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Friday, 23 March, 2018

False Gods (Part one of two)

Date: 15 February, 2010

By: Chief

Imagealk into your doctor's office feeling fine but apprehensive, face it nobody wants to see the doctor, and when you leave your wallet is much lighter and you are feeling scared or miserable or all of the above.

Go see the doctor and a test is ordered. Go see the doctor and some invasive examination is ordered. Always do what the doctor orders. Sheesh. It never ends. And the important point is — what is the point? What is the reason for a blood draw to test for 'X', 'Y' and 'Z'? Or for some absurd, invasive examination? There are exactly five points for this crap and they are these (in order of importance):

The above list assumes you, like the vast majority of We the People, have an average doctor. Not great, certainly not bad. Just average. Lucky you.

In 2008, the Healthcare Economist reported:

"Peter Orszag, director of the Congressional Budget Office, estimates that 5 percent of the nation's gross domestic product - $700 billion per year - goes to tests and procedures that do not actually improve health outcomes…The unreasonably high cost of health care in the United States is a deeply entrenched problem that must be attacked at its root."

No kidding Pete.

Defensive medicine

Ah, just what on Earth is defensive medicine anyhow? It is, like it or not, nothing more or less than ordering tests to prevent, or at a bare minimum win, — a malpractice suit. Quoting

"Defensive medicine is one of the most important drivers in rising health care costs today. There are few reliable studies to back this up. This is because defensive medicine is impossible to quantify. There is a fine, and largely undefined, line separating thorough care and defensive medicine. What one doctor may interpret as a 'being cautious', another may say is defensive. Because defensive medicine cannot be quantified and is so subjective, its impact on the cost of health care has been minimized and under-publicized."

And this gem (also from

"I will speak only for myself. If there were no-fault malpractice, health courts, or even caps (which I think is the least-effective solution), I would order less diagnostic tests. Period."

Thanks Doc. You are so benevolent.

But there you have it. Oh yes, lawyers are just as guilty of driving up costs as the doctors. Please attend to the fact that a lawyer gets paid — whether or not they prevail. There is no such thing as an innocent lawyer.

Fee for service

Doctors here is the U.S., for the most part, are paid on basically a reimbursement system — a fee for a service. Quoting Wikipedia:

"In the health insurance and the health care industries, fee-for-service occurs when doctors and other health care providers receive a fee for each service such as an office visit, test, procedure, or other health care service. Fee-for-service health insurance plans typically allow patients to obtain care from doctors or hospitals of their choosing, but in return for this flexibility they may pay higher copayments or deductibles. Patients frequently pay providers directly for services, then submit claims to their insurance company for reimbursement"

In other words when you go and see the doctor the more tests he or she orders the more fees he or she collects. Quoting

"As long as there is a fee for every service performed, there will continue to be an underlying financial incentive to order tests. That's the simple reality - interpret that as you wish."

I don't particularly mind the doctor being paid — however I do very much mind buying him or her a new Cadillac every year. I suspect you do as well.

Medical curiosity

Or a fad. Actually it could be either or both. Most doctors have been bitten by that bug to begin with — or they wouldn't have gone into the healing arts. Mind you — curiosity is no sin. But in medicine curiosity costs a bundle. And normally there is utterly no benefit to the patient.

A fad is another kettle of bad fish altogether. A test which has been sold to doctors via some Medical Association (Did you catch the emphasis?) as the next best thing to sliced bread. However the sorry reality is it's the latest and greatest test ever sold. With the medical industrial complex laughing all the way to the bank.

Allow me to provide you with three glowing examples — the cholesterol test, prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test and the diabetic A1C test. By the way, none of these three are particularly new. But they are popular.

The cholesterol test is an absolute farce. It measures the free floating cholesterol that is present in your blood. It does not, by any means, measure the percentage of plaque build up in the inner walls of your coronary arteries. Hence the test is completely worthless.

