Archive for March, 2012
One shouldn’t laugh upon receiving a letter from a law firm charging them with defamation and/or libel. There is nothing funny about being charged with crimes one hasn’t committed. Even so, seeing the big letters BFD at the top of the letter caused me to giggle sophomorically. I found the charges therein to be equally laughable. The letter came from the law firm of Baca, Findlay & Dziak, which purportedly represents T.S. Wiley, the developer of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) known as The Wiley Protocol. In addition to accusing me of malicious intent, defamation, libel and something called tortious interference, the letter demands I correct and retract all statements made to harm the various interests and entities associated with The Wiley Protocol.
The mission of this blog, is now and has always been, to provide women with interesting, empowering, edifying and thought-provoking information. Though every opinion I share may not be agreeable or correct, nothing here is ever written with malice or intent to harm anyone. I may at times be snarky, but I am not malicious even with my would-be enemies.
Furthermore, though some have no problem exaggerating their credentials, I am not comfortable inflating mine. Reluctantly, I call myself a writer, but am degreed in neither English, nor Journalism. I am a blogger, and as such, I direct the reader to what is stated on my ABOUT page.
“My opinions may make some uncomfortable. If you find this to be true, please realize they represent one woman’s take.”
Even so, I have this governing thing within me called integrity. It’s a nuisance, but it compels me to strive to write with fairness and accuracy. Additionally, because I esteem highly the intelligence of my readers, I make every effort NOT to write things which can’t be substantiated.
That being said, if I had any intent to harm any of the Wiley interests, I could have linked to sites which discredit The Wiley Protocol, or quoted the testimonials of former Wiley Protocol users. I could have linked to comments of Wiley’s former colleagues, including Bent Formby, Ph. D, who served as lead investigator on two of the three(?) published research papers which bear her name. Formby, who has distanced himself from The Wiley Protocol, has spoken out about Wiley’s lack of academic understanding, and her unwillingness to conduct clinical trials on The Wiley Protocol.
The text below (in red) is transcribed verbatim from the letter from the offices of BF&D, dated March 13, 2012. (Prepare to be confused.) The italics indicate my response.
This law firm represents T.S.Wiley individually and Wiley Chemists, Inc., and we have been asked to write this letter to you. Many of your statements about my client in your March 6th, 2012 www.deblogsite.com posting are untrue and defamatory. You have clearly made them maliciously to injure Wiley Chemists, Inc. in its trade, office and profession. As such they are defamatory per se. Under Cal. Civ. Code §§44, 45a, and 46 this letter constitutes a demand for immediate retraction in writing on www.deblogsite.com of these false and libelous statements.
In accordance with Cal. Civ. Code § 46, my client demands that your retraction and correction be accompanied by an editorial in which you specifically repudiate your libelous statements. Your web postings and conduct constitute tortious interference with the business and contractual relations of Ms. Wiley and Wiley Chemists, Inc. As such they are actionable and expose you to the imposition of compensatory as well as punitive damages. Furthermore, if my client is forced to file suit to stop your wrongful conduct, it will also seek an award of it s attorney fees and related litigation expenses.
Below we have noted some of the more patent, malicious and libelous comments made by you in your posting; some of them also evidence your tortious interference. Please note, however, that this listing of your errors does not constitute a complete nor exhaustive tally of all the defamatory errors present in your posting. Nothing stated herein is intended as, nor should it be deemed to constitute a waiver or relinquishment, of any of my client’s rights or remedies, whether legal or equitable, all of which a hereby expressly reserved. This letter is a confidential legal communication and is therefore not for publication.
Notice it says, “Below, we have noted some of the more patent, malicious and libelous comments made by you in your posting.” However, I didn’t say ANY of the things listed below, nevertheless, I am prepared to address each statement individually.
-Ms Wiley’s protocol is supported by over 100,000 pages of peer reviewed bench science.
