When Dr. Victoria Seewaldt of Duke University School of Medicine reviewed a controversial new book about osteoporosis in the Journal of the American Medical Association* in 2005, she started off as an admitted skeptic. The review was for Gillian Sanson‘s book, The Myth of Osteoporosis: What Every Woman Should Know About Creating Bone Health. The book’s premise challenged almost every truism that most doctors believed – and may still believe – about osteoporosis.
Dr. Seewaldt is not only a physician, but also the daughter of an osteoporosis patient; her mother was diagnosed after fracturing a hip at age 72. She explained:
“Until her hip fracture, my mother was a ferocious shopper. Even in her early 70s, my mother would race down Fifth Avenue in New York City, shopping bags in hand, leaving me out of breath and begging for a rest.
“Then one day, my mother fractured her hip. Suddenly, our lives changed. For this reason, l initially approached Gillian Sanson’s book with significant reservations.”
But by the end of this book, Dr. Seewaldt found that her “reservations had turned to enthusiasm”. Continue reading →
It’s back-to-school time, warn the editors at Consumer Reports, and that means it’s time to answer an annual question:
“How tasty are lunch box options when your children won’t eat fresh fruit?”
The answer, say the kids who recently taste-tested packaged fruit cups for Consumer Reports:
Let me interrupt this fascinating bit of science for full disclosure: as a mother of two (one of whom was only rarely picky, the other a bottomless pit of imminent starvation), I feel compelled to say that any kid of mine who would dare to advise me that they “won’t eat fresh fruit” would be going hungry. Continue reading →
According to a trio of widely published American researchers, many of us are “over-diagnosed” by being labelled with a medical condition that will never cause us any symptoms or premature death. We are, they tell us, mistakenly swallowing the popular conviction that early detection of everything is always for the best.
Their book, Over-diagnosed: Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health, claims that over-diagnosis is in fact one of medicine’s biggest problems, causing millions of people to become patients unnecessarily, producing untold harm, and wasting vast amounts of resources in the name of disease mongering. Continue reading →
Dr. Ben Goldacre, a British doctor writing in his weekly Bad Science column in The Guardian last fall, told this disturbing cautionary tale:
“In 2007, the British Medical Journal published a large, well-conducted, randomised controlled trial, performed at lots of different locations, run by publicly-funded scientists. It delivered a strikingly positive result. It showed thatone treatment could significantly improve children’s anti-social behaviour. The treatment was entirely safe, and the study was even accompanied by a very compelling cost-effectiveness analysis.
“But did this story get reported as front page news? Was it followed up on the health pages, with an accompanying photo feature, describing one child’s miraculous recovery, and an interview with an attractive happy mother with whom we could all identify? Continue reading →
No matter what ails you, there’s a pill for it. And if nothing ails you, just wait. Pharmaceutical companies are working on drugs right now that just need a disease to treat. So let’s invent one! It’s what Big Pharma watchers call disease-mongering. For example, we used to call it laziness, but now we know that it’s really a medical condition called Motivational Deficiency Disorder. And don’t even get me started on Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder!
Need to take a pill for something, anything? We’ve got drugs for everything.
The term ‘disease-mongering’ was first coined by author Lynn Payerin the 1992 book Disease Mongers: How Doctors, Drug Companies and Insurers Are Making You Feel Sick. Ray Moynihan, Iona Heath and David Henry then wrote this in April of that same year in the British Medical Journal:
“Pharmaceutical companies sponsor diseases and promote them to both prescribers and consumers.
“There’s a lot of money to be made from telling healthy people they’re sick. Some forms of medicalising ordinary life may now be better described as disease mongering: widening the boundaries of treatable illness in order to expand markets for those who sell and deliver treatments.
“The social construction of illness is being replaced by the corporate construction of disease.” Continue reading →
I was doing a little light reading in the Archives of Internal Medicine the other day. A study reported there in June looked at what researchers have inaccurately dubbed the Eco-Atkins Diet, which they claim replaces the low-carb, dangerously high-saturated fat meat protein of the old Atkins Diet with low-carb,low saturated fat vegetable-based protein – such as soybeans, legumes and nuts.
The more I read, the better I liked what I was reading. The study showed that the vegetable-based protein-eating participants not only successfully lost weight on this new Eco-Atkins Diet, but they showed greater reductions in their LDL (bad) cholesterol levels than the control group.
Isn’t this fabulous news for those of us wanting to lose weight as well as improve our heart health? Well, maybe not. Continue reading →