For evidence that overuse of antibiotics and other drugs is causing more health problems than they cure, one need look no further than Norway.~
Antibiotics and MRSA
That country embarked on a campaign 25 years ago to eradicate MRSA (antibiotic resistant staph infection) which has proven remarkably successful. A key component of that campaign: cutting back severely on the use of antibiotics.
This doesn’t surprise me one bit. I have read so many accounts of the damage caused by many pharmaceutical drugs, especially antibiotics and ARVs (anti-retroviral drugs) to the gut, a major player in our immune systems.
I am not surprised, because I have experienced antibiotic abuse and an infection with MRSA myself, before I became aware of the dangers of western medicine’s love affair with all things pharmaceutical. I have spent months at a time on antibiotics earlier this decade, battling an infection that didn’t have to happen in the first place, according to the AP report linked above.
MRSA infections are taking far more lives in the US, Japan and Europe than AIDS and unlike “HIV-infections”, MRSA rates are growing at truly epidemic proportions, up from 2 percent in 1974 to 63 percent in 2004. MRSA is also lethal, causing 19,000 deaths each year in the U.S. alone.
Obstacles to stopping a killer disease
There is so much more information in this article that I’d like to just copy and paste, but I leave it to you to go and read it for yourself. I’ll simply post this one snip:
But can Norway’s program really work elsewhere?
The answer lies in the busy laboratory of an aging little public hospital about 100 miles outside of London. It’s here that microbiologist Dr. Lynne Liebowitz got tired of
seeing the stunningly low Nordic MRSA rates while facing her own burgeoning cases.
So she turned Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kings Lynn into a petri dish, asking doctors to almost completely stop using two antibiotics known for provoking MRSA infections.
One month later, the results were in: MRSA rates were tumbling. And they’ve continued to plummet. Five years ago, the hospital had 47 MRSA bloodstream infections. This year they’ve had one.
It’s unlikely that we in the U.S. will ever see similarly spectacular results for some very obvious reasons.
Our medical system is disproportionately influenced by the large amount of money spent by the pharmaceutical industry; profit that is earned by inflating the costs of drugs beyond reason. Money that is shoveled out to medical schools, doctors and media marketing campaigns as part of a blatant campaign to influence, if not control medical decisions that benefit the corporate ledger, rather than the consumer’s health.
Secondly, the government agency responsible for oversight, the FDA, has become a haven for former pharma staffers who have become rubber stamp clerks, rather than the vigilant guardians we need.
Finally, we have become obsessed with curing disease with pills and injections. “Norwegians”, on the other hand, “are sanguine about their coughs and colds, toughing it out through low-grade infections,” according to the article.
Disease as markers of a broken medical system and the AIDS connection
MRSA is just one of many marker diseases that indicate a problem with our medical system’s misplaced faith in pharmaceutical drugs to treat illness. I can’t resist highlighting a couple of more points that are especially relevant to the AIDS debate.
One of the most commonly cited diseases associated with, and probably misdiagnosed as, AIDS in Africa is tuberculosis. Treatment resistant TB is frequently blamed on the HI virus (HIV), yet:
The World Health Organization says antibiotic resistance is one of the leading public health threats on the planet. A six-month investigation by The Associated Press found overuse and misuse of medicines has led to mutations in once curable diseases like tuberculosis and malaria, making them harder and in some cases impossible to treat.
We have also seen similar problems with the use of ARVs in healthy people who test “positive” on vague antibody tests used to detect HIV. Long term treatment leads to failure, which is dismissed by calling it “drug resistance” and additional drugs are imposed onto an already over-burdened body and immune systems until the patient dies of systemic organ failure, especially of the liver and heart.
ARVs are also known to have strong antibiotic properties. It is not unreasonable to assume there are similarly dangerous consequences associated with their use.
Many people with failing immune systems, especially gay men, have been victims of antibiotic abuse, one of the factors suspected of causing their illness.Those who were first diagnosed with immune failure in the early 1980s were the so-called “fast track” gays who lived dangerously close to the edge, pre-emptively popping antibiotics before stepping out to the baths and the bars.
When I first came out as a gay man, testing for STDs and treating them with antibiotics was just one piece of the rite of passage into the urban gay culture.
One plausible alternative explanation for what is now call AIDS, among gay men especially, has been offered by Tony Lance, who coined Gay Related Intestinal Dysbiosis, a must read for any gay man concerned about his health and probably good information for others with “poz” diagnosis as well.
If intestinal dysbiosis plays a causative role in AIDS, the obvious question is why in
the late ‘70s and early ‘80s would sizable numbers of gay men suddenly become afflicted with the condition to the point of becoming seriously ill and dying. In his papers Koliadin points to the widespread and sometimes prophylactic use of broad-spectrum antibiotics which destroy bacteria indiscriminately. Although these drugs undoubtedly played and continue to play a big role, there are other factors that deserve serious consideration.
I think next time I get an infection I will just have to pass on the doctor’s treatment of choice.
(hat tip to my sisters Merrilee and Diana for sending the AP article to me.)