Wednesday, June 29, 2011
at 6:35 AM
The person primarily responsible for your health is you. You are best placed to make decisions about your health based on your own circumstances. There has been a tendency over the last 30 years to see governments as having the primary responsibility for our health. This is seen in calls for the government to "do something" about problems like obesity and smoking to name but two.
Personally I do not have a huge amount of faith in the recommendations of government departments and some of the "experts" that they draw on. Regular readers will be familiar with my view on the response to the advent of the H1N1 (swine flu) virus and how billions of dollars were wasted and needless fear was generated. As it turned out many of the experts recommending mass vaccination of the population had financial ties to manufacturers.
There is now a push to vaccinate boys against the H.P.V. virus. This vaccine has been approved for use in girls. Whilst it has been promoted as a vaccine against cervical cancer, it is in reality a vaccine against four strains of a virus, which is implicated in the development of cervical cancer. The push for extending the use has come from the manufacturer (as is their commercial right) but it is easy to whip up fear when one plays the cancer card in any health story. At this point rational assessment can go out the window.
Against this backdrop two circulars from government health departments crossed my desk in the same week. The first from the W.A. health department was about a plan to get women who missed their third dose of H.P.V. vaccine to have it. The dosage schedule was zero, two and six months.
This is from the circular " While the optimal schedule is to administer Gardasil * at 0,2 and 6 months, the Australian Chief Medical Officer has stated that delayed administration especially of the third dose is expected to give at least comparable and most likely superior immune responses..."
Run that by me again! If delaying the dose gives a better response then how can the current schedule be optimal? Or if the current schedule is optimal then how cannot sticking to it give a better result? Go figure!
The other interesting piece of advice came from the Federal Health Department. A new campaign has been launched to encourage smokers to quit. Readers of my website will have seen my article on how a major analysis of over 800 studies showed that 70% of people quit with no aids or assistance. It also highlighted that most studies compared stop smoking aids with each other rather than against no aid and that manufacturers funded many of the studies. Questions were raised as to why this information was not promoted more widely to encourage and empower people to stop smoking.
Yet the letter from the Chief Medical Officer tells me "... smokers are about twice as likely to quit with smoking cessation drugs than cold turkey alone" and quoted one study, which had shown this. So here we have the government urging use of drugs when for at least 70% of people none are needed.
Exactly why this is the case is a mystery to me. The key point is that government recommendations may or may not be in your best interests.
Gather input from a variety of sources. Be aware that vested interests may be involved. Be questioning of "experts" and always consider your own circumstances. The person best equipped to make decisions about your health and that of your family is YOU.
* Gardasil is the trade name of the H.P.V. vaccine
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