Did anyone else catch the ABC show 'Catalyst' on this subject.
As someone who has been on statins for 'high cholesterol' for over a decade, I was interested to see that the program raised a lot of issues that had been bothering me for some time.
For those who missed it, in essence the program stated unequivocally that there is an absence of credible research linking high cholesterol with cardiac pathology.
It asserted that the available evidence shows that there is no consistent demonstrated correlation between the two.
It seems to me that the widespread prescribing of statins for high cholesterol appears to have been driven with a 'preventative' focus in mind based on the assumption that whilst it may not do any good it will not do any harm.
This is quite incorrect as in fact there are a range of fairly serious 'side-effects' of long-term statin use that need to be considered, including permanent muscle deterioration, muscle pain/weakness, reduced bone density, fatigue, and possible Liver damage. A number of Cardiologists/medical researchers appeared on the program agreeing that there was an absence of evidence in support of statin treatment.
I thought it was particularly relevant that the CEO of the Heart Foundation was unable (upon request) to produce any research evidence to support the Foundation's stance on this.
Anyhow, the program has stimulated me to finally make some decisions about whether I will continue to use this "treatment". (I won't be consulting a Cardiologist although I will discuss it with my GP)
I am interested in the opinions (N.B. I am NOT seeking medical advice) of my respected fellow CS Members who may have seen this program.
(If you missed the program and take statins I would suggest you try to catch up with it - I will endeavour to find a link)
Tricky one. I met a heart surgeon on the weekend (owns a vineyard in the Yarra valley).
He said its all crap and went down the line of no credibility in the scientists / doctors used in the show. My friend who is a GP said that it's made him question everything he has learnt but wants to see more evidence.
It interests me because I have inherited cholesterol that was VERY high (8ish) but is now under control, thanks to my dad who has been on statins since his 30's too. I wouldn't go off statins if I were you without thoroughly researching although it does seem like they want people to go lower and lower with the numbers. This weeks ep will be interesting as it's fairly obvious the money being generated from these drugs would push certain outcomes to the drug companies benefit.
My ex-wife #1 was a founding member of the Australasian Society for Human Biology in the late '70's. Their annual conferences had research paper presentations on all aspects of HB from all over the world. Moving to cardiology research, sugar was the main culprit identified in many papers back then. Many HB researchers expressed frustration that the medical fraternity seemed to cherry pick the research results to suit themselves. I used to think it was a turf war between medical labs and HB researchers, however I have come to realise that it is the spin merchants at the drug companies who control the whole show. To generalise, firstly, most quality medical research is only funded for "drug company friendly issues". Secondly, any research which affects the drug companies bottom line gets buried.
Result: Obesity, strokes and cardiology probs are the main outcomes.
Just my 2 cents worth.
Oh, and the other elephant in the room is the worldwide over subscription and lack of efficacy of current painkillers. The patents on the main ones that work ran out years ago.
Last edited by TampIt; 29th October 2013 at 03:17 PM.
My step-daughter recently mentioned she seemed to be "forgetting stuff". (Not good for a school teacher). She is in her very early 30s and has been on Anti-cholesterol treatment for 10years or so due to genetically inherited high cholesterol. Not long after she mentioned that, I saw the program which mentioned loss of memory as a side effect of Statins and told her about it. She spoke to her doctor, and there was some confirmation that the brain needs cholesterol to function properly, so it is a possibility. However, high cholesterol can also be deadly, and she is about to hit the age that many woman who are unaware of their high cholesterol can unexpectedly have heart attacks and die.
Not sure what the answer is. She has done all the right things to manage her cholesterol outside of the drugs, exercise, food etc (apart from her chocolate fetish :-) ), but it still would be high without the drugs.
Case of damned if you do and damned if you don't?
This subject has been around for some time, if you want to read a comprehensive report on this subject go to the website "straight dope on cholesterol", and by the way the wannabe president in the US senate who said grains are best for you was a senator from a big grain growing state and was ensuring he was going to be re-elected in his state, it wasn't a scientific finding as pointed out on Catalyst
I have direct experience (not related to CVD) of western medicine and therapies not keeping up with the times. I did lots of research to get more info about my condition which led to some interesting revelations that no GP was ever able to explain. Luckily I found my current doctor who has a better understanding than most as she has the same condition.
I was quite surprised to see the Catalyst show come out with such an antagonist view on the subject and will definitely be quizzing our family GP next time. Perhaps this week's Part II will even out the arguments somewhat, so will have to wait and see...
Many of my clients are on or were on statins, the side effects are not nice, for some it has broken them. It does have a positive side, it can act as an anti-inflammatory which is good. Lipitor is in a class of its own, its known as a "blockbuster" drug, making squillions for the pharmaceutical companies. With that sort of incentive it is no wonder that it was pushed forward to treat something that is not a causal factor in poor health.
Unfortunately statins do not target arterial cholesterol, they target the manufacturing of cholesterol, 50% dry weight of your brain is pure cholesterol, remove 1% of that and you will be chasing dementia down the corridors.
Good thread Rocky, us old farts need to be aware of things that can do us in before our time.
what has been more directly linked to arterial disease is LDL cholesterol. it is hard to say that targeting synthesis of cholesterol can save the body from arterial disease; or if it is just simply a byproduct of something else that is going on, but based on what is known, we might as well act in some way - and the current literature does support the hypothesis.
