Russ Harvey's Site - About Russ & His Interests

Health & Medical Links

Misinformation | Consumer Health Information | Traditional Medicine | Organ Donation | Kidney Disease | Hospitals | Nutritional Information | Alternative Medicine | Toxic Substances | Is Trust Justified? | About | Suggesting Links

DISCLAIMER The links on this site is for informational purposes only. Do not use the information contained on this site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication. The information on this web site is not intended to take the place of medical advice, treatment, evaluation or diagnosis by a qualified professional who is fully informed about the potential risks and adverse effects of such treatments.

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All links external to this site open in a new tab (or new window). Simply close the external site's tab or window to return to this page. I am not responsible for the content of websites that I provide links to. Read the disclaimer.

Coronavirus Facts & Fiction

Don't panic. Use legitimate sources.

There is no question is that COVID-19 is a serious threat, possibly only matched by the flu epidemic in 1918 and 1919. Let's be cautious, let's be careful, but please, don't let fear take over. — Times-Colonist

Wearing a face mask, even a less advanced one, can help reduce both the risk of infection and the severity of illness. Wearing a mask protects others. I wear a mask to protect you and you wear a mask to protect me.

A Starting Point

Health & medical
‘Health equity’ or ‘equity in health’ implies that ideally everyone should have a fair opportunity to attain their full health potential and that no one should be disadvantaged from achieving this potential. — World Health Organization

The links on this page are intended as a resource and starting point for self-help research. Many links were suggested via email and my attempts to verify their legitimacy may be incomplete.

I suggest you read Health Equity Through Health Fact-Checking: A Primer (PDF) to better understand the issues surrounding self-education on health matters.

Discuss Findings With Your Health Team

Be sure to check the information you find on the Internet with your health professional.

Your body is your own and patients that take control of their own health often do better than those that depend on others for all the answers.

However, I suggest that you use the information you find there as a discussion point with your health team. They can explain the pros and cons of any particular course of treatment.

An informed patient will listen to all the facts before making their mind up about the validity of any medical procedure — traditional or revolutionary.

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Drug Misinformation

Be careful when assessing the information you find online. Unlike traditional printed media like encyclopedias and medical textbooks, it requires YOU to determine the validity of what you read.

Sharing Health Information

It is particularly important that you verify information before spreading it when it comes to health information. See CheckThenShare.ca for details.

Help stop the spread of misinformation! Check first. Share after.

Information Portals No Longer Independent

Many consumer “information portals” are now owned by corporations, legal firms or advertisers and where sponsors may influence the information provided based upon their products and services. For example, see Doctor Who? The corporations behind WebMD's friendly, free advice.

Not all misinformation is from outside the drug industry. Both addiction treatment and psychiatric drugs have troubling histories and I have no way to verify claims on sites I link to.

Addiction Treatment Centres

Before you decide to use an facility for addiction treatment, check it out with reliable sources. There have been significant spam on Google related to addiction treatment.

While listed treatment programs may be effective and excellent, I have no way of knowing but am troubled when duplicate information is found on multiple unlinked websites.

Vaccination

Vaccination is a hot topic, particularly for parents and around the effectiveness of the flu vaccine (now required of medical staff). The fact that our governments shield the companies producing these vaccines from liability is disconcerting and doesn't help slow conspiracy rumours.

Effective Propaganda

Unfortunately, some very well organized folks began to promote misinformation, including Vaccine Choice Canada. Much of their evidence is anecdotal but emotionally-charged.

An emerging body of evidence indicates that vaccines can damage a child's developing brain and immune system, leading to neurodevelopmental disorders, learning disabilities, ADHD, asthma, anaphylactic food allergies, diabetes and autoimmune disorders. — Vaccine Choice Canada
The threat of autism is a regular theme of this anti-vaccine campaign. The C.D.C. has repeatedly ruled out the possibility that vaccinations lead to autism, as have many scientists and top journals. Nonetheless the false narrative has proliferated, spread by Russian trolls and media. — New York Times

Measles Outbreak Fueled by Unvaccinated Children

The 2019 outbreak of measles has again brought out the controversy of vaccinations, particularly where a minority's personal choice NOT to vaccinate may be endangering the majority of the population.

The World Health Organization has ranked vaccine hesitancy — the growing resistance to widely available lifesaving vaccines — as one of the top 10 health threats in the world for 2019. — The New York Times

The story of baby Ian Gromowski is emotionally compelling, but what if the parents are wrong and millions of other babies die because they are not vaccinated?

