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The War On Drugs - A Losing Battle?
While we have troops fighting foreign wars [that may never end], we are losing the war on drugs right here in our own neighborhoods and schoolyards. I am a mother of three and I make a point of picking up my kids from school each day, and I am keen alert and aware of any suspicious behavior or activity at school or in my neighborhood.
I am happy to say that don't see anything suspicious or have any indications that my kids' school has a problem with drugs, thank God! Granted, my kids are not even in middle school yet, but I am still relieved.
This newsletter is not about street drugs. It's about pharmaceuticals.
Casual conversations in the schoolyard almost always bring discussion of medication (sadly). Of course ADHD meds, asthma meds, and antibiotics for children are common topics, and parents use these terms freely as if it is more NORMAL to have a child on meds than one that is healthy! This fact used to make me want to cry. Now I'm just used to it.
But now the Moms and Dads are bringing up their own medication use, including antidepressants, anti-anxiety meds, sleep meds, and one woman even admitted to being addicted to pain medication. She blames her doctor for this. Mind you we are still in the school yard, just moments before our kids run out of the door to embrace us.
There is an epidemic happening here, not of a particular disease, but of disease and drug use being considered normal.
Each day of my practice I see lists of medication on patient intake forms, and feel certain that many medications may be causing more harm than good. Of course I do, I'm a naturopathic doctor! I am "against pharmaceutical medication" right?
I know that medication can help save lives if used correctly. However there is an epidemic of medication misuse and it starts in the doctor's office. I have found that I am not alone I my philosophy. Fortunately the doctors that I work with, here in South Jersey, believe this to be true as well. We are not alone!
Dr. Oz is providing us info about alternatives to medication every day in his popular TV show. Dr. Mercola is getting the word out as well, loud and clear, and free from the editing that is involved with popular television! Here is an excerpt from his most recent newsletter entitled "6 Kinds of Pills Big Pharma Tries to Get You Hooked on for Life"
"There are two effective marketing strategies employed by drug companies on a regular basis, and they include:
1.Convincing you that drugs you used to take only when you needed them are now everyday "prevention" necessities in the form of a prescription; and
2.Selling you the idea that just being at risk for a chronic disease makes you someone who should be taking a drug for the disease.
What makes these two strategies so successful is that by seeing the advertisement, YOU are the one who sells it to your doctor, by suggesting that you need a certain drug, or outright asking for it. According to a recent article by Martha Rosenbergvi:
"Since direct-to-consumer drug advertising debuted in the late 1990s, the number of people on prescription drugs -- especially prescription drugs for life -- has ballooned. Between 2001 to 2007 the percentage of adults and children on one or more prescriptions for chronic conditions rose by more than 12 million, reports the Associated Press and 25 percent of US children now take a medication for a chronic conditionvii. Seven percent of kids take two or more daily drugs. Who says advertising doesn't work? Of the top-selling drugs in 2011viii, led by Lipitor, Nexium, Plavix, Advair Diskus, Abilify, Seroquel, Singulair and Crestor, none is taken occasionally, or "as needed" and the treatment goal is never to get off the drug, like an antibiotic."
She lists six types of drugs that are "marketed for perpetuity," meaning they're intended to be taken for life. Sadly most of these drugs come with potential side effects that can be far worse than your original symptom, and few of them have been definitively proven to actually provide any significant health benefits. In fact, some of these drugs have been found to worsen the very condition they're meant to treat (such as antidepressants, statins, proton pump inhibitors, and asthma-control meds), and/or cause other serious diseases."
The 6 drugs mentioned in the article include:
Proton Pump Inhibitors
Conventional Hormone Replacement Therapy
The fact is that some diseases are actually "created" so that there is a drug that you will need to treat it. I am not saying that bipolar disorder, ADHD, hypertension, high cholesterol, IBS, and menopause are not real issues with real symptoms/risks. What I am convinced of is that these issues are often over-diagnosed (ADHD, bipolar), inflated (hyperlipidemia, hypertention),misdiagnosed (IBS), or called abnormal (menopause) in order to sell medication.