The program had one professor claim no correlation to diet and heart disease, but im worried about the dangerous signals it sends to the community at large - we face an epidemic of super high calorie diets in children, and today some of those children are now 20-25 and having prodromal symptoms of heart disease. people in their mid 30's having heart attacks. I'd like to spin the question around in the program and ask if there has been a correlation between high fat/high calorie diets and good health. I think the data is missing a myriad of other factors and cannot come to conclusions either way, but the evidence still points, even if it does so faintly, towards inappropriately high fat diets being generally bad for health. i couldnt help but notice the graph at 6:40 that most of the other listed countries were below the initial graph - which would suggest protective factors to high fat diets in those countries, but no low fat diets being linked to increased heart disease?
im not sure how much the brain needs cholesterol, current evidence suggests glucose, or sugar, is more important to brain function. but then again im not surprised the brain simply needs to have a very fine balance of everything around it to work properly - just like everything in our bodies.
lipitor (or atorvastatin) is the highest grossing drug in $$$ in human history. its no wonder it has stupid amounts of studies supporting it's efficacy - but at the same time a blockbuster drug like this has to have at least some benefit for it to have gone so far - remember, countries with universal health care systems like Australia and the UK fund their own studies and do their own cost-benefit analyses to determine if any drug should be subsidised under their schemes.
i personally think though, that although statins have shown some benefit, maybe their benefit is not as great as is advertised or as most doctors are led to believe. however, doctors have to simply work with what they have, and at the moment, the drug class that shows the best perceivable benefit without overwhelming side effects is statins (xenical is a good example of a unpleasant attempt... think oily stools and fatty acid malnutrition). The real culprit here is poor lifestyle choices which have shown (and im sure not many will disagree) to have a remarkably high correlation to heart attacks, strokes and the lot.
all that said, the drug class has been in the market for 28 years now. the patent for lipitor has finished in late 2012 (so if you're still buying 'lipitor' branded ones, ask your chemist if they stock generic branded ones! they should be about 1/3 the price) and financial benefit for pfizer will start to decline and we can look forward to studies that can have almost no possible conflicts of interests [nor does pfizer have much left to really fight for]. the other hurdle for disproving the theory is pride in the medical profession and admitting they were wrong. thats not to say your GPs and most cardiologists are malpracticing - they are simply working with what the current evidence suggests - which is what western medicine is based on - evidence. the program highlights upcoming evidence to support it's theory but it all seems preliminary and needs more time to confirm.
overall, i thought the program did present a somewhat balanced argument. it did seem to have very passionate retired cardiologists and angry current cardiologists. another interesting view would be a BBC documentary called 'eat, fast, live longer' which would further support some of what was in this article.
great find rocky!
Last edited by timdimdom; 30th October 2013 at 01:19 AM.
Cholesterol is one of the vital components of the myelin sheath that protects each nerve cell and allows them to function properly. Without a healthy myelin sheath the central nervous system (CNS or brain) doesn't work as it should. Neurotoxins such as adrenochrome, byproduct of the stress hormone adrenaline, damage this myelin sheath which reduces the healthy functioning of the nerves, and this can lead to mental health problems.
People who have a sensitivity to low cholesterol develop nervous symptoms when they reduce cholesterol in their diet. They develop anxiety, bouts of depression, panic attacks, wake in fright, nightmares etc. this does not clear up until they get their cholesterol back up. Yes, cholesterol is essential to our mental and physical well being.
The body uses cholesterol as one of a pool of chemicals to manufacture our hormones, it is an essential component for many biochemical processes. It also uses it as a bandaid - when our vein or artery walls deteriorate due to low Vit C intake, age or free radical attack, the walls split and leak. Cholesterol is then packed into the cracks to seal these leaks. It is an incredible biochemical that in higher volumes becomes an indicator of poor diet and poor health, of itself it is not dangerous as many health professionals now state, it is however, a red flag saying, "watch what you are eating, put down that extra super-sized McDonalds fries!"
Didn't go far enough. But probably needed a longer program for that.
Should have hammered home that LDL is broken down further to "large fluffy" and "very dense". That the large fluffy are not a problem. The dense are and ONLY when oxidised.
The blood test for this is not available in Australia but is in America and only for count.
Hinted at vegetable oils like canola oil could be issue on one of the underlying causes (inflammation) but didn't explain that while they lower LDL they only lower the fluffy type.
I think a can of worms has been open....
Fantastic. This is just the sort of discussion I was hoping for.
It really IS a topic that so many people with high cholesterol readings need to consider as the side-effects of statin use are quite unpleasant and the long-term effects serious.
I most closely resemble the maternal side of my family who are all slim and have high cholesterol (7 to 8 readings). My grandmother died at 99yrs. My mother is 99yrs and going fine. Both had high cholesterol and were not treated for it. My Grandfather and Father had low/normal cholesterol and died at 80 & 77 from strokes. This is what first stimulated my interest in the cholesterol debate.
I have the full range of 'side-effects' attributed to statin use and have been thinking for some years about whether I want to spend the rest of my life with these. We are very healthy eaters - NO junk food, no fatty stuff, & regular exercise.
5 years ago I had a Coronary Artery MRI as I was curious as to whether there was any existing evidence of plaque in the coronary arteries. I got some lovely clear colour pictures and no, there wasn't.
I pride myself on using what intelligence I have matched with a common-sense approach to everything - and the whole fat/cholesterol/cardiac thing just does not seem to add up to me.
The dominant response from the medical sector seems to be to rush to defend their traditional position rather than say "hey, we really need to look into this a bit more thoroughly".
(The rustling you can hear in the background is the drug companies dumping truckloads of $$$ into the bank accounts of their stooges, mouthpieces and apologists.)
The elephant in the room is another leg propping up the current scenario - sugar. Several times in the video they mention the S word as causative, and any attack on sugar tends to bring antagonistic response. The extremely high levels of processed sugars and other carbs in our diet is something it is difficult to get traction with - entire economies are vested interests in maintaining the levels of such poisons.
