Guard the Temple

How They Make
            Us Sick Trying
                              to Make Us Well

Do you have sugar diabetes?

Well, it might all depend upon the year. Prior to 1997, if you had a fasting blood sugar level over 140 you were considered to have sugar diabetes. But in 1997 an expert committee on the diagnosis and classification of diabetes lowered this number. After 1997 you had sugar diabetes if you had a fasting blood sugar level over 126.

When doctors saw that a person had a blood sugar of over 125, they immediately diagnosed them with sugar diabetes. When diagnosed, they treated them. Even though the patient may not have experienced any particularly bad symptoms, they were still treated. While it is bad to have high blood sugar, it is worst to have abnormally low blood sugar. Why? You can become dizzy, shaky, become nervous, confused, have a rapid heartbeat, start sweating, become irritable and impatient.

An experimental trial was done in 2003 for over 10,000 patients with diabetes. Five thousand were given the standard diabetic treatment of lowering their blood sugar -- but not all the way down to the normal range. The other 5000 were randomized to receive intensive drug therapy to lower their blood sugar levels to the normal range. The trial was supposed to continue until 2009 but in February of 2008 the trial was stopped. Why, you might ask.

It was because of safety concerns. They found that patients who were receiving intensive therapy were dying more often than the patients who received the standard therapy. After three years patients receiving the intensive therapy (bringing the blood sugar all the way down to the normal levels) had died in greater numbers and percentages than those receiving the standard therapy. There was little doubt that the intensive therapy turned out to be worse than the standard therapy.

It is well known how difficult it is to dial a person's blood sugar and keep it absolutely normal. Blood sugars tend to bounce around from too high to too low hitting the normal rang on the move. Having blood sugar levels too low increases your risk of death. One doctor said it like this: "if it is not good to make diabetics have near-normal blood sugars then it's not good to label those with near-normal blood sugar as diabetics." Because once a person is labeled as a diabetic doctors will treat them. People with mild blood sugar elevations are the least likely to gain from various treatments and arguably the most likely to be harmed by those treatments.

Do you have hypertension (high blood pressure)?

Prior to 1997, a person was not considered to have only mild hypertension with a blood pressure level of 160/100. Doctors were advised to use their own discretion as to whether or not they felt the necessity to treat a patient with mild hypertension. But in 1997 a committee took a hard look and advocated drug therapy for all patients with mild hypertension regardless of their risk of cardiovascular disease. The new numbers were lowered to 140/90. That created a 35% increase in new cases and put nearly 52,000,000 people in the category of mild hypertension. Imagine the business for doctors and drug companies!

Do you have high cholesterol?

It is also called high hyperlipidemia -- the medical term for high cholesterol. The same pattern plays out with cholesterol as did with diabetes and hypertension. The definitions regarding abnormal cholesterol changed. In the 1960s cholesterol levels approaching 300 were not considered an emergency to be treated. But by the 1990s the Department of veteran affairs had settled on defining total cholesterol as being abnormal when it was above 240. (Mine has been mostly above that for the past 30 years.)

Suddenly, after 1998, abnormal total cholesterol, it was decided by a committee, should fall from greater than 240 to greater than 200. This change affected many people – an additional 42 million new cases of high cholesterol. Think about that number. Forty-two million! A cholesterol of 200 is nearly about the average for the adults in the United States. When the cut off was moved this close to the average it had an enormous effect on the number of people diagnosed. And think of the money to be made by doctors and drug companies!

Doctors were urged to treat this high cholesterol mainly using statin drugs. Looking at the statistics, there are a lot more people with cholesterol levels ranging from 200 to 240 than there are from 240 to 280. And there are a lot more people with cholesterol levels in the 240 to 280 range than there are from the 280 to 320 range. In other words mildly abnormal cholesterol levels are far more common than strongly abnormal cholesterol levels.

And in almost every case, in every medical condition, people with mildly elevated levels do not benefit as much from treatment as those with severely elevated levels.

Do you have osteoporosis?

In the earlier days most people didn't pay much attention to osteoporosis unless a person was having severe symptoms of spontaneous fractures such as a broken rib. Most people think of osteoporosis as the thinning of the bones. Bones become more porous as people age. It is a process that generally happens to most people. In the earlier days doctors did not have any way to measure osteoporosis.

Suddenly bone mineral density testing came along. It became an x-ray of a specific bone from wrist to hip to spine. However it is not used to see whether the bone is broken but simply to measure how dense the bone is. These density levels were quantified by a T score as to whether the patient was normal or abnormal. Normal was defined by the average density of white women ages 20 to 29. So if a woman's bone density was the same as the typical woman in ages 20 to 29, regardless of their own age or ethnicity, then their T score would be zero. However, if their bones were a whole lot thinner than the average white woman from ages 20 to 29, then their T score might be as high as -3. If they were all a lot denser they would be as high as +3. You can imagine what a 70 or 75-year-old woman's T score would be when compared to young women ages 20 to 29.

