Quacks and Consequences

Review of Some Consequences for Choosing Alternate Treatments for Your Kids

Quacks promoting untested and unreliable remedies that don't work is nothing new. The Internet age has certainly made their quackery more widely known, but that doesn't mean that it is any more mainstream. Still, too many people do fall for this nonsense.

When considering an "alternative treatment," remember that Dr. Paul Offit, in his book "Do You Believe in Magic?" says that "there's no such thing as conventional or alternative or complementary or integrative or holistic medicine. There's only medicine that works and medicine that doesn't. And the best way to sort it out is by carefully evaluating scientific studies - not by visiting Internet chat rooms, reading magazine articles, or talking to friends."

Folks may shrug and say, "What's the harm?," but there can be consequences to using medicine that doesn't work.

From children dying of treatable cancers because they turn to quack cancer treatments and babies dying when their parents unwisely skip a vitamin K shot to intentionally unvaccinated children suffering the consequences when they get a vaccine-preventable disease, there are often consequences to using alternatives to medicines that work.


In the Spotlight - Homemade Baby Formula

Kristin Cavallari with her baby in Los Angeles
Kristin Cavallari with her baby in Los Angeles. Photo by SMXRF/Star Max/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Recipes for homemade baby formula aren't new. After all, parents once didn't have many alternatives if they weren't breastfeeding, were away from their baby, or couldn't hire a wet-nurse.

New recipes for homemade baby formula are promoted by folks who are needlessly afraid of commercial baby formula, which ironically puts these babies at risk for nutritional deficiencies.

Kristin Cavallari, for example, has written that she made her own ​homemade baby formula because “I would rather feed my baby these real, organic ingredients than a heavily processed store-bought formula that contains ‘glucose syrup solids,’ which is another name for corn syrup solids, maltodextrin, carrageenan, and palm oil.”

So she created a recipe for a goat milk-based formula that was also made with maple syrup, olive oil, cod-liver oil, and blackstrap molasses.

What was missing in Cavallari's recipe? Folate and enough vitamin D to keep kids from getting sick.


Cannabis Oil for Kids with Cancer

Using cannabis oil to treat childhood cancer is the latest quack treatment.
Although 23 states now have medical marijuana laws, it shouldn't be used to treat your child's cancer in place of standard treatments. Photo by David Zentz/Getty Images

Unlike many other quack treatments, such as shark cartilage and laetrile, marijuana and marijuana-derived products actually may have some medicinal uses, including:

  • the treatment of nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy for cancer
  • the treatment of neuropathic (damaged nerves) pain
  • stimulating the appetite of some HIV patients
  • very short-term treatment of glaucoma
  • reducing spasticity, pain, spasms, and bladder dysfunction in multiple sclerosis patients
  • treating intractable seizures, including children with Dravet syndrome

But can marijuana cure cancer?

No, cannabis does not cure cancer, but according to the American Cancer Society, scientists have "reported that THC and other cannabinoids such as CBD slow growth and/or cause death in certain types of cancer cells growing in laboratory dishes" and that "some animal studies also suggest certain cannabinoids may slow growth and reduce spread of some forms of cancer." So far, studies "do not show that they help control or cure the disease" though.

The American Cancer Society also states that they support "the need for more scientific research on cannabinoids for cancer patients," but even more importantly, they state that you should "know for sure whether you are giving up proven treatment for an unproven one" and that you shouldn't "give up a proven treatment for one that has been disproven."

So while cannabis and cannabinoids may be able to treat some of the side-effects of cancer treatments, they don't actually treat the cancer itself. And despite all of the wild internet claims that 'hemp oil cures cancer' or 'cannabis cures cancer,' they are on the same level of quackery as the claims that shark cartilage and laetrile can cure cancer.

Tragically, just like parents fell for claims of the quacks who pushed shark cartilage and laetrile to treat their children's cancer, there is a new generation that wants to use cannabis oil instead of chemotherapy.

Earlier this year, a mother in Utah moved her 3-year-old son with ALL to Colorado so that she could get him a medical marijuana card. What started as a supplement for his chemotherapy, which put him into remission, ended up as his sole treatment, instead of the typical consolidation and maintenance phases of ALL treatment that help to prevent the cancer from returning.

This isn't the first parent to turn to cannabis oil, though.

