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Manipulating causality: Medical journals and the pharmaceutical industry fraud

“Medical journals are an extension of the marketing arm of pharmaceutical companies”

Richard Smith

This is a safe life

We are never far from captivating headlines telling us how our path to eventual death may be even closer should we consider squatting below 90, consuming a double espresso, eating bacon and eggs, or god forbid, challenging state health authority recommendations for diet and exercise. For most, avoiding doing anything remotely controversial when it comes to lifestyle changes is a scary option. And people do not like to get scared. People prefer to stay inside the wheel like a mouse, going nowhere in particular, eating birdseed, and wondering if what you did yesterday was what you will do tomorrow, and the day after. But of course being content that even if you never get around to doing something, you´ll not face fear. Society tells us a lot about fear, let´s just exist.

But some seek to understand their shortcomings, and move beyond page 3 of the tabloid newspapers whilst subliminally wondering what life on the road with Shakira would be like (this is the alter ego speaking, they confused image with reality). Some seek the science behind the myth, the clinical evidence that makes us convinced cholesterol is bad, fat loss is a genetic thing, and 60% carbohydrate intake is optimal for health performance. We go to the journals.

I´ve always liked journals, not so much for their up-to-dateness, but for the constant variation and stimulation provided on a regular basis, and the thought provoking material that one can either add to the pile in the office shelf or keep open and develop further knowledge. Much like relationships to a woman or a dip bar, journals can be a challenge, and thoroughly rewarding if approached methodically at the correct time in a focussed way, but can provide confusing feedback that may require extended periods of self-reflection. If I appear slightly Freudian, I can explain. And I love the dip bar.

Richard Smith was editor in chief of the British Medical Journal and CEO of the BMJ Publishing Group for 13 years between 1991-2004. His article “Medical Journals Are an Extension of the Marketing Arm of Pharmaceutical Companies” is based on a lecture at the Medical Society of London in October 2004 when receiving the HealthWatch Award. The article overlaps to a small extent with an article published in the BMJ in 2003. He later published a book in 2006 entitled “The Trouble with Medical Journals” which further expands upon this topic. Now what struck me as interesting, was the levels of collusion that must be systematically inherent in the medical journal industry that allows for randomised controlled clinal trials to be the basis of cause and effect “evidence” that ends up as published papers, which are force fed to the medical industry, state health authorities and eventually to all the mice on treadmills living the life of existence in the uncivilized and brainwashed modern society. Sorry about the long sentence, I´ve been reading too many medical journals and drinking coffee, so that MUST be the effect.

The pharmaceutical industry is big. The biggest company Pfizer had global revenues in 2008 of USD$68billion, so sponsoring journals and clinical trials and no doubt unethical medical practitioners/peer reviewers to promote its drugs is well worth it. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently issued a fact sheet warning about the corrupt and unethical practices that are endemic to every step of the pharmaceuticals business. This is probably not so new to many, as is usually the case with multi-billion dollar industries, corruption and malpractice is the norm rather than the exception; “Join the ride and keep your trap shut, or stand up against it, quit the industry and take up life as a poor, but morally sound social scientist instead” type gig. An extract:

  • Corruption in the pharmaceutical sector occurs throughout all stages of the medicine chain, from research and development to dispensing and promotion,” the fact sheet reads.The medicine chain refers to each step involved in getting drugs into the hands of patients, including drug creation, regulation, management and consumption. The WHO notes that corruption is so widespread in part because medicines pass through a large number of intermediaries before they reach the patients who need them. Each extra step provides an opportunity for corruption to take place, ultimately driving up the cost of the medicine or diverting it toward the wrong recipients.

So we see the journals being published by professional societies (e.g. British Medical Association), the pharmaceutical companies that provide the funds for gaining the results they want and the academics/medical professionals who provide the writing, reviewing, and promotion of the results to the students/patients/media. Talk about symbiosis. Reading through PubMed to gain some knowledge about type II diabetes, hormone regulation, fat metabolism etc is like a discovering a fetish for handbags, and sitting down with a decade´s supply of Woman´s Weekly magazines to work out what has been in fashion. Take cholesterol research for example.

You got it Homer!

Statins (lipoprotein reducing medicine) are the best selling medicines in the history of modern pharmaceuticals. It is a billion dollar drug range, and these companies will do anything to keep up the myth of cholesterol being bad for us and linking it to disease. But recent research, often coming from the internet/blog driven independent health research field, is telling us that this is little more than a scam on a massive scale. Still, one cannot help but feel sorry for the confusing advice that not only is “bad” cholesterol actually “bad”, because “new insights” tell us so, but some “good” cholesterol is actually “bad”, or can go “bad”. Even statins that reduce “bad” cholesterol, also reduce the risk of certain cancer. And again here. Or we could just relax, eat well, rest well and not worry about it at all. What methods to these companies adopt to get the results from clinical trials they look for?. Back to Dr. Smith´s article (2005)

