Can You Trust Your Doctor?

I believe in the goodness of people, so I believe your doctor probably has good intentions. Just like the generations of doctors before him or her. Just like the doctors a few decades ago, who told their patients that smoking cigarettes was perfectly safe, even good for your health. Those cigarette-prescribing doctors pointed their patients to the body of published “science” that supported the safety of smoking at the time.

Had you asked your OBGYN back in the 1940s, 50s, 60s, or 70s how to reduce your chance of miscarriage, your doctor would have told you to take diethylstilbestrol (DES) during your pregnancy, a drug that caused cancer in ten million daughters born to mothers who listened to their doctors. Doctors told their patients that DES was safe and the “science” said DES was safe; DES was recalled after 37 years on the market. 

Had you asked your doctor how to lose weight between 1973 and 1997, your doctor would have helpfully written you a prescription for Fen-Phen, a drug that caused massive heart attacks in patients for almost three decades. Fen-Phen remained on the market for 24 years before it was recalled. 

Had you asked your doctor how to lower your cholesterol in 2000, he would have prescribed Baycol, a drug whose side effects killed tens of thousands of people in just a few short years. Baycol was recalled only after 100,000 people were killed. 

Had you asked your doctor how to heal arthritis pain in the early 2000s, he would have prescribed Vioxx, a Merck drug. Vioxx was recalled after damaging the hearts and cardiovascular systems of more than 140,000 people. 

Had you complained of inflammation to your doctor in 2005, he would have prescribed Bextra, a Pfizer drug that caused heart attacks, strokes, and fatal skin conditions. After Bextra was recalled, Pfizer’s subsidiary admitted to “intent to defraud or mislead” with their promotion of the drug. 

Had you sought treatment for Type 2 diabetes in 2000, your doctor would have prescribed Rezulin, a drug that was found to increase hepatitis cases. When one doctor did voice concerns about Rezulin’s safety, the FDA fired him. The drug was only pulled after overwhelming evidence showed that it was dangerous–at a time that was already too late for many people who had been hurt by it.

Did you know that doctors used to prescribe tobacco cigarettes to prevent illness? Physicians played an integral role in the promotion of smoking. Those cigarette-promoting doctors were probably decent people who simply believed in the “science” of the time. Those doctors, with the best of intentions, believed they were helping their patients.

In the year 2016, if you take a healthy newborn to an American doctor, your doctor will recommend injecting your baby with 49 doses of vaccines containing a cocktail of known toxins, including aluminum, formaldehyde, MSG, aborted fetal cells, cow cells, chick embryo cells, monkey kidney cells, and some of today’s most common childhood allergens. Your doctor  might even mention the “science” that supports the safety of such a schedule, but the truth is that no prior generation has ever received this number of vaccines at such a young age. Zero long-term studies have examined the safety of the schedule. In the same way that we allowed cigarette manufacturers to fund and interpret the “science” of cigarette safety, our current system allows vaccine manufacturers to fund, oversee, and interpret the “science” of vaccine safety.

If you listen to your doctor and allow him to vaccinate your baby with a vaccine full of ingredients you haven’t researched, and then you call your doctor a few hours later because you’re concerned about your baby’s reaction, your doctor may tell you that nonstop crying, fevers, and even seizures requiring hospitalization are a normal response to those vaccines. This generation of American children is the first to experience a new “normal” when it comes to health: more autoimmune conditions than ever before, 1 in 42 boys diagnosed with autism, never-ending rashes, rampant obesity, incessant illnesses, and severe, lifelong allergies that many will never outgrow.

One day, with the 20/20 hindsight of history, we will look back on the vaccine debate in the United States and we will understand it more clearly. 

Until then, you can trust your doctor. But when you choose whether to trust your doctor without doing your own research, remember that your doctor, like millions of doctors throughout history, is only human.

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Sources here.

Source of vaccine ingredients: CDC.

 

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What’s In Your Fitness Supplement?

In today’s New York Times article, “Army Studies Workout Supplements After Deaths,” Peter Lattman and Natasha Singer write about the Defense Department’s inquiry into the safety of dimethylamylamine (also known as DMAA), a common ingredient in workout and fitness supplements sold at GNC and The Vitamin Shoppe.

The ingredient has been implicated in the sudden deaths of two young soldiers, aged 22 and 32, who died of heart attacks while exercising.  The Army’s safety review is currently underway, but the Defense Department has already removed all products containing dimethylamylamine from stores on military bases.

I admire the Army’s swift action.  When civilians question the safety of a product, their concerns are followed by debates, petitions for recall, paperwork, studies, lawsuits, and — if all goes well — eventually, action.  Military bases are a different story; the military has long functioned as more of a bureaucratic establishment. The military does not live and breathe by funding from pharmaceutical companies and food manufacturers, much like so many of our elected officials.  When the Army bans an ingredient from its military bases, the public should take note.

