Red Flags Over Health Care
Is There A Choice for Health Care Consumers Other Than Conventional or Alternative Medicine?
by Bill Sardi
It's difficult to wave a red flag these days and hope someone notices. For one thing, there are so many red flags being waved. For another, unless you have a story that captures another's attention or sways the heart in some way, you have difficulty even making any impact at all. But everyone is affected by health problems, theirs or those of loved ones. So health issues relate to most people.
In attempting to communicate with others, whatever my "hot button" is, I can't let my feelings or experiences get in front of the issues, otherwise people will believe the problem may be mine and not theirs. Yes, I've felt the pain of seeing a friend die of cancer at a relatively young age, but I also observed how modern cancer therapy hastened my friend's demise. I've seen close family members suffer with the irreversible side effects of medications that should never have been prescribed. But so have others and how do I convince anyone that these experiences are common?
So in my line of work as a journalist on health issues I conduct daily research and keep vast files on topics, close to 200 files drawers full in my garage on everything from AIDS to zinc. In recent months there have been an alarming number of scientific reports that will forever change modern medicine. Evidence-based medicine is coming to your doctor's office and hospital. It means that long-practiced therapies which cost billions of dollars may be cast into the trash can.
In the past few months studies have determined that hormone replacement therapy prescribed for 6 million American women may slightly increase health risks and should probably be abandoned. Arthroscopic knee surgery and radical mastectomy (breast removal) surgery were also found to yield no health benefits. To say nothing of the millions of patients whose lives have been affected by these worthless medical therapies, how did the doctors start practicing unproven medicine? And why has this gone on for so long?
Responding to criticism that much of what is done in modern medicine is not substantiated by science, some time ago a clinic took the records of over 100 consecutive patients and examined their treatment. Less than a third of the treatments rendered were backed by a consensus of doctors or scientific studies.
More Failings of Modern Medicine
When you look at the recent history of modern medicine you see a picture where there are more side effects generated by prescription drugs than the disorders these medications intended to treat. Iatrogenic disease (doctor induced) is now the third leading cause of death in the U.S. According to a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, about 274 people die daily of properly-used prescription drugs, administered by a nurse in a hospital, amounting to over 100,000 needless deaths a year.
Hospitals are where the most antibiotics are used and the germs in hospitals have become particularly resistant to modern drug therapy to the point where 14,000 people now die annually of drug-resistant infections in hospitals. The more antibiotics doctors prescribe the sooner the day will come when these drugs no longer work and mankind will be faced with no remedies to quell the germs that once caused ancient plagues.
War on Cancer Fails
The war on cancer has failed. For the most part, cancer mortality rates are higher today than they were over three decades ago. This is after spending more than $30 billion to research cancer therapies.
A few years back the Agency for Healthcare Policy Research conducted a review of the benefits derived from prostate cancer surgery. Patients who underwent surgery were found to live, on average, about 14 years after removal of their prostate gland. Surgeons were pleased. But when surgical patients were compared to men who did nothing, that is they did not undergo surgery, they also lived about 14 years beyond their year of diagnosis. There was no benefit to having the prostate gland removed. But the surgery wasn't abandoned. Today urological surgeons ask the patients to choose between surgery and "watchful waiting." But most patients aren't told, straight out, there is little or no benefit to surgery in regards to increased survivability.
Thousands of men still elect to undergo surgery out of fear.
So how do you tell people that modern medicine is failing? Oh, I don't mean your doctor's office or the hospital won't be there tomorrow, I mean, the scientific foundations of modern medicine are disintegrating.
So what do I want people to do, stop running to the doctor's office? Where else is there to go?
Alternative Medicine: Another grab-bag
Some of these drawbacks of modern medicine have already been recognized by a significant segment of the population and in 1993 the New England Journal of Medicine published a landmark report which revealed more primary care patients had visited alternative medical practitioners, homeopathists, acupuncturists, chiropractors and massage therapists, than medical doctors. Modern medicine had lost half of its potential customers. Actually, about 8 in 10 patients seeing alternative doctors were attended by conventional health care practitioners as well. Some patients were playing both sides of the fence.
But surveys conducted by American Demographics Magazine indicate two thirds of the public still is wary of alternative medicine and would only elect to go to alternative practitioners if they had a disease that modern medicine couldn't treat. Furthermore, recent studies also indicate alternative medicine has some marginal practices of its own, like homeopathy, iridology, applied kinesiology and therapeutic touch, to name a few. So the scientific underpinnings of alternative medicine may also be lacking.
So which way should the public turn?
It's been said that beyond mending broken bones, fixing teeth and replacing cloudy cataracts, modern medicine can't substantiate much else of what it does. The high-tech medical care system is good at acute and trauma care, but poor at handling chronic disease. When you take a long look at diabetes, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, mental depression, cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, kidney and gall bladder stones, and many other maladies, you realize they can all be treated with diet and nutritional supplements (vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs) at far less cost and side effect than with prescription drugs.
The biological action of most prescription drugs can be duplicated with food supplements, a fact hidden from the public. In an about turn, the American Medical Association, recognizing only one in five Americans eat the recommended five servings of fresh plant foods daily, finally came out this year and recommended multivitamins for everybody. But in the year 2000, among 823 million visits to doctor's offices only about 1.5 percent of the time did doctors even mention vitamins. So doctor's still have a long way to go.
Patient driven change and nutritional medicine
So many millions of Americans can no longer afford health insurance, and modern health care continues to price itself out of the market. Health care consumers are being forced to look elsewhere.
Change in modern medicine isn't going to come by way of doctors but rather by way of the patients. If both conventional and alternative medicine are flawed then is there another choice? The other option for healthcare consumers is self-care, practiced in the home, using diet and food supplements to retain a state of health and even treat disease. Yes, most Americans already take vitamins. What I'm talking about is replacing all those problematic drugs with safe herbs, vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Patients are going to have to learn about diet and food supplements on their own since doctors are poorly prepared to answer questions on these topics. Many patients know more about nutrition than their doctors. Dietitians are biased towards dietary-based solutions rather than vitamin and herbal supplements.
Much of what I have said here is described in more detail in my new ebook The Collapse of Conventional Medicine. For interested parties, they may wish to go to www.hereandnowbooks.com and print out a free copy.
November 11, 2002
Copyright © 2002 Bill Sardi Word of Knowledge Agency, San Dimas, California. Not for commercial reproduction without permission of the author.