Again doctors were urged to treat women with a minus score below or lesser than -2.5. Often they were given a drug that blocked the breakdown of dead cells from the bones. This drug caused a thickening of the bones but with many dead bone cells. Some side effects of these bone thickening drugs were that some women experienced a complete shattering of their jaw bones. We can easily see how changing the cut offs on these numbers – lowering the cholesterol levels, the diabetic levels, and the hypertensive levels created an increase in people that were labeled with these diseases. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? However, there is no question as to whether it was good for business – for doctors and pharmaceuticals. You can see how trying to make people healthy placed many people in treatments for drugs with many side effects and large numbers of these people did not benefit from these medications. Who Changed All These Numbers?

There have been widespread concerns over the experts who were setting these numbers. Were these independent doctors with a pure concern only for one thing -- the health of you and the American public? There has been considerable criticism from various members of the medical community (doctors) that the "experts" who made these decisions were not independent from the influence of drug companies.

For example the head of the diabetes cut panel just happened to be a paid consultant to several pharmaceutical companies that make diabetes drugs. These companies include Bristol-Myers Squibb; Eli Lilly; Novartis; Merck; GlaxoSmithKline; and Pfizer.

And of the 11 authors of the blood pressure guidelines, 9 were recipients of grants from the drug companies who made high blood pressure medications. They were also paid speakers and paid consultants for these drug companies.

In the same way, of those 9 experts who lowered the cholesterol levels, 8 were paid consultants by the very drug companies who stood to profit when doctors prescribed these dangerous cholesterol lowering drugs. And the first cut off scores for osteoporosis were established by the World Health Organization panel in partnership with the international osteoporosis foundation -- an organization whose corporate advisory board consisted of 31 drug and medical equipment companies.

How Much Did It Help?

We know that the pharmaceutical industry made profits into the billions of dollars. But how much good did it do the people taking these medications?

Let's just take the issue of cholesterol as an example. Let's look at 100 people with slightly high cholesterol levels and treat them for their entire lifetime with cholesterol lowering medications.

How many would actually be saved from a heart attack? Out of the 100 people the treatment would have saved about only 8 of them from their first heart attack.

How many would have endured the side-effects, spent the money, and still had a heart attack despite all of the medications and the lowered cholesterol levels? Answer: 14. And of those 100 people with slightly elevated cholesterol levels who took the medications diligently for their lifetime -- how many were never helped by these medications because they were never going to have heart problems at their slightly elevated cholesterol levels? Answer: 78!

Remembers, these heart medications (cholesterol lowering drugs, blood pressure lowering drugs) do not promise that you will not have a heart attack. They treat only a "risk factor." There are about 16 different risk factors associated with heart issues -- including smoking, not exercising, obesity, high LDL levels of fats/cholesterol, diet, etc. The statin drugs only treat one risk factor -- cholesterol. And guess what the average person's cholesterol level tends to be -- between 200 & 240.

What Can You Do?

What can you do to protect your health?
1. Eat a healthy diet of natural, unprocessed foods as much as possible. Include in these foods many raw, fruits and vegetables but also good sources of protein and natural fats and unprocessed oils. Use whole grains. Avoid high sugar products, and all foods with high fructose corn syrup as well as all foods containing margarines or hydrogenated fats (trans fats).

2. Keep your weight down and within normal limits for your height and body build.

3. Get regular moderate exercise. Walking is probably the best but you must walk for at least 20 to 40 minutes at a time beginning with 5 minutes and working up to 40. You also need muscle strengthening exercises. Work at balancing yourself on one leg.

4. Get good regular sleep (7 to 9 hours) each night except for rare special occasions. Do your best to.

5. Stretch your muscles. Breathe deep with good fresh air.

6. Be diligent to avoid all poisons in your environment. Stay away from poison sprays. Better to buy organically grown and unsprayed fruits and vegetables.

7. Be careful. Avoid accidents, falls, cuts, infections, bruises, etc. And take care of your teeth. Make sure you don't have gum disease and get attention if you do. Each of us is ultimately responsible for our own health. No one can take care of you if you don't take care of yourself. For instance David Antion cannot be healthy if I feed him bad foods, put him in dangerous situations, let him sit around and imbibe high sugar foods, foods filled with preservatives and are nutritionally depleted.

How well are you taking care of you?