Posts Tagged ‘public health’

Most people don’t want the authorities to add fluoride to our water supply. That’s if interim results of the latest poll results in our Underground Knowledge group on Goodreads.com  are any guide.

In response to the question Do you believe fluoride should be in your town’s water supply?  more than two thirds of respondents say no.

Interim poll results are:

-67% of respondents say NO

-20% say YES

-13% are unsure.

 

 

Respondents’ comments make for interesting reading. Here’s some random examples:

I vote NO for the following reasons:
Harvard Study Confirms Fluoride Reduces Children’s IQ — http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-merc…
This pic lists some facts and theories concerning fluoride and how it apparently is detrimental to human’s health… https://www.goodreads.com/photo/group…
Tap water usually contains high levels of fluoride. Numerous studies have shown fluoride reduces IQ levels and in some cases even causes brain damage.

Fluoride has been considered a neurotoxin for some time now. I just pulled an older article: http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/na…

I can tell you that there’s no conspiracy, only stupidity. Cities take shortcuts and are under pressure to perform (in this case – provide safe water). Organic solutions like ozonation are cost prohibitive, and Fluoride effects are mild and subtle. But, there’s much worse crap in the water in cities, such as human waste, most importantly – diseases, prescription drugs, and many other nasties.

Very interesting question which prompted me to do a little more research on the matter. My initial reaction was an astounding, “Yes”, however, I now have to admit there has to be much more research beyond the Harvard study. To begin with, according to the Flouride Information Network, www.flourideinfo.org, Flouride is found naturally in water supplies coming from the rocks and sediment within those sources. The quantity can range fro 0.12 to over 12 parts per million. I was perusing several sites and came across this one, www.Openparachute.wordpress.coms. Here are a few points they raise about the studies, particularly the Harvard Study.

It’s worth pointing out the Harvard study is literally one of dozens of studies worldwide revealing links between fluoride consumption and low IQ’s in children (not to mention other adverse health effects).

I am unhappy with he Harvard study because (a) The levels of fluoride at times almost enter the toxicity zone, (b) other studies were excluded, but had they been included, the effect would have shrunk, (c) many of those included had other effects present, e.g. iodine deficiency, As, and in the coal-burning regions, there would be a number of other things present.

Mass medication via water is just plain wrong and stupid. Some people eat more foods that naturally contain fluoride. And kids need less than adults. 

 

Poll ends May 1.

To view all comments, or better still to have your say, go to:   https://www.goodreads.com/poll/list/142309-underground-knowledge—a-discussion-group?type=group

 

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In a chapter titled “Medical tests you may not need and procedures that may kill you” in our book MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: The $ickness Industry, Big Pharma and Suppressed Cures, we quote a Reuters  report that provides an insight into how the medical system, or machine, works.

 

MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: The $ickness Industry, Big Pharma and Suppressed Cures (The Underground Knowledge Series Book 3)

 

An excerpt from Medical Industrial Complex  follows: 

The above-mentioned Reuters report (dated July 1, 2013) advises that one-third of people with heart disease have their cholesterol levels checked more often than guidelines recommend, and reports that research suggests such extra testing may be a waste of time and money if it doesn’t lead to improvements in patients’ health.

More about those over-the-top cholesterol-level checks later in this chapter. Meantime, that Reuters report got us thinking…

How many medical tests and hospital procedures are unnecessary?

An exhaustive search of published medical documents, mainstream media releases and medical websites reveals the answer to that question is: far, far too many.

Even the medical profession, it seems, admits many medical procedures are unnecessary or over-used; an article dated March 5, 2013 on the well-respected Scientific American site states that the routine use of 130 different medical screenings, tests and treatments are often unnecessary and should be scaled back; that’s according to 25 medical specialty organizations whose findings are reported on in the article.

The writer quotes a 2012 report by America’s Institute of Medicine, which estimated that “in 2009 some $750 billion, or about 30 percent of all health spending, was wasted on unnecessary services and other issues, such as excessive administrative costs and fraud”.

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“Fifty percent of all doctors graduate in the bottom half of their class – Hope your surgery went well!” –Simone Elkeles, bestselling author of Rules of Attraction

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Many of the services deemed unnecessary appear on lists released by Choosing Wisely, an initiative of the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation aimed at reducing needless medical interventions that waste money and can actually do more harm than good.

