Issue 20 / 30 May 2016

“STOP,” the website trumpets, to the accompaniment of a black skull and crossbones grimacing against a red background.

If you have diabetes, “you WILL die”, it goes on.

“And it won’t be quietly in your sleep either. Getting rushed to the hospital while the paramedics break all of your ribs giving you CPR will be hell on earth. Spending your last moments with tubes, and pumps and ventilators in unbearable agony, you will wish you did something sooner.”

Well, happily, you can.

This website and others like it offer a – usually secret, but 100% reliable – cure for type 2 diabetes, a cure that the corrupt forces of Big Pharma and orthodox medicine have sought, out of greed and self-interest, to hide from desperate patients.

“Today I’ll prove once and for all how everything you’ve been taught about managing diabetes is DEAD WRONG,” claims another site. “I’ll tell you how to know if your doctor has been lying to you … But I’ll warn you, the $245 billion diabetes industry is furious that you’re watching this presentation right now.”

Of course, the people behind the miracle cures are not themselves in it for the money, but are motivated purely by the desire to help people.

That’s probably why when you try to click away from the sales pages on some sites, you can find yourself confronted by an increasingly desperate series of pop-up messages: “are you sure?”, “are you really sure?”, “how about if we make it even cheaper?”, “here’s a special, secret price just for today.”

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this month renewed warnings to consumers about the abundance of bogus diabetes treatments and cures being offered online.

“As the number of people diagnosed with diabetes continues to grow, illegally marketed products promising to prevent, treat and even cure diabetes are flooding the marketplace,” the FDA warns.

Among other supposed diabetes treatments, the agency is concerned about online spruiking of dietary supplements, alternative medicines such as ayurvedics, homeopathic products and the illegal marketing of prescription drugs “by fraudulent online pharmacies”.

Some of the miracle cure websites seem to be selling not much more than diet plans, which might even be useful (you can’t really tell what you’re going to get unless you’re prepared to put up the cash).

But you might wonder about the claims on some sites that even the most severe type 2 diabetes could be eliminated in less than 2 weeks.

Raising those kinds of hopes carries dangers of its own, including the possibility it might encourage people to walk away from medical supervision.

As the FDA points out, the real risk with many alternative products is that they can cause people to delay or abandon effective treatments, putting them at greater risk of developing complications down the track.

“People with chronic or incurable diseases may feel desperate and become easy targets,” the agency says, warning that, if a product sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

“Natural diabetes cure!”, “effective treatment to relieve all symptoms of diabetes!” and “lowers your blood sugar naturally!” are the kinds of claims the FDA says should alert consumers to a health scam.

I’d add overuse of exclamation marks to that list, along with the charlatans’ predilection for using as many different typefaces, font sizes and colours as you can cram on to a webpage.

But then what would I know! I’m just a tool of the evil pharmaceutical industry! And corrupt doctors! And I’m furious because I want people to STAY SICK, not get better using CHEAP and NATURAL alternatives!

Except for my own secret cure for everything, of course, which I’ll sell you today only for just $99.99. Oh, all right then, let’s make it $14.99, just for you …

Jane McCredie is a Sydney-based science and medicine writer.

9 thoughts on “Beware the exclamation pointed message

  1. Paul Stevens says:

    Diabetes is just the tip of the metabolic-inflammation crisis that is expanding through humanity, primarily because of Western diet and lifestyle, especially from Microbiomal-Incretin dysfunction. Perhaps it would be more productive to write about the current state of science and the hope that Neuroimmuneendocrinegastroenterology might be able to find a real breakthrough for the what is probably the greatest global public health threat of our time with (IDF figures): 
    One in 11 adults has diabetes (415 million)
    One in two (46.5%) adults with diabetes goes undiagnosed
    12% of global health expenditure is spent on diabetes (USD673 billion)
    One in seven births is affected by gestational diabetes

     

     

  2. Dr. Gabrielle McMullin says:

    The previous comment says it all…..it is diet and lifestyle that is the problem. We dont need more expensive research and a pill that will fix this. With a predominately vegetable based diet and a lot of walking obesity and diabetes are “cured”. Unfortunately people do not like this advice and are not prepared to give up eating excessively and do no exercise. 