Another issue (the video tangentially brings up obesity) is our inability to properly process sugars - the body burns sugars for energy production and that has been taken to mean it is OK to eat them and ignore the impact this has on our livers and insulin systems. The fat we store from the manufactured sugars is different in type to that produced from fats and we do not have systems in place to burn such fat nor to tell our brains we have consumed it.
By demonising saturated fats (and as the program emphasises) cherry-picking data to make that seem a valid action, we are now consuming so much of the things that are bad for us we have a whole new range of illness and disease requiring ever-more palliative drugs. Symptom alleviation is a much more profitable industry than a curative system.
Why not try a week not adding sugar to your capps Smokey. You might be surprised how quickly you can lose the taste for it (in coffee anyway). Particularly if you combine this approach with fresh coffee, fresh milk. Until about 5 years ago I religiously put sugar in my coffee and couldn't imagine the drink without it (and if I get served an ordinary coffee at a restaurant I'll may still add a bit of sugar to see if it masks the quality of the coffee), but it took a matter of days (for me anyway) to lose the habit.
Get a better coffee which does not need sweetening, or enjoy diabetes and its ilk later. Seems to be pretty straightforward to me...
I meant to add the diabetes thing to my earlier post, but ran out of time. Journeyman is correct: far too much commercial interest at stake.
IMHO, far too many areas of our society employ the commercial imperative, often via some ideological mantra. For example, I am still waiting for someone to explain to me how privatising the Commonwealth Bank improved the cost of funding to its customers... (ANZ just posted a 6+Bn profit yesterday, which is why it springs to mind). Ditto power.
Barry, TampIT, you are right, I should get a motel room by the ocean and cold turkey for a week or so, no sugar in my cappuccino for the entire detox period!
Actually, silly me, I did do it earlier this year, even began to enjoy my coffee without sugar, then I had a bad cappuccino and added sugar to take the taste away, that was it, like a cigarette or a beer, I was hooked again, the whole addictive thing started all over again. But I'll do it now, diabetes, bite me!
OK, I give in TampIT, how did the privatisation of GIO, The Wales Bank and TCB help the insurance and banking industry besides lining the pockets of shareholders and management? And while I am at it, NRMA insurance was, in my opinion, a set up for the board members to enjoy obscene bloated salaries.... Gees don't get me started!
alcohol, or hydrogenated sugars are metabolised first. the toxicity it has to the body is well documented (and experienced first hand by many of us) and the body interestingly utilizes it first as an energy source before anything else. if we extrapolate on this, the next metabolite consumed is sugar. the body stores energy as fat and only uses that last. we also know glucose is highly toxic at high levels - diabetes is a clear demonstration of this - peripheral nerve damage, kidney damage, eyes, etc. it would make sense that if there is an excess of energies, the most toxic one should be consumed first.
i really like journeyman's comment: 'we are now consuming so much of the things that are bad for us we have a whole new range of illness and disease requiring ever-more palliative drugs. Symptom alleviation is a much more profitable industry than a curative system.'
seems to be the main point - prevention is not being pursued. doctors rarely benefit as a direct result of drug or other large companies - this is even more so in universal healthcare systems. so many new manufacturing processes are being created everyday it is hard to keep up with what is or is not good for you.
I'd say the medical community is closer to being absolute about the myth described in the program. i've only been in the industry for 5 years and have already heard quite a bit of talk - especially amongst the younger and much older physicians - about diets and disease correlation. the lipid debate seems to be less prevalent but things like the Mediterranean diet, fasting/feasting diets and sugar consumption are being discussed and looked at in research. The food pyramid is already widely taught in medical programs to be a load of bull, and current australian dietary guidelines already spell out what should be consumed and at what levels.
Tim, I get referrals from our hardworking local GP's daily, I have the greatest admiration for their work ethic, their knowledge and their great desire to heal. But unfortunately they are restricted in many ways in how they can heal. They basically must prescribe what everyone else does. If they step outside the medical / pharmaceutical model they risk being dragged before the medical board and the AMA, to explain, for example, why they hadn't prescribed statins to that person who just had a heart attack and died.
That and they have so much to read and research, they just can't keep up with the medical reviews and new drugs that hit the market. Ongoing study is important but they have little time to do it, so they have to rely, in the main, on scientific articles, medical journal articles and training seminars, which are usually put on by the pharmaceuticals. The finding by one small drug research company that only 20% of research articles on this particular drug, was accurate, really puts a grub in the apple of medical scientific research.
When greed decides who gets what, we should all be vigilant, and when those who have the responsibility to protect those who can't do it themselves, have greed as their motive, we leave the door right open for corruption.
With sugar, I was lucky: Hiking the Bibbulman track (older route circa 900Km) and some SOB forgot the sugar... After three weeks of us all (except the forgettee, if that is the word for it) bitching we got back into civilisation. I could not wait for the good old "white & one sugar" until I tasted it and actually spat it out. For the first time in my life I actually tasted the stuff. Giving it & the clones up as an additive was so easy after that... Next long hike I deliberately tried it with salt (another somewhat bad boy, certainly in excess). It didn't have anything like the poor taste, however having marginal high BP at the time, I played it cautious and discovered that I prefer chips & vegies without it. Currently I am on no medication at all, so I must be the drug companies worst nightmare. I confess to losing no sleep over that whilst walking the dog for 6Km a day along the beach sand.
Privatisation: A lot harder addiction to give up. Pollies in gov't love to pork barrel and just need an excuse, whilst economists love to tell them what they want to hear. Privatisation means they can pretend to be responsible and still do it (pork barrelling). Unfortunately, breaking that addiction seems to be impossible. Even sending them on a three to four year hike every so often just doesn't seem to work. Any and all alternative suggestions (except point of a gun) welcomed. FWIW, one friend reckons there should be a control freak test and any pollie who scores above 20% should be excluded from standing for office. If that applied to the current / immediate previous feds, the whole parliament would possibly fit in a mini.
