by Helen Lobato
She clutched the tattered, old black bag tightly to her ample breast, her large and disorderly body atop the narrow trolley. They wheeled the dirty old woman into the room. "She’s got a lot of money in that bag," the older man said. "And I mean a lot of money," he stressed. Oh yes, I remembered her well.
Ruby had been brought to the emergency department that morning. She’d been playing with her cat when she felt dizzy. She lived alone hopelessly depressed and suffering short term memory loss. They had moved her onto the bed, her unkempt handbag temporarily out of her clutches. With the supervisor beside me we counted the money. $1200 in cash, no wonder she clutched it so closely Ruby kept her pension money with her, just in case!
We locked the money in the safe. She kept on clutching her old black bag! Then the loud whaling started. She reminded me of a sick animal in agony. My daughter’s old dog had been put down that same day. Bella constantly cried, so bad was her pain and her ageing.
Ruby screeched as she stretched back her toes as the familiar cramp took hold. "Where did you put my pants?" she cried. "I want them back on! Ruby was getting back into bed after one of her many trips to the bathroom. Her black and putrid underpants were now in the rubbish. Oh yes I remember her well.
How many more trips will Ruby make to hospital clutching her old black bag. I heard them say they will fit her with a heart pacemaker. But pacemakers don’t fix pain, loneliness or short term memory loss. And they can’t wash her dirty underpants either!
Until the late 18th century a visit to the hospital was typically your last outing No one went to hospital expecting to get better. It was believed that if a society continues to need hospitals then its revolution has failed.
That the revolution has failed is obvious when we consider how huge are the health budgets which it is predicted will, at present pace consume the state’s entire budget in about 50 years.
How then did we get to this point when we are so totally dependent on a system which has us clamouring to get in…
Modern medicine had its beginnings around the time of the 17th century when William Harvey, demonstrated the circulation of the blood, and quinine began to triumph over malaria. In the 18th century the heart drug digitalis was introduced and the condition of scurvy was controlled.
It was a promising beginning but one that has gone horribly wrong.
Scientific medicine put less emphasis on the whole person and became obsessed with the different parts of our bodies, our livers, our hearts, and our brains…. The body was seen as a machine. New technologies flourished and most importantly death was deferred. Nature became the enemy, if you like…..
Many warned of the growing dilemma as they saw it. That of leaving health care in the hands of the professional elite. Radical Philosopher Ivan Illich was one critic who wrote that,
By transforming pain, illness, and death from a personal challenge into a technical problem, medical practice expropriates the potential of people to deal with their human condition in an autonomous way and becomes the source of a new kind of un-health.1
In a special report on the state of Victoria, Australia Age journalist Tim Colebatch wrote that
When it comes to health Victorians are most worried about waiting lists.2
Colebatch’s words echo the sentiment among the populace… All we need it access to the treatments and medicine’s institutions.
I remember the opening of the new Austin hospital only a couple of years ago. The occasion was experienced with much elation. But why would the growth of the sickness industry be one which was worthy of applaud. Surely this demonstrates our disconnect from the state of true health and the meaning of life…
Colebatch is thinking along these lines when he wrote
We should be asking what it is that governments can do to keep us out of hospital.3
What is health anyway?
Health, argued Ivan Illich
Is the capacity to cope with the human reality of death, pain, and sickness. Technology can help, but modern medicine has gone too far---launching into a Godlike battle to eradicate death, pain, and sickness. In doing so, it turns people into consumers or objects, destroying their capacity for health.4
There is truth in what philosopher Ivan Illich wrote in “Medical Nemesis.
Today we have a situation in which the risk of death in this state has fallen by a third over the last 15years. This doesn’t mean that we are necessarily living healthy lives, in fact some of these long living people are merely existing. They live in and out of hospitals and other health institutions for their last remaining years, occupying hospital beds and consuming more and more expensive treatments and technology that accompanies this and like Ruby are as Ilich put it, the victims of Cultural Iatrogenesis, the destruction of traditional ways of dealing with and making sense of death, pain, and sickness 5
Of course there is room for modern medicine in our lives.
Modern medicine treats many conditions very well. Where indeed would we be without it?
Some women need obstetric help to give birth, But only a very few need this help. More than 74,000 caesarean sections were performed in Australia in 2003, representing 28.5per cent of all births, up from 19 per cent in 1994. In 1970 the cesarean rate was 5 percent.
Not many women need caesarian births but this is becoming very commonplace and according to some will become the norm rather than the exception very soon.
All part of our no risk society and move away from nature. Nature takes time with birth and causes pain.
Modern medicine and surgery have their rightful place such as in areas of road trauma, the treatment of burns victims, treating brain haemorrhages and the small but necessary caesarian births, and the setting broken bones and other traumatic events.
