Newsweek slam Oprah for pushing quackery

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Newsweek slam Oprah for pushing quackery

Quote:
Weston Kosova and Pat Wingert

NEWSWEEK

From the magazine issue dated Jun 8, 2009

In January, Oprah Winfrey invited Suzanne Somers on her show to share her unusual secrets to staying young. Each morning, the 62-year-old actress and self-help author rubs a potent estrogen cream into the skin on her arm. She smears progesterone on her other arm two weeks a month. And once a day, she uses a syringe to inject estrogen directly into her vagina. The idea is to use these unregulated "bio-identical" hormones to restore her levels back to what they were when she was in her 30s, thus fooling her body into thinking she's a younger woman. According to Somers, the hormones, which are synthesized from plants instead of the usual mare's urine (disgusting but true), are all natural and, unlike conventional hormones, virtually risk-free (not even close to true, but we'll get to that in a minute).

Next come the pills. She swallows 60 vitamins and other preparations every day. "I take about 40 supplements in the morning," she told Oprah, "and then, before I go to bed, I try to remember … to start taking the last 20." She didn't go into it on the show, but in her books she says that she also starts each day by giving herself injections of human growth hormone, vitamin B12 and vitamin B complex. In addition, she wears "nanotechnology patches" to help her sleep, lose weight and promote "overall detoxification." If she drinks wine, she goes to her doctor to rejuvenate her liver with an intravenous drip of vitamin C. If she's exposed to cigarette smoke, she has her blood chemically cleaned with chelation therapy. In the time that's left over, she eats right and exercises, and relieves stress by standing on her head. Somers makes astounding claims about the ability of hormones to treat almost anything that ails the female body. She believes they block disease and will double her life span. "I know I look like some kind of freak and fanatic," she said. "But I want to be there until I'm 110, and I'm going to do what I have to do to get there."

That was apparently good enough for Oprah. "Many people write Suzanne off as a quackadoo," she said. "But she just might be a pioneer." Oprah acknowledged that Somers's claims "have been met with relentless criticism" from doctors. Several times during the show she gave physicians an opportunity to dispute what Somers was saying. But it wasn't quite a fair fight. The doctors who raised these concerns were seated down in the audience and had to wait to be called on. Somers sat onstage next to Oprah, who defended her from attack. "Suzanne swears by bioidenticals and refuses to keep quiet. She'll take on anyone, including any doctor who questions her."

That would be a lot of doctors. Outside Oprah's world, there isn't a raging debate about replacing hormones. Somers "is simply repackaging the old, discredited idea that menopause is some kind of hormone-deficiency disease, and that restoring them will bring back youth," says Dr. Nanette Santoro, director of reproductive endocrinology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Older women aren't missing hormones. They just don't need as much once they get past their childbearing years. Unless a woman has significant discomfort from hot flashes—and most women don't—there is little reason to prescribe them. Most women never use them. Hormone therapy can increase a woman's risk of heart attacks, strokes, blood clots and cancer. And despite Somers's claim that her specially made, non-FDA-approved bioidenticals are "natural" and safer, they are actually synthetic, just like conventional hormones and FDA-approved bioidenticals from pharmacies—and there are no conclusive clinical studies showing they are less risky. That's why endocrinologists advise that women take the smallest dose that alleviates symptoms, and use them only as long as they're needed.

"It completely blew me away that Oprah would go to her for advice on this topic," says Cynthia Pearson, the executive director of the nonprofit National Women's Health Network and an authority on hormone therapy. "I have to say, it diminished my respect."

 

Read it [url=http://www.newsweek.com/id/200025/output/print]here[/url].

 

contrarianna

 

Despite the articles high tone of anti-quackery, there is misinformation and potentially deceptive demagoguery in the article which rivals Somers dubious self-medication and proselytizing.

 

The scare disinformation spread about bioidentical hormones serves mainly to advance patentable drugs.

That is not to say bioidentical hormones are either automatically free of risk, or indicated. No use of hormones is.

 

Lets look at some of the statements of the article:

Quote:
According to Somers, the hormones, which are synthesized from plants instead of the usual mare's urine (disgusting but true), are all natural and, unlike conventional hormones, virtually risk-free (not even close to true, but we'll get to that in a minute).

....And despite Somers's claim that her specially made, non-FDA-approved bioidenticals are "natural" and safer, they are actually synthetic, just like conventional hormones and FDA-approved bioidenticals from pharmacies—and there are no conclusive clinical studies showing they are less risky...

 

What first stands out is the usual false "gotcha", the confusing play on "synthesized" versus "natural"to  which Somers may be partly to blame .

Bioidentical hormones are "natural" only in the sense that they are, at a molecular level, identical to those produced by the human body. It matters not a bit whether they are from humans, synthesized from yams or coal tar waste, the product is the same, that is  bioidentical.

 

That the FDA has NOT approved for use these hormones that occur naturally in the human body might seem surprising. It is not. True human hormones are not patentable because, well, they are human hormones. It is extremely expensive to take any medication through the FDA approval process and if it not patentable there is no incentive (hormone delivery systems are yet another issue).

 

However, what the article misleadingly calls "conventional hormones" are patented cash cows, hence their FDA vetting.  Thus, alien horse estogens rather than human estrogens are "conventionally" prescribed.  And to balance out the problems of unopposed estrogens, the patented drug medroxyprogesterone acetate (Provera)  intended to mimic human progesterone is also profitably prescribed.

 

The Women's Health Initiative study which condemed HRT, understandably used in their large scale standardized study Premarin (conjugated equine estrogens) and medroxyprogesterone acetate. And also understandably it also showed the health risk of these substances as many smaller studies did before.

 

More recently:

Quote:
A European study of more than 80,000 postmenopausal women published last year in the journal Breast Cancer Research Treatment found that those who took progestins [eg Provera etc. not human progesterone] along with estrogen for an average of eight years had about a 70 percent higher risk of breast cancer than those who took bioidentical progesterone or who didn't use hormones at all. "Progesterone is definitely starting to look like a better hormone" than progestins, says Adriane Fugh-Berman, a physician and associate professor in the complementary and alternative medicine master's program at Georgetown University Medical Center. "There's some preliminary basic science showing that it might not stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells as much as synthetic progestins." She says bioidentical estrogens in a spray, gel, or suppository form, which enter the bloodstream directly through the skin, may offer protection against an increased risk of blood clots normally associated with estrogen pills, which enter the blood by passing through the liver, potentially spurring the production of blood-clotting proteins.

http://health.usnews.com/articles/health/womens-health/2009/03/25/bioide...

