Good Reason

It's okay to be wrong. It's not okay to stay wrong.

Homeopathy kills again

Lately it’s been out-of-stater Meryl Dorey grabbing the attention with AltMed woo-woo in Perth, but let’s not forget that we’ve got a lot of woo-sters of our own.

Peter Dingle is not a medical doctor, but he gives medical advice on his blog. He’s come out against cholesterol-treating drugs. He finds the time to spread uncertainty about vaccines. The stuff he writes isn’t always wrong, but it’s a worry that he tends to cherry-pick scientific reports that confirm his views about natural health, all presented in an authoritative-sounding package. People think he knows something.

Sadly, his wife Penelope Dingle died of rectal cancer, which is treatable if caught early enough. What did the Dingles use to treat it? Homeopathy.

The State Coroner is investigating the death of a Perth woman who died of cancer after refusing traditional medical treatment in favour of alternative therapies.

Penelope Dingle died of bowel cancer in 2005.

In 2007, her family approached the coroner’s court to investigate her death.

The inquest has been told Mrs Dingle was being treated by a homeopath when she developed symptoms from bowel cancer.

Counsel assisting the coroner told the court her condition was not diagnosed until two years later at which point her homeopath told Mrs Dingle her cancer could be cured with alternative therapies.

Mrs Dingle then refused treatment from doctors who told her she had a reasonable chance of recovery if she underwent chemotherapy and an operation.

And Peter Dingle’s role in this? He wanted to write a book.

Ms Brown told the inquest that Jennifer Kornberger, a friend of Penelope’s, told her that Ms Scrayen, Penelope and Peter had made “a pact” that if treatment with homeopathy together with his regimen of anti-oxidants, vitamins and protein drinks was successful, he would write a book.

If I’d been through what Peter Dingle has been through, there’s no way in hell I’d be blithely offering up medical advice, especially with no medical qualifications. Why does he think he has any credibility?

There’s a bright side to this sad story. This time, they didn’t kill a child like usual. Penelope Dingle’s death was terrible, but at least she was an adult who made her own choices. She could have had access to good information if she had wanted it, especially with a supposedly scientifically-minded husband.

The other good thing: One less book about alternative medicine.


  1. Not Peter Dingle! Damn, his segment on 6pr had me convinced that he was a reputable 'biomedical scientist'.

  2. The Dingles did not choose this treatment. Penelope Dingle chose this treatment. Peter offered in support a regime of vitamins, protein drinks and antioxidants to help someone fighting cancer! That is a very common practice by even conventional medical practitioners. Hospitals routinely use high levels of antioxidants to detox the body after chemo and overdose.The homeopath was the person of undue influence on Penelope Dingle advocating unconventional treatments that would never work in this instance. Peter Dingle's crime is that he supported his wife in her decisions and did what he could on the side to help. And he lost his wife.Lets place the blame where it should be!

  3. The inquest isn't over and so far only one person appears to have laid all the blame on the homeopath and that person is also under investigation.

    I'm sure the homeopath will get her chance to respond soon enough.

    Let's not get ahead of ourselves locking just one person up before the verdict is in.

  4. Anonymous you are correct Peter Dingle should not be on trial for his support of his wife. He should be on trial elsewhere for dodgy commercialised "science".
    Also antioxidants are not routinely used in high doses to "detox" cancer patients in conventional medicine. The studies on antioxidants have been generally unremarkable.

  5. And not to the exclusion of actual treatment. That's just madness.

  6. Peter Dingle might be a medical doctor but he has spent 25 years researching this field. His medical advice is based upon scientifically feasible information. Did you know that the chemotherapy doesnt actually increase life expectantcy significantly due to the side effects that come along with it? What about all those cancer patients that die after conventional treatments? This is ignored by the media. The coroners court is not a typical court in which every statement has to be backed up with evidence- opinions and statements by angry sisters are reported by the media and portrayed as fact to create sensationalism sell papers and raise ratings regardless of impact to involved individuals and there families. Lets not forget that Peter lost his wife and loved and cared for her very much and did what she wanted and what she believed in as you will find out from the coming reports as the case unfolds and the lies crumble. A letter from Pen states that the book was her idea and hers alone not some "pact". This pact nonsense was some chinese whisper along a line of people and picked up by the media. I think people should be more empathatic rather than post insensitive and unfactual blogs based on upon retarded media fed opinions. I really thought educated people these days knew better- Obviously not. Take a look at yourself.

