If you have impaired health, go see a doctor. Use them first for diagnosis; doctors can do lots of tests to help clarify your condition, and they have tremendous clinical experience and great insight into many conditions. But be wary of their drugs. Do your own independent and critical evaluation of any drug recommendation.
The most helpful drugs are of two kinds:
- Bio-identical replacements for deficient human compounds. Think insulin for diabetes, or thyroid hormone for hypothyroidism.
- Antibiotics for conditions in which the causal pathogen is known or strongly suspected. The trouble here is that in many chronic diseases, the pathogens which cause the disease are not known. Choosing the wrong antibiotics may do more harm than good.
Most other drugs are designed to ameliorate some disease symptom, at the cost of introducing new health problems elsewhere. Over time, these negative effects often prove far more damaging than the drug’s benefits.
I explained why a few posts ago:
Much pharmacological research in recent decades has been devoted to “targeting” individual proteins or genes, and seeing if these interventions produce beneficial results in some disease or other….
The human body is the result of a long evolutionary history. Our ancestral genome reached its current size, about 20,000 genes, prior to the Cambrian explosion. For over 500 million years, the thrust of evolution has been to make the gene-protein network as sophisticated as possible, as densely networked with subtle interactions between as many molecules as possible. Every gene has an important role to play in that network, and directly influences perhaps a hundred partners. Thus, targeting a single gene will not only deprive the body of that gene’s function; it will also deprive that gene’s hundred partners of the benefits of its interactions, and thus impair their function, which will have ramifications upon their partners, until the whole genome has been affected. Thus, all interventions in the human body have systemic effects. It is not possible to confine effects to a single “target.”…
If the human body is a highly-optimized densely-networked system, then we must be skeptical toward the “black-box” school of medicine – especially in its new, reductionist, human-gene-targeting form. If evolution has optimized the human gene network to maximize human health, then targeting human genes and proteins is sure to sabotage health, probably in unexpected and insidious ways.
Then, responding to my very next post, Joe D gave us some neat information indicating that the drugs used to treat depression may increase mortality by 30%.
Now Jenny Ruhl, the excellent author of Blood Sugar 101 and proprietor of Diabetes Update, points out that some diabetes drugs are backfiring spectacularly, inducing crippling bone failures and cancer:
A long term study of Actos [PAJ: pioglitazone] discovered that there is a clear dose and time-related increase in bladder cancer among those who take it.…
Today’s newer generation of drugs target specific genes and cell receptors. The TZD drugs, Actos and Avandia, target the PPAR-gamma transcription factor which regulates genes that affect how lipids are stored….
PPAR-gamma, for example, transforms the bone stem cells that should turn into new bone into new fat cells. This is why after a decade on the drug many people start experiencing broken bones in their arms and legs (the areas where PPAR-gamma is most active) and why once bones begin to break there is no cure. A decade of rebuilding has been subverted and the weakened structure of the bone cannot be fixed.
Jenny observes that the drug approval process, which evaluates for safety over short time periods and efficacy against a specific disease, doesn’t evaluate long-term safety issues:
And this points to the huge problem with the drug regulation process. There is no requirement–none, zilch–that a company applying for permission to market a new drug investigate what OTHER physiological processes are affected by the drugs’s mechanism. All the drug company has to show is that it achieves what they are selling it to do. In the case of Actos and Avandia, that means causing a very modest drop in A1c–about .5%….
Many of these life-ruining side effects happen so slowly they don’t show up for five to ten years–and then it takes a lot of work to link the side effect to the drug….
That is why evidence a that a drug is raising the incidence of cancer rarely appears until a drug is almost at the end of its 14 year patent period. It has taken more than 12 years to notice the link between bladder cancer and Actos. It took nine years after its approval for anyone to notice the signal suggesting that Diovan raises cancer incidence by about 8%.
And that’s why it won’t be until another nine years or more that the public will learn that any drug that inhibits DPP-4 is turning off an immune system mechanism essential to fighting melanoma, prostate cancer, ovarian cancer and lung cancer. Details HERE.
Visit Jenny’s blog to see why Metformin is the only diabetes drug known to be safe, and her recommended changes to the drug approval process. In my view, Jenny’s proposed changes would radically downsize the pharmaceutical industry. Few drugs would pass her filter.
The most powerful and effective way to improve health is through diet and nutrition. Put off drugs until you’ve fixed your diet, and there’s a good chance you won’t need drugs at all.