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The Dangers of Preventative Medicine
By Robert S. Mendelsohn, M.D.

The risks of immunizations go almost completely unnoticed in the rush by physicians to shoot from the hip. In addition to the swine flu vaccine, a variety, of serious neurologic complications also result from the measles and other vaccines.

The risks of immunizations go almost completely unnoticed in the rush by physicians to shoot from the hip. In addition to the swine flu vaccine, a variety, of serious neurologic complications also result from the measles and other vaccines.

Because of the threat of an epidemic of swine flu a number of years ago, millions of Americans rolled up their sleeves to be immunized. The epidemic never materialized, and the program was scrapped after a number of deaths and a near-epidemic of rare paralysis were shown to be side effects of the vaccine.

Despite the public outcry which resulted against this swine flu fiasco, "preventive medicine" is a phrase that still invokes practically universal respect, and indeed ranks with motherhood and the stars and stripes in the pantheon of American values. But the swine flu program is a vivid example of the reality of "preventive medicine" in most instances scientifically unproven, controversial and often filled with risks that outweigh any benefits.

Certainly those aspects of living that can help prevent people from ever becoming patients good nutrition, proper environment, sufficient exercise, ethical conduct have unquestioned value. Preventive techniques as practiced by doctors directly on their patients are less valid. These techniques include shots, pills, examinations, laboratory tests and counselling that constitute the major components of what has generally become knovvn as "preventive medicine."

The image of preventive medicine as a practice of exact lcnowledge, safety and established efficacy is false. Moreover, many experts are now questioning many routine preventive measures. The Yale University Health Plan advises its subscribers to think twice before having an annual physical examination. The discovery of large tonsils, heart murmurs, unilateral undescended testes, lumps in the breast, and slight elevation of blood pressure causes uncounted iatrogenic (physician-induced) illnesses through unnecessary and dangerous medications and operations.

The risks of immunizations go almost completely unnoticed in the rush by physicians to shoot from the hip. In addition to the swine flu vaccine, a variety of serious neurologic cornplications also result from the measles and other vaccines. These risks are often discounted or ignored, and many school districts around the country require immunization for a variety of diseases before a child is permitted to attend classes, and subject parents to possible legal action for failing to have their children immunized. Indeed government pressure to immunize justifies legal action to guarantee everyone's right to reject preventive medicine.

Routine Pap smears obscure the evidence that multiple sexual partners are linked to the causation of cervical cancer. Stressing the importance of selfexamination of the breast interferes with education about the crucial role of breast feeding in preventing breast cancer. Certain cancer prevention fanatcs now go so far as to publicly recommend the macabre idea of removing both breasts when a tumor is suspected! Furthermore, x-ray mammography is proving to be a double-edged sword that may well produce more cancer than it detects. Attempts to prevent miscarriages, while unsuccessful, have resulted in many DES-damaged young men and women.

Additionally, the value of early diagnosis and treatment of such disorders as glaucoma, diabetes, hypertension or cancer remains controversial and unproven.

Modern obstetrics, attempting te "prevent" complications, has produced a technological nightmare leading to urmecessary and dangerous Caesarian sections; while modem pediatrics has sanctioned the use of artificial chemical formulae with all their hazards for defenseless babies, not for any nutritional or health reason, but in an attempt to abate the guilt feelings of mothers who reject breast feeding.

Public health physicians, once shtumed by the medical profession, are now embraced by their fellow doctors. Naively, the public health physicians believe this results from enlightened aftitudes developed by their peers, but they fail to recognize the important economic function they now serve through their multiphasic screening tests, bogus health education, and morbidity surveys which drive millions of new customers to doctors' officeg. Thus, the once proud public health physician has now become the medical profession's recruiter.

Preventive medicine continues to be heralded despite its obvious drawbacks. To many physicians, it is highly profitable. A routine physical examination can cost in excess of $100.00, and opens the door for return visits that often include treatment and/or medication to "prevent" suspected disorders. The truth of the matter is that preventive medicine has become a threat to the health of all our people. This is the message all of us dedicated to consumer education must carry to the public.

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