A couple of weeks ago Publishing House launched a new website entitled www.immunesystem.co.uk.

The website is aimed at individuals who want to strengthen their immune systems and protect themselves against cancer and infectious disease.

A major survey showed that 95% of the population are ill at least once a fortnight. One of the biggest and healthiest industries is the one which makes and markets pills and potions designed to help us ward off coughs, colds and flu!

Infectious diseases are commoner than at any time in living memory: diseases as varied as pneumonia and tuberculosis are becoming commoner and are killing more people than they did a decade ago. But they are not the only causes of death and serious illness to be on the rise. Our susceptibility to cancer is also increasing.
One major reason for all this is that our immune systems are becoming weaker – damaged by a number of factors including stress, poor diet and too many drugs.
As VCHL subscribers will already know I believe that a healthy immune system – the key to a superbody – won’t simply protect against infection but will also prove to be an essential factor in the body’s ability to fight off all other diseases – including cancer.

The web site contains some criticisms of the cancer establishment but much of the material it contains is now widely accepted by more imaginative and less hide bound members of the medical establishment. All the advice and information on the site can, of course, be backed up with scientific evidence.

I have for years been convinced that we could do much better in the war against cancer by taking care of our immune systems.

The evidence shows that the medical establishment’s approach to cancer has failed miserably. And the medical evidence proves me right.
Naturally drug companies and the medical establishment still refuse to accept this. And death rates from cancer are unnecessarily high.

As always, however, the medical establishment is supported by journalists who don’t have the medical knowledge to ask the right questions.

Nevertheless, I was mildly surprised when, within days of the site’s launch, The Mirror attacked the website rather viciously.

‘Celeb doctor Vernon Coleman’s latest web venture has been branded ‘scary, frightening and wrong’ by the Cancer Research Campaign.’ claimed internet columnist Matt Kelly. ‘But his views on cancer take a more sinister turn. He claims the medical industry is sacrificing the lives of thousands of cancer sufferers by offering ineffective treatments simply to line the pockets of drug companies.’
‘The CRC believes that this is seriously dangerous,’ continues Kelly. ‘It’s awful to think of someone who has just been diagnosed with cancer reading this. The information is wrong. The whole thing is frightening,’ said a spokesperson.

I had spoken to a Mirror journalist the day before this story appeared and had explained that the CRC and I have been disagreeing with one another for a long time. I confirmed the accuracy of the information on www.immunesystem.co.uk

But my response to the CRC’s attack on the site was ignored.

After the story had appeared Publishing House telephoned The Mirror on my behalf and asked if someone would answer a few questions about the story.

The Mirror agreed to this.

I then sent five simple questions:

1. ‘Did you read the whole site?’
2. ‘Do you have any medical qualifications?’
3. ‘Did you ring anyone other than the Cancer Research Campaign for a comment on the medical value of the site?’
4. ‘Did you know that the Cancer Research Campaign and Vernon Coleman have been battling for years, and that prior to this story appearing Vernon Coleman had attacked the Cancer Research Campaign on many occasions?’
5. ‘Did you ring the Cancer Research Campaign for a quote, or did the Cancer Research Campaign ring you and suggest the story?’

When The Mirror’s Mr Kelly saw the questions he sprouted feathers, started laying eggs and changed his mind.

‘Do as you want. I don’t care,’ shouted Kelly rather hysterically, when refusing to answer questions. (He might perhaps care more if he – or someone close to him – had cancer.)

In trying to be cleverer than they are – and by supporting an ineffective, dangerous, out of date medical regime – The Mirror has threatened the lives of millions.
I’ve spent some time trying to get them to publish a correction.
I wrote to the Editor of The Mirror offering this letter for publication:

Dear Editor,

Matt Kelly, in his column, quotes the Cancer Research Campaign as claiming that my website www.immmunesystem.co.uk is ‘scary, frightening and wrong’.
The website points out that orthodox medical treatments (including chemotherapy) are often ineffective and frequently do more harm than good. A growing number of doctors agree with me on this. I also point out that evidence shows that building up your immune system – by, among other things, eating the right foods – can help keep you healthy. Here I am in the unusual position of being supported by both the British and American governments.

Naturally drug companies and the medical establishment refuse to accept this. And death rates from cancer are unnecessarily high.

Matt Kelly appears only to have asked the Cancer Research Campaign for a comment on the site’s contents. That’s pretty poor journalism for several reasons.
First, the CRC is one of the organisations which supports the approach which I attack. It hardly seems fair to ask the people being attacked to pronounce judgement. Second, the CRC and I have been enemies for years. Asking the CRC for a comment on my website is like asking William Hague for a comment on a Tony Blair policy.

In trying to be clever Kelly has given support to a medical approach which just doesn’t work. Just look at the figures for cancer deaths.

Yours sincerely

Vernon Coleman MB ChB DSc

I received no response so, I wrote to the editor again saying:

‘I don’t think my letter has appeared in the paper yet. I’m sending another copy in case the first one got lost or eaten.

The issue is an important one of principle: cancer care affects large numbers of real people and I can prove that my viewpoint is medically sound and justifiable. I believe that this is something that really has to be corrected in The Mirror. Mr Kelly used the word ‘sinister’ when describing my views on cancer. I don’t believe his piece was fair or reasonable. I would be grateful if you would confirm that you’ll print my letter very shortly. As far as I am concerned printing my letter would spell an end to this irritating incident. If the letter doesn’t appear (without cuts) you will leave me with no choice but to find some other way to draw attention to the fact that The Mirror has been unreasonable and that the advice on www.immunesystem.co.uk is fair and reasonable.

