HIV/AIDS Skepticism

Pointing to evidence that HIV is not the necessary and sufficient cause of AIDS

Archive for October, 2010

HAART kills hearts

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2010/10/22

The latest version of the Treatment Guidelines issued by the National Institutes of Health — 1 December 2009 —  includes among “Preferred Regimens” (p. 39, Table 5a) ritonavir-boosted saquinavir plus tenofovir/emtricitabine or tenofovir/lamivudine (SQV/r + TDF/FTC; FTC interchangeable with 3TC).

The “Adverse Events” of Saquinavir (a.k.a. Invirase) are listed (p. 156, App. B,. Table 3) as
• GI intolerance, nausea, and diarrhea
• Headache
• Elevated transaminase enzymes
• Hyperlipidemia
• Hyperglycemia
• Fat maldistribution
• Possible increased bleeding episodes in  pts with hemophilia

Those of Ritonavir (a.k.a. Norvir) are listed as
• GI intolerance, nausea, vomiting,  diarrhea
• Paresthesias — circumoral and extremities [tingling, “pins & needles”]
• Hyperlipidemia (especially  hypertriglyceridemia)
• Hepatitis
• Asthenia [lack of muscle strength, tiredness, dizziness, malaise]
• Taste perversion
• Hyperglycemia
• Fat maldistribution
• Possible increased bleeding episodes in  pts with hemophilia

Less than a year after these newly revised Guidelines appeared, a warning is issued against the frequent combined use of these two drugs in the “Preferred” category:
“The Food and Drug Administration has amped up warnings on the label of the commonly prescribed HIV antiviral Invirase, adding information about potentially life-threatening cardiac side effects when used in tandem with Norvir, another widely used antiviral.
[Note that cardiac events were not even among those listed in the Treatment Guidelines]
The new labeling requirement follows an FDA warning in February that the drugs taken together could affect electrical activity in the heart, prolonging what are known as QT and PR intervals — indicators of heart rhythm on an EKG.
[Note the warning in February — just a couple of months after the updated Treatment Guidelines that did not mention cardiac events]
Prolongation of the QT interval can lead to an abnormal heart rhythm known as torsades de pointes, which can cause lightheadedness or fainting and, in some cases, life-threatening ventricular fibrillation. A prolonged PR interval can lead to an abnormal cardiac rhythm called a heart block.
Thursday’s announcement also includes a requirement that the drug’s marketer, San Francisco-based Genentech, include an informational pamphlet for consumers that describes Invirase’s potential risks.”
“Invirase was first approved as antiretroviral medication in 1995, to be used in combination with Norvir and other antiretroviral medicines to treat HIV” (AFP; emphasis added).
“The FDA approved Invirase in 1995 to lower HIV levels in the blood. It is often combined with Norvir to improve its effectiveness” (AP; emphasis added).
“The agency emphasized that the benefits of the drugs outweigh their risks, but advised patients to talk to their doctors. As the Los Angeles Times points out, Norvir helps boost the effectiveness of Invirase, so the two meds are often taken together” (FiercePharma; emphasis added).
“Separately, the European Medicines Agency said it reviewed all the available data on potential heart risk and recommended that patients start off treatment with a lower dose of Invirase for a week as a precaution. It added that the benefits of the drugs outweighed the potential heart risks” (Reuters; emphasis added).

That FDA and the European Medicines Agency claim that the benefits of the drugs outweigh their risks is no surprise; that this assertion could be solidly based on evidence would be a great surprise, however. Did they, for instance, take into account that the median age at which AIDS patients die is mid-forties, and that the majority of adverse events are non-AIDS events? (HAART saves lives — but doesn’t prolong them!? )

The standard weasel words, “Talk to your doctor”, are particularly shameful under these circumstances. What’s a doctor supposed to do, when the experts and the authoritative bodies say that the drugs’ benefits outweigh their risks? Are physicians supposed to become researchers into the technical literature?

