This morning, July 7th 2008, the American Pediatric Association lost my respect: they announced that in view of the obesity epidemic and pre-diabetes in our children, they now recommend that kids 8 years and older take statin drugs to lower their cholesterol.
Before we outline the problems with this recommendation, we must try to understand where they are coming from. No doubt, they care about children and wish to prevent the onset of heart disease, now widely documented to start at an early age. This is wonderful. Nobody disagrees with this worthy goal.
BUT, and that is a big but, starting drugs on children is likely to impress upon their minds that a medical problem is to be managed with a pill. Will it surprise anyone to see these children grow up to pop a pill for any health issue they encounter? This is great… for Big Pharma, who likely influenced the panel of docs at the American Pediatric Association who made the recommendation to use these drugs.
Sure, they did mention diet; but did you know that any doctor in private practice who emphasizes diet is said to be a quack? This attitude flies in the face of the American Heart Association’s recommendation that TLC, Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes like diet should be tried for 6 months, before drugs are used.
You may say that children have no chance to implement TLC measures when their own parents cannot give up their addiction to refined sugars and trans fats. Therein lies the problem. So, therein is the solution, that is, educating people so that they may open their eyes and wake up to the fact that Big Food and Big Pharma have a commercial interest in people remaining uneducated and unable to implement the simplest of nutritional interventions to save themselves, and their children from premature heart disease and diabetes.
Let us say that most people will fail to face their addiction to refined foods. OK, then, some kind of intervention is justified. In that case, why don’t we look at the evidence to see that cholesterol-lowering drugs have significant problems and questionable benefits? Instead, we could give children a much safer item, RED RICE, which was prominently featured in the American J. Cardiology this year (See blog “Seeing RED.”) The Mayo clinic just proved that RED RICE, fish oil and a good diet are the equivalent of Zocor 40 mg and without the side effects (J. Mayo Clinic Proceedings 2008;83:758.)
Now, why didn’t the American Academy of Pediatrics even consider RED RICE? Could it be that the industry making this item, which has been persecuted by Big Pharma, doesn’t have the resources to influence those who are making the recommendation to start statins on our kids? Did you know that Big Pharma has literally taken RED RICE makers to court, arguing that RED RICE is much like a drug, so much so that it should not be sold over the counter? Never mind that it is from RED RICE that Big Pharma got the first of the statin drugs. Talk about throwing grandpa out in the cold… and never mind that now statin makers want to approval to have their drugs sold over the counter.
But, there is another reason why we will not see RED RICE or TLC emphasized to our kids: any doc who tries to do so is labeled a quack. Because I have done this, there are some docs in my community who feel that I am just that, a quack. They have so judged me without ever meeting me, without discussing the evidence in our own journals, without visiting my website, and without even looking up the evidence that fills our medical journals, as you can see by studying my newsletter and blogs.
One such doc, Dr. W______, recently traumatized and verbally abused a patient we had in common by lecturing her that she should not see quacks like me. His attitude is not only immature but unethical, subject to legal repercussions and plain wrong and close-minded. My patient left his office in tears. She contacted me in agony, deeply hurt and wondering what she could do about this episode. I advised her to forget about it, since these types of docs and people like him will never change. Truly, we cannot put new wine in old bottles. Perhaps she will write to Dr. W., to make him aware of his faux-pas, perhaps not.
After all, patients are to be encouraged to find the health care they prefer, without recrimination from their docs. Interestingly, my patient happened to be a highly trained and educated health care worker herself, who, looking at the evidence, and the healthy results from nutritional therapies, has made the choice to postpone pharmaceutical solutions to her problems, unless TLC, nutrition and kindness fail.
So, I am seeing RED some more, because now children will be brainwashed when it comes to metabolic problems. I am seeing RED because of Drs like Dr. W. And I am seeing RED because the perverse economic incentives that drive this madness are not likely to go away in the near future.
Since seeing RED is not good for me, I am seriously considering retiring from this madness. After 25+ years of fighting ignorance, prejudice and close mindedness, I am tired, and somewhat hopeless that our society can turn this thing around. So, don’t be surprised if, just like my hero George Carlin, I just fade into the sunset one of these days…