There are others, including:

  • Cash Hyde of Montana had recurring brain tumors when he was 22-months-old and received cannabis oil while also receiving 30 rounds of radiation. While his parents seemed to chalk up his remission to the cannabis oil, he, unfortunately, died a few years later when his tumor returned a third time.
  • Mykayla Comstock was diagnosed with ALL at 7-years-old and her mother credits cannabis oil with helping her go into remission, although she also receives chemotherapy.
  • a 1-year-old who relapsed three times after taking chemotherapy and radiation for a few years and getting a bone marrow transplant. Relapsing again, and with no other treatment options, his mother started him on cannabis oil and he again went into remission. He has developed cancer in his testicles, though.

A 5-year-old in Iowa was getting cannabis oil for "colorectal cancer," but her mother had faked her diagnosis. She didn't have cancer.

Cannabis and cannabinoids don't cure cancer. Anecdotal stories aren't evidence. Similar to these stories, pediatric oncologists can share stories of patients who did not take cannabis oil and who had minimal side effects and of children who unexpectedly went into remission.

But what's the harm in thinking cannabis oil might have helped these kids?

A father in Ottawa, Canada just had his parental decision-making rights taken away because he wanted to treat his 18-month-old son's acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) solely with cannabis oil and not chemotherapy.

Unlike cannabis oil, chemotherapy, the standard treatment for ALL, has a very high success rate with this type of childhood cancer, there is no evidence that cannabis oil works at all. In fact, according to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, "about 98 percent of children with ALL go into remission within weeks after starting treatment" and "about 90 percent of those children can be cured."

Pushing the idea that cannabis oil cures cancer gives parents false hope and turns them away from the real chance of a cure that traditional treatments offer.


Alternative Treatments

What's the harm in trying an alternative diet or treatment?

Unfortunately, it isn't hard to see:

  • a naturopath in Australia put a breastfeeding mother on a water-only diet, which nearly killed a baby, as they tried to cure the baby's eczema
  • a 19-month-old in Alberta, Canada who died of meningitis after his parents continued to treat him with "water with maple syrup, juice with frozen berries and finally a mixture of apple cider vinegar, horseradish root, hot peppers, mashed onion, garlic and ginger root."
  • a 7-year-old in Calgary, Canada who died with a treatable bacterial infection that his mother was treating with holistic remedies, including herbs and homeopathic medicines.
  • a 10-year-old in Perth, Australia who died in El Salvador, getting natural treatments, including hours of mud-wraps, for her rare liver cancer, instead of chemotherapy, which would have given her a 50-60% chance of survival.
  • an 11-month-old in France who died of neglect and starvation when her vegan parents treated her pneumonia with garlic, cabbage and .clay compressions, and other "traditional remedies."
  • a 17-year-old in Colorado who died after receiving vitamin injections, hydrogen peroxide injections, and a photoluminescence treatment from a naturopathic physician who had gotten his license by mail order. A 19-year-old with Ewing's Sarcoma had died after getting the same treatments.
  • a 9-month-old in Sydney, Australia who died of septicemia and was so malnourished that she looked like a child from a third-world country. Her parents had been using homeopathic remedies to treat her severe eczema.
  • a 13-month-old in Melbourne, Australia who died of epilepsy when her parents stopped all medications prescribed by her neurologist and began using only homeopathic treatments.
  • a 6-month-old in London who died, likely with an inherited metabolic disorder, when his parents took him to a homeopath and fed him honey and vinegar instead of taking him to a doctor.
  • a 3-month-old in the Netherlands who died after chiropractic neck and vertebral column manipulations.

It is not hard to see that kids can be harmed when parents choose non-evidence based treatments as an alternative to proven, science-based treatments for treatable conditions.

Dr. Oz once offered "quick, effective, non-prescription solutions" for common bacterial infections, including strep throat - gargling with a salt water and lemon juice "concoction" that includes sage tea. Dr. Oz stated that the " sage slows the growth of bacteria." We might also have to look up his natural treatments for acute rheumatic fever, as that is a complication of strep infections that aren't treated with antibiotics.

Tragically, we never seem to learn from the mistakes that have already been made from the use of alternative treatments, whether from using laetrile, shark cartilage, or other fad remedies.


Vitamin K Shots for Newborns

Would you opt out of the Vitamin K shot for your newborn baby?
Would you opt out of the Vitamin K shot for your newborn baby?. Photo by Getty Images

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, in their policy statement "Controversies Concerning Vitamin K and the Newborn," vitamin K deficiency bleeding "is most effectively prevented by parenteral administration of vitamin K."

While early (birth to 2 weeks) vitamin K deficiency bleeding can be prevented with either oral vitamin K or a vitamin K shot, late onset (2 to 12 weeks) vitamin K deficiency bleeding is best prevented with a vitamin K shot.

