10 January 2007
When observing the state of modern medicine and the unprecedented influence of pharmaceuticals, an interesting paradox arises. The drug companies claim that pharmaceuticals can do wonders for people: lower their cholesterol, end clinical depression, reverse osteoporosis, eliminate allergies, calm your children and many other similar promises. But if prescription drugs are so good for people, where are all the healthy medicated customers?
There aren't any to speak of. There's nobody taking twelve prescriptions who has a clean bill of health. In fact, the more prescriptions a person takes, the worse their overall health. And if you approach the healthiest people you can find in a local fitness center and ask what prescription drugs they're taking in order to be so healthy, they'll give you a rather confused look: they don't take prescription drugs!.
So how is it that the pharmaceutical industry can be claiming to make people healthier in the first place? And what happened to common sense here? A rigorous scientific view of the whole situation can only conclude that prescription drugs are, in fact, making people sicker. It's like a massive clinical trial, and the results of the trial are rather obvious: we're swallowing more drugs than ever, and we're getting sicker. In fact, the more drugs a person takes, and the longer they take them, the more rapidly their overall health deteriorates.
So why are drugs approved in the first place?
During development, prescription drugs are designed to target a single measurable marker, such as cholesterol levels or bone density. There are thousands of such markers to target in the world of modern medicine, and if a specific drug can alter any measurable marker in a positive direction -- without killing too many people during the clinical trials -- the FDA eventually declares it to be "safe and effective" and the drug is unleashed for public consumption.
Indeed, the drug may effectively impact that one marker. But here's where the problem starts: every drug has a systemic effect, and these systemic effects are not accurately measured (or admitted) in clinical trials. For example, statin drugs do, in fact, lower bad cholesterol levels. But they do this by compromising the ability of the liver to create all types of cholesterol, including the "good" cholesterol and important hormones that the body manufactures from cholesterol. Statins may have one measurable, positive effect according to the medical charts, but they simultaneously throw off the body's healthy physiology in a hundred other ways such as blocking your sex drive.
Clinical trials don't pay much attention to these other effects; they're just looking to prove one particular thing and get FDA approval to market the drug as a miracle cholesterol fighter. What other effects the drug has on the human body are largely ignored. And when clinical trial participants start showing these severe effects, they are typically "dismissed" from the trial in order to ensure that trial results look positive. In this way, extremely toxic drugs are actually approved by the FDA as "safe."
Prescription drugs represent a war on the American people
This situation means that, right now, prescription drugs are killing 100,000 Americans each year and injuring more than two million. Those are the statistics from the Journal of the American Medical Association, and that figure doesn't include the 40,000 or so who are killed each year by over-the-counter pain medications. These are staggering figures: it's like having twenty-five 9/11 attacks each year, but instead of terrorists flying the airplanes, it's pharmaceutical company CEOs. There are more deaths and injuries caused each year by pharmaceuticals than in any U.S. war or conflict since World War II.
And yet pharmaceuticals continue to be marketed as miracle drugs that can help people be healthy. But as I've mentioned, there are no extremely healthy people taking lots of prescription drugs!
The counter argument
The obvious counter to this argument is that people only start taking prescription drugs after they're already sick. But that's not true: statins are now being pushed onto perfectly healthy people who have cholesterol levels of 115, for example. They're supposed to start taking statins as a preventative measure, even though there's nothing wrong with them. With a similar lack of wisdom, the American Diabetes Association has recommended that all diabetics start taking statin drugs even though there is no scientifically proven benefit to doing so just in case some benefits are someday discovered!
And statin drugs are already known to cause an alarming number of dangerous side effects. After being consumed for just a few days, statin drugs start interfering with normal liver function. Within a matter of weeks or months, the patient often shows new symptoms or disorders. Upon visiting a western medical doctor, they are diagnosed with another disease or condition and -- guess what? -- given another prescription drug to take in combination with the statins. In the business world, this is called "upselling the customer" -- getting the same customers to buy more stuff, thereby greatly increasing your profit margin.
And so it goes: one prescription after another, like boxcars on a train, until the patient is: 1) financially depleted, and 2) suffering the ravages of extreme chemical toxicity from prescription drugs. By the time a typical patient finally dies from complications caused by the prescription drugs, they may have spent $100,00 or more on drugs alone. And that number can be multiplied even further if "heroic drugs" are prescribed during the patient's last surviving days.
Dangerous drug interactions are rarely tested
There's another factor to consider here, too: prescription drugs are rarely tested for dangerous interactions with other drugs. In other words, even though the FDA might have approved drug A for one thing, and drug B for another, nobody ever tested what happens in human beings when both drug A and drug B are taken together. Far too often, the combination is toxic, and many prescription drug combinations are fatal. Those that are not fatal may cause other injuries, meaning they will destroy the patient's liver or pancreas, which will of course create demand for even more prescription drugs to deal with those issues.
In this way, it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you visit a western medical doctor and take even a single prescription, you're caught in the spiral of pharmaceutical dependence. The only way to escape this trap and actually restore your health is to give up all prescription drugs and, instead, make radical changes to your diet and lifestyle -- and seek our naturopathic or holistic treatments -- to restore your health. This is the only way to create lasting health.