The central problem — a general problem with all drugs, not just with antiretrovirals — is that once drugs are approved, there is no systematic gathering of data about “side” effects. The Food and Drug Administration has no specific rules under which it acts to arrange the withdrawal from the market of a previously approved drug (e-mail of 17 August 2004 to Henry Bauer from CDER DRUGINFO <DRUGINFO@cder.fda.gov>); but, in any case, FDA could not act without information, and there is no systematic collecting of pertinent data. For example, only in mid-June 2009 did FDA advise consumers against using certain Zicam products even though it had received more than 100 reports of loss of smell among Zicam users as far back as 1999. The manufacturers had received 800 such reports without feeling obliged to notify the federal agency.
Moreover, manufacturers themselves can know about problems only if physicians report them, and it is not necessarily easy for a doctor to recognize when a new drug does something undesirable. Are the symptoms new and caused by the drug, or are they caused by the underlying illness and just more aggravated? Since FDA had ruled the drug safe and effective, it would be natural for a doctor to presume that any worsening of a patient’s condition stems more probably from the illness than from the drug. Such a conclusion would be particularly plausible with HIV and antiretroviral drugs, given that HIV is being blamed officially for every possible ailment: general inflammation, damage to any and every organ, cause of any and all cancers, and anything else experienced by antiretroviral-treated “HIV-positive” people.
Even fatal side effects may not bring official warnings for quite a long time. The antihistamines Seldane and Hismanal were on the market for a dozen years before they were withdrawn because torsades de pointes is a possible side effect; the gastrointestinal medication propulsid was marketed for 7 years before it was recognized that it too has that side effect.

Since the manner in which such adverse effects become known is so haphazard, it’s highly probable that only a small proportion of occurring side effects are actually reported, and that harm has been done to a large number of patients before drugs are withdrawn.
Clinical trials intended as a basis for approval of new drugs extend over limited periods; at least 6 months is the requirement, but rarely more than a couple of years. It is no surprise that serious adverse events do not show up in large numbers during such a limited period. But a “side” effect that shows up in only a few percent of cases in the first year is most likely to produce that effect in a much larger number of people when they are taking the drug for extended periods of time; and HAART is supposed to be a lifelong treatment.
And it is lifelong: until the median age of death, that is, which is about 45.
As the Treatment Guidelines acknowledge, more than half of all “AIDS” deaths are iatrogenic nowadays:
“In the era of combination antiretroviral therapy, . . . the risk of several non-AIDS-defining conditions, including cardiovascular diseases, liver-related events, renal disease, and certain non-AIDS malignancies . . . is greater than the risk for AIDS in persons with CD4 T-cell counts >200 cells/mm3; the risk for these events increases progressively as the CD4 T-cell count decreases from 350 to 200 cells/mm3” (p. 13, 28 January 2008 version of Treatment Guidelines).
Exactly. HAART damages heart, liver, kidneys, and causes cancer. And it is not only the Invirase/Ritonavir (Saquinavir/Norvir) combination that is responsible.

Posted in antiretroviral drugs, clinical trials, experts, HIV does not cause AIDS | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Further HIV/AIDS Enlightenment out of Italy

