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Nutrition | Alternative Medicine | Toxic Substances | Drug Misinformation
Is Trust Justified? | Statins & Cholesterol | site policies

DISCLAIMER This page contains medical content suitable for Canadian lay persons.

 

The links and information on this page are intended as a resource and starting point for self-help research and 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.

 

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.

Consumer Health Information

There is a great deal of misinformation spread maliciously. Be sure to verify the information you find online.

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

 

HealthLinkBC gives online access to non-emergency health information and services from the Government of British Columbia.

Reliable COVID-19 information contains updated information about risk assessment, how to protect yourself and more.

Find a Doctor

Health Connect Registry — register to get a doctor or nurse practitioner in BC.

U.S. Health Information

There are statistically significant correlations between periodontitis (oral inflammatory disease) and systemic diseases ranging from diabetes to cardiovascular diseases.
Howard Tenenbaum, University of Toronto
Sleep affects all aspects of your life, including mental, physical, and emotional well-being. Learn to harness its positive impacts.
— SleepHelp.org

Drug Information

Taking 6 to 9 medications is associated with a 59% chance of death in older adults.
Lown Institute

Information Portals

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).

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. While disproved, it remains an issue for many people that took these drugs for years.

Many of us know that taking paracetamol can be helpful for headaches, and I don't think anyone believes that headaches are caused by not enough paracetamol in the brain. The same logic applies to depression and medicines used to treat depression.
Dr. Michael Bloomfield
Thousands of people suffer from side-effects of antidepressants, including the severe withdrawal effects that can occur when people try to stop them, yet prescription rates continue to rise.

 

We believe this situation has been driven partly by the false belief that depression is due to a chemical imbalance.

 

It is high time to inform the public that this belief is not grounded in science.
Joanna Moncrieff, professor of psychiatry at University College London

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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 Journals

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Renal (Kidney) Disease

 

General Information & Guides

Renal Facilities

Medical Journals

Organ Donation & Transplantation

The 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.

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Hospitals

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Nutritional Information

Health Canada 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.

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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

There is also the issue of second-hand marijuana smoke endangering the health of others.

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.

See Addiction Treatment and Recovery for treatment resources.

DNA

Direct-to-consumer 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 may be untreatable.

Pharmaceutical companies have been promoting potential diseases for some time (e.g., pre-diabetes). This screening may be more beneficial to corporate profits than patients.

Be Aware of Potential Issues

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.

While your medical and life insurance may not currently be affected, that doesn't mean that it won't in the future. It can also affect your career, particularly where the potential for a certain disease in your lifetime may disqualify you.

Closed Adoption Privacy Threats

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

Privacy clauses and contracts may not clearly indicate what is being done with your DNA in simple, precise language.

While these tests are much cheaper than professional services, your DNA information is being sold and you're making a decision that could negatively affect all your relatives.

A Scientific American article compares the innocuous collection of data to the early days of Google with their promise not to sell your data directly to advertisers.

The research aspect of these services are much more profitable than the sales of direct-to-consumer kits. A 23andMe deal with GlaxoSmithKline was worth $300 million.

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

DNA testing companies turn around and make a profit selling client DNA to third parties without benefiting the person paying for the test.

General Information & Guides

Blood Issues

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Toxic Substances

Pesticides

Hazardous Chemicals

Electromagnetic Energy

Chemical & Environmental Sensitivities

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Misinformation

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

Information Portals

At one time there were many consumer health portals providing independent, accurate information.

Unfortunately, that has changed. Too many consumer health sites are now owned by corporations using biased reviews to plug their products or to draw folks into legal action.

Doctor Who? The corporations behind WebMD's friendly, free advice.

Addiction Treatment Centres

There has been significant spam on Google related to addiction treatment.

Treatment programs may be effective and excellent, but it can be nearly impossible to verify claims. Duplicate information on what appear to be unrelated websites is troubling.

Vaccination Refusal

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

Anti-vax Activity

There was mass misinformation about COVID-19 vaccine side effects intentionally posted on social media and elsewhere. Public demonstrations were well organized and inappropriate in both their location (hosptital entrances) and because they flaunted mandates initiated to prevent the spread.

Researchers have found just 12 people are responsible for the bulk of the misleading claims and outright lies about COVID-19 vaccines that proliferate on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
NPR

Misinformation about vaccination is anecdotal, yet emotionally-charged.

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

480 websites opposing childhood vaccination were coded by just 4 people.