The Scientific American article reports that some of the items on the lists are familiar, giving as one example the recommendation that patients should avoid scheduling non-medically indicated labor inductions or cesarean sections before 39 weeks. It states other items are designed to reduce the use of expensive and often unnecessary imaging tests, such as early use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography scan (CT) scans for complaints that will likely go away on their own.

The report continues, “Other list items may surprise patients. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that women 30 to 65 years old who are not at high risk for cervical cancer skip the annual pap smears; the research shows that conducting screenings every three years works just as well”.

Professor Virginia Moyer, chair of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, is quoted as saying that mammography use is responsible for around one fifth of the cases of over-diagnosis of breast cancer. “Sometimes a screening leads to a false positive, after which additional tests can expose patients to unnecessary radiation or even biopsies, which carry their own risks,” she says.

“Moyer points out that women have gotten mastectomies to treat small, nonaggressive cancers that were never going to affect them. ‘That’s a huge harm,’ she says. ‘Yet it can be difficult to convince people that it’s okay to simply live with a cancer’.”

In an article dated June 27, 2013, the Huffington Post lists four medical tests you may not need. Quoting a report in the Archives of Internal Medicine, it claims that 28% of primary care physicians admit to over-treating patients, including by ordering potentially unwarranted tests as a precaution against malpractice suits. “Unfortunately, excessive screening can open the door to unnecessary surgeries and medications — not to mention needless anxiety”.

The four tests Huffington Post readers are invited to reconsider (with the reporter’s abridged comments in quotes) are:

  • Electrocardiogram, or ECG, to detect heart abnormalities that can indicate cardiovascular disease – “There’s no evidence that an ECG will reduce your risk of having a heart attack, according to…the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force”.
  • Upper endoscopy to diagnose conditions like gastroesophageal reflux disease – “ ‘You could be better off… trying proton pump inhibitors for four to eight weeks,’ says Amir Qaseem, MD, PhD, director of clinical policy at the American College of Physicians”.
  • Imaging (MRI, CT scans) for lower back pain to pinpoint the source of your discomfort – “MRIs not only don’t improve recovery, but can increase a patient’s likelihood of having surgery as much as eightfold…(and) may increase your risk for cancer”.
  • Bone mineral density scan to screen for osteoporosis – “If the test reveals mild bone loss, you may be prescribed osteoporosis medication, even though evidence suggests it would have little effect…You could be better off…waiting until you’re 65 (before being screened)”.

T.B.C.

 

Medical Industrial Complex  is Bk #3 in The Underground Knowledge Series  and is available exclusively via Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/MEDICAL-INDUSTRIAL-COMPLEX-Suppressed-Underground-ebook/dp/B00Y8Y3TUM/

 

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Interim results in the latest poll in our Underground Knowledge discussion group on Goodreads.com  reveals there’s considerable uncertainty over the safety of child immunizations and vaccines.

In response to the question Do you believe child immunizations/vaccines are for the most part extremely safe as per official statements from mainstream medicine and Big Pharma? well over half our poll respondents to date say they don’t believe that or they’re unsure.

Interim poll results show 41% say Yes; some 38% say No; and 21% say Unsure.

Fellow ‘Undergrounders’ (group members) include doctors, nurses (and former nurses), lab technicians, pharmacists, scientists, a neurologist and other medical professionals – and a number of those members are contributing to the poll. Some of the comments make for interesting reading.

Here’s what the aforementioned American neurologist (name withheld) has to say on the topic:

With the recent talk of vaccinations highlighted during the Republican Presidential debates, it definitely highlights the concerns that linger among us parents about having our children vaccinated. I must preface this post (before getting to my point by discussing a recent article in the neurological literature) by stating that I am a neurologist with 5 children and all were fully vaccinated. That said, I must admit that the vaccinations were spaced apart further than that which was recommended by the pediatrician.

