As master of the public relations game, the medical industry uses the term “prevention” in a way that not only misleads people, but also paves the way to illness.
If you think you’re taking measures to prevent disease by undergoing medical screenings and exams because you’ve been told that’s how you maintain your health, then you are the effect of a perpetual campaign of disservice. And if you’re seeking disease prevention from your medical doctor, you’re looking in the wrong place.
Prevention is a good and noble idea, but it’s definitely not rooted in modern medicine; in fact, prevention is kryptonite to the average physician’s medical practice.
Are vaccines preventive?
Vaccines were once intended to be instruments of prevention despite the many well-established arguments against them. The idea behind vaccines was originally to keep specific viruses and bacteria from developing into serious illnesses such as polio and chicken pox. But, alas, like so many other medical practices, there is a conflict of interest between patient benefit and industry profit; profit drives the practice. This is why we’ve seen a steady increase in must-have vaccinations forced and foisted upon the general public, and ceaselessly hyped in the media.
Joseph Mercola, DO, reported that if you follow the CDC’s (Centers for Disease Control) recommended vaccination schedule, your child will receive 49 doses of 14 vaccines by the time he/she is 6 years of age. And by the age of 18, the CDC recommends that children should have gotten 69 doses of 16 vaccines.
Vaccines aside, should we consider mammographies, prostate exams, periodic checkups and colonoscopies to be preventive measures? While these may possibly prevent more serious conditions, they fall into the category of early warning tests that may potentially “catch” diseases in the early stages; but they do not constitute prevention. By the time one of these exams reveal a health condition, you already have it and, therefore, you cannot prevent it. The trusting public is misled into thinking that the ever-growing litany of exams that are recommended at every turn actually prevent disease.
Good for marketing, bad for real people
Training people to run to the doctor on a continual basis for so-called preventive measures is an ingenious business plan. An MBA would recognize the practice as a surefire way to ensure and promote repeat business. Why focus on a one-time sale or service when you can get people to spend their time and money on a regular, recurring basis? You’re on your way to a fortune if you can master this marketing trick. But to get the trick to work, you need the best possible way to motivate people: Fear. Fear is what drives advertising and marketing messages in general, but in the field of modern medicine, it’s like shooting ducks in a barrel. After all, who wants to “get” cancer, Alzheimers Disease, arthritis, the flu or any other disabling, life-threatening condition? Modern medicine specializes in scaring the hell out of people. And, amazingly, they’ve managed to create even more fear of being sick than of one or more in the list potential side effects that are rattled off in every drug ad on television. Now that’s effective marketing!
Early detection is not prevention
No system of detection is actually preventive in the truest sense of the word. At best, early detection may prevent a worse condition, but even this is disputable.
The National Cancer Institute reported that “it is not yet known for certain whether colonoscopy can help reduce the number of deaths from colorectal cancer.”
And a recent article in the Los Angeles Times reported that mammograms do not prevent breast cancer deaths, stating, “After reviewing cancer registry records from 547 counties across the United States, researchers concluded that the screening tests aren’t working as hoped. Instead of preventing deaths by uncovering breast tumors at an early, more curable stage, screening mammograms have mainly found small tumors that would have been harmless if left alone.”
Former Los Angeles Times writer, Laurie Becklund, following a long battle with breast cancer, chronicled her experiences in an opinion piece called “As I Lay Dying” before dying of metastatic breast cancer on February 8, 2015. She had written, “I had more than 20 mammograms, and none of them caught my disease. In fact, we now have significant studies showing that routine mammogram screening, which may result in misdiagnoses, unnecessary treatment and radiation exposure, can harm more people than it helps…Metastatic breast cancer is not helped by early detection, and a breast cancer that was once labeled as ‘cured’ by oncologists may return later as stage 4 metastatic. Screenings do nothing to prevent this disease. Death certificates normally report symptoms such as ‘respiratory failure,’ not the actual disease. We are literally uncounted.”
