Risk to Benefit Ratio: First Do No Harm
The modern physician’s Hippocratic oath begins with “Above all else, do no harm.” But many of the drugs prescribed within our $280 billion per year pharmaceutical industry are far from harmless. According to Dr. Sidney Wolfe in his book WORST PILLS BEST PILLS, there are 9.6 million older adults who suffer drug induced side effects and deaths each year in America, which includes 28,000 cases of life threatening or fatal reactions from the heart drug digitalis and 61,000 cases of drug induced Parkinson’s disease. According to one study by Steel and colleagues as published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1981, over one third of all people treated in a hospital setting were actually suffering iatrogenic, or doctor induced, symptoms and diseases. Deaths from the on label use of prescription drugs is the number 3 or 4 cause of death in USA at 140,000 casualties.
There are millions suffering from high blood pressure. The more common drug approaches to this condition include diuretics and beta-blockers, both of which have been shown to do nothing to extend lifespan and actually may shorten lifespan by encouraging a heart attack via the urinary loss of potassium and magnesium. A study in the American Journal of Cardiology stated: “…there is little evidence these patients with marginal hypertension will achieve enough benefit to justify the costs and adverse effects of antihypertensive drug treatment.” vol.66, 1990.
“We are digging our graves with our teeth.”
An estimated 180,000 Americans die each year from excess or improper medical intervention. When we consider that most of the drugs listed in the Physician’s Desk Reference have a long list of potentially harmful or lethal side effects and that the method of action of the drug is usually unknown, and that little data is available on side effects from using various drug combinations, we end up at the inevitable conclusion that everything from acne to high cholesterol to prostate enlargement often can be treated more effectively, more economically and more humanely with nutritional intervention.
Chemotherapy is a very toxic drug category
Chemotherapy is a very toxic drug category that is given to nearly 70% of all cancer patients. According to a 90 page review of the world’s scientific literature by Dr. Ulrich Abel, chemotherapy has been shown to improve outcome in only 3% of cancers. Meanwhile, 75% of the cancer doctors who were surveyed admitted that they would not take chemotherapy if stricken with cancer. Chemotherapy causes damage to the heart and kidneys and immune suppression, which is ironic since it is the immune system that is the primary healer in cancer. Yet, somehow the doctors who use chemotherapy are worried about the safety of nutritional supplements in their cancer patients.
For 8 years I was privileged to work with hundreds of cancer patients by providing aggressive nutritional intervention. I saw many incurable patients be cured with the addition of a healthy diet and the proper vitamins and minerals. I worked with many skeptical oncologists who agreed after watching these patients, that nutritional supplementation is a crucial component of helping the cancer patient. Not one American has died from vitamin use or abuse in the past 10 years. Many drugs are very toxic. Nutrients are very safe. We need to compare the risk to benefit to cost ratio of these two therapeutic options with an equally critical eye.
While our modern health care system has become enamored with high tech drugs and surgery, the founder of modern medicine, Hippocrates, told us 2400 years ago: “Natural forces within us are the true healers.” Albert Schweitzer, the Nobel prize winning medical missionary to Africa, said: “Each patient carries his own doctor inside him.” Another visionary in the healing arts was Florence Nightingale, founder of modern nursing who told us at the turn of the century: “Nature alone cures.”
I find it fascinating that nutritional and herbal intervention is referred to in America as alternative therapy. Actually, 80% of the world’ 6 billion people today use nutrition and herbs as primary conventional therapy. And until the past 50 years, nutrition and herbs were the primary healers for all of humanity. So, how can we call something “alternative” or non-traditional when the vast majority of the world’s people use it. The ancient traditional medicines can be found in your kitchen.
Malnutrition In The Land of Plenty
But then again, if nutrition is so important for our health, how can we possibly have malnutrition in America the bountiful. We sing of fields of amber grain in our national anthem. We grow enough food to feed ourselves, to get half of us overweight, to throw away enough food to feed 50 million people each day, and then we pay farmers not to grow food. How can we possibly have malnutrition amidst such food abundance? The answer includes:
1) poor food choices at the dinner table
2) lack of exercise, which means that we need less food, and because of nutrient density, we cannot get all the micronutrients we need in a lesser amount of food
3) high stress and toxin exposure, both of which increase our need for nutrients
4) poorly nourished soil which does not give us essential trace minerals that should be in our food supply
-and 5) the desire to thrive, not just survive.
Based on these factors, many of us are indeed malnourished. And based upon food surveys conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture, 92% of Americans do not get the Recommended Dietary Allowances for all essential nutrients. For example, 80% of us do not get the RDA for vitamin B-6, while 50% fall short on vitamin A.
Surviving Versus Thriving
When we look at the difference between the nutrient intake required to survive versus the higher intake required to thrive, the concept of malnutrition really centers around the question: “What is your goal, or endpoint? Is it surviving or thriving?” For instance, the RDA for vitamin E is 10 international units daily. My nutrition professors in college used to facetiously refer to the fact that vitamin E was a vitamin in search of a disease, because there was no clear syndrome associated with low intake of E, such as vitamin C and scurvy or vitamin D and rickets. Well we now know that supplements of 200-400 iu of vitamin E daily cuts the risk for heart disease by 40%, while 800 iu of vitamin E (or 80 times the RDA) improves immune functions in healthy older adults, and even higher doses have been clinically demonstrated to slow down the deterioration in Alzheimer’s patients. This is why you need Vitamin D
Same kind of scale can be applied to niacin: 20 milligrams is the RDA and prevents pellagra, yet 100 mg becomes a potent vasodilator to improve circulation and 500 mg lowers serum cholesterol with the blessing of the National Institutes of Health. While 60 milligrams per day of vitamin C is the RDA, studies show that 90 mg will lower the risk for cervical cancer by 50%, 300 mg will increase a man’s lifespan by 6 years, 1000 mg improves bruise healing in older adults and hospital patients, and several thousand mg may improve outcome in cancer treatment. Nutrients follow the dose dependent response curve that is found in many drugs. The more you take beyond survival dosages, the more advantages you get. Up to a point of optimal health. Then excess nutrient intake is either wasteful or counterproductive. Are you surviving or thriving. Find Out!
Now, let’s think about this, If 92% of us are malnourished when compared to the surviving guidelines of the RDAs, then what percentage of us do you think are malnourished when compared to a much higher goal of optimal health?
According to published dietary surveys covering over 200,000 Americans, we are commonly deficient in many vitamins and minerals, the essential fatty acids of EPA, ALA and GLA, fiber, complex carbohydrates, and clean water. We eat too much fat, calories, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, cholesterol, salt, food additives and pesticide residues. It was the famous Framingham study from Harvard that stated: “Our way of life is related to our way of death.” Or another scientist has stated the issue more urgently: “We are digging our graves with our teeth.”