  7. Did you know that the chemotherapy doesnt actually increase life expectantcy significantly due to the side effects that come along with it?

    Your faith healer has fed you false information. Studies consistently show that chemotherapy increases life expectancy.

    Look, chemo is nasty, and oncologists that I've talked to would honestly love not to use it. They'd rather use the Fluffy Bunnies and Flowers method instead. But that doesn't work, and chemo does.

    What about all those cancer patients that die after conventional treatments? This is ignored by the media.

    You mean not everyone with cancer lives? Garsh.

    This is not about whether Dingle loved his wife, or whether they thought they were doing the right thing. The issue here is that Dingle is coming from the wrong place to be giving medical advice to anyone. He has been a believer in AltMed when he had access to correct information, and should have known better. And having been through what he has, he still chooses to present an incomplete picture of medicine that happens to be in line with his woo-woo beliefs, and never misses a chance to misdirect confused and deluded people, among which I count yourself.

  8. Anonymous seems to be looking at the available information with a bit of confirmation bias. Dingle's own website presents him as an authority on medical topics such as diet and diabetes. He has made numerous comments in the media previously on health issues such as cancer. However when he is questioned by the coroner he is just an "indoor air quality expert" and any other health issue is beyond his expertise.

  9. Its seems you forget that Peter Dingle is a real person….. the things that you say are your opinions, and yes you are entitled to them, but they still hurt.

    I am sure you are frustrated and would hope that no other human being is in the situation that Pen was in. As we are all aware it is only Pen that can make the decision of her treatment and I hope that you all, one day, are given that same right. It is not taken away from you by people that are scared and wish to force their control in order to make themselves feel better, or feel less pain in watching the outcome of your decision.

    I know watching my mother with breast cancer and the decisions she had to make. NO ONE can make them for you and frankly no one else is entitled to, husband, medical practitioner, friend, sister.

    Take a moment a put yourself next to a strong, determined, vibrant woman and see how far you get in an argument when she has made her mind up. Many husbands would agree it is a fight that only causes stress and pain, no resolution will come because you both believe you are right. Why in the moment of someone’s treasured life would you stand there and argue with them every moment because you are scared of their decision? Well you don't. You realise you love that person, so you stop arguing and start loving.

    I am writing this because I feel compelled to. I am sure it won’t change your mind or opinion.

  10. Anonymous is not just looking at available information – he is alot closer to the case than youd think. Science is not black and white, which an educated person should know, whilst some studies confirm its sucess others condemn it as a failure. But i will think you will find that the studies that show a positve effect are funded by the companys that make the drugs and make to say the least alot of money.This is not with chemotherapy but alot of drugs which Peter amongst others speaks out against with absolutly no motive other than to inform people. I also ask what makes you an expert on the matter surely he has more experience in the health field than you yet you seem to be able to comment on his inadequacy in it. What qualified you to pass judgement on him as not just a professional but also as a person? Your linguistics expertice? Pen wanted to have a baby and ive seen this from her diary and it is well known that chemotherapy often leaves women barren. Surely the evidence points to the fact that it was her decision rather than Peters as it should be as it is ones own life at stake.

  11. Look, folks. I realise that it may well have been her decision. Peter may well have been unable to influence her. Everyone makes a bad call once in a while, and that's the sad part of this story. I'm really sorry this has happened to your friends. But that's not the part of the story I'm concerned with. If this inquest had never come up, I'd still be saying the same thing about Peter Dingle and every other unqualified health guru; it's just that now it's up for discussion.

    What I'm concerned about is that Peter Dingle has promoted himself as a "health and nutrition specialist" when he has no qualifications to do so. (And, yes, you can say that even with a mere Linguistics degree.)

    Everyone should have been on their guard. People on TV, people at UWA, everyone believed Dingle when he held himself up as a health expert. And you know? There are tons of people far worse than him. Francine the Homeopath and all her naturopath friends probably do far more harm than he has. But unlike them, he traded on the credibility of science, and so he was believed. That's what I find inexcusable.

    Check out this description from a class that was to run at UWA Extension (now pulled, I believe).

    Dr Peter Dingle, Health and Nutrition Specialist
    Around 1 million Australians suffer from diabetes type 2. In this course you will learn how to both prevent and control diabetes type 2. Peter believes it is curable and it is not caused by sugar. Find out the latest scientific information and how you can regain your life. Many others have.