Yours sincerely

Vernon Coleman


This letter was also ignored so I then wrote to the editor of The Mirror saying:

‘I get the awful feeling that I’m faxing into a void.
This is a matter of principle. It isn’t going to go away because this isn’t about me. It’s about cancer. And I believe it matters.

My views about cancer (and the cancer establishment) as revealed on www.immunesystem.co.uk are not particularly revolutionary. I can produce masses of medical evidence to support the stance I take.

On the other hand look at the effectiveness of the line which is followed by the medical establishment, the pharmaceutical industry and the big cancer charities. The figures show that their approach to cancer has failed dismally.
My complaint is about the way The Mirror put this story together and presented the conclusion. I think the story as published helped to perpetuate a dangerous myth – a myth which has been (and is) responsible for thousands of unnecessary deaths. I was available to The Mirror prior to publication but I do not think my views were fairly presented. The reader was not given the chance to make up his/her mind on the issue. The Mirror made a decision about the value of the site and presented that opinion as fact. What surprises me is that I had always thought of The Mirror as a left wing paper – devoted to the ordinary reader rather than to the interests of large establishment forces. It is extremely difficult to oppose those establishment forces – especially on medical issues – and the line The Mirror took will have discouraged others who might want to take on the establishment. If Mr Kelly had said that it was his opinion that cancer patients should always be treated exclusively with drugs, surgery and radiotherapy that would have been fine. He is entitled to believe anything he likes and as a columnist I would defend his right to any view – however much I might disagree with it. He could use the CRC to back up his view. But he didn’t say that he was expressing an opinion. He stated baldly that my ‘views on cancer take a more sinister turn’. This is a serious allegation suggesting that my views have some corrupt or dishonest motive. When you add the CRC’s comments the allegation becomes extremely serious.

1. Had anyone at The Mirror studied the site in any detail? It would be easy for Kelly and his colleague to prove that they had if they had. The site contains over 70,000 words.

2. To whom at the CRC did The Mirror speak? A doctor? A press spokesman? Had the CRC spokesman read the whole site? Generally speaking, I don’t think the world’s big cancer charities can be described as being at the cutting edge when it comes to advocating alternative or non-drug industry-related therapies.

3. Did The Mirror ring anyone other than the CRC for a comment? There are two significant issues here. First, the CRC is well known to be part of what could be described as the cancer establishment. They were bound to disapprove of the content of the site. Second, I have been involved in many heated battles with the CRC over recent years. This was not made clear in the published story.
I have a faint feeling that The Mirror now wants all this to go away. It was, after all, a relatively small item.
But this is, as I have already said, a matter of principle. I think it needs pursuing. I don’t think The Mirror should get away with printing stuff like this and then doing nothing about it. Newspapers have a responsibility to be fair and honest with their readers.’

All I’ve had from Piers Morgan , the Editor of The Mirror, is a friendly little note suggesting that nobody “gives a monkeys” and that we all “get on with life”. Curious choice of words. The story The Mirror ran will, in my view, deny many of its readers the chance to get on with life because they’ll be dead. And, despite Mr Morgan’s lack of concern, quite a few people may well give a monkeys about that.

I could complain to the Press Complaints Commission but there is little point in this. I have absolutely no respect or regard for the PCC which will, I suspect, regard someone who disagrees with the drug company dominated cancer industry as frightening and rather subversive. For background information on the PCC see my books Fighting for Animals and Animal Rights Human Wrongs. The PCC once decreed that I was wrong to tell the truth about the meat industry, and the hazards of eating meat, because they felt that the truth might damage the industry and disturb the public. The PCC seems to me to be a rather smug, sanctimonious, self-satisfied body which is about as relevant to the real issues of human rights and press freedom as the Automobile Association. You won’t read much criticism of the PCC in the newspapers, of course. Most editors make a lot of noise but they are too frightened of getting into trouble (and losing their jobs) to contemplate any serious public criticism of this or the Advertising Standards Authority.
And so The Mirror will have done a little more to help perpetuate the dangerous myth that the ‘poison, slash and burn’ philosophy so beloved by the cancer research establishment is the only acceptable approach to cancer. Bizarrely, The Mirror seems to regard the Cancer Research Campaign as an independent body entitled to the last word on cancer research.

Personally, I’m embarrassed and ashamed by the attitude of The Mirror. The editor will, in my view, now have to accept responsibility for thousands of unnecessary deaths. I have absolutely no doubt that many of those who die from cancer could have been saved if they had been treated with a kinder and less orthodox regime. By sneering at the alternative approach The Mirror has undoubtedly turned many of its readers away from treatment programmes which might have saved their lives.
The Mirror has endorsed and given additional credibility to a treatment approach which simply doesn’t work. And they won’t admit that they were wrong.

I’m telling this story here because there is a lesson in it for us all – a reminder, yet again, about the poor standard of much modern journalism and the fact that it can be dangerous – and deadly – to trust modern newspapers.

Always be sceptical about the stories you read in newspapers and magazines. How many alleged news stories are biased, unbalanced, flawed by poor research or absurdly and unfairly slanted in favour of the status quo?

My conclusion is that The Mirror is a disgrace – and a newspaper its readers would be better off without.
But, sadly, it is by no means alone in that. In reality The Mirror is probably the norm rather than the exception.