Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Treatment vs. Cure

In a post last week I mentioned that I am trying to work out a personal giving policy.  One place I won't give my money anymore is to the organizations that are trying to find the "cure."  For me, there are severe ethical problems with their approach.  

First of all, we tend to consider treatment and cure as one and the same.  They are not.  To me cure means eliminating the disease.  Period.  Exposing our bodies to chemicals and radiation that can cause cancer is not a cure.  A cure involves discovering the source and eliminating it.  Once the cure is found, we can do away with the expensive drugs and equipment.

Secondly, many organizations that claim to be looking for a cure are heavily invested in the businesses that provide the means to treat the disease.  It is not in their best interests to find a cure because 1) they will lose money on their investments and 2) it will put them out of business.  These are multi-million dollar businesses that one does not take lightly.  If a cure for a disease that is widespread and generates millions of dollars a years is found, how many people will be out of jobs?  How many businesses will close?  What would it do to the stock market?  A cure would be bad for business and bad for the economy.

Now I'm not one for conspiracy theories; however, over the years some true conspiracies have been exposed.  Wonder why mass transit died out in most of the United States?  We can thank General Motors, Firestone Tire, Standard Oil,  and several other corporations for that.  You can read about the "Great American Streetcar Scandal" here.  Remember when chiropractors were considered quacks?  Thank the American Medical Association who feared the competition.  At the close of a lawsuit in 1987, the judge found that the AMA "had engaged in an unlawful conspiracy in restraint of trade 'to contain and eliminate the chiropractic profession.'"  Something to think about.

Well-respected organizations sometimes act in their own self-interests, often to the detriment of the general population.  I'm sure there are many well-intentioned individuals working for organizations that claim to be searching for the cure; however, I think they sometimes get blinded by and caught up in the machinery of corporations and finances.  Here is a great article about the links between the American Cancer Society and pharmaceutical and chemical companies.  

Although studies have proven the link between a number of diseases and environmental influences, little attention is given to it.  According to the above article, the American Cancer Society,"along with the National Cancer Institute, virtually exclusively focuses on cancer research and diagnosis and the chemical treatment of cancer. Preventive strategies, such as avoiding chemical exposures, receive virtually no consideration at all."  In fact, many of the pharmaceutical companies they support also manufacture the very chemicals that are linked to disease.  

As long as we ignore the environmental causes of many diseases and instead focus on treating them, we will not find cures.  Take cancer, for example.  In 1971, President Nixon declared the war on cancer.  However, cancer rates continue to climb.  According to this 2004 article, "Thirty-three years ago, fully half of cancer patients survived five years or more after diagnosis. The figure has crept up to about 63% today."  And this statistic is slightly misleading because the five year "cure" doesn't really mean the person is cured.  (A good friend lost her battle against cancer, but was considered a "cure" because her cancer had returned after her five year anniversary.)  The article goes on to point out that "pharma companies, quite naturally, don't concentrate on solving the problem of metastasis (the thing that kills people); they focus on devising drugs that shrink tumors (the things that don't)."  Until this model changes, we will continue to have cancer.  

Another environmental cause of many diseases is our diet.  Numerous diseases are linked to the Standard American Diet.  However, this link is often ignored and, instead, we treat the illnesses with an assortment of pharmaceuticals that cause a myriad of side-effects and drain our pocketbooks.  So, in some cases we have the cure - it's called "prevention" - but our medical advisors allow us to wait until we have a disease that needs to be treated.

We must start demanding that true cures be sought rather than continuing to fund expensive, painful, damaging, and sometimes deadly treatments.  As long as we keep falling for the emotional marketing of the companies who purport to search for a cure, we will not find it.  


Shona~ LALA dex press said...

I used to think my mom was a bit off when I was growing up because she always had a reason why we did not eat certain foods, or go to certain types of doctors, but mom knew more than I gave her credit for. The more I read + investigate, the more these parts of my childhood makes sense + I now understand why we went to see that Indian man who came to the country once a year to dispense herbs.

As I said before, I was 37 when I took antibiotics for the first time + later found out that they never should have been prescribed since I had a viral infection + they are for bacterial infections.

Cherie said...

Shona, how fortunate you were to have a mother who knew so much about health. It saddens me to know that much of what ails us is preventable - and that well-intentioned people in the medical field don't question what they're taught.