A Blog from The Panel of Experts
By Dr. Michael L. Smith – Functional Medicine – Nutrition and Chiropractic HEALTHcare.
To put it simply, America’s healthcare is failing. The United States spends more money on health care per capita than any other country in the world and yet over 17 million Americans suffer from diabetes and two thirds are overweight. The statistics for heart disease prevalence still rank at the top of the list and have changed little over the past thirty years. To make matters worse, one third of our youth as a result of poor dietary habits and decreased exercise are falling prey to a form of diabetes that used to be seen only in adults and as a result if current trends continue, that same generation will experience a shorter lifespan than their parents generation! Of the approximately 300 million people in this country, half will be taking a prescription drug on a weekly basis for some type of health problem.
The centers for Medicare and Medicaid reported that in 2000 we spent over $140 billion dollars on prescription drugs and in 2010 the numbers have approached $180 billion dollars per year. It has been estimated that over 3 billion prescriptions were written in 2010. But even though the United States spends more money on health care per capita than does any country in the world, The World Health Organization in 2000 ranked the U.S. health care system first in both responsiveness and cost, but an astounding 37th in overall performance and 72nd in overall health among the 191 member nations included in the study. Our health care system is clearly not the best in the world, even though we spend the most money on it. In fact, Americans spend more on drugs than do all the people in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom combined!
In a 2002 article appearing in the Journal of the Americam Medical Association (JAMA), by Barbara Starfield, M.D. she stated that physician error, medication error and adverse events from drugs or surgery kill over 225,000 people per year. That makes our health care system the third leading cause of death in the United States, behind only cancer and heart disease (Starfield,B. “Is U.S. health really the best in the world?” JAMA 284 (2000): 483-485. Even with the use of approved medicinesand their correct administration, over 100,000 people die every year from unintended drug reactions. In a report that analyzed thirty-nine separate studies, approximately 7% (one out of fifteen) of all hospitalized patients have experienced a serious adverse drug reaction which required hospitalization, prolonged hospitalization, is permanently disabling or results in death. Lazarou J, et al “Incidence of adverse drug reactons in hospitalized patients” JAMA 279 (1998): 1200-1205.
Perhaps more subtle, but certainly serious, are the drug induced nutritional deficiencies that are created from the medicines we routinely take. Conventional medicine tends to overlook these “minor” concerns.
COMMON NUTRIENT DEPLETING DRUGS:
- Aspirin depletes folic acid, iron, potassium and vitamin C.
- Antibiotics deplete Lactobacillus acidophilus, bifidobacterium bifidum and other “probiotics”, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, Vit. C, Vit. K, biotin, potassium, magnesium, zinc and inositol.
- Acid Blockers (Prevasid, Prilosec, Nexium etc.) deplete vitamins A, B1, B12, folic acid, chromium and iron.
- Beta Blockers (Atenolol, Tenormin, Toprol, Inderal etc.) deplete CoQ10.
- Nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) deplete vitamin C, K, folic acid and iron.
- Estrogens ((Estrace, Premarin) deplete magnesium, omega-3-fatty acids, vit. B1, and zinc.
- Oral contraceptives deplete beta-carotene,vitamins B1, B3, B5, B6, B12, C, biotin, magnesium and zinc
- Many Anti-depressants deplete vitamins B2, B6, calcium, magnesium and CoQ10.
- Corticosteroids (cortisone, predisone etc.) deplete calcium, folic acid, magnesium, potassium, selenium, vit. C, vit. D, and zinc.
- Glucophage (diabetes) depletes vit. B12.
- Statins (Lipitor, Zocor, etc) deplete CoQ10.
Whenever a patient presents to my office, I always consider what medications the patient is taking and what are the potential deficiencies that may be created if the patient is taking any drugs.. A special functional blood test to measure the patient’s nutrient status can be very important in determining what is either in balance or out of balance and may be a very important factor in their health care. It is just as important to advise the patient to avoid certain foods or supplements that may be contraindicated when they are taking their medications.This will ensure that the medication(s) are able to accomplish their intended outcomes and the patients’ health won’t be compromised further. The end result is a healthier and happier patient.