    Is type 2 diabetes curable? Eh — not generally, but type 2 diabetes is a broad description, so you could say that some of the milder kinds are, maybe. Is it caused by sugar? Well… maybe not directly… it's partly caused by weight gain, which is where sugar comes in. The blurb (written by Dingle, no doubt — I write my own blurbs, anyway) is virtually guaranteed to leave you with a false impression.

    Has he said something false? Well, it looks like he's been careful not to. And this is what he does. He selectively picks facts that highlight his slanted view. It's a partial story; it's a not a balanced story. Which is the story that you've obviously bought; the tip-off was that old song you sang about drug companies making lots of money.

    If there is a positive outcome, I hope it's that, at the very least, homeopathy is discredited in the eyes of the public, and that people will avoid gurus and instead use medical science that is well in evidence. Doctors are people. Sometimes they're gain-driven, and sometimes they get it wrong, but they have a better track record than the charlatans selling water, holy or otherwise.

  12. It is apparent that anonymous is close to the case as it appears in their more subjective statements. By the way how many anonymii are there here. Or is it anonymouses, what is the plural of anonymous anyway?
    I don't think anyone is criticising Peter Dingle the supportive spouse or Peter Dingle the bereaved partner. Mrs Dingle seems to have ultimately made her own decisions. A large part of the population make irrational health decisions every day. The reality is a lot of people die of terminal illnesses having rejected conventional medicine (and I know that a lot die using it as well) and they do not get a coroner’s inquest. This is why the coroner was initially not going to have an inquest in this case – because it is not that remarkable.
    But we have had an inquest and one of the many issues it has raised is that Peter Dingle the "health expert" is a media commentator operating well outside of his area of expertise. He is, as he says, an expert on air quality, no doubt with other areas of interest in environmental science. This does not qualify him to comment on Chemotherapy, cholesterol therapy or diabetes any more than any other layman. It is great that a scientist has a high media profile, but he has got to take care that sensational statements do not come before critical thinking and that he sticks to his area of expertise. The scientific and medical community is well aware of publication bias, the inefficiency of chemotherapy or the numbers needed to be treated for statins to stop heart attacks – I am afraid Peter was not the first to discover these things, but he has done an admirable job giving that impression.

  13. Peter Dingle and The Homeopath involved should be in jail.

    Peter Dingle is a quack, a nutjob, a wanker, and a danger to society..

    Its a shame that people die as a result of 'tolerance'…

    Tolerance of Homeopathy keeps on resulting in death…

  14. Since Anonymous seems to know more than has been reported, perhaps s/he can explain why Peter still knows nothing about homeopathy despite one wife dying from it and his new wife apparently selling it?

    Surely "it's just water and sugar folks" isn't that difficult a research project.

  15. Because your husband is a carpenter do you know how to build a roof? because your friend is a mechanic do you know how to rebuild an engine? because your mother is a chiropractor will you use an ultrasound machine? because your sister or brother is a pilot will you fly a plane? Because your wife is a fashion designer do you know how to make a dress?

    Really people? Just because the people around you are experienced in a field does not mean that you understand it via osmosis…
    and frankly if you don't understand homeopathics why are you commenting on the subject? you are arguing that Peter does not have the credentials to argue his points on health, and yet here you are stating homeopathics are “just sugar and water”, are you qualified in this area? Or because you think is it all a pile of quack it is doesn’t matter if you are qualified or not, you can just pass judgement.
    I’m sorry I’m confused what is it you want from Mr Dingle? Is he just your piñata or are you actually trying to be constructive?

  16. Anonymous is right – people should stick to their area of expertise, especially if you are presenting yourself as a media health guru. However to be an expert on homeopathy I think high school chemistry would make you overqualified.

  17. Really people? Just because the people around you are experienced in a field does not mean that you understand it via osmosis…

    No? Well, if Dingle can claim experience in health and medicine just from being an expert in an unrelated field, then surely standing near a real expert would be even more help, now wouldn't it?

  18. Actually Daniel, Anonymous has a point.

    Just because someone writes and talks (a lot) about problems to avoid when building a house then even if carpentry repeatedly failed to show any merit as a building method – and even if that person does warn people away from mud-brick homes because "Big Mudbrick" are corrupt – and even if they did direct people toward builders who are more likely to use carpentry – – and even if that person's previous house, built by a carpenter, had fallen down – it would be very unfair to expect that person to know anything about carpentry…

    …even if they were married to a carpenter.

