DrWohlgemuth.com

Hello. I'm Andrew Wohlgemuth. DrWohlgemuth.com was originally created to advertise the medical practice of my brother, Dr. Stephen A. Wohlgemuth. (See a wrap-up of his original home page here.)
After his retirement, I decided to use the website address (URL) to tell a story.
It's intended to be read online, and not printed — allowing videos as well as pictures. And, like most stories, from top to bottom, including the information (and abbreviations and navigation hints) in the links, as they are encountered.

For ease of reading, you can change the type size in the story to a comfortable size by zooming in or out in your browser's "view" menu. And you can adjust the length of the lines of text by narrowing or broadening your browser window by dragging the edge. Make it, say, the width of a book page. This should also help with getting everything in the linked videos on the screen.

The title of the story is "THE SEMMELWEIS LETTERS".

William Broad and Nicholas Wade provide an account of Semmelweis in their book Betrayers of  the Truth: Fraud and Deceit in the Halls of Science (from pages 136-8):

The medical profession in particular has a long history of resisting scientific innovations from both within and without. Louis Pasteur met with violent resistance from doctors when he advanced his germ theory of disease; they regarded him as a mere chemist poaching on their scientific preserves. Joseph Lister’s discovery of antisepsis was initially ignored in both England and the United States, in part because Lister, a doctor working in Glasgow and Edinburg, was regarded as a provincial.

Few episodes in the illustrious annals of scientific progress are more striking than that of Ignaz Semmelweis. He discovered that puerperal, or childbed, fever, then causing typically 10 to 30 percent mortality in maternity hospitals throughout Europe, could be virtually abolished by the expedient of having doctors wash their hands in a chlorine solution before examining the mother. In his division of the obstetric clinic in Vienna where Semmelweis first tried out his idea, the mortality rate dropped from 18 percent to 1 percent. By 1848 Semmelweis was losing not a single woman to childbed fever. But this experimental evidence failed to convince his superiors at the hospital. …

Dismissed from the clinic, he returned to Hungary and from his own obstetrical experience over the next ten years amassed copious evidence that antiseptic technique would prevent death from childbed fever. His findings were summarized in a book published in 1861, copies of which he sent to medical societies and to the major obstetricians of Germany, France, and England.

The book was almost universally ignored by the medical profession, even though puerperal fever continued to ravage maternity hospitals. … In Stockholm in 1860, 40 percent of all women patients caught the fever and 16 percent died. In the General Hospital in Vienna, in the same ward where Semmelweis had shown twelve years earlier how the disease could be eradicated, 35 out of 101 patients died in the autumn of 1860. ...

In the knowledge that many women were dying unnecessarily, and that no one would listen to his simple principles for preventing death, Semmelweis started cranking out somewhat hysterical letters. In an open letter of 1862 to professors of obstetrics Semmelweis wrote: ‘If the professors of obstetrics do not soon comply by instructing their students in my doctrine … then I will myself say to the helpless public, “You, father of a family, do you know what it is to summon an obstetrician or a midwife to your wife? … It is as much to expose your wife and your yet unborn child to the danger of death. And if you do not wish to become a widower ... and if your children are not to lose their mother, then buy a single kreutzer’s worth of chloride of lime, infuse it in some water, and do not allow the obstetrician and the midwife to examine your wife until they have washed their hands in your presence, …

Definition: A Semmelweis letter is a communication to the general public, when the establishment experts won't listen.

For a more recent example of the establishment's not listening, skip from 1848 to 1948:

From an editorial in the October 30, 1948 Journal of the American Medical Association (AMA):

For some years The Journal of the American Medical Association, the state medical journals and most other medical publications have carried the advertisements of the various companies that manufacture cigarettes. Actual surveys indicate that the majority of physicians themselves smoke cigarettes. Extensive scientific studies have proved that smoking in moderation by those for whom tobacco is not specifically contraindicated does not appreciably shorten life. Postmortem examinations do not reveal lesions in any number that could be definitely traced to the smoking of cigarettes. From a psychological point of view, in all probability more can be said in behalf of smoking as a form of escape from tension than against it.

