…at this point I thought I would acquaint you with some of the results of my recent researches into the career of the late Doctor Samuel Gall, inventor of the gall bladder, which certainly ranks as one of the more important technological advances since the invention of the joy buzzer and the dribble glass.
He soon became a specialist, specializing in diseases of the rich. He was therefore able to retire at an early age… to the land we all dream about: sunny Mexico, of course…Tom Lehrer, In Old Mexico
In his book Can Medicine Be Cured, Dr. Seamus O’Mahony offers a powerful analysis of what ails medicine, and it’s not for the faint-hearted. This book is indeed a worthwhile follow-up to Ivan Illich’s Medical Nemesis, which is pretty much THE classic in this area. Tom Lehrer with his typical scathing humor also saw it coming – medicine has perverse economic incentives because more treatment means more money, so in the end the money is in treating healthy people. And therein lies the birth of the pharmageddon version of preventive medicine: convincing healthy people based on some assessment of risk of future disease that they should be taking medications, preferably “for the rest of their lives.” Things like baby-aspirin against heart attacks, which is a recommendation that was just reversed recently… don’t get overly excited, there are exceptions, as Dr. Joel Kahn points out: NOT to stop if you have a stent.
One wrong premise… reductionism
In his book Whole, Dr. T. Colin Campbell develops a clear-cut case why reductionist reasoning in respect to health gets us in trouble. He applies it mostly to nutrition, but it applies to pharmaceuticals in spades. The whole medical-industrial complex is founded on this bit of convoluted logic, which more or less turns the world upside down. If you’d listen to the doctors, you’d have a 500% risk of dying “prematurely” from any of a myriad diseases, and you should be taking their drugs already – side effects and all.
The example which I recently pointed out in a post on Dysfunctional Nutrition, was of brown rice. The significance of vitamin B1 was discovered as a result of a shift to eating white rice, and the rise of beri-beri. However, what did the world do? Oh well, just sell’em B1 supplements. But it turns out that the fiber in brown rice helps prevent colon cancer – shifting from white rice to brown means a 17% reduction in risk of colorectal cancer. Not only that, it has a lower glycemic index, and can help prevent or reverse Type 2 diabetes. Here’s Dr. Greger on White Rice vs. Brown Rice. Campbell points to research that vitamin C is absorbed 265x better from an apple than from a tablet. When you combine all this, you start to understand that there is way more money in selling you processed foods, and supplements, and medications, not to mention medical treatments. But you could opt for a Whole Foods, Plant-Based diet instead. In general, nutrients are better absorbed in whole foods and often do not work or can even be toxic in supplement form.
The same inverted logic applies to medicine. Your risk of dying is only 100%. Or as economist Keynes loved to say: in the long run, we’re all dead. But if you listen to the doctors, you are at risk for a million diseases, and their approach to preventive medicine is to drug entire populations. This type of prevention catches people in a web of side effects and drug interactions that never ends. It usually culminates just when you get ready to retire, and are least able to afford it. This is the reason why Americans are the most over-medicated people on the planet and life expectancy is going down, not up. The stats are (as per Seamus O’Mahony):
- 25% of people in their sixties are on 5 or more medications
- 46% of people in their seventies are on 5+ medications,
- 91% of nursing home residents are on 5+ medications.
Or in another example, from a Director of Nursing in a nursing home, often 75% or more of patients are admitted taking more than 10 medications, and the first order of business is to have a pharmacist analyze the medication program and work with doctors to eliminate dangerous side effects or drug interactions so as to get the patient down to under 8, or preferably even 5 medications. Yet, I increasingly meet doctors and other medical professionals and lay people, who follow the whole foods, plant-based diet and are free of medications in their sixties, seventies, eighties and even nineties.
Baby Aspirin, Statins, Psychopharmaca
Above I referred to the recent research that has invalidated in most cases the “preventive” prescription of baby Aspirin, that has been great for sales for so long. Another medical scandal that is brewing is about statins. Heart disease is completely reversible with a whole foods, plant-based diet about 98% of the time. Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr. routinely says that medical intervention is only warranted if it is absolutely acute, right then.
So here goes with the statin scam: Lipitor, the best-selling drug in the world, reduces the risk of heart attack by 1.1% and increases lifespan by 3-4 days. Here is some insight in the total sales of various drugs from Forbes, and for the record total sales of Lipitor for Pfizer were $141 billion dollars over its lifetime – all to accomplish nothing. Here is a report on the statin scam:
My own psychiatrist father refused to prescribe psychopharmaca even in the 1960’s when the world was starting to go crazy for Librium and Valium. We now have seen psychiatrist Dr. Breggin on Oprah Winfrey repeatedly and in his book Medication Madness and in his various interviews, he has argued convincingly that psychopharmaca have often done more harm than good, making a mockery of the Hippocratic oath, which says to do no harm. Evidently, once you understand the whole foods, plant-based diet, you understand that Medication madness extends well beyond psychiatry.
In short, if I listened all the disease mongering by doctors, I would likely end up believing that my risk of imminent disease and death was actually well over 100%, or similar nonsense – I should have died a long time ago. Medicine has become like selling life insurance. Nobody ever bought life insurance, you were SOLD life insurance. This is all medical disease mongering, and selling you on preventive uses of medicine. The alternative is a Whole Foods, Plant-Based diet, which is 80% of the battle, and the rest is other reasonable lifestyle issues, such as reasonable exercise, sleep and relaxation. The point is we need to take responsibility for our own health, or as my old dentist used to say: “People used to have an immune system, you know.” Well, we can have it again. It begins with a Whole Foods, Plant-Based diet.
For good measure, here is the counterpoint: T. Colin Campbell sharing in a brilliant interview with Gianna Simone, ending on the note that he was 84 at the time of the interview and free of all medications, and so is his entire family. He adds that the Esselstyn family is entirely similar.