By Dr. Mercola
In an unusual story of Rosario Schielzeth, a woman who turned 104 in June, newspaper reporters wanted to know her secret for a long lifei. Her answer consisted of just two simple rules that she's always lived by:
- Watching what she eats, and
- Staying away from doctors
Before you assume that this lady lives in some far-off country where her life principles can't be questioned or proven, know that she lives in Sarasota, Florida. She needs a walker as an aid in moving around, but other than that she has perfect vision since her cataract surgery, and doesn't need a hearing aid.
And she still manages to go to the movies, the mall, and the beach for ice cream. Another amazing thing about her is that she's the round-the-clock care-taker of her 87-year-old daughter, who has Alzheimer's disease.
Rosario and her daughter with Alzheimer's serve as a powerful harbinger of what is to come for future generations. It has long been predicted that the youth will not live as long as their parents. The subtle unstated implication however is that this also includes chronic degenerative diseases that will prematurely kill or cripple you.
That is why it is SO VITAL that you and your children embrace the health principles taught on this site that could easily prevent this from happening in your family.
Apart from vitamins, Rosario reportedly only takes one pill a day, a mild blood-pressure medication. This is in stark contrast to the average American senior who is on more than 31 medications per person, according to recent statistics.ii
While one can argue about the many factors involved with making it past the 100-year mark, I believe Rosario's advice really does cover the basics. Your diet accounts for about 80 percent of the health benefits you reap from a healthy lifestyle, and it's become quite clear that avoiding drugs is a good idea if you want to live a long and healthy life. While many still have trouble grasping this idea, the statistics tell a powerful story when it comes to pharmaceutical drug use.
My mom is now 77 and my dad is 82 and neither of them take any drugs, and I am certain many reading this are older and also avoiding drugs, so it is doable.
Prescription Pain Killers are Now the LEADING Cause of Accidental Death
According to the latest data collected by the National Center for Health statistics, poisoning, primarily by prescription drugs, has now surpassed car accidents as the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. In 2008, 41,000 Americans died from poisoning, compared to 38,000 lethal car accidents. The data, which can be found on the CDC's web siteiii, shows that:
- In 2008, poisoning became the leading cause of injury death in the United States and nearly 9 out of 10 poisoning deaths are caused by drugs.
- During the past three decades, the number of drug poisoning deaths increased six-fold from about 6,100 in 1980 to 36,500 in 2008.
- Opioid analgesics (prescription pain killers) were involved in more than 40 percent of all drug poisoning deaths in 2008, up from about 25 percent in 1999.
- During the most recent decade, the number of drug poisoning deaths involving opioid analgesics more than tripled from about 4,000 in 1999 to 14,800 in 2008.
While the drug poisoning death rate has risen among all age groups in the last decade, the death rate among adults between 45-54 is now the highest. Death by medicine is a 21st-century epidemic, and America's "war on drugs" is clearly directed at the wrong enemy when you consider that prescription drugs are now killing far more people than illegal drugs.
The most commonly abused prescription drugs like OxyContin, Vicodin, Xanax and Soma now cause more deaths than heroin and cocaine combined. In fact, prescription drugs are now the preferred "high" for many, especially teens, as they are typically used legally, which eliminates the stigma of being a "junkie."
Americans Consume 80 Percent of the Global Supply of Pain Pills!
The skyrocketing rate of prescription drug addiction has also led to a massive increase in robberies, which has led some pharmacies to quit stocking the sought-after drugs. Meanwhile we're seeing ever-increasing amounts of legislation popping up designed to increase the use of drugs while preventing you to seek alternative non-drug treatments, especially for pain. To put these statistics into even further context, consider this:
According to an article in Mail Online published last monthiv:
"Americans consume 80 percent of the world's supply of painkillers -- more than 110 tons of pure, addictive opiates every year -- as the country's prescription drug abuse epidemic explodes. That's enough drugs to give every single American 64 Percocets or Vicodin. And pain pill prescriptions continue to surge, up 600 percent in 10 years, thanks to doctors who are more and more willing to hand out drugs to patients who are suffering." [Emphasis mine]
Rampant Conflicts of Interest Fuel Drug Use and Deaths
Take Florida for example. Under the 2012 PIP reform law, Floridians will no longer be able to seek massage therapy or acupuncture treatments after a car accident, as these services will no longer be covered under Florida PIP insurancev. The primary treatment option left for those who suffer from pain as a result of a car accident is then—you guessed it—pain killers! This despite the fact that the most common auto accident-related injury is soft tissue damage, which is ideally treated through massage, not pain killers that can potentially add addiction and liver damage to your misery...
