Regular readers will know that the medicalization of life together with the relentless changing of thresholds of where “normal” is defined is all designed to make more people into patients and consumers of pharmaceuticals or other medical services.
Yet the degree to which this is now happening is quite astounding. According to a global survey published in the Lancet only 4% of people had no health problem in 2013. And roughly one third of the world’s population had more than five health problems. The survey covered 188 countries.
Not surprisingly the definition of health problem is fairly wide and includes age related hearing loss, low back pain, tension headaches and tooth decay. Most people will get a headache at times. This does not make it a “health problem”. Likewise some people have deterioration in their hearing as years advance but manage very well with this.
The notion that 96% of the worlds population is in some way diseased will no doubt be used to argue for more “funding”, government action and who knows what else. One of the studies authors was quoted as saying that various health issues had not “…received the attention they deserve”.
The reclassification of people with normal blood pressure and having “pre hypertension” and those with normal blood sugar as “pre diabetic” helps drive these sorts of results. As of course does the reclassifying of the normal human emotion of sadness as “depression”.
The rise of screening has also contributed to this. We are beseeched to get “life saving tests” done. Yet the reality is that most screening does little good and can do considerable harm. Another review of mammography has shown that there is no difference in survival between those screened or not, but a large increase in treatment of small cancers of questionable significance. This happens because anything found will be treated.
That said there is an increasing trend for men to hold off on treatment for screening detected prostate cancer, which, may not in fact be life threatening but where treatment may adversely affect quality of life.
And the US Preventative Advisory task force has come out against screening of children under five for speech issues, as it is just way too inaccurate. The dangerous screening of three year olds in Australia for “mental health issues” has fortunately been stopped before it did too much damage.
It has also been revealed that drug and medical device makers paid $US6.49 billion to doctors and teaching hospitals in 2014. This includes payments for consulting ($369 million), research and promotional talks ($632 million). Propublica reports that one doctor was paid $US594, 363 by 29 different companies mainly for promotional speaking and consulting.
And here is the kicker, this amount ranked the doctor 250th amongst those who received payments. Yet it notes that payments were made on 242 different days.
With this sort of money being invested in disease there needs to be a return. The more people who can be convinced that they have something wrong with them the better for business.
But you have a choice. You can reject disease mongering, take charge of your health, and not be a statistic.
This article first appeared on www.drjoetoday.com