As chronic disease rates increase and the pharmaceutical industry grows in size, are we in danger of believing that popping a pill can solve problems caused by an unhealthy lifestyle?
BMJ editor-in-chief Fiona Godlee certainly thinks so. She cites new US guidelines that would label more than half of adults aged over 45 as hypertensive, exploding rates of type 2 diabetes, and a market for drugs for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease of an estimated $1.6bn by 2020, pointing out that all of these conditions could be addressed by adopting healthier lifestyles. She cites a recent review led by a Cambridge University professor finding that:
Whether by calorie or carbohydrate restriction, weight loss has been shown to improve glycaemic control, blood pressure, and lipid profile and is the key to treatment and prevention of type 2 diabetes
Fiona Godlee has made a point, since she took up the position of editor-in-chief of The BMJ, of standing up for what she believes in. She has, in the past criticized the corruption of medicine and science by the pharmaceutical industry. She also stood behind a decision to publish a critique of the US dietary guidelines by Nina Teicholz, after a correction was published about one of the references. Godlee has spoken up in the past about the way diabetes is treated, describing the way insulin is “pushed” on to diabetic patients as “a scam”. Now, in the latest edition of the BMJ, an article by Godlee describes the growth of the pharmaceutical industry and the growing number of people to be put on medication as:
An appalling prospect. Pills can’t be the answer to diseases caused by unhealthy living. As well as unsustainable cost for often marginal benefit, they always cause harm. Rather than medicating almost the entire adult population, let’s invest our precious resources in societal and lifestyle change, public health, and prevention.
Increasingly, people around the world are dramatically improving their health and either reducing or eliminating their need for medications by following a low carbohydrate diet.
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Dr. Ann Fernholm: Groundbreaking study: low carb is an effective treatment for fatty liver