Each and every one of the maladies listed above has a cause, a preventive measure, and even natural remedies that will help you deal with the issue if you indeed have a genetic reason for it (which most people DO NOT).
The bottom line: prevention of disease is key, and my goal is to find ways to prevent the need for medication. Did you know that the cocktail of sugar and caffeine (ie, RedBull or a cup of coffee with sugar) in the morning can cause a normal child or adult to have attention issues, bipolar behavior, and even learning disability categorization? Did you know that statin drugs actually weaken the heart? And that medication for heartburn can make heartburn much worse if you try to get off of it?
I could tell dozens of stories about how I help patients to get off of these and other medications and on the road to health. But this is better done in the office, especially if you are interested in BEING ONE OF THOSE SUCCESS STORIES.
Read Dr. Mercola's full article at www.mercola.com. It's a "must-read" if you take any of the meds or if you know anyone who takes many medications, or if you have a loved one in military service.
Think hard about the medication that you swallow because "your doctor said so".
If you wish to discuss your own medication list with me, or ways to prevent your list from growing, call me for an appointment.
Yours in Good Health,
Posted on May 18, 2012 by Jennifer Phillips
Cholesterol Drug Zetia Doesn't Cut Heart Attack Risk: Study
Date updated: January 14, 2008
Content provided by Health Day
MONDAY, Jan. 14 (HealthDay News)-- The long-awaited results of a trial of Zetia, a cholesterol-lowering drug prescribed to about a million Americans, shows the drug confers no medical benefit to users.
In fact, the pace at which artery-clogging plaques formed within vessels almost doubled in patients taking Zetia (ezetimibe) along with another cholesterol-lowering drug, Zocor (simvastatin), compared to those taking Zocor alone, the study found.
The two medications -- ezetimibe plus simvastatin -- are also marketed in one prescription pill, called Vytorin. About 60 percent of U.S. patients who are taking Zetia now receive the drug as part of Vytorin.
But the new two-year trial of 720 patients sheds doubt on whether it makes any sense for people battling cholesterol to take Vytorin versus Zocor alone, experts said. The study was funded by the two companies that make Zetia, Merck and Schering-Plough.
"This wraps it up," said Dr. Steven E. Nissen, chairman of cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic. "That's all there is. There just isn't any evidence that adding ezetimibe to simvastatin produces any advantage."
No one is disputing that Zetia can lower levels of LDL "bad" cholesterol by 15 percent to 20 percent -- that had been shown in previous trials. However, whether that reduction led to any greater lowering of heart attack or stroke risk had remained unclear.
The new ENHANCE trial -- which involved patients with a genetic condition that causes abnormally high levels of blood cholesterol -- found no such added benefit. According to a statement released by the two drug companies Monday, researchers found no statistically significant difference in heart attacks or stroke among trial participants who took Zetia plus Zocor, a widely used cholesterol-lower drug, versus those who got Zocor alone.
The study also noted that the speed at which arteries thickened with plaque almost doubled among those on the two-drug regimen compared to those taking Zocor alone.
Safety profiles were similar for Zetia/Zocor versus Zocor alone, the team added.
"These results are very important considerations on how we treat patients with elevated cholesterol and will very likely impact the way we choose drugs to lower cholesterol and eliminate plaque," said Dr. Howard Weintraub, clinical director of the Center for the Prevention of Cardio-Vascular Disease at New York University Medical Center, New York City, and clinical associate professor at the NYU School of Medicine.
"ENHANCE found that plaque got slightly worse when the drug combination was used," Weintraub noted in a statement. "But, the real take-home message here is that getting LDL down is important, and that's not something that should be lost as a consequence of this study."
The ENHANCE study was completed in April 2006, but the results were only released Monday by Merck and Schering-Plough after continual prodding by medical professionals. According to The New York Times, the companies had initially planned to release the findings by March 2007, but then missed several self-imposed deadlines, blaming the delay on the complexities of necessary data analysis.
Now that the results have arrived, Zetia and Vytorin should be viewed as "drugs of last resort," for patients not helped by standard statin therapy, Nissen said. Only if you can't tolerate full doses of simvastatin should you take ezetimibe, he said.