Some people didn't get the message, though, advising parents to skip the vitamin K shot against all standard medical advice.

So what are the consequences of this kind of non-evidence-based advice? They are much as you would expect when dealing with a potentially life-threatening condition - a rise in vitamin K deficiency bleeding in newborns and infants.

Don't skip your baby's vitamin K shot. Vitamin K shots are thimerosal free, don't cause cancer, and some babies need the extra vitamin K to prevent vitamin K deficiency bleeding.


Unproven Autism Treatments

In his book Autism's False Prophets, Paul Offit, MD once again exposes many quack treatments and their consequences.

This time, the focus is on dangerous autism treatments. Among them are the many treatments that are popular in the autism biomed movement, including:

  • special diets for autism - includes the gluten-free casein-free (GFCF) diet and others, none of which work to treat children with autism. These restrictive diets can also be expensive and hard to hard to maintain.
  • chelation - although FDA-approved to treat severe cases of lead poisoning, it is also used to supposedly remove mercury and other heavy metals from a child's body because some health care providers and parents believe that being "mercury-toxic" cause children to have autism. At least one child with autism has died after Dr. Roy Kerry, an ENT specialist, treated him with chelation in his office. The 5-year-old had a heart attack while still in Dr. Kerry's office.
  • hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) - breathing oxygen in a pressurized chamber is FDA-approved for treating decompression sickness suffered by divers and for carbon monoxide poisoning, but hyperbaric oxygen has not been approved to treat autism.
  • secretin  - secretin injections for autism is a treatment that has been proven not to work - over and over again. Dr. Mercola continues to push the idea that it does though and that we just aren't doing it right - insisting that you have to combine secretin injections with a "comprehensive natural program" in order to get results.
  • Lupron injections (chemical castration) - developed by Dr. Mark Geier and his son and used to treat children with autism and "precocious puberty" at their autism treatment clinics around the country. Dr. Geier's medical licenses have since been taken away in most states and the use of Lupron as a treatment for autism is widely discredited and has been described as junk science. It was hailed as a "really big idea" by the Age of Autism website.
  • infrared sauna therapy (forced sweating) - pushed by Jenny McCarthy’s Generation Rescue as a method of detoxification.
  • shock treatments
  • enemas for autism - coffee enemas and bleach enemas (MMS or Miracle Mineral Solution) and actually being used by son parents to "treat" their autistic children . Interestingly, a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine who pushes the camel milk protocol is even again enemas for autistic children, saying that just because Autism One supports it "doesn't make it sound therapy." (Autism One also supports giving kids with autism camel's milk...)
  • stem cell therapy - you have to travel out of the country for this expensive, dangerous, and unproven therapy, often to Mexico or Panama, etc.

These non-evidence based treatments for autism should be avoided by parents. Other therapies that are not scientifically validated include transcranial magnetic stimulation, camel's milk, dolphin-assisted therapy, prism glasses, antifungal drugs, antiviral drugs, and holding therapy, etc.

As discussed in the article "Why are there so many unsubstantiated treatments in autism?" in the March 2013 issue of Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, parents should be aware that "These interventions are expensive, take up valuable time, and in some cases are dangerous."

Keep in mind that they don't just take up valuable time for parents. They take up valuable time for researchers too who often have to prove that these treatments don't work, even when it is pretty clear that there is no good reason that they would or should work.

Take for instance secretin. The secretin craze began in the mid-1990s after an anecdotal report from a parent that their child with autism improved after being given secretin to test how well his pancreas was working. This led to multiple media reports, including Good Morning America and Dateline NBC. Jane Pauley went so far as to call secretin "a development some hail a breakthrough that may literally break the silence of autism."

Of course, parents wanted secretin for their children with autism after that. Even though the drug had to be used off-label or ordered from out of the country and even after study after study proved that it didn't work.


Laetrile for Cancer

Long before Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski was using what many people consider a quack treatment for cancer derived from human urine, there were those offering false hope with laetrile.

In New York, Joseph Hofbauer, a 9-year-old with Hodgkin's disease, was taken, against medical advice, to Jamaica for care, where he received metabolic treatment and laetrile. A court allowed this treatment to continue in the United States, under the care of Michael Schachter, MD, a psychiatrist.

In Massachusetts, a court ruled that Chad Green, a 3-year-old with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), should stop being treated with laetrile and should restart his chemotherapy treatments. Instead, the parents fled the state, taking their son to Tijuana, Mexico, to continue the laetrile treatments. He died about 10 months later.