 

Oprah and Somers may be irresponsible not to highlight the real potential risks associated with ANY type of hormone replacement.

But for women who make the personal decision to use hormones, it is at least as irresponsible for the article to favour the problematic mix of patented "conventional" confections as just as good, or better, than replacement by human hormones.

Edited to add:

Although the patent for Wyeth's horse estrogens is now expired--I'd guess there are no generic knockoffs appoved if they can now do a 800% price increase:

Quote:

Users of Premarin drug stunned by price hike

Updated Wed. Jun. 3 2009 10:50 PM ET

CTV.ca News Staff

Women who take the hormone replacement therapy drug Premarin are getting a big case of sticker shock when they renew their prescriptions these days.

That's because as of April 1, a month's supply of the medication has risen an astonishing 800 per cent, from about 14 cents a pill to about $1.24 a pill....

Dr. Jim Wright of the University of British Columbia's Therapeutics Initiative, which analyzes prescription medication independently of pharmaceutical companies, says when there are no patents, companies can price a drug at whatever the market can handle.

He says at its new price, Premarin is not good value. He says women should reconsider whether they should talk with their doctors and assess whether they'd be better off with another kind of estrogen medication....

Michelle

I get a kick out of this - Suzanne Somers spends all day pill-popping, exercising (thigh-master!), dieting, getting intravenous vitamin drips, wearing patches, blood-cleansing, injecting hormones into herself, sticking estrogen up her vagina, and standing on her head.

Why?  So that she can live to 110. 

My question is, why the hell would you WANT to live to 110 if you have to spend every day for the rest of your life doing all this shit instead of, you know, LIVING?

ennir

What are they really attacking?  The risky medications Suzanne Somers takes or the fact that she has taken her health care into her own hands?

 

Michelle

But is that kind of obsessive behaviour really healthy?  When I read that, I had this feeling of horror, that her life sounds like it's absolutely consumed with obsession about staying young, staying healthy (whatever that means), staying alive forever.  When I read that regimen, I don't think, "taking health into my own hands".  I think, "pathological".

ennir

I can't say whether it is healthy or not but I do know that once you have been really ill and discovered that the conventional system has no answers for you then you may find yourself "fanatical".  I know I am about my health.  I know she had cancer and recovered through her alternative efforts.  I do agree that the lengths she goes to are extreme and have no appeal to me but even so I support her doing so.

As a woman over fifty I will tell you that there are shome shocking changes that takes place no matter how well we take care of ourselves and I sympathize with those who want to turn back the clock but I have a different perspective on againg and prefer to embrace that wicked crone that is emerging.  LOL 

There is a frenetic denial of aging and death in our society, I see Suzanne Somers as an example of that and given that her life has centred around Hollywood, the epi-centre of the madness, no surprise at all.

contrarianna

I'm with ennir in that personal choice in lifestyle-health matters should be just that.
 If Somers is to be faulted it should be for providing dubious information (I likely won't read the book so I can't comment on that).

On an evolutionary basis, like all animals, humans are pre-programmed for death after a certain number of years. Part of that process includes a greater susceptibility to some diseases and a decline of a wide range of hormones--with significant effects on body and brain function.

However, the idea that 120 year healthy lifespan is within anyone's grasp if only one takes the "right path" (or medications) is a fantasy which has more in common with the psychology of the Christian Scientist's reaction to disease--ie. the righteous will prevail without sickness.

Future research might change the current lifespan reality with breakthroughs with, for example,  telomeres
(though greater human lifespan would mean the planet's health would suffer).

There are generally 2 lifestyle (or sometimes political) responses to the reality of decline and death:

1) Aging is natural, not an illness in itself, and therefore a virtue is made of necessity and whatever happens is good and one should embrace changes as the sane and mature response. These changes open up valid new perceptions of ways of being appropriate to that time of life.--ie. do not mess with nature, it's narcissistic.

2) The other side sees aging as natural but that humans have the means to alter the downward glide path to by exercise, nutritional strategies and, perhaps, hormone supplementation. The ideal for many is to live with as much youthful energy as possible up to the time of death  rather than experience a lingering decline (unforeseen catastrophic illness aside). This path presumes that the self-health-provider has sufficient knowledge and is not swept up in dangerous quackery--this is a big "if" but the responsibility is ultimately with the individual's choices.

Most people are somewhere in between these two views.

G. Muffin

Michelle wrote:
My question is, why the hell would you WANT to live to 110 if you have to spend every day for the rest of your life doing all this shit instead of, you know, LIVING?

 

Susan Ertz:

 

Quote:
Millions long for immortality who do not know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

remind remind's picture

I agree ennir, it is her life and she can do what she wants with it, and perhaps even some might say this is how she chooses to live life, after all she battled cancer and won. Who are we to criticize her life choices? Is it ageism? And if it makes her quality of life better as she ages more power to her.

Thanks for all the posted  insight contarianna, very salient.

I personally use yam extract creams, and suppliment this by eating lots of yams, if I start getting more hot flashes, when under stress or anxiety. Takes them away in short order

Michelle

Oh hey, I agree, it's Somers' own life and she can do as she likes.  But what we're talking about here isn't just Somers' own personal choice.  This is something that is being pushed and plugged on Oprah as a healthy lifestyle.  As in, it's somehow healthy to be completely and utterly obsessed with health and beauty rituals.  And the undercurrent to that is, as contrarianna says, if you somehow fall short of the Somers standard of constant vigilance, then it's your own fault if you somehow wind up sick or unhealthy.

This I have a problem with.  I mean, heck, it's up to Oprah if she personally wants to believe in "The Secret" too - but when she starts telling everyone else that The Secret is the way to become successful, then she's not just telling us about a personal choice.  She's pushing an ideology, and that becomes "our business" so to speak, and something to speak out against.

