Doctors' strike in Israel good for health

by Owen R. Fonorow c 2000

LOS ANGELES, (Reuters) - "Mark Hughes, the 44-year-old founder of Herbalife International Inc. who was found dead in his bed May 21, died from a combination of alcohol and the prescription anti-depressant Doxepin."

How can we protect our children from the new wave of prescription drug advertisements on television? According to the American Medical Association, adverse reactions to prescription and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals are a leading cause of death and injury in the United States. The massive propaganda ad campaign on TV teaches everyone, especially kids, that drug use is okay. No wonder so many kids use illegal drugs! How are they supposed to tell the difference? As of this writing, there is a doctors strike in Israel. The death rate has fallen so sharply during the strike that the Israeli funeral parlors and burial associations are complaining. One of the reasons the Japanese live so long is that prescription drugs are "last resorts" in Japan.

Fact: Prescription drugs are dangerous and extremely hazardous to health. Children watching television in the United states are being trained to think otherwise. In the absurd dreamland of a TV prescription drug commercial there is a pill for every ill. Parents may laugh at the side-effects, but it all becomes normal to a child. What is Viagra daddy? Now there is even a pill to overcome social anxiety! Where is the V-chip to protect our children from these ads? The truth be known, our children would be asking us how and why drug companies are allowed to sell cholesterol lowering drugs that at normal dosages cause cancer in laboratory mice?

Not all pills are created equal. Recently the U. S. National Academy of Sciences announced that it has increased what used to be called the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of vitamin C and vitamin E. While outwardly this seemed to be good news, the council spoke with a forked tongue. These meager RDA increases were announced in an alarming press release. The council wrote that the mounting evidence for higher antioxidant vitamins is "flimsy." Taking high amounts of antioxidants might be harmful, or so the council claimed, ignoring a mountain of recent evidence to the contrary.

The National Science Council's reasoning is why we as laymen get lost trying to follow medical thinking. As far as anyone knows, there hasn't been a single death caused by an overdose of either vitamin C or vitamin E. For that matter, we can find no evidence that any person has ever died taking too much of any vitamin or amino acid. It is now reasonably well documented that the vast majority of "ill effects" comes from taking too little of these and other vitamins. All dangers increase while taking prescription drugs. When the medical profession acts like a business, it cautions us about taking antioxidants, while pushing dangerous prescription drugs down our throats.

The National Academy of Science could cite no evidence that taking too much vitamin C causes harm, but prescription drugs are another matter. As reported June 16, 2000 (Reuters) - Mark Hughes, the 44-year-old millionaire and the founder of Herbalife International Inc. who was found dead in his bed May 21, died from an "accidental overdose of alcohol and the prescription anti- depressant Doxepin." According to the Los Angeles County Coroner, who ruled out foul play, "Mr. Hughes was taking Doxepin to help him sleep."

As if to reinforce the point, an on-going strike by medical doctors in Israel has put a severe economic strain on the funeral business in that country. The dramatic decline in the death rate is prompting the burial association to ask the Government to approve an increase in doctors' pay. According to the newspaper the Jerusalem Sun, industrial action by doctors in Israel seems to be good for their patients' health. Death rates have dropped considerably in most of the country since physicians in public hospitals implemented a program of sanctions three months ago, according to a survey of burial societies.

"The number of funerals we have performed has fallen drastically," said Hananya Shahor, the veteran director of Jerusalem's Kehilat Yerushalayim burial society. "This month, there were only 93 funerals compared with 153 in May 1999, 133 in the same month in 1998, and 139 in May 1997," he said. The society handles 55% of all deaths in the Jerusalem metropolitan area. Last April, there were only 130 deaths compared with 150 or more in previous Aprils. "I can't explain why," said Mr Shahor.

Meir Adler, manager of the Shamgar Funeral Parlour, which buries most other residents of Jerusalem, declared with much more certainty: "There definitely is a connection between the doctors' sanctions and fewer deaths. We saw the same thing in 1983 [when the Israel Medical Association applied sanctions for four and a half months]." Sources tell this author that the same phenomenon occurred in British Columbia during a doctors strike in Canada.

A recent study, by Dr. Bruce H. Pomeranz, the principal investigator and nueuro-science professor at the University of Toronto, sheds light on this phenomenon. Dr. Pomeranz estimated that bad reactions to prescription and over-the-counter medicines kill more than 100,000 (76,000 to 137,000) Americans and seriously injure an additional 2.1 million of us every year. Such reactions, which do not include prescribing errors or drug abuse, rank between fourth and sixth among causes of death. His study was published in the April 15, 1998 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) but garnered little publicity.

One month later the same American Medical Association explained why Americans are following the Japanese lead and have turned in massive numbers to the so-called Alternative Medicine. The surprising answer? People think it works better! (We're not making this up.) The surprising study appeared in the May 20, 1998 JAMA entitled WHY PATIENTS USE ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE (p. 1548-1553). Stanford researchers, on the basis of a National study, estimate that Americans made 425 million visits to alternative health care providers in 1990, a figure that exceeded the number of visits to allopathic primary care physicians during the same period by almost 100 million visits! (Forty seven (47) percent of these physicians also reported using alternative therapies themselves, while 23% incorporated them into their practices.)

The reasons people gave for using Alternative medicine are surprising. According to the JAMA article, the two most frequently endorsed benefits are: "I get relief for my symptoms, the pain or discomfort is less or goes away, I feel better," and "The treatment works better for my particular health problem than standard medicine's." According to the study author, these responses were unexpected and suggest that the most influential or salient factor in people's decision to use alternative health care may be its perceived efficacy.

So where's the catch?

Drugs kill. Vitamins, amino acids, herbs and minerals are not only safe, easy to obtain, and far less expensive than prescription drugs, they seem to promote health and make many pharmaceuticals unnecessary. The clinical experience of medical doctor Robert C. Atkins in his recent book VITA- NUTRIENT SOLUTION confirms the Stanford survey. Many vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids and various other non-toxic "vital" substances are more therapeutically effective at high enough dosages than dangerous drug counterparts!

Adverse Drug Reactions 100,000 to 140,000
Automobile Accidents 39,325
Food Contamination 9,100
Boating Accidents 2,064
Household Cleaners 74
Acute Pesticide Poisoning 12
All Vitamins 0
Amino acids 0
Commercial Herbal Products 0

*Sources Data as of 1995 from American Association of Poison Control Centers, National Center for Health Statistics, Journal of the American Medical Association, Centers for Disease Control, March of Dimes, Consumer Product Safety Commission, FDA Reports.

We now know why the pharmaceutical industry feels compelled to spend massive money on drug advertising aimed at our children. The future survival of the two industries are at stake! Funeral parlors and pharmaceuticals!

For more information:

Doctors Strike in Israel:
Herbal Life Founder Overdose:
RDA increase:

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Owen R. Fonorow
The Vitamin C Foundation
PO Box 3097
Lisle, IL  60532
owen.fonorow @