Gary Moller: [DipPhEd PGDipRehab PGDipSportMed(Otago)FCE Certified, Kordel's and Nutra-Life Certified Natural Health Consultant]. ICL Laboratories registered Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis and Medical Nutrition Consultant.

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Sunday, April 16, 2006

Milking the "Worried Well"

There has been much publicity recently about the cozy relationship between medicine and the pharmaceutical industry. I have written several articles about this over recent years, expressing concern about how medical research is swayed towards this or that approach that relies on expensive interventions, encourages the consumption of over-priced commercial products, or downplays the adverse effects of a drug on one's health.

A strategy to increase the reliance of the population on pharmaceuticals is to turn healthy people into unhealthy ones. This is achieved by progressively lowering the threshholds for the prescription of powerful medicines. Blood pressure is a perfect example: Medication was once only considered a possibility if blood pressure exceeded 150/100. Not too many years ago, this threshold was lowered to 145/95 and then to 140/90. Now some bright spark has come up with the ailment called "prehypertension". If blood pressure exceeds a healthy 125/85, then blood pressure lowering medication is on the cards. That's just about every adult on the planet!

Question: Are the exploding rates of dementia in Westernised societies the consequence of excessive long term use of prescription medicines like anti-depressants, statins and beta blockers and not just lifestyle and diet?

We are seeing the same lowering of thresholds with blood cholesterol: Once levels exceeding 6.0 were the point where medication was considered; then it was lowered to 5.5 and more recently to 5.0. Today, even 4.8 may result in cholesterol lowering medication being prescribed.

This is creating a whole new goup of patients: the" Worried Well". Or should that be the "Worried Poor"?

Some experts want to go even further by proposing the development of the "Poly Pill". This will be a pill that contains several drugs to lower blood pressure and cholesterol that can be prophylactically prescribed to the entire adult population. The Poly Pill will supposedly preempt cardiovascular disease that afflicts over 50% of the older adult population. Where does this madness come from and where will it end?

Well, once a person heads down this sorry path, the only end is drugs-soaked misery - much to the delight of the drugs industry I'm sure. Why? Because one drug leads to another. For example; blood pressure medication is one of the leading causes of male impotence. So, shortly after the blood pressure prescription, the patient is placed on viagra in an attempt to resurrect his drooping sexuality. Within 15-20 years of the first prescription, the patient will be on at least 10 different prescription medicines. Quality of life declines with each prescription. Isn't medicine supposed to improve quality of life? Once on these pills, getting off them is not always as simple as just stopping. In some cases, it can be dangerous to stop suddenly once started.

Making perfectly healthy people dependent on drugs is abhorrent and something to be strongly resisted. Especially when healthy alternatives abound in most cases.

Sure, preventing the development of disease is important. This is best done by proper monitoring and using healthy lifestyle-based interventions to prevent progression into desease. This is a much more sensible and palatable approach. A good example of this can be found in my e-publication for monitoring blood pressure. Have a careful read and you will also learn the secret for living 100 quality years - without the aid of drugs.
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