Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Ten Lies.....debunked - Robert S. Baratz, MD, PhD, DDS

These comments by Dr. Baratz are in reply to this nonsense - Ten Lies About Health Your Doctor Taught You

That nonsense is a hodge podge of deliberately misleading strawman arguments. It is simply poor spin doctoring from promoters of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM), clearly designed to weaken people's confidence in modern medicine, and thus to get more customers for dubious methods, products and practitioners, such as chiropractors, naturopaths, homeopaths, chelationists, anti-vaccinationists, etc..

Answers to the Ten Anonymous Lies about Health Care (*)
by Robert S. Baratz, MD, PhD, DDS

Lie #1: Prescription drugs will not make you healthier. Prescription drugs only mask symptoms. They do nothing to correct the underlying biochemical causes of disease. Simultaneously, most prescription drugs cause nutritional deficiencies which lead to further progression of chronic disease.

Truth #1--The term "prescription drugs" is broad, the statement is absurd. Many prescription drugs, such as insulin, do correct the underlying biochemical causes of disease. Many prescription drugs such as Vitamin B12, thiamine and folate can correct nutritional deficiencies. Other prescription drugs, such as antibiotics, beta blockers after heart attacks, taxol after breast cancer, and many others can be life saving.


Lie #2: You should actively not treat the swelling of sprains, strains and other injuries. Swelling is your body's natural strategy for enhancing the flow of blood and nutrients to the injured area. If drugs or hormones are used to prevent swelling, the injured tissues won't heal correctly, greatly increasing the likelihood of repeat injuries to the same area.

Truth #2--Swelling after injury can rob tissues of blood, and not only prolong healing, but be limb threatening. The best way to prevent swelling is with ice, and elevation of the affected body part. Some anti-inflammatories have a role in diminishing swelling, but should not be used alone. Hormones, such as prednisone, have little role in acute injuries of extremities. With closed head trauma, steroids may have a role if given carefully and monitored closely.


Lie #3: Mammograms don't prevent cancer. Mammograms actually cause cancer. They dose the breast tissues with harmful radiation. Even when they spot breast cancer tumors, they aren't "preventing" breast cancer; they're merely detecting breast cancer. True prevention requires changes in food choice and lifestyle, not the use of imaging technology.

Truth #3--Reliable medical authorities have never claimed that mammograms prevent cancer. They do allow for early diagnosis of cancer, and thus provide opportunity for early therapy, which can be curative. The cause(s) of breast cancer are unknown. In some families the presence of certain genes in certain states of activation may increase breast cancer risk.


Lie #4: Vitamins give you "expensive urine." The most expensive urine in the world is created by taking multiple overpriced prescription drugs, not vitamins. With more than 40% of the U.S. population now on prescription drugs, the drug content in human urine is now so high that trace amounts of antidepressant drugs can be found in public water supplies. Compared to drugs, vitamins are cheap prevention.

Truth #4--Most people do not need to take vitamins. An adequate diet should supply all you need. Public water supplies don't contain antidepressant drugs. Drugs are used when medically necessary, period.


Lie #5: The sun will not give you cancer. The sun will prevent cancer due to the creation of vitamin D by the skin. Most Americans (and Canadians and Europeans, for that matter) are deficient in vitamin D. As a result, tumor cell growth in the breast and prostate is unregulated. Sensible exposure to natural sunlight generates cancer-preventing vitamin D... at no charge! Sunburns are actually caused by nutritional deficiencies (lack of antioxidants in the skin), not by sensible exposure to sunlight.

Truth #5--The sun can give you cancer, chiefly melanoma, sometimes basal cell cancers, and occasionally squamous cell cancers. Moderate sun exposure gives you Vitamin D and other benefits. Prolonged exposure can be dangerous to your skin. Sunburns are no fun. Sunlight has not been shown to prevent breast and prostate cancer.