It wasn't until 1964 that the Surgeon General’s report came out on deaths due to smoking.  In the intervening 16 years, there had been some 7,000 scientific studies showing the connection of smoking with cancer. In a 1965 meeting, the AMA refused to endorse the Surgeon General's report. Their thinking remained back in 1948 — ignoring 7,000 scientific studies.

I am a Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at the University of Maine and former biomedical researcher. I was the Principal Investigator for a project — finding logically consistent symbolizations of immunogenetic data — that was funded by the National Cancer Institute of NIH. Publications from, and an account of, this work can be found at the links in the last paragraph of this web home page. (footnote)

Doctors rely on the biomedical research community for information needed to treat their patients. The community has not lived up to this trust.
For one example, in the words of Dr. John Abramson, whom we will meet later in the story, "Doctors, who are working hard to serve their patients, are deprived of adequate information, because virtually all of the information doctors get about new drugs, comes from the manufacturers of those drugs."
And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

I eventually did not seek further renewal of my grant. I had become really disappointed with the biomedical research community. Many writers of Semmelweis letters have become similarly disappointed.

Dr. John Kelly was disappointed with his colleagues’ lack of interest in the clinical implications of the scientific results of Cornell Professor T. Colin Campbell:

Dr. Campbell's results on the relation of diet and cancer are given here,

And an article by Dr. Kelly is given here.

When Professor Campbell and his team made their surprising discovery, the first thing they wanted to know was "Why?"
There is more than one answer to this question, and, in the words of Prof. Campbell, "Everywhere we looked for a mechanism, we found one."
Medscape is a site providing scientific studies and other information to MDs and other health professionals. And one mechanism is given in the comments accompanying a Medscape email/article appearing early on Sunday, March 20, 2022.

The results of the Cleveland Clinic's Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn (rhymes with "win") on diet and heart disease are given here.

Dr. Michael Klaper got himself into a WFPB diet by trying to live a life of non-violence. The diet improved his own health so much that he incorporated it into his medical practice. He has looked deeply into the biological effects of a plant-based versus animal-based diet, and currently gives lectures to medical students. He is invited to these lectures by the medical students themselves, who want to know what he knows, and about his clinical experience.

Dr. Klaper has given a talk suitable for a general audience that is presented on YouTube.
(At the end of YouTube talks, use your browser's back button [or close(X) any "new tab"], before YouTube runs away with you. It is also recommended that you click on the "skip ads" button that will appear after 5 seconds [to the lower right] if any ads are inserted by YouTube before the talk. We can't tell what the ads will be promoting, but it's not likely they will be supporting a WFPB diet.
Here's the link.

On July 9, 2021, there were 1,214 viewer comments on Dr. Klaper's video talk. The most recent comment at that date was by Donna LE:
"My general doctor told me that my plant based diet was going to kill me. I survived the cancer, but couldn't tell him because he died of a heart disease."

My interest in the scientific basis for diet choices began in about 1980, inspired by the discoveries of Nathan Pritikin. Dr. Michael Greger (NutritionFacts.org) has a short video (external link) where he explains his family's debt to Nathan Pritikin. Generally, in Dr. Greger's videos he shows and reads from clips taken from the medical literature. The name of the source can usually be seen in small print in the upper left-hand corner of the clips.

The Story of Nutritionfacts.org

Dr. Greger at one time assumed that once the scientific validity of the powerful role of diet in disease prevention and treatment was verified and published it would have a profound effect on the medical establishment. This turned out not to be true.

Dr. Neal Barnard, President of the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine, talks about diabetes on YouTube here.

The atherosclerosis Dr. Klaper described as slithery, greasy guck has calcified and turned into the hard substance described by Dr. Barnard.

Dr. Barnard has said that we humans have been designed by Nature to be herbivores. Readers that believe that only Intelligence can do any designing might want to go back to Genesis, Chapter One (verse 29, RSV): “And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food.’” No contradiction here.

The work of Dr. Walter Kempner of Duke University School of Medicine has profound implications for kidney disease, high blood pressure, and diabetic retinopathy. Dr. Greger introduces him here.

