Friday, August 6, 2010

Follow doctor's directions - until you die

Are you one of those unfortunate individuals who has been prescribed some "miracle drug" by your doctor and taken it in good faith only to find out years later that it will probably kill you? Been there, done that. Got angry.

But who does one direct one's anger toward? Not my doctor, I think. She's been my doctor for 20 years and I'm sure that she prescribed the medicine in good faith. The Food and Drug Administration? Well, it is a mere shadow of its former self. There was a time when it barred the gate against dangerous or unproven drugs, but in recent years, as the big pharmaceutical companies have bought their way into the halls of power in Washington, many of the FDA's functions have been stripped and people have been appointed to it who are in the pockets of Big Pharma. These days they often seem less interested in protecting public health and safety than they are in protecting the profits of the drug companies who seem to own them.

And what about food supplements that are not even "regulated" by the FDA? I'm thinking particularly about fish oil capsules and vitamin D-3. A couple of years ago, my doctor suggested that I take both of these - fish oil to help with my cholesterol and D-3 because the latest research indicates that it is more important than had previously been known in the maintenance of good health and a healthy immune system. Since she told me that, I have taken these supplements faithfully.

Now, I read in the paper that most fish oil capsules have been shown to contain PCBs which have been proven to contribute to an increased risk for cancer!

As for vitamin D-3, the news is not quite so bad. It seems that most of the tablets contain less than the amount of D-3 shown on the label, so you may need to take twice or three times the recommended dosage in order to get as much as you need.

The Omega 3 oil found in fish oil capsules (along with the PCBs) can also be found in capsules produced from algae, which is where fish apparently get the Omega 3 in the first place, so, yes, I will be switching to algae based capsules. I'll also be increasing my consumption of walnuts, another way to get the Omega 3.

But it is all so confusing and frustrating. One tries to do what is best for one's body, following the best advice available, only to find out that that advice was all wrong and may actually have caused harm. The next thing they'll be telling me is that walking CAUSES osteoporosis.

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