BUT there is the down side…that is what I am speaking about today…
Conventional medicine has actually become the third largest cause of death. These mostly due to unnecessary procedures. Up to 80 %of tonsillectomies and hysterectomies are unnecessary. In fact up to 60% of other surgeries are unnecessary also.6 Although Chemotherapy has become very mainstream there is no evidence that these cancer treatments are effective and indeed Chemotherapy's Long-Term effects can last a decade or more. Survivors of childhood cancer are five times more likely to develop a chronic disease by age 45 than were their siblings who had not undergone cancer treatment as children.
A recent commonwealth government report has found that hundreds of Australians may be dying from cancer every year as a result of the radiation received from cat scans. The much- touted test for breast cancer is the mammogram which is in fact an x-ray and as we all know x-rays are radiation and this causes cancer. In fact for every 1000 women screened biennially throughout 12 years, one breast cancer death is avoided whereas the total number of deaths is increased by 6. 7 In the area of breast cancer very little is said about the causes only the tests and the treatments, both of which are very profitable to the cancer industry.
And yet just a few weeks ago Labor pledged $25m towards a new cancer centre. But where are the creative solutions to the rising cancer rates.
We are not a healthy people:
Just how much do we owe the medical profession really?
Let’s have a brief look at our history.
If we go to the introduction of Industrialisation we had a rise in infections, which then subsided. Tuberculosis peaked over a 50–75-year period and declined before either the tubercle bacillus had been discovered or anti-tuberculous programmes had been initiated.
Next we had the era of rickets and pellagra, these also had their peak and then declined. This improvement was driven by better nutrition. Although diseases of young childhood such as measles, diptheria, and whooping cough were problematic, the incidence and deaths from these were declining before the advent of vaccination. They declined due to better living conditions.
And arriving back at the times in which we now live, the diseases from which we suffer are well known to all of us. They are the result largely of our way of life, the food we eat and the pace of life among other factors. These diseases consist of coronary heart-disease, hypertension, cancer, arthritis, diabetes, and mental disorders, and a rising number of auto immune diseases.
Let’s examine one of these modern day afflictions:
Coronary heart disease
What are we told about the cause, prevention and treatment. Is what we are told and how we are being treated within medical institutions in fact the whole story or is there more to this? Who is gaining from the expensive treatments that are promoted in this sickness industry?
Heart disease was very rare in 1900, responsible for about 8% of all deaths in the US compared with today’s figures of approximately 45%.
But why has this become so common nowadays as to account for around 45% of all deaths?
One of the touted risk factors for heart disease is high blood cholesterol levels.
But do high blood cholesterol levels lead to a heart attack? And what do we mean by high cholesterol levels?
From The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Website we learn:
Total blood cholesterol levels above 5.5 mmol/L are an indication of a greatly increased risk of developing coronary heart disease. Levels above 6.5 mmol/L are considered to indicate extremely high risk. The trend these days is to promote testing of cholesterol in all adults and the likelihood of finding yourself on cholesterol lowering medication for the rest of your life is very strong.8
What is Cholesterol anyway and what happens in the body when we reduce it?
Cholesterol is a soft, waxy substance, which plays many important roles in the human body. It is vital to the proper functioning of the cell membrane. Cholesterol is the body’s repair substance. Cholesterol is the precursor to Vitamin D which in turn is invaluable for mineral metabolism. Cholesterol has a huge role in proper neurological functioning and in regulating blood sugar levels. It is also a precursor to the production of the sex hormones such as testosterone, estrogen and progesterone.9
Surely we should be worried about so many people taking a drug to lower this important substance that is part of our body and integral to its proper functioning!
This is never discussed….
The drugs that are prescribed to lower cholesterol are called statins. Examples of these are lipitor, zocor, and provachol and have many dangerous side effects such as muscle pain, neuropathy, heart failure, dizziness, cognitive impairment, cancer, pancreatic rot and depression.
Cholesterol lowering drugs do lower cholesterol but do they prevent heart disease?
Well, even one drug manufacturer has admitted that cholesterol-lowering drugs will not prevent heart attacks.
Pfizer is the manufacturer of the cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor and on its website was the following disclaimer:
Lipitor has not been shown to prevent heart disease or heart attacks.
So what is going on here?
We have been led to believe that high cholesterol levels can lead to heart attacks and yet the manufacturers admitted that their drug which they have designed to lower blood cholesterol has not been shown to prevent heart attacks.
What it means is that Pfizer knows that their drugs do not prevent heart disease and we are merely the pawns in their profitable game. Lipitor, has annual sales of more than $6 billion.