Suzanne Somers isn't just saying this is something she does.  She's promoting it as something we should all do in order to be healthy.  She and Oprah are basically promoting an ideology - sure, it's not a political or religious or spiritual one, but it's an ideology all the same, one that says you should be obsessed with youth, with perfect health, and devote every minute of your day to rituals that will sustain your youth and your health.

At that point, it becomes fair game for public criticism and skepticism.

ennir

I think Oprah is a sales woman for affluence and privilege, if aging was the fashion she would have graceful ways to age to market.  I don't see her as an original thinker or as a particularly astute judge of character, she's a cheerleader for capitalism.

Suzanne Somers I am less sure about, I have a friend who swears by her and the bio-identical hormones, apparently at this point there is one doctor in Canada that does the testing, I believe that Somers recommends this.  Who knows, perhaps for some it is the way to go, until you haven't slept through the night in months because of night sweats it is difficult to say what you might take to give you some relief.  Certainly I am more trusting in any process regarding my health in which I have an active role.

Our obsession with beauty runs deep.

As for health, I think it is possible to live a healthy life and then just die, I don't think sickness has to be mandated but with out system the way it is now it pretty much is.  I remember the old folks telling me when I was young that health was the most important thing, I know now they knew that because they lost it, just as I did and now that I am regaining it I know it is true so I support the obsession with health, the fact is it is very hard to have a good day when you ill.

Trevormkidd

ennir wrote:
 I know she had cancer and recovered through her alternative efforts.

 

Suzanne Somers developed a lump in her breast.  It was detected early.  She had that lump removed via surgery.  Tests showed no signs that it had metastasized into the lymph nodes.  With no detectable cancer in her body she then underwent radiation therapy to decrease the chances of remission.  At that point in time, of her three doctors - one recommended chemotherapy to further reduce the chances of remission, one recommended that her chances of remission were so low that chemotherapy was unnecessary, one was on the fence.  Somers decided not to undergo elective chemotherapy at that time (but did not rule it out a further date).

Instead she took mistletoe.  Did that cure her cancer?  Nope - there was no detectable cancer in her body.  Could taking it reduce her chances of remission?  It is impossible to know.  Legitimate studies have not shown effectiveness.

 "After careful study of the literature and other information available to it, the American Cancer Society does not have evidence that treatment with Iscador, an extract of mistletoe, results in objective benefit in the treatment of cancer in human beings. Lacking such evidence, the American Cancer Society would strongly urge individuals afflicted with cancer not to participate in treatment with Iscador."       

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6404528

People can take what ever kind of treatment they want. However, it is very unethical to claim that alternative therapies treated a medical condition when, in fact that person received the recommended conventional therapies. I am not saying that Somers makes such claims - she has been open about her experience. However, conventional medicine haters continually promote her as an example of someone who refused conventional treatment and was cured by alternative means. Listening to such bogus claims may lead to people making life threatening medical decisions based on partial, faulty, or fraudulent information.

ennir

There are many instances of people claiming that alternative methods have cured their cancer, check out Rick Simpson's Cannabis Cure, and they are equally dismissed due to a lack of scientific proof which is conveniently controlled by those who would not see them validated. 

Personally, I'll go winter camping and freeze to death before I will ever trust conventional medicine again. 

You can call me a "conventional medicine hater" if that helps you to dismiss what I am saying but perhasps you might ask yourself why there are such a growing number of us?  What got me started was being ill enough to feel I was dying, to have lost enough  weight that friends were coming by to see me because they had heard I was dying, a prescription from the doctor that would have made me  sicker and after two years of this finally finding a doctor who had a clue but wasn't able to schedule tests until five months later.  Tests I refused because I learned they could cause damage.

The more I have investigated our current health system the clearer it has become to me that it is merely a tool to deliver a variety of drugs to us.

I think we all need to take responsiblity for our health.

 

 

Unionist

ennir wrote:

You can call me a "conventional medicine hater" if that helps you to dismiss what I am saying but perhasps you might ask yourself why there are such a growing number of us?

Here's what troubles me about what you are saying:

ennir wrote:
I know she had cancer and recovered through her alternative efforts.

Do you really, honestly, "know" that? For that matter, does she "know" that? Perhaps you meant to say, "I know said claimed to recover through her alternative efforts." But if you meant what you said, then it sounds as if you're taking some things on faith, which is a problem for me.

I have had infections, been prescribed antibiotics, and the infection healed. I've often thought the infection might have healed on its own, as is the case with many illnesses. I sincerely mistrust claims like, "she recovered through her alternative efforts". I'd prefer to see a probability attached to claims like that.

Trevorkidd offered comments on that claim, and you didn't reply. I'd be interested in hearing your take.

 

 

ennir

Unionist wrote:

Do you really, honestly, "know" that? For that matter, does she "know" that? Perhaps you meant to say, "I know said claimed to recover through her alternative efforts." But if you meant what you said, then it sounds as if you're taking some things on faith, which is a problem for me. 

You are correct, I don't know, let's go with the "claimed".

I don't say what I do out of faith, I say it from my experience, if I had trusted my doctor I  likely would be dead by now or heavily medicated. lol

When you have nothing to do but try to get through the day because the pain you are in prevents you from having any kind of life you learn all sorts of interesting things because you have the time to focus on one thing, getting well.  I have learned that what passes for "disease" is often damage and that if you cease damaging yourself then your body will heal.  It is really very simple.  The reality though is that doctors prescribe medication that masks the symptoms the damage is doing which does not stop the damaging being done to the body and which then arises in a new form. 

This system is most supportive of pharmaceutical companies because once you start to tip there is a cascade of illness in store for you and you have become an ideal consumer of our "health care system". 

I think modern medicine excels in crisis situations when just keeping someone alive is the point, car crashes and such, but when it comes to the matter of day to day health I don't see them as reliable sources.

Sineed

I spend some time chatting with other health care professionals on a medical site, and part of the problem lies in the demands that patients make.  For instance, it isn't evidence-based medicine to prescribe long-term opioids (narcotics) to treat chronic non-cancer pain, but lots of that goes on due to patient demands.  And an appropriate therapeutic relationship means that you work with your patient, respecting the patient's point of view, so doctors will sometimes prescribe something that isn't the best solution, but a compromise, in order to maintain the dialog with the patient.