If you say so, but I owe it to my readers to explain that though Teresa Sue Wiley cites the research of others exhaustively, many of her citations, neither validate, nor support her hypotheses. The statement above suggests there are 100,000 pages of research directly related to The Wiley Protocol, but The Wiley Protocol has yet to be evaluated by conventional scientific method. It has not been subjected to a randomized placebo-controlled double-blinded study. At this time, there are no published studies regarding the safety or efficacy of The Wiley Protocol. To date, the only studies, I am aware of, are uncontrolled observational studies. If I am wrong on this, I will eagerly set the record straight and am happy to provide links to any published or peer-reviewed research done in specific regard to The Wiley Protocol.
-Ms. Wiley is a published and recognized scientist and has never held herself to the public to be any type of medical doctor, whatsoever.
Once again, this list confuses me. I clearly stated that she is not a doctor in the following statement, “Experts who have spoken out against this course of treatment, say the dosages Wiley “prescribes” are dangerously high, but Wiley says she’s not prescribing anything. She can’t. She’s not licensed to practice medicine. Instead, she has a cult-like following of doctors who are treating patients with her protocol. She holds the patent, so presumably she makes money without having to worry about being sued for malpractice. “ Notice the use of quotation marks around the word “prescribes”.
You accuse me of “erroneous and false statements”. I am not sure by what chutzpah or civil code, you accuse me, as clearly we agree she has no medical background.
-Your failure to quote or cite to opinions or statements of any identified experts supporting your position smacks of base and unprofessional journalism.
Again, I am a blogger, not a journalist, however, I linked the piece to an article published in Newsweek which quotes the opinions of Dr. Isaac Schiff, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Harvard Medical School, as well as the opinion of Dr. Wulf Utian, founder of the North American Menopause Society, Gynecologist and consultant at Cleveland Clinic. (Incidentally that authors of the article, Barbara Kantrowitz and Patrice Wingert were awarded The Endocrine Society Award for Excellence in Science and Medical Journalism for the article.) Some might think the failure to fact-check or accurately characterize what I wrote, smacks of of sloppy lawyer-ism.
-You mention a “following of cult-like doctors” but do not provide even one appropriate example.
For which you should thank me, as I didn’t want to go there, but once again, you have carelessly misquoted and misrepresented what I wrote. What I actually said was “cult-like following of doctors”. The term “cult-like” refers to followers of a particular thing. The statement is value-neutral and could be interpreted as an endorsement of T.S.Wiley’s protocol, as it seems many are convinced Wiley is a visionary. The statement is no more derogatory than it would be if I were to say, “The Grateful Dead still enjoys a cult-like following.”
(Incidentally, the woman in this video alludes to what has been previously said by me and others about Wiley’s credentials.)
-Ms. Wiley never prescribes any medication, of any type, to anybody; licensed doctors do.
Not sure what issue you meant to address here. My statement was, “She can’t prescribe anything–she’s not a doctor”. However, the video linked calls into question the meaning of “prescribing”.
-The article is rife with biased “reporting” and a complete lack of fact-checking and/or journalistic professionalism.
The statement above is false.
I research and fact-check before I begin writing. Because of my own interest in The Wiley Protocol, I was researching it long before I realized it was a pertinent subject for my audience. Initially, it sounded SO good, I was well on my way to becoming one of T.S. Wiley’s fans. I ordered and read both of her books. As I researched, I began to have questions about the safety of the protocol. I wouldn’t have written this article, if I couldn’t back up what I said. I am happy to correct any statement, which I believe is misleading. (To avoid having to waste time with more threatening letters from the distinguished firm of BF&D, I will refrain from sharing my opinion of her books. Those interested, can read what others have said on Amazon.)
Your failure to retract and/or correct ALL of your erroneous and false statements and their repetition after notice of their falsehood constitutes further publication of libel. It also confirms your malicious intent.
If you do not immediately publish the requested retraction, and CEASE AND DESIST from tortious interference and making false and malicious comments about Ms. Wiley, The Wiley Protocol, or Wiley Chemists, Inc. or it’s [sic] officers, and its programs, we will file suit against you. Please govern yourself accordingly.