The only reason my wife and I were adamant about altering the dosing regimen was that we routinely witnessed an alteration in our childrens’ mental status after they received a barrage of shots. I would like to say that flu-like symptoms or low-grade fevers precipitated the changes. However, there were no signs or symptoms of any physical reaction to the vaccines. What did change on occasion was their personalities, sleep habits and at times cognition. It was scary to witness, but we were relieved when it resolved. As we began to split up the vaccination shots for our younger children, these neurological sided effects abated.

The reason why I discuss my own experience is that the medical system ardently insists that autism is not related to vaccinations. However, a recent medical journal I read does raise the awareness about the possible neurological sequela that can occur after one of these shots. A July 1 article in Science Translational Medicine discussed the link between Pandemrix, a vaccine used during the H1N1 flu pandemic, and 1,300 reported new cases of narcolepsy which occurred after receiving the shot. The article described how antibodies that formed as a result of the vaccine crossed the blood-brain barrier and attacked the sleep regulation portion of the brain. As a result, these people were left with narcolepsy. The process is called molecular mimicry. It has already been documented as the cause of different neurological diseases that result from the body’s immunological response to certain cancers, infections or exposures.

If a vaccine can cause narcolepsy, it definitely calls into question whether vaccines could also initiate other neurological problems such as autism. Though the question remains, the overall benefit of vaccines to society as a whole does outweigh the risks. My only recommendation to the medical establishment is to reconsider both the dose of the vaccine and the timing they are given, to reduce any of these possible side effects.

To view comments of other members, or better still to have YOUR say on this most vital of issues, go to: https://www.goodreads.com/poll/list/142309-underground-knowledge—a-discussion-group?type=group

And the safety of child immunizations and vaccines is addressed in book three in our ‘Underground Knowledge Series’ – MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: The $ickness Industry, Big Pharma and Suppressed Cures. It’s available exclusively via Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/MEDICAL-INDUSTRIAL-COMPLEX-Suppressed-Underground-ebook/dp/B00Y8Y3TUM/

MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: The $ickness Industry, Big Pharma and Suppressed Cures (The Underground Knowledge Series Book 3)

 

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As the healthcare sector is so profitable, why would anyone believe major corruption could not flourish in this industry? We pose this question in our book MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: The $ickness Industry, Big Pharma and Suppressed Cures.

Healthcare corruption-free…really?

When considering this question, it’s important you have a grasp of the amounts of money involved in healthcare.

We address this in the following excerpt from Medical Industrial Complex:

Keep in mind total healthcare expenditures across the world in 2013 totaled $4.5 trillion while the global prescription drug market was worth an estimated $550 billion (annually) as long ago as 2006, according to TheMedica.com, the respected global healthcare marketplace site.

An article on TheMedica’s homepage states: “The USA’s medical industry comprises of more than 750,000 physicians and 5,200 hospitals. USA witnesses approximately 3.8 million inpatient visits and 20 million outpatients visit on a daily basis. Furthermore, (America) has the largest workforce – i.e. one in every 11 US residents employed in the health care business.”

These estimates are supported by Forbes, which puts America’s NHE (National Healthcare Expenditure) for 2012 at $3 trillion. (Interesting to see a Forbes.com report dated January 19, 2012, quotes one economist as saying, “We don’t have a debt problem in this country – we have a healthcare problem.”).

Given the huge monies up for grabs in the healthcare sector, is it really that difficult to believe corruption flourishes within it?

Also, why are so many so quick to doubt that certain cures, including cancer cures, have been suppressed because of pharmaceutical companies’ desire to continue profiting off the drugs they produce to manage long-term sicknesses?

Anytime so much money is at stake, we cannot underestimate the lengths certain companies and groups will go to in their pursuit of profit.

The alternative health site NaturalSociety.com has an intriguing post about “an ignored method of treating and preventing most diseases – so potent that it threatens the medical establishment’s tyrannical monopoly”.

Called Ozone Therapy, the treatment was, according to the article, practiced in the US from the late 19th Century through the 1940’s.