These children died in the late-1970s, even though the California Department of Public Health's Cancer Advisory Council banned the use of Laetrile to treat cancer in 1963 because it was "of no value in the diagnosis, treatment, alleviation or cure of cancer."

Why was laetrile used for so long when experts knew it didn't work?

Like many quack treatments today, you can thank:

  • doctors practicing far outside their specialty - like today's autism specialists, the "cancer specialists" who used laetrile were made up of general practitioners, psychiatrists, and dentists, etc. - not board-certified oncologists
  • anecdotal reports of effectiveness
  • celebrity endorsements - Steve McQueen, a movie star, publicly praised the laetrile treatments he was getting from a dentist in Mexico for his cancer. He died less than four months later.
  • one-sided media reports
  • politicians - while Senator Edward Kennedy held hearings on laetrile to help expose the quack treatment, other politicians tried to push to get it more widely accepted. For example, Lawrence Patton McDonald, M.D., a urologist and member of the  United States House of Representatives from Georgia, advocated for its use.
  • money

For some people, laetrile was a miracle cure and the advice from a few non-qualified experts trumped the advice of real experts from the American Cancer Society, the American Medical Association, the Committee on Neoplastic Diseases of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other experts in cancer drug evaluation.


Shark Cartilage

Like laetrile in the 1970s and Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski's antineoplastons derived from human urine that he still pushes today, shark cartilage was the big "cancer cure" in the 1990s.

Dr. Paul Offit, in his book, Do You Believe in Magic? describes how Mike Wallace featured shark cartilage as a cancer cure on 60 Minutes. The segment also featured the businessman (William Lane) who was promoting the use of shark cartilage treatments and who had also written the books, Sharks Don't Get Cancer and Sharks Still Don't Get Cancer.

Unfortunately, sharks do get cancer and studies had already shown that shark cartilage didn't cure cancer.

What were the consequences of the shark cartilage hype?

In addition to wasting money and resources to study the effects of shark cartilage on cancer (three randomized trials have disproved the idea that shark cartilage can cure cancer), many people wasted their money on these treatments and continue to do so today, as you can still buy shark cartilage pills.

And as with other cancer treatment fads, people took shark cartilage instead of conventional medical treatments that have been proven to work and they had poorer outcomes.

In one tragic case that was described in the New England Journal of Medicine, the 9-year-old parents of a Canadian girl who had just had surgery to remove a brain tumor decided to give her shark cartilage pills. The shark cartilage pills were given instead of the recommended follow-up radiation and chemotherapy that would have given her up to a 50% survival rate. The girl died.

In another, Tyrell Dueck, a 13-year-old Canadian boy with osteosarcoma of his leg died after his parents decided they wanted to treat him with alternative cancer treatments. With partial amputation and chemotherapy, he had a survival rate of at least 65%. By the time a Saskatchewan court had ruled that he must continue to receive chemotherapy, his cancer had spread to his lungs and the family was allowed to pursue alternative treatments with laetrile and shark cartilage at a clinic in Tijuana, Mexico. He died less than four months later.

It was never a practical idea that shark cartilage could cure cancer.

Although studies had shown that implanting cartilage from rabbits, cows or sharks next to a tumor could stop its growth, it doesn't work if you take an oral form of the cartilage. While implanted cartilage can inhibit new blood vessels from growing (angiogenesis inhibitor), the proteins in the ingested cartilage pills get broken down by stomach acids, are too big to be absorbed by the intestine if they aren't broken down, and would likely trigger an immune system reaction if they were absorbed. If the shark cartilage did make it into your bloodstream, it would then have to accumulate at the tumor site.

Other angiogenesis inhibitors have been proven to work and have been approved by the FDA.


Chronic Lyme disease

Ticks that can cause Lyme Disease
Ticks that can cause Lyme Disease. Photo by Getty Images

There is no doubt about the fact that Lyme disease is a real condition.

People can develop Lyme disease after they are bitten by a tick that is infected with the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria.

The classic symptoms of Lyme disease are well-known by most people and fortunately, it can be treated with antibiotics. Still, people can develop post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome after they are properly treated with antibiotics.

Chronic Lyme disease is a whole other story and it is just another fad diagnosis, just like Morgellon's disease, yeast allergy, or multiple chemical sensitivity.

Advocates of the theory for chronic Lyme disease believe that after Lyme disease is treated, the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria can hide out in your body (kind of like the varicella virus sticks around in your body after a chicken pox infection) and cause chronic symptoms that are hard or impossible to treat. These symptoms might include chronic pain and fatigue and would be treated with months or years of multiple antibiotics.

