Medical Conspiracy Theories Persist

tinfoil hat, conspiracy theories

A significant number of Americans believe in medical conspiracy theories and filter medical advice through their bias affecting everything from vaccinations to mobile phone use.

Published in the JAMA Internal Medicine magazine this month, University of Chicago researchers surveyed 1,351 people to see if they had heard of popular medical conspiracy theories and if they believed them.

The most staggering number came from the statement, “The Food and Drug Administration is deliberately preventing the public from getting natural cures for cancer and other diseases because of pressure from drug companies.”

  • 63 percent had heard of the theory
  • 37 percent agreed with the theory
  • 31 percent neither agreed nor disagreed
  • 32 percent disagreed

More than two-thirds of those polled wouldn’t reject the theory as completely outlandish. What do you think of those numbers?

Here’s another theory that is sure to spark discussion among our Sermo physicians. “Doctors and the government still want to vaccinate children even though they know these vaccines cause autism and other psychological disorders.”

  • 69 percent had heard this before
  • 20 percent agreed with the statement
  • 36 percent neither agreed nor disagreed
  • 44 percent disagreed

Again, 56 percent of those polled did not outright reject the idea of a government conspiracy, an idea that arose from a controversial study published in the Lancet in 1998. The study was so flawed that it was stricken from the record four years ago, but the fear surrounding the MMR vaccine persists, and has sparked a whole movement of “anti-vaxxers” who believe in a slower vaccination schedule or not having any vaccines of any kind.

Due to the anti-vaccine movement, we are seeing a resurgence of certain diseases such as measles, mumps, and whooping cough.  According to a recent Los Angeles Times article, health experts are squarely putting the blame on anti-vaxxers.

In a interview, the lead author of the study, J. Eric Oliver, Ph.D., said,

“Science in general — medicine in particular — is complicated and cognitively challenging because you have to carry around a lot of uncertainty. To talk about epidemiology and probability theories is difficult to understand as opposed to, ‘If you put this substance in your body, it’s going to be bad.’ It’s important to increase information about health and science to the public … for people who don’t have a lot of education, it’s relatively easy to reject the scientific way of thinking about things.”

Other conspiracies include mobile phones causing cancer, the CIA deliberately infecting African-Americans with the AIDS virus, the release of GMO foods as a plot to decrease the planet’s population, and flouridated water as a means for the mining industry to legally dump chemicals and phosphates into the water supply.

As a physician, have you encountered conspiracy theorists within your practice? What were the theories and were you successful at debunking them? We will be discussing this inside Sermo; if you’re an M.D. or D.O., please join your peers for the conversation.


  1. says

    Lung Cancer Screening and Medical Conspiracy Theories. Screening is looking for cancer before a person has any symptoms. When malignant tissue (iron-overloaded tissue) is found early, it may be easier to treat. By the time symptoms appear, cancer may have begun to spread. Lung cancer is a disease in which malignant cells (iron-overloaded cells) form in the tissues of the lung. Everybody loves a good conspiracy theory. Nearly half of Americans believe in at least one health conspiracy. Some medical conspiracy theorists argue that the medical community could actually cure supposedly incurable diseases such as cancer and AIDS if it really wanted to, but instead prefers to suppress the cures as a way of maintaining the multi-trillion dollar cancer industry. The costs for long-term treatment are generally higher than for a one-time cure. A lot of people are dying from cancer and AIDS every day. Scurvy (syphilis, cancer or HIV/AIDS) is a horrible, progressive and ultimately potentially fatal condition. The disease can be fatal if untreated or inadequately treated. All inadequate therapies are limited by the development of drug resistance. In the 18th century no one knew what caused scurvy, whose symptoms were so various it was sometimes mistaken for asthma, leprosy, syphilis, dysentery and madness. Now we know that scurvy was a cocktail of vitamin deficiencies, mainly of C and B. Earlier syphilis was untreatable and usually progressed to its later stages. A night in the arms of Venus leads to a lifetime on Mercury. Mercury was taken orally or by injection or by rubbing over the skin. Another way was to fumigate the infected person in a box filled with mercury fumes with his head sticking out. These treatments were finally rendered obsolete by the discovery of penicillin. Now the Father of Oncology knows that personalized intratumoral injections of iron-deficiency agents (ceramic needles) are needed when tumors or/and metastases cannot be removed with surgery (ceramic blades). Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects iron-overloaded nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Currently, experts do not know precisely what causes ALS, but personalized iron-deficiency treatment can neutralize ALS. The HIV time line began early in 1981. In July of that year, the New York Times reported an outbreak of a rare form of cancer among gay men in New York and California. This gay cancer as it was called at the time was later identified as Kaposi’s Sarcoma, a disease that later became the face of HIV/AIDS. Personalized iron-deficiency treatment can neutralize HIV. Lung cancer is the most common cause of death from cancer worldwide. Lung cancer screening and personalized iron-deficiency treatment can save lives when carried out responsibly and following current best practices. The main point behind medical conspiracy theories is the idea that the medical community is withholding information in order to make a profit. If iron-deficiency conspiracy theory is correct, we will beat cancer, HIV and ALS soon. There will come the day when cancer will be tied with iron chains, Vanga predicted.

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