Respectfully sir, I assure you I will govern myself as always–with ethics and integrity.
To set the record straight:
The letter states that Ms. Wiley is a published scientist. Perhaps my definition of scientist was too narrow. In my mind, a scientist is one who has been educated in science and/or one who conducts experiments using scientific method, submitting findings for peer review and examination.
If the definition of scientist is expanded to include all who put forth theories, or all who write about their experiments, then Ms. Wiley is to be recognized as a scientist, along with the renowned Hunter S. Thompson, who wrote extensively regarding his experiments with pharmaceuticals and other substances. I therefore retract the remark that Ms. Wiley is not a scientist. If putting forth a hypothesis and writing about it makes one a scientist, she is clearly a scientist, as is every child who has ever written up a science fair experiment.
If T.S. Wiley is on to something. I wish her nothing but the very best. I hope she makes a “bazillion” dollars. (I have no idea how much that is, but it’s a term I got from an explanation of interleukins in one of her books.) If she is successful in helping women solve their menopausal problems without causing harm, she deserves our praise. However, as I wrote in the article, we never know the full implications of medical therapies until they have been tested on a large sample of users. Therefore, I stand by my original statement that the BHRT experiment is the least monitored medical experiment of our times.
It is my sincere hope that safe and effective treatments will be developed to help every woman who finds mid-life changes a challenge to their health or well-being. If T.S. Wiley is the one who succeeds in doing this, I will gladly join the cult of Wiley Protocol true believers. In the meantime, it is my hope that anyone considering the use of HRT, BHRT or ANY other medical treatment, will explore their options before making the dangerous assumption that doctors are always right. Doctors and scientists, like lawyers and writers, are human and therefore subject to error.
Lastly, this is neither a scientific, nor medical forum. Though appropriate comments are welcome, I will neither debate, nor argue the merits or dangers of this therapy any further. Anyone who wants to know more, can use the resources below to reach their own conclusions.
The Wiley Protocol: An Analysis of Ethical issues Also available at : http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18551081
After this post appeared I heard from writer Andrew Tilin, who has also researched The Wiley Protocol. His experience with The Wiley Protocol for Men is chronicled in his book The Doper Next Door. I recommend it for anyone who would like to learn more about T.S. Wiley or The Wiley Protocol. The story of how his life was altered by supplemental testosterone, is one told with candor and likable guy-next-door humanity.
Until last week, I’d never heard of the law firm Baca, Findlay & Dziak. I don’t know anything about them, but I have no reason to believe they are anything other than a reputable firm with competent attorneys. That’s why I was surprised when I received a rather curious letter from them.
It came in a cheap security envelope. I try to stay out of trouble, so I don’t have much experience with lawyers, but the ones I’ve known all had nice stationery with matching envelopes. Perhaps they ran out, or maybe with the sluggish economy, they‘ve had to cut costs. That would explain why this letter wasn’t sent on printed letterhead. I mean it has a logo on top, but it’s not on that fancy-schmancy paper that gives the impression of importance or professionalism. This letterhead is printed on low-quality copier paper and judging from the way it smeared when I ran my finger over the logo, I’d guess it was printed on an inkjet printer.
I suppose, if they were out of envelopes, they might have someone type their return address on the envelope, as has been done on this one, but most office staff can usually figure out how to print or type an envelope right side up. This one was typed upside down. I’ve heard it’s hard to find good help these days.
Inside the envelope is a menacing letter accusing me of malicious intent to harm T.S. Wiley and the associated interests of The Wiley Protocol. Those are some very serious charges. Receiving threatening letters from a lawyer is scary. I sure am glad they didn’t actually send it by certified mail, like it says on the top of the letter. That would have been more scary. Fortunately, this letter was mailed with an ordinary First Class stamp. I found it in my mailbox, with a sale flyer from K-Mart and some other junk mail.
