Which one is the biggest destroyer of health? “Everyone knows” it’s smoking. Beware of what everyone knows; which depends on what everyone is told by media blitzes. Does the media ever lie in response to pressure from advertisers, government agendas and moral panics? Does a bear poop in the woods?
In the 1950s, smoking was O.K. I even saw ads featuring brands doctors recommended. But smoking was then linked to cancer, and in a direct way that the public understands. The public understands that if you ingest cyanide, it will kill you quickly. Ban cyanide. Arsenic will kill you a bit more slowly, ban arsenic. Ingredients in cigarettes may cause the Big C-cancer. Stomp out cigarettes; raise taxes, no smoking in public places-Good Lord-OTHER people’s smoke can kill you! Shame smokers.
Poverty is linked to untreated disease and early death. There’s a 27-year difference in life expectancy among people living indifferent parts of the D.C. Area . Of course, if poor people could get health care and good food like the rich people do, this would even out. But who cares about poor people? If they weren’t lazy and immoral, they wouldn’t be poor, right? That is the unspoken assumption behind a lot of legislation, legislation enacted by the residents of Washington DC who live 27 years longer than those on the other side of the track.
Obesity is reaching epidemic proportions in the U.S. But obesity kills more slowly and in subtler ways that the public doesn’t respond to like ingesting cyanide. Type 2 diabetes, stroke, cancers, heart disease…chronic lingering diseases. The ideal health issue that would elicit public response would be to take a pill that caused the person to explode, spreading blood and guts all over the sidewalk. Anything less dramatic is ho hum.
In 2017, prescription drug overdoses killed more Americans than heroin or cocaine, over 200 people per day. It is amusing how this is framed for public consumption. It is overdoses, probably taken by drug addicts who get the meds illegally. Everyone knows how those criminal drug addicts are. Beware of what everyone knows. They are abusing prescription drugs, you see. If the drugs had that magic piece of paper called a legitimate prescription issued by some godlike doctor, taking opioids would be just fine. Would it?
Well, sure, doctors want, with all their pure hearts, for us to be healthy, right? Or are doctors human beings, some of whom just want to be rich and to hell with everyone else? A lot of whom can scribble a prescription to get rid of that annoying patient whining about their back pain? How about these sixty medical professionals, who wrote pain med prescriptions all day and only accepted cash payments? There is even a name for this: a pill mill.
But drugs prescribed by Marcus Whelby, MD and taken as directed are hunky-dory, right? Let me tell you a true story. My friend June, now in her late 70s, was in pain, though I suspect a lot of her pain stemmed from tragic emotional events during her life. She went to this and that doctor, getting pain meds from one, anxiety meds from the other, and meds to counteract the side effects of the first meds hither and yon. She was confused, dizzy, had a mysterious rash, she was constipated, vomiting, and suffered odd pains. She was sick and what should you do if you are sick? Go to the doctor and get a pill to fix it.
I got a call from a large regional hospital last year. June’s drug-paralyzed intestine had burst and I was supposed to decide when to pull the plug! I went to take care of her cat and saw dozens of pill bottles on her bedside stand. I looked up the side effects of oxycodone, clonazepam, xanax, and all the rest. The side effects were exactly what she claimed were her symptoms-symptoms for which she needed more meds. She lived through this, but I refused to take her to doctors so she could continue to kill herself. A few months ago, her leg was amputated, which require more drugs.
June is not a criminal drug addict. She is an intelligent, funny retired teacher who did much good in this world. She is being killed by a prescription drug cocktail, legally manufactured and prescribed by a licensed physician. This problem is unlikely to be broadcast. Drug companies spend too much on advertising and lobbying congress. “Of the $1.05 trillion revenue for the global pharmaceutical market, nearly half of it — roughly $515 billion — comes from the U.S. and Canada. However, the two countries make up only around 7% of the total world population.”