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Medicine’s blasphemers

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Medicine isn’t a science, although it likes to dress itself up in those fineries. It isn’t an art, although a few gifted healers make it so. While it can on occasion be both of those things, it is fundamentally a religion. It is a series of core beliefs, and those who dare talk against the most important of them are denounced as heretics. And if the transgressor rails against medicine’s holiest of holy grails – vaccinations – he is ostracized as a blasphemer.

At the heart of this religion is the doctor, who holds sway over life and death. Regaled in priest-like white, the doctor asks the patient – or supplicant – to hand over his powers of autonomy to his higher authority. Having done so, the diagnosis and prognosis are established, and the course of treatment begins.

Eccentric ideas? Possibly, but they are the views of someone who was ‘on the inside’ of medicine and saw all of this first hand. Dr Bob Mendelsohn, a medical iconoclast who was one of the guiding spirits behind What Doctors Don’t Tell You, believed doctors had gotten too big for their stethoscopes, and that most cures and treatments could be found in natural and traditional medicine – even in our own kitchen cabinets.

Bob died back in 1988 – a year before we launched WDDTY – and ironically as the result of complications following surgery, but his views have a special resonance today with the shutdown over the debate about the safety of vaccines and the effectiveness of cholesterol-lowering statins.

As you’ve probably noticed, social media sites are being pressured to remove any ‘anti-vax’ comments and videos, while the world’s media has been acting in concert to belittle concerns raised about vaccination safety as the ravings of a bunch of vociferous conspiracy theorists.

The World Health Organization has been the catalyst for the campaign after seeing an increase in measles cases, mainly in developing countries where people can be nutritionally malnourished, and especially low in vitamin A, one of Bob’s natural antidotes against measles.

Even the United States has been cited as witnessing a worrying escalation in measles cases, reported in 10 states. At the time of writing, fewer than 300 measles cases have been reported in the US this year, which is not exactly the stuff of a national panic in a population of around 320 million. In fact, even if vaccinations achieved a 100 percent uptake rate, there would still be at least 300 cases reported every year.

The anti-vaxxers do have a point. Essentially, they’re saying that vaccines can’t be completely safe: the US Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) has paid out more than $1.4 billion to families who have been harmed by a vaccine, which should be proof enough. As such, parents have the right to know what the real risks are before making an informed choice about having their child vaccinated.

But then that’s the difference between science and religion: one requires information or data, the other faith. And strangely, for a discipline that prides itself on being a science, medicine asks people to take a leap . . . of faith.

Now we’re starting to see a similar kick-back against ‘statin-deniers’ (yes, that’s really what they’re called). “There is a special place in hell for the doctors who claim statins don’t work” screamed one recent headline from a UK national newspaper. 1

Note the use of the ‘H’ word, full of religious undertones. Again, it’s part of a bigger campaign that is scaring people back onto statins, as the target audience (essentially, anyone over the age of 50) has been warned off by the drug’s terrible side-effects and the argument that cholesterol isn’t the cause of heart disease in the first place.

So, yes, medicine is a religion, and will put to the flame all heretics. But it’s something more: it’s also a very profitable commercial enterprise, and that’s something Bob didn’t highlight.

Because all this religious zeal has a purpose: sales of the MMR vaccine are set for an “overwhelming hike,” according to market research group HTF Market Intelligence. And as another industry watcher, Transparency, has pointed out: “This strategy [government initiatives to promote vaccination] has immense potential to increase patient acceptability and also increase the rates of immunization.”

Statin manufacturers have something to protect, too. Sales for Lipitor, the statin best-seller, hit $149 billion in the 10 years to 2016.

Praise the Lord!

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Article Topics: vaccination, vaccine
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