  19. You're right. And we would not be justified in intimating that they were even the least bit disingenuous about their current attitude vis-à-vis carpentry.

  20. Really? Again Daniel you make statements about things you dont know anything about. I am quallified in this area and I can tell you that what he is saying is correct. Research such as Ivy, 1997, Eriksson and Lingarde, 1991, Goto et al, 2001 have found that Diabetes type 2 symptoms can be reversed through changing of lifestyle. It is caused by a combination of Insulin resistance (caused by high fat diets with obesity usually indicating high risk),and poor mitochondria function causing a compensatory response of the pancreas B cells and it eventually to burn itself out. This is what Dingle teaches, this is backed up by research which i have personally found and you are welcome to read it all over Proquest and the American Diabetes association. Daniel you have just gone onto some conventional diabetes website and looked up definitions based on ancient research funded by the very companys that make the drugs. Do you not ever notice when you visit a doctor that they always tend to push certain drugs? I know myself when i visited a dermatoligist a while back they are focused on certain products! If you dont get better you have to buy more drugs! If you get side effects you need more drugs! Look up the gross anuall profits of these companys. The statistics are misrepresented. Peter is not at all intrested in Homeopathy it is not something that he teaches! And his current wife who is irrelevant to this doesnt use it she is a natropath and i have personally seen her she is fantastic and a wonderful person ive had very good results with everything ive used. More often than not she uses a combination of nutritional supplements as well as herbs used for hundreds of years that some convential medicines are derived from. Conventional medicine treats symptoms rather than the actual problem. Natruopathy focuses on supporting the body in fixing the actual issue yourself. Do an experiment, next time you get a cold rather than buy cold and flu tablets take vit C and codliver oil. Compare how fast you get over it in comparison to what you normally do. Brian Warner i wish to know why you would send a husband whos wife died to prison just because he supported her and did what she said. Your lucky being a retard isnt jailable because you would be away for a long time. Get a life and some morals, you are essentially an oxygen theif.

  21. So Anonymous tells us that Pete is teaching diabetes physiology 101 now. Not really anything revelatory in stating that the first line management of diabetes is lifestyle changes. This is stated in any of the diabetes guidelines available online through Diabetes Australia or the NHMRC. It specifies the team approach preferably involving dietician, diabetes educator and exercise physiologist. I can't see the bit where it mentions consulting the indoor air quality expert.

  22. Hi, third Anonymous. I used to go in for the 'alternative healing modalities' myself, so I've heard a lot of the things you're saying.

    I know myself when i visited a dermatoligist a while back they are focused on certain products! If you dont get better you have to buy more drugs! If you get side effects you need more drugs!

    You're actually describing naturopathy to a T. I once saw a naturopath who recommended zinc for everything, even for my friends. 'Did he give you zinc?' 'Yeah.' 'Me, too!'

    And the roundabout explanations for the lack of results! If you get better, they take credit. If you're getting worse, come back for more visits, because you're going through a 'healing crisis'. Heard that one before? That's the trick they use to keep you coming back. "Oh, we're treating the whole person. Do you know how long it takes to treat a whole person?" And so on.

    It's true that sometimes there are side effects to drugs, and doctors need to fine-tune things. It's frustrating. But the reason the alternative stuff has no side effects is that it has no effects at all, beyond a placebo.

    Look up the gross anuall profits of these companys.

    AltMed is a multi-billion dollar per year business. Nice try. How much cash have you dropped on it?

    Natruopathy focuses on supporting the body in fixing the actual issue yourself.

    Naturopathy does nothing except drain the wallet (with the possible exception of herbalism). If it did work, doctors would use it. Don't agree? Then what you're saying is that doctors are purposely refusing to use something that would help people. Why would they do that? And then you have to invent a big conspiracy theory about Big Pharma to explain it.

    Do an experiment, next time you get a cold rather than buy cold and flu tablets take vit C and codliver oil. Compare how fast you get over it in comparison to what you normally do.

    This is a recipe for fooling yourself. You can convince yourself that you feel better on vitamin C (or eye of newt), but the effect goes away when you don't know what you're taking. This is why the double-blind test is the gold standard in medicine. It helps to keep us from fooling ourselves.

    There's a lot more here, but I'll just say thanks for the walk down Memory Lane, and be sure to say hello to your homeopath for me.