  • Conduct a trial of your drug against a treatment known to be inferior.
  • Trial your drugs against too low a dose of a competitor drug.
  • Conduct a trial of your drug against too high a dose of a competitor drug (making your drug seem less toxic).
  • Conduct trials that are too small to show differences from competitor drugs.
  • Use multiple endpoints in the trial and select for publication those that give favourable results.
  • Do multicentre trials and select for publication results from centres that are favourable.
  • Conduct subgroup analyses and select for publication those that are favourable.
  • Present results that are most likely to impress—for example, reduction in relative rather than absolute risk.
The problem seems inextricably bound up in economics. As long as drug companies continue to fund research and be complicit in directing every step along the way, then the public will not get the preventative treatment that could be developed if, for example, state funding agencies began to sponsor trials based upon the types of broad-ranging interdisciplinary research that are beginning to uncover so many of the myths of modern medicine. It seems a long way off however. I cannot see even the state providing funding for a decade-long study looking at the effects of a lower carbohydrate/sugar intake on mental and physical health, without having to admit the fallacy of their advice over the past decades to consume a low-fat, high carbohydrate diet. Another suggestion would be to regulate the medical journal industry, making them somehow independent of the drug companies, and adopting a critical approach to existing research, instead of continuing to publish results from clinical trials that quite obviously seek to prove an effect from a pre-framed cause. This too, seems a long way off.
In the meantime, we can continue to discuss informally some of the benefits that a social science orientated methodological approach can provide to some of the natural sciences that seem steeped in a reductionist-type methodological orientation. We need to look closely at ideas taken from biocultural anthropology and evolutionary psychology and merge the holistic understandings about human physiological development to forge a new health paradigm for the current millennium that is not a slave to corrupt commercial interests, but actually has the wellbeing of humanity at its core.
 

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Paleo – Primal – Evolutionary MINDSET

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all”

Oscar Wilde

Think about this. What you eat, how you sleep, how you move your body, how you think about your surrounds and the people in your life, society, work, holidays… We are surrounded by a linear world. Everything we are told to do, is a form of progression towards normality. It is to be less of a burden on society. It is to work harder. It is to save money. Accumulate shit. It is to conform to an existence that we are not capable of thriving in, because we are not adapted, physically or mentally from an anthropological perspective, to shun our primal roots, or our natural state, as we are doing. Our natural consciousness in other words, has become preconditioned through ´reason´ and our habits towards ´sensibility´ of how best to exist in our modern habitat. Unfortunately, modern society is in a cyclical epoch of unsustainable essentialism regarding our ideas pertaining to co-existence with nature. But fear not, the power within us to change things is evident, accessible, and actually quite simple. It just requires awareness. Awareness brings change, and change is enduring.

What is primal living?

Our life of denial need not be so complex as we make it out to be. Sure, we have split the atom, stepped on the moon, made sheep in a dish and invented the internet. All good and useful, but why have we been told that the way mankind has lived for thousands of generations is worth so little in this modern era?. In fact, why are we told it is dangerous?. Where does one draw the line between accepting the belief that existence is fragile, and deciding for oneself how existence according to the norms of fragility thrust upon us by society, is in fact harming us?. How is it that we become adapted to existing, instead of adaptable to the crap surrounding us?. How modern Western society thinks, eats and moves today may be harming us, or just sustaining our existence. Primal living (our evolved way) does neither. It just makes us healthy and alive. I’ll explain.

“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?…”

George Owell, 1984

Take a step inside your local supermarket Winston. Overlooking you, is Big Brother, and he is looking out for Thoughtcrime. Grab your packets of artificial corn-variant crap (80% of what is on shop shelves) and do not think. Exist, that is all. Read the signs on the glass window outside, and buy what it tells you to. Good Winston, DO NOT think that what I am serving you is making you weaker, more subservient and me richer and more invisible. Go home now, damage your body, and blame your partner, or society for your stress and ill health. “The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact, there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking-not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.” Sound scary? It is the way society is heading because we are acquiescing to the evil figures who are SO desperate to hold onto their power by literally feeding our ignorance. What Hitler did in Germany was legal, but was it right?.

Eat meat, you are an animal, not a bird or a mouse. Don’t pretend you are not an animal, it just looks silly, serves no purpose, and will eventually make you keel over and die. Grass reared meat is the most nutrient dense source or proteins, fats and essential minerals and vitamins known to man. If you can, eat the whole animal. Our ancestors did. Eat fish too, oily ones and deep sea varieties are less likely to be polluted, farmed fish in limited doses. Stop at just this, you will live well. But we like variety, so eat these:

Animal fat, do not trim you meat cuts. If you do you are throwing away THE primary dense calorie source needed for optimal performance. Remember, animal fat is not equivalent to human fat. Sugar, in its varying forms and side effects, makes us fat, inflamed and prone to disease. Fat from butter, coconut oil and some extra virgin olive oil are healthy too. Most of our energy should come from good fat, NOT birdseed. Avoid common ´vegetable´ oils like soy, canola, sesame, sunflower and corn. These oils are components of most junk/snack food, breads, grain products and contain linoleic acid (Omega6) which is nasty to your system. But they are cheap to produce, heavily subsidized, totally unnatural and better suited to run car engines. Avoid.

