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Majority of Canadians believe Zamboni’s “CCSVI” and “liberation” scam; science education is pitiful

Posted by Colin Rose on December 15, 2010

There is no better example of why the general population should have a good grounding in the basic principles of scientific investigation than this poll. It is a given that when the politicians digest these results and realize the thousands of votes they could gain by appeasing the majority, they will start throwing  hundreds of millions of dollars at Zamboni’s scam regardless of the junk science upon which it is based. Why would they care? They are already throwing money at bariatric surgery, an equally scientifically absurd scam. What’s a few more hundred million to keep the population happy in their world of surgical fantasies. So, prepare to see more of your tax dollars flushed down the toilet of surgical scams.

A Toilet Money Award to all Canadians who think "liberation" treatment for MS is beneficial.

Clearly our primary and high school science courses are failing the population if they readily accept an obviously suspicious, instantaneous cure for a chronic degenerative disease and can’t ask the right questions about Zamboni’s hypothesis and the reason for the  improvement in subjective symptoms in the YouTube videos of some of the MS patients who have been “liberated.”


Canadians support liberation treatment trials: survey News Staff

Date: Wednesday Dec. 15, 2010 6:48 PM ET

A vast majority of Canadians believe the federal government should support clinical trials of the controversial “liberation treatment” for multiple sclerosis, and say it should be available in Canadian hospitals for patients who request it, according to a new survey.

In an online poll of 2,011 Canadian adults conducted Dec. 13 to Dec. 15, polling firm Angus Reid found that three quarters of respondents support government-funded clinical trials, while 82 per cent support making the treatment available to Canadian patients.

The poll found that 37 per cent of respondents had seen, read or heard something about the procedure, while another 13 per cent said they were well-informed about the treatment.

Half of respondents had never heard of the procedure.

The so-called liberation treatment has sparked a great deal of controversy over its founder’s claims that MS is not an autoimmune disorder, as most experts believe, but rather a vascular problem that can be treated with balloon angioplasty.

The theory and treatment were developed by Italian vascular surgeon Dr. Paolo Zamboni, whose research suggests that the majority of MS patients have blockages in veins in their necks that prevent blood from draining from the brain. According to Zamboni, these blockages cause toxic levels of iron to build up in the brain, which triggers MS symptoms such as fatigue and paralysis.

Zamboni called the condition cerebrospinal venous insufficiency, or CCSVI, and began treating it with balloon angioplasty to open blocked veins.

Despite Zamboni’s research, and successful follow-up studies conducted at the University of Buffalo, experts have remained skeptical of the treatment based on other research that has failed to prove the liberation treatment’s benefits.

Earlier this year, the Canadian and U.S. MS Societies announced that they will offer $2.4 million in research grants for studies on Zamboni’s theory. But the federal government has said it will abstain from funding clinical trials until further research is completed.

Meanwhile, patients buoyed by Zamboni’s findings are travelling to foreign countries to have the liberation treatment, at great personal expense (and at great personal risk). Some patients have reported complications since returning home. One patient died in October after developing a blood clot around a stent that was put in during a procedure in Costa Rica.

The Quebec College of Physicians has warned patients that further research must be done on the treatment to prove its effectiveness and advised them not to seek treatment at overseas clinics.

But many Canadian patients have returned from outside Canada reporting a vast improvement in their symptoms. And the Angus Reid survey found that many Canadians believe the patients over the experts.

When asked which side of the debate over the liberation procedure they agreed with most, 61 per cent said they side with MS sufferers who have had the treatment and claim it has provided relief. Twelve per cent support the doctors who claim the treatment is unproven and risky, while 27 per cent said they weren’t sure.

The survey was conducted online between Dec. 13 and Dec. 15 and has a margin of error +/- 2.2 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

6 Responses to “Majority of Canadians believe Zamboni’s “CCSVI” and “liberation” scam; science education is pitiful”

  1. Rebecca Hoover said

    The clinical trials are needed because most will not believe that CCSVI procedures are ineffective unless clinical trails show this ineffectiveness. It is as simple as that. Unfortunately, berating the average citizens who have not attended medical school for their beliefs does not help much. I appreciate your passion and am somewhat amused by your indignation. The best way, however, to resolve this issue is to have the clinical trials as soon as possible. Without these trials more and more individuals with MS will seek CCSVI procedures.

    From the reports I hear from those who have had the procedures, the procedures seem to have no effect. The reported improvements seem to be placebo related. Nonetheless, many desperate patients with MS are having CCSVI procedures anyway — even spending the life savings of their loved ones. Rather than berate these desperate individuals and their families, we need to collect and offer proof they will believe. The good citizens would believe clinical trials so I support clinical trials — the sooner the better.

