Tag Archives: allergy

Patrick Holford, YorkTest and a Migraine Study

Former Visiting Professor Patrick Holford but still Head of Science and Education at Biocare has an enthusiasm for interventions that we wish we might share but, too frequently, when we examine the studies on which he relies, the results do not support his claims or the scope of his optimism.

In a recent newsletter, Patrick Holford was rather excited about a recent study: Randomised controlled trial of food elimination diet based on IgG antibodies for the prevention of migraine like headaches. For reasons that may become clear, he neglected to mention the full title of the paper.

Last month a study published in the Nutrition Journal showed that 85% of people affected by debilitating migraines had their symptoms reduced, and quality of life improved, when their food triggers were discovered and avoided. Having a hidden food allergy is one of five common causes of migraines.

This recent study tested migraine sufferers for food allergy using YorkTest’s FoodScan test. Eighty four of the volunteers were put on their food allergy free diet, while 83 were given a sham ‘allergy’ diet based on fake test results. At the end of four weeks those on the real allergy free diets had had 23% less migraines than those on the sham diet.

You might be a little surprised that Holford was quite so excited by this result after 4 weeks of assessment that the newsletter was subject-lined, “Relieve your migraine without painkillers” and headlined, “What’s causing migraines?”. Holfordwatch consulted the original study and can not agree that Holford provides a useful interpretation of its outcome.[1] According to the reported results, it seems as if even the study’s authors might quibble with Holford’s optimism:

The results indicated a small decrease in the number of migraine like headaches over 12 weeks, although this difference was not statistically significant (IRR 1.15 95% CI 0.94 to 1.41, p = 0.18). At the 4 week assessment, use of the ELISA test with subsequent diet elimination advice significantly reduced the number of migraine like headaches (IRR 1.23 95%CI 1.01 to 1.50, p = 0.04). The disability and impact on daily life of migraines were not significantly different between the true and sham diet groups. [Emphasis added.]

There are many other problems with this paper (eg, the participants are effectively self-selected from a group that is pre-disposed to believe that food intolerance influences migraine; there is no clinical verification of the migraine-like headaches description; respected experts in allergy and immunology caution against the notion that Yorktest’s IgG Food Intolerance test is diagnostic of food intolerance or clinically relevant; the number of study drop-outs compromises the power of the study effect). The study lacks scientific rigour to the extent that the only surprise is that a journal reviewer changed his opinion between 1st and 2nd review:

This paper has strong deficiencies in respect to the study design, recruitment, compliance, and no medical control and assessment of the subjects, not meeting the criteria for a scientific paper. Due to the huge amount of uncertainties, also acknowledged by the authors, this paper has no new information to offer and is of limited interest.
Level of interest: Reject as not of sufficient priority to merit publishing in this journal. [1st review]

Such flaws in the design and other areas can not be corrected merely by re-writing yet the reviewer accepts the revisions (eg, the revised title now refers to “migraine-like headaches” rather than “migraine”) and changes the review comment to:

Level of interest: An article whose findings are important to those with closely related research interests. [2nd review]

Recall that the research finding is not, as Holford leads, “[You can relieve] your migraine without painkillers” but that the study revealed that at 12 weeks (the study’s stated primary outcome): “this difference was not statistically significant“. Holford’s account is partial and inaccurate. This is lamentable when one considers that he claims to be a valuable intermediary between the public and the practical reporting of health research. It is unsettling when one considers that there is considerable apprehension that some patients and healthcare providers might be persuaded by such claims to lobby for such ineffective tests and diets to be funded by the NHS despite their lack of clinical relevance or efficacy.

Notes

[1] Holfordwatch notes that Yorktest provided a similarly partial account of the study findings in their September 2011 news items and that the media that ran the Yorktest release on this study did not investigate the findings but reproduced this and other unduly favourable interpretations (the rollcall of shame includes: Metro, Red Online, Top Sante, Women’s Fitness, Women’s Weekly, OK Magazine, Woman’s Weekly, Female First.

