Health Impact News Editor
Doctors today are over-prescribing diagnostic tests and drugs, and patients need to learn how to say “no” to their doctors. This message, surprisingly, is coming from the mainstream media. While this has been a clear message for many years now in the alternative media, that message is now going “mainstream.”
This month, the British Medical Journal (BMJ) published a report  on the increasing number of people being put on medication for high blood pressure. They note how the creation of a new category, “prehypertension,” allows doctors to prescribe hypertension drugs with much lower numbers in diastolic pressure tests.
Lowering definitions of hypertension has led to identification and drug treatment of larger populations of patients despite lack of evidence that drugs reduce morbidity or mortality.
The BMJ also reported on how diagnostic testing often finds “problems” that don’t necessarily need treatment, and can lead to creating the very problems they are supposed to be screening to detect. They specifically looked at breast cancer screening  and prostate cancer treatment .
Time Magazine ran a story  on the BMJ reports highlighting the problem of doctors over-prescribing tests and medications with an article written by Alexandra Sifferlin: The Global Problem With Overdiagnosis and Overtreatment.
“Instead of recommending lifestyle modifications proven to work, like cutting back on alcohol and exercising more, many doctors opt for drugs because they want to do something right away… Most doctors feel a little under siege; they see blood pressure rising and weight going up and they want to do something, but they know they have huge headwinds,” says Saini. “Prescribing a pill is the path of least resistance, but it’s a lot of money.” According to the researchers, the clinical treatment for mild hypertension needs to shift away from a heavy emphasis on drugs. (Source .)
Probably the most comprehensive coverage on this issue of over-prescribing drugs and medical procedures in the mainstream media this month came from the October edition of Men’s Journal: When to Say No to Your Doctor .
Joseph Hooper writes:
Every time you walk into a physician’s office, you run the risk of overtreatment: Tests you don’t need, medications that are ineffective (or dangerous), procedures that cause more problems than they solve. In many cases the best thing for your health is to do nothing. (Source .)
The Men’s Journal has three sections to provide information to people in learning how to refuse medical treatment:
- PART 1: Screening for Disease Where No Symptoms Exist 
- PART 2: Drugs: Effective for the Few, Prescribed to the Many 
- PART 3: Surgeries You May Be Better Off Without 
Hooper says that there are some “well-respected, influential physicians” who are breaking away from the status quo to reveal this problem with over-prescribing tests and drugs.
Patients Need to Take Control of Their Own Health
I am encouraged that the mainstream media is highlighting these problems. The alternative media has been pointing out these problems for many years now, and those who have traditionally viewed us as “quacks” should pause to take notice. Those who have swallowed whole everything coming out of the medical system and their propaganda vehicle, the mainstream media, have now been made aware of the problem, and validated some of the things the alternative health community has said for years.
It’s a positive step in the right direction. But that’s all it is, a tiny baby step.
As a publisher of Internet content on alternative health since early 2000, when we dared to publish the truth regarding saturated fats and coconut oil against the tide of the medical system and mainstream media who opposed us, I have had a unique perspective from behind my computer and interacting with hundreds of thousands of people over the years on various alternative health topics.
One thing I applaud in this recent about-face in the mainstream media is their warning that the patient needs to take back control of their health, and not rely on the “health experts” in the medical system. Let’s face it, the current system exists because it is profitable, and the population willingly complies with their directives. The first step in taking control of your own health is realizing that your doctor is not always correct, and often has a conflict of interest.
Medical professionals who are paid for their services work FOR YOU, not the other way around. Like any other profession, they are paid consultants. So if you do your own research and homework prior to paying for their consultation, you become an active participant in the process, and you are less likely to become a compliant victim of medical abuse or errors.
If we want doctors and other medical professionals to change, then it has be driven by patient demands. If patients change and assume more control of their health, it will force doctors to change also. You have a lot more power than you realize, as a consumer of medical products.
The Internet today is a powerful tool, putting at your finger tips access to the same information that doctors and medical professionals have. Don’t be fooled by the common accusation that “The Internet is a dangerous place to get health information.”
Nonsense. The Internet is nothing more than a looking glass that crosses geographical boundaries. It EMPOWERS the consumer to be able to study the same journal articles and research available to the medical profession. Take advantage of it!
Sure, there is a lot of bogus information on the Internet as well, but that has always been true of any information source. But the power of the Internet is that you can do your own research, and do not have to be spoon-fed information filtered through the mainstream media any longer. If you make a trip in to see a doctor about something, do your homework first and research the issues. Ask intelligent questions about research that either supports or contradicts what your doctor says, and ask the tough questions. If your doctor cannot answer your questions, and is unwilling to research issues beyond what they were taught in medical school, go somewhere else!
Can a Flawed System Fix Itself?
While it is also encouraging that there are reportedly a few “well-respected and influential physicians” breaking away from the status quo, we must ask ourselves: can a system so seriously flawed as the current U.S. medical system really fix its own flaws?
A recent study showed that although the U.S. ranks first in healthcare spending, it ranks last in life expectancy among richer nations. (See: U.S. Ranks First in Healthcare Spending – Last in Life Expectancy .) A report  in 2010 by the Public Citizen’s Health Research Group showed that the pharmaceutical industry was the the biggest defrauder of the federal government, with the largest criminal settlements for fraud of all other industries.
Government officials leave the government to work for the pharmaceutical industry that they used to regulate, in a common revolving door practice rampant with fraud. Deaths due to prescription drugs and hospital errors are now the leading cause of death in the U.S. And government agencies like the FDA crack down on anyone daring to sell health services that compete with the pharmaceutical industry. One cannot make health claims for any product unless it has gone through the multi-million dollar process of getting it approved as a drug by the FDA.
So maybe, just maybe, those using alternative health products that are not approved by the FDA are not the “quacks” after all.
Global Censorship of Health Information
The Politics of Controlling Therapeutic Information to Protect State-Sponsored Drug Monopolies
by Attorney Jonathan Emord
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