Ian Gromowski's story is so powerful, so pervasive, and so difficult to refute because it is just that: a story. And personal accounts, particularly as utilized by the anti-vaccine movement, are seemingly immune to facts. — Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics

Mozilla's Reading List

Mozilla put together a reading list to understanding misinformation online using the anti-vaccine movement as an example (there are 480 anti-vaccine websites coded by just 4 people). You'd do yourself a favour by checking out that resource to ensure you fully understand the issues involved.

I think Mozilla is more trustworthy than many online sources, particularly social media.

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Consumer Health Information

Government Sponsored

  • HealthLinkBC gives online access to non-emergency health information and services from the Government of British Columbia.
  • Health Finder — sponsored by the US Department of Health & Human Services.
  • Health Information — sponsored by the US National Institutes of Health (a part of the US Department of Health and Human Services).

Sleep

Sleep affects all aspects of your life, including mental, physical, and emotional well-being. Learn to harness its positive impacts. — SleepHelp.org
Insomnia and alcohol are closely linked, though their relationship is complex. Insomnia isn't a direct cause of alcoholism, and alcoholism doesn't directly cause insomnia, however, the two do have effects on each other. Drinking alcohol virtually always decreases your quality of sleep. Insomnia is one of the most common symptoms of withdrawal. — Addiction Group

The resources in this section include several sites that have information about sleep, the main reason I link to them. However, they also provide reviews of mattresses and associated products which generate some sort of referral income if you follow the links from their reviews.

Drug Information

We are outraged that experts in the fields of cardiovascular medicine, diabetes and osteoporosis have come up with disease definitions that label at least 75% of our fellow citizens “sick” and in need of preventive medication. —ShowMoreSpine
Taking 6 to 9 medications is associated with a 59% chance of death in older adults. —Lown Institute
  • Worst Pills, Best Pills your expert, independent second opinion for prescription drug information (subscription-based and highly recommended).
  • Pharmawatch Canada blog — Canadian drug safety and drug policy.
  • Know Your Drugs — looks at the problem of adverse drug reactions to prescribed medications.
  • RxList — the Internet Drug Index for prescription drugs, medications and pill identifier.
  • DailyMed provides high quality recent information about marketed drugs including FDA labels and strengthened warnings undergoing FDA review. Not all drugs are listed.

Information Portals

  • Medscape — medical news and full-text journal articles.
  • HealthCentral is an online health company that provides information and support for people with life-changing conditions.

General Information & Guides

Addiction Treatment & Recovery

Addiction is a very broad category. The most common are nicotine (tobacco, vaping), alcohol and drugs (prescription medications, benzodiazepines, antidepressants, opioids & narcotics, stimulants).

Treatment Centre Warning

*Be sure to read the section on drug misinformation, particularly as it relates to addiction treatment centres. Addiction Group is sponsored by Treatment Pathway, LLC, a marketing company that also sponsors a separate alcohol treatment website.

Psychiatric Drugs

The use of psychiatric drugs is a growing problem in countries across the world. The most common treatments for clinical depression are drug-related rather than “talk therapy” and these medications cause long-term problems. There is growing evidence that these drugs are related to violence.

The US Diagnostic and Statistical Manual has become the standard reference for treatment, but many question its assumption that psychiatric problems are a result of a shortage of serotonin in the brain.

Telling people, as I was told by my doctor, that depression is caused by a problem in your brain is, firstly, untrue and it is also really problematic because it cuts people off from finding the real causes of their depression and anxiety. We've been telling ourselves this chemical story for 35 years and every year depression and anxiety gets worse. — Johann Hari

Resources

I believe the following resources are accurate in their assessment.

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Traditional Medical Resources

A medical journal is expected to promote an open-minded discussion of treatments, even if findings — or criticisms — threaten conventional beliefs. In psychiatry journals, the abstracts are nearly always written in a manner that ensures that the conventional wisdom about psychiatric drugs isn't unduly threatened. —Mad In America

Government Sponsored

General Information & Guides

Medical News

Medical Journals

  • JAMAJournal of the American Medical Association.
  • CMAJCanadian Medical Association Journal.

The Human Body

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Organ Donation & Transplantation

Lif Life. Pass it On. Register today at transplant.bc.ca

In 1997 the BC Organ Donor Registry replaced ALL previous forms of consent including a decal on your driver's licence (NOT valid).

Register or verify your decision online — it only takes 2 minutes yet could make a tremendous difference to someone waiting for a transplant. Paper forms are also available at ICBC and Service BC offices.

Canadian Transplant Resources

1 in 10 Canadians has chronic kidney disease and a renal transplant is the best option for quality of life.

