Monday, August 9, 2010

Redefining Quackery

Redefining Quackery
Medicine is the science and art of healing. It encompasses a range of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness.” A noble standard, if only it was true.
Medicine, like so much in our society, has lost its way. And, in its wake, like that of the financial institutions that rig the markets and steal, and corporations that pollute our environment and our bodies, there is a very human toll.
But medicine, a business purportedly centered on ‘maintaining and restoring human health,’ as such, and unlike financial institutions and corporations, requires higher standards.
But, sadly, so much of its practice has devolved into pure ‘quackery’ (to borrow a word so often brandished by the AMA, in their never-ending war for market dominance).
Quackery is a derogatory term used to describe the promotion of unproven or fraudulent medical practices. The word "quack" derives from the archaic word "quacksalver," of Dutch origin, meaning "boaster who applies a salve." In the Middle Ages the word quack meant "shouting". The quacksalvers sold their wares on the market shouting in a loud voice.”
On TV, on any given evening, on any channel, the drug companies are ‘boasting’ their life-saving health elixirs that promise anything from safe 3+hour erections to thicker and longer eyelashes; from legal uppers and downers, to sleep aids, from prescription skin rejuvenators to prescription fish oils, to fast-acting pre-meal heartburn and upset stomach pills that encourage us to eat whatever we want, especially foods our bodies would otherwise reject.
All of these elixirs and more have several things in common: little, to nothing, to do with ‘restoring health or preventing disease’, all have side-effects, ranging from mild to lethal, all are generating huge profits for Big Pharma, and all require a prescription and a visit to the pharmaceutical companies’ sanctioned retailers and legal drug dealers, doctors.
Add to that medical quackery in the form of cosmetic surgery: lip and breast augmentations, vaginal labia reductions, hair implants and laser hair removal; not-to-mention, abdominal implants and ‘sketching’ for men.
Clearly these are drugs and procedures in search of markets and have virtually nothing to do with medicine, ‘as the art and science of healing.’ It is all part of a far broader problem, the medicalization of life: the expanding of diagnoses and narrowing of the definition of normal, using constant repetition and playing on our fears and insecurities, to convince us that our bodies are inadequate, and that every possible symptom, from headache, to shyness, sadness to stomach ache, anything and everything, are conditions that require cure, instead of say, introspection and change.
Combine all of that with the fact that only an estimated 15% of everything that doctors do is backed by hard scientific evidence. Most of the rest is supported by anecdotal evidence, perpetuated mythology (ie: chemical imbalances in the brain, cholesterol), or self-serving, fraudulent corporate-sponsored science fiction. Consider only the field of invasive cardiology: “the data from clinical trials are clear: Except in a minority of patients with severe disease, bypass operations don’t prolong life or prevent future heart attacks; nor does angioplasty.” And yet, as of 2005, cardiologists performed about 400,000 bypass surgeries and over 1 million angioplasties per year. In fact, the evidence, by far, supports lifestyle changes of a healthy diet and exercise to significantly decrease the risk, not only of heart attack, but of all diseases. But, doctors, hospitals and drug companies do not make money on patient health.
A model of health that shamelessly promotes disease and passive medical consumerism, creating lifetime career patients, is not only quackery; it is dangerous to our health, producing untold numbers of patient victims of that care.

1 comment:

docmay said...

See post 09-19-2010 Re-defining Quackery II