If the bottom line message is not clear enough, at the risk of sounding repetitive, let’s look at this problem of prevention in simpler words: A doctor’s visit, unless it entails the departing of wisdom, pure food, water, manipulation, or maybe a gas mask, does not lead to avoidance of disease. Still, you may ask if early detection is a disservice. It isn’t unless it’s sold to the public as prevention. Early detection may save lives, but detection is not prevention. And it’s not as effective as medical marketing would like you to believe.
Preventing cardiovascular disease
Cardiovascular disease is still the number one cause of death in the United States. Most instances of heart attacks and stroke can be prevented, but cardiovascular disease is treated by an industry in which fortunes are made performing bypass surgeries, inserting stents, selling beta blockers and cholesterol drugs, and inducing thrombolysis (the breakdown of blood clots by pharmacological means; commonly called clot busting).
Instead of emphasizing education about diet, stress reduction and exercise, focus is placed on the wonders of drugs and surgeries. All the while, to feed its insatiable hunger for money, the American Heart Association (AHA), in collusion with the pharmaceutical/medical industry, continues to perpetuate outdated mistruths about the dangers of fats and cholesterol. Even Dean Ornish, MD, designer of the most prominent program to prevent cardiovascular disease, continues to hammer away at the risks of consuming dietary fats, in defiance of biochemical facts. And, though hospitals across the nation promote cardiovascular disease prevention, physicians do not prioritize prevention as the most appropriate way to benefit their patients.
Prevention of disease would mean no more need for drugs, surgeries or physicians. In 2010, the cost of cardiovascular disease in the U.S. was about $444 billion. That’s too much money to give up by keeping people healthy and happy.
Medical doctors practicing prevention are in the minority
Although in the minority, there are indeed medical doctors who believe in prevention, including Robert Lustig, MD, who hammers away about the deleterious effects of sugar consumption. There is also Julian Whitaker, MD, who, for decades, has taken a more natural approach to health than most doctors. Individual physicians are to be commended for their efforts, but they are not representative of the highly funded disease-for-profit business model that sanction the wide-scale practice of the medical industry. If we wanted to delve further into this issue we would understand that, by and large, med students see prestige and big incomes as primary reasons to become physicians. We’d also see how pharmaceutical firms and medical schools work tirelessly to inflate their egos.
Unless a physician is on the lecture circuit, writes books and finds other non-medical ways to make money, he/she is locked into a system that creates success by means of drugs and surgeries. Because we are dealing with issues of suffering, debilitation and death, it seems obvious that there is a moral and ethical dilemma in the process. But, to teach prevention is to deny oneself a means of earning a big income as a medical doctor.
Who is responsible for prevention?
It may be argued that prevention should not be the responsibility of modern medicine at all, and that people should take responsibility for their own health. On the face, this is true — you can’t blame your doctor for your overwhelming desire to drive into the nearest Burger King and order a double whopper with cheese and fries, or your poor diet full of candy, cookies, potato chips, soft drinks and white rice. But the medical industry can indeed be blamed for selling a host of screenings, vaccines and exams as prevention when, for the most part, they are not preventing the factors that lead to disease. It can also be blamed for standing in the way of using, prescribing and marketing natural health products and modalities.
You’re fooling yourself — or you are being fooled — if you think that visiting your physician on a regular basis makes you a healthier person. Much of what is sold as prevention includes thousands of operations and drug applications on disease-free individuals. In addition, under the umbrella of so-called prevention are mastectomies, lymphectomies, tonsillectomies, chemotherapy rounds, statin drugs, and blood thinning medications. The list goes on and on. And physicians are wont to tell their patients what a wonderful service they’re doing by removing their body parts.
The high cost of prevention
Modern medicine, with its arsenal of drugs, injections, operations and examinations, does not include prevention in its list of services because prevention is not a lucrative enterprise. Modern medicine is driven by profits, though it is marketed as an altruistic service for the benefit of humankind. Patients fail to ask whether their doctor is doing them a favor by failing to tell them all they can about how to prevent illness instead of preferring to prescribe the most popular drug on the market or schedule something called “a minor procedure” to remove a “needless” and supposedly problematic body part.