The bill was signed into law on May 4, 2012. The majority of the bill's content will take effect on 1 July 2012, while the rest will not take effect until 1 January 2013. In a nauseating example of how financial conflicts of interest drive this health-harming trend, Florida governor Rick Scott has more than one link to Big Pharma, and the promotion of pain killers in particular:
- In 1997, Scott was implicated in the biggest Medicare fraud case in US history. According to a 2011 Mother Jones articlevi, he "stepped down as CEO of Columbia/HCA after the hospital giant was fined $1.7 billion and found guilty of swindling the government."
- Then, last year, as he became Florida's new governor, he initially tried to repeal an anti-fraud database designed to track fraudulent distribution of addictive prescription drugs in Florida. Only after public outcry and months of picketing, Scott announced the database would not be repealed after all.vii
- In 2001 Scott co-founded Solantic, which has 32 walk-in clinics. He reportedly remained involved in its operations until 2010, when he placed the $62 million investment into a trust under his wife's name. The Tampa Bay Times reported on the scandal last year, statingviii:
"Scott has aggressively pursued policies like testing state workers and welfare recipients for drugs, switching Medicaid patients to private HMOs and shrinking public health clinics. All these changes could benefit that $62 million investment, but Scott sees no legal conflict between his public role and private investments. And, experts say, under Florida law he is correct. A few days before he took office in January, Scott moved his shares in Solantic Corp., a chain of 32 urgent care centers, to the Frances Annette Scott Revocable Trust."
- The 2012 PIP reform law was strongly promoted by Rick Scott—changes which will undoubtedly benefit his wife's clinics. Under the revised PIP law, only medical doctors, osteopathic physicians, dentists, physician's assistants or advanced registered nurse practitioners are approved for PIP reimbursement. Chiropractors, acupuncturists and massage therapists are specifically excluded. By removing the option to treat post-accident pain with chiropractic adjustments, massage, and/or acupuncture, accident victims are left with but one option: pain killers and antidepressants.
A previous article on The American Dream website offers an eye-opening list of US drug use statisticsix. For the full list, please see the original article. Here are but a handful of the 18 statistics listed:
- More than 25 percent of all children and teens in the United States take prescription drugs on a regular basis
- More than 1 in 5 American adults, and 1 in 4 women, take at least one drug for "psychiatric" or "behavioral" disordersx
- Approximately one-third of all foster children in the United States are on at least one psychiatric drug. Many children in foster care are prescribed as many as five different psychotropic drugs
- The percentage of women taking antidepressants in America is the highest in the world
- Prescription drugs cost about 50 percent more in the US than they do in other countries. Meanwhile, tens of billions of dollars are spent on pharmaceutical marketing in the United States each year, and more than two dozen pharmaceutical companies each made over a billion dollars in profits during the year of 2008 alone
In related news, an excerpt from the book, Degree Mills: The Billion-Dollar Industry That Has Sold Over a Million Fake Diplomasxi raises another disturbing issue, namely that of fake doctors. According to the authors, Ezell and Bear, the number of fake PhD's in the US outnumber real, earned PhD's. In fact, more than HALF of all people claiming to have a PhD in the US have a fake degree! Unfortunately, this problem is not restricted to academics, who, hopefully, would not be able to inflict too much bodily harm. Fake medical degrees are also "an urgent problem," according to the authors.
"Twenty-five years ago, a Congressional committee calculated that there were over 5,000 fake doctors in the United States, and there are many more now. People have died because of these fakes," they write.
"There are more than 3,300 unrecognized universities, worldwide, many of them outright fakes, selling bachelor's, master's, doctorates, law, and medical degrees to anyone willing to pay the price. No nation is immune from the problem. One international diploma mill, with offices in Europe and the Middle East and mailing addresses in the United Kingdom, run by Americans, has sold more than 450,000 degrees—bachelor's, master's, doctorates, medicine, and law—to clients worldwide, who did nothing more than write a check."