This letter is a little bit confusing. It says it’s “confidential legal communication and is not for publication”. If I were a client of this firm, our correspondence would be confidential, but I know of no other reason I can’t publish it. I don’t want to insult anyone, but whoever wrote this letter could have been more careful. They even misquoted me. Lawyers are usually so precise, but this letter is kinda hard to follow.
Good thing this letter was signed by Keith Findlay, a partner at Baca, Findlay & Dziak, because I’d hate to think someone is out there posing as him. I’ve heard people can get in real trouble doing that. With all the threats in this letter, I had better get busy writing my response.
The last time I got a letter that looked this official, it was from Nigeria.
If I were to write something scientific, as if I were an expert, those in the know, would quickly see through my lack of knowledge and call me a charlatan, a fraud or worse. If I were to suddenly to use this blog as a vehicle for dispensing medical advice to women, it is likely I would soon be held liable for practicing something for which I have not been trained, yet I have been watching others do exactly that. The gospel they preach is so compelling, it is causing women to voluntarily become lab animals in a medical experiment for which there is neither research, nor science. Believing dubious doctrines, some of the same women who probably fear the unknown effects of hormones in their food, are eagerly high-dosing hormones, in what may be the least monitored medical experiment of our times.
AND yet…there is no science, no accountability, and no outrage.
I have the luxury of not needing to think about menopause–yet, but when the time comes, I hope to have enough information to make smart decisions, so I am always interested in the latest on the subject–especially in regards to changes in attitudes regarding Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). This is why, the first time I heard about the treatments used in The Wiley Protocol, I was listening with rapt attention.
Like millions of other women, I first learned of it about bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT), when Suzanne Somers was trumpeting its virtues on Oprah. As blonde and perky, as ever, Somers shared how this alternative therapy had alleviated all of her menopausal troubles, restored her libido and allowed her to feel good again. She explained this new regime of hormone creams was prepared and dispensed at compounding pharmacies using plant-derived bioidentical estrogens. Suzanne, a self-appointed authority on exercise, nutrition, and alternative-medicine, suggested she’d found the secret to a “forever-young” kind of menopause, and millions of those in TV land were spell-bound by her pitch. Though Somers played the dumb one on “Three’s Company”, she’s proven she knows how to parlay small-time celebrity into big-time money. Through her blog, books, and products, she has amassed an estimated net worth of $100 million.
Then there is Oprah. Don’t get me wrong, I like Oprah, but I have issues with her as a shaper of opinions. If she tells us she loves a product, we want it. If she likes a book, we read it. Because of her scope of influence, what Oprah likes instantly becomes a bestseller, whether it”s books, pajamas, religion or politics. She’s proven herself to be an enduring media presence and a savvy business women, but she’s not infallible. Maybe she’s a great person, but I’m not convinced she’s a great thinker. Nevertheless, Oprah’s opinions have a huge influence on her audience.
When Suzanne Somers appeared on Oprah, Winfrey was wide-eyed and supportive as Somers suggested these new biodentical hormone were a miraculous way to turn back the clock. A panel of medical professionals were seated in the front row, giving the viewing audience an impression,the were in agreement with Somer‘s promotion of BHRT, but they weren’t given an opportunity to rebut Ms. Somer‘s enthusiastic testimonial. Somers was making it sound as if the regime of this new Bioidential Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) was a scientific breakthrough from the world of alternative medicine.
The problem is there isn’t any science to back this treatment. It hasn’t been tested for safety or efficacy. It hasn’t been subject to clinical trials, or the rigors of FDA testing, and the compounding pharmacies that make the stuff up aren’t regulated in the same way as regular pharmacies.
