Post Tagged with: "evidence based medicine"
Last week the front page of The Times carried a story that was an opening shot in a revolution. I’m sure that the editors didn’t intend it as that and that the readers didn’t see it that way either. It was a story about shifting from the long recommended low fat diet to one that cut back on carbohydrates instead. Standard fare for the cuddly lifestyle pages, hardly material for social upheaval.
The complicated and confusing debate about statins – are they worth taking or not; are they safe or do they have nasty side effect? – has suddenly plunged into anarchic and uncharted territory by the claims of a new rival drug.
Generally we don’t trust utopias. If they don’t remain fantasies but emerge into the real world, we expect them either to rapidly descent into rigid authoritarian hells or to disintegrate into factions and unproductive chaos.
Do you believe there is a new drug for Alzheimer’s just over the horizon? That there is no truth in the popular idea that B vitamins might cut your risk of getting this dreadful disease?
Well you are wrong on both counts but it’s not your fault, you’ve quite reasonably fallen for some very sophisticated marketing. Let me explain.
Professor Sir Rory Collins, the austere director of the institute in Oxford that produce much of the evidence supporting the increasing use of cholesterol –lowering statins, is in hot water once more. Last week he declared that he intended to investigate himself.
As anyone who is involved with cancer knows, you have two options. Follow the standard, scientifically validated route – variations on surgery, drugs and radiotherapy – supported by proper clinical trials or venture into the unapproved, unlicensed territory of complementary medicine frequently described as quackery.
We are being doctored to death. GPs’ surgeries and public health bodies routinely warn of hazards lurking all around us. They tell us sunshine is bad. Drinking alcohol is bad. Cholesterol is bad. Saturated fat is bad. Being overweight is bad.
Yet another round of media stories this week picking up on an “expert’s” claim that vitamins are ineffective and dangerous. They are the medical equivalent of blaming immigrants or single mothers for various social ills; scare stories that spin the data and draw totally unjustified conclusions.
Is putting all our eggs in the drug basket really the best way to beat Alzheimer’s? Just as we can’t rely on drug companies alone to beat antibiotic resistance, so we can’t rely on a pharmaceutical silver bullet for Alzheimer’s. Tackling antibiotic resistance needs heavy investment in drugs that will be used sparingly for a short time. The pharma model prefers drugs for as many people as possible for as long as possible. (Read More…)