Chiropractors are peddling shonky treatments that could be dangerous for people, including babies and children, a group of high-profile doctors says.
In an extraordinary attack, 34 professors, doctors and scientists issued a statement yesterday calling for more policing of chiropractors' false claims and said the federal government should not fund chiropractic courses at Australian universities because it gave their ''pseudoscience'' credibility.
Two-hundred-and-fifty-thousand people visit chiropractors in Australia every week … if the results weren't there, people wouldn't be coming to see us.
The group, which includes the president of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Steve Hambleton, and head of public health at Monash University Professor John McNeil, said although some chiropractic treatments had an evidence base, claims it could cure 95 per cent of ailments was nonsense.
They said it was also disturbing that some chiropractors spruiked the adjustment of children's spines for many potentially serious conditions including fever, colic, allergies, asthma, hearing loss and learning disorders.
In a letter to Central Queensland University protesting against its recent inclusion of a chiropractic course, the doctors said they were also concerned about chiropractors being the largest ''professional'' group in the anti-vaccination network.
One of the signatories, Professor of Neurophysiology at Flinders University Marcello Costa, said universities running such courses were encouraging the spread of quackery, misusing public money and delaying effective treatments for people who falsely believed chiropractors could cure their illnesses.
But Australian Chiropractors Association president Lawrence Tassell said the criticism was ridiculous and misinformed and he did not know what had motivated it.
He said chiropractors did not claim to be able to cure 95 per cent of ailments and thought the doctors had been misled by a sceptics group in Britain.
Contrary to the doctors' claims, Dr Tassell said chiropractic treatment was evidence-based, including its use on children for the treatment of conditions such as colic.
''Two-hundred-and-fifty-thousand people visit chiropractors in Australia every week … if the results weren't there, people wouldn't be coming to see us,'' he said.
Dr Tassell said although some chiropractors supported the anti-vaccination network, this had nothing to do with the teachings of chiropractic theory or treatment and he said the association neither supported nor discouraged it.
While some practitioners made false claims, he said this was a minority who should be reported to the Chiropractic Board of Australia to be punished.
A spokeswoman for the federal government did not comment on calls for chiropractic courses to be defunded.
In 2010-11, there were about 4300 chiropractors registered in Australia and 75 complaints were made to the Chiropractic board.
Most were about treatment, professional conduct and communication and information provided by practitioners.