A Great Year for Health Care

A Year End Round-Up of Victories in the Field of Natural Health, Alternative Medicine, and the Politics of Health Care

“We are only undefeated, because we have gone on trying.” ~ T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

“Never, never, never give up.” ~ Winston Churchill

Pour yourself an organic egg nog, curl up in a comfy easy chair that hopefully doesn’t outgas nasty chemicals, and consider these glad tidings for all! With all the bad news, we tend to lose sight of the fact that Peace, Truth and Justice are eternal processes that will never be extinguished. As for the mess the world is in – “What else is new?” Ask Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, the Old Testament prophets, and the sages of China and India. Well, a lot else is new, and this is the time of year where we need to think of the light we have all helped to bring into the darkness.

• The other night I watched the multiple award winning documentary The End of Surburbia in which some of the world’s leading oil experts tell us how and when the oil will run out (www.endofsuburbia.com). “We’re literally stuck up a cul-de-sac in a cement SUV without a fill-up,” observes James Howard Kunstler in this film. I recalled the moronic reply, which then U.S. president George Bush Sr. gave during the Rio Summit on sustainable development to the world’s nations in the early 1990s demanding the U.S. help curb greenhouse gases and stop the flagrant waste of non-renewable resources in the U.S.: “The American way of life is not negotiable.”

Well, now life as we all know it is in jeopardy within 10 to 20 years, as this documentary informs us. Daunting, but not impossible, technical challenges have to be overcome to make this horrendous transition from pollution-generating to clean energy available from the sun and wind. Then, suddenly it hit me and I yelled: “Hallelujah! When the oil runs out, health will break out!”

Just about all our health problems are rooted ultimately in oil products — from carcinogenic pesticides and asthma and allergy-causing polluted air to toxic pharmaceutical drugs and fertilizer-degrading soil responsible for the world’s chronic nutrient deficiency. In 50 years Ontario will spend more than 50% of its entire revenue on health care, if current trends continue (Medical Post, Nov. 15). Well, the oil will run out before we are halfway there, and the air, soil and water will repair themselves, as will we. By all means let the oil run out!

• Encouraged by this revelation I began to look for other good news and found the 2005 Human Security Report from the University of British Columbia. Looking past the mass hysteria about terrorism, this report found “surprising evidence of major declines in armed conflict, genocides, human rights abuses, military coups and international crises worldwide.” In fact, the number of armed conflicts has declined 40% since 1992, and the deadliest conflicts (measured by more than 1,000 annual battle deaths) have dropped by 80%. International political crises fell by 70% since 1981. Military coups have declined by 60% since 1963. Conflicts declined in every country whose economy stabilized. Most armed conflicts take place in Africa, but even there they have decreased since 2001. All this showed a measurable decline in military spending (in spite of Iraq). Most interestingly, wars have become less deadly in the last five decades: in 1950 an average 38,000 people were killed in wars annually; in 2002 it was only 600, a 98% decline. The only increase has been in the number of refugees.

Why? Apparently, peace as a worldwide process, despite  the horrors of Iraq and Afghanistan, is due to the increasing activity of the non-governmental  organizations (NGOs) and the United Nations peacekeeping forces. Both spread the practical knowledge of non-violent solutions to violence. This report is so astonishing, everybody should read it as an antidote to our daily news which rarely gives a larger picture (www.humansecurityreport.info).

This is a very healthy development — literally. I, therefore, predict that the eloquent and articulate outrage we recently heard in the masterful Massey Lectures delivered by Stephen Lewis on the AIDS crisis in Africa will also spawn healing action, just as all that truth-telling and truth-acting by NGOs such as Doctors Without Borders, and UN peacekeepers like General Romeo Dallaire have done, as this report shows.

• As for the processes of Justice, this year saw extraordinary developments in the Codex battle: it looked utterly hopeless in January 2005 as the European Union was poised to remove all nutritional supplements from the market. Then the UK, led by Dr. Robert Verkerk and the Alliance for Natural Health, challenged this Codex-generated development in the European Court of Justice and won on grounds of natural justice as well as the rules of international trade treaties. When the case went to the International Court of Justice, a totally unexpected ruling was handed down in July: it agreed that nutrient safety assessment was a legal right of all nations, but asserted that such assessment better be really scientific (not Big Pharma rigged) and that natural ingredients, that have been part of the human diet for millennia, cannot possibly be assumed to be toxic, while synthetic ones obviously can! Hopefully the humour of this ruling is not lost on the reader!

