There has been a recent programme on ABC Australia - 'Catalyst.' They provide evidence that Statins to reduce cholesterol are grossly over-prescribed, and will make no difference in almost every case. It then looks at the rewards for doctors when they prescribe drugs, and just how the drug research is funded - mostly by drug companies.
One assertion - that many drug trials start by giving every participant the drug, and then dropping each person who shows side-effects. The 'trial' then proceeds without those people. This initial phase is not taken into account when the results of the trial are made known. Obviously, the result will considerably underestimate the frequency of side-effects. This practice is fraud.
STOP PRESS: noted 12th November.
Naturally, there was a lot of hostility after this programme aired. Some of it is well founded. The 'experts' used turned out to have a financial interest in opposing the conventional line.
See this episode of Mediawatch for more.
Who can we trust when so much money is involved?
All the same, it is fairly obvious that Statins are over-prescribed. It is not the only drug that is routinely prescribed on dubious grounds.
HRT is still strongly pushed in spite of the evidence against, Ritalin for active and naughty children, of course, and asthma medication. I've never been an asthmatic, never had an asthmatic attack, and yet three times a doctor has pushed onto me oral steroids - a strong drug with potentially dangerous side-effects.
The first time was when I was still coughing a week after a nasty attack of flu. I didn't fill the prescription, I just got better.
I can't remember what the second time was about, but the third time was because I was doing a Fine Arts course and was over-exposed to oil-based paint. By the final year of the course, I was coughing far too much. Instead of listening to what I knew was the cause, the doctor reached into his drawer for his free sample of steroids which would do me until I had the prescription filled. I refused, and though it took some years, once I was no longer constantly exposed to fumes, I stopped coughing.
So three times, doctors have wanted me to start on steroid medication.
What if I'd listened to that first doctor? Then for the last thirty years, I would have been regularly taking a powerful drug. Would I be as healthy? I really don’t think so.
Health advice is apt to change every five years. What is deemed 'normal' once, is no longer deemed 'normal' once a drug has been developed for it.
So be sceptical, do not be persuaded into the cocktail of drugs that doctors thrust on any elderly person, and use your own common sense to stay as healthy as your body allows.
And incidentally, some of the 'surveys?' There was one recently - that a person is healthier if they have at least one half-hour of activity in a day. Well, guess what. If you are not engaging in at least a half hour of activity in a day, then you are already at least bedridden and probably dead. The ones who do these surveys quite often appear to get the cause and effect mixed up.
This web-page is by M. A. McRae, author of the Shuki series and the Penwinnard Stories.
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