The article points out that “all bacterial pathogens, viruses, and parasites are anaerobic and thrive in the absence of oxygen. In fact, they are poisoned by oxygen. Even cancer cells perish with abundant oxygen. The most common and effective therapy for oxygenating is ozone therapy”

The writer states, “But since the 1940s, the FDA and AMA have come down hard on ozone therapy in the USA…The FDA recently warned against using hyperbaric oxygen therapy”…

According to Educate-Yourself.org, “There are a number of alternative healing therapies that work so well and cost so little…that Organized Medicine, the Food & Drug Administration, and their overlords in the Pharmaceutical Industry (The Big Three) would rather the public not know about them. The reason is obvious: Alternative, non-toxic therapies represent a potential loss of billions of dollars to allopathic (drug) medicine and drug companies”.

Referring to what he calls “forbidden cures,” the writer states, “At long last, however, the public’s consciousness seems to have finally reached a critical mass and is now beginning to seriously question the efficacy and appropriateness of using orthodox therapies and allopathic medicine in general”.

The article continues, “The Big Three have collectively engaged in a medical conspiracy for the better part of 70 years to influence legislative bodies on both the state and federal level to create regulations that promote the use of drug medicine while simultaneously creating restrictive, controlling mechanisms…designed to limit and stifle the availability of non-drug, alternative modalities. The conspiracy to limit and eliminate competition from non-drug therapies began with the Flexner Report of 1910”.

And under the heading ‘Natural Healing,’ the writer says, “The patient’s immune system and the immune system alone is responsible for healing and recovery from ill health. The use of drugs and vaccines represents an assault on the immune system.

“In some cases, the use of a particular drug might be a wise choice to speed healing and recovery for the patient, but the use of natural, orthomolecular therapies and substances (substances normally found in Nature) that can more effectively address the cause of the disease should be considered first because natural substances work in harmony with Nature. They aid and stimulate the body to truly cure itself, without the terrible millstone of drug side-effects”…

The Northstar Report at nstarzone.com, which makes the claim that “Modern medicine has been made into a god by a population of people who look to the doctors and pharmaceutical companies to save them,” lists natural cures it claims the medical establishment doesn’t want you to know about.

These natural “cures” include: Vitamin B-17, or laetrile, which reportedly has had “amazing results” with cancer patients; ginger, which is supposedly “highly effective in preventing and curing” heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and a variety of other illnesses; and garlic, which is claimed to be “good for virtually any disease or infection”.

And last, but not least, The Northstar Report recommends prayer, claiming “The most important aspect of healing is faith healing”.

Given the state of healthcare worldwide and the dubious conduct of various sectors of the Medical Industrial Complex, prayer may be our best bet at the end of the day.

You have been reading an excerpt from Medical Industrial Complex. The book is available exclusively via Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/MEDICAL-INDUSTRIAL-COMPLEX-Suppressed-Underground-ebook/dp/B00Y8Y3TUM/ 

MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: The $ickness Industry, Big Pharma and Suppressed Cures (The Underground Knowledge Series Book 3)

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In our book MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: The $ickness Industry, Big Pharma and Suppressed Cures, we focus on the alarming overmedication of children diagnosed, or misdiagnosed, as having ADHD, depression and other such ailments.

An excerpt from Medical Industrial Complex  follows:

Overmedication of children diagnosed – and often misdiagnosed or even not diagnosed – with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) has, it seems, reached alarming levels, and the public debate has been as vocal as that surrounding the issue of overprescribing antidepressants.

By some estimates, around four million children in the US have been diagnosed with ADHD and more than half of them have been prescribed drugs. This despite the fact there are very real concerns about the impact the drugs have on growth and brain development – especially in preschoolers.

One who has had something to say on this matter of late is Dr. Nancy Rappaport, a certified child and adolescent psychiatrist at Cambridge Health Alliance and an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. In a Washington Post article dated June 4, 2014, and headed ‘We are overmedicating America’s poorest kids,’ she claims that thousands of children between the ages of two and three are being prescribed stimulants like Ritalin or Adderall for ADHD even though the medicine’s safety and effectiveness has barely been explored in that age group.

Dr. Rappaport says she finds it even more troubling that a disproportionate number of those children were on Medicaid, which to her is an indicator of poverty. “That,” she says, “is the huge red flag”.

Referring to her experience as a child psychiatrist, working with at-risk children for more than 20 years, she points out the simple fact is that underprivileged children often grow up in home environments that lead to troubling behavior.