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2010/10/21

That HIV does not cause AIDS is again demonstrated, this time in a doctoral thesis, “Endogenous retroviruses as confounding factors in the pathogenesis of AIDS”, by Chiara Matteuzzi, mentored by Dr. Stefania Pacini and Dr. Marco Ruggiero. The work has just been accepted (with maximum marks) at the University of Florence, is in English, and is publicly available. The presentation was in Italian.
The literature review mentions Montagnier’s longstanding view that sound immune systems withstand HIV, unpublished work of Dr. Christl Meyer suggesting that HIV is an evolutionary adapted and partly active variable and heritable gene construct of our immune (MHC/HLA)-system, De Harven’s discussion of human endogenous retroviruses as confounding factors in AIDS pathogenesis, and Yamamoto’s demonstration that stimulation of the immune system can eradicate HIV.
The experimental part of the thesis built on Yamamoto’s work, as described in the Abstract:
“Results
We demonstrated that GcMAF stimulated human monocyte proliferation and survival and  that this response was associated with VDR gene polymorphisms. Since these results were obtained in  peripheral blood mononuclear cells, an interplay between lymphocytes expressing VDR and GcMAF- stimulated monocytes producing vitamin D has to be assumed. The effect was dose-dependent and maximal  stimulation was achieved using 100 pg/ml. GcMAF sustained cell viability for about 98 h whereas un- stimulated cells were no longer viable after 48 h, as if GcMAF had rescued monocytes from apoptosis.  Heparin inhibited the stimulatory effect of GcMAF by binding the N-acetylgalactosamine moiety of  GcMAF. GcMAF stimulated cAMP formation in a dose-dependent manner. GcMAF inihibited PGE 2 – and  MCF-7 (human breast cancer cell)-stimulated angiogenesis in chick embryo chorionallantoic membrane  (CAM) assay.   Discussion
GcAMF-induced increase of cAMP formation could account for its anti-angiogenetic effect  since it was demonstrated that elevated cAMP level inhibited angiogenesis in CAM assay (J Vasc Res  31:195-204, 1994). GcMAF-induced inhibition of angiogenesis could then be crucial in determining its  therapeutic effects in conditions where angiogenesis plays a key role in the progression of the disease, from  cancer (Exp Cell Res 316:1304-8, 2010) to HIV infection (Angiogenesis 5: 141–151, 2002). In addition, the  CAM assay proved to be a rapid, simple and inexpensive method to determine the relative potencies of  different GcMAF preparations and their stability; for example, we observed that storage at room temperature  for 15 days decreased GcMAF potency by about 50%. These data could prove useful for upcoming clinical  trials on GcMAF. In fact, GcMAF is being sold over the internet and it appears that several people are  already assuming GcMAF to treat diseases as diverse as cancer and HIV infection.”

Posted in HIV does not cause AIDS, HIV skepticism | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Defeating HIV = AIDS

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2010/10/17

There is zero evidence that “HIV” causes AIDS. Incidence of the two doesn’t correlate. “HIV” tests don’t detect viral infection. There are no published articles establishing that “HIV” causes AIDS. “HIV” virions have never been isolated and characterized in pure form, and when they are synthesized by cloning purported HIV genomes they are not infectious and they self-destruct within days (see PMID: 1386485). “AIDS” has been defined as requiring presence of “HIV” and has been expanded over the years to include an increasing number of conditions in which “HIV” tests deliver (false) positives.

The science is quite clear. Experience has shown that this does not influence the mainstream. Those who have suggested anything approaching disbelief in HIV/AIDS theory have been excluded from publication, denied research grants, and personally vilified. Not only is there no incentive for medical scientists or practicing physicians to question the dogma, the penalties for doing so are steep and well known. So how then can this horrific mistake be rectified?

In the very long run, it might just wither away; or perhaps be explained away by some sort of sleight of facts after increasingly widespread distribution of antiretroviral drugs in Africa is seen to be accompanied by increased mortality. But one would prefer not to wait that long. At the Rethinking AIDS Conference in Oakland I suggested these possibilities:

— Politicians might begin to ask, what are we getting for $20 billion annually?
— African Americans might begin to protest that they are not 10-20 times more promiscuous than Asian Americans; Africans might begin to ponder why they are supposed to be 10-100 times more promiscuous than others.
—The media might begin to take up those points.
— A court case or series of them might do the job.

That last possibility may bear fruit sooner than I had thought possible, owing to initiatives being taken by Clark Baker through the Office of Medical and Scientific Justice and its HIV Innocence Project. The aims and rationale of those initiatives are described in this must-read essay posted on 15th October.

Baker draws intriguing parallels between people charged with transmitting or potentially transmitting HIV and people charged with driving under the influence: defense attorneys can cross-examine expert witnesses about technical aspects of the purported data, in particular how valid or reliable the data are — or how unreliable.

