intakes of salad dressing, nuts, fish, tomatoes, poultry, cruciferous vegetables, fruits, and dark and green leafy vegetables and a lower intake of high-fat dairy products, red meat, organ meat, and butter.

This seems rather close to the advice of mainstream organisations such as the BDA (or to my Gran’s advice to ‘eat your greens’). As far as I can tell, the study doesn’t consider the benefits (or disbenefits) of a low glycaemic load diet. It certainly doesn’t show that Holford’s supplement recommendations are effective: instead, “nutrient intakes from foods and from supplements were separately estimated, and only the nutrient intake from foods was used in the RRR analysis.”

Certainly, we have no objection to some of Holford’s recommendations: for example, eating lots of green veg seems perfectly sensible. However, these good recommendations are not at all original and we have not seen any convincing evidence that his more novel recommendations are any good.

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Science: So What? Bad nutrition on garlic and cancer

We blogged last week about bad nutrition from Science: So What? So Everything – a science communication initiative ran by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. I was disappointed to find more on their website: this time, a poor discussion of the evidence re garlic and cancer. Science: So What state that

recent studies have shown that our love of garlic may also be good for our health.

A study published in the medical journal Carcinogenesis in 2008 showed that garlic-derived substances had an effect on colon cancer cells. Continue reading

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Bad nutrition from Science: So What?

I was disappointed to some new, rather bad nutrition content on the UK Government’s Science: So What? So Everything website: there is some unfortunate discussion of turmeric, ginger and cancer. Continue reading

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Food for the Brain still describing Holford as a Teesside Visiting Professor

Teesside University previously gave Patrick Holford a Visiting Professor post – which, we believe, has now ended. However, the charity Food for the Brain (CEO: P. Holford) are currently referring to Holford as

Visiting Professor at the University of `Teesside, School of Social Sciences and Law

It does appear that these endorsements tend to linger.

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Holford, Burne and homeopathy on the NHS

JDC has just put up an excellent post about Holford, Burne and Serotonin pills: noting that, while Jerome Burne is given space on Holford’s blog to argue for the need to “Save NHS money on ineffective drugs, not homeopathy”, Holford’s own recommendations for depression are neither cheap nor based on good evidence. I think that two further things are worth emphasising re this post on Holford’s blog:

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Dore and some interesting wikipedia edits

Looking at the Wikipedia page for Dore, we were interested to note that IP address 82.70.115.233 was associated with a number of edits to this page. Some of these changes – such as a 31/12/09 edit – seem to make the Wikipedia page more positive about the Dore treatment. Whois information links this IP to a Dave Harris. By a pure coincidence, I’m sure, a Dave Harris happens to be Dore’s Senior Systems Engineer.

I do like wikipedia.

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Filed under ADHD, Dore, dyslexia, dyspraxia