     

  3. Dr Margaret Taylor says:

    If doctors would just spend some time going through a healthy low carb eating plan with patients, they wouldn’t be so fed up with us. With only 1 in 10 Australians eating enough vegetables, its not hard to get an improvement.
     With eggs and vegetables or a protein shake for breakfast, tinned fish and salad for lunch, nuts for snacks and meat  and 3 veg for dinner, cutting out the white stuff, people feel great and insulin resistance can be reversed, the abdominal obesity, hypertension, hypercholesterolaemia, hyperuricaemia are more easily controlled. Dieticians are no use as they are still committed to 5-7 serves of carbs per day which just doesn’t work with high levels of insulin. Chromium and vitamin C help insulin reistance but not as much as keeping blood sugar stable and therefore cutting out peaks of insulin.

  4. Sue Ieraci says:

    According to AIHW, 4.6% of pregnant women in AUstralia are diagnosed with GD. That’s about one in twenty, not one in seven. Certainly the diseases of excess – like type 2 diabetes – are replacing the diseases of poverty. We now have access to an abundance of food, including processed food and sugary soft drinks, and we move less. It is known that accumulation of adipose tissue increases insulin resistance – one does not have to invoke multi-syllabic mechanisms. It is the very type of hyped messages conveyed in the above comment that leads to people being vulnerable to snake oil solutions.

  5. Maureen Chuck says:

    I’m surprised that Dr Paul Stevens doesn’t think it is productive to let GPs know what their patients might be encountering on the internet. This is a consumer message for doctors and patients to protect them from scams. As someone with Type 2 diabetes I think its a very important message.

  6. Dr. Andrew McIntyre says:

    This is certainly someone making a dollar out with ?slick or perhaps sick promotion but we should not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    There is significant evidence that type 2 diabetes/metabolic syndrome can indeed be reversed/improved with low carbohydrate diets combined with intermittant fasting and that the primary problem is insulin resistance. I don’t think this type of promotion should stand in the way of the medical profession actually looking at the evidence that this is the case. Your drug rep is unlikely to encourage this investigation, a point that these people sensationalise but none the less the option of low carbohydrate diets deserves serious investigation. A good place to start is Dr Jason Fungs book :  “The Obesity Code: unlocking the secrets of weight loss” or looking at the work of Dr Robert Lustig or Garry Taubes. 

  7. Sue Ieraci says:

    Since the “low carb high fat” and “fructose is poison” fads became popular, I have reviewed the literature on weight loss and diabetes in detail. What is shown is that insulin resistance is either genetic or related to excessive adipose tissue, especially around abdominal organs. Weight loss, by ANY means (even gastric sleeve surgery) improves insulin resistance – there are lots of studies to confirm this. Reduced carb, Mediterranean diet, interrmittent fasting and calorie-counting weight loss all contribute to reducing insulin resistance – there is no single ‘magic bullet’.

  8. Andrew McIntyre says:

    The real “Fad” diet was the low fat high carb diet pushed by the USDA in the 1970s without any firm evidence that it was effective or even safe.The long term studies have failed to show that this “fad” diet is useful and there remains no solid evidence against a higher fat diet, or even saturated fat in particular. Fructose can induce fatty liver and start the insulin resistance off and this may well lead to obesity rather than obesity causing it. The rapid improvement in diabetes with low carbohydrate diets or Bariatric surgery before weight loss occurs is strongly in support of this. There is no one diet that works, but the more sustainable ones have reduced carbohydrates and often fasting as a strong feature and this includes Atkins, LCHF, 5:2 diet, Intermittent fasting and Paleo. 

     Low carbohydrate diets have been around for 150 years and were the mainstay of diabetic treatment prior to the availability of insulin and are increasingly used again for childhood epilepsy (Ketogenic level of restriction) and to label them as “Fad Diets” is inaccurate as there is significant scientific evidence that they are at least as effective for weight loss as low calorie diets and there is no evidence they are unsafe. 

    There is much scientific evidence available and I think that the recommendations for the population to eat a low fat high carbohydrate diet may well be the cause of the tsunami of fatty liver, obesity and diabetes that we face. The medical profession needs to look at the evidence as there are no drug sponsors for this!

  9. Merle Wigeson says:

    Would the fact that a normal blood glucose reading has been decreased from 7.0 to 5.6mmol/L for most laboratories have anything to do with the “exploding numbers” of diabetics?  A fasting blood sugar level less than 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L) isnormal. A fasting blood sugar level from 100 to 125 mg/dL (5.6 to 6.9 mmol/L) is considered prediabetes. If it’s 126 mg/dL (7 mmol/L) or higher on two separate tests, you have diabetes. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/…/con-20033091

     

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