I was in Harrisburg, PA lecturing this weekend. I received the USA Today newspaper on Friday May 16, 2014 and on page 5A there was an article titled, “Life Expectancy Up; Japanese Females Living Longest of All.” (The chart on the left was in this article.) The article quoted a World Health Organization annual report which was released last Thursday.
With the amount of money spent on health care, you would think that the U.S. should be, at least, one of the top ten countries for life expectancy. You would think wrong. Americans spend over 18% of our gross national product on health care. While we make up 5% of the world’s population, we consume over 50% of the world’s pharmaceutical drugs. You would think if those drugs improved our lives and adequately treated chronic disorders, we would be at the top of the life expectancy chart. Again, you would think wrong.
In fact, the U.S. spends more on health care than the next nine biggest spenders combined: Japan, France, China, UK, Italy, Canada, Brazil, Spain, and Australia. As can be seen from the picture, the U.S. does not rank in the top ten countries for either male or female life expectancy. In fact, we rank 37th overall, tied with Cuba, Costa Rica, Nauru, Qatar, and Columbia. We lag behind Lebanon, Chile, and every other wealthy Western country. And to top it off, when compared to the U.S., all the other countries spend markedly less on their health care. Why do we put up with this nonsense?
Although there are many reasons for why we spend so much money on health care, the fastest growing expense is pharmaceutical drugs. We simply take too many drugs that don’t work. Nearly all pharmaceutical drugs work by poisoning enzymes and blocking receptors. As I stated in Drugs That Don’t Work and Natural Therapies That Do, “You can’t poison a crucial enzyme or block an important receptor for the long-term and expect a good result.” Most drugs do not treat the underlying cause of a problem; they merely treat the symptoms of the illness. Furthermore, drugs that poison enzymes and block receptors are associated with too many serious adverse effects. What is the solution to this problem? I think the answer lies in education.