Many if not most doctors accept a laboratory report of a positive “HIV” test, especially if accompanied by a CD4 count below 200, as diagnosing infection, even though the tests have not been approved for diagnosis and only the United States regards the CD4 count as a criterion, and even though authoritative sources emphasize that the tests can only be an aid in diagnosis. How would a doctor fare in cross-examination if unaware of those points?
Or unaware that Western Blot is not a confirmatory test but merely a supplemental one?
Or unaware that “positive” in low-risk people is very likely to be a false positive for purely statistical reasons (and not only with “HIV” tests)?
(For details of those see “’HIV’ tests are self-fulfilling prophecies”.)

The questions, “Who proved that HIV attacks cells and causes AIDS? How? Where was this published?”, are routinely evaded by defenders of the orthodoxy; but they could not evade them in court. How could even the most expert witness respond? — “the most rigorous peer review . . . comes from cross-examination . . . in the courtroom” (Sheldon Krimsky, “Protecting scientific integrity”, Chemical Heritage, 27 [#1, Spring 2009] 42-3). Could Fauci or Gallo be reduced to pleading the Fifth, not answering for fear of self-incrimination?  8)

As Clark Baker points out, that so many individuals have been convicted of spreading or potentially spreading HIV is owing to the inexperience of attorneys in such cases, their ignorance of the technical issues and how vulnerable the orthodox theory is to cross-examination. Defendants suffer from the same ignorance — and in the rare case that they didn’t, they were not able to get competent legal representation, as Kim Bannon found.

Nowadays competent representation is available with the help of the HIV Innocence Project and OMSJ. But it is crucial that defendants and their lawyers take advantage of that help before the first substantive arguments in court. After a guilty verdict has been delivered, appeals may fail purely for reasons of legal technicalities; that may have been a critical factor in the Parenzee case in Australia.

*                    *                    *                    *                    *                    *                    *                    *

That doctors don’t know beans about HIV tests should not be surprising. Practicing physicians don’t have time to read research literature, they have to work on the basis of the information fed to them, and that comes from the mainstream during their training and is heavily influenced by drug companies in the “continuing medical education” they are offered later (see, for example, Marcia Angell’s The Truth about the Drug Companies).
That researchers don’t query the basic axioms on which their work is based is not unusual either. It is a mistaken view of science, entrenched by popular dissemination of the myth of the scientific method,  that researchers are continually engaged in setting up hypotheses and testing them. Most science is just routine filling in or cleaning up by standard techniques to produce results that are rarely of any special interest to others — upwards of 90% of research articles are never cited by anyone beside the author (Cole & Cole, Social Stratification in Science, University of Chicago Press 1973: 228; Menard, Science: Growth and Change, Harvard University Press, 1971: 99; Price, Little Science, Big Science . . . And Beyond, Columbia University Press, 1963/1986: Chapter 2).

So the HIV/AIDS “research” industry is no different in essence from any other. Most of the researchers are pursuing esoteric details of the unending array of strains and hybrid strains of “HIV”, or trying to find some clue to what might make a useful vaccine, or synthesizing possible new antiretroviral drugs, and so on. Nothing they do throws light, or is even intended to throw light on the fundamental questions of HIV/AIDS theory. HIV/AIDS researchers are not designing experiments to test the hypothesis that HIV is really the cause of illness. Routine work along standard lines simply accepting the orthodox view is judged worthwhile by those who administer grant funds and those who edit journals and those who review manuscripts for journals. There is simply no incentive to re-examine the basics. The bandwagon has momentum and inertia impervious to attacks from the inside.

What may be rather different in the HIV/AIDS case is that the gurus, those who got the bandwagon rolling, are just as uninterested as their camp followers in looking continually at the basic axioms in hopes of getting a better understanding and resolving the increasing number of apparent conundrums. Gallo is an enigma: Does he really believe HIV has been shown to cause AIDS? If so, why does he believe it? Does he not know of the lack of correlation between “HIV” and “AIDS”? Does he not know that idiopathic CD4-T-cell lymphopenia is HIV-negative AIDS? Does he not know that Kaposi’s sarcoma, once the iconic AIDS disease, is not caused by HIV? Does he not wonder why it is that no one has been able to discover how HIV causes depletion of CD4 cells? Has not the failure of 25 years of efforts to find a vaccine led him to reconsider the basic evidence? Why not?