Doctors rely on the biomedical research community for information needed to treat their patients. The community has not lived up to this trust. In a 15:48 minute YouTube video

“Dr. John Abramson, MD, MS, author of Overdo$ed America

explains a part of the problem, and gives advice for doctors and patients.
(At 2:40 minutes, Dr. Abramson focuses on addressing physicians. This may become technical from 3:30 to 5:45 min., but after that he gives advice that patients should be aware of – especially in the concluding points that start at 12:25 min.)

Dr. John McDougall has more to say on this subject.

There are three cancer therapies accepted by the US medical establishment: surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. In general, accepted therapies are formally fixed into a “standard of care” (more recently called "Clinical Practice Guidelines"), and physicians are noticed, and possibly at risk, if they deviate from these "guidelines".

Although diet is increasingly being recognized as important in cancer treatment, there remains a lagging gap between irrefutable scientific evidence (epidemiological, clinical, and experimental laboratory evidence) and the “standard of care”.

In his 2014 book The Campbell Plan (reissued in paperback in 2016 as The China Study Solution), Thomas Campbell, MD, (the son of Colin Campbell) calls this gap a “chasm”. He relates a hospital episode with a woman dying from diabetes. Her legs have both been amputated below the knee, but she has nonetheless some fighting spirit. She asked the attending physician (not Campbell), “What should I be eating, doctor?” The doctor told her to “watch out for sugars, to avoid bagels, to use low-fat dairy products, that fat-free milk and reduced-fat cream cheese were in fact very tasty once you got used to them.”

Dr. Campbell comments: “Through all of this [her past encounters with doctors, as her disease progressed] she still was unclear about the dietary advice that could save her life, her legs, her eyes, her kidneys. She had been in the medical system for years and yet her preventable, perhaps even curable, disease had progressed.”

Dr. Campbell states: “There is a chasm between powerful nutrition and lifestyle information and the medical system’s standards of care. Evidence-based nutrition is simply absent from the vast majority of our medical system.”

There is a lot of contradictory stuff on diet out there — much of it written by people with little or no education in nutrition. Medical students get almost no education in nutrition. On the other hand, Prof. Colin Campbell has spent his scientific career studying the relation between nutrition and disease. His book WHOLE Rethinking the Science of Nutrition identifies the source of much of the wrong message both doctors and the public are getting about nutrition. In this book, Professor Campbell also states,

"If you want to live free of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes for your entire life, that power is in your hands (and your knife and fork)."

Dr. John McDougall begins his book The Starch Solution with a note to the reader, containing the following:

Diet is powerful medicine. Do not change your diet or start an exercise program if you are seriously ill or on medications unless you are under the watchful guidance of a health care provider knowledgeable about nutrition and its effects on health and about the medications you are taking.

In particular, changing to a healthy diet and not tapering chronic-disease "management" medications can lead (quickly) to being dangerously over medicated. (footnote)
Also, people on a WFPB diet need to insure an adequate intake of vitamin B-12. Vitamin B-12 is made by bugs in the environment. If we consume neither non sanitary water and veggies nor animals that consume non sanitary water and veggies, then supplementation is the way to go.
I use iodized salt. Getting the recommended amount of salt as iodized table salt (not salty prepared foods) will take care of iodine need on a WFPB diet. Health-food stores should have dulce (a form of seaweed) or drops for iodine.

Other than for B-12 and iodine, be wary of supplementation. For example, people that get beta-carotene in their food are healthier than people that don't. But when beta-carotene supplementation is compared to a placebo, the people on the placebo are healthier. The reason probably is that beta-carotene is not alone. There is alpha-carotene all the way to omega-carotene and beyond — about 50 usable carotenoids in all. So the body's attempt to use a combination of these is defeated if all the pertinent receptors are filled with beta-carotene.
The story of the failed attempt to improve health by supplementing with vitamin E is the same as the story with beta-carotene.

The medical system in its present state of ignoring the best lifestyle and treatment options, is a dangerous place to be in. In this environment it is important for individuals to educate themselves, and, as Dr. Abramson advised, form a partnership with their their physicians.

Educate yourself by looking into the material by those identified as pioneers. They have published high-quality work in the best scientific publications. And then, when this work has been ignored, they write books for the general public.

Colin Campbell writes The China study.

Caldwell Esselstyn writes Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.