Today Australians spend $94 million a year at the pharmacist's counter on the cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor, according to Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme data.
But more than double that figure is spent on marketing the drug, taking the total cost to the taxpayer — after the PBS subsidy is added — to $581.5 million each year.10
and for a drug that doesn’t prevent heart disease……
Pfizer has since been able to withdraw its disclaimer from its website now that the US has passed laws promoting pharmaceutical amnesty.
This is very serious when you consider that over fifty thousand Australians are believed to be injured each year by medications they are taking but with laws like this well where will you seek your redress.
The pharmacetical industry therefore is a major player in the sickness industry.
Throughout the 20th century, the pharmaceutical industry was built and organized with the goal of controlling healthcare systems around the world by systematically replacing natural, non-patentable therapies with patentable and therefore profitable synthetic drugs.The goal being to merely cover symptoms but never addressing the root cause of a disease.
The 2005 figures for prescription drugs sales were $200 billion. This figure refers to the consumer purchase of drugs at pharmacies but it doesn’t include the amount spent on drugs in hospitals and nursing homes. The total from these three areas adds up to $400 billion. 11
You might be under the impression that all these new drugs that appear on the market are better than those that went before them but… Of the 78 drugs approved in 2002 only 17 of these had any new ingredients The others were variations of older drugs. They were me-to drugs
The ALLHAT trial which was a trial of high blood pressure treatments compared four types of drugs that are used to treat high blood pressure.
1. a calcium channel blocker 2. A beta blocker 3. An angiotensin converting enzyme ihibitor 4. and a generic diuretic or water pill that has been on the market for over fifty years.
The results were startling.
The old time diuretic turned out to be just as good at lowering blood pressure and better for controlling some of the devastating complications of high blood pressure- mainly heart disease and strokes.
Yet over the years these diuretics were passed over in favor of the new drugs. Diuretics were priced at only $37 a year in 2002 compared with $715 for norvasc one of the newer me too drugs So this means that if you are taking norvasc to control your high blood pressure then you get to pay 19 times more for the privilege. And the cost to our health may be worse as well. There are many side effects from these new drugs.
And really just how many drugs do we really need? Some morphine for pain, Lasix as the simple cheap diuretic, Penicillin for bad infections that the body can’t treat itself, Digoxin, a common anti arrythmic heart medication, Anginine for heart pain, Adrenaline for anaphylaxis.
Nothing like the hundreds or thousands of drugs on the market today.
Marcia Angell author of the truth about the drug companies tells us that this industry is taking us for a ride.
And a ride that the Bush govt is intricately involved in….. Since 2000, the pharmaceutical industry has shelled out more than $70 million in campaign contributions, with 70 percent going to Republicans. In addition, a total of fourteen senior Bush administration officials have "passed through the federal government's revolving door and are now lobbying for the prescription drug industry."12
Lets look at how the sickness industry is being marketed.
“Be a Man” was the message being belted out by a procession of high profile medics and celebs in sunny Martin Place recently. Michael Lascelles wrote:
“See your doctor about a checkup for prostate cancer” was the message being pushed by the likes of media-GP Kerryn Phelps, Labour bigwig Wayne Swan, Marcia Hines, Magda Szubanski and a cast of thousands. There was a real feelgood atmosphere among the lunchtime workers sat around the little auditorium as they were told not to be squeamish, but to get checked out. Lascelles found himself agreeing with them and enjoying the good vibes. Yet at the back of his mind he knew that prostate cancer screening is an untidy and highly controversial issue. All the familiar arguments – does it save lives? [We just don’t know] ...Do you want to be made incontinent and impotent by having treatment for a non-threatening slow-growing tumour? Shall we scare the shit out of many older men by labeling them as having cancer? Of course, none of this was mentioned in the sunny presentation hosted by some MTV video jock. And neither was the fact that the event's organisers, the Prostate Cancer Foundation, are funded by Astrazeneca, Sanofi and Novartis, makers of treatments for men diagnosed with prostate cancer. Maybe it’s not always wise to “Be a Man”. You might have a better old age being a wuss 13
This disease industry is a vital part of the economy of our countries.
Mike Adams of newstarget.com writes that
We have created so much disease in the US and have based our economy on it to such a degree that, frankly, we cannot untangle this situation without causing economic distress. 14
Adams calls it a disease economy.
One of the latest innovations of the sickness industry is the cervical cancer vaccine.
This is a new vaccine which is being marketed at young girls and probably boys from 9 to 26 years old. It is said to be a vaccine to prevent cervical cancer. The organism that is believed to cause this cancer is HPV.
However this is a big leap of faith.
Does a virus cause a cancer?
