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Misleading Drug Ads

The Food and Drug Administration is asking doctors to tell them about misleading drug ads.  In fact an article on Netscape New by Matthew Perrone says that the drug industry spends 4 billion dollars a year on advertisements directed to consumers. 

Ads often say, “Ask your doctor for this medication” .From my experience as a medical student, I know that doctors are trained to memorize what they read in textbooks and what their professors say. They are used to accepting the ideas from an authority. It’s easy to carry that attitude to the drug  representative and accept what he says along with some free pills.

In the case of anti-cholesterol pills, some ads say that your cholesterol level can be blamed on family and food.  However, in truth only one in a million people have two faulty genes so their cholesterol con be from 650-1000 and indeed be correlated with heart disease. Even if only one of the genes is faulty, this occurs in less that one in 500 people whose levels are between 350 and 650.  So the family of almost all of the patients put on statins, (the anti-cholesterol drugs) is not relevant.

Food may or may not be causing a rise in the bad LDL-cholesterol. The media and others blame eggs and animal fat, but most LDL-cholesterol and blood fats have been made by the person’s liver from all the high-fructose corn syrup he is getting.   Two ways to get more good HDL-cholesterol are vigorous exercise and eating saturated fats, not avoiding them. 

It took over 30 years after Dr. Mary Enig published research about the danger of trans-fats like margarine, before we are now told to avoid them.

Similarly it might take as long to get much more research to advocate a “heart-healthy” diet that eliminates high-fructose corn syrup.

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