I was made aware yesterday of an article in the Daily Mail entitled ‘How too much cheese and meat can make your body dangerously acidic’. I found this impossible to ignore and emailed the following to the author of the piece, copying in firstname.lastname@example.org:
I write to express concern at an article you wrote which was published in yesterday’s Daily Mail. As someone who has recently become aware of Robert O Young’s theories and his influence, I read this with surprise and alarm.
Young describes himself as ‘Dr’ and a ‘top research scientist’ but does not hold a medical qualification or a degree from an accredited institution. There are UK practitioners and nutritionists who quote him as an expert scientist in their advertising. Young’s theories on health and nutrition are not only at odds with basic modern understanding of microbiology and human biology, they are also potentially dangerous.
In my opinion, to discuss his theories in a national newspaper while neglecting to mention his more outrageous ideas is irresponsible. It gives him (and the UK practitioners and nutritionists who promote his teachings) undeserved credibility and publicity. I also believe there were factual inaccuracies in the article.
To give you some personal background, I found out about Young just a few months ago and was shocked to discover a large number of UK companies promoting practices and diets based on his theories. I have since made a series of complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority about some of these. My complaints have either been upheld or have been ‘informally resolved’ (where the company agreed to remove the misleading claims I had reported). Worryingly, some of these companies were (strongly) implying that they could prevent or treat cancer by using Young’s methods and are therefore also under investigation by Trading Standards. My concern is that vulnerable people are being led to put their trust in such practitioners and could fail to take proper medical advice. In the case of (for example) cancer patients, the results can be tragic.
Young’s main theory is that all illness is caused by acidity and may be prevented or even ‘reversed’ by following his ‘pH Miracle’ plan. This includes cancer and diabetes (Types 1 and 2). He has been known to advise cancer patients to stop their conventional treatment. Young believes that if the body is too acidic, its own cells transform into bacteria and fungi. He seems not to even believe in the existence of viruses (for example, he states on his blog that HIV does not cause AIDS). This is clearly utterly wrong and if given credence, is of great concern.
In fact, the human body is very efficient at regulating its pH. This is known as ‘acid-base homeostasis’. Although Professor Lanham-New was correct to say that carbon dioxide is an important part of this system, she was completely wrong in saying that carbon dioxide is ‘one of the body’s main sources of alkaline material’. This is a fundamental error. According to your article, Professor Lanham-New also believes that research has shown that meats, hard cheese, bread and pasta produce acid when they are digested by the body, whereas fruit and vegetables create alkali. I am not aware of any robust scientific evidence to support any such conclusions. If it exists I would like to see it for myself.
Your article also says that ‘the principles of the diet may have some foundation in science’. As a scientist, I would say that is highly misleading. To my mind, the principles of the diet are totally at odds with modern scientific understanding.
I have already made a complaint to the Evening Standard about an article they ran recently which was promoting an Alkaline Diet (incidentally, this also mentioned Gwyneth Paltrow). Their response was to remove the piece from their website and publish an informative follow-up article by their in-house doctor, Christian Jessen. My only niggle over the Evening Standard’s response was that Jessen considered I had overreacted by calling the diet ‘dangerous’. To clarify, it’s not the diet itself I consider to be dangerous, but the acceptance and promotion of Young’s theories.
I believe the Daily Mail ought to run a clarification alongside your article and also a follow-up article by a suitably qualified medical professional, perhaps Dr Ellie Cannon. I would also be happy for them to print this email.
I look forward to your response.