Because I work in methadone maintenance, addictions caused by the medical system are my bread-and-butter.  And I feel that medically-caused addictions are symbolic of larger problems in the medical system, in problems of communication with patients, and doctors' failure to reconcile patients' demands with evidence-based medicine.

ennir

I think you make some very good points Sineed.

The reality is that we are often all to insistent that there must be a pill that will fix us, I wonder where we got that idea? lol

Trevormkidd

ennir wrote:
There are many instances of people claiming that alternative methods have cured their cancer, check out Rick Simpson's Cannabis Cure, and they are equally dismissed due to a lack of scientific proof which is conveniently controlled by those who would not see them validated.

There are many instances of people claiming to god, jesus or similar figures.  To help me decide if what they are saying is possible or probable I look at the evidence.  I support legalization of marijuana.  I also support people using it to cure their cancer if they feel it will do so.  However, I oppose any person or company (alternative medicine or pharmaceutical) selling cannabis while making such a claim unless they can provide scientific evidence to support those medical claims.  At the same time I support the right of any person to make any claim no matter how ridiculous (free speech) - unless they are selling a product related that medical claim for which there is no evidence (which I consider medical fraud).

Quote:
Personally, I'll go winter camping and freeze to death before I will ever trust conventional medicine again.

I support your right to do. 

Quote:
You can call me a "conventional medicine hater" if that helps you to dismiss what I am saying

I dismissed what you said because it was a patently false medical claim which has the potential to deceive others regarding serious medical conditions.  It also grossly misrepresented someone's medical history (which she had made public).

Quote:
 but perhasps you might ask yourself why there are such a growing number of us?

I will be honest - I couldn't care less if there are a growing number of adults who dismiss conventional medicine (nor do I know if that is true).  There are large numbers of people who believe all kinds of ridiculous things.  However, if I notice those people making medical claims that are not true I have every intention of pointing it out.  It is a progressive value I hold and I hope others will do the same, including and especially claims I may have made in error.

I think people have the right to honest medical information so they can make the decision that they feel is most appropriate for themselves.  Not pointing out faulty medical claims infringes on that right. 

Sineed

 

Quote:

I think people have the right to honest medical information so they can make the decision that they feel is most appropriate for themselves.  Not pointing out faulty medical claims infringes on that right. 

This sort of thing is often said, and on the surface nobody can disagree.  Though I'm in graduate school right now, and modern medicine is complicated.  You'll have the professor, who is an expert in a particular field, say, diabetes, and all of us debating what's the best care to provide to a hypothetical patient, and we have access to all the best info, and we can't agree on all things.

In most cases, people are not qualified to make intelligent decisions about their care all by themselves.  So medical professionals need to work with people, helping them understand the advantages and pitfalls of various therapeutic alternatives to decide what's best for them.

And if people want to reject evidence-based medicine altogether, that's their right, though I don't think that's wise.  I'm not a capitulator; if someone is making a bad decision about their health, I will not help them do it.  

The problem with people's perceptions of the health care system is that there often isn't the time to give people all the attention they deserve, and less than optimal decisions are made in the interest of expediency instead of providing the best care.

Trevormkidd

Sineed wrote:
This sort of thing is often said, and on the surface nobody can disagree.  Though I'm in graduate school right now, and modern medicine is complicated.  You'll have the professor, who is an expert in a particular field, say, diabetes, and all of us debating what's the best care to provide to a hypothetical patient, and we have access to all the best info, and we can't agree on all things.

I agree with that completely (and I also agree with the rest of your post).  I was referring to this on a more general level.  If two people have all the best info and come to two different treatment plans based on that information both are giving honest information and opinions.  However, when for instance, the far right group Judical Watch gave faulty "information" about the side effects of Gardasil they were giving dishonest medical information which is still being circulated today.    

500_Apples

ennir wrote:
perhasps you might ask yourself why there are such a growing number of us? 

There are some legitimate arguments against moodern medicine, but for the most part, people are largely against modern medicine for the same reason people are into astrology, tarrot-card reading, wiccanism, creationism and global warming denial - the rise of anti-intellectualism.

martin dufresne

The pathetic state of medicine as we have it - e.g. people waiting hours if not days for simple triage in "emergency" rooms, number of misdiagnoses and iatrogenic incidents (people dying because of mistreatment), the pillaging of public health resources by privatization entrepreneurs -  may also have something to do with growing skepticism about the Doctor-Knows Best brand of "intellectualism." Witness the current scandal about breast cancer test errors, in Quebec after Newfoundland, and apparently nation-wide.

ennir

CBC did a program recently about a reputable publishing house issuing what appeared to be a peer reviewed journal but was in fact funded by a large pharmaceutical company.   Shock and horror among the intellectuals. LOL No shock to me.  Our medical system is just some ponzi scheme where some are getting enormously weatlthy but many are left without any real care at all.

 

Unionist

ennir wrote:

Our medical system is just some ponzi scheme where some are getting enormously weatlthy but many are left without any real care at all.

 

You know, I never thought of that. We should get rid of this free universal single-payer health care system here and adopt a U.S. system. That way, enlightened people could shop for health care in full freedom - like, following Oprah's health tips - instead of just being herded into those crooked clinics and hospitals where the doctors and nurses get fat and rich without even having to advertise.

500_Apples

ennir wrote:

CBC did a program recently about a reputable publishing house issuing what appeared to be a peer reviewed journal but was in fact funded by a large pharmaceutical company.   Shock and horror among the intellectuals. LOL No shock to me.  Our medical system is just some ponzi scheme where some are getting enormously weatlthy but many are left without any real care at all.

 

Ok, so because some outlet was impersonating scientists, all scientists are wrong, and the entire health care system is a ponzi scheme.

Sineed

martin dufresne wrote:

The pathetic state of medicine as we have it - e.g. people waiting hours if not days for simple triage in "emergency" rooms, number of misdiagnoses and iatrogenic incidents (people dying because of mistreatment), the pillaging of public health resources by privatization entrepreneurs -  may also have something to do with growing skepticism about the Doctor-Knows Best brand of "intellectualism." Witness the current scandal about breast cancer test errors, in Quebec after Newfoundland, and apparently nation-wide.

