Bye-bye Avandia; Let's all learn a lesson from this
- Created on Sunday, 26 September 2010 19:21
European regulators have just ordered the complete removal of the diabetes drug Avandia from the market, while the FDA has placed severe restrictions on its use in the US, saying that heart attack risks from it pose too great a risk to most patients. It was only a few years ago that Avandia was a high-flying drug. Worldwide sales for GlaxoSmithKline in 2006 were over than 2.5 billion dollars. Now, as the lawsuits pile up, there is no telling how much they will have to shell out in compensation to victims and their families. The company has already agreed to settlements in 11,000 cases, but there are plenty more on dockets. Surely, it will be in the billions. This is the phamaceutical equivalent of the BP oil spill.
Of course, this isn't the first major prescription drug scandal- far from it. But unfortunately, it isn't the first major prescription drug scandal regarding diabetes either. It follows on the heels of the Sulfonlurea scandal, which was described by Dr. Malcolm Kendrick (one of the most astute medical observers in the world IMHO) as "the greatest medical scandal ever." Based on published reports, Dr. Kendrick estimates 158,000 deaths annually from Sulfonylurea drugs going back decades, therefore, millions of deaths in total.
And there are other classes of diabetes drugs suspected of doing profound harm as well. And there are new diabetes drugs that I predict will become fiascoes in the future. For instance, they have a new drug that impairs the kidneys in a way that causes them to spill sugar into the urine. That happens anyway if the level rises high enough, but the drug causes it to happen sooner. Under normal healthy conditions, there should not be any sugar in the urine. It is always pathological, so they are creating disease. It is just a trick, a gimmick. It has nothing to do with restoring health, and no good is going to come from it.
What does this latest Avandia scandal portend? I think it means that the time has come for all of us to start making our own medical decisions. I'm not saying that we should never follow a doctor's advice. I'm saying that we should never do it on faith. We have the right and the responsibility to use our own judgment because, obviously, we are going to have to live with the consequences- or not live at all. And today, we not only have the right and the responsibility, but we also have the means. Because of the Internet, all of the knowledge about drugs that is available to doctors, is available to you. Therefore, your first step when given a prescription for a medication should not be to stop at the pharmacy to fill it, but rather, to go home, get online, and start researching it. Get used to saying to doctors, "I'll have to think about it."
As I see it, when you visit a doctor, first and foreemost, you are there to find out what is wrong with you. You are there for a diagnosis. And after that, you want his or her opinion about the best treatment options. But, it's your body and your life, and ultimately, you will decide what action to take. Is this being arrogant? Maybe, maybe not. But, it doesn't matter. The fact is: too many bad things have happened involving prescription drugs. Dr. Ron Paul, Congressman, Presidential candidate, and bonafide leader of the Liberty movement, has pointed out that more people have died from prescription drugs than from all the illicit drugs combined. Our faith is shattered. Drugs are inherently dangerous, very dangerous, and we can no longer give them the benefit of the doubt.
But, let's get back to diabetes. I am as personally concerned about avoiding diabetes as anybody because it runs strongly on both sides of my family. My paternal grandfather died of diabetes in his 60s, and not before losing both his legs to it and going completely blind. I run bloodwork on myself annually in the Spring, and fortunately, my blood sugar has always been normal. If it ever became high, I would first seek to manage it with diet and exercise. Of course, I am diligent already, but I suppose I could be more diligent. However, there is one diabetes drug that I would consider taking, and that is Metformin. Metformin is a derivative of a natural herb called Goat's Rue. It has been in use for centuries. It does not increase the insulin level, rather, it increases the sensitivity of the insulin receptors, rendering the insulin you have more effective. There has been a lot of research done on Metformin, and some of it is very impressive. For instance, Metformin has been shown to have a life-extending effect in animals. And, Metformin has an excellent safety record. Rather than increase the risk of heart attack, as Avandia does, Metformin reduces it. Today, there are thousands of health enthusiasts who are taking Metformin in hopes of getting a life-extending effect- and many of them are not even diabetic! I am not willing to go that far, but again, if in the future my blood sugar were to rise, I would consider taking Metformin.
And second, the main contention of the high-protein crowd- that even unrefined carbohydrates cause excessive insulin release- is false. Carbohydrates do provoke insulin release, but so do proteins and fats. The fact is: calories- from all sources- provoke insulin release. An Australian study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 1997 reported the insulin score of many different foods. Museli, a traditional European whole grain dish, had an insulin score of only 46, which was much lower than fish at 59. Whole grain pasta had an insulin score of only 40, which was much lower than beef at 51. The cause of high serum insulin is insulin resistance which is caused mainly by being overweight- too fat. Unrefined carbohydrates do not make people fat. So, all this fearmongering about whole grains sabotaging insulin is pure hogwash, and those who spout it are just repeating each other.
So, what do I do to prevent diabetes?
First, I stay thin. I don't let myself get fat. I am 5' 6" and weigh 135 pounds, and I'm fairly well-muscled. I am careful about what I eat, and I eat almost a completely vegan diet. I don't restrict carbohydrates or fats, but I'm careful to eat only wholesome forms of each, such as whole grains and raw nuts. I avoid refined carbohydrates of all kinds. All the typical desserts that people commonly eat, I pass on completely: no exceptions. I watch my weight. I weigh myself every day, first thing in the morning, without clothes. I don't say that you have to weigh that often, but I think it's a good idea to keep your eye on it. You'd be surprised how many people are shocked to find out how much they weigh.
Second, I stay active physically. I do strength training, mainly with the Total Gym machine, which I have at home. I get cardiac/aerobic exercise from hiking, biking, and swimming. Both kinds of exercise are important in diabetes prevention. Strength training is important because muscles are reservoirs for blood sugar. The larger they are, the more glycogen they store, and the more they dampen the effect of eating. I don't say that you need to have muscles like Arnold, but it's vital to be well-toned and fit.
Third, regarding supplements, I haven't had the mindset to take anything specifically to prevent diabetes, but, some of the supplements I take for general health do help in that way. For instance, Carnosine and Benfotiamine are powerful anti-glycation agents, and glycation is what does the damage in diabetes. Turmeric, green tea, resveratrol, and lipoic acid, all of which I take, have also been shown to help prevent diabetes. And some of the nutrients in my Extend Core multi, such as the MTHF form of folate and the P5P form of Vitamin B6 also ward off diabetes. Even Vitamin D is known to help prevent diabetes, and I take 5000 IUs of that.
VRP also offers a formula called GluControl which includes Goat's Rue, which, as I mentioned, is the herbal form of Metformin. I am not taking GluControl at this time, but if my blood sugar were to rise, I would consider taking it. One advantage it has over Metformin is that it is available without a prescription.
Be aware that diabetes varies a lot in degree, and milder cases of it may be corrected without taking anything. Diet, exercise, and weight management may be all that are needed to reverse it. None of us can be certain that we'll never get diabetes, but I am confident that, with everything I am doing, that I'll never get more than a mild case of it- no matter how long I live. That's my worst case scenario. I am not going to wind up like my grandfather, and it's empowering to know that.
But, nationwide and worldwide, diabetes is a huge and growing problem. Medicine has nothing useful to offer except Metformin. I believe the time is now and the need is urgent for every man, woman, and child to get serious about diabetes prevention. That means adopting an unrefined, plant-based diet, exercising diligently and regularly, and getting down to lean body weight. Drop all morbid body fat ASAP.