Russ Harvey's Site - About Russ & His Interests

Health & Medical Links

Consumer Information | Traditional Medicine | Organ Donation | Kidney Disease
Hospitals | Nutrition | Alternative Medicine | Toxic Substances
Drug Misinformation | Is Trust Justified? | Statins & Cholesterol | Site Policies

DISCLAIMER The links on this site is for informational purposes only. Do not use the information contained on this site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication. The information on this web site is not intended to take the place of medical advice, treatment, evaluation or diagnosis by a qualified professional who is fully informed about the potential risks and adverse effects of such treatments.

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Thanks to all our healthcare workers!

Coronavirus Facts & Fiction

Wearing a face mask, even a less advanced one, can help reduce both the risk and the severity of illness.

Don't buy into fake information. Trust only legitimate sources. More….

A Starting Point

Health & medical
‘Health equity’ or ‘equity in health’ implies that ideally everyone should have a fair opportunity to attain their full health potential and that no one should be disadvantaged from achieving this potential.
World Health Organization

The links on this page are intended as a resource and starting point for self-help research. Many links were suggested via email and my attempts to verify their legitimacy may be incomplete.

I suggest you read Health Equity Through Health Fact-Checking: A Primer (PDF) to better understand the issues surrounding self-education on health matters.

Discuss Findings With Your Health Team

Be sure to verify the information you find on the Internet then consult with your health professionals.

Your body is your own and patients that take control of their own health often do better than those that depend on others for all the answers.

However, I suggest that you use the information you find there as a discussion point with your health team. They can explain the pros and cons of any particular course of treatment.

An informed patient will listen to all the facts before making their mind up about the validity of any medical procedure — traditional or revolutionary.

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Consumer Health Information

Government Sponsored

Dental Health

The linking of dental health to other conditions is related to neutrophil immune cell activity:

There are statistically significant correlations between periodontitis (oral inflammatory disease) and systemic diseases ranging from diabetes to cardiovascular diseases.
Howard Tenenbaum, University of Toronto

Sleep

Sleep affects all aspects of your life, including mental, physical, and emotional well-being. Learn to harness its positive impacts.
— SleepHelp.org
Insomnia and alcohol are closely linked, though their relationship is complex. Insomnia isn't a direct cause of alcoholism, and alcoholism doesn't directly cause insomnia, however, the two do have effects on each other. Drinking alcohol virtually always decreases your quality of sleep. Insomnia is one of the most common symptoms of withdrawal.
Addiction Group

The resources in this section include several sites that have information about sleep, the main reason I link to them. However, they also provide reviews of mattresses and associated products which generate some sort of referral income if you follow the links from their reviews.

Drug Information

We are outraged that experts in the fields of cardiovascular medicine, diabetes and osteoporosis have come up with disease definitions that label at least 75% of our fellow citizens “sick” and in need of preventive medication.
ShowMoreSpine
Taking 6 to 9 medications is associated with a 59% chance of death in older adults.
Lown Institute
  • Worst Pills, Best Pills your expert, independent second opinion for prescription drug information (subscription-based and highly recommended).
  • Pharmawatch Canada blog — Canadian drug safety and drug policy.
  • Know Your Drugs — looks at the problem of adverse drug reactions to prescribed medications.
  • RxList — the Internet Drug Index for prescription drugs, medications and pill identifier.
  • DailyMed provides high quality recent information about marketed drugs including FDA labels and strengthened warnings undergoing FDA review. Not all drugs are listed.

Information Portals

  • Medscape — medical news and full-text journal articles.
  • HealthCentral is an online health company that provides information and support for people with life-changing conditions.

General Information & Guides

Addiction Treatment & Recovery

Addiction is a very broad category. The most common are nicotine (tobacco, vaping), alcohol (including Ethyl Alcohol) and drugs (prescription medications, benzodiazepines, antidepressants, opioids & narcotics, stimulants).

Treatment Centres

Be sure to read the section on drug misinformation, particularly as it relates to addiction treatment centres.

Addiction Group is sponsored by Treatment Pathway, LLC, a marketing company that also sponsors a separate alcohol treatment website.

Psychiatric Drugs

The use of psychiatric drugs is a growing problem in countries across the world. The most common treatments for clinical depression are drug-related rather than “talk therapy” and these medications cause long-term problems. There is growing evidence that these drugs are related to violence.

The US Diagnostic and Statistical Manual has become the standard reference for treatment, but many question its assumption that psychiatric problems are a result of a shortage of serotonin in the brain.

