A book review on the over-rated role of modern medicine.
Title: The Role of Medicine: Dream, Mirage or Nemesis? (1979)
Author: Thomas McKeown
Publisher: Basil Blackwell, Oxford
In a book that is often grouped with Effectiveness and Efficiency (Cochrane) and Limits to Medicine (Illich), Dr McKeown attempts to calculate the role of medicine in the improvement in health seen over the preceding centuries. He also points out the current problems with medicine (in the 1970s, anyway) and makes suggestions for the future of medical practice, education and research. Fortunately, many of his suggestions have been realised, but unfortunately, the contribution of medicine to the continuing improvement in health remains overestimated.
I have written an article on the pros and cons of medical marijuana for Australian news websites. Click here to read it.
We might think that we’re getting enough sleep. But the quality of our sleep has slowly deteriorated over the decades. It all started with the invention of the light bulb, which made it possible to stay active and productive long after sunset. Then with TV, computers, video games, DVDs, tablets, and smart phones, it became easier to do just about anything from the comfort of our own home – and even our own bed.
My late mother was a lifelong non-smoker. She was also an opera fan. Hard as she tried to get me enthused about opera, it never quite happened. Carmen was my mother’s favourite. This week she would have turned in her grave.
For all the wrong reasons Western Australia made world news last week when the WA Opera Company cancelled a season of Carmen so as not to contravene its sponsorship deal with Healthway. This is a taxpayer-funded body charged with promoting health.
“Sit up straight and don’t slouch” may have been the best life advice you were ever given.
Did you know that your posture actually has a critical effect on your health and well-being?
Low back pain affects more than a quarter of Australians( [i]) costs the economy more than $1 billion directly and about $8 billion in indirect costs.([ii])
But the true cost of poor posture to your individual health may be far more significant.
The quit smoking drug Bupropion (Zyban) has been linked to high blood pressure and “adverse” cardiovascular events. And Vareniciline( Champix), also used in smoking cessation, has again been found to be the drug most commonly associated with suicide and homicidal thoughts.
There is no pharmaceutical agent, which does not have potential side effects. Not everyone who takes a drug will experience side effects. Most side effects are not serious and some settle after being on the drug for a while. Some are serious and require the drug to be stopped immediately.
When too many of us take too many drugs, there are consequences. These are both economic and human.
There is so much talk about what we should eat. It gets really confusing. The keys are portion control and food selection. This infographic explains the background and rationale of five common diets.
Two years ago I wrote about the case of a family, which had to take down a tree house due to the stupidity and intransigence of government. It had breached some guideline of some description. Despite governments running ads extolling children to be active, it appears that whenever there is the slightest hint that the electronic equipment might be replaced by the outdoor variety some official will step in.
Now another council has ordered a cubby house to be taken down.
Humans have a monumental thirst for blood. With the average red blood cell transfusion using around 3 pints of blood, approximately 27,000 blood donations are needed every week in Australia to meet that demand. The problem is, blood platelets have quite a short “shelf-life” lasting only 7 days, with red blood cells lasting just 35 days. Also, with most blood donors often being unpaid volunteers, supply is usually far short of demand. Just 1 in 30 people give blood, yet figures show that it’s closer to 1 in 3 people who will need donated blood in their lifetime.
This shortfall has lead to an increase in something known as autotransfusion. This is the process of donating your own blood for your own use in the near future. Typically the blood is collected before surgery, and banked should you need a transfusion. However there is another way that the shortfall can be tackled: with the emergence of synthetic blood.
Our health as individuals is linked to the health of society. Free societies have always enjoyed better health. But we can take this for granted.
Long before Hunger Games spawned a new interest in dystopia, there was George Orwell’s 1949 book “1984”. In this, the futuristic society had the four government ministries of peace, love, plenty and truth. The role of each was the exact opposite of what their name implied. The ministry of truth was responsible for lies and propaganda, and the ministry of peace was in charge of wars.