Misguided Medicine – Book Review

Misguided Medicine 1I’ve been a long time listener of the Relentless Roger and the Caveman Doctor podcast, and have listened to every single episode.  At the time of this writing they’ve put out a whopping 75 total episodes!  Unfortunately they’ve been on hiatus for the past couple months, but since this is one of my favorite podcasts I’m on a twitter campaign to get them to start up again!

It was through this podcast that I was first introduced to Dr. Colin Champ who just recently completed training as a radiation oncologist and is now working at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.  While Dr. Champ has already published multiple research papers, this was his first foray into book publishing.

Because I’m a fan of the podcast I wanted to support him, so I picked up an autographed copy from megan@cavemandoctor.com for $20.  While I normally try to get all my books for the best price possible, which is usually through Amazon (where you can currently find the paperback version for $12.99 and the Kindle version for $6.99), I figured paying full price plus a little extra for a signature was the least I could do.

While I was just expecting a simple signature, it was actually accompanied by a really thoughtful note:

Misguided Medicine 2While I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by it’s cover… I really liked its cover.  I don’t know if it’s because all the books I’ve been reading have been digital or something else, but I really liked the feeling of the texture of the paperback cover.  All I’m saying is that if this book were lying around a friend’s house and I picked it up… I’d be inclined to bring it home with me.

Ok, I’m going to stop going on about the physical properties of the book now.  Doesn’t quite make for a good review.

The overall theme of the book is summed up nicely in a quote on the title page by Sir William Osler:

 One of the first duties of the physician is to educate the masses not to take medicine.

This is immediately emphasized by the first line of the book:

 Fifty percent of medicine is wrong.

Later on in the introduction he introduces a quote from Voltaire:

Medicine is the art of entertaining the patient as the body heals itself.

These statements really set the stage for what the book is about.  Since I myself also work in the health care industry, I can definitely relate to these.

Many other poignant quotes like these are sprinkled throughout the book and at the beginning of each chapter.

The first section of the book addresses how the Standard American Diet was formed and the misguided science behind how we ended up thinking that a high carbohydrate, high grain, and low fat diet could be good for us.

While he’s talked about some of this stuff on his podcast before, he really goes into detail in this book. I was surprised to learn that one of the seminal research experiments on cholesterol that served as the foundation for a lot of our current dogma was performed in rabbits that developed atherosclerosis when their normal vegetarian diet was replaced with meat and eggs. The people that referenced this article ignored the fact that rabbits don’t have the physiology humans have to process these sorts of foods!

He also addresses the influential yet misguided and probably unethical efforts of Ancel Keys, the war on fat despite the preponderance of evidence showing otherwise, and the history of the calorie and why the calorie in vs calorie out model is grossly inadequate.  This is all stuff that he and Roger discuss regularly on their podcast, but it was nice to see it all written out and organized on paper.

Dr. Champ provides helpful analogies to further clarify concepts like:

Viewing weight loss as an in versus out equation is like putting less gas in your car to save money. The amount of gas you put in is not what leads to fuel efficiency. It is based on the machinery in the car the engine mechanism, and the way the car is driven. The body, with its plethora of hormones and functions is no different. In fact, sometimes putting in higher-grade fuel makes it run more efficiently, and the same happens in weight loss. It is about the quality of the fuel used and the engine that is burning it.

Perhaps one of the most informative chapters was the one on the important anti-cancer properties of conjugated linoleic acid found in grass fed meats.  Despite listening to so many podcasts and reading so much, I hadn’t really been aware of this.

While I know that eating wild caught salmon is better than farm raised salmon because they aren’t exposed to the GMO feeds and aren’t swimming around in their own waste, I didn’t realize that:

Unlike farm raised salmon, DHA, the omega 3 that our brain is made of, is increased in the cell membranes of cold-water fish to keep them warm. If salmon are raised in warm water conditions, such as the forms of southeast Asia, they will not build up the DHA omega-3, significantly decreasing their nutritional value.

Since Dr. Champ is at heart a researcher, he isn’t shy about presenting studies and providing references that support his assertions.  He is all about evidence based medicine and constantly espouses it on his podcast… and this of course comes through in his book.

The book itself is 181 pages long, and almost a quarter of it is dedicated to references!

Misguided Medicine 3

I’ve marked off the section dedicated to his references.

Other topics he covers include the misguided notions behind the conventional wisdom of:

  • Eating more grains
  • Using vegetable oils over saturated fats
  • Calcium supplementation
  • Long distance running
  • Avoidance of sun exposure
  • Avoidance of salt

Despite the fact that the book is only around 140 pages not including the references, it took me a couple days to get through because of the sheer amount of information being provided.  There was only so much my brain could handle at a time!  There’s a small summary sheet at end of every chapter which I found very helpful and intend to look back on in the future.

Overall I think it’s a great book and highly recommend it.  Also… if you haven’t, you should definitely checkout their podcast.

Thanks for reading my Misguided Medicine book review.  If you’d like, you can pick up a copy through Amazon here:

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