Enjoy a lower sugar life, it is possible.
Go get some Natvia - supermarkets have it. It comes in bulk amounts so you can have a bowl of it for guests to use, or to sit near your machine, and you can get little sachets so you can have some at work or even in your pocket or wallet when you go out.
Sugar - 1 tspn = 16 cals and bad for you. Natvia - 1tspn = 0.6 cals and no effects on liver, fat or insulin. also it's just the stevia plant with the cellulose etc removed.
And sweetness-wise, you only need 1/2 the amount of Natvia as you would normally use for sugar. So if you usually have 1 tspn sugar, you can use 1/2 tspn Natvia.
I went looking and found a thing so strange I had to try it. Steam a whole banana, sking and all, and eat it, skin and all. In less than a fortnight my piles were pretty much gone. I told the Doctor and he was impressed but said "I can't possibly tell my patients to do that!"
Makes it very clear what Doctors are these days, even the better ones. (a category he fits)
Apart from the "medicinal" concerns, it not hard to see how the financial incentives can easily manipulate clinical decisions also.
This type of documentary , my own personal experiences, and other known medical F' ups (Thalidomide etc ) certainly make me very skeptical of conventional medicine.
blend52, I didn't say they are forced by law, they are 'pressured' to conform with standard medical treatments otherwise they may be dragged thru the medical board's inquisition. Many years ago I worked in a medical centre and asked one of the docs there if vitamin C worked with colds, he said whether you take it, leave it or use antibiotics, it was all much the same time-wise. Then he said that most docs struggle with pharmaceutical treatments because many don't really work like they have been told they would and patients keep coming back with the same problems.
The point I am making is that our medico's are, on the whole, genuine and honest people who want the best for their patients, but the medical model they are trained in doesn't always support good health. That model can be controlled by corrupt individuals motivated by greed. It is up to us as individuals to take responsibility and research what is the best treatment for our ills, like Journeyman did with his banana.
And, the newly emerging 'regenerative medicine' model, stem cell therapy, will remove many of the problems of drug therapy, but this is still some years away, watch this space.
Try not to be too hopeful about stem cell research. Much of the promise of it was trotted out by people seeking research grants under the paradigm in existence prior to the mapping of the human genome. (the HGP)
The HGP was a shocking disappointment for Big Pharma and the Medical research fraternity in general. Far from being the source for instant trillions in the provision of personally targetted medicine - medicine designed for you might work for your kids but not for anyone else, and the kids were only a MIGHT, so Big Pharma could charge an arm and a leg on the basis of not having economies of scale, even though the process of production would not actually be much more expensive.
But nobody expected the HGP to find what it did - a human consists of approx 23,500 genes. They were expecting a MUCH higher figure to cover how individual we all are - proponents of epigenetics had been ridiculed in similar manner to Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, the first to try to find how traits 'learned' in one life could be passed along. Now the genetic community had to start taking such ideas seriously and suddenly epigeneitcs is a discovery of 'mainstream' and not fringe science any more.
With so few genes spread among the wide variety of human types, Big Pharma has backed away from gene therapy and the associated stem cell work. It is still happening and work that can take cells from anywhere in your body and make stem cells for you has been around for a number of years now - but still somehow we are not seeing a new wave of treatments being made available for any but the rich.
So don't go holding your breath in anticipation - we do not have a pill to fix asphyxiation.
I concur with smokey's comments.
I took the 99year old for her annual health check this morning and we ended up having a wide ranging discussion with our GP.
We were talking about the reasons for the Medical Practices' new policy of no scripts without a face-to-face consultation and he explained the way Medicare scrutinise GPs in this regard and the implicit Duty-of-Care issues that are involved.
This is exactly what smokey is talking about in relation to the prescribing of statins, and it is why I anticipate an animated discussion with my GP when I tell him I am ceasing statin use.
I have a very high regard for my GP (best I've ever had) but in all our previous discussions about them (and there have been many) it has been clear that he is very committed to their use. I'm guessing that most of the medical profession will be similarly entrenched in their view and I really wonder whether any divergent view will get a fair go. This is a reason why statin users need to promote this issue and refuse to allow it to be arbitrarily dismissed by the medical profession.
I have already encountered several people like myself who have been uneasy about the 'credibility gaps' in this treatment for years and have finally decided to "put their money where their mouth is".
Although promoted by doctors with the best intentions, I really wonder if the absence of empirical evidence does not now start to move it into contravention of the "Do No Harm" principle.
In your case specifically, I would have a good hard look at the endocrinology and biochemistry issues involved with statins (for, against and symptoms of withdrawal if any).
My case: 1980, a guy went into back of my stationary Audi at 100+Kmh according to the police report. Really, really bad whiplash (the Audi did not have headrests, never again!). I had a bunch of medical reports stating that I would never walk normally again. I realised was in a no win spiral of using painkillers to relieve the pain which then allowed me to do more damage as it was not hurting. I decided not to be in a wheelchair within a few months(!). Kind of a wake up call. Courtesy of some excellent HB researchers, when I threw my painkillers away in 1982 I already knew I was in for a really rough month and was fully aware of all the normal havoc to expect. It also allowed me to be on the lookout for any "contra-indicated" symptoms (gotta love that mealy mouthed word!). The month was rough, but despite having a lot of pain for the next 18 months I survived. Result: in 2002 I easily managed a 14 mile hike up & down the Rockies (8500ft to 14200ft, first one of many mountain hikes I did over there) with a 50lb backpack. If I had the earlier doctor's emails, I would have asked them “Did that rate as walking normally?”.