"This is one of the most widely advertised and widely used drugs out there, so it's obviously good to get these study results," Nissen added.
Another group questioned why patients should be prescribed more expensive cholesterol-lowering drugs, such as Vytorin, versus cheaper, generic statins such as Zocor.
"We already know that millions of people who take these brand drugs probably don't need to; they could be taking a less expensive generic instead. This study lends support to that cost-saving strategy for the health system and for consumers," said Steven Findlay, managing editor of Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs, a public information and education project of Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports.
"If there is no apparent clinical benefit, why take a drug that cost three or four times more?" Findlay said in a statement. "Most people do not need that magnitude of cholesterol reduction anyway."
Sales of Zetia and Vytorin totaled $3.7 billion in the nine months ending Sept. 30, up 33 percent from a year ago. Analysts estimate that about 70 percent of Schering-Plough's earnings depend on the drugs, the Times noted.
Comment by Dr. Steven Horvitz:
I have questioned at times the use of any cholesterol lowering medication. While they do lower cholesterol, how much does the cholesterol lowering actually benefit each individual? Most of the cholesterol lowering studies have shown dramatic decreases in total bad (LDL) cholesterol, sometimes up to 50% reductions. However the actual percentage of patients who benefit by not having a heart attack, stroke, or cardiac death averages out to about 6%. 6% means that for every 16 people you treat, one person will benefit. While we never know who that one person will be, and we all hope that it will be ourselves, what about the other 15 patients who have had no benefit? In my practice I explain all options to my patients about cholesterol, the good, the bad, and the indifferent. Together, we make a decision as to whether medication for cholesterol is an advantage or not.
Steven Horvitz, D.O.
Board Certified Family Medicine
Your Partner in Health!
Comment by Dr Jennifer Phillips:
“Lately the fear of cholesterol has almost become an obsession. What many people do not realize is that cholesterol is necessary for the body to function. Problems begin when the body has too much cholesterol, but there are many natural therapies to bring down cholesterol levels. The human body manufactures 60 - 75% of its total cholesterol for its own use. The body uses cholesterol as glue to keep cell membranes from falling apart. It also is one of the building blocks for many of the body’s hormones such as estrogen, testosterone and cortisone.
Besides reducing intake of overall dietary fats and SUGARS, another way to lower cholesterol levels is to increase its elimination from the body. Oat bran and apples are especially good absorbing agents, but evidence suggests that increasing fiber of any kind in the diet will decrease cholesterol levels. Half-a-cup serving of cooked pinto or navy beans daily can lower LDL cholesterol levels by 20%.
Coffee, both regular and decaf, has been implicated in high cholesterol levels and reducing its consumption is suggested.
Exercise can dramatically increase the HDL’s and to some extent, decrease the cholesterol-depositing LDL’s. The best kind of regimen would be 30-45 minutes brisk walking, cycling or swimming three to four times a week.
Certain fish and plant oils will reduce cholesterol in some people. Niacin can lower LDL’s and increase HDLs significantly and has been proven to decrease the risk of heart attack. Lecithin has been shown to significantly lower LDL cholesterol while raising HDL. Garlic tablets can also lower cholesterol. Onion and garlic can be used liberally in your cooking as well.
High levels of cholesterol are associated with many life-threatening diseases but there are a number of dietary measures that can lower and/or control levels. If periodic checks are made by a doctor and common-sense dietary changes are made as needed by the patient and kept up over time, atherosclerotic disease can be reduced and the problems it cause prevented and possibly even reversed.”
Jennifer Phillips, ND
Posted on January 16, 2008 by Jennifer Phillips
Jennifer Phillips, ND Merchantville Office (856) 488-7067 Merchantville Office 41 W Chestnut Ave, Merchantville, NJ 08109 US Moorestown Office 110 Marter Avenue Suite 408, Moorestown, NJ 08057 US Sewell Office (Ageless Skin and Laser Center) 660 Woodbury-Glassboro Rd, Sewell, NJ 08080-2664 US DrJen@naturopathynj.com