I'd like to nitpick you a bit here Martin, if you don't mind :)  I don't think our health care system, despite its problems, is "pathetic;" it's actually pretty good, offering excellent services to most people.  You don't hear about it when it goes right.

But I totally disagree that medicine's problems come out of skepticism.  Medicine's problems occur because there's no consistent oversight; just politicians playing political football with various aspects of the system as it suits them *cough* Chalk River *cough* and the intermittent elections of right wing provincial governments who would deliberately undermine public health care in order to discredit it.

ennir

I never suggested nurses were getting rich.

So sorry to have offended the medicine gods. LOL

Martin, it was a pharmaceutical company that paid the epublishing house to issue what appeared to be a peer reveiwed scientific journal when in fact it was nothing but advertising for their drugs.  The upset was the everyone assumed this was in fact a credible journal because of the publishing house.  It has everything to do with a pharmaceutical company manipulating doctors into believing they are choosing the right medication fir their patients.

What about the doctors ten years ago who were seeing a rise in heart attacks for patients with diabetes on a certain medication, when one doctor brought it to the attention of the pharmaceutical company, naively thinking they would want to know,  she received threats in return.  There is a long list of these kinds of incidents, too many for me to have any trust in it at all.

I no longer care what happens to our system, it is already unequal, broken in numerous ways, too tangled to be solved I suspect, especially when no-one really wants to talk about it.

I've said it before, once I was smug about our system and I thought it much superior to the U.S. but I no longer do. But then I once believed Canada was a fair country that would never do to Meyer Arar what was done to him and others.  I was so naive.  LOL

ennir

You are correct, medicine as a whole should not be condemed and I have done that, I recognize there are some incredible things that can be done and I have had personal experience of that. For me though it is more like saying I hate war but I support the soldiers, I feel like our system has been corrupted by the pharmaceutical companies as has our politics and that alone is toxic but I still have friends within that community and I respect them.  I just thiink we have taken the wrong path and as long as we continue to argue about the dollars for supporting the existing system as the real issue we miss the opportunity to really look at what is happening.

 

martin dufresne

(With some back-editing) I stand corrected: the pharmaceutical industry is perverse, not the publishing industry (although I think you are suggesting that an otherwise reputable publisher went along with the scam you mention). But the argument still doesn't impugn medicine as a whole, just the few MDs Big Pharma bought to write endorsements. (Care to offer a link to that CBC story?)

And I agree with Sineed: the system still works rather well - as long as you don't expect a hospital emergency dept. to be open on weekends (we have had closures in Quebec) or crucial surgery to be performed without shelling out big bucks to have it done in the private system because of humongous waiting lists in some (most?) parts of the country! The problem isn't just lack of oversight, but also of accountability and resources allocation.

martin dufresne

ennir, the scam you are talking about took place in the publishing industry; why should it impugn medicine? It is sad fact that any entrepreneur can now get disreputable claims picked up by sensationalist mainstream media and promoted world-wide even if they bypass the traditional peer-review and legitimation system applied by the reputable journals. The fact that doctors know better is a good argument for taking your medical "news" from them and not USA Today, Oprah, New Age hucksters or direct-to-consumer advertising.

Trevormkidd

ennir wrote:
CBC did a program recently about a reputable publishing house issuing what appeared to be a peer reviewed journal but was in fact funded by a large pharmaceutical company.   Shock and horror among the intellectuals. LOL No shock to me.  Our medical system is just some ponzi scheme where some are getting enormously weatlthy but many are left without any real care at all.

I actually think that this scandal was an excellent example of what is right with medicine and medical journals these days.  If the pharmaceutical industry has really corrupted the system as much as many think than the largest companies would never have to go to the extent of having a "medical journal" created to peer review their new drugs.  Journals like the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) and the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) have well earned great reputations.  Sineed could probably speak better to this issue than I can, but in my experience medical journals are generally pretty critical of the pharmaceutical industry.  Maria Angell wrote the book "The Truth about the Drug Companies: How they deceive us and what to do about it."  Who is she?  Former editor-in-chief of NEJM (she is also a scathing critic of alternative medicine and medical quackery, strong proponent of universal health care in the US and a fellow of CSICOP - in short she is awesome)  I have seen pretty harsh editorials towards the pharmaceutical industry in the Canadian Medical Association Journal as well. 

Peer-review alone doesn't mean much.  The first I do when I am told a study is peer-reviewed is to look at where it was peer-reviewed and if I have never heard of the journal I look it up. 

ennir

Thanks for recommending "The Truth About Drug Companies".

I have little respect for most alternative health care providers, in fact I think they may be more dangerous than conventional doctors,they are often too willing to simply "treat" you forever or as long as you have money to pay for them.  Further, I think their training is often limited to a particular and very narrow view which they then impose on everyone. 

Trevormkidd

ennir wrote:

Thanks for recommending "The Truth About Drug Companies".

Yes I recommend it highly.

Quote:
I have little respect for most alternative health care providers, in fact I think they may be more dangerous than conventional doctors,they are often too willing to simply "treat" you forever or as long as you have money to pay for them.  Further, I think their training is often limited to a particular and very narrow view which they then impose on everyone. 

Many years ago when I became angered by the pharmaceutical industry's greed and the problems that I see in our ERs I briefly looked towards alternative medicine as an alternative that fit with my values.  I quickly found the opposite.  They (and this is a generalization) correctly wanted more oversight when it came to the pharmaceutical industry and conventional medicine, but at the same time opposed any oversight, regulations or quality controls for themselves.  They generally found nothing wrong with a complete lack of evidence to support their medical claims.  I found critical thinking very hard to find.  I think many have their hearts in the right place, but many others are flat out scam artists.  I generally think that the largest part of the problem is that people want simple solutions and they want medicine that they understand.  But real medicine is often very complicated and understanding how the body functions requires a lot of training and an understanding of biology and chemistry that is far beyond what most people have ever been taught.  On the whole I find that most people working within the health care field reflect my values and solutions are readily available to fix the problems that I see with health care.  For the most part I find the care that legitimately sick patients receive is excellent, while at the same time the lack of clinics and the stress placed on the ERs by too many patients leaves some patients feeling like they are being neglected. 

ennir

I agree with many of the things you are saying but I have a question, how is it decided who is legitimately sick?