“To the untrained observer, it looks as if these children suffer from ADHD. But they don’t need medicine. They need stability and support”.

This raises the obvious question: Why are physicians prescribing potentially harmful drugs instead of recommending family-based support services for toddlers who display ADHD symptoms and disruptive behavior?

Dr. Rappaport asks this very question. She says, “Medication may be judiciously used to help ADHD when a biological illness is truly present, but true ADHD cannot be differentiated from other problems at such young ages. We owe it to our children to give the consistent message that we will do whatever it takes to foster their development. And that doesn’t always mean prescribing a pill”.

Amen to that.

It’s a fact that in this modern era most of us look for a quick fix for whatever ails us or for whatever ails our children. Our willingness to pop a pill in order to get a good night’s sleep or to ease a queasy tummy or to clear a foggy head or to…(the list goes on) is frightening. Even more so when we pass such quick fix ideas onto our children.

We seem very willing to overlook the fact that all drugs – prescribed or otherwise – have side-effects. Sometimes deadly side-effects, often unhealthy or otherwise undesirable side-effects.

We also overlook the fact that oftentimes there’s a simple, readily available, natural remedy available for those day-to-day ailments we encounter.

For example, physical exercise has long been recognized as an effective way to combat depression. Not for all, granted, but, we suspect, for many.

The Atlantic article referred to earlier reports that a growing body of research suggests that exercise is one of its best cures for depression. It claims a randomized controlled trial showed that depressed adults who took part in aerobic exercise improved as much as those treated with Zoloft, and a recommendation was made that physicians counsel their depressed patients to try it.

A later study looked at 127 depressed people who hadn’t experienced relief from a commonly used antidepressant and found that exercise led 30% of them into remission – a result described “as good as, or better than” drugs alone.

The article continues, “Though we don’t know exactly how any antidepressant works, we think exercise combats depression by enhancing endorphins: natural chemicals that act like morphine and other painkillers. There’s also a theory that aerobic activity boosts norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in mood. And like antidepressants, exercise helps the brain grow new neurons”.

The article concludes that “this powerful, non-drug treatment” hasn’t yet become a mainstream remedy. Why not? And why are so many people still popping pills?

We suspect the conclusion speaks volumes about the state of our mental health services and infrastructure, the physician reimbursement system (more about doctors’ kickbacks coming up) and the alacrity with which doctors dispense prescription drugs ahead of advising on diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes.

Regrettably, it also speaks volumes about our unwillingness to take responsibility for, and control of, our own health, preferring, instead, to entrust that to our family doctor.

You have been reading an excerpt from Medical Industrial Complex. To find this book on Amazon go to:  http://www.amazon.com/MEDICAL-INDUSTRIAL-COMPLEX-Suppressed-Underground-ebook/dp/B00Y8Y3TUM/

MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: The $ickness Industry, Big Pharma and Suppressed Cures (The Underground Knowledge Series Book 3)

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Even more depressing than our ever-increasing reliance on drugs to combat high blood pressure is the overprescribing and over-use of antidepressants – especially where children are concerned.  We address this in our book MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: The $ickness Industry, Big Pharma and Suppressed Cures, and we examine the role mainstream medicine plays in all of this.

 

An excerpt from Medical Industrial Complex  follows:

Statistically, there’s a very good chance you know someone who is taking Prozac or some other antidepressant right now. It may be a neighbor, or colleague, or a friend or family member, or, it may be you.

This no doubt has something to do with the readiness of people to talk about their depression or even their mental illness – conditions which, thankfully, are no longer burdened by stigma. It no doubt also has something to do with the widespread consumer acceptance of antidepressants as a solution for their depression.

According to some estimates, depression, that most common of mental illnesses, affects one quarter of all Americans.

A March 24, 2014 report in The Atlantic claims Americans are awash in pills. “The use of antidepressants has increased 400 percent between 1988 and 2008. They’re now one of the three most-prescribed categories of drugs, coming in right after painkillers and cholesterol medications”.

The situation, it seems, is little better elsewhere in the Western world. In the UK, for example, more than 50 million prescriptions for antidepressants are written every year if latest estimates are correct.