Unfortunately, the treatments for chronic Lyme disease didn't stop at long-term antibiotics. These patients often used many other alternative treatments, such as special diets, hyperbaric oxygen, enemas, vitamins and supplements, and most surprising, some were intentionally infected with the parasite that causes malaria (you had to go to clinics in Mexico for that treatment)!

This led to guidelines from the Infectious Disease Society of America in 2006 warning about dangerous alternative treatments for chronic Lyme disease.

And in a review article that was published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2007, 'A Critical Appraisal of “Chronic Lyme Disease”,' the authors equated chronic Lyme disease to other supposedly chronic diseases that have now lost credibility, including chronic candida syndrome and chronic Epstein-Barr virus infection. They concluded that "Chronic Lyme disease, which is equated with chronic B. burgdorferi infection, is a misnomer, and the use of prolonged, dangerous, and expensive antibiotic treatments for it is not warranted."

That wasn't the end of chronic Lyme disease, though. The attorney general of Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal (now U.S. Senator for Connecticut) sued the Infectious Disease Society of America for violating antitrust laws (they hadn't). A review panel eventually concluded that all of the recommendations from the original guidelines were "medically and scientifically justified in light of the evidence and information provided, including the recommendations that are most contentious: that there is no convincing evidence for the existence of chronic Lyme infection."

And while that should have been the end of chronic Lyme disease, it wasn't. In fact, The Today Show recently featured a doctor who continues to treat patients who he thinks have chronic Lyme disease because lately Kathie Lee "has been hearing more about chronic Lyme disease." That doctor also warned about ticks because they can carry malaria parasites (they can't).


Faith Healing

Believing in faith healing is pretty common. Many people pray when a friend, family member, or other loved one gets sick, hoping they will quickly recover.

Very few religions only use faith healing, though, to the point that they reject standard medical care when it is obvious a child has an emergency or life-threatening condition.

A 2009 article in Time magazine, "When Parents Call God Instead of the Doctor," highlights a classic tragedy and the consequences when parents rely on faith healing alone, instead of medical treatment for a sick child.

In that case, the sick child was an 11-year-old girl with undiagnosed diabetes. The child, Madeline Kara Neumann of Wisconsin, died as her parents prayed (Unleavened Bread Ministries) and didn't seek medical attention. Her parents received just 6 months in jail.

Other recent cases include:

  • a 15-year-old in Parma, Idaho, who died in 2012 after having vomiting and diarrhea for 3 days. She was unconscious for four or five hours before suffering a heart attack and dying with a ruptured esophagus. (Followers of Christ Church)
  • a 16-year-old in Creswell, Oregon, who died just before Christmas after being sick for less than a week
  • a 17-year-old in Carlton, Washington, who died in March 2009 with a burst appendix
  • a newborn in Oregon who was born two months premature but died when he was only about nine hours old because his parents didn't seek medical attention
  • a 16-year-old in Oregon who died who died two weeks after developing a urinary tract blockage (Followers of Christ)
  • a 15-month old in Oregon who died of pneumonia and a blood infection as her parents conducted faith-healing rituals but didn't seek medical attention
  • an 11-year-old in Weston, Wisconsin, who died of undiagnosed diabetes
  • a newborn baby in Franklin, Indiana, who died of a common infection less than two days after she was born
  • a 15-year-old in Loudon, Tennessee, who died with a painful grapefruit-sized growth (Ewing's Sarcoma) on her shoulder. Almost 12 years after her daughter's death, her mother has appealed her conviction of misdemeanor child abuse or neglect to the Tennessee Supreme Court. (New Life Tabernacle)
  • a 13-year-old in Grand Junction, Colorado, who died with untreated diabetes
  • an 18-day-old in Clifton, Colorado, who died of meningitis and pneumonia
  • a 3-day-old in Clifton, Colorado, who died with a treatable heart condition

How common are these faith healing tragedies?

A 1998 study in Pediatrics discovered at least 140 child deaths from religion-motivated medical neglect between 1974 and 1994.

And according to Rita Swan, director of the Iowa-based advocacy group Children’s Healthcare Is a Legal Duty, at least 303 children have died since 1975 after medical care was withheld on religious grounds (religion-related medical neglect). At least 303 children, because you have to wonder how many faith healing deaths go unreported. 

A 2013 investigation in Parma, Idaho, (Peaceful Valley Cemetery) found many marked graves for children under age 18, including many newborns.

