Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

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Sunday, 25 October 2015

ASA / CAP are taking positive action on live blood analysis advertising

by @jobrodie //

CAP = Committee of Advertising Practice
ASA = Advertising Standards Authority - CAP develops the advertising code which the ASA upholds.

It's five and a half years since I first submitted a complaint about live blood analysis to the ASA. It took quite a few months for the adjudication to be completed but all points were upheld and, to the best of my knowledge, the leaflets were removed from circulation. Since then several complaints have been made by many other people and a few live blood practitioners are now on the ASA's non-compliant online advertisers list. Two live blood analysts have also been fined several thousand pounds and each has a criminal conviction after Trading Standards began legal proceedings against them under the Cancer Act 1939.

Let me be very clear. Live blood analysis is nonsense and utterly without merit. I'm sure commenters will come along and tell me their usual tropes about how I haven't tried it, how it worked for them, how it's helped umpteen thousand people etc.

Since nearly all live blood analysis experiences seem to involve some vague recommendations to eat more healthily I'm not that surprised that "it" has helped people. You might as well argue that this blog post has helped you - eat more vegetables, move about more - there you go ;)

My advice is free and so is the advice from an NHS dietitian or GP. Save your money, let's see an end to live blood analysts ripping people off and selling them unnecessary supplements while telling them that their blood is misbehaving. From looking at a lot of their material they haven't the faintest idea what they're talking about. Sadly they follow a programme of study that's wrong and confused from the outset - it doesn't matter how assiduously you read a book if the book is full of misinformation. I feel almost sorry for the people who've spent considerable sums getting trained and buying a microscope and learning the patter.

The Good Thinking Society has been actively monitoring live blood analysis websites, in particular those that have previously agreed to amend pages but where misleading claims may have kept back in. This week the CAP has written to a number of practitioners giving them a month to get their websites in order and, if not, a range of sanctions may be applied. The CAP sending a letter to an entire 'sector' of live blood analysts is relatively uncommon I think, they have previously done similar for homeopathy.

The worst potential sanction is obviously referral to Trading Standards, as they are able to begin criminal proceedings against a company, but it usually doesn't come to that. To be fair anyone can report to Trading Standards a company that's practising unfair trading, or breaking the Cancer Act, it doesn't have to be just the last step in an ASA investigation. I can't imagine that an ignored ASA recommendation or adjudication would look good should matters come to court.

Nearly all LBA advertising that I can think of breaks the regulations relating to medicinal claims, defined as "a claim that a product or its constituent(s) can be used with a view to making a medical diagnosis or can treat or prevent disease, including an injury, ailment or adverse condition, whether of body or mind, in human beings" and practitioners are not real healthcare practitioners: "Marketers who are not suitably qualified should not offer specific advice on, diagnosis of, or treatment for conditions for which medical supervision should be sought."

If we can't see an end to live blood analysis (no objection to anyone selling microscope photos of blood samples only to the unwarranted health claims) let's at least make it safer, where people aren't given misleading advertising or advice and then charged for it.

This is the letter that CAP / ASA have sent by email: Live blood letter for AOL (I think this means 'Advice Online') - 21 October 2015

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Comment policy: I enthusiastically welcome corrections and I entertain polite disagreement ;) Because of the nature of this blog it attracts a LOT - 5 a day at the moment - of spam comments (I write about spam practices,misleading marketing and unevidenced quackery) and so I'm more likely to post a pasted version of your comment, removing any hyperlinks.

Comments written in ALL CAPS LOCK will be deleted and I won't publish any pro-homeopathy comments, that ship has sailed I'm afraid (it's nonsense).