Where are all the healthy, happy, athletic prescription drug takers?
Getting back to the main point here, doesn't it make sense that if prescription drugs made people healthy, there would be all sorts of healthy, happy, athletic people walking around touting the benefits of all the drugs they're taking? If drugs were good for you, there should be hundreds of thousands of such people right now. They should be mentally sharp, have low body fat, high bone density, healthy digestive tracts, healthy blood chemistry, vibrant skin, high energy, excellent moods, and so on. And yet this is not at all the case.
Typically, when you meet a person who is taking multiple prescription drugs, they are overweight or obese, chronically fatigued, mentally depressed, sickly in appearance, mentally clouded, suffering from several blood chemistry problems, burdened with weak immune systems, suffering from low bone density, and emotionally unstable. Sadly, this is not only the typical prescription drug patient I'm describing here, this also describes many doctors and health care workers who dole out the drugs in the first place.
Given this reality, it takes a great leap of imagination to believe that prescription drugs are somehow good for you. It's almost like walking into a Michael Jackson video, seeing a roomful of half-dead zombies drooling on each other, and shouting like Jim Carrey, "I want whatever they're taking!"
The promise of drugs is seductive
It's seductive, of course, to imagine that perhaps your state of mental anguish is simply a "brain chemistry imbalance" that can be corrected with antidepressant drugs. It's tempting to treat your osteoporosis with a doctor-recommend pill rather than getting into the habit of daily walking. It's convenient to live on heartburn medications instead of having to make healthy food choices for a change. Popping pills is always easier than changing your life, but popping pills is like making a deal with the Devil: you always end up losing.
When you take prescription drugs on a long-term basis, you're sure to come out worse than when you started. Prescription drugs are only appropriate for short-term interventions that save a patient's life while they make radical changes to their diet, nutrition and lifestyle that correct the underlying imbalances. For example, an obese middle-aged man suffering from extremely high cholesterol is obviously at risk of a sudden heart attack. Statin drugs might be legitimately used for a few weeks or months just to keep the guy alive while he makes radical lifestyle changes that will ultimately bring his cholesterol (and his body weight) down to reasonable levels.
The legitimate uses for prescription drugs
That's a reasonable, legitimate use of prescription drugs. But that's not the way they're being promoted today. Thanks to the culture of greed and widespread lack of ethics at pharmaceutical companies, statins and other drugs are being pushed as lifetime medications while any mention of diet, nutrition or exercise is either completely avoided or, at best, glossed over. The result is that patients are told drugs are the only answer.
Doctors are culpable in this as well: most don't even understand nutrition 101, and few bother to take the time to work with patients on lifestyle changes in the first place. Of course, most doctors would say that it's the patients who aren't interested in making changes, and they're right about that, but there's also something rather negligent about the fact that the vast majority of doctor visits result in a 90-second conversation and a prescription for the latest brand-name drug. (If you're a doctor and don't fit this description, good for you! But make no mistake: your colleagues are miserable healers...)
So why are prescription drugs so popular?
The only reason prescription drugs are so popular today is not because they work, but because they are extremely profitable. It's profitable for the drug companies who mark them up as much as 500,000% over the cost of the raw ingredients, it's profitable for retailers like Walgreens who mark them up even further (and whose business relies primarily on drug profits), it's profitable for newspapers and magazines who gladly cash checks for millions of dollars in drug advertising, and it's even profitable for doctors who receive all sorts of free vacations, "consulting fees," and other not-so-subtle bribes in exchange for writing prescriptions for brand-name drugs.
The system is extremely profitable to everyone... everyone except you, that is. You suffer devastating health consequences when you participate. You get stuck with the medical debt. Your insurance rates go sky-high. And to add insult to injury, you're sicker now than before you started taking the drugs!
Our system of modern medicine is a sham, folks. It's primarily a drug racket that's dominated by Big Pharma. The science is largely distorted (and often outright fraudulent), the ethics have all but disappeared, and the long-term price of all this is going to be enormous. We have an unprecedented problem on our hands that's sickening an entire generation and creating stratospheric long-term health care costs for the next round of working taxpayers unlucky enough to stumble onto all this.
But don't worry: when everybody's sicker than ever, the drug companies will promise they have the next big cure. All you have to do is pop daily pills at $200 each, and all your health problems will be solved!
8 January 2007
Heart disease and diabetes symptoms such as insulin resistance, abdominal obesity, hypertension, and high triglyceride levels (a cluster of traits known as metabolic syndrome), previously seen almost entirely in adults, are being found in adolescents in increasing numbers.
A study of this problem suggests that reducing intake of sugar-sweetened beverages during childhood could lessen the risk of chronic disease later on.
The study looked at traits such as blood pressure, waist circumference, and levels of HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and glucose in more than 150 13-year-old girls, as well as their parents. The study looked at dietary, activity and lifestyle patterns starting from when the girls were 5.
Those at higher risk for metabolic syndrome also consumed the most sugary beverages between the ages of 5 and 9. That group of girls also had significantly greater increases in weight and fat mass between the ages of 5 and 13. All of those are risk factors for chronic diseases in later life.
Pediatrics December 2006; 188(6): 2434-2442