Monday, June 8, 2015

A Sucker Born Every Minute, said One of the Suckers

Last week I wrote about the book I wanted to read. It arrived and I’m halfway through it – and I truly have a hard time putting it down. The book, written by Dr. Malcolm Kendrick, is called, “Doctoring Data: How to Sort Out Medical Advice from Medical Nonsense.”

I can sum it up in a few words: We are constantly being sold a bill of goods. Another way to put it is, how can we be so gullible?

Dr. Kendrick has a dry, droll wit that makes this book a pleasure. I find myself chuckling a lot. And then there are the other emotions: anger, surprise, indignation – because of what I’m learning. Kendrick lists the ways “studies” and statistics get us and how to spot the falsehoods. And there are so many ways we’re manipulated. Blood pressure, cholesterol, hormones, anti-depressants, and on and on.

Here’s the most common tactic : When A happens and B also happens, the conclusion is that A causes B. For example, (I’m making this up) studies have shown that the majority of women who drive Mercedes Benz and BMW vehicles live longer than women who don’t. Therefore, if you want to live longer, buy a Benz or a Beemer.  Logical, right?

What if most women who drive those cars also exercise, eat organic, and live in France? Perhaps any or all of those factors influence their longevity. But the study would’ve been funded to sell cars, so who cares what the true reason is? This is exactly what happened with things like red wine and dark chocolate. Both are linked to better health/heart health only by association. Read the book and see.

This is how the entire pharmaceutical industry works. High blood pressure doesn’t cause heart attacks. It’s a symptom of heart disease. Lowering the blood pressure doesn’t cure the heart disease. It’s like putting a bandage on a symptom to hide it. You want to live longer? Find out what’s causing the heart disease and cure it, and the BP will come down. Are you told that? No, because doctors are told that lowering BP lowers death from heart attacks so they’ll push the medication believing they are saving lives. In actuality, it’s bogus. Read the book and see.

There are so many examples in this book that I’m appalled at how much we believe these manipulated statistics. I urge everyone to get your hands on a copy of this book and read it.  When the facts are real, Dr. Kendrick is quick to point it out. When they are made up, he’s quick to pounce on that, too. And you'll see that most of the so-called "facts" are not facts at all. They are drug advertisements.

So here’s my challenge. Read the book and let me know one way you’ve been tricked into believing one of the many myths of medicine, and send me a message. If I get enough, I’ll include your responses in a future blog.


Be happy, friends. Live, love, and laugh. Those are the best medicines there is.

14 comments:

Jen Scott said...

I will check out the book because I think too many people believe in taking a pill for a quick fix (which doesn't solve the problem). In a nut shell, I think it all comes to making money and not about the patient's health.

Kate Collins said...

You said it, Jen. I learned so much -- like, the BP numbers keep getting lowered so they can sell more blood pressure meds. Same with cholesterol. And there is no study that proves lives are saved with statins. In fact, it's even, except that people on statins have bad side effects. Best way is to exercise, eat healthy, and be good to oneself.

emilia.m said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
emilia.m said...

I wrote something here, decided to delete it though, as it became too long :) will try in short: As I totally agree with the fact that doctors tend to over-prescribe pills, there are cases that it is not an easy fix but simple necessity :) There's been a history of heart attacks in my family, and something DOES clog those arteries to cause them :) and while I again totally agree that there are cases where cholesterol CAN be controlled by healthy diet and exercise - it's proven to be not working for me. Helping, but not working.
And frankly? I tend to not trust the new discoveries that get the media buzzing every now and then. On both sides. Just simply not to get too crazy. :)
So sucker - yes, but a partial one I think ;)

Kate Collins said...

I agree, Emilia, that in certain cases, medical intervention is necessary. What frightens me is how the pharma companies manipulate their studies to get them to say what they want them to say -- that their pill works. What this book uncovers is which studies are valid and which are totally made up. Also, as he points out, negative studies don't get published. So all we see are their sly manipulation of statistics. I really advise everyone to read it so we are not so easily fooled. This is what Big Pharma counts on.

Sandi Lewis said...

When I read FACTS about statins several years ago, I was convinced they don't really cure. In fact they can make things worse. I do not take statins and urge my family to be careful about taking them and why.

Kate Collins said...

Sandi, the reason the Dr. who wrote the book started researching statins was because his own patients were not living longer or having fewer heart attacks and their spouses were reporting nasty side effects. So no extra years and poorer quality of life, is what the studies really showed. Pill taker beware!

Random Felines said...

may have to get this....often wondered about the quick fix

Karen in Ohio said...

Kate, a doctor recently tried to get me to take a particular OTC drug for heartburn. When I refused, he said, "What do you have against P?" I said, "I'd MUCH rather figure out why I started getting heartburn and address THAT issue, instead of just throwing money at it!"

It made me so mad! And he never did help me. Luckily, another, smarter doctor (a woman) did help. Sheesh.

Kate Collins said...

It's a fascinating book and the doctor has a dry Scottish wit that kept me entertained.

Kate Collins said...

Glad you trusted your instincts on that, Karen. We have to be our own advocate. That's why I highly recommend everyone read this book to protect themselves. Doctors rely on pharma reps to tell them about the meds they are selling. What kind of advice to they THINK they're going to get?

mary kennedy said...

Kate, this week's issue of TIME magazine is on prescription pain killers--which are killing people! The drug companies have been sued for hundreds of thousands of dollars (a drop in the bucket) for making false and misleading statements, claiming they are "safe" and "non-addictive."

Kate Collins said...

Hundreds of thousands of dollars is nothing -- you're right! After 60,000 people died from a drug deemed "safe" by their studies (cough) they had to pay several billions, which is what they profit from selling just a year's worth of one statin drug. No big deal. What is the incentive to make sure drugs are truly safe? None. It's frightening.

emilia.m said...

big pharma aside - I think the problem is also in the fact that people tend to be lazy ;) Why to put effort into something that the pill can "fix" for them? and that's with any pill I am afraid. I consider taking medication as the last thing on my list, when anything else fails.