Now the Codex battle has moved to a new arena — which is where it belongs and which Codex has tried mighty hard to avoid — namely, the examination of the astonishing assumption, stated over and over in Codex documents, that all people in the world usually obtain all essential nutrients from their regular diet. This nonsense is based on nutrient charts more than 50 years old! The Codex battle is not over, but it is not going to be won by the pharmaceutical cartel either. The courts have levelled the playing field somewhat and health freedom stands a chance. However, this is not the time to be complacent: Codex is now moving to regulate internationally all herbal medicines! (For details on the relevance of Codex to Canadians, go to www.kospublishing.com, click on Codex Update.)

• In continuing to scan the events of 2005, I compiled a list that suggests that intelligent life dwells on planet Earth after all:

The New York Times reported (Nov. 18) that only 9% of the American public believes drug companies are basically honest; in 2003 it was still 14%. As for food quality, merely 39% trust their supermarkets.

– The Canadian Cancer Society is stirring at last in its deep slumber of many decades and opened one eyelid ever so tentatively to the harsh and glaring truth that the causes of cancer are known and preventable. In their 2005 Canadian Cancer Statistics, you will find on page 67 the following, for the first time ever: “A considerable body of evidence has accumulated over the past few decades regarding the causes of cancer. Many of these, such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet (the old blame-the-patient variety mythology which does not account even a fraction of all cancers), and exposure to environmental and workplace carcinogens, are modifiable. This has led to the firm belief that it should be possible either to prevent many cancers by reducing the number of people exposed to substances that increase cancer risk — for example through environmental and occupational protection measures — or improving cancer-protective behaviour.” To understand why this is a revolution, read Cancer Gate, the latest book by oncologist and cancer prevention expert Samuel Epstein of the University of Chicago. He shows how the cancer societies have been in cahoots with the manufacturers of carcinogens and consistently ignored the scientific evidence on the causes of cancer; this betrayal began when the “the war on cancer” was declared by then U.S. president “Tricky Dick” Richard Nixon.

– In April, the UK government published a report entitled “The Influence of the Pharmaceutical Industry” showing that not only is their national health service being bankrupted by a level of pharmaceutical price gouging that would make a South American drug lord blush, but many of their products are brought to market after having deliberately circumvented safety regulations, thus killing a lot of people. The report attacked especially the infamous antidepressants and cholesterol-lowering statins. Following this report’s publication, prescriptions of these drugs went down by 46% in the UK. A lot of patients must be surprised to find they can think clearly again at last.

– The European Union’s parliament amended the Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals (REACH) bill such that now “companies have to prove that substances used in everyday products, such as cars, computers, detergents and paints are safe.” (Reuters, Nov. 17) This law will affect more than 30,000 chemicals and comes into effect 2007. Undoubtedly, Europe will show an accelerated drop in cancer rates soon thereafter.

– The U.S. government’s Center for Disease Control published the National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals revealing that every person in America carries 148 common synthetic chemicals — all carcinogens and many neurotoxins as well. This report was supported by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) which tested for 413 pollutants in the umbilical cord’s blood and found that 180 are known carcinogens, 208 are known to cause developmental problems, and 217 are neurotoxic. This report also proved that poisons cross the placenta after all. Both reports recommend that these substances must be legislated into oblivion — now.

– The Lion’s Gate Hospital project of 2001 in British Columbia, the results of which were published by the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, showed that a single hospital has an ecological footprint 719 times larger than the actual land occupied by it, and that its energy waste — adjusted proportionally — exceeds that of the whole city of Vancouver by 180 times! Hospitals took note, such as St. Mary’s General Hospital in Kitchener, now regarded a pioneer in ecological hospital management.

• The world will be a lot less cruel as the use of animals for the testing of cosmetics is now being phased out in the European Union; this practice has now been generally recognized as scientifically unsound. (Nature, Nov. 10)

• The Ontario College of Family Physicians (some 9,000 members strong), covered itself in glory last year with its outstanding report on the health effects of pesticides on children, causing many municipalities and the City of Toronto to ban them. This November the OCFP hosted an outstanding conference on environmental medicine.