My Organ Donation & Transplantation page contains a deeper look into the critical need to greatly increase donor registration to meet a growing need. Our Story about Kidney Disease is a personal account of how my wife and I have dealt with a lifetime of renal disease.

General Information & Guides

  • Donating a Kidney is an overview from HealthLink BC.
  • TransWeb is one of the oldest transplantation sites and includes excellent information and links.

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Renal (Kidney) Disease

General Information & Guides

Renal Facilities

Medical Journals

Related Diseases

  • Parathyroid.com has a series of parathyroid articles. Parathyroid issues can result from chronic renal failure.
  • Children with Diabetes is an excellent resource for diet, new technologies, and summer camps.

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Hospitals

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Nutritional Information

Journals & News

General Information & Guides

Sugar Alternatives

Manufacturers love artificial sweeteners. They can be produced much less expensively than the cost of real sugar and that cost is relatively stable. However, there are genuine concerns about these chemical alternatives.

[O]ver 40% of adult Americans consume no-cal sweeteners on a daily basis, and studies that measure the sweeteners in blood and urine show that many people who report not using artificial sweeteners are unknowingly consuming them. — Meghan Azad

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Alternative Medicine

Herbs and Vitamins

Marijuana

With the legalization of marijuana becoming more prevalent, it is important to ensure that the risks as well as potential benefits are understood.

Benefits Overstated

Study of 10,000 reports into cannabis finds only enough evidence to support therapeutic use for chemotherapy patients, chronic pain and multiple sclerosis. There is not enough research to reach conclusive judgments on whether marijuana can effectively treat most of the symptoms and diseases it is advertised as helping, according to a wide-ranging US government study. —The Guardian

Risks Understated

If you are in possession of an open can of beer in downtown Victoria, you can be arrested yet you can openly smoke marijuana on the street (anywhere you can smoke cigarettes). This is of great concern to me.

My wife has experienced hospitalization just from being around someone else smoking marijuana (she neither smoked nor ate the drug). It resulted in a chemical imbalance treated with four IVs simultaneously.

Why are we so quick to forget the lessons from the last century of the harms that tobacco inflicts on smokers and innocents alike? Why did we buy into the use of vaping as a treatment for tobacco addiction?

Obviously, there are some very powerful lobbyists (or perhaps government addiction to the tax revenue).

See Addiction Treatment and Recovery for treatment resources.

DNA

Consumer-level DNA testing can reveal potential genetic proclivities to certain diseases such as cancers and risks of drug addiction or alcoholism.

Recent estimates suggest that as much as 60% of addiction risk can be blamed on your genetics. Yet, only in the last few years have researchers made significant strides in identifying the exact genes and variants. As shown with alcohol, there can be many different variables that might increase your risk of dependence on any particular drug. —KnowYourDNA

Is DNA Screening Right For You?

You might want to consider how you might react to knowing you have a tendency towards a disease that is potentially not treatable.

Pharmaceutical companies have been promoting potential diseases for some time (e.g. pre-diabetes). I'm concerned that this screening may be more beneficial to corporate profits than helping patients avoid the effects of potential diseases.

Be Aware of Potential Issues

Deciding whether to take a DNA test, like all medical decisions, must be an informed choice.

There are benefits to these tests, but there are also negatives such as privacy and DNA ownership issues that could affect not only yourself but your family and potentially your other relatives.

DNA may reveal people related by sperm donors that thought they were anonymous or break up families because their parentage wasn't revealed to them. The question of whether a donor's anonymity overrides the need of children to know medical histories that affect them have yet to play out in the courts.

Companies are Profiting

Companies are charging users to test their DNA, then selling that information to companies. The privacy clauses and contracts employed may not clearly indicate what is being done with their DNA in simple, precise language.

Companies such as 23andMe have proliferated over the past decade, feeding people’s hunger to know who and where they come from, and what diseases their genes might predispose them to. Over that time, it has gradually become clear that the main source of revenue for at least some of these companies comes from selling the data on to third parties. — The Guardian

Users are effectively paying DNA testing companies which turn around and make a profit selling their DNA to third parties without benefiting the person paying for the test.

General Information & Guides

Blood Issues

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Toxic Substances

Hazardous Chemicals

PFAS are found in a wide range of consumer products that people use daily such as cookware, pizza boxes and stain repellants. Most people have been exposed to PFAS. Certain PFAS can accumulate and stay in the human body for long periods of time. There is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse health outcomes in humans. — US EPA

Pesticides

Pollution

  • Burning Issues provides public education about the health hazards of burning wood. There is a FAQ and links to studies on the effects of smoke and particulates, including legal cases.
  • Carbon Monoxide Headquarters is an “expert” site on the issue of carbon monoxide, which causes more deaths than any other poison in our environment.

