Dr Sally Mitton’s apology over Crohn’s and junk food – too late and hardly publicised

Two-days-ago Dr Sally Mitton responded to the junk food claims sparked from her comments during a BBC Newsbeat interview.

I have spoken a lot on this subject since I appeared on BBC Breakfast on Wednesday. As I’m in danger of sounding like a broken record I won’t repeat my views (you can read them here), but I felt it was only fair to let you all read Dr Mitton’s apology and clarification to the IBD community – even if it has taken two days for her to respond to extreamely damaging claims, which she could surely have nipped in the bud sooner and stopped a lot of misinformation about an already.

This has meant that I’ve spent the last few days explaining to a lot of people I know  (many who should know better as I’ve explained it 1000’s of times) that my diet hasn’t caused my Crohn’s, and that one glass of wine will not kill me or send me into a massive flare-up. I’ve felt like I’m fighting a never ending battle to justify one cup of coffee or dairy-free latte – quite frankly after 13 years of fighting against these misconceptions it is rather infuriating and exhausting that Dr Mitton’s comments have given these people ammunition – “well she is a leading specialist after all, she must be right!” INFURIATING!

Unfortunately Dr Mitton’s response doesn’t appear to have had much press. As far as I can tell it only appeared in The Times. I believe that in the interests of clarity, balance and good journalism , this statement should be published everywhere the original “Crohn’s causes Junk Food” story appeared.

So in the interests of balance here is Dr Mitton’s apology. I believe the BBC should broadcast this statement at the next available opportunity. I believe that she did not mean the IBD community any harm – but I wish she had published this statement sooner, in order to clarify the facts and stop these stories spinning out of control. Two days is just too late in the world of breaking news and social media.

I would also still like to see her evidence – which is still not apparent. She should get media training if she wants to be quoted again – and insist on knowing which parts of the interview are to be used, and in what context.

Surely she can’t have been that busy that she didn’t notice she was at the centre of a media storm! Especially when she was treating the very people she had (knowingly or unknowingly) damaged.

20th June 2014

First and foremost I would like to apologise for the distress that I have caused by what was shown on the BBC to all Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis patients. I was unable to respond more quickly to the reactions to this report due to very heavy clinical commitments. I feel that what I said and the subsequent coverage has been misinterpreted and I would like to clarify this now. 

I said that Crohn’s disease occurs in those who are genetically susceptible and that the unexplained recent increase in numbers diagnosed amongst young people in the UK is likely to be related to life style. I did mention pre diagnosis diet and multiple courses of antibiotics as possible factors preceding the development of overt disease in some cases. I did not say that junk food or frequent courses of antibiotics CAUSE Crohn’s disease. I am very aware there are many patients with IBD who eat a very healthy and nutritious diet and have always done so before their diagnosis.

However, since the initial report on 18th of June there have been subsequent newspaper and television reports that focus on the assumption that Crohn’s Disease seems to be “caused” by junk food and multiple antibiotics. This is not my belief and is a distortion.

I did not mean to imply any element of self-infliction and I am appalled to think this could set back public perception of IBD or that sufferers might be blamed for their own pain and misfortune.

I would like to sincerely apologise again for the distress that my comments have caused.

Dr Sally Mitton
Consultant Paediatric Gastroenterologist


One thought on “Dr Sally Mitton’s apology over Crohn’s and junk food – too late and hardly publicised

  1. Reblogged this on Heather Harlen, Writer and Teacher and commented:
    Crohn’s and Colitis is especially important to me because my brother has struggled it for years. One of the most dramatic and terrifying memories of my life was the time my brother had a perforated bowel and was rushed to the hospital for surgery. I was in the tiny operating room waiting area, all fluorescent lights and old magazines, sitting with my parents and my other brother. A nurse came in the room to update us and there was blood on her shoe. Probably my brother’s blood.

    Thankfully, he’s doing much better now, thanks to a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Unfortunately, one of my best friends has a brother-in-law who has developed colon cancer from his Crohn’s. Please keep him in your prayers, energy, meditations, whatever you do.

    And follow The Big Stoma Bucket list. She has a lot to say about Crohn’s, how to advocate for yourself in a medical situation and how to keep a great sense of humor and joie de vivre while taking on what life throws at you.

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