Cholesterol, according to emedicinehealth is:

"[A] waxy, fatlike substance that is naturally present in cell walls or membranes everywhere in the body. Your body uses cholesterol to produce many hormones, vitamin D, and the bile acids that help to digest fat. If you have too much cholesterol in your bloodstream, the excess may be deposited in the arteries of the heart, which could lead to heart disease."

Let me ask you this — how many people have died from high cholesterol levels? And let me put a time frame on that question — ever? The factual answer is frightening — none. Zero. Nada. Zilch. That's right. Nobody has ever died from high cholesterol levels. That is an irrefutable fact. Check it out for yourself, it shouldn't take that long.

What does kill lots of people is coronary artery disease or CAD. It is the build up of plaque on the interior walls of the arteries. Another way to put it is that CAD clogs the main pipe. Quoting Wikipedia:

"Coronary artery disease (CAD)(or atherosclerotic heart disease) is the end result of the accumulation of atheromatous plaques within the walls of the coronary arteries that supply the myocardium (the muscle of the heart) with oxygen and nutrients.

"CAD is the leading cause of death worldwide. While the symptoms and signs of coronary artery disease are noted in the advanced state of disease, most individuals with coronary artery disease show no evidence of disease for decades as the disease progresses before the first onset of symptoms, often a "sudden" heart attack, finally arises. After decades of progression, some of these atheromatous plaques may rupture and (along with the activation of the blood clotting system) start limiting blood flow to the heart muscle."

In other words the cholesterol test means nothing. Yet doctors order it day in and day out. Should your cholesterol number be high — well it's on some kind of statin for you. Possibly forever.

But what good does the statin or cholesterol medication do? Will it prevent plaque build up? Will it reduce the build up which may be already there? The answer to both of these questions is a resounding no.

In a study by Dr. Malcolm Kendrick using data from the World Health Organization, Kendrick found:

"Countries with the highest saturated fat consumption - Austria, France, Finland and Belgium - had the lowest rate of deaths from heart disease, while those with the lowest consumption - Georgia, Ukraine and Croatia - had the highest mortality rate from heart disease."

Additionally (quoting the Daily Mail, UK):

"A leading researcher at Harvard Medical School has found that women don't benefit from taking statins at all, nor do men over 69 who haven't already had a heart attack."

Here is a real barn burner for you to contemplate (quoting the Daily Mail, UK):

"Major trials since have been no more successful. One involved nearly 30,000 middle-aged men and women in Sweden, followed for six years.

"The conclusion? 'Saturated fat showed no relationship with cardiovascular disease in men. Among the women, cardiovascular mortality showed a downward trend with increasing saturated fat intake' [in other words, the more saturated fat, the less chance of dying from heart disease]."

But the big one is from our very own National institutes of Health (quoting Dr. P. J. Rosch):

"The belief that coronary atherosclerosis is due to high cholesterol from increased saturated fat intake originated from experiments in herbivorous animals. It was reinforced by reports allegedly demonstrating this sequence of events in various populations but ignoring contradictory data. The idea has been perpetuated by powerful forces using similar tactics to preserve the profit and the reputations of those who promote this doctrine. Opponents find it difficult to publish their scientifically supported opinions. The advent of statins has further fuelled this fallacious lipid hypothesis, despite compelling evidence that their effect is not due to cholesterol lowering and that serious side effects have been suppressed and alleged benefits have been hyped. The adverse effects of the cholesterol campaign on health, quality of life, the economy and medical research are inestimable. It is imperative that public health officials, physicians and patients are apprised of proof that it is misguided, malicious and malignant."

So what causes CAD? Once again it's National Institutes of Health to the rescue:

"Research suggests that coronary artery disease (CAD) starts when certain factors damage the inner layers of the coronary arteries."

"Research suggests" means there is no fact. None whatsoever. We have bought into a 'pig-in-a-poke'. The whole article is here.

It appears the North American continent is the only part of the world where doctors play the cholesterol card. And they play it to the hilt at our expense.

Continue to part two.

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