To add balance I feel most medicos do their best, however the huge volume of drug company info overwhelms all other sources of medical info. It would be almost impossible to deal with the AMA forcing conformity, the public wanting an instant pill to fix all their (mainly self induced) ills, seeing enough patients to eke out a living (which forces uber short consults under Medicare), dealing with the ethics of “sickie professionals” etc. etc. etc. whilst researching every single subject about the human body thoroughly. As if that is not enough, in WA the UWA medical school has been overly restricting entrance for doctors since the '70's. So now we also have to import a lot of doctors from countries that (a) need them more than we do (b) often have much poorer training than their Australian counterparts. Even superman would tell you it is simply not on. Yet another broken system with no cure in sight. Ironically, Cuba does not have the funds to enter that medical roundabout, and instead they have chosen to go with a preventative methodology. They are achieving huge results for their peso. Really makes you wonder...
Good luck with whatever you decide to do.
agreed. good intentions are the first thing looked for in medical school interviews.
but i'd like to throw it out there if i may...
I think all the blame cannot simply be placed on the big pharmas, but some of it needs to be in the community at large as well. we're shifting into a culture that is well-educated (this thread being a very good example) but this has also given rise to the need for defensive medicine. the board inquires only because the patients pursue medico-legal justification. It then doesnt give a doctor any real incentive to do their own in-depth research in a treatment regime because when he faces the coroner he still has to answer to the guidelines determined by the states or countries. guidelines which are, again, based on 'good, evidence-based medicine'. the only financial bodies large enough to conduct these trials are big pharmas and rich governments/universities.
all we have left are their own good intentions and research grants for them to properly pursue research that isnt corrupted, and time for myths to settle. if its any consolation, most medical universities teach their students to be very critical of data they read and how to conduct their own literature reviews - and to always conduct further research. every advancement in their career requires some sort of published data in which their name is on the list of.
the saddest thing to follow that are the large amounts of other greedy individuals posting up sites with 'miracle' cures of all sorts trying to make a quick buck off naive consumers. This has given rise to a community of health professionals rolling their eyes everytime someone presents them with some new treatment or 'warnings' against current treatments.
as a future medical practitioner im very positive about the information age and the benefits it has to the community - where personal research can be done and threads like this can pop up, but im worried some of the treatments can lead to their own harm. it's the tricky nature of medicine: everyone expects us to perform without any f'ups and every mistake is remembered (thalidomide was in the 70's) like it was yesterday. yet the miracle dr quack cures seem to be able to fail miserably and still have devout followers and no lawsuits.
stem cell research is great, but we face ethical dilemmas and financial barriers with designer babies and cell harvesting (not embryos, but the ridiculously high costs associated with gaining consent, implementation of treatments, confidentiality and ethical red-tape with limits to which we can conduct research on one cell salvage attempt). all this compounded by big pharmas not seeing enough investment potential to pour money into.
tampit, really loved the comment on preventative health . it is still the mainstay of medical care (theoretically) but like you described (and very well so) the public we face want quick-fixes and preventative health seems to be the last thing on their minds when voting in the next MP. a first world country does poorly with adhering to those preventative measures while a country that can afford nothing else would be much more motivated to adhere to the same measures. people want autonomy in this country and that also means the personal right to consume whatever it is they want, without the public health system taking away or legislating against, for example, less fast food restaurants (that, and theres alot of money to be made.....).
the lack of locally trained doctors are also a product of a lack of foresight in the planning of the health sector (which, when you really think about it, makes you think it is quite intentional). come 2015 australian trained doctors are projected to not have enough jobs for the number of students projected to graduate in that year, yet we lack senior positions because we do not have enough junior positions to fill them - and so overseas doctors with the required experience are given those jobs. I once heard a senior staff at UWA comment that one of the strategies to ameliorate medical sector costs was to limit the number of doctors being trained - since there is a virtually unlimited demand (especially with rapidly advancing medicine and exponential costs associated with that) the only way to keep costs down is to limit supply.
the new hospital projects in WA, fiona stanley and new childrens hospital result in less beds than the hospitals they are projected to 'replace and expand'!
I want to make a few comments about stem cells as therapy. First up the Genome Project has nothing to do with stem cells, genes exist inside the cell nucleus and give us our individual qualities, stem cells are cells that have the potential to turn into any one of the 200 cells that make up a human.
Stem cells injected into a person can turn into any cell, skin, bone, tooth, hair, liver etc. so those early experiments that involved injecting pure stem cells into people soon stopped.
What they do now is turn the stem cell into another cell type. For instance, Advanced Cell Technology in the US has the worlds foremost stem cell scientist, Dr Rob Lanza, running the first FDA approved human trial in stem cell treatments for blindness, AMD (Age-related Macular Degeneration) and SMD (Stargarts Macular Degeneration). So far, in 2 years, they have injected 30 patients, all have zero safety issues and all have various stages of vision improvement.
What they do is use proteins to turn raw stem cells into RPE cells, these cells exist at the back of the eye and die off as the disease progresses. One patient went from 20/400, legally blind as a bat, to 20/40 and riding his horse and driving his car. Yes, stem cell therapy is on its way.
Ethical dilemmas do exist because in the past the only way to get decent embryonic stem cells was from aborted fetuses. ACT uses a simple procedure used in IVF to remove a single blastomere then refreezes the embryo. All embryo's are donated by consenting people who no longer needed their IVF embryo's, thus no embryo's are destroyed.
When George Bush stopped funding for embryonic stem cell research, most of these companies moved to adult stem cells. Unfortunately an adult stem cell is as old as the donor, and once converted to a cell type has the bad habit of reverting back to its original cell, such as a skin cell. They have telemere's as old as the donor and thus age rapidly and have nowhere near the results embryonic stem cell derived cells have.