Telling people, as I was told by my doctor, that depression is caused by a problem in your brain is, firstly, untrue and it is also really problematic because it cuts people off from finding the real causes of their depression and anxiety. We've been telling ourselves this chemical story for 35 years and every year depression and anxiety gets worse.
Johann Hari

Resources

I believe the following resources are accurate in their assessment.

These articles were posted in The Guardian and are specific the the UK and their medical system.

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Traditional Medical Resources

A medical journal is expected to promote an open-minded discussion of treatments, even if findings — or criticisms — threaten conventional beliefs. In psychiatry journals, the abstracts are nearly always written in a manner that ensures that the conventional wisdom about psychiatric drugs isn't unduly threatened.
Mad In America

Government Sponsored

General Information & Guides

Medical News

Medical Journals

  • JAMAJournal of the American Medical Association.
  • CMAJCanadian Medical Association Journal.

The Human Body

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Organ Donation & Transplantation

Lif Life. Pass it On. Register today at transplant.bc.ca

In 1997 the BC Organ Donor Registry replaced ALL previous forms of consent including a decal on your driver's licence (NOT valid).

Register or verify your decision online — it only takes 2 minutes yet could make a tremendous difference to someone waiting for a transplant. Paper forms are also available at ICBC and Service BC offices.

Canadian Transplant Resources

1 in 10 Canadians has chronic kidney disease and a renal transplant is the best option for quality of life.

My Organ Donation & Transplantation page contains a deeper look into the critical need to greatly increase donor registration to meet a growing need. Our Story about Kidney Disease is a personal account of how my wife and I have dealt with a lifetime of renal disease.

General Information & Guides

  • Donating a Kidney is an overview from HealthLink BC.
  • TransWeb is one of the oldest transplantation sites and includes excellent information and links.

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Renal (Kidney) Disease

General Information & Guides

Renal Facilities

Medical Journals

Related Diseases

  • Parathyroid.com has a series of parathyroid articles. Parathyroid issues can result from chronic renal failure.
  • Children with Diabetes is an excellent resource for diet, new technologies, and summer camps.

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Hospitals

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Nutritional Information

Journals & News

General Information & Guides

Sugar Alternatives

Manufacturers love artificial sweeteners. They can be produced much less expensively than the cost of real sugar and that cost is relatively stable. However, there are genuine concerns about these chemical alternatives.

[O]ver 40% of adult Americans consume no-cal sweeteners on a daily basis, and studies that measure the sweeteners in blood and urine show that many people who report not using artificial sweeteners are unknowingly consuming them.
Meghan Azad

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Alternative Medicine

Herbs and Vitamins

Marijuana

With the legalization of marijuana becoming more prevalent, it is important to ensure that the risks as well as potential benefits are understood.

Benefits Overstated

Study of 10,000 reports into cannabis finds only enough evidence to support therapeutic use for chemotherapy patients, chronic pain and multiple sclerosis. There is not enough research to reach conclusive judgments on whether marijuana can effectively treat most of the symptoms and diseases it is advertised as helping, according to a wide-ranging US government study.
The Guardian

Risks Understated

If you are in possession of an open can of beer in downtown Victoria, you can be arrested yet you can openly smoke marijuana on the street (anywhere you can smoke cigarettes). This is of great concern to me.

My wife has experienced hospitalization just from being around someone else smoking marijuana (she neither smoked nor ate the drug). It resulted in a chemical imbalance treated with four IVs simultaneously.

Why are we so quick to forget the lessons from the last century of the harms that tobacco inflicts on smokers and innocents alike? Why did we buy into the use of vaping as a treatment for tobacco addiction?

Obviously, there are some very powerful lobbyists (or perhaps government addiction to the tax revenue).

See Addiction Treatment and Recovery for treatment resources.

DNA

Direct-to-consumer DNA testing can reveal potential genetic proclivities to certain diseases such as cancers and risks of drug addiction or alcoholism.

Recent estimates suggest that as much as 60% of addiction risk can be blamed on your genetics. Yet, only in the last few years have researchers made significant strides in identifying the exact genes and variants. As shown with alcohol, there can be many different variables that might increase your risk of dependence on any particular drug.
KnowYourDNA

Is DNA Screening Right For You?

You might want to consider how you might react to knowing you have a tendency towards a disease that may not be treatable.

Pharmaceutical companies have been promoting potential diseases for some time (e.g., pre-diabetes). I'm concerned that this screening may be more beneficial to corporate profits than helping patients avoid the effects of potential diseases.

Be Aware of Potential Issues

Deciding whether to take a DNA test, like all medical decisions, must be an informed choice.