After conventional Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) fell out of favor, women no longer had an effective treatment for the symptoms of menopause. For sixty years, the use of conjugated equine estrogens (CEE‘s) was the most commonly prescribed treatment for the discomfort of menopause. These estrogens, like Premarin, derived from pregnant mares urine were prescribed for any number of years, until The Women’s Health Initiative, a study which began in 1975, examined several variations of HRT, discovered possible links to cancers, stroke, blood clots and other dangers. By 2002, the study was halted because of the dangers identified. The FDA soon came up with more restricting guidelines for the use of HRT, and drug manufacturers scrambled to come up with new hormone combinations and/or dosages in the hopes of eliminating or lowering the risks.
Enter biodentical hormones… these hormones, derived from plants, are touted as being safer, because they are closer to the naturally occurring hormones in a women’s body. Ignoring the fact that Premarin, and the other CEE’s were derived from a natural sources, the bioidenticals were hyped as being “natural” and therefore safer–as if everything from plants is somehow safer. Hemlock is a plant. There is no proof that these estrogens are safer or more effective, but that’s not the only cause for concern.
The particular treatment Suzanne Somers was promoting is based on The Wiley Protocol, a systematic dosing of various hormones, based on mimicking the natural cyclical levels of hormones in the body of a “20-year old”. The creator of this protocol, T.S. Wiley, suggests one of the reasons previous estrogen treatments put woman at risk for cancer, is because they weren’t given until dwindling levels of these youth-giving hormones had already allowed cells to begin aging. That sounds good, but Wiley who calls menopause “deadly“, says hormone therapy should be used not to treat menopause, but as a way of keeping us all younger and healthier while eliminating the all the symptoms caused by what she suggests is an unnatural state.
Since menopause often brings with it skin changes, thinning hair, changes in libido, hazy brain function, loss of muscle mass, osteoporosis, and increased cancer risks, it’s not surprising women desire an alternative. Who wouldn’t want an alternative to the unpleasant–not to mention unattractive, consequences of aging?!? But the claims made by T.S. Wiley are the product of her undocumented conjecture, this hasn’t stopped her from writing books, as if they were based on fact. The truth is she has no credentials, no research, and no scientific basis for many of the things she says. She is neither a doctor, nor a scientist. She calls herself an anthropologist, but it appears she never completed her degree.
Experts who have spoken out against this course of treatment, say the dosages Wiley “prescribes” are dangerously high, but Wiley says she’s not prescribing anything. She can’t. She’s not licensed to practice medicine. Instead, she has a cult-like following of doctors who are treating patients with her protocol. She holds the patent, so presumably she makes money without having to worry about being sued for malpractice.
Even if the FDA had given approval to this protocol, FDA approval is not a guarantee of drug safety. If it were, there would be no drug recalls or the parasitic class-action suits that accompany them. The danger of many drugs isn’t apparent until they are taken by a larger number of people. So even though the FDA has determined long-term use of estrogen to be potentially dangerous, and big pharmaceutical companies (with real testing and real researchers) have failed to figure out how to eliminate those risks, The Wiley Protocol is being dispensed without any accountability.
So, though many are mystified when athletes dose up with body altering steroids despite the risks; or while many are outraged we can’t keep hormones out of the animals that will later be on our dinner tables, The Wiley Protocol is being blindly embraced. Worse yet, The Wiley Protocol has a following not only of women desperate to defy the reality of aging, but also a large number of doctors. It may be a while, before the truth about The Wiley Protocol is fully-realized. In the meantime, the fountain of youth comes packaged in Pandora’s Box.
Deb’s Note: Suzanne Sommers is the author of several books, including Ageless: The Naked Truth about Bioidentical Hormones and Sexy Forever. This is how she looks on her the covers of her books.
This is what the how the over-65 actress really looks.
If you are old enough to remember Tippi Hedren, the iconic actress best known for her performance in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, you might be surprised to learn which beauty standard she helped popularize. Peroxide blonde would seem logical, but Hedren was indirectly responsible for mainstreaming the manicure.