Oh yeah, Mesenchymal cells, do your research on them, over 300 human studies so far, they reset the immune system and are proven to kill cancer in its tracks. One series of studies using mice with breast cancer tumours, eliminated every cancer cell I think it was within a few weeks, and there are no side effects. Multiple Sclerosis mice went from 5 (total paralysis) to 0 (no sign of paralysis) within a week of injection.
Again in these trials the embryonic derived cells were far superior to the adult ones. If I was a betting man I would bet on stem cell therapy being the therapy of choice within 10 years.
part 2 of the Catalyst program last night but it did reveal some useful insights:
Statins are the most profitable prescription drug
Only 1 - 2% of patients receive a benefit from taking statins
People are being prescribed statins unnecessarily
Drugs are promoted to GPs by salespeople, not fully qualified medical professionals.
Cholesterol is an important component of the body; the brain is made up of a large percentage of it.
The concept that the lower the cholesterol the better is not correct and may even be harmful
...and the controversial closing statement: "Until the science of clinical trials can break free from commercial interest, then decisions about our health rest in the hands of big business."
Still, be mindful of the disclaimer at the start and end of the program: "The views expressed in this episode of Catalyst are not intended as medical advice. Please consult with your doctor regarding your medications."
The question in my mind is how do you know you have a good doctor? Because they explain things? Because they have lots of knowledge and experience?
I think the best medicine is preventative rather than remedial. What about this claim: ""The largest ever study into the state of the world's health has revealed that, for the first time, the number of years of healthy living lost as a result of people eating too much outweigh the number lost by people eating too little."
Despite all of this, over weight, over prescribing of drugs and unhealthy life styles, we in the western world are living longer than we ever have, in many cases with very little quality of life, the mantra of the health professionals seems to be keep em alive at any cost, regardless of whether or not they've reached the use by date.
Hmmm...not sure about that bit, or perhaps I missed your meaning. Not sure what my "use by date" is, or anyone's for that matter; when we become a burden on society? Who makes that call?the mantra of the health professionals seems to be keep em alive at any cost, regardless of whether or not they've reached the use by date
There is certainly an obligation for health professionals to maintain health. There are formidable litigation channels if they get it wrong.
@smokey - I may not have explained enough. My impression from the years of research I followed is that stem cells were to be a part of a 2-pronged medical environment. The funding came in both those areas, stem cells and gene therapy, but the big money was to be in gene therapy - the salivation from Big Pharma was palpable. What I doubt is, without the vast increases in profits due to individually targetted drugs, the corporations are unlikely to help with the introduction of stem cells - the last thing they want is mass cures out there for Joe Public.
I wasn't trying to say stem cell treatments are the same thing as gene therapy.
Stem cells could help in such cases, but an active person instead of a bed-ridden sinkhole for cash is 'contra-indicated' for the corporations. We are now more than 2 decades into stem cell research and potential, and yet the first human trials are only just beginning. Chemo drugs, statins and SRRI's all get MUCH faster response than have stem cells.
This forum is great - learn all kinds of things. I hadn't thought about the telomere problem with stem cells, but I should have.
As far as 'use by dates' I think that time comes when someone has had enough of trying to find a path to a decent life and says, 'enough!' and decides it is time to die. I am unsure how we managed to give the control of death over to bureaucrats and law makers - what could possibly be illegal about deciding to end a painful or miserable existence?
I could understand it if we are seen as a resource, like serfs on the Baronial lands in the old days; can't have your 'property' opting out of the slavish existence... *puts tongue firmly in cheek* The number of stories of entire families going broke through being forced to continue extreme life support are legion. Imagine how the person on the bed would feel? All those years building a life, raising a family and leaving heritage to pass on and it gets wiped out providing a few more months of half-conscious existence (I hesitate to call it life) with zero chance of recovery.
Just watched part 2 - I'm a 'victim' of the cholesterol redefinition. Over the past 10 years my cholesterol went from approx 3.5 to just over 5. My Doc says this is a risk, and while I agree the change in the level needs to be addressed, it is the redefining of the 'safe' level that put me into a risk category from his PoV.
I have made diet changes and we've bought some exercise equipment - my knee issues mean I can't just go and run so an elliptical seems the best bet for me. I won't be accepting any advice to start taking drugs.
The concepts of Science being polluted with outside interests is not new to me; as a long-time researcher into a variety of issues to do with modern Science it is clear there has been a corruption on vast scales of the peer-review process, the funding structures and even the publication availability. Across a number of fields it is clear that unless you toe the line and conform to 'Consensus' your career will be strewn with obstacles and funding will be pretty much non-existent.
Politicians get to say what research is appropriate, Corporations get to tailor the research and results AND control the publication of data, and cliques within various fields control the PoV expressed by their field as a whole. The lonely voice in the wilderness, almost the sole type of advance made in any field, is ignored, obstructed and attacked for daring to think Consensus might be wrong.
Journeyman, no worries, the two pronged attack never got off the ground, the gene approach has been proven to be far too costly in terms of money and health. They need a way to reprogram or replace the genes and this involves viruses. The virus pathway has proven to have nasty side-effects. I think they have given up mostly on the gene miracle.
But stem cells, well I think the RPE cells will cost between $5000-$10,000 per eye, currently people with AMD have monthly or bimonthly injections in their eyes at $2,000 per eye per injection. The RPE cells (100,000 to 150,000 which is only a small drop of saline) will only need to be injected once, or twice in severe cases.
The second part of the Catalyst program on Thursday night was equally thought provoking.
In essence the issues raised by the 2 part program can be summarised as follows:
Diet plays only a small role in cholesterol production unless you are ingesting gross amounts of saturated fats.
Cholesterol levels play an unknown role in cardiac disease that is primarily influenced by individual metabloism/physiology.