How Can You Avoid Being Killed by a Prescription Drug?
So what's the answer?
First of all, it's imperative that you understand the risks you take each time you opt for a drug treatment, and that those risks are exponentially increased when you take more than one drug. No one (except for those who intentionally overdose) expects these medications to injure or kill them, but they can do just that, and as you can see, it happens quite frequently. As you just learned, you're at greater risk of accidentally dying from a side effect of a drug—especially pain killers—than you are behind the wheel of your car.
In a study released last year by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrationxii (SAMSHA), officials emphasized that people should assume there IS risk in prescribed medicines.
The truth is, the only way to avoid all risk, including death, from prescription drugs is to not take them at all. Which brings us back to where we started. Rosario, at the age of 104, is a perfect example that your health is not at all dependent on drugs. Rather, it is the result of a healthy, active lifestyle. Remember, it is your body, not your doctor's and not your pharmacist's, so it is up to you to make the decision of what drugs to take, if any. Be SURE you are aware of the risks of any medication prescribed to you, and weigh them against any possible benefit. Then you can make a well-informed decision of whether it's a risk you're willing to take.
Staying well naturally, without the use of drugs or even frequent conventional medical care, is not only possible, it may be the most successful strategy you can employ to increase your longevity. If you adhere to a healthy lifestyle, you most likely will never need medications in the first place.
- Proper Food Choices: For a comprehensive guide on which foods to eat and which to avoid, see my nutrition plan. Generally speaking, you should focus your diet on whole, unprocessed foods (organic vegetables, grass-fed meats, raw dairy, nuts, and so forth) that come from healthy, sustainable, local sources, such as a small organic farm not far from your home. For the best nutrition and health benefits, you will want to eat a good portion of your food raw. Personally, I aim to eat about 75 percent of my food raw, including raw eggs and humanely raised pastured organic animal products that have not been raised on a CAFO (confined animal feeding operation).
Nearly as important as knowing which foods to eat more of is knowing which foods to avoid, and topping the list is fructose. When consumed in excess, sugar acts as a toxin and drives multiple disease processes in your body, not the least of which is insulin resistance, a major cause of accelerated aging.
- Comprehensive Exercise Program, including High-Intensity Exercise like Peak Fitness: Even if you're eating the healthiest diet in the world, you still need to exercise to reach the highest levels of health, and you need to be exercising effectively, which means including not only core-strengthening exercises, strength training, and stretching but also high-intensity activities into your rotation. High-intensity interval-type training boosts human growth hormone (HGH) production, which is essential for optimal health, strength and vigor. I've discussed the importance of Peak Fitness for your health on numerous occasions, so for more information, please review this previous article.
- Stress Reduction and a Positive Attitude: You cannot be optimally healthy if you avoid addressing the emotional component of your health and longevity, as your emotional state plays a role in nearly every physical disease -- from heart disease and depression, to arthritis and cancer. Effective coping mechanisms are a major longevity-promoting factor in part because stress has a direct impact on inflammation, which in turn underlies many of the chronic diseases that kill people prematurely every day. The Emotional Freedom Technique, meditation, prayer, social support and exercise are all viable options that can help you maintain emotional and mental equilibrium.
- Proper Sun Exposure to Optimize Vitamin D: We have long known that it is best to get your vitamin D from sun exposure, and if at all possible, I strongly urge you to make sure you're getting out in the sun on a daily basis. There is preliminary evidence suggesting that oral vitamin D may not provide the identical benefits, although it's still better than none at all.
- Take High Quality Animal-Based Omega-3 Fats: Animal-based omega-3 fat is a strong factor in helping people live longer, and many experts believe that it is likely the predominant reason why the Japanese are the longest lived race on the planet.
- Avoid as Many Chemicals, Toxins, and Pollutants as Possible: This includes tossing out your toxic household cleaners, soaps, personal hygiene products, air fresheners, bug sprays, lawn pesticides, and insecticides, just to name a few, and replacing them with non-toxic alternatives.
- Avoid Prescription Drugs. Do you homework. You can start on this site by using the search engine at the top of every page, which links to previous articles we have written over the past 15 years. Just type in the name of the drug or condition you are taking it for, and you will likely come up with dozens if not hundreds of pages of information that will help you develop a strategy to stop using the drugs by changing your lifestyle to take control of your health