Ever wonder why there are so many Vietnamese-owned nail shops? Perhaps you assumed Hanoi, and Saigon were cities overflowing with manicurists just waiting to spread their polish in the U.S. The Vietnamese nail salon has become so common as to become entrenched in our lexicon of racial stereotypes, but it was Tippi Hedren’s compassion for the plight of a handful of Vietnamese refugees, which snowballed into Vietnamese dominance of the field. I stumbled upon this fascinating story while doing fact-finding regarding manicures. Writing about manicures might be dull. Describing my latest’s doctor’s visit is dull, but what I learned about manicures after my last doctor‘s appointment–including the Tippi Hedren connection, is both interesting and important.
Previously, I shared the frustration I’d felt after doctors failed to help me with a bothersome skin condition. After waiting for three months, the day to meet my new dermatologist had finally arrived. He examined the troubled skin and asked questions. As he talked, he won me, convincing me he was both caring and really smart. He gave me instructions as he scribbled prescriptions. Then he told me that he thought my nails might be the cause of the problem, and asked how long I‘d been having my nails done professionally. As he explained it, nail finishes can emit chemical elements which cause irritation–especially to skin and eyes. He said the acrylics, gels and shellac polishes are especially problematic.
I did the math, as I considered his theory. Though I have long been a devotee of the pedicure, my commitment to regular professional manicures is relatively recent. My manicure habit began after I took a break from playing guitar. Strumming a guitar destroys a manicure so quickly, there isn’t any point in having one. After I stopped playing regularly, I began enjoying long nails and manicures–especially the new shellac manicures.
For the uninitiated, the shellac manicure gives a glassy hard, almost chip-proof finish. Not only do they look better than regular polish, they stay flawless for weeks. I enjoy doing the kinds of things that ruin manicures, but this is no ordinary manicure. The world became a more perfect place when this hands-on girl discovered the secret to having nails which were both pretty and practical. I admit the removal process, which requires soaking the nails [fingers] in full-strength acetone (often for as long as 20 minutes) kind of scared me, but it was something I was willing to endure.
The dermatologist explained acrylic, gels and shellacs, which use a ultra-violet light as a hardening catalyst, don’t always cure uniformly, causing them to sometimes release chemicals even after they seem to be fully hardened. There are many dangerous chemicals in salon products, but one in particular methyl methacrylate (MMA) is known to cause eye and skin irritation.
He told me to give up the manicures for a month and see if it helped. It was hard to accept my nail polish might be the culprit, but I agreed to go au naturel to test his theory. Still skeptical, I began combing the internet for corroborating evidence. If there were any connection between the nail-chemical and skin problems thing, it should be easy to find empirical evidence online. However, before I found any, I learned of another hazard. This should come as no surprise, to anyone who has ever smelled the strong odor of chemicals in the air at some salons, but in this case the danger was those seemingly innocuous hand dryers. Dermatologists are now seeing women whose hands are prematurely aged, and increasing numbers of cases of skin cancers on the hands because of repeated exposures to the UV light. It seems these dryers pose the same danger as excessive sun exposure or too much time spent in tanning beds.
Because I had grown fond of the understated sexy elegance of the French manicure, I was devastated at the thought of having to go back to plain old nails, but not nearly as devastated as I would be to learn I’d developed skin cancer for the love of a manicure. Scaly skin was creepy enough, but this new risk made me wonder if beautiful nails are worth the risks.
The break-up would be painful, because I had finally conquered my neurosis about hazards associated with nail salons, and developed a relationship with a nail tech whose shop practices I trusted. I visited her for one last manicure in an extra bold Midnight Scarlett, before swearing off. I have no idea if I’ll ever get another shellac manicure again, but if I do at least I’ll be better informed about the risks.
Deb’s note: There are many health hazards associated with nail services. The use of improperly sanitized tools or foot basins can spread germs and blood-born infections. Some salons use chemicals that have been deemed unsafe. Acrylic nails, gels and shellacs can all cause damage to the nail bed, infections of the cuticle and painful dermatitis. No matter what kind of services you choose, be wise in choosing where you go and do your homework about the risks associated with your preferred manicure.