Health conspiracies usually aren't

Today's medicine will seem just as Stone Age 30 years from now as my father's day is to me, and his father's day was to him. That's not a conspiracy. That's progress.

Dog with tin foil hat from Sushimoo.comThe world is filled with health conspiracy theorists. (Picture from Sushimoo of a dog wearing a tin foil hat.)

My chiropractor finds most conventional health treatments to be a scam. My sister finds chiropractic to be a scam.

One of the favorite targets of conspiracy theorists is statins. Statins are an immense market, their total impact on the body (both positive and negative) is still untested, they're a natural target.

So meet JaaJoe, a new right-wing blogger out to make his bones by going after Pfizer's Lipitor. In a "three-part series" (of which two are now up) he calls former spokesman Robert Jarvik "a pimp with a pump" and Lipitor itself "the poison that causes congestive heart failure."

Now there is some there there. Jarvik lost his Lipitor gig because he's not a practicing M.D. Lipitor does reduce synthesis of an enzyme called Coenzyme Q10, which has benefits in heart health and fighting cancer.

But Lipitor is not the only statin which cuts Q10 production. All statins do. And the Jarvik "scandal" (if scandal there was) really had very little to do with the drug itself.

Fact is there's a lot we don't know. The idea that statins lower cholesterol and that prevents heart attacks may need to be replaced by a more nuanced view. Maybe statin patients should consider Q10 supplements. But perhaps younger people should be on them as well.

Fact is that statins may have many other beneficial effects, beyond lowering a single cholesterol number. While the drug category is nearly 20 years old there's a lot we don't know about them. We're still learning new things about aspirin.

But because science "changes its mind" like this many people still do many, many things to stay in shape which may seem kooky to strangers.

Fact is science is like that. Fact is medicine is still in the "try this" stage. One doctor I know who works with the elderly admitted to me recently there's still as much art as science in what he does. That's true generally.

It's also true we're on the verge of a whole new era in medicine. With 15,000 genetic markers awaiting approval by the FDA, with genetic tests able to deliver a "custom view" of your health future, and a customized regimen, with chemists now able to design compounds on an atom-by-atom basis using nanotechnology, today's medicine will seem just as Stone Age 30 years from now as my father's day is to me, and his father's day was to him.

That's not a conspiracy. That's progress.

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