In addition to the untimely deaths of the two soldiers — whose toxicology reports both noted the presence of DMAA — the army had also received “reports of liver and kidney failures, seizures, loss of consciousness and rapid heartbeat in other military personnel who have used products containing DMAA,” according to the article.  USPLabs, the maker of DMAA, compared the effects to those of caffeine.

If the effects of DMAA are like those of caffeine, then why are fitness buffs and the manufacturers of fitness supplements choosing DMAA over caffeine? Here’s why:  Because the effects of DMAA are more like those of methamphetamine. DMAA was first developed my pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly.  When doctors noted that its effects were amphetamine-like — and medical literature reported that its effects were more powerful than heart-stopping ephedrine — Eli Lilly stopped marketing it as a pharmaceutical, and DMAA quietly resurfaced as a dietary supplement.

Let’s examine what went wrong here.

Who is regulating the safety of dietary supplements?  The answer, in short, is no one.  In 1994, the FDA decided to consider anything labeled a “dietary supplement” as a special category of food, not as a drug.  As the FDA explains, under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), “the dietary supplement or dietary ingredient manufacturer is responsible for ensuring that a dietary supplement or ingredient is safe before it is marketed.”  In fact, the safety of dietary supplements is only regulated by those who stand to benefit from their sale: the manufacturers. The DSHEA was a major boon for lobbyists of the manufacturers of dietary supplements, who had engaged in a massive campaign intended to bring about this legislation.  The New York Times called the act “ill-conceived” and “a formula for covering up problems.”  A Time magazine article described the act as giving manufacturers “virtually free reign to market products defined as dietary supplements, while severely limiting the FDA’s ability to regulate them.”

Does this mean that all dietary supplements are harmful?  Absolutely not.  What this means is that you must research the safety of your dietary supplements on you own — because our government is not doing it for you.

The good news is that plenty of beneficial vitamins, minerals, and herbs fall under this category as well.  One example is Stevia.  Stevia, also called “sugarleaf” and “sweetleaf,” is an herb related to the sunflower family.  Stevia has been available as a sweetener around the world for decades, and has been widely used in Japan since the 1970s.  In powder form, the naturally sugar-free, calorie-free herb, which has little effect on blood glucose levels, was an obvious answer to the United States’ sugar addiction.  Unfortunately, due to the FDA’s close ties to the manufacturer’s of artificial sweeteners, stevia was not approved as a food additive.  However, through the DSHEA loophole, stevia was available in health food stores as a dietary supplement. (In 2008, the FDA approved a chemical extract of Stevia, known as rebaudioside A, as a food additive; the approval just so happened to coincide with Coca-Cola’s launch of Truvia and PepsiCo’s launch of PureVia, two highly-processed forms of rebaudioside A with additional non-Stevia additives and flavors.  Truvia and PureVia are extremely different from true Stevia, and many side effects have been reported.)

The onus to research dietary supplements falls on you. In the United States, the fact that you can legally purchase a substance labeled as a “dietary supplement” has absolutely nothing to do with its safety.

How can you avoid dimethylamylamine and DMAA?  In a health safety alert to athletes, the U.S. Anti-Doping Association warns of the effects of dimethylamylamine and advises athletes to:

  • Avoid the following substances: methylhexaneamine, a 1,3-dimethylamylamine (DMAA), dimethylpentylamine (DMP) 4-methylhexan-2-amine, Geranamine, geranium oil, geranium extract, geranium stems, geranium leaves
  • Avoid the following products: Jack3d (USP Labs), Lipo-6-Black and Hemo-Rage Black (Nutrex), Spriodex (Gaspari Nutrition), F-10 (Advanced Genetics), Clear Shot (E-Pharm), 1.M.R. (BPI Sports), and many others.
  • Avoid products with names or marketing performance terms such as “stacked,” “muscle,” “mass,” “tren,” “bol,” “anabolic steroid,” “legal steroid,” “power,” “blast,” “energy,” “stimulant,” and others.
  • Use your best judgement.  Unfortunately, due to the extremely permissive regulation of dietary supplements, the U.S. Anti-Doping Association notes multiple “instances where a supplement actually contained ingredients that were not listed on the label.”

If you must supplement your workout, keep it simple: Drink a cup of coffee.  Since we know the human body responds differently to extracts than to ingredients in their natural form, avoid caffeine-containing supplements as well.  Better yet, let the workout itself raise your heart rate, and skip the stimulants altogether.  Your only have one heart; your next fitness shake, drink, pill, or supplement, could be your last.

Still unconvinced? Visit Supplement Safety Now.

Photo Credit: William P. O’Donnell for The New York Times