  23. Front-paging it. Thanks, beaker!

  24. Anonymous, others have addressed your posts better but just to point this out:
    His current wife's services listed on her webpage include homeopathic complexes. See list below. I think that's pretty relevant to his refusal to condemn homeopathy just in case it might work for some people, don't you?

    – Naturopathic consultation
    – Resilience counselling
    – EFT tapping and FRIENDS pathways program
    – Bach and Living Flower Essences
    – Nutritional supplements
    – Herbal medicine
    – Homeopathic complexes

  25. Ooo, kinesiology and iridology as well.

    She's just an all-rounder in dodgy techniques, isn't she? Bet she goes dowsing on the weekends to relax.

  26. Yep. Start with dodgy claims:
    What's happening/ Things are so bad with our children/ your child is sensitive and needs to be nurtured 'holistically

    Support dodgy claims with a handful of testimonials

    Name health issues, some serious (asthma, depression, allergies), some not (constipation, 'lack of focus') and be careful not to say you can 'treat' them but make it sound as if you can make a difference by 'working with them.' Working with constipation? Working with addictions? Really inspires confidence.

    Use big official-sounding words… resiliance… consultation… iridology…. biochemistry… RBTI…. Ah zinc test, there it is!

    The perfect woo package.

  27. Ooo, kinesiology and iridology as well.

    I'm always surprised by approaches utilising a variety of techniques; each of which claims to be holistic.

    Employing more than one holistic method seems redundant.

  28. You make an excellent point.

  29. Just remember that over 100,000 people die every year at the hands of medical doctors in the USA. This is due to surgeries, wrong prescriptions or misdiagnoses. I personally wouldn't use homeopathy to get rid of my cancer. I believe in balance in all aspects of my life. Using one mode of operation to kill cancer just doesn't sound balanced to me. However, I'm getting pretty darn tired of people putting up posts about how homepathy kills. Ok, it's your right to post what you think on the internet. I think homeopathy is helpful with behaviors the most. Although people have been helped physically too. It's just not a mode of treatment that I think is effective enough ALONE. The best thing is prevention. Intestinal detoxing as part of one's life regimen is a good idea if it's ok with your doctor. Using the Superfoods of the earth as a natural day to day regimen is great for prevention and could also help fight cancer. The best superfoods are the blue-green algaes, wheat grass, alfalfa grass, etc. Plus the eating the normal superfoods from organic gardens. The next step is to do your due dilligence and find some amazing info online about cancer. One sight below talks of the terrors of chemo and surgery for cancer. Other sites tell about amazing possible treatments. Here goes:

    I accidentally lost my links to other sites. But do your own research and you'll find amazing things.

    Homeopathy doesn't kill. It's people with a lack of balance and common sense that kill themselves or their loved ones on accident.

    Homeopathy has helped our son get over some negative behaviors which I will be eternally grateful to my Heavenly Father for leading me to homeopathy. But I wouldn't use it as a sole cancer fighting regimen.

  30. You have a mistaken idea of balance, my friend. You want to put things that work up against things that don't work, and call it balance. That ain't balance. That's just believing in things that don't work.

    Remember, also, that if doctors make mistakes and people are harmed as a result, that is not evidence for homeopathy. You're making a false dichotomy.

    People are still doing wheatgrass?

  31. Some of what I said wasn't meant to be evidence that homeopathics works. You berate homeopathics as if it's this horrible thing which kills who knows how many people. But the fact is that modern westernized medicine kills many more than the people who used homeopathy. The point is for me anyway is, why don't you get on your band wagon and becry what modern medicine does to people too? Afterall, it does much worse to people than any alternative to western meds. And frankly, it's not the homeopathy, it's the people who lack balance who screwed up, not the homeopathy. O yes, and God is alive and well and Jesus Christ is coming again.
    Isaiah 9:6 is a great place to start.

  32. I guess if we didn't have medicine it wouldn't contribute to death at all. I can see how that might sound like a good outcome to some people.

    But, back to the subject at hand – the Dingle saga was revisited on tonight's Australian Story (part 2 next week). I only caught part of it but I feel completely reviled.

    For those who believe alt-med is about a caring, sharing, kinder, gentler alternative, Ms Dingle's letters to Francine Scrayen sum things up pretty well.

  33. I submitted this case to so hopefully it can be recorded and maybe help someone else who is hesitant to seek proper medical advice.

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