(Nobody knows what the "right" level of cholesterol is for any given person)
Statins probably do not produce any benefit for the vast majority of users but may be beneficial in certain specific cases post cardiac events.
Statins have a range of undesirable side-effects that vary from mild to serious depending upon individual tolerance.
There is a lot of talk about "prolonging life" but for me the debate should be about "quality of life".
(By ceasing my statin I can also cease all the other medications I am taking to counteract the side-effects of the statin.)
Preventative medicine is about common sense. Mediterranean diet, exercise, moderation - makes sense to me.
Doctors are not god. They are a source of advice on medical issues but ultimately you need to use your own common sense and intuition about your health.
One thing to emphasise is to start reading labels - I taught my US-born wife to do it when she came out here. After a while we found the US Foods store in Melb and she was dismayed to find almost everything she used to eat had multiple numbers on the label. (for non Australian, numbers identify particular chemicals or compounds and can be looked up to find out what they are and the potential side effects)
It is truly amazing what they put in the prepared foods. Anyone living on such a diet is ingesting copious quantities of poisons, hazardous chemicals and carcinogens.
And almost all of us eat far too many carbs, particularly processed carbs.
Adding up how much sugar such a diet gives is also an eye-opener. I've seen people claim 3 or 4 spoons of sugar per day only to find out they consume 4 or 5 times that amount once it is all added up. As an example, one person drank gin & tonic to cut down the calories - a small bottle of tonic has 29gm sugar in it - that's over 5 tspns per bottle. @16cals per spoonful, that's 80cals just from the mixer in a drink.
And she thought she was doing a good thing staying away from squash, lemonade etc because they were 'too sweet'!
That was another point raised in the first episode - the heavily 'manufactured' foods that have resulted from the community desire to avoid anything with a high fat content.
Margarine was the example given as it's 'more complex' chemical composition is apparently regarded as less desirable by comparison with the 'simple' molecule chain of butter.
There was also a point about replacing fat with sugar in some products.
Ah see, I wouldn't even eat margarine as a kid - as soon as it melts the taste is vile so my honey on toast tasted pretty much crappy. I've always eaten butter, like to put pure cream on my porridge, use only olive oil for cooking (it's the only vegetable oil that doesn't coagulate as soon as it cools after being used for cooking - i.e doesn't form trans-fats from a single use) and I don't use packets or tins with numbers or anything that doesn't read the same as the label.
My wife came to Australia and looked in the fridge and wondered where the food was. I had veggies in the crisper, fresh meat in the keeper, sauces and flavourings on the shelves... turns out her version of 'I know how to cook' actually meant she was fairly creative in picking which packet mix to cook with which tinned whatever. She hated scalloped potatoes until she tasted ones made from scratch rather than add water to a packet mix.
I handed her my 'Margaret Fulton's Encyclopedia of Cooking' (the version from back in the late 60's or early 70's - the mroe recent one has packet mixes and canned stuff in it - I think it was paid for by food companies, where the 1st one was a Women's Weekly production) and it revolutionised her kitchen world.
The whole idea of using medical intervention so we can indulge in poisons seems so alien it is hard to imagine how ANYONE could think it a useful contribution to health. Why people can't see how much damage their lifestyle is doing to them is, to me, adequate evidence of the evils of that programming machine and industry we call TV and advertising.
If you would like to know how the last bit works, go look up the career of Ed Bernays. It is hard indeed to let adverts run in your house when you realise just why they are being made.
Me too. I have always refused to eat margarine - tastes like shit. If I can't have butter I do without. Likewise with the other things you mention. I learned to cook with the original Women's Weekly (Marg. Fulton) Cookbook and STILL cook out of this. We wore one copy out and are on the second.
I think that for any intelligent person, TV advertising goes right over the head. I treat it like the Murdoch Press - as a pack of lies and bias and ignore it. I rarely watch any commercial channel in real time as I can't FF the ads.
If you are not thinking for yourself then you are vulnerable to the marketing lies that pervade our society, and that is particularly concerning in relation to personal health.
@Rocky - problem is, lots of intelligent people think they are 'above' the adverts, but archetypes and symbols are such because they don't have much to do with the intellect. Your solution (& mine) is probably the only way to bypass the hidden content of even the most banal ads. Bernays and his lot have not survived for the decades they have by being wrong - triggering basic drives allows them to turn off the conscious mind and feed the message directly in.
And it works - we know that because even though we immunise against the ads, and they have to re-pitch them to a new subversive channel into the subconscious, the advertising budgets of profit-oriented corporations is increasing. were they not getting results it would be seen as a waste of money.
One of the most intriguing things I did after coming back from the USA was working as a unit (i.e. course) controller for "Analysis (Problem Analysis) 150" at a WA uni (for 5 years total, a lot of other business management and IT/IS units under and post grad). PA150: 32 campuses / 1000 students /year. It was actually real world problem analysis, and one of my first changes was to let the students choose their own subjects for the main assignment (a whole of semester / trimester / intensive / summer school task) via a vote on their chosen subjects as long as it was scoped correctly.
Over the next few semesters they chose things like speeding and road safety. I still recall an outraged 18 yo girl from the (very) well off 'burbs actually stamping her foot and exclaiming loudly "and the gov't has been lying to us for years in their advertising" as though it had never crossed her mind before! She then did a good, thorough demolition job of their arguments, backing it up with a lot of data from all over the world. You could almost see the steam coming out of her ears! FYI, speeding causes around 1 to 2% of all accidents. Drugs (inc alcohol), inattention and fatigue are around 30% each. Listen to the wording of speeding adverts very carefully... lies, damn lies & stats.