Prevention is bad for business
Is prevention cost-effective? Project Hope, which states it is dedicated to promoting wellness and preventing disease, noted that “In strict financial terms, the unfortunate calculus frequently is that a pound of cure (or treatment) costs less than an ounce of prevention.” And the website Lawyers and Settlements reported, “The cancer industry derives most of its profits from chemotherapy. Both the drug companies and the treatment providers profit from the chemotherapy drugs and the medications used to combat the side effects. The obscene profits made off chemotherapy override any incentive to find a cure or better treatments. On October 1, 2006, Alex Berenson reported in the New York Times that worldwide spending on cancer drugs was $24 billion in 2004 and was expected to rise to $55 billion in 2009.”
In 2010, the National Cancer Institute predicted how much the nation could expect to spend on its collective cancer care within a decade. The cost of cancer care was predicted to increase by 27 percent between 2010 and 2020. That’s a jump from $125 billion currently, to $158 billion in 2020 (in 2010 dollars), and this does not take into account any increase in cancer rates or in the cost of treatment.
Ken Thorpe, professor of health policy at Emory University in Atlanta, noted, ”Seventy-five percent of what we spend in health care is linked to chronically ill patients; less than 3 percent [is spent] in prevention…We do a great job of taking care of people after they’re sick, we do a mediocre job of preventing people from getting sick.”
The link between huge profits and disease is, in itself, a disease whose biggest symptom is greed and a systemic lack of empathy. That being said, don’t look to your physician to give you diet and lifestyle advice. If he/she does provide this service, then you’ve found a diamond in the rough.
Natural means of disease prevention
In the field of natural health care — one that is constantly under attack by the legal representatives of the pharmaceutical/medical industry, prevention consists of a number of steps that an individual can take in order to greatly reduce the possibility of an array of diseases. If you do not smoke, statistics show that you are less likely to get lung cancer. If you eat enough fruits that contain vitamin C and its cofactors, you are less likely to get scurvy. If you get enough sunshine, or vitamin D, you are not likely to have rickets or osteomalacia. And if you do not eat sugar you are far less likely to suffer from cavities, diabetes and a host of other diseases. But your doctor’s visit for a colonoscopy, blood test, PAP smear or mammogram does not fall into the same category of prevention.
It’s all up to you
If you want to practice prevention, you must make the right decisions and take the appropriate actions pertaining to lifestyle, diet, exposure to toxins and temperature extremes, and stress levels. Failure to take care of yourself in such a way are, unsurprisingly, what causes most diseases known to modern science.
The hard truth is that you are the one who must practice prevention, because your physician’s business isn’t geared for it, and it’s a good bet that your medical doctor is clueless and follows the same prescription for ill health as the rest of society. But the best news is that you don’t need to spend a dime or a doctor’s visit to discover how to prevent illness: just spend a few hours a day on the internet and inform yourself.
The real “prevention” in modern medicine rarely has anything to do with preventing illness, and mostly to do with preventing individuals from seeking and practicing natural health solutions that compete with drugs, surgeries and injections.
Vic Shayne, PhD, is a the author of many articles and several books on natural health care and nutrition, including Man Cannot Live on Vitamins Alone. He is the director of Nutrition Research Center (nutritionresearchcenter.org) which focuses on the beneficial effects of healing with whole foods and whole food supplements.
 Mercola, DO, Joseph; What Every Parent Must Know: This Occurs Before the Age of 6; November 03, 2011; mercola.com
 March 5, 2012, Colonoscopies Prevent Colon Cancer Deaths, nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/colonoscopies-prevent-colon-cancer-deaths
 Preventing Chronic Illness; Health Affairs 28, No. 1 2009: 36, doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.28.1.36
 Pringle, Evelyn, Cancer Industry Fights To Keep Obscene Profits, Lawyers and Settlements; Jan 22, 2008; lawyersandsettlements.com/articles/anemia/anemia-overuse-01828.html
 Cox, Lauren, US Cancer Costs in 2020: Up to $207 Billion, livescience.com