• Mainstream medicine had a bumper year of Truth-saying, a small selection is offered here: Dalhousie University proved that vitamin C cuts the occurrence of esophageal cancer by more than half; the drug industry took many hits from the medical profession, which forced the facts into public view on the safety of most major drugs (e.g. all the SSRIs, the statins, Flomax, Duloxetine, Enteryx); the Journal of the Canadian Medical Association published articles on pesticides causing Parkinson’s disease, ginseng preventing upper respiratory infection (both in October 25), condemning the conflicts of interest at Health Canada in the breast implant advisory panel, demanding that medical schools remove the conflicts caused by the presence of Big Pharma (November 8 ), and condemning their influence on practice guidelines (November 22).

• With regard to food safety, mainstream medicine has taken on trans-fatty acids and refined sugar suggesting transfats be banned by law, as Denmark has done. Even taking nutritional support as a cancer-fighting strategy was favourably, discussed (Medical Post, October 18 and 25, and November 15).

• Most surprisingly, public health officials stood up against the flu pandemic hysteria (Medical Post, Nov. 8) and told the public that it is indeed a hysteria. Unfortunately, their voices were rather under-reported in the general media.

• A new medical journal, started by 50,000 U.S. medical students, called PLoS Medicine (Public Library of Science and Medicine) has no pharmaceutical ads and its editors urge doctors to not even accept pens from drug reps. Its articles are now possibly the most reliable medical information available. One zinger is in its current December issue: it presents the evidence that serotonin and depression, the basis for the entire antidepressant drug market, is scientifically a corporate-generated myth.

• A most wonderful development has begun at McGill University’s medical school,  dubbed “the return of the healer” by the Medical Post (October 18). The Dean of Medicine has decided that medical practice must return to the ethical and humane standards associated in medical history with the great Sir William Osler. Doctors are to be trained not as administrators and pill pushers but as healers. The curriculum now features the reintroduction of the humanities and mandatory courses on medical ethics and people skills. Students are grouped into small units of five or six to one mentor. Interestingly, this new teaching method is a response to a challenge from the American Medical Association, which asked the medical schools in North America to humanize medical training such as to inculcate “physicianship.” As McGill’s Dean of Medicine put it, “Much of modern medicine is trying to treat disease, rather than treat a person who has a disease.” Wow! Maybe the next generation of doctors will listen to us again.

ase.” Wow! Maybe the next generation of doctors will listen to us again.

• On the food safety front, the American Academy for Environmental Medicine presented the research of Irina Ermakova from the Russian Academy of Sciences, showing that almost all the pups of pregnant rats, fed genetically modified soya, died. The AAEM made a formal demand to the U.S. government to place a moratorium on GM foods and initiate independent safety studies. Similarly, The New Scientist on November 21 published the fact that GM peas cause generalized inflammation (a precursor to cancer), and the industry has dropped trying to market this pea.

The psychologist C.G. Jung used to say that even the greatest evil will eventually give way to good evolving from it. While evil is not “necessary” to bring about good, one need not lose hope: the forces of Truth and Justice are eternally at work.


Best Books of 2005:

• C. Dean, MD, Death By Modern Medicine, Matrix Veritee, 2005 (assembles the facts about the toxicity of drug therapy from medical research)
• S. Ellison, Health Myths Exposed, Author House, 2005 (by a former pharmaceutical drug designer)
• S. Epstein, MD, Cancer Gate: How To Win the Loosing War on Cancer, Baywood, 2005 (documents the collusion between the cancer establishment and the carcinogen manufacturers)
• P. Moynihan & A. Cassels, Selling Sickness, Nation Books, 2005, and documentary movie by the same title (on the invention of diseases by the pharmaceutical industry and their tricks in getting the support of the medical profession to market such illnesses)

Helke Ferrie is a medical science writer with a master's degree in physical anthropology. Her specialty lies in investigative research into ethical issues in medicine and the politics of health. She started her investigative journalism career in the mid-1990s, looking at issues of medicine and environment. She has been a regular contributor to Vitality Magazine ever since. Helke has also authored several books on various subjects including: "Ending Denial: The Lyme Disease Epidemic", "What Part of No! Don't They Understand: Rescuing Food and Medicine from Government Abuse", and "The Earth's Gift to Medicine". Here are links to some of her works: Book Review Find her book -Ending Denial Read her article: When governments abandon the public interest — look out for your own health Find her book -What Part of No! Don't They Understand Helke has also been a regular contributor for the Vitality Magazine. Links to few of her articles: The Tyranny of Government Protection Success Story - How I Recovered from Lyme Disease IN THE NEWS: Fluoride Dangers; Roundup Lawsuits; Lyme Disease Epidemic Helke Ferrie now lives a retired life and can be reached at helkeferrie@gmail.com

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