In my experience in order for the testing to show anything there must be damage, what about that limbo land of pain and illness that precedes the damage that can be diagnosed?  It seems to me that too often patients are dismissed because that damage is not yet visible or they are given medication which masks the symptoms and allows the damage to proliferate resulting in a cascade of illness.

Sineed

Depends what the illness is - and it can be tricky.  Besides the challenge of medicine itself, there are all the people crying wolf, ie, the drug-seekers and the hypochondriacs, who are over-represented in the health care system and end up skewing the perceptions of health care providers.

And of course there's all sorts of things we don't know about.  For instance, disorders like fibromyalgia are hotly debated in the medical community; ie, whether it's a real physical illness, or the most popular opinion, somatization (in a nutshell: a psychiatric condition that manifests as physical symptoms).

I can see how people lose patience because things get redefined all the time.  But the nature of truth in science is that it is provisional, and people who seek absolute answers will not find them.

ennir

Sineed wrote:

Depends what the illness is - and it can be tricky.  Besides the challenge of medicine itself, there are all the people crying wolf, ie, the drug-seekers and the hypochondriacs, who are over-represented in the health care system and end up skewing the perceptions of health care providers.

...

It is those dammed crying wolf people that really interest me, see I think they are not crying wolf or very few of them of crying wolf at all.  I think the testing that is done is simply incapable of identifying the problem until the problem has become damage.

Today I have a classic example of what I am talking about, a friend came by, she has been ill for about five years now, this past year she was referred to a gastro who tested her for celiac and the blood work came back positive, but that wasn't clear enough for him he wanted to do an endoscopy to check for the damage.  He found none but then he never asked my friend whether she was consuming gluten, (she hasn't been for two years), or informed her that for the indoscopy to be effective she would need to do a gluten challenge and when he did do the endoscopy he took two samples which is not even close to enough and then he told her he thought it really wasn't celiac, he thought she had irritable bowel syndrome.  Then he prescibed anti-depressents although she assured him that though she was suffering because she was ill she was not depressed.  Now to me he is quack, and worse than that is an asshole, he shouldn't be practicing medicine at all if he knows so little.

To top all of that off the endoscopy triggered a flare, (hello auto-immune disorder Celiac) and she was sick for nearly two weeks after a test which simply didin't need to be performed except to satisfy that wonderful "gold standard" the doctors love. 

Irritable bowel, lol sure one day the bowel just gets seriously pissed off and stays that way. lol  Given that doctors receive little education about nutrition I suppose it is not surprising that they would buy into such a theory but it strikes me as a wonderful example of their stupidity.

 

Noah_Scape

I do "shoulder stands" [which put me in an upside down position with my feet way up in the air] to relieve stress too, and it does work for that. There are physical benefits too - it is good to give the body a chance to move toxins out like this.

So not everything Ms Sommers does is hooey. Not that I would agree with all she does, but I just want to debate a few points being made here.

And as for the FDA not approving of some of the substances she uses, well gee, the FDA has no concerns with things like MSG and Glycol as food additives. On the other hand, the FDA claims that nobody should ever use Colloidal Silver because one little drop will turn you gray. They get a lot of things wrong. They are more interested in pleasing the corporate side than they are about protecting the public from harmfull substances. So big whup that the FDA didn't approve her horemone supplements. 

Patents? It is all about patents - naturally occuring substances cannot be patented and therefore there is no big profits to be made by the pharma-giants from natural substances, and so the pharma-giants and the FDA claim they are either dangerous or ineffective. The truth is left to dangle in the breeze.

 

Trevormkidd

Noah_Scape wrote:
On the other hand, the FDA claims that nobody should ever use Colloidal Silver because one little drop will turn you gray.

The FDA says that the marketing of colloidal silver can't include unproven and unsubstantiated health and medical claims.  Seems like a no brainer.

Quote:
So big whup that the FDA didn't approve her horemone supplements.

So would you support pharma being allowed to make whatever unsubstantiated health claims they wish and not be required to do the proper safety testing - or just the multi-billion dollar alternative medicine industry?

Quote:
Patents? It is all about patents - naturally occuring substances cannot be patented and therefore there is no big profits to be made by the pharma-giants from natural substances, and so the pharma-giants and the FDA claim they are either dangerous or ineffective. The truth is left to dangle in the breeze.

Who said bioidenticals were ineffective and dangerous?  It is very different to say that the effectiveness and safety have not been properly established.  It is also fair to criticize Somers for promoting quantities of hormone replacements which are several times higher than has generally been found to be safe.  If I went on Oprah's show promoting the consumption of a bottle of tylenol every day as some kind of health benefit I would expect to get slammed. 

ennir

I think some of us are simply shifting away from a system which has less and less crediblity, the reality is there are too many examples of drugs having devasting effects on people's lives to continue to place our trust in it. I don't say we should never turn to it because in some areas it is brilliant but I feel that we have to recognize these problems and ask ourselves whether or not it has been corrupted by the greed of pharmaceutical companies. 

An older friend was listing for me the number of people she knew who had committed suicide and were on anti-depressants, she also described for me doctors trying to prescribe them to her, her response to them, "I have enough problems without those."  LOL

For me it was recognizing that I was on my own, this was after two and a half years of illness within our system without answers and acupunture, and after I had paid thousands of dollars and travelled to a clinic that offered both the conventional and alternative methods of diagnosis and treatment.  When I realized I was on my own to figure it out I crossed into new territory, I am free here to experiment on myself and to trust that I can read my body and know what is good for me and what is not.

I fully support women in experimenting in whatever way they choose to.  As I understand it Suzanne Somers does recommend seeing a doctor who is well versed in this area.  I do not think she is telling women to just go our there and buy these drugs but even if she was it is still that person's responsibilty to investigate it for themselves.

 

ennir

Trevormkidd wrote:

....

  If I went on Oprah's show promoting the consumption of a bottle of tylenol every day as some kind of health benefit I would expect to get slammed. 

First you would have to consume a bottle of tylenol every day, experience health benefits, see doctors who also saw benefits....lol

contrarianna

Trevormkidd wrote:

Who said bioidenticals were ineffective and dangerous?  It is very different to say that the effectiveness and safety have not been properly established....

