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What on earth is disease mongering?!

(sadness, old age, PMS, and perimenopause are not diseases)

In her book, Disease-Mongers: How Doctors, Drug Companies, and Insurers Are Making You Feel Sick (1994), science writer and medical journalist Lynn Payer exposes this predatory practice. It means trying to convince essentially well people that they're sick or slightly sick people that they're very ill. This is most prevalent in the mental health field, as rite of passage experiences such as heartbreak, divorce, losing a loved one, or declaring bankruptcy after ten years of business ownership are all turned into the new designer disorders and a symphony of drugs to cure them. For the record, I strongly support therapy. I'm just not a fan of falsely diagnosing people with disorders and prescribing unneeded (and often ineffective) medications, when what people are actually going through are the normal ups and downs of a full life. Hardships aren't abnormalities needing a panacea.

The brutally difficult demands of life require more effort, more support, and a healthier diet and lifestyle - not necessarily more medications. 

Another example is creating a fictitious illness based on a slight risk, such as "pre" diabetes, "pre" hypertension, and "pre" osteoporosis also known as osteopenia, all so-called conditions made up by Big Pharma and the marketing agencies they hired. The hardest part for me is recognizing how pernicious and deliberate disease mongering can be. Is it any wonder we choose to remain in the dark, since grasping this sinister reality is just too much to bear? The Fear Factor is alive and well in medical schools, doctors' offices, designer drug companies, insurance firms, marketing agencies, and in the minds of people. One more arena where fear has taken over is among athletes, who are sold so-called protein deficiency as a rampant disease. The medical term is kwashiorkor, and the fact that doctors haven't heard of this speaks volumes.  

Evidence also shows that "preventative" and DNA testing doesn't actually prevent a disease, while clever marketing tactics create some revenue-generating ailments out of thin air.

 

Furthermore, diagnosing normal functions of aging such as weakening bones, PSA levels in prostate health, or lethargy and sweats during perimenopause are now considered diseases which need a remedy. As one researcher put it: some men will die from prostate cancer, but all men will die with it. When the thought of illness is lodged into the human brain, the desire for a cure is sure to follow. Voila! The companies who create pseudo-diseases in the first place hire marketing moguls to increase consumption of a drug that was - surprise, surprise - created to "treat" this magically manufactured illness. Welcome to the malevolent merry-go-round of medical mills. Got a cough or cold? Take this medication. Got the blues? Take this pill. Got shoulder pain? Take this tablet. Can't sleep after sitting in front of a blue-light screen all day, while munching on candy and fast food or downing energy drinks and copious amounts of caffeine? Well then...

 

Step right up ladies and gents...

your friendly neighborhood chemist is open for business and ready to cure all that ails you.

 

Getting regular exercise, unplugging, sleeping well, having healthy relationships, doing research, joining a supportive community, and eating whole plants in abundance aren't usually mentioned to patients. A majority of physicians report that they don't talk about diet and lifestyle treatments, because their "patients don't want to hear about it and resist changing their comfort zones" (and possible addictions). Yet studies consistently show that a majority of patients do, indeed, want to hear alternatives to pills and procedures. Might an actual reason be that a vast majority of healthcare providers are nutrition-ignorant, and admitting this out loud is somewhat embarrassing? 

I'm not prone to believing conspiracy theories, yet it seems that the cards are more than stacked against us on this one. Actually, they appear to be stacked ON us, crushing any semblance of clear-headed, rational decision-making in regards to medical advice, twisted ad campaigns, and pharma reps disguised as "educators" who support the circus. One solution? Become an informed patient and combat disease mongering with a resounding no, thanks. Sadness, old age, PMS, and perimenopause aren't diseases.

NOTE: It's important to add... that people who wish to take medications, do health screenings, or consider surgeries have every right to do so, and in some cases, can save lives! Consulting with a trusted medical professional is advised, and please check their background and reviews thoroughly. Also, it's probably wise to do your own research, practice critical thinking, and see what you can find out. Finally, before making any decisions, double-check that your healthcare provider has informed you of ALL possible side effects, outcomes, and alternatives including diet and lifestyle options. Even if your allotted 15-minute appointment slot is over, just make sure you're well-informed before you leave the doctor's office. Side note: heads up! Your conventional doctor might gaslight, ignore, or quietly judge you. This is normal and you're not crazy.

Real-Time Example: A new designer disease has hit the market. It's called VMS - vasomotor symptoms, ie night sweats and changes in body temperature in perimenopausal women. The What is VMS? ad skillfully uses humor and is presented as a public service announcement with a conversational Every-Person approach. But... nobody has ever heard of VMS because it's not a disease! Then, at the very end of the ad (I'm talking a nano-second moment) is the logo for who sponsored this clever marketing campaign: Astellas Pharma, a Japanese corporation. This example from Astellas Pharma is just the tip of the iceberg as it represents many other companies as well. See ad on Ispot-tv here

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