Privacy Issues

There are benefits to these tests, but there are also negatives such as privacy and DNA ownership issues that could affect not only yourself but your family and potentially your other relatives.

While your medical and life insurance may not currently be affected, that doesn't mean that it won't in the future. It can also affect your career, particularly where the potential for a certain disease in your lifetime may disqualify you now.

Closed Adoption Privacy Threats

DNA may reveal people related by sperm donors that thought they were anonymous or break up families because their parentage wasn't revealed to them. The question of whether a donor's anonymity overrides the need of children to know medical histories that affect them have yet to play out in the courts.

Companies are Profiting

Companies are charging users to test their DNA, then selling that information to companies. The privacy clauses and contracts employed may not clearly indicate what is being done with their DNA in simple, precise language.

While these tests are much cheaper than professional services, there is another motive. A Scientific American article compares the innocuous collection of data to the early days of Google with their promise not to sell your data directly to advertisers.

The research aspect of these services are much more profitable than the sales of direct-to-consumer kits. A 23andMe deal with GlaxoSmithKline was worth $300 million.

Companies such as 23andMe have proliferated over the past decade, feeding people's hunger to know who and where they come from, and what diseases their genes might predispose them to. Over that time, it has gradually become clear that the main source of revenue for at least some of these companies comes from selling the data on to third parties.
The Guardian

Users are effectively paying DNA testing companies which turn around and make a profit selling their DNA to third parties without benefiting the person paying for the test.

General Information & Guides

Blood Issues

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Toxic Substances

Pesticides

Hazardous Chemicals

PFAS are found in a wide range of consumer products that people use daily such as cookware, pizza boxes and stain repellents. Most people have been exposed to PFAS. Certain PFAS can accumulate and stay in the human body for long periods of time. There is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse health outcomes in humans.
US EPA

Pollution

  • Burning Issues provides public education about the health hazards of burning wood. There is a FAQ and links to studies on the effects of smoke and particulates, including legal cases.

Electromagnetic Energy

Chemical & Environmental Sensitivities

Occupational Safety

 

Drug Misinformation

Be careful when assessing the information you find online. Unlike traditional printed media like encyclopedias and medical textbooks, it requires YOU to determine the validity of what you read.

Sharing Health Information

It is particularly important that you verify information before spreading it when it comes to health information. See CheckThenShare.ca for details.

Help stop the spread of misinformation! Check first. Share after.

Information Portals No Longer Independent

Too many consumer health sites have become gateways for advertisers.

Not all misinformation is external to the pharmaceutical industry.

At one time there were many health portals aimed at consumers that provided independent, accurate information. Unfortunately, that has changed.

Many consumer “information portals” are now owned by corporations, legal firms or advertisers where sponsors influence the information provided based upon their products and services.

See Doctor Who? The corporations behind WebMD's friendly, free advice.

Both addiction treatment and psychiatric drugs have troubling histories.

Addiction Treatment Centres

Before you decide to use an facility for addiction treatment, check it out with reliable sources. There have been significant spam on Google related to addiction treatment.

Treatment programs may be effective and excellent, but I have no way of verifying claims. Duplicate information on supposedly unrelated websites is troubling.

Vaccination Refusal

Refusal of the COVID-19 vaccine has threatened our hospitals, our economies and the most vulnerable in our society.

The World Health Organization has ranked vaccine hesitancy — the growing resistance to widely available lifesaving vaccines — as one of the top 10 health threats in the world for 2019.
The New York Times

There was mass misinformation about vaccine side effects on social media and elsewhere. Public demonstrations were well organized and inappropriate.

Researchers have found just 12 people are responsible for the bulk of the misleading claims and outright lies about COVID-19 vaccines that proliferate on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
NPR

Effective Propaganda

Misinformation about vaccination is anecdotal, yet emotionally-charged.

The threat of autism is a regular theme of this anti-vaccine campaign. The C.D.C. has repeatedly ruled out the possibility that vaccinations lead to autism, as have many scientists and top journals. Nonetheless the false narrative has proliferated, spread by Russian trolls and media.
New York Times

480 websites opposing childhood vaccination were coded by just 4 people.

“Personal Choice”

The 2019 outbreak of measles has highlighted vaccine controversies, particularly where a minority's “personal choice” to remain unvaccinated endangers the majority of the population.

Emotional But Unsubstantiated

The story of baby Ian Gromowski is emotionally compelling but unsubstantiated.

Ian Gromowski's story is so powerful, so pervasive, and so difficult to refute because it is just that: a story. And personal accounts, particularly as utilized by the anti-vaccine movement, are seemingly immune to facts.
Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics

Mozilla's Reading List

Mozilla's reading list for understanding misinformation online uses the anti-vaccine movement as an example.