Lie #6: CT scans (CAT scans) are not perfectly safe. CT scans expose patients to 1000 times the radiation of chest X-rays. Repeated exposure to CT scans raises a patient's cumulative radiation to levels experienced by many hydrogen bomb victims in Hiroshima. In addition, rigorous studies have concluded that CT scans offer no medical benefit whatsoever

Truth #6--CT scans are safe and can detect things that no other scan can do. The amount of radiation used is minimal and not shown to be hazardous. No test is without risks or benefits. The benefit of an appropriately ordered CT scan outweighs any risk. Wrong bomb. No "rigorous studies" have concluded any such thing.


Lie #7: The U.S. health care system is not the best in the world. The health of U.S. citizens is actually the worst of any industrialized nation. We pay double, triple, and even quadruple the price for prescription drugs as any other country. We also have the highest rates of obesity, Alzheimer's, cancer and diabetes, plus the highest health insurance costs in the world. The U.S. health care system ("sick care system") is so bad that people are fleeing the country to seek medical services in Asia. It's a trend called "medical tourism," and it's flourishing.

Truth #7--Basic health care costs in the USA are free to many people through a variety of programs. The distribution of who can obtain health care does not reflect on its ultimate quality. We may not have programs that guarantee the full gamut of health care to all, but in a pinch care is always available at most hospitals under state-mandated programs. Rates of obesity, Alzheimer's, cancer and diabetes are not a function of the health care system per se, but are merely found in our society. Research is always being conducted in improving our care and our system. People from all over the world continue to come to the USA to join our society and also for sophisticated medical care. So-called medical tourism relates more to elective and cosmetic procedures. When the travel costs are added in, and the notion that if something went wrong there may nott be recourse, or having to stay abroad to treat a complication may prove excessively costly, such trips don't appear to be much of a bargain.


Lie #8: All surgical procedures have been proven safe and effective. here is currently NO requirement whatsoever that surgical procedures must be either safe or effective in order to be practiced. Hundreds of thousands of medically unnecessary surgical procedures are performed each year in the U.S. alone, including hysterectomies and prostate cancer surgeries.

Truth #8--Global statements are usually globally wrong. Procedures aren't regulated, surgeons are. The need for any surgery is reviewed regularly by every hospital as part of its regular quality control requirements.


Lie #9: You cannot get all the nutrition you need from three balanced meals a day. Today's foods are nutrient depleted, and they come from depleted soils. Processed and manufactured would have to be eaten at the rate of 10,000 calories a day just to meet minimum RDA requirements for basic nutrition. The only way to get adequate nutrition is to supplement with superfoods or whole food concentrates (vitamins, whole food powders, supplement capsules, etc.) along with eating healthy meals. Organizations like the AHA, however, insist that nutrient supplementation is actually bad for your health.

Truth #9--If you ate three properly constructed meals a day you would get all the nutrition you need. Most people don't eat such a diet. Some alternatives are "fortified foods" (breakfast cereals are examples). The notion that increasing calories alone can provide proper nutrition is crazy. Taking a diet poor in nutrition and eating more of it won't remedy any deficiencies in the foods. Many nutritious foods are readily available and contain all the basic needed nutritional elements. Excessive use of certain vitamins and minerals can be detrimental to health.


Lie #10: All these lab tests are not for your own good. At least half of all diagnostic tests ordered by doctors are medically unnecessary. They're often conducted merely to generate revenues for the hospital or medical group that owns the doctor's clinic. Some doctors are actually required to generate a certain dollar amount of lab test revenues in order to keep their jobs.

Truth #10--Some lab tests are medically unnecessary, but can be used to screen for several common diseases. Doctors don't profit from ordering tests, the labs do. The ordering doctor gets no financial benefit from ordering blood tests done by an outside lab. While on the subject, the "margin" on doing blood tests, even for the labs, is very small. The statement about doctors generating test revenues to keep their jobs is backwards.Most medical plans penalize doctors for excessive test ordering.


(c) 2005, Robert S. Baratz, MD, PhD, DDS

(*) I am not claiming authorship of the Ten Lies, only the Ten Truths. The Lies have been circulated without attribution. If the author(s) want to claim and confirm authorship, I will be happy to give attribution.