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Dramatic Example of How Health Truth May Take Up to a Century to be Accepted

smokingIn 1878, 86 years before the U.S. Surgeon General issued a report confirming the dangers of smoking tobacco, a letter from English physician Charles R. Drysdale condemning its use appeared in The Times of London.

Drysdale had been on an anti-smoking crusade since at least 1864, the year he published a study documenting the effects of tobacco on young men. That study reported cases of jaundice, and at least one subject having "most distressing palpitations of the heart."

Drysdale wrote a book pinpointing nicotine as having ill effects on the lungs, circulation system, and even the skin. He also warned against exposure to second-hand smoke. But despite Drysdale's warnings, little was done to curb smoking anywhere in the world until 1957, when then-Surgeon General Leroy Burney reported a causal link between smoking and lung cancer.

Burney's successor, Luther Terry, commissioned a special committee that produced Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General. Released in 1964, this report began a massive change in people's attitudes toward smoking -- and to think it only took 86 years.
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
Frankly, this kind of willful ignorance on the part of the medical establishment is not particularly surprising. Some of medicine’s most glaring mistakes and deliberately ignored problems include:

• Bloodletting as a cure-all
• Promotion of cocaine, heroin, and other narcotics
• Lobotomy
• Thalidomide, a morning sickness drug called the “drug of choice to help pregnant women,” which caused severe birth defects
• DES, synthetic estrogen promoted to prevent miscarriages, which caused reproductive problems in the women’s children

• HRT: The menopause “cure”
• H. pylori, which is the true cause of ulcers
• The Vioxx disaster that killed 60,000
• Disregarding Dr. Semmelweis and his hand-washing recommendation

The last example is instructive. In 1846, a young Austrian-Hungarian doctor named Igaz Semmelweis investigated a notorious maternity ward in which nearly all of the inpatients contracted a fatal case of “childbed fever.” What he noticed was that women who came into the ward after giving birth were not likely to become ill.

When a professor who cut his finger in the middle of an autopsy died of symptoms identical to those of the unfortunate mothers, Semmelweis reasoned that the students doing the autopsies were somehow transferring the fever to the women in the maternity ward. Semmelweis began making his students disinfect their hands before delivering babies, and the number of childbed fever cases dropped.

Of course, no good deed goes unpunished. Semmelweis was labeled “insane” by his colleagues for having the audacity to suggest that they should wash their hands between deliveries, and they fired him. He tried to continue his research but was ostracized by the medical community. His own mental health eventually deteriorated, leading to his death in an insane asylum.

Are There Glaring Medical Errors Being Ignored Right Now?

The closest modern-day analogy for a number of reasons is clearly the cell phone. They both were initially thought to be harmless and the industry strongly defended them. Similarly it took many years for their damage to be recognized in the population.

Evidence is emerging that radiation from cell phones, cell phone towers and other wireless technologies is a real health risk. Health officials in France, Germany, Canada and India have already issued recommendations to limit your exposure to these electromagnetic fields and have children and teens limit their use of cell phones to avoid potential health risks. Some experts are even comparing the cell phone fiasco to cigarettes.

"It was 15, 20 years after people began smoking that we saw concerns associated with it," says Michael Kelsh, principle scientist and epidemiologist for Exponent, a scientific consulting firm. "Down the road, the same could happen with phones."

Here in the United States, however, cell phones have been given the all-clear, and they are growing more popular by the minute.

Our culture is engaging in a massive human experiment with cell phones. Over 75% of the cell phones in the world today have only been here for less than three years. It will take 10-20 years for a large portion of the harm to become obvious.

Are you willing to risk the relative inconvenience of using your cell phone’s speaker or using a safe headset to drastically increasing your risk of cancer?

Deaths By Prescription Drugs

Americans spend an average of $7,600 per person, per year on health care, for a grand total of $2.3 trillion in 2007. This is more money spent than any other country. You would think that this would secure a healthy future for most of us, no?

Well, not really.

The U.S. ranks 42nd in the world for life expectancy and 37th for infant mortality. These low scores are, in large part, directly related to the flawed medical system that allowed cigarettes to be widely promoted despite known health risks, the same medical system that still exists today.

One-third of adults with health problems reported mistakes in their care in 2007, and rates of visits to physicians or emergency departments for adverse drug effects increased by one-third between 2001 and 2004.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that drug overdoses killed 33,000 people in 2005 -- second only to car accidents in the category of accidental deaths -- up from 20,000 in 1999, and 10,000 in 1990. Contrary to popular belief, this major increase in drug overdoses is not due to a heroin or crack epidemic.

These deaths are largely due to prescription drugs.

Meanwhile, all too often health truths are uncovered only to be quickly swept under the rug. This is not just something that happened 50 years ago. It is still going on right now.

For instance, Merck, the maker of the painkiller Vioxx that killed 139,000 people, ignored research that reflected unfavorably on their drug, and they concealed heart attacks suffered by three patients during a clinical trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2000. They also deleted other relevant data before submitting their article for publication. This was discovered during the preparations for Vioxx trial depositions when the printed copy of the study did not match the original version stored on a disk!

Consider also chemotherapy, the standard treatment for cancer. How effective is chemotherapy?

A study published in the journal Clinical Oncology in December 2004 showed that chemotherapy has an average 5-year survival success rate of just over 2 percent for all cancers! The researchers concluded that chemotherapy only makes a minor contribution to cancer survival, yet it remains the status quo for cancer treatment.

Meanwhile, other cancer treatments that have none of the dangerous side effects of chemotherapy and which have shown much greater effectiveness -- treatments like Dr. Geerd Hamer’s German New Medicine and Dr. Simoncini’s baking soda treatments -- are being completely ignored and even ostracized by “modern medicine.”

Listen to Your Instincts and Look Out for Your Own Health

So if you’re counting on the medical profession or a public health agency to protect you from what’s harmful, you could wait yourself right into the grave.

As history has shown, doctors can be wrong. Well-accepted health “truths” can be wrong. And ideas that have seemed completely crazy have later on turned out to be true.

So how can you know who to believe?

You can’t.

And that’s why it is unwise to blindly trust any information you receive related to your health, even me, but be particularly careful if it came from the flawed system known as conventional medicine. Please take this not as a warning but as an empowerment: take all medical advice with a grain of salt, and always do research on your own to confirm or refute the recommendations.

+ Sources and References
  • Wired September 25, 2008