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Calls to end UK anti-vaccine magazine

pharmafile | October 2, 2013 | News story | Medical Communications, Sales and Marketing Cancer, Vaccine, sense about science 

British retailers like Tesco and WH Smiths are being urged to drop an anti-vaccine magazine as it could be dangerous for patients.

The ‘What doctors don’t tell you’ magazine claims that vitamin C cures HIV, and suggests that homeopathy could treat cancer. It also states that the cervical cancer vaccine has killed hundreds of girls.

A recent edition of the publication which is being sold in high street shops, has articles titled: “How theUK [sic] lied about the MMR jab”, and “How to survive your hospital stay”.

Many scientists, doctors, patients and medical research charities have begun writing to supermarkets and newsagents, pointing out that the magazine contains dangerous health advice.

Simon Singh, a science campaigner, said: “What worries me is mainstream retail outlets selling this and giving it undue credibility…it [the magazine] was scaremongering in the extreme.”

Tracey Brown, managing director at Sense About Science, said in a Times article this week: “If a magazine was called ‘How to harm yourself and your friends’, we wouldn’t expect to see it on supermarket shelves”.

Writing about the magazine on Sense About Science’s blog earlier this year, Dr Matthew Lam, a science writer, spoke of the publication’s ‘disturbing’ attitude to the news that Oscar-winning American actress Angelina Jolie had undergone a mastectomy due to her high genetic risk of breast cancer.

Lam wrote: “The variety of ways that the authors misused and abused scientific evidence and scientific language to make their claims was shocking. They describe family history as being the same as genetic history, telling readers that just because Jolie has had family affected by breast cancer, her risk is not as high as reported. 

“They reference a research paper that does indeed show this but the paper didn’t look at BRCA mutations – which Ms Jolie carries – making the paper irrelevant to her particular breast cancer risk.”

“This rang all sorts of alarm bells”, he wrote, adding: “What I found was quite disturbing”.

The Advertising Standards Authority said there were 54 breaches of its code in adverts in the magazine. Neither WH Smith nor Tesco’s has responded to requests about the magazine, or said that they will be pulling it from their respective stores.

Ben Adams 

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