Electromagnetic Energy

Chemical & Environmental Sensitivities

Occupational Safety

 

Is Trust Justified?

Health Canada Has Failed Us

A toxic legacy of poor-quality research, media hype, lax regulatory oversight, and vicious partisanship has come home to roost in the search for effective treatments for COVID-19. — Issues in Science and Technology

Pharmaceutical companies get away with fraud including promoting off-label prescribing.

[I]n many cases the drugs are being prescribed “off-label” without any strong evidence that they are effective. —PharmaWatch Canada

New diseases are invented that greatly increase profits while seldom providing any realistic improvement to patient quality of life.

It is an ideology that asserts any aberrant value in your specimens is a disease that ought to be treated. If your health check is within standard values, then you are in good health. —PharmaWatch Canada

When caught, these corporations face fines that are more a cost of doing business than the crippling fines these same companies insist that competing non-pharmaceutical companies face when promoting an “off-label” benefit.

Trust Eroded

Doctors learn about new drugs from drug reps who have little incentive to tell about the downside. It's like going to a Ford dealership and asking if you should buy a Toyota.

Unfortunately, FDA and Health Canada priorities focus less on protecting consumers than on fast-tracking the approval of new drugs and medical devices.

The lack of effective oversight is harmful to patients.

Adverse drug reactions — also known as side effects, adverse effects or iatrogenesis — are a leading cause of death in Canada and the United States. — PharmaWatch Canada

Doctors are overworked and few patients are even aware that a mechanism to report adverse reactions exists.

Health Canada's Passive Role

Prescription Pharmaceuticals in Canada, March 2015 concluded:

Although the committee was discouraged by frequent testimony regarding Health Canada's passive role in drug regulation, its lack of transparency in relaying safety information to the public, its inability to conduct adequate inspections at all phases of a drug's life-cycle and in some cases, the department's failure to provide this committee with reliable testimony, it hopes that the department shares its belief that Canada's drug regulatory regime should be second to none.

Statins and Cholesterol

Anti-cholesterol drugs are a $37 billion dollar industry. The treatment levels for “high” cholesterol were lowered, increasing profitability but not outcome.

Benefits and Risks

Do they help?

The drugs are promoted as cutting the risk in half, but that is misleading.

The risk of heart disease drops from 2% to 1% when taking statins. That means 100 people have to take statins for 1 person to benefit.

What about the risks?

The negative side effects of statins are less publicized than benefits, but are well documented.

The NNT Findings

The NNT (Number-Needed-to-Treat) for statins demonstrated poor benefits, particularly for those without prior heart disease, and significant risks:

Benefits for those with NO history of heart disease:

  • No lives were saved
  • 1 in 104 heart attacks were prevented
  • 1 in 154 strokes were prevented

Benefits for those with KNOWN heart disease:

  • 1 in 83 lives were saved
  • 1 in 39 non-fatal heart attacks were prevented
  • 1 in 125 strokes were prevented

Harms were the same for both groups:

  • 1 in 50 develop diabetes
  • 1 in 10 suffer muscle damage

Crestor Benefit Overstated

One example of the lack of oversight is rosuvastatin (Crestor):

More is spent in the US on rosuvastatin than any other statin. Yet the evidence of its health benefits has always been weak and there is growing evidence of harmful side effects.
 
Given the evidence of more serious risks and less clinical benefit than other statins how has the drug fared so well for so long?
 
A prescient answer can be found in an October 2003 Lancet editorial, ‘The statin wars: why AstraZeneca must retreat.’
 
It stated that AstraZeneca's chief executive, Tom McKillop, has pledged to do whatever it takes to persuade doctors to prescribe rosuvastatin, including launching an estimated $1 billion first-year promotional campaign. — Sidney Wolfe, BMJ

About These Links

I am not responsible for the content of websites that I provide links to. Read the disclaimer. See Links To Other Sites for my recommendations and limitations.

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Have a Link Suggestion?

I'm not interested in linking to sites where sponsors may influence the information provided based upon their products and services.

Before contacting me, please read my site policies to learn:

  • the sort of links I'm looking for;
  • my intended audience;
  • links I never include; and
  • update timelines.

I seldom respond to link requests, so please do NOT send reminders.

This page links to medical content that is suitable for Canadian lay persons, typically those seeking information about health issues they or a family member are facing.

 

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russharvey.bc.ca/russ/medical.html
Updated: July 16, 2020