Posted in experts, HIV does not cause AIDS, HIV skepticism, Legal aspects | Tagged: , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

The mote in someone else’s eye

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2010/10/11

how wilt thou say to thy brother,
Let me pull the mote out of thine eye;
and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
— Matthew 7:3

Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet, has written a number of unexceptionable, insightful essays about the limitations of peer review and the need for open discussion of scientific matters, for example:

Peer review . . . is simply a way to collect opinions from experts in the field.
Peer review tells us about the acceptability, not the credibility, of a new finding
(Health Wars: On the Global Front Lines of Modern Medicine
New York Review Books, 2003, p. 306)

In the same book Horton dismisses HIV/AIDS dissidence in unequivocal terms — evidently basing his faith in orthodox HIV/AIDS theory on the opinions of experts. And as editor of The Lancet, Horton approved the rejection on several occasions since 2005 of short pieces by Gordon Stewart that referred to unquestioned data about HIV and AIDS confirming the accuracy of Stewart’s projections from the 1980s and the wildly wrong nature of official projections. (Stewart has known Horton well enough to be on first-name terms. Nevertheless, the rejections came in the usual bland non-substantive boilerplate, e.g. asserting that the submission contained nothing new).

In  a more recent piece in The Guardian, Horton points out that the Climategate affair  demonstrates a need for something like a revolution in the way science deals with matters of public interest:
1.    “Simply accepting a scientist’s assurance that data are accurate and reliable is no longer enough. Scientists will have to make their data available for independent audit.”
2.    “[S]cientists must redefine who is a legitimate critic and who isn’t. . . .  some critics ask tough and illuminating questions, exposing important errors and elisions. These critics have an important part to play in shaping scientific debate and dialogue.”
3.    Scientists should resist the public’s wish for certainty, not pander to it. “Uncertainty may be uncomfortable, but its admission builds trust. It demonstrates integrity. One of science’s great strengths is its quantification of doubt.”
4.    “[S]cientists need to take peer review off its pedestal. As an editor, I know that rigorous peer review is indispensable. But I also know that it is widely misunderstood. Peer review is not the absolute or final arbiter of scientific quality. It does not test the validity of a piece of research. It does not guarantee truth. . . . the prevailing myths need to be debunked. . . . If we treat peer review as a sacred academic cow, we will continue to let the public down again and again.”
5.    “A scientist’s training will need to include ways of engaging citizen scientists constructively, making their data more widely available, putting uncertainty at the forefront of their work, and managing public expectations about what science can do.”

Nevertheless, Horton accepts that Climategate does not cast doubt on the dogma that global warming is caused by human generation of carbon dioxide; even though there were “failures, evasions, misleading actions, unjustifiable delays, and pervasive unhelpfulness” by the climate scientists at East Anglia University.
Thereby Horton fails to acknowledge, presumably fails to understand that the results that emerge from scientific activity are only reliable to the degree that they are not “failures, evasions, misleading actions, unjustifiable delays, and pervasive unhelpfulness”, which in the Climategate case included a refusal to furnish raw data and assertions that the raw data had not been retained — which in itself would constitute an extraordinary breach of accepted and acceptable procedures.

I bring Horton in neither to praise nor to bury him, but as a striking and humbling illustration that we are all capable of discerning others’ blind spots and misperceptions and intellectual biases while remaining unaware of our own. Even as we understand generalities, we fail to apply them to specific topics on which we hold firm views.
When scientists or scientific associations provide advice to policy makers, it is their obligation not to press their own convictions but rather to make plain the range of existing competent views, emphasizing that science does not deal in absolute truths and that policies must be made with that understanding of fundamental uncertainty. For a comprehensive discussion, see for example The Honest Broker by Roger A. Pielke, Jr. (Cambridge University Press, 2007).
When not acting as an adviser, of course, it is perfectly proper for each of us to argue vigorously for our views: so long as we do so by presenting the evidence on which we base those views and so long as we do not indulge in polemic irrelevancies like personal attacks or trying to invoke guilt by association (e.g., Bauer is a pseudoscientist’s pseudoscientist who believes in Loch Ness monsters, and a homophobe who opposes affirmative action — see writings of Seth Kalichman and of anonymous contributors to Wikipedia).

