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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “Weil’s war on drugs, vaccine stems from overuse”

    Weils war on drugs, vaccine stems from overuse

    Integrative medicine guru Dr. Andrew Weil warned about the dangers of using vaccines and pharmaceutical drugs yesterday, claiming rampant overuse could have perilous effects on the environment and humanity.

    Dozens turned out to take part in a discussion led by Weil yesterday at University Medical Center. Weil is the director of the Program in Integrative Medicine for the UA College of Medicine.

    One of his prime points was that America’s dependence on drugs and antibiotics could result in the ultimate ineffectiveness of many prescription medications, and indirectly have an adverse effect on the environment.

    “”We have come to believe that the only way to adequately treat illness is through drugs,”” he said. “”Drugs themselves are pollution sometimes.””

    Because physicians in recent years have automatically turned to pharmaceuticals as solutions, patients have followed suit, resulting in the overuse of vaccines and dietary supplements, he said.

    Such a vaccine craze may be contributing to the growing number of shingles cases, as more and more chicken pox vaccines are being used by patients, he said.

    “”We are giving vaccines too young and to too many people,”” he said. “”Dietary supplements are not replacements for food and have, at best, only partial nutritional value.””

    This pharmaceutical disarray may climb all the way up the medical ladder to big-name drug companies, as there may be special interests in the relationship between pharmaceutical companies and the chemical companies who are polluting throughout much of the globe, Weil said.

    An extreme example of this possible conflict of interest is shown by situations in some parts of Europe, where pharmaceutical companies were caught directly polluting the environment, he said.

    “”These toxic exposures to certain areas of the brain can cause leukemia, lymphoma and other neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s,”” Weil said.

    When looking at possibly harmful materials in the environment, people often point to their negative effects on nature, but concerns about health risks for humans must also be adequately examined, he said.

    “”This is an area that needs to be watched closely,”” he said.

    The first step is for medical centers to look inward and solve their own problems, he said.

    “”We need to look at our own backyard,”” he said. “”We need to look at the effects on the hospital environment.””

    Besides chemicals being released into areas inhabited by humans, people are also put in harm’s way by non-ionizing radiation in cell phones and common household appliances, including such items as clock radios and hair dryers, he said.

    This area is lacking definitive research results, however, and continuing extensive research is being met with skepticism, he said.

    “”There are people and companies who don’t want to see sales of these (household items) go down,”” Weil said. “”That’s why people are hesitant to accept information that says it’s harmful.””

    While some special interest groups may try to stifle cries for change within the medical community, medical officials must never forget their main purpose – to help those who need assistance, he said.

    “”Thinking about this is so influenced by vested interests,”” he said. “”Hospitals and medical centers are now some of the worst offenders to the environment.””

    Although Weil’s address contained a great deal of information relevant to society, it cannot simply be taken at face value, as much of the discussion focused on issues that must be fully researched before conclusions can ultimately be made, said Shannon Thorn, a UMC fellow.

    “”(Weil) didn’t really have solutions other than to continue research,”” he said.

    Weil’s lecture is a good first step by UMC to inform the medical community and the public about environmental risks to humans and how to properly address them, said Gina Karse, a private massage instructor.

    “”It’s important to know the environmental factors,”” she said. “”We need to make sure that we protect ourselves.””

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