Vegetables and fruits, are nice sides to meat dishes. They provide a good source of carbohydrate and fiber. Try to eat more root vegetables with low fructose and glycemic load like sweet potatos and yam. Fruit is very high in fructose, which hits the liver hard, and contains nothing you cant get from vegetables, so go easy. Berries in season are great, melons as well. The occasional apple and banana in conjunction with vigorous exercise can be helpful. If you are conscious of your weight, or want to lose weight, be very cautious of fruit, especially dried fruit. Think nutrient density when selecting foods.

Eggs, go well with everything, taste good, are portable, and are very nutritious. Eggs are a great source of protein, and the yoke is especially rich in minerals and vitamins, fat and cholesterol. All good things in other words. Oh, and it seems that even the ‘bad’ cholesterol, may indeed be good. See this latest study.

DO NOT EAT GLUTEN, grains, corn and all their toxic side products

This is the biggie for most people, along with eliminating sugar. Gluten is a protein found in many grains which is added to most processed or man-handled/created/packaged foods. It is toxic to man and has many common side effects including weight gain, depression, fatigue, hair loss, constipation, hormone imbalance, skin irritation, joint pain and inflammation, sweet (carb) cravings, digestive problems, bloating. Just a few then. The removal of gluten has been medically proven to improve and /or eliminate most of the above. Grains contain a toxic mix of gluten, lectins and phytates that are selected to fend of predators that try to eat and digest them. In fact we cannot break down toxic lectins in our digestion, and this causes gut irritation (common for most people) which can trigger auto-immune response from our own system (celiac, being a familiar condition). Having a damaged (or leaky) gut lining hinders the absorption of nutrients we ingest. The spinoff effects from this are numerous, paving the way for many of the diseases and illnesses listed above. As Robb Wolf says: “Why does this happen? Because grains are pissed off that you want to eat them and they are willing, and able, to fight back”.

The human body is not adapted to thrive on grains, they are a potent anti-nutrient that we do not need in a healthy diet. Leave them to the birds and rodents.

DO NOT EAT SUGAR, Party longer. Sugar drives excess insulin production, which drives high blood glucose which causes inflammation, fat gain, adrenaline rush, false satiation, depression and a whole herd of other consequences. Sugar (carbohydrate) is in almost everything processed, and has the same addictive properties as heroin. Eat carbohydrates with high glycemic load, coupled with little or no protein, and the sugar is quickly metabolized making you eat more. When the sugar levels in our blood are so high that they cannot be dealt with, then insulin steps in and stores it as fat. Insulin is the bouncer at the nutrient party. It decides what to do with all the dressed up glucose, fat and amino acids lining up to slide down your pie hole. Inside the party, DJ hormone Dr. glucagon gets to work when bouncer insulin is maintaining order, and releases stored nutrients (and body fat) for energy. Barman Mr. leptin keeps the gig alive by knowing when enough is enough (i.e. when we are full up) Chaos at the door, all hell breaks loose inside, DJ loses the plot, barman keeps letting the mouth open, fights break out, party gets closed down, some make it out alive, others don´t.

So basically, a low-fat, high-carb diet(or standard carb as we are told by the authorities) is a make-us-fat -and-sick diet. I am no expert, I have just read with interest what the experts have to say, changed my ways, and am living the benefits. You limit the amount of sugar (carbohydrate) pumped into your body, the magical metabolic properties of the system turns to fat supplies to run off, and bingo, you lean out, look, feel, and perform better. It seems complex, but it is not. The authorities (Big Brother) that subsidize the amount of corn produced depend on holding our ignorance levels high, by funding ‘science’ to produce garbage studies that keep the majority thinking a high sugar/carb/low fat diet is healthy. It is killing millions every year, but then again, it sustains jobs in the health industry, and makes rich food-chain owners (political backers) richer. Get aware.

Play and Rest well

My favourite part. Life must be lived as play, Plato once told us. Forget how to play, or think of play as something for kids, then we may as well climb in the box and save some of the water supply. Remember how we climbed down from the trees, stood upright, enhanced our vision, chased prey, lit fires, slept in caves, woke up to sunrise, smelt the flowers?. We had life on our plate, and even though it was tough, I´m sure it was fun. Look upon play as part of life, part of the way you interact with nature, feel connected with your body and the power and energy it can provide when well nourished and well rested. Lift up stones, stretch, lie in the grass, climb trees, learn to balance, run fast. If you think that “exercise” is something to be compartmentalized and added as a supplementary component to your life, then you are off track.

Primal living is your lifestyle that evolution has so gloriously created for us. Luckily we have some great additions that modernity has given us, like coffee, kettlebells, full-suspension mountainbikes and iPhones. Unfortunately, we also have a growing apathy that is allowing us to jump tracks and head in the wrong direction. Seek pleasure in the consciousness of free spontaneous action, according to Aristotelean ethics. Play can be experienced within the subconscious, as our bodies resonate an embodied sense of cohesion with nature, where there is no preconceived idea or outcome. Primal pleasures differ in the function of their very expression. But in the end, Socrates was right, wisdom begins with wonder. Never forget that.

 

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