The only sensible, potentially productive way to move toward better understanding is to engage in unfettered, evidence-based, public discussion. That not only serves the public good, it can help each of us to realize it when we are going astray, when we have fallen into dogmatism, when we have drawn unwarranted conclusions, when we’re simply wrong.
When that happens, embarrassment is perfectly natural; but it can be eased by recalling that to err is human.
It’s much easier to acknowledge being wrong and to accept correction from friends. That’s a further reason to eschew polemic tactics like invoking guilt by association and making personal attacks: those make it all the more difficult for the other side to appreciate the strength of your argument; it’s counter-productive; the difference of views becomes a personal battle instead of a substantive impersonal scientific argument.
When people do invoke guilt by association and do make personal attacks, a reasonable inference, of course, is that they cannot support their views by sufficiently convincing evidence.

Posted in experts, HIV skepticism, prejudice | Tagged: , , | 9 Comments »

You are ill — because we say you are

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2010/10/04

Untold millions of people around the world are both “HIV-positive” and perfectly healthy.

UNAIDS estimates around 30-35 million total “HIV-positives” globally.
It’s claimed by UNAIDS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that no less than ¼ and up to ½ of those don’t know they’re “HIV-positive”. So those who don’t know their “poz” status number anywhere between about 8 and 18 million.
Once you are ill, of course, you find out whether you’re “poz”.
Therefore a significant proportion of those 8-18 million are perfectly healthy “HIV-positives” — “elite controllers” or “long-term non-progressors”, according to the orthodoxy.
A more precise calculation using the more precise numbers available for the United States from the 1980s forward, for deaths as well as for “infection” rates, reveals that about 50% of all “HIV-positives” — those who would test “poz” if there were universal testing — are long-term non-progressors or elite controllers — because if they were not, then the numbers of deaths since the early 1980s would have been far larger than they have been.

A better way of putting this is that “HIV” tests cannot diagnose purported infection by HIV, as stated in test kits and pointed out in authoritative texts (“HIV” tests are self-fulfilling prophecies, 10 May 2009). A whole host of physiological conditions can deliver a “positive” “HIV” result; among the most common ones are drug abuse, tuberculosis, pregnancy, and being of African ancestry.

So to the case of Nadja Benaissa, a popular singer recently convicted in Germany of having sex while “HIV-positive” and actually infecting one of her lovers. I read about this while I was in Montreux (see “Why ethics matters in science”, 2010/09/28),  and was struck by these details:
1. The prosecutor recommended only a suspended sentence because the “crime” had been committed long ago when she was much younger.
Indeed! Nadja radiates health, despite having been “HIV-positive” for a long time, and she shows none of the “side” effects that would be so visible were she on antiretroviral treatment.
2. Nadja was a drug addict when she became pregnant at age 16, a dozen years ago: so she had at least 2 of the most common reasons for testing “HIV-positive”. (I’ve lost the clipping of that story; it was probably on or about August 26 or 27 in either the International Herald-Tribune or USA Today, photocopies of which were available in my hotel).

Comprehensive analyses of this case are available at the Office of Medical and Scientific Justice, OMSJ —. “Nadja: German show trial for the HIV/AIDS paradigm” and  “Nadja’s choice”.

There’s always too much too read. My Blogroll is already too large for me to scan routinely, but I hope readers of this blog do sample those links periodically. I recently added OMSJ because of its up-to-date and comprehensive coverage. Rethinking AIDS and ARAS are also indispensable for keeping up with what’s happening.

