Our Health Care System
“Experts agree that our health care system is riddled with inefficiencies, excessive administrative expenses, inflated prices, poor management, and inappropriate care, waste and fraud.” National Coalition on Health Care, nchc.org 2009
From Nature’s Pharmacy
IP6 and protease inhibitors? Did nature make a mistake? Whole grains and legumes contain a substance called phytic acid, which binds up minerals, especially iron, and escorts them out of the system. Phytic acid is a seed’s way of storing phosphorus, like a school lunch bucket. For decades in the later 20th century, nutritionists thought that phytic acid must have been some mistake or “anti-nutrient” in whole grains and legumes, hence providing even more enthusiasm for processing grains down to white flour.
In fact, we now find that phytic acid is one of the key ingredients in plant food lowering the risk for various cancers, kidney stones, heart disease, and liver disease. Best sources include beans, brown rice, sesame seeds, and corn. Phytic acid is now sold as a nutrition supplement: IP6, inositol hexaphosphate 6. In a similar vein, protease inhibitors are substances in legumes, especially soybeans, which can inhibit enzymes that break down protein in the gut.
Again, nutritionists thought of protease inhibitors as “anti-nutrients”. Raw legumes are unhealthy. However, there is now compelling evidence that these protease inhibitors actually are very therapeutic in retarding cancer growth, and even allowing humans to better tolerate radiation without serious side effects. Protease inhibitor drugs are now the fashionable trend in the pharmaceutical industry in slowing down the growth of viruses, including AIDS. Nature knows what it is doing. Do not bet against the wisdom of whole foods. Fight cancer growth with this ingredient.
Health Care Created by Dr. Frankenstein
The cost of health care in America is obscene. Only the super rich and indigent are covered by adequate health insurance. For the 47 million Americans with no health insurance, health catastrophes have become a primary reason for bankruptcy and divorce. If you are on Welfare, Social Security, or other government doles, then you have some security against health problems. Border states from California to Florida spend many billions annually treating illegal aliens and providing full neonatal care for their newborns, who then become “anchor” babies, allowing the parents to become legal citizens. Yet millions of tax paying American-born citizens until recently had no health care.
And if you really want full medical, dental, and psychiatric coverage for free, then commit a crime. I am not kidding. In 1976, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that prisoners are entitled to full medical, dental, vision, psychiatric, and pharmaceutical benefits. California is on the ragged edge of bankruptcy and thus must release 55,000 prisoners because their prison care is considered inadequate. In March of 2009, a court appointed receiver ordered the state of California to spend $8 billion to upgrade prison medical facilities in spite of the $42 billion deficit the state faces.
America spent $2.4 trillion in 2007 on disease maintenance, which was 17% of our gross national product–twice the expense per capita of any other health care system on earth. Notice that I said “disease maintenance”, because we certainly do not support health care in America, and “health insurance” is neither related to health nor solid actuarial insurance. Health care for the indigent is the primary expense in many state budgets. The United States spends 6 times more per capita on the administration of our health care system than its peer Western European nations.Malnutrition in first world countries!
A SILVER LINING? Before we dive into the gloomy statistics on the American health care system, let’s touch on the good news. Life expectancy for Americans has increased from 50 years in 1900 to 78 years in 2009. Microsurgery on eyes (Lasik) and joints (arthroscopic) would have dazzled the famous futurist, Jules Verne. Pain management and emergency medical procedures can allow catastrophic injuries a chance at healing. Yet, in spite of the exotic arsenal of drugs, diagnostic tools, and procedures available to modern medicine, the most significant improvement in the health of modern humans, according to the first heart transplant surgeon, Christiaan Barnard, MD, was the invention of the indoor flushing toilet in England in the 18th century, thus ending many plagues from fecal contamination.
Like the auto industry in Detroit, our American health care system is in dire need of reform. All the more reason to take care of your health and that of your family. Prevention is a key to avoiding this health care nightmare that reigns in America. And eating whole foods is an irreplaceable link in your wellness program. You need to take charge of your own health, because the government or your health insurance provider (if you have one) may not be able to do so.
Nation of Drug Addicts
No one with a headache is suffering from a deficiency of aspirin. No one with elevated cholesterol has a deficiency of statin drugs. No one with depression has a deficiency of Prozac. While drugs can provide short term valuable relief in health problems, drugs are usually not recommended for long term care, which is what happens in millions of Americans.