One could flippantly say that 500 millions years of evolution would have made human hormones fairly well tested--but there is also plenty of peer reviewed research that show human hormone replacement with human hormones is superior to horse hormones and non-identical synthetics.

http://www.womeninbalance.org/resources_and_research/
http://www.womeninbalance.org/resources_and_research/page.cfm?page_id=33
http://www.womeninbalance.org/resources_and_research/page.cfm?page_id=34

The real question is why are proven dangerous horse hormones and quasi-hormonal drugs still approved by the FDA for hormone "replacement"--and  still prescribed in such quantities.
The answer has nothing to do with "science" versus "flakey alternatives".

There is also a misconception that because human hormones are not in themselves patentable that they don't appear as approved patented products from some major drug companies. The delivery systems, gels, patches, etc, combined with specific bio-identical formulations are approved--See a list halfway down this page:
https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/What-are-bioidentical-hormones.htm

Trevormkidd

contrarianna wrote:
One could flippantly say that 500 millions years of evolution would have made human hormones fairly well tested

We are talking about elevating - in many cases significantly - the levels of hormones above what evolution and our DNA has programmed.  Somers talks about having levels at what they were when she was 20 - that is not a level that she has evolved to have.  It could very well be that evolution has "decided" that there are benefits of having high levels of hormones when one in young and similar benefits of having low levels of hormones when one is older.  In fact high hormone levels could be dangerous for the body and increase the risk of several health complications - if this is the case then it would be an evolutionary advantage to only have high hormone levels for a period of time during ones life.

Also, people are generally only "replacing" one or two hormones out of a couple dozen. That leaves the bodies balance of hormones extremely out of wack from what it was evolved to be.

However, evolution is not about ideal.  Just because a hormone level has evolved at a certain level does not mean that it is the perfect level.

Testosterone is a class IV in Canada - get caught trying to buy it and there is a good chance you will go to jail.  Get caught trying to sell it and you will definately go to jail.  Now, like bioidenticals, I don't think testosterone should be illegal (and only testosterone is illegal).  However, in both cases I don't support sellers making health claims that have not been substantiated.

 

Quote:
--but there is also plenty of peer reviewed research that show human hormone replacement with human hormones is superior to horse hormones and non-identical synthetics.

 

Sure there is - at least according to "Women in Balance." Incidently, a board member (and one of the founders) of that organization is the owner and CEO of Emerita (A producer of bioidenticals), so I take anything they have to say with as much skepticism as I would an organization with a big pharma owner and CEO on the board.  Several highly respected medical organizations do not support the position of "Women in Balance" - in fact I can't find a single high level medical organization or journal that does.

 

Quote:
The real question is why are proven dangerous horse hormones and quasi-hormonal drugs still approved by the FDA for hormone "replacement"--and  still prescribed in such quantities.

 

Studies have shown that HRT leads to an increase in severe side effects with long term use (5.2 years). Experts have said that they shouldn't be used long term. Incidently Somers is advocating extremely long term use for hormones that most highly respected medical organizations, journals and studies say carry the same risks - and she is not mentioning - at least on Oprah - the potiential negative side effects (perhaps because she feels that as they are natural they don't have any, but that is just speculation on my part).  Incidently, I don't oppose doctors prescribing or patients taking medications with known significant side effects as long as the patient is made aware of those side effects and decides for whatever reason that the benefits outweigh the risks.

 

 

Quote:
There is also a misconception that because human hormones are not in themselves patentable that they don't appear as approved patented products from some major drug companies. The delivery systems, gels, patches, etc, combined with specific bio-identical formulations are approved--See a list halfway down this page:
https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/What-are-bioidentical-hormones.htm [/quote]

 

Yes, however, Somers is advocating for compounded bioidenticals.

martin dufresne

Why the Medical Industry Is Lashing Out at Oprah Winfrey
By Deepak Chopra, AlterNet
Posted on June 11, 2009

A recent cover story in a struggling news magazine, under the title "Crazy Talk:" accuses Oprah Winfrey of spreading "dubious advice" in a wide range of health issues from menopause and hormone replacement therapy to autism, cancer, aging, and weight loss. The tone of the article was the same tiresome blend of gotcha journalism and selective fact-reporting that fills tabloid coffers.

The story failed to gain traction for obvious reasons. Oprah has aired innumerable shows on health, of which the controversial ones are a tiny minority. Her intention to improve women's lives on all fronts is so obvious as to be almost above criticism. The credibility for women's well-being and welfare she has earned day after day over the past two decades will not be undone with a story that cherry-picks the guests who can be made easy targets of ridicule by the medical establishment. And the fact that she has celebrity guests who have causes and crusades in the area of health, such as Jenny McCarthy or Suzanne Somers, is not the same as Oprah herself endorsing what they say. (...)

 

Sven Sven's picture

Unionist wrote:

I sincerely mistrust claims like, "she recovered through her alternative efforts". I'd prefer to see a probability attached to claims like that.

Not to mention double-blind studies.  Otherwise, one might as well claim that prayer can heal cancer.

_______________________________________

Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!

ennir

Let's me make that statement personal, I recovered from a serious illness through personal efforts and have no need of double blind studies, particularly given that it is extremely unlikely they would ever even do double blind studies that would show that diet can heal you.

Unionist

ennir wrote:

I recovered from a serious illness through personal efforts

That's great that you recovered, but making it about yourself instead of someone else doesn't constitute causal or even probabilistic evidence. I've recovered from ailments - in some cases I could guess at what helped, in other cases, I have no clue. I believe that humanity specializes in various fields of endeavour and tries to develop verifiable and credible methods to achieve success. I don't rate anecdotal evidence about myself any higher than anyone else's.

ennir

My anecdotal evidence is shared by many, many who have informed their doctors that they have healed as a result of a particular diet and these people are ignored.   I learned how to heal myself from them.  There is no way there will ever be a double blind study and once you get what that really means, as in big pharma would never allow it, you are free to heal yourself.

Further, the diet I follow has science behind and yet it is ignored by most doctors, why? because they are simply not taught anything of real use about nutrition.  Elaine Gottschall returned to university to study why this diet works, she is a model of  "developing verifiable and credible methods" and yet she is ignored by mainstream medicine, why?  There is no money for big pharma in people healing themselves by diet.