Back to the theme: “You are ill — because we say so”:
Uncountable millions of people are ill with HIV/AIDS solely because they’ve been told they are, either on the basis in Africa of the non-specific Bangui definition or elsewhere on the basis of unapproved “HIV” tests — approved for screening blood, not for diagnosing individual infection; and in the United States on the basis of low CD4 counts in peripheral blood, which have never been shown to be a health hazard and which are not accepted as a relevant criterion outside the USA.
“HIV” tests become self-fulfilling prophecies  because antiretroviral treatment is capable of producing the clinical symptoms associated with AIDS; as well as a host of additional ones, like “HIV lipodystrophy” or various cancers, none of which were part of the AIDS syndrome in the early 1980s and only became part of it after antiretroviral drugs were introduced.

*                    *                    *                    *                    *                    *                    *                    *

The general circumstance that healthy people are told they are ill is by no means confined to HIV/AIDS, however; it has become quite routine as a result of the dominance of pharmaceutical industry in the funding of research and of clinical trials and in advising regulating agencies. Most at risk are all people healthy enough to grow older.
Increasingly, advertising by drug companies is designed to convince us that we are suffering from ailments that require treatment. We used to experience occasional heartburn when we had eaten too heartily, but nowadays any such occasions are signs of “acid reflux disease” that calls for taking the purple pill, and not just on a few occasions as we used to with Gelusil or Rolaids, but for life — that’s how drug companies can make real money, selling stuff that we are supposed to take lifelong.
Pre-menstrual tension becomes “premenstrual dysphoric disorder” that calls for Sarafem. Shyness becomes “social anxiety disorder” or “generalized anxiety disorder” to be treated by Paxil. Not getting an erection on demand becomes “erectile dysfunction” (Marcia Angell, The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What To Do About It, 2004, pp. 86-9). In other words, pharmaceutical companies are nowadays not in the business of selling curatives, they are in the business of Selling Sickness (Ray Moynihan & Alan Cassels, Nation Books [New York] & Allen & Unwin [Sydney, Australia], 2005).
“Erectile dysfunction” is what happens to males who are lucky enough to live long enough. Females as well as males who are lucky enough to live long enough experience increasing blood pressure as a normal corollary of ageing; yet the medical industry seems obsessed with blood-pressure tests at every opportunity and the designation of arbitrary values that everyone should have irrespective of age; and to attain those levels there’s a host of drugs to be prescribed; and over the years the advisory bodies keep lowering what the “desirable” pressures are. To reach younger people, there was even invented the condition of  “prehypertension” (Moynihan and Cassels 2005: 86).
So too with blood sugar and pre-diabetes, and with cholesterol and LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Yet the primary scientific literature reveals that as we age, higher cholesterol is better than lower: in a trial of simvastatin, all-cause mortality was lower  at cholesterol levels of 180-280 than at levels <180; and all-cause mortality was less with LDL levels of 120-200 than at levels <120 (Matsuzaki et al., Circulation Journal, 66 [2002] 1087-95; cited in Joel Kauffman, Malignant Medical Myths).
That book, Malignant Medical Myths, is by an impeccable researcher of the primary literature, an organic chemist formerly at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia (earlier the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy & Science). The book exposes myths also about daily aspirin, low-carb diets, fluoridation, exercise, cancer treatments, dangers of low-level radiation, and more; all meticulously documented.

The successful marketing of drugs to be taken lifelong for conditions that are not illnesses owes something to the fact that a little learning is a dangerous thing, and something more to the perennial fallacy of taking correlation as an indication of causation. High blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol are “risk factors”: they are statistical correlations. In some studies of large numbers of people chosen at random, high blood pressure and high cholesterol appeared to correlate with heart disease. That’s precisely what you would find if the studies were not controlled by age-matched samples, because heart disease, blood pressure, and high cholesterol all normally become more common with increasing age: AGE is the cause and the others are symptoms. Ageing involves a great many changes in physiology, and one can reasonably doubt that lowering blood pressure or cholesterol levels or blood sugar can reverse ageing.
A little learning about risk factors — correlations — can be a dangerous thing for people, albeit a bonanza for drug companies.

Posted in antiretroviral drugs, clinical trials, experts, HIV does not cause AIDS, HIV risk groups, HIV skepticism, HIV tests, HIV transmission, Legal aspects, sexual transmission | Tagged: , | 10 Comments »

 
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