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Is Trust Justified?

There is a lot of talk in the battle against COVID about trusting science.

Unfortunately, there has been far too much pseudo-science and immoral profiteering even before this crisis.

Health Canada Failed

A toxic legacy of poor-quality research, media hype, lax regulatory oversight, and vicious partisanship has come home to roost in the search for effective treatments for COVID-19.
Issues in Science & Technology

Pharmaceutical companies are not being held accountable.

[I]n many cases the drugs are being prescribed “off-label” without any strong evidence that they are effective.
PharmaWatch Canada

When caught, fines applied to these corporations are more “a cost of doing business” than the kind of crippling penalties that these corporations insist that their competition should face.

Medication Overload

Too often patients are told they need to take a drug based simply upon claims made by the drug's manufacturer.

We need to prescribe based upon the individual patient's needs rather than benefits attributed to the general patient population.

There are very few treatments that 100% of patients benefit from all the time. Oxygen for severe Covid pneumonia might be one. But for most drugs, the chance that patients will benefit is closer to 1%–2%.
Dr. Tom Perry

Inventing Diseases

New diseases are invented that greatly increase profits yet seldom improve patient quality of life.

It is an ideology that asserts any aberrant value in your specimens is a disease that ought to be treated. If your health check is within standard values, then you are in good health.
PharmaWatch Canada

Trust Eroded

Doctors learn about new drugs from drug reps who have little incentive to tell about the downside.

Health Canada and FDA priorities focus less on protecting consumers than on fast-tracking approval of new drugs and medical devices.

As some critics see it, the FDA fee negotiations have placed too much emphasis on getting drugs approved quickly and not enough on making sure they actually work — and work safely.
David S. Hilzenrath

Health Canada's drug-monitoring budget is only a third of what it spends on approving drugs.

Once drugs are in the market, the consumer is pretty much on their own.

Side Effects Under Reported

Adverse drug reactions — also known as side effects, adverse effects or iatrogenesis — are a leading cause of death in Canada and the United States.
PharmaWatch Canada

Doctors are overworked. Few patients are aware that a mechanism to report adverse reactions exists.

Health Canada's Passive Role

Prescription Pharmaceuticals in Canada, March 2015 concluded:

Although the committee was discouraged by frequent testimony regarding Health Canada's passive role in drug regulation, its lack of transparency in relaying safety information to the public, its inability to conduct adequate inspections at all phases of a drug's life-cycle and in some cases, the department's failure to provide this committee with reliable testimony, it hopes that the department shares its belief that Canada's drug regulatory regime should be second to none.

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Statins & Cholesterol

Anti-cholesterol drugs are a $37 billion dollar industry.

When the cholesterol levels “requiring” treatment were reduced, it improved profitability but not outcome.

Benefits Overstated

The drugs are promoted as cutting the risk in half. That is misleading.

  • Statins reduce the risk of heart disease from 2% to 1%.
  • 100 people have to take statins for 1 person to benefit.

Risks Minimized

The negative side effects of statins are less publicized than the benefits, but are well documented.

The NNT Findings

The NNT (Number-Needed-to-Treat) for statins demonstrated poor benefits, particularly for those without prior heart disease, and significant risks:

No History of Heart Disease

Benefits for those with NO history of heart disease:

  • No lives were saved
  • 1 in 104 heart attacks were prevented
  • 1 in 154 strokes were prevented

Known Heart Disease

Benefits for those with KNOWN heart disease:

  • 1 in 83 lives were saved
  • 1 in 39 non-fatal heart attacks were prevented
  • 1 in 125 strokes were prevented

Similar Harms for Both

Harms were the same for both groups:

  • 1 in 50 develop diabetes
  • 1 in 10 suffer muscle damage
There is much less evidence for use of statins after age 70. Yet in 2020 47% of men and 33% of women over 70 in British Columbia took a statin. Over half such prescribing was for primary prevention.
Theraputics Initiative

Crestor Benefit Overstated

One example of the lack of oversight is rosuvastatin (Crestor) as noted by Sidney Wolfe, BMJ:

More is spent in the US on rosuvastatin than any other statin.

 

Yet the evidence of its health benefits has always been weak and there is growing evidence of harmful side effects.

 

Given the evidence of more serious risks and less clinical benefit than other statins how has the drug fared so well for so long?

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Site Policies

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Link Suggestion?

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Sites may be removed without notice and with no regrets.

This page contains medical content suitable for Canadian lay persons.

 

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Updated: June 10, 2022