Anyway, I digress. The one on media spin was a showstopper / whopper. As usual, the students wanted to make it easy. Do the Chinese Olympics coverage and compare the western (i.e. Murdoch in their view) press w the Chinese press. As I told them: Too easy, the Chinese press say no probs, Murdoch says nothing going right, censorship is bad. Boo hiss to the Chinese press for censorship. What has that got to do w critical thinking?... After a little "discussion", I changed it to: Find a relatively neutral press organisation, compare their coverage with the Chinese and Murdoch press on at least three specific issues or events for the Olympics. Work out whether overt spin or covert censorship is preferable and back it with your data and reasoning. After giving them a chance to opt out if they felt it was too hard, they went for it. Some of the best work I have ever seen at any level anywhere came out of that one. Over 500 students from all over the world (inc. Hong Kong!) did that one, and I suspect Murdoch lost almost all of them for life. The only thing that could have improved it would have been his presence at the final presentations... I doubt he would have been able to tell Levenson "This is the most humbling day of my life" after that lot dished it out to him! Their standard of work was so outstanding that the Board of Examiners meeting queried the high marks for my unit that semester. I showed them the worst one and asked them to grade it. They rated it as an easy distinction. I had given it 51%... I asked them if they wanted me to reallocate the marks based on their assessment. End of discussion in a hurry. FWIW, todays kids just need to be engaged & inspired, then they are as good as any previous lot I have encountered directly or via their work. Oh, the student's relatively "neutral media organisations": BBC, Reuters, ABC (Aust, not USA), PBS (USA) & Al Jazeera! Interesting mixture. Mind you, 5 in the whole world is a tad disappointing when you think about it.
The two bits of fallout: The Governor of Quandong's son was in my class that semester (not that I knew it at the time) and the initial Chinese concern turned to merriment when they saw my changes: I received a specially signed thank you book "out of the blue" about a month after the results were released, with a note as to why they were so pleased. From the land of Sun Tsu (my hero) I will treasure that one forever. The other thing was the student's reaction to "Outfoxed" as an optional screening on the last day of the semester (i.e. after they had all handed in their work, presented etc.). They loved it until I asked them why their so-called "thorough research" had failed to turn it up... I suspect they will not forget that in a hurry. A number of them are still in touch with me personally and, unsurprisingly, are doing amazingly well as a cohort.
I guess I did my bit to educate at least some of our future world leaders about media spin. I just hope they remain ethical enough to challenge & dispel it, not to employ it.
Just my 2 cents worth on media spin.
PS: I also have the early Fulton... as do most real cooks IMHO. National treasure. Also the late one (bought it as a gift for a nephew about to batch it, and changed my mind when I glanced through it). Shame to "update" it and make it useless. Now about burning that water the other day...
(I haven't read the whole thread yet but will later.)
I stopped taking my Lipitor a couple of months ago for financial reasons.
I've always had high cholestorol (inherited).
I eat fairly healthily but only the drugs kept the readings down.
For years I've been saying the only difference I notice is in my doctor.
I planned to do fresh blood test to see what result my stopping the medication has made.
This thread has reminded me to book that blood test.
I little while back I let my GP refer me to a cardiologist and he gave me a full on stress test and send me for scans.
The scans showed I have some build up on my arteries.
However... I am 53 years old. What do they expect?
In a nutshell I've disappointed the medicos again because despite being overweight with a family history of heart disease, I am defying them and not about to drop dead suddenly.
Medical opinion on all manner of things cycles 180 degrees every 20 years or so.
Live long enough and it's not a problem until the next cycle.
Journeyman - As you suggest, it is impossible to avoid some impact from the pervasive advertising in our society, but I often ask myself how much actual impact it has on my buying decisions.
I am not an 'early-adopter' and I tend to research bigger purchases and at least actively engage the brain before the smaller ones. I routinely ask myself "why this particular product".
I realise most people don't do this. (That's their business). I have always applied this process to my life which is probably why I have been most uncomfortable with the Cholesterol thing for so long.
I have been on the brink of ceasing the statins so many times over 15 years but the unequivocal advocacy of the bulk of the medical profession always won in the end.
The Catalyst program however hit pretty well all of my points of concern and made it easy to finally make the decision.
Tampit _great to hear your anecdote about your experience at a WA Uni. particularly in relation to the standard of the assessment in that subject. I have been marking/tutoring for many years in under/post grad business subjects and always intrigued with what it takes to 'fire-up' students to maximise their potential. I love it when young people suddenly see reality for the first time - research is able to facilitate that process. It can be a traumatic experience however, when you realise you have been lied to in a very blatant way, but ultimately a does of depressing reality is still preferable (to me) to blissful ignorance.
The key decisions in life are rarely all 'upside'. There are usually fairly distinct 'downsides' as well. The cholesterol/statin issue is like that. It's always a tough decision to buck the 'accepted wisdom' on anything. You have to be prepared to own the consequences if you are wrong.
TG - as a retired person (self-funded so currently struggling with interest rates) I understand your concern about the cost of medication.
When I factor in all the other things I am taking to offset the side-effects of the Crestor it runs into about $100./month - which I could use elsewhere.
I'm not whingeing however as I know people who spend much more, and it's not discretionary.
Life is a risk - and it's about managing your 'risk factors'. I'm not convinced that "high cholesterol" on it's own IS a risk factor, as the evidence to link it with coronary artery disease is too scant.
Also there's not a lot we can do about the so-called risk factors of "age, gender and inheritance" but there is usually some capacity to manage diet, smoking, and exercise.
No-one can tell whether you are going to have a heart attack or a stroke, so we just have to accept those risks.
Thundergod, this is one interesting thread, and it touches on some strange topics... I had a laugh.
Niacin has been known to reduce LDL cholesterol for almost 80 years, it helps circulation and is also used to help treat anxiety and schizophrenia, google Dr Abram Hoffer.