Nancy Reagan offered a catchy phrase during her term as the first lady of the White House “just say no to drugs”. To be sure, America has a problem with illicit drugs. But we have an equal or greater problem with prescription drugs. They are overused, expensive, dangerous, and often unnecessary. While America comprises 5% of the world’s population, we consume 40% of the world’s prescription medication. Every winter, nearly one million “snow bird” seniors gather along the Mexican border in their RVs in California and Arizona to have access to cheaper (by 30-50%) but identical prescription drugs found in Mexico. A professor at Harvard Medical School, John Abramson, MD, has written a brilliant and well documented book, OVERDOSED AMERICA, showing that lifestyle changes (diet, exercise, stop smoking, stress reduction) can offer cheaper, safer, and more effective healing from illness than prescription drugs.
Lowered Life Expectancy
Of the worldwide $600 billion pharmaceutical industry, $250 billion is in the United States. Drug companies underwrite 90% of continuing medication education, giving them inordinate control over physician awareness of drug strengths and limitations. Although Americans were issued 3.4 billion prescriptions in 2003 (12 per man, woman, and child) we rank 29th in life expectancy in the world.
Maybe the costs of these drugs would be more acceptable if they actually cured or relieved more symptoms than they created. In the past 6 years over 65,000 lawsuits have been filed against American drug makers. According to an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the proper use of prescription drugs is the 4th leading cause of death in America, killing somewhere between 100,000 and 140,000 Americans annually.[i] According to a review of the literature by a physician and naturopath, Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, in her book, DEATH BY MODERN MEDICINE, more like 780,000 Americans die each year from modern medicine. Understanding why we are getting fatter.
Fabricated Medical Evidence
Prescription drugs are approved based upon clinical trials published in peer reviewed scientific literature. Now we find out that many of these researchers are fabricating data or “bending” the study to suit the needs of the drug manufacturer. The former Editor in Chief, Marcia Angell, MD, of the blue chip medical journal the New England Journal of Medicine, has written a scathing expose, THE TRUTH ABOUT THE DRUG COMPANIES, stating that many medical reports are nothing more than unvarnished marketing reports from the drug manufacturers.
Then we start discussing the decadent markup on prescription drugs. While discount stores, like WalMart, might typically markup an item by 10%, and vitamins typically have a 200-400% markup. Markup from drugs goes up to 569,000%, or 5,690 times cost.
|WHAT PRESCRIPTION DRUGS REALLY COST|
|BRAND NAME®||DOSAGE||PRICE $/100 CAPS||COST $GENERIC ACTIVE INGREDIENT||PERCENT MARKUP|
|Source: Life Extension Magazine, Mar.2005, p.11|
“Today we are faced with what may be the single greatest drug safety catastrophe in the history of this country or the history of the world… In my opinion, the FDA has let the American people down, and sadly, betrayed a public trust.” David Graham, MD, MPH, Associate Director of Drug Safety, Food and Drug Administration, Nov.2004
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began its authoritarian rule of the American drug and supplement industry after the drug Thalidomide caused major birth deformities in 10,000 babies in Europe and Africa between 1956-62. No doubt that we need some form of policing to insure that our foods are safe and our drugs are safe and effective if used as directed. Our current government watch dog groups are incapable of doing this job. For example, Vioxx, a drug to reduce pain and inflammation, was associated with 100,000 unnecessary deaths during its use in 20 million people between 1999 and 2004. Since the FDA is primarily funded by fees paid by the pharmaceutical industry, conflicts of interest abound.
“Beware the military industrial complex” Dwight Eisenhower, 34th president of USA.
And all of this cost and risk might be acceptable if Americans were healthier than other countries. We are not. In a detailed survey comparing the health care systems of America, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Germany, and New Zealand; America came in dead last, in spite of having the most expensive health care system. Australia came in first place. The World Health Organization (WHO), in 2000, ranked the U.S. health care system as the most expensive in the world, yet 37th in overall performance, and 72nd by overall level of health among the 191 nations included in the study.
According to medical journalist, Shannon Brownlee, we spend roughly 1/3 or $700 billion annually for ineffective medical care, another $700 billion annually for dangerous counterproductive medical care, the remaining $700 billion for appropriate medical care.
General Motors, once the largest corporation in the world, is now bankrupt. GM insured 1.1 million employees and their dependents at a cost of $5.2 billion per year. On each car sold, $1400 went to health insurance for employees, which is more than they spent on steel for their cars. GM had $77 billion in future health care commitments with only $20 billion set aside for this purpose. Game over.
[i] . Lazarou J, Pomeranz BH, Corey PN: “Incidence of adverse drug reactions in hospitalized patients.” JAMA 1998;279:1200.