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Refuting Charges

December 01, 1985

"The McDougall Plan" (New Century, 1983) was recently subjected to false accusations in a Los Angeles Times book review (Sept. 1, 1985). This review, more accurately described as a personal hatchet job on me, rather than as a rational discussion of my book, originally appeared in the North Shore News, an advertisement publication mailed free to a few residents on Oahu in Hawaii. The reviewer, Kurt Butler, is a high school teacher in Hawaii, who like many people, has a great interest in present-day diets and nutrition.

Butler's most vicious criticism of me concerned my reference to research done by physicians in the Department of Surgery at McMaster University. These scientists concluded that approximately 90% of women who develop breast cancer die of their disease. (C. B. Mueller, Canadian Journal of Surgery 21:459, 1979). Without citing a single reference to support his contention, Butler asked readers of his review to believe that the real death rate from breast cancer is 30% rather than McMaster's 90%, which I noted in my book. Then he asks the readers to believe that the difference is an error on my part--or as he wrote: "Is this the oversight of a careless reader or a deliberate distortion?"

Gross errors, like this, are inexcusable when any reviewer accuses any author of misrepresenting the literature. Butler's comments on breast cancer are typical of manner of which, in his zeal to find fault, he has failed to assess correctly the genuine medical research upon which "The McDougall Plan" is based. Lack of allowed space prevents me from refuting the other charges he has made. But, perceptive readers will quickly discover these for themselves.

JOHN MCDOUGALL

Honolulu, Hawaii

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