Here's another anecdotal story, my sister was diagnosed with IBS, she was very ill and that diagnosis did nothing to help her nor did any of the meds that were prescribed, she continued to be very ill for about five years and then her doctor told her she had Celiac and she should avoid wheat but he emphasized to her that her real problem was the IBS.   She switched to rye bread but continued to be ill.  Rye bread contains gluten, gluten is what does harm to anyone with Celiac.  It was only when I and two of my brothers got ill at the same time that we learned about Celiac and we learned that it has a genetic connection and that doctor should have told my sister that since she had it her whole family should be tested.  Idiot doctor.

My illness was no ailment, I was near death, I had melted, my eyes were sunk into my skull and I was losing a pound a day, I was walking like I was drunk due to the severe Vitamin B deficiencies and my doctor prescribed medication that would have stopped all absorption of Vitamin B. 

My story is not an isolated one, I have connected with hundreds of people with similar stories, for many though their diagnosis of Celiac came after ten or so years of illness, including arthritis, diabetes, grave's disease, IBS, cancer, etc. and then finally a Celiac diagnosis.  Some are able to undo the damage caused by the many years of undiagnosed Celiac disease, some never do, particularly if they buy into the idea that they will get well simply by taking the gluten out.

 

 

Tigana Tigana's picture

 

martin dufresne wrote:

ennir, the scam you are talking about took place in the publishing industry; why should it impugn medicine? It is sad fact that any entrepreneur can now get disreputable claims picked up by sensationalist mainstream media and promoted world-wide even if they bypass the traditional peer-review and legitimation system applied by the reputable journals. The fact that doctors know better is a good argument for taking your medical "news" from them and not USA Today, Oprah, New Age hucksters or direct-to-consumer advertising.

 

Turn off your TV! Somers is a genius at self promotion - and Oprah helped promote the Iraq war and now wants to aid the homeless by painting their digs. House is not your doctor. All three are ACTORS - and multi-millionaires!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AazObF_pHSU&feature=player_embedded

"The United States health care system is killing Americans at an alarming rate, even though we spend over fifteen percent of the Gross National Product (GNP) on health care. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, our health care outcomes ranked only fifteenth among twenty-five industrialized nations worldwide. Adverse effects from prescription drugs have become the third-leading killer of Americans. Only heart disease and cancer claim more lives. We trust our doctors to inform us and our government to protect us from medical malfeasance that may put profits ahead of consumer health and safety. But the fine line walked by the FDA between the interests of the pharmaceutical manufacturers and the American public has continually been crossed. The result is the unleashing of an unprecedented number of lethal drugs on the U.S. market!

Gwen Olsen learned firsthand the danger that lurks in every American's medicine cabinet, working in the pharmaceutical industry. But her most poignant education would come as a victim and, ultimately, as a survivor."

Visit Gwen's Website at 

http://www.gwenolsen.com/

Martin writes, "The fact that doctors know better is a good argument for taking your medical "news" from them and not USA Today, Oprah, New Age hucksters...."

Alas, doctors don't know better anymore. At university Pharma gives endowments to make certain that they are in control of the content of doctors' education, and that doctors are taught to give drugs - not to assess, diagnose and heal - and certainly not to think for themselves. 

 

Harvard Medical School students protest Pharma ties - and quackery in their own educations.

http://www.ahrp.org/cms/content/view/523/9/

 

Doctors get direct-to-consumer pitches too. Every doctor is profiled by pharmaceutical companies regarding personality quirks and prescribing habits so a personalized selling approach can be delivered by a drug rep or "detail man/woman". Here's Gwen Olsen again - telling us how she used to manipulate doctors:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOW8LNU2hFE

Here's Marcia Angell on how Pharma corrupts doctors:

http://www.greenchange.org/article.php?id=3726

Rather than taking medical advice from "experts" and people in the media, I hope you will ask questions and find out for yourself, because I don't think anyone else will take responsibility for your health. 

 

 

Tigana Tigana's picture

Sineed wrote:

Because I work in methadone maintenance, addictions caused by the medical system are my bread-and-butter.  And I feel that medically-caused addictions are symbolic of larger problems in the medical system, in problems of communication with patients, and doctors' failure to reconcile patients' demands with evidence-based medicine.

Sineed, this may be hard news for you. 

Bayer invented and originally marketed Heroin. The history of Methadone - another pharmaceutical blockbuster - is here.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methadone

Heroin and some other drug addictions can be quickly, inexpensively ended with intravenous (IV) Vitamin C - and IV Vit C also gets rid of Hepatitis.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FB5TsbtchT4&feature=player_embedded

Alexander G. Schauss, PhD. has held a number of academic appointments, and 
has been a member of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of 
Alternative Medicine Advisory Council and the Developmental Planning 
Committee of the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. Dr. Schauss is a Fellow 
of the American College of Nutrition (FACN). He is author or co-author of 
more than 100 papers or works, and served as Editor-in-Chief of the 
International Journal of Biosocial and Medical Research for 13 years.
Schauss has appeared on television shows including Phil Donohue, Maury 
Povich, and Oprah Winfrey.

 

Not that appearances on TV should count for much...

 

 

Sineed

Tigana wrote:

Sineed wrote:

Because I work in methadone maintenance, addictions caused by the medical system are my bread-and-butter.  And I feel that medically-caused addictions are symbolic of larger problems in the medical system, in problems of communication with patients, and doctors' failure to reconcile patients' demands with evidence-based medicine.

Sineed, as methadone maintenance is your bread and butter, this may be hard news for you. 

Bayer invented and originally marketed Heroin. The history of Methadone - another pharmaceutical blockbuster - is here.

">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methadone

Um everybody in the business knows methadone was invented by the Nazis.

Quote:
Heroin and some other drug addictions can be quickly, inexpensively ended with intravenous (IV) Vitamin C - and IV Vit C also gets rid of Hepatitis.

That reminds me - I need to get myself one of those super-strong umbrellas to deal with the droppings from all those flying pigs (or do you think the tin foil hat is good enough?)

Unionist

Tigana wrote:

 

APPLAUSE!!!!! Smile

Please edit your post so as not to falsely show this as a quote from Sineed.

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