Well there are many researchers who would argue with this hypothesis. Cancers are caused not by viruses but by carcinogens.
The US national cancer institute says that direct causation has not been proven. In the U.S, the incidence of cervical cancer in all women, with and without HPV, per 70-year lifetime is about 1%. In a controlled study of age-matched women, 67% of those with cervical cancer and 43% of those without were found to be HPV-positive. 15
Then what is this all about?
The incidence of this virus HPV is rampant in society. 70-80% of women and men carry this virus and our bodies clear this virus over time and very few of us get cervical cancer.
The year 2000 figures on the mortality rates for cervical cancer are 3.3 women per 100,000 population in the US and 4 women per 100,000 population in Australia 15
It is not a pleasant disease but the figures are not at epidemic proportions, are they?
Even if HPV was somehow indicated in this cancer there is no need to vaccinate a whole generation of children when most people with this virus fight it off quite naturally and it can be picked up on Pap smear testing.
No, this is just another money spinner for a desperate industry, one that is forced to come up with product after product.
What about the cervical cancer vaccine trials? These were successful and safe weren’t they?
Well no! The FDA allowed Merck to use a potentially reactive aluminum containing placebo as a control for most trial participants, rather than a non-reactive saline solution placebo. A reactive placebo can artificially increase the appearance of safety of an experimental drug or vaccine in a clinical trial.
The vaccine itself contains 225 mcg of Aluminium. And we know that aluminium is not something that we should be injecting in children or anybody else.
About 60 percent of those who got Gardasil or the aluminum placebo had systemic adverse events including headache, fever, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, myalgia. Gardasil recipients had more serious adverse events such as headache, gastroenteritis, appendicitis, pelvic inflammatory disease, asthma, bronchospasm and arthritis.
The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), Sums the situation up correctly: With cervical cancer causing about one percent of all cancer deaths in American women due to routine pap screening, it was inappropriate for the FDA to fast track Gardasil. It is way too early to direct all young girls to get three doses of a vaccine that has not been proven safe or effective in their age group."
Financial analysts predict Gardasil could be Merck's most important pipeline contributor to top-line growth, with peak sales of at least $2 billion -- revenue Merck badly needs after the Vioxx scandals. That revenue figure assumes that Gardasil will be required for school admittance. 16.
The whole sorry episode is a scam
How does the disease industry get away with it?
There is a misguided faith in the medical establishment and this continues and is aided by the mainstream media which has been silenced on many health issues especially around the vaccination industry. Today our children and grandchildren are receiving 50 vaccinations before they start school We need to ask why? What are these vaccinations doing to children’s immune systems? The rise of auto immune disease is rampant Even the Australian newspaper hinted at the connection between vaccination and asthma recently. The belief in vaccination persists partly because of the profound belief in the germ theory which was reputed by Pastuer shortly before his death. And of course the huge vested financial interests involved. But our children are becoming in the words of Meryl Dorey from the Australian vaccination network…little voodoo dolls.
All of these issues require us to do our own learning.
As in the case of the cervical cancer vaccine if you don’t understand that the virus HPV doesn’t cause cancer and that the body can clear itself of the virus then you will submit your self to more and more unnecessary and harmful vaccines.
As in the case of heart disease it is necessary to look at history. Heart disease as we know it was relatively rare till the 1950’s when diets began to change. The 1950’s saw the beginnings of the edible oil industry and the development of margarines. Margarines are trans fats and are artery-clogging. Trans fats are found in margarine and foods like french fries and fried chicken, doughnuts, cookies, pastries and crackers. This industrialised modern fat works at the cellular level interfering with chemical reactions leading to heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
Medical research is being driven by the share prices of drug companies, not the health needs of people. We need to ask are we are living healthier and happier lives. Are the extra years worth it?
Now old Ruby’s heart beats regularly once again. She will not feel dizzy and she will not collapse But the cramps and the loneliness will grind on and on… As does the disease industry….
1. Ivan Illich, Medical Nemesis, the Expropriation of Health, Pantheon books 1976
2. Tim Colebatch The State of Victoria The Age newspaper October/ November 2006
3. Tim Colebatch The State of Victoria The Age newspaper October/ November 2006
4. Ivan Illich, Medical Nemesis, the Expropriation of Health, Pantheon books 1976
5. Ivan Illich, Medical Nemesis, the Expropriation of Health, Pantheon books 2006
6. Eve Hillary, Health Betrayal, Staying away from the Sickness Industry, Synergy Books, NSW, 2003
10. http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/drugged-by-cost-of-sales-and- pr/2006/11/12/1163266413588.html
11. Marcia Angell M.D. The Truth about the Drug companies, Scribe Australia 2005