Dean Ornish writes The Spectrum.

John McDougall writes The Starch Solution.

Neal Barnard writes Dr. Neal Barnard's Program for Reversing Diabetes.

These books are their Semmelweis letters.

(Broad and Wade continue on page 138: "Semmelweis's mind began to wander. ... In 1865 he was induced by friends to visit a mental sanatorium. While the friends slipped out, he was forcibly restrained, confined to a straight jacket, and put in a dark room. He died two weeks later, on August 13, 1865.")

Another good place to start looking into things is the DVD (not just the cookbook) Forks Over Knives. Get it from amazon.com or stream it free from ForksoverKnives.com. Sign up for info from DoctorKlaper.com, NutritionStudies.org, and DrMcDougall.com.

The story so far has been looking at the impact a WFPB diet can have on chronic diseases. It can also affect infectious diseases – including COVID. Diet affects the vitality of the immune system.
Medscape (a site for MDs and other medical professionals) reported on a late 2021 British Medical Journal article on a study involving 3,000 front-line health care workers (people in intimate contact with COVID patients) in 6 countries, including the US. Those in the study that were on a WFPB diet were 73% less likely (than average) to develop moderate to severe COVID. Those in the study that were on a Keto or Paleo diet were 400% more likely (than average) to get moderate to severe COVID.

A WFPB diet can also protect against autoimmune disease, as the following story of Mayra illustrates.

Dr. Ornish, in his book The Spectrum, makes an important point: going to a healthy diet is not an all-or-nothing thing. Making changes toward a healthy diet will bring increased health; the greater the change, the greater the benefit.

But don't forget Prof. Campbell's quote: "If you want to live free of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes for your entire life, that power is in your hands (and your knife and fork)."

First Conclusion: We, human beings, are designed to eat a whole-food, plant-based (WFPB) diet.

In addition to the justifications for this conclusion already mentioned, we are able, in retrospect, to give another: not being on a WFPB diet makes us sick. We may not all develop the same sicknesses at the same rates, but we all get sick, somehow, and to some degree, from not being on a WFPB diet.
The fact that a WFPB diet is our natural diet is the reason, and would be the only reason, why changing to a WFPB diet would provide healing for such a variety of diseases.

The conclusion above puts into sharp perspective two ways of dealing with “high cholesterol” in the blood. The human body needs cholesterol (for example, in our brains, and in our cell walls). Since the diet for which we’re designed contains no cholesterol, the human body makes all the cholesterol it needs – in the liver.
But too high a blood cholesterol value signals ill health, and there are two general ways of dealing with this. One is to change to a low-fat WFPB diet. The other is to take a “statin”.
The statin blocks the liver’s ability to make cholesterol. So people on a standard American diet taking this route are doing two things: (1) getting cholesterol unnaturally in the diet, and (2) blocking the natural way to get cholesterol.
People on a low-fat WFPB diet, however, are doing two things: (1) eating our natural diet, and (2) allowing the liver to do what it is designed to do.

When things are looked at in this way, what doctor would prescribe a statin to his or her patients, without first seriously and strongly advising the other route? Especially since the other route will not only reduce blood cholesterol, but will enable a person to live free of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes for their entire life – to quote Professor Campbell.

Here's an account that illustrates the fact that a WFPB diet can help pregnancy.

Another account that illustrates the fact that it's never to late to reverse heart disease with a WFPD diet can be found here.

It is generally recognized that when anything new comes along, those that are heavily invested in the old are highly resistant. And so we get Semmelweis letters.

Second Conclusion: It's necessary for individuals to heed the writers of the Semmelweis letters, and not have blind faith in those that are too heavily invested (time, money, education, equipment, status) in their traditional practice.

Third Conclusion: It's necessary that medical doctors pay extra attention to the writers of the Semmelweis letters, and not wait for the Clinical Practice Guidelines to include consideration of the scientific results on diet. The Guidelines are heavily invested indeed.

Some medical doctors that believe in the importance of the scientific results have been instrumental in introducing the emerging specialty area of "lifestyle medicine" .

Publications from my work in biomedical research can be found at mybiomedpubs.pdf .
An account of my work in biomedical research can be found at mybiomedstory.htm.