    How about a little compassion, good doctor?

    • Colin Rose said

      Do you really think that the “CCSVI” and “liberation” myth will disappear with any number of trials showing its lack of benefit? The Zamboni zealots never believe any proof of ineffectiveness and will invent some conspiracy theory to explain why any trial showed no benefit. Most likely they will say that the investigators were secretly paid by drug companies to disprove the surgical “cure” for MS. They want “liberation” on demand preferably funded by Medicare. When symptoms worsen or recur they will blame it on a “restenosis” not natural progression of the disease. Democratic governments only care about getting elected again. They will fund the Zamboni myth with whatever it takes to pacify its zealots and their supporters.

      The Zamboni myth can easily be disproven on the basis of known physiology as I have shown in my blog. No need to do trials that won’t be believed anyway.

      I do have compassion for one aspect of the zealot’s position. Many useless surgical treatments like “bariatric” surgery and coronary angioplasty for chronic coronary disease are still done and cost billions of dollars per year. The latter has even been proven in good controlled trials to be useless or worse but many doctors refuse to stop doing them, rationalizing their behaviour by saying that their patients are different than the patients in the trials. Who is going to shut down the coronary angioplasty scam? Not the goverment. Only the doctors can do so by acting like true professionals. See blogs,

      Of course that doesn`t justify spending even more money on one more useless surgical scam. I was hoping to stop this one before it became entrenched but people keep putting blind faith into the mirage of high tech instantaneous solutions to their problems and surgeons are more than willing to fund their Jags and mansions by making them happy.

      • Rebecca Hoover said

        I actually do think a clinical trial or two would be effective in helping quash what is a procedure that does not seem to provided intended benefits. I recall that bee stings were viewed by many with MS as a cure but after a clinical trial showed that bee stings were not an effective treatment for MS, the popularity of bee strings dropped to almost non-existent.

        It is interesting that the public seems to understand and trust clinical trials. I do not think CCSVI procedures will stop until clinical trials have been completed. As it is, more and more are getting these procedures done everyday and a regular industry is developing.

      • Colin Rose said

        Surgical treatments are different than drug treatments. Even if there is good scientific proof of absence of benefit they are still done and paid for by insurance companies and medicare. See my latest post on therapeutic knee arthroscopy and vertebroplasty. In the case of “liberation” the YouTube videos have such a powerful effect upon the gullible that it is unlikely any trial will reduce the demand or convince “liberation” surgeons to act professionally.

  2. chiefumtaga said

    Thankfully scientific research is not yet determined by public popularity, due to the lack of scientific and medical understanding in the general population. Witness large numbers of patients suffering from a cold or influenza(caused by viruses)demanding treatment with antibiotics(effective against bacteria, useless against viruses).
    I think one should view the poll results very skeptically, go to the Agnus Reid home page and read the details of the poll. 50% of respondents said prior to the poll they had never heard of the “Liberation Treatment”, but over 80% support using it to treat MS. How credible is that kind of response??!! No where on the poll data is a response along the lines of “Since I have not heard of the Liberation Treatment and do not follow the medical literature I do not have enough information to repond to this question”. Lots of people feel obligated to provide some type of response to these questions even if they have no idea what is being discussed , especially since the preambles to the questions are so leading and only mention opposition from neurologists and not discussing the numerous research papers that could not replicate Dr. Zamboni’s results.
    And remember most polling companies are contracted by polling companies for a client (be it an industry or industry organization, non-government organization or public pressure group). So if an organization did pay for this poll it would be nice to know which one it is and if they had a hand in formulating the questions.

  3. Rebecca Hoover said

    Colin Rose, you may have a point that the public is less able to appreciate the results of surgery-related clinical trials. On the hand, one will never reach everyone. While the clinical trial on bee stings and MS convinced most, there are still a few hangers on who are still trying bee stings. At least the clinical trial was effective in stopping most of the bee sting nonsense. I think a couple of clinical trials for CCSVI procedures would have the same results. Most but not all would be convinced.

    I am seeing folks in the middle of MS relapses rush off for ‘liberation’ procedures and then attribute their improvements to the liberation procedures. Of course, we know that most relapses get better even if one does nothing. As a result it is sad to see families spend their life savings on these so-called liberation procedures. I feel that whatever we can do to help educate those with MS and their families would be helpful.

    I continue to hope that a couple of clinical trials will be completed soon because I think such trials would serve an important educational role.

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