Friday, October 25, 2013

The harm DRUGS do

Pat MacphersonWisdom Quarterly; The Economist "Scoring Drugs" (The Lancet*)
In a scientific ranking that appeared in The Economist, based on research profiled in the medical journal The Lancet, mushrooms came in as the LEAST harmful (Wiki).
Iatrogenesis (death by MD) is the major killer
Researchers asked drug-harm experts to rank the listed legal and illegal drugs on various measures of harm both to the user and to others in society.

These measures included damage to health, drug dependency, economic costs, and crime. The researchers claim that the rankings are stable because they are based on so many different measures and would require significant discoveries about these drugs to affect the rankings.

Note that alcohol, despite being legal, is by far the most harmful, far more harmful than any other intoxicant listed. Not only is it the most damaging to societies, it is also the fourth most dangerous to users. Most of the drugs were rated significantly less harmful than alcohol, with most of the harm falling on the user.

The authors explain that one of the limitations of this study is that drug harms are functions of their availability and legal status in the UK. So other cultures' control systems could yield different rankings.
*SOURCE: "Scoring Drugs," The Economist (Nov. 5, 2011), data from "Drug Harms in the UK: a Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis" by David Nutt, Leslie King, and Lawrence Phillips on behalf of the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs. The Lancet, Nov. 6, 2010 [376(9752):1558-65. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(10)61462-6, PMID:21036393].
Modern Medical Sickness
Big Pharma's big money makes it okay.
Iatrogenesis ("originating from a physician") is the criminally careless or innocent and inadvertent adverse effect or complication resulting from medical treatment or advice. This includes drug dispensing, surgery, and invasive treatments by physicians, pharmacists (Greek "sorcery, poisoning"), surgeons, psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, nurses, or dentists. It is not restricted to conventional medicine, but that is where the extraordinarily high numbers and irony are. Consumer beware. It may even result from complementary medicine and alternative treatments. In the United States an estimated 225,000 deaths per year have iatrogenic causes [B. Starfield, July, 2000) "Is US health really the best in the world?" (PDF). JAMA 284 (4), PMID 10904513)]. But Dr. Gary Null, who focuses on public health and nutrition, asserts that the figure is 750,000 a year or higher, making it the biggest killer in America. This means that drugs and invasive treatments kill more patients when used as directed and even when used under direct medical supervision by a doctor! Some iatrogenic artifacts are clearly defined and easily recognized, such as a complication following surgery. Some less obvious ones can require significant investigation to identify, such as complex pharmaceutical drug interactions. Other conditions have been described but are as yet unproven, such as the detrimental effects of vaccines (which can cause death, Downs Syndrome, autism, and spectrum disorders such as Asperger syndrome.

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