It’s been a week since I wrote about my trust issues with the food and drug companies in our country. It’s also been a week since I quit drinking soymilk and sweetening with agave and I lost 3 pounds without any other real changes to my lifestyle. While this is not scientifically conclusive it’s not a normal week for me so it’s enough to make me go, “hmmmm.”.
The same day I posted Part 1 of this blog my extremely intelligent cousin Dara, who is also a med student, made the following comment:
Zena, I understand your point but it’s incredibly irresponsible to post that autism-mmr vaccine link. That link, originally published by the Lancet (a respected medical journal) in 1998, has since been retracted (2 months ago). Massive amounts of research has shown no link. Further, Measles is one of the top 6 killers in the world; if there is a tiny risk of autism, is that worth it? Jenny McCarthy goes on Oprah then hundreds (thousands) of kids suffer down the track as their parents decide not to vaccinate their kids. There is a loss of herd immunity in the community, and kids can (and do) die. If you’re not vaccinated against Rubella, get pregnant and then contract rubella (which is surprisingly common) there is a high probability your child will develop a major heart defect in utero and have to undergo multiple heart operations once born.
The problem with the internet is that with regards to subjects like these, there is massive amounts of information that is obviously biased. You need to look at journal articles, which can be flawed, but at least undergo substantially more rigorous review before being released to the public. The best thing to look at is a meta-analysis, where they analyzed the results of multiple studies at the same time.
She makes a good point. We need to do our own research and not just trust what we’re told, including while doing research on the internet.
So what is a person to do in the meantime? What if you are having a baby and wondering what to do about things like formula (there are ones made with safer and healthier ingredients than High Fructose Corn Syrup and partially-hydrogenated-anything but they are more expensive and not as easy to find) and vaccinations. Yes, it will take a good deal of research and fact checking to get some answers and that’s not easy for some people and too time consuming for others. Perhaps a solution is to request your child’s vaccinations be given individually (not given in 3-at-a-time cocktails) and definitely without mercury (otherwise known as thimerosol).
My conclusion after a week of pondering all of this is that the people who make our food and the pharmaceutical companies who make our medicines are out to please their shareholders and make as much money as humanly possible. They are not in the business of making you healthy and whole. And governmental oversight is lax at best, if not for sale to the highest bidder. So it is up to us to mind our own well being. We need to take responsibility for our health and well being. We can point fingers at others for our obesity and our health problems but it’s a waste of time. We all know we only have so many hours in a day and they would be better spent researching what we put into our bodies and taking care of ourselves.
This week of research and study taught me a lot about being more aware of what I’m eating and while I may still choose to occasionally eat unhealthy foods, such as those containing High Fructose Corn Syrup (because it is so hard to find processed foods without it and some processed foods are very tasty), being aware of what I’m eating makes it easier to monitor my own health. We just need to take it one meal at a time.
And as far as medications that we may be offered for our ailments, many of them are very helpful, but some are not as well tested as they should be (Vioxx, anyone?) and some of them are just not necessary. So while we may not have definitive answers on all things food and drug what we do know is that we need to look out for ourselves when it comes to our health.
Now you know. And as GI Joe says, knowing is half the battle.