Holford doesn’t just make untrue and unsubstantiated claims about his vitamin pills.
He has claimed that “AZT, the first prescribable anti-HIV drug, is potentially harmful, and proving less effective than vitamin C” and that we’ve learned “what it is that makes some kids develop autism and also how to bring them back“.
Perhaps most worryingly, Holford presents himself relatively convincingly, claiming that there is scientific evidence to support his arguments and implying that he knows better than qualified health professionals. This tendency is perhaps epitomised by the book Food is Better Medicine than Drugs, which Holford co-authored with Jerome Burne (a Daily Mail health journalist who narrowly missed out on a Golden Duck nomination of his own).
Holford claims that since the publication of this book “certain drug industry funded organisations and drug-oriented individuals” have campaigned to discredit him by spreading false allegations. There was, after all, a whole chapter devoted to the former ‘Professor’ Patrick Holford in Ben Goldacre’s 2008 book, Bad Science, though I am unaware of any false statements therein. And it would be strange for someone who is funded by the drug industry to be so critical of his paymasters. It’s all very confusing.
In any case, there was no need for any such campaign. I’ve read that book and it speaks for itself. Cashflow permitting, it’s enough to put you off your life-saving prescription medication and send you running to Holland & Barrett to stock up on Holford branded supplements.
But does Holford really have any influence over the public?
According to his Wikipedia page, he appears regularly on television and radio in the UK and abroad and has 34 books in print in 24 languages. I don’t think he’s been on British television much in the last few years but his books are inescapable.
The following photographs were taken last week at my local WHSmith.
As you can see, there are two shelves devoted to the whole of science and one shelf just for Patrick Holford.