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Thanks to recent examples of FDA approved drugs being rescinded, (Vioxx, anyone?)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.

My Conclusion

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!”


About vegpedlr

Plant powered off-road triathlete

Posted on October 19, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. In general I try to keep my opinions to myself, but I have to say that not all healthcare providers act in a manner that promotes medication or science. I have been fortunate to have two wonderful care providers from major HMO’s. As you know, your neice had severe breathing problems when she was an infant. This was at first thought to be due to her being premature, but later found out to be related to asthma and inflamation of the bronchials. While her pediatrician did prescribe rescue remedies for accute flare ups he encouraged us to locate what was triggering her episodes and his best advice ever was,”if you can’t eat it, don’t use it in the house.” Once we removed all the chemicals from bleach to conventional laundry detergents and even changed the bath soap to chemical free and only fragranced with essential oils – her asthma nearly halted. We no longer had bronchitis and pneumonia, which up until that point was chronic and at least every three weeks. Then her doctor suggested researching and removing any inflamatory foods such as soy and dairy and instead using nut milks for cereals. In no time we had the situation under control and went from relying on breathing monitors and alarms to confident peaceful slumber and very few medical episodes. I eventually researched vegan diets and that brought the dilemma full circle as we changed not only the diet, but the environment she lived in and it helped her begin to thrive.

    Years later I would run into a medical issue of my own, a severe iron deficiency. It would be easy for any physician to blame it on a veg* diet, but mine said he would’nt want me to eat any other way. A simple supplement for a few months and addition of iron rich veg* foods such as lentils would help the problem self-correct.

    Modern medicine is taking a turn in the right direction, the key is to find the providers who think the same way you do and who will support you in your efforts to rely less on prescriptions and more on identifying the root of the problem and correcting it. These physicians are becoming more prevalent and I find this uplifting and that there is hope for the future. Sadly, its easier to focus on the deficiencies of the system and not give glory to those who are making the changes we so hope for. As Sonia Johnson once said, ” We must remember that one determined person can make a difference, and that a small group of determined people can change the course of history”. The focus needs to change from constantly harping on a system we know is failing us and instead exhalting and honoring those who are stepping out of the box to initiate and support a new way of thinking.

    • Of course not all health care providers act this way. I don’t think any would want anything other than to help people. But suffering caused by lifestyle factors is huge. We can all do a lot better by not waiting for the doctor to save us from ourselves.

  2. OK- I have a few last thoughts on on your thoughts. I totally see where you are coming from. Immunizations were a big issue for us as we have a child and I grappled with this when she was an infant. Do they cause autism? This was a big debate at the time, in addition she was born when they just started the immunizations for menangitis. I was really stressed about this, but her father haven been rendered 100 percent deaf in one ear and 70% in the other from a bout with menangitis as an infant, he insisted on her being vaccinated. Who can blame him? I still wondered as she was being shot up with boosters if it was the right choice. Years later, our county would suffer one of the largest outbreaks of the once non-existant whooping cough. Working in the school system as a volunteer at the time I contracted it. Yes, I was once vaccinated, but it had worn off and when numerous students who were not vaccinated starting contracting and carrying the disease it quickly spread to staff and volunteers in my age bracket. While we all recovered, the frightening thing is that this disease can kill infants and especially infants like your niece was, breathing compromised to begin with. Measles mumps and rubella outbreaks have begun in part due to people not vaccinating kids. These aren’t new vaccines, they have been around for a long time, but the sad truth is that without them many lives are lost. I forgot what the current percentage is, but there have been studies on senseless deaths due to not vaccinating. A problem I do see is that they wear off, as did mine and revaccination may be needed. However, not vaccinating at all may not be the wisest choice for children, adults, or society as a whole.

    I think Dr McDougall is in his own business so I find it funny that he warns people to “get out of the medical business.” You have to remember that he works and promotes his thinking as a way of business and income. So I find it questionable that he suggests people get out of the medical business, indeed he makes money when they follow him through his business. That’s not to say that he doesn’t make valid points, he does in many ways, but he is a business man and medical man and liberally combines the two. He wants to sustain the lifestyle he has grown accustomed to and he does this through the promotion of his own books, processed food products such as soups, and his conventions and lectures. Is he a Saint? I think he embodies the essence of the American business man looking to earn a dollar, pass on a legacy to his kids, and retire comfortably, all made possible through the sale of his ideas and products. He is not a non-profit he is a for profit and that should be taken into consideration when analyzing what he says and promotes. He earns a living on the successful marketing and sales of his merhcandise and thought. He may have good points, but not taking into consideration that he is a for profit business man would be foolish. Food for thought I suppose. It is prudent to investigate everyone and everything from multiple perspectives and question any motives.

    • Vaccinations:
      I am not endorsing the doctor’s view, but I am intrigued by it. I have seen some criticism of vaccination, but I dismissed it as being too strange. But to see it rom a doctor makes me wonder. I want to know more. I personally think the benefits outweigh the risks, but who knows? What McDougall means by “get out of the business” is to stop relying on the doctor to cure lifestyle diseases. Make the lifestyle changes first, then add conventional therapy if needed.

  3. This doesn’t fit right here, but you should work it in somewhere, I couldn’t find the right category. Not only what you put in your body acts for or against disease, but also what you put on your body. I read an article many years ago…probably at least a decade and it was warning about potentially cancer causing ingredients in our shampoos, lotions, soaps, and deoderants. Specifically,, sodium lauryl sulfates, parabens, EDTA, Disodium EDTA, anything that is a petroleum, and TEA (not the drinking kind its an acronym for some chemical). After reading the article I was so alarmed that it changed my body products forever. A few of these chemicals are allegedly harmless of themselves, but when combined and placed in plastic, they react and create carcinogens. They are most often used as stablizers for the products so that they have a long shelf life without separating, but at what potential? A decade ago, no one heard of these, but now you see products boasting no parabens or sulfates, however that doesn’t mean they are pure either. The article warned that perhaps breast cancer would one day be linked to these chemicals as when we wash our hair and body, these run down our body’s largest organ – the skin and penetrate it as well. Thus, into the tissue as well. My rule of thumb – if you can’t recognize the ingredients and eat them – don’t use them!! Dr.Brommer’s organic line is my favorite. It may look yucky, but gets the job done and doesn’t leave me glowing in the dark from all the chemicals. Plus, who needs to bathe in toxic waste?

    • This topic deserves its own space. Want to guest post? I was simply summarizing and commenting on an interesting editorial I found. But I totally agree with you about the chemicals the skin can aborb. Dr. Phile Maffetone says the same thing, if you can’t eat it, don’t smear it on your skin because it will still be absorbed. These chemicals didn’t exist 100 years ago, and it’s quite possible they have played a large role in our health woes. I especially like your question of chemical interaction. Thanks for the comment.

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