This figure is “staggeringly high,” according to an article in The Guardian dated April 13, 2014. It quotes Dr Matthijs Muijen, head of mental health at the World Health Organization Europe, as saying prescription levels have gone through the roof, claiming “There’s a degree of fashion about antidepressants”.

Dr Muijen admits his worry is “We are medicalising all forms of sadness in the belief that antidepressants are a safe drug that you just prescribe”.

In a report dated August 3, 2013, BBC News asks the question: “Is England a nation on anti-depressants?” It also asks why we are seeing “such huge and rising numbers of people” regularly taking anti-depressants when GPs are advised to prescribe them only for more seriously ill patients.

The report continues, “In some places the number of patients prescribed anti-depressants exceeds the number of people in that area estimated to suffer from depression and anxiety by the NHS England’s Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (PMS)”.

On June 21, 2013, Healthline News reported that a Mayo Clinic study found that nearly 70% of Americans are prescribed at least one medication, with antidepressants (along with antibiotics and opioids) topping the list.

The article quotes the National Alliance on Mental Illness as estimating one in four Americans experience a mental health disorder, such as depression or anxiety, in a given year. “Typical first-line treatments for mental health issues are medication and some type of psychotherapy…Critics who say antidepressant medications are overused often claim there is a chicken-and-egg phenomenon, saying that antidepressants are prescribed for normal human reactions to life events, leading to a lasting diagnosis of mental illness”.

The article concludes, “However, as the public mindset continues to change, there’s now less stigma attached to getting help for mental disorders, which may help explain the rise in antidepressant use”.

“Suicide rates have not slumped under the onslaught of antidepressants, mood-stabilizers, anxiolytic and anti-psychotic drugs; the jump in suicide rates suggests that the opposite is true. In some cases, suicide risk skyrockets once treatment begins (the patient may feel not only penalized for a justifiable reaction, but permanently stigmatized as malfunctioning). Studies show that self-loathing sharply decreases only in the course of cognitive-behavioral treatment.”Antonella Gambotto-Burke, The Eclipse: A Memoir of Suicide

Predictably, the Psychiatric Times, whose audience is American psychiatrists and mental health professionals, doesn’t agree that antidepressants are overprescribed in the US. In an article dated September 1, 2014, that publication’s editor-in-chief Ronald W. Pies, MD, reports that, “by and large”, he doesn’t agree with the allegation that America has become a kind of Prozac Nation – a none-too-subtle reference to the title of Elizabeth Wurtzel’s 1994 memoirs perhaps.

“In many respects, the claim that ‘too many Americans are taking antidepressants’ is a myth,” according to Dr. Pies. “…To be sure: in some primary care settings, antidepressants are prescribed too casually; after too little evaluation time; and for instances of normal stress or everyday sadness, rather than for MDD (major depressive disorder),” he says.

“And, in my experience, antidepressants are vastly over-prescribed for patients with bipolar disorder, where these drugs often do more harm than good: mood stabilizers, such as lithium, are safer and more effective in bipolar disorder. But these kernels of truth are concealed within a very large pile of chaff”.

Dr. Pies continues, “For example, the media often report that antidepressant use in the United States has ‘gone up by 400%’ in recent years—and that’s probably true…But the actual percentage of Americans 12 years or older taking antidepressants is about 11%—a large proportion of the population, for sure, but not exactly Prozac Nation”.

So, though Dr. Pies – and by default Psychiatric Times and no doubt the majority of psychiatric professionals in the US – disputes the allegation that America has become a kind of Prozac Nation, there seems to be a reluctant acknowledgement that antidepressants are vastly over-prescribed for patients suffering one type of mental illness at least, and that it’s probably true that antidepressant use has risen 400% in the US.

If that doesn’t constitute a Prozac Nation, not sure what does…

Washington D.C. writer Brendan L. Smith, reporting on the American Psychological Association’s website in June 2012, reports that research shows that all too often, Americans are taking medications that may not work or that may be inappropriate for their mental health problems.

Smith observes that writing a prescription to treat a mental health disorder is easy, but it may not always be the safest or most effective route for patients, according to some recent studies and a growing chorus of voices concerned about the rapid rise in the prescription of psychotropic drugs.