Vaccine refusal has allowed the return of diseases like polio that had been eradicated in all but a few countries worldwide.

Measles Outbreak

The 2019 outbreak of measles, a disease eliminated in Canada in 1998, has highlighted vaccine controversies, particularly where a minority's “personal choice” to remain unvaccinated endangers the majority of the population.

Measles is making a comeback globally due to declining rates of routine childhood vaccinations, some due to missed appointments during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

However, myths and misinformation that sometimes involve alternative practices are contributing to vaccine hesitancy.

 

The Public Health Agency of Canada says that in a group of 100 people who have never had a measles infection, 95 need to be vaccinated to prevent the disease from spreading.

 

It's possible to be infected from contaminated air up to two hours after an infected person has left a room so vaccination rates must be high to prevent outbreaks.
Times Colonist

Antivaxers were quick to point out how vaccinated people were spreading COVID-19 without acknowledging that an unvaccinated person was 40 times as likely to need an ICU for care.

Dahl, who wrote classics including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda, penned a letter in 1988, two years before he died, begging parents to not deny their children vaccinations “out of obstinacy or ignorance or fear.”

 

Olivia, to whom James and the Giant Peach and The BFG were dedicated, died in 1962 — before there was a measles vaccine. More than two decades later, Dahl told British parents that their refusal to vaccinate their own children was “almost a crime” and called for mandatory immunization.
Time

Emotional But Unsubstantiated

The story of baby Ian Gromowski is emotionally compelling but unsubstantiated.

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's reading list for understanding misinformation online uses the anti-vaccine movement as an example.

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Is Trust Justified?

There is a lot of talk in the battle against COVID about trusting science.

Unfortunately, there has been far too much pseudo-science and immoral profiteering even before this crisis.

Health Canada Failed

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 & Technology

Pharmaceutical companies are not being held accountable.

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

When caught, fines applied to these corporations are more “a cost of doing business” than the kind of crippling penalties that these same corporations insist that their non-pharmaceutical competition should face.

Medication Overload

Too often patients are told they need to take a drug based simply upon claims made by the drug's manufacturer.

We need to prescribe based upon the individual patient's needs rather than benefits attributed to the general patient population.

There are very few treatments that 100% of patients benefit from all the time. Oxygen for severe Covid pneumonia might be one. But for most drugs, the chance that patients will benefit is closer to 1%–2%.
Dr. Tom Perry

Inventing Diseases

New diseases are invented that greatly increase profits yet seldom improve 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

Trust Eroded

Doctors learn about new drugs from drug reps who have little incentive to tell about the downside.

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

As some critics see it, the FDA fee negotiations have placed too much emphasis on getting drugs approved quickly and not enough on making sure they actually work — and work safely.
David S. Hilzenrath

Health Canada's drug-monitoring budget is only a third of what it spends on approving drugs.

Once drugs are in the market, the consumer is pretty much on their own.

Side Effects Under Reported

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. Few patients are aware that a mechanism to report adverse reactions exists.

Tylenol

Acetaminophen (TYLENOL) is the most widely used pain reliever in the world.

 

Acetaminophen, however, can cause liver damage due to the narrow safety range between the therapeutic effect of acetaminophen and its toxicity.

 

Each year, acetaminophen is responsible for 2,600 hospitalizations and 500 deaths in the United States; half of these are unintentional overdoses.

 

It is the most common cause of liver transplantation.
Worst Pills, Best Pills News, July 2023

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.

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Statins & Cholesterol

Anti-cholesterol drugs are a $37 billion dollar industry.

When the cholesterol levels “requiring” treatment were reduced, it improved profitability but not outcome.

Benefits Overstated

The drugs are promoted as cutting the risk in half. That is misleading.

Risks Minimized

The negative side effects of statins are less publicized than the 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:

No History of Heart Disease

Benefits for those with NO history of heart disease:

Known Heart Disease

Benefits for those with KNOWN heart disease:

Similar Harms for Both

Harms were the same for both groups:

There is much less evidence for use of statins after age 70. Yet in 2020 47% of men and 33% of women over 70 in British Columbia took a statin. Over half such prescribing was for primary prevention.
Theraputics Initiative

Crestor Benefit Overstated

One example of the lack of oversight is rosuvastatin (Crestor) as noted by Sidney Wolfe, BMJ:

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?

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russharvey.bc.ca/russ/medical.html
Updated: April 1, 2024