New surgeon general should back alternative medicine

Opinion piece in the Buffalo News. (From 11/29/08) Obama take heed.

Over-drugging is happening in every specialty. Yesterday I spoke with my aunt who told me a friend of hers is on statins with his natural cholesterol being 130! The doc calls this preventative medicine. This is out and out malpractice. It is possible to have cholesterol too low. We need cholesterol and almost everything you hear about pathologizing marginally “high” cholesterol is crap. And statins are dangerous drugs. The lists of unecessary meds go on and on.

By Ed Gogek

For me and my patients, drugs are not the only answer. And my patients are not alone in wanting a choice besides medication.

Barack Obama should heed this complaint and appoint a surgeon general who takes alternative medicine seriously.

The public is far ahead of medical experts and politicians on alternative medicine. A Harvard Medical School survey done 10 years ago found that more than 40 percent of Americans used some form of alternative medicine. It’s probably higher today. The study found that Americans spent as much out of pocket for alternative treatments as they did for conventional health care.

Front-line doctors — those of us who spend all day seeing patients — are also interested in alternatives. An American Psychiatric Association official told me that when they asked their physician members what they wanted to learn, alternative medicine was high on the list. Your average doctor wants alternatives to drugs — as long as they’re backed up by good research.

But doctors find it hard to learn about alternatives. We’re required to get continuing education every year, but who pays for that education? According to the New England Journal of Medicine, 90 percent of the money comes from drug companies. When I go to these conferences, most of the teachers are researchers who openly disclose that they take drug company money. So, big surprise, all we learn about are the newest, the latest and, of course, the most expensive drugs. (rest of article)

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