Commentary by CW 10-22-05:
This is a very important question. Why, because if we could know in advance what the number 1 killer of people in America was, maybe, just maybe we could stop ourselves from becoming a statistic that would end in our premature demise.
I have long been a follower of medical statistics. They tell me a lot. For example, in 1962, 1 out 16 people were getting Cancer, today it is more like 1 in 2 or 3. It helps me to know this, so when I hear the statement "we are winning the war on Cancer", I can look at the reality and say to myself... Really? Actually I say... Liar, liar, pants on fire, or something like that.
The annual cancer death rate for 2001 was, 553,251.
So is Cancer the number 1 cause of death in America? Nope. It is gaining on us though.
What about Heart Disease? It use to be that Heart disease was the number 1 killer in America. Right now, 1 out of 2 of us will become a statistic of Heart Disease and the 2001 heart disease annual death rate was 699,697.
So, is Heart Disease number 1? Nope. But its getting a lot of us.
What about type 2 Diabetes? Well it's fast becoming number 3 with a 32% increase of this disease in just the last 20 years. But it's not number 1, yet.
So what is the leading cause of death in America, with the total number of deaths for 2001 being 783,936.
Are you ready?
I think you will be surprised.
Doctors, hospitals, drug interactions or what is called Iatrogenic [induced inadvertently by a physician or surgeon or by medical treatment or diagnostic procedures] killed the most people in 2001.
Here is just a little of the stats:
According to Gary Null PhD, Carolyn Dean MD ND, Martin Feldman MD, Debora Rasio MD, and Dorothy Smith PhD "a definitive review and close reading of medical peer-review journals, and government health statistics in 2001 shows that American medicine frequently causes more harm than good".
"The number of people having in-hospital, adverse drug reactions (ADR) to prescribed medicine is 2.2 million. Dr. Richard Besser, of the CDC, in 1995, said the number of unnecessary antibiotics prescribed annually for viral infections was 20 million. Dr. Besser, in 2003, now refers to tens of millions of unnecessary antibiotics".
"The number of unnecessary medical and surgical procedures performed annually is 7.5 million. The number of people exposed to unnecessary hospitalization annually is 8.9 million".
"The total number of iatrogenic deaths is 783,936. It is evident that the American medical system is the leading cause of death and injury in the United States".
"The enumerating of unnecessary medical events is very important in our analysis. Any medical procedure that is invasive and not necessary must be considered as part of the larger iatrogenic picture. Unfortunately, cause and effect go unmonitored. The figures on unnecessary events represent people ("patients") who are thrust into a dangerous health care system. They are helpless victims. Each one of these 16.4 million lives is being affected in a way that could have a fatal consequence. Simply entering a hospital could result in the following (out of 16. 4 million people):
2.1 percent chance of a serious adverse drug reaction (186,000)
5 percent to 6 percent chance of acquiring a nosocomial [hospital] infection (489,500)
4 percent to 36 percent chance of having an iatrogenic injury in hospital (medical error and adverse drug reactions) (1.78 million)
17 percent chance of a procedure error (1.3 million)
All the statistics above represent a one-year time span. Imagine the numbers over a 10-year period.
Working with the most conservative figures from our statistics we project the following 10-year death rates would be 7,841,360 (7.8 million) "
I could give you a lot more examples, but here is just one that I noticed the other day. This is modern medicine trying to help us with our type 2 Diabetes epidemic.
Study finds higher cardiac risks from new diabetes drug:
By Steve Sternberg, USA TODAY, Fri Oct 21, 7:16 AM ET
A powerful new diabetes drug on the brink of being approved appears to double the risk of death, heart attacks or strokes, researchers reported Thursday.
The drug, muraglitazar, is a prototype of a new class of drugs that can reduce blood fats and blood sugar, a valuable combination for the 18 million diabetics who have a high risk of heart disease.
The study was carried out by the same Cleveland Clinic researchers who first reported the heart risks posed by the arthritis drug Vioxx, which has been taken off the market. They used data the diabetes drug's maker, Bristol-Myers Squibb, gave the Food and Drug Administration.
Their analysis involved data from 2,374 patients who took muraglitazar, to be sold as Pargluva, and 1,351 who took either a rival drug called pioglitazone, sold as Actos, or a placebo. Death, heart attacks and strokes occurred in 35 of the muraglitazar patients and nine of the control patients.
"Ten of 1,000 patients would die, have a heart attack or a stroke," says lead author Steven Nissen of the Cleveland Clinic.
When the researchers factored in heart failure and mini-strokes, Nissen says, they found that patients' risk of catastrophic events increased nearly threefold.
Nissen and his co-authors published their results two days after the FDA pronounced muraglitazar "approvable." But the FDA asked Bristol-Myers to address the drug's heart-disease risk profile.
The Journal of the American Medical Association rushed the study onto its website Thursday, citing a compelling need to make the information public.
"It's a very important and interesting finding," says Richard Kahn of the American Diabetes Association. "I'm confident that the FDA will pursue this to the end to make sure the drug is safe."
Tony Plohoros, a spokesman for Bristol-Myers, says: "At this point, we're anxious to begin discussions with FDA to address this issue." Merck, which is marketing the drug with Bristol-Myers, echoed that response in a joint statement.
Laura Alvey, an FDA spokeswoman, issued a statement that said the agency was aware of the latest findings on muraglitazar but that it couldn't comment further on the drug because its application for approval is still pending.
James Brophy of McGill University in Montreal wrote in a JAMA editorial that the analysis "should focus serious attention" on the drug's cardiovascular risks.
On Sept. 9, an FDA advisory committee voted 8-1 to recommend the drug's approval as a treatment for type 2 diabetes. During that meeting, the FDA's analysts reported evidence of cardiac risk. But they didn't flag the risk as significant, except when the drug was used with other treatments. Bristol experts concluded there was no significant rise in heart risk.
Brophy, in his editorial, cited the gulf between the two interpretations of the data. He asked: "The question now is, which safety message will the FDA buy?"
Is it no wonder that I have dedicated myself to learning alternative approaches to dealing with disease. What happened to Medicine. Hippocrates, the founder of modern medicines said, "I will follow that system of regimen which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous. I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel..." He was also quoted as saying "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food".
Need I say any more...
Also I would like to say that America is number 1 in the world for Emergency Medical and Surgical care. If I were in a car accident, broke my leg or needed surgery, I would have the best care in the world here, but when it comes to the treatment of Chronic Degenerative Diseases, I personally find Alternative Medicine a smarter choice, when chosen properly.
Christopher Wiechert's Healthblogger is for educational or informational purposes only, and is not intended to diagnose or provide treatment for any condition. If you have any concerns about your own health, you should always consult with a healthcare professional. If you decide to use this information on your own, it's your constitutional right, but I assume no responsibility.
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