“Today, patients often receive psychotropic medications without being evaluated by a mental health professional, according to…the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many Americans visit their primary-care physicians and may walk away with a prescription for an antidepressant or other drugs without being aware of other evidence-based treatments…that might work better for them without the risk of side effects”.

Smith quotes Steven Hollon, PhD, a psychology professor at Vanderbilt University, as saying at least half the folks who are being treated with antidepressants aren’t benefiting from the active pharmacological effects of the drugs themselves but from a placebo effect. “If people knew more,” Hollon says, “I think they would be a little less likely to go down the medication path than the psychosocial treatment path”.

Smith claims Prozac opened the floodgates. “Since the launch of Prozac, antidepressant use has quadrupled in the United States…Antidepressants are the second most commonly prescribed drug in the United States, just after cholesterol-lowering drugs”.

Smith also quotes Daniel Carlat, MD, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Tufts University, as saying health insurance reimbursements are higher and easier to obtain for drug treatment than therapy, which has contributed to the increase in psychotropic drug sales.

“There is a huge financial incentive for psychiatrists to prescribe instead of doing psychotherapy,” Dr. Carlat says. “You can make two, three, four times as much money being a prescriber than a therapist”.

“As James Surowiecki noted in a New Yorker article, given a choice between developing antibiotics that people will take every day for two weeks and antidepressants that people will take every day forever, drug companies not surprisingly opt for the latter. Although a few antibiotics have been toughened up a bit, the pharmaceutical industry hasn’t given us an entirely new antibiotic since the 1970s.” -Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything

 

You have been reading an excerpt from Medical Industrial Complex. Watch this space for our take on the prescribing of antidepressants to children. Meanwhile, you can find this book on Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/MEDICAL-INDUSTRIAL-COMPLEX-Suppressed-Underground-ebook/dp/B00Y8Y3TUM/

MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: The $ickness Industry, Big Pharma and Suppressed Cures (The Underground Knowledge Series Book 3)

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Is it our imagination or are the goalposts for high blood pressure ever changing?

We address this issue in book three of our Underground Knowledge Series — MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: The $ickness Industry, Big Pharma and Suppressed Cures. An excerpt from the book follows:

It doesn’t seem that long ago the “safe” systolic blood pressure (SBP) reading was your age + 100. So, for a 60-year-old, your SBP could be 160 over, say, 90 DBP (diastolic blood pressure) without your doctor suddenly becoming flustered and informing you a heart attack or stroke is imminent and immediately prescribing a lifetime course of BP medication.

Then the BP safety guideline dropped to 140 over 90. Imagine how many additional patients that little adjustment resulted in for doctors and medical centers. And perhaps more to the point, imagine how much in additional profits that yielded for the corner pharmacies and the big pharmaceutical companies.

Now all of a sudden – or since 2014 at least – the American Medical Association recommends drugs should be used to treat anyone aged 60 or over whose BP is 150/90 or higher.

That tidbit was gleaned from a February 5, 2014 article in JAMA, the Journal of the AMA. In that article, JAMA states the BP recommendation “is based on evidence statements…in which there is moderate- to high-quality evidence…that in the general population aged 60 years or older, treating high BP to a goal of lower than 150/90 mm Hg reduces stroke, heart failure, and coronary heart disease”.

Okay, so that’s a reversal of the downward trend we referred to, but it certainly fits the ‘moving goalposts’ analogy.

That said, we note the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that BP for an adult aged 20 years or over “should normally be less than 120/80” and if your reading is 140/90 or higher “your doctor will likely want you to begin a treatment program”. That’s according to AHA’s heart.org website.

By its reckoning, about one in three American adults has high blood pressure. Little wonder given its BP parameters.

Here in New Zealand, our homeland, the Heart Foundation’s BP guideline for healthy adults, according to its website at heartfoundation.org.nz, should be below 140/85.

Back to the American Medical Association’s take on blood pressure – commenting on AMA’s new guidelines, WebMD, which promotes itself as “America’s healthy living magazine,” confirms on its website the AMA guideline sets a higher bar for treatment than the current guideline of 140/90.