Surprisingly, about 30 states have criminal codes that provide some protection for parents who choose faith healing for their sick children and 17 states have religious defenses to felony crimes against children. Why are these exemptions in our laws? Mostly because Christian Scientists lobbied for them.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and other advocates for children have urged state legislatures and regulatory agencies with interests in children to remove religious exemption clauses from statutes and regulations.



Vaccine books to help you do your vaccine research.
Reading some of these books will help you to get educated about vaccines, make the right choice for your children, and get them protected against vaccine-preventable diseases. Photo by Vincent Iannelli, MD

Going hand in hand with using alternative medicine these days or being "crunchy," is often a belief that vaccines are dangerous.

These parents might adopt an alternative immunization schedule or skip vaccines altogether.

Unfortunately, the consequences of not getting vaccinating are well-known, including that they put their own families at risk for catching vaccine-preventable diseases, and others as well.

Why are these others at risk if they are vaccinated?

Some children are too young to be vaccinated or fully vaccinated and are at risk.

Some children have or later develop immune system problems and can't be fully vaccinated and are at risk.

And vaccines are not 100% effective, so it is possible, although unlikely, that someone was vaccinated but is still at risk.


HIV Denialism

Unbelievably, it is the belief that the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) virus does not cause acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

If you are wondering how people can still think that HIV doesn't cause AIDS in the 21st century, you will likely also be surprised that some people still think that vaccines didn't eradicate smallpox and help to control other infectious diseases.

But why would someone be an HIV/AIDS denialist? It is often easy to see the agenda behind the antivax folks, but what about HIV denialism?

It is interesting that you can see parallels between anti-vaccine theories and HIV denialist theories and myths, such as the misuse of studies, misrepresenting the views of experts and using their quotes out of context, the belief that AZT causes AIDS (vaccines cause autism), that AIDS in Africa are just other diseases that have been renamed (polio wasn't eradicated by vaccines, it was just renamed), or that antiretroviral drugs haven't been tested (vaccines haven't been tested), etc.

Fortunately, the media rarely give the views of HIV denialists the same kind of balance (or false balance, since only one side is supported by science) that they give anti-vaccine folks.

And while it would be easy to lump it together with other medical conspiracy theories, like chemtrails or that vaccines are being used as a form of population control, it also seems to be popular among those alternative practitioners who push conspiracy theories about toxins and Big Pharma, including:

  • Gary Null - although he once had a syndicated radio talk show about "natural living", he has since moved to just internet radio, but continues to push his ideas of HIV denialism, coffee enema treatments, juicing, and the dangers of vaccines, etc. And of course, he has a website where he sells power foods, branded vitamins and supplements, and videos, etc.
  • Joseph Mercola, DO - well known for his affiliation with Barbara Loe Fisher and her antivax organization, not surprisingly, Dr. Mercola is also an HIV denialist. He also believes in chemtrails and is against vaccines, GMOs, fluoride in water, vitamin K shots for newborns, thinks mercury fillings are toxic, and pushes all kinds of vitamins and supplements on his website and in his newsletter and books.
  • Mike Adams - in addition to believing in all other alternative medicine conspiracy theories and some non-medical ones (he is a 9/11 Truther, birther, and Sandy Hook denialist, etc.) , the 'Health Ranger' is an HIV denialist.
  • Kelly Brogan, MD - this holistic psychiatrist with a book, in addition to pushing dangerous anti-vaccine ideas, once promoted the idea that HIV doesn't actually cause AIDS.

Tragically, many HIV denialists have died. In the case of Christine Maggiore, who appeared on the cover of Mothering magazine (which has now become an antivax web forum) while she was pregnant, both she and her daughter died of AIDS. The article from 2001 was titled "HIV+ Moms Say No to AIDS Drugs."

Even at that time, it was well known that taking AZT while pregnant could reduce your chance of passing the HIV virus to your baby. Neither took AZT, because she believed that AZT was the cause of AIDS, not HIV.

Of course, not all HIV denialists have HIV though. Some are just people, like Peter H. Duesberg and Valendar Turner, pushing their conspiracy theories that misinform and fool people who do have HIV.

Quacks and Consequences

The parents of the infant in France who died got their advice on alternative medicine from Jeanette Dextreit's The Natural Guide to Childhood. The author defended the advice in her book and for not including a warning to "consult a doctor if the illness persisted because, for me, that was obvious." But are the consequences of these "alternative treatments" so obvious to most parents or even the providers who push them?

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