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Filed under food intolerance, IgG tests, intolerance, patrick holford, yorktest

You and Yours on Which? Investigation into Food Intolerance Tests

Listen again while you can: BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours on Which?‘s Investigation into Food Intolerance Testing with participation from Dr Mike Walker of Cambridge Nutritional Sciences Ltd.

One note that should be of particular interest to Patrick Holford, given his claims for IgG testing in the diagnosis of food intolerance, is a significant change in stance by the companies who promote, distribute and carry out such tests. We shall write more about this at a later date but Walker was at pains to stress that the Cambridge Nutritional Sciences’ IgG test is indicative of food intolerance but not diagnostic of food intolerance. The tap-dancing on this point was painful and brought a similar episode to mind involving Patrick Holford and his qualifications. Continue reading

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Filed under allergies, food intolerance, patrick holford, yorktest

Update on Which?, YorkTest and Selective Quoting in Google Sponsored Links

YorkTest claims that Which? describes IgG as "validated scientific test"
Today’s Google is remarkably free of YorkTest sponsored links such as the one that we highlighted in our discussion of Which?, YorkTest and Cambridge Nutritional Sciences. The Google ad claimed: “Which? Magazine Report Says “Validated Scientific Test”” which is as blatant an example of quote mining as most people will ever encounter. The sponsored links have switched back to highlighting “Endorsed by Allergy UK”. Continue reading

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Filed under food intolerance, IgG tests, yorktest

YorkTest, Hardman & Hart: there’s a difference between the BMJ and Nutrition and Food Science

A surprising mistake?

A surprising mistake?

HolfordWatch recently remarked on YorkTest’s chutzpah in selectively quoting from the recent Which? investigation. In the normal course of events and commenting, there has been some discussion of the lamentable Hardman and Hart audit of YorkTest customers. There has been a lot of confusion about whether the study was a clinical trial (no, it wasn’t) and even some confusion about where it was published: in some literature, YorkTest has been implying that it was published in the BMJ… Continue reading

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Filed under allergies, food intolerance, IgG tests, patrick holford, yorktest

Patrick Holford is an ex-Professor: he has resigned his Visiting Professorship at Teesside. UPDATE: Teesside’s Cactus Clinic also ceases to operate

HolfordWatch has just learned that Patrick Holford has resigned his post of Visiting Professor at Teesside; a call to Teesside confirms that the reception don’t have a record of any Professor Holford at the University. We don’t have any more details at the moment: we will post information as it arrives.

Clearly, this is good news: Holford does not produce professorial-standard work. We trust that Holford will update his CV ASAP, and that Teesside will soon put out a press release to clarify the situation. Continue reading

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Filed under ADHD, allergies, allergy, Holford, patrick holford, University of Teesside

My (Paid) Friend Says This Product Is Really Good: FFTB and Cherry-Picking

Visiting Professor Patrick Holford of Teesside University and the Food for the Brain Foundation (FFTB) are promoting a very well-thought plan whereby food and supplement manufacturers will give them money in exchange for the endorsement of their products. Now, charities have to get their money from somewhere, so isn’t that all very sensible? Continue reading

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Filed under children, Food for the brain, Food for the brain foundation, Holford, patrick holford, University of Teesside

Patrick Holford Still Advocates IgG Testing for Food Allergies

Professor Patrick Holford of Teesside University and Head of Science and Education at Biocare frequently upbraids professionals and researchers for what he perceives as their lack of up-to-date research.

Holford’s 100%health newsletter for November 2007 is full of the usual inexactitudes and creative interpretations of quite straightforward research. He once again conflates allergies and intolerance and discusses IgG as if it is relevant to any such discussion. Continue reading

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Filed under allergies, allergy, ASA, food intolerance, food sensitivity, Holford, home test, hometesting, IgG tests, lactose intolerance, patrick holford, Scadding, supplements, yorktest