WebMD quotes guidelines author Dr. Paul James as saying the recommendations are based on clinical evidence showing that stricter guidelines provided no additional benefit to patients. “We really couldn’t see additional health benefits by driving blood pressure lower than 150 in people over 60 (years of age)…It was very clear that 150 was the best number”.

We wonder how that went down with the drug companies? Not too well, we suspect. The 10-point upward adjustment of the SBP reading is no doubt costing them millions. Or should that read billions?

Certainly, the revised BP guidelines didn’t go down too well, according to WebMD, which reports the AHA expressed reservations. It quotes AHA president-elect Dr. Elliott Antman as saying the AHA is concerned that relaxing the recommendations may expose more persons to the problem of inadequately controlled BP.

Apparently, the AHA’s concerns aren’t shared by American local government and social issues reporter Aaron Kase who is highly critical of what he describes as the over-prescription of blood pressure meds.

Kase came to our attention courtesy of the American law site Lawyers.com, which ran an article first posted in Medical Malpractice on August 27, 2012. In that article, Kase (the author) states that, according to a new study, tens of millions of people taking BP medication prescribed by their doctors may be consuming the drugs for no reason.

“The report, which was conducted independently from any drug company money or influence, found the vast majority of people who take meds for hypertension (high blood pressure) see no benefit from them, and do not show reduced levels of heart attack or stroke”.

The article continues, “According to the Center for Disease Control, some 1 in 3 adults in America, or 68 million people, have high blood pressure. However, for most of them the condition is considered mild. Historically, even those mild cases are prescribed medication; but the study says the drugs do no good for mild hypertension and could cause harm to patients through side effects”.

Kase reports there are dozens of different medications prescribed for high BP, spread across a number of categories – each with its own side effects, ranging from constipation, excessive hair growth, erection problems, rashes and fever to heart palpitations and other adverse reactions.

“A tall price to pay, if the drugs aren’t actually helping people live longer,” he says.

The writer concludes that, unfortunately, big drugs are big business, and wherever money is involved, motivations can come into question when medications are prescribed to people who might not need them.

Such claims aren’t new of course. On January 8, 2012, the UK’s The Observer reported the BP bar was set at 140/90 whereas 15 years earlier the threshold was 160/100.

And way back in June 2005, The Seattle Times reported that, in recent years, expert panels from prestigious medical-research organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the federal National Institutes of Health (NIH) have called for lower thresholds for blood pressure – and, the report points out, “Behind each of those panels were the giant pharmaceutical companies that manufacture the new and expensive hypertension drugs”.

That report concludes, “The drug industry welcomed the new treatment guidelines and marketed them vigorously. Not surprisingly, as doctors followed the new guidelines and treated hypertension at lower readings, sales of the newer drugs increased”.

High BP is unquestionably a bigger problem in the West, and many experts attribute that to our higher consumption of salt.

This is touched on in The Observer article referred to earlier. It reports that Brazil’s Yanomami tribe, whose members eat a diet low in salt and saturated fat and high in fruit, have the lowest mean blood pressure of any population on earth – 95/61.

Nor, apparently, does their blood pressure increase with age. “By contrast, in the west, where people eat an average of 10-12 grams of salt per day, blood pressure rises with age by an average of 0.5mm Hg a year. That may not sound a lot, but over the average lifespan that is a difference of between 35 and 44mm Hg systolic”.

The article concludes that the most recent meta-analysis of trials involving more than 6000 people from around the world, found that a reduction in salt intake of just 2 grams a day reduced the risk of cardiovascular events by 20%.

That may well be the case although we suspect that applies to everyday table salt and not to pure, unadulterated, unrefined sea salt or Himalayan salt.

Even more depressing than our ever-increasing reliance on drugs to combat high blood pressure is the overprescribing and over-use of antidepressants – especially where children are concerned.

MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: The $ickness Industry, Big Pharma and Suppressed Cures (The Underground Knowledge Series Book 3)

To read more about overprescribing blood pressure pills — and antidepressants too — you can find Medical Industrial Complex  on Amazon. Go to: http://www.amazon.com/MEDICAL-INDUSTRIAL-COMPLEX-Suppressed-Underground-ebook/dp/B00Y8Y3TUM/

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