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Chiropractic is certainly not deadly

I refer to your article 'Chiropractic "can be deadly"' (News, 12 July), and in particular to your opening statement 'GPs should not refer patients for chiropractic treatment as there is evidence it is dangerous and potentially deadly, a leading expert in alternative medicine has warned.'

I would like to point out that Professor Edzard Ernst himself made it very clear in his paper that his review is aimed at evaluating the risk of an intervention (spinal manipulation) and not that of a profession (chiropractic).

In fact, this review shows that the implicated practitioners are not only chiropractors but also surgeons, shiatsu practitioners, ³bonesetters² and general practitioners¹.

No activity in life is risk-free. We take our lives in our hands when crossing the road. We do not decline to cross the road because it is potentially deadly, but we do when it is unsafe.

In the same way, GPs refer patients to our members, and our members treat those patients, when it is safe and appropriate to do so.

Whether it is palatable or not, the overwhelming body of evidence shows chiropractic to be safe, efficacious and cost- effective. As a consequence, the BCA takes issue with a great many of Professor Ernst¹s assertions ­ and your journal is not necessarily the appropriate forum to debate them.

Professor Ernst¹s review does patients and members of the chiropractic profession a grave disservice.

Any recommendation that GPs do not refer patients to chiropractors because it could result in the death of a patient is an act of gross irresponsibility.

Barry Lewis, president, British Chiropractic Association

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