Persistent Medical Myths
Thanks to the wonders of the twitterverse, a fascinating article came my way by Dr. Robert A. Kornfield about medical myths that even doctors subscribe to and perpetuate, despite what the research and experience shows. Here is my summary and thoughts on what people need to consider carefully. I worry about our ability to provide health care in this country when such costly beliefs persist.
Technology Improved Healthcare
If it had, we’d all be healthy, right? But we’re not. Instead, we put less emphasis on prevention and hope technology will save the day.
Inflammation Must Be Conquered
It’s the natural response of the immune system. Find the cause and fix that. Don’t handicap the immune system.
Genetics Control Disease
This attitude really bothers me. If you believe that genetics rule, then you become a helpless victim. Gene expression is complex and heavily influenced by lifestyle. Dr. Dean Ornish has done fascinating research into gene expression and lifestyle as it applies to prostate cancer. Your genes are not your destiny.
Medications Improve Health
Like technology, if this were true, we’d all be healthy, right? Instead we take meds for life. For many conditions, I do not see that they help at all.
Immunizations Prevent Serious Disease
I’m struggling a bit with this one. I’ll keep an open mind, because I have come across some interesting criticism. His main point appears to be that while we may immunize away some diseases, those powerful chemicals administered to undeveloped immune systems may lead to different serious diseases. I want to know more abut this one.
FDA Trials Ensure Safety
Thanks to recent examples of FDA approved drugs being rescinded, (Vioxx, anyone?) this point argues that since drugs are tested and approved in isolation, the results don’t apply to the real world, where people take multiple medications. These unforeseen interactions can wreak all kinds of havoc.
In this day and age we need to treat healthcare as it is: a profit seeking business. We need to be wise consumers, ask questions, and not immediately discount our common sense. Most importantly, we must take our health in our own hands, and as Dr. McDougall frequently exhorts, “Get out of the medical business!”