This weekend I saw a number of news items that caused me to think more about the role of the corporatization of health. It is clear to me that there is a a group of people who don't want us to be healthy and who are invested in our being ill. If I am right what can we do?
In this post I make a case for the problem and I offer up a way of dealing with it.
Breast Cancer and the BRCA1 Gene
First of all, if you wish to test for the Breast Cancer Gene that affects abiut 10% of women but also drives a very high chance of getting Breast Cancer, you will have to have at least $4,000. For this test and the gene are subject to copyright! Link Here
"Unlike routine tests for diabetes or high cholesterol, however, the BRCA gene evaluation — performed by only one company in the United States, Myriad Genetics — is phenomenally expensive, with a “list price” close to $4,000 when a related genomic-rearrangement test is included in the analysis, which oncologists typically recommend."
If you go to 23andme you can get a whole range of gene tests for $99! Testing for genes is no longer expensive. But if you have the copyright and you have a gene and a test that is rooted in a killer problem, then you can charge what you want. What a business!
C Difficile and Fecal Transplants
C Difficile is a major cause of death now. It is caused by a failure of our gut health. Poor diet and the use of antibiotics can kill off the good bacteria leaving us exposed to the bad. THE way of curing this is very simple and works in less than 2 days. It costs almost nothing. It is called a "Fecal Transplant". And yes it is just that. Good poo from a person with a healthy gut is given to the sick person via an enema. Think Blood Transfusion.
There is next to no risk. The patient is often at death's door and time is critical. But now the FDA want to regulate this. Not by setting a standard that any practitioner can get ready to apply but by demanding a lengthy application for a licence to experiment on a human. More at this link here at Wired.
This can be a death sentence if there is no time. I have to ask why? I can only think that the FDA are against treatments that cannot be monetized by their supporters.
The FDA is always quick to step in when there is a non corporate idea.
Alzheimers and Vitamin B
Alzheimers could become the most expensive disease out there as many boomers get it. Of course the real costs are social. Sufferers demand such a high level of care. Big Pharma have been trying for ages to find THE drug and have failed. We are starting to understand though that Alzheimers is a lifestyle disease. It is avoidable. The pathway is diet again.
High levels of Vitamin B preserve brain power and size. More at this link
"Older people’s brains shrink about 0.5 percent a year from the age of 60, and faster in people with vitamin B12 deficiency, mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease, Smith said. If that pace can be significantly slowed before full-blown Alzheimer’s develops, it may delay the disease’s progression so that older people can enjoy better lives until they die from another cause.
“If you delay the onset by five years, you can halve the number of people dying from it,” says Jess Smith, a research communications officer at the Alzheimer’s Society, a U.K. charity."
So here is the Big Pharma issue. More research has to be done. But in today's research climate, unless there is a blockbuster pill that can be copyrighted, there is no money. Research into real health does not get funded.
“We need bigger studies and more evidence that looks at what homocysteine is doing and what is actually going on in the brain.”
A. David Smith agrees. He plans a study of B vitamins in 1,200 people over 70 with MCI and elevated homocysteine. He needs 6 million pounds ($9.1 million) to pay for it. Miller plans another large study and wants to see if folic acid in flour in the U.S. leads to different results there. Meanwhile, the lack of blockbuster-drug potential presents funding hurdles.
“The pharmaceutical companies aren’t going to make any money on this and the supplement companies aren’t going to have enough money to do it,” Miller said. “This would have to be government-funded. I’m just not sure the climate is right for it now.”
The good news is that the American Gut Health project has shown us that we can crowd fund this kind of research. I have sent my poo in already! I also participate in the D Action Study to study the impact of Vitamin D. I am going to apply to test my genes at 23andme. I want to check out my ancestry which is a major factor in health risk.
I think that my health is up to me. I do my own research. I help others do theirs. I take action. We can all do this can't we?
If gut health IS the core health issue. Then all of us can take control. If you wish to know more about this, Michael Pollan has written a wonderful introduction here. If you want to know even more, Jeff Leach has a short book for $2.99 that is the bible here.