Don’t let them pretend that this 'superpill' is safe

Sunday 29th August, 2014 

  • Share in the Jetsons dreams of health

  • Why you shouldn’t be taken in by this superpill story

  • If you make these part of your daily routine you’ll feel better for it.

 

Does anyone else remember The Jetsons?

It was a cartoon on TV when I was young that featured a futuristic family living with amazing technology doing all the mundane tasks for them.

Things like dressing, tidying rooms and even taking the dog for a walk were automated.

Back in the days of old I remember thinking how brilliant the future was going to be.

I fantasised about travelling through time, playing air rugby with jetpacks and having all the nutrients I needed in a pill to save me from eating stuff I didn't like.

A few years ago I was fortunate to be sitting in an airport next to one of the technology chaps from Motorola.

He was telling me about all the exciting plans they had, and the new products he was working on.

I was amazed and asked where the inspiration came from... he said Star Trek!

Apparently there was a team in the company who were driven to make real everything that we saw in the TV series.

Hence those phones with the flip down mouth piece (like the communicators from the Enterprise) and he was working on a portable MRI machine just like Dr ‘Bones’ McCoy had.

So, it seems the fantastic ideas from the past could be coming true.

We have cars that drive themselves, robots that allow doctors to work remotely and a daily pill that will add years to our lives...

...indeed.

The ‘superpill’ that lets you live longer

Every few years this story comes back round, and last week it reared its head again.

Headlines announced that a ‘5p a day pill could add years to life’ in several newspapers and many more online sites.

A Spanish team conducted a survey which showed that a single tablet (a combined daily dose of aspirin, statin and a blood pressure drug) was effective in ensuring people took their drugs and would lead to cost savings.

Ho Hum!

They argued that people were more likely to remember to take a single pill than go to the trouble of opening multiple packages and taking handfuls of medication.

They wouldn’t have had to look very far to find an interesting juxtaposition.

On the 16th April this year a large-scale trial of over 7,000 patients reported to the Cochrane review.

The team from London, Warwick and Chicago Universities concluded that taking one pill did improve compliance but there was no evidence that it led to lower risk of heart problems.

In fact they said their analysis showed that there were no differences in serious cardiovascular events between those taking the polypill and others taking a simple placebo.

Looking back in my archive I found a report from Prof Allen Taylor who gave a keynote speech to the 2011 Health Conference where he said giving a polypill to the over 55s would harm a lot of people and would be a waste of money.

He argued that investing in a blanket solution based upon age was both unnecessary and risked damaging health rather than protecting it.

He recommended investing the money in offering CT scans to see if the patient was actually at risk of developing plaques in their arteries and therefore needed treating.

It seems a splendid idea to me.

The balance of risk

No medication is risk free.

Just look at the small print that accompanies any medicine you get from the GP – the list of potential side effects is often longer than the conditions it can be used to treat.

So, by blanket bombing the entire population with a cocktail of potentially damaging drugs, who would benefit?

Just the big drug companies, once again then!

Advice about taking a daily aspirin has been backwards and forwards for decades...

...right now the advice is to only take it if you have a history of heart problems, but not if you have stomach problems. The risk is that it damages sensitive membranes and increases the risk of bowel disorders.

Blood pressure lowering drugs like ACE inhibitors or beta blockers have been shown to adversely affect kidney and liver function.

And you must all know that I’m no fan of the dreaded statins.

They have a long list of adverse effects including:

- Increase in cognitive problems like forgetfulness, anger bouts and confusion (leading to the American FDA issuing warning to those taking it)

- An increased risk in developing Type II diabetes (as shown by a major research project published in the BMJ earlier this year)

- A well proven link to muscle pain and wasting (the findings of a major research project published in June in the International Journal of Cardiology)

- Potential increased risk of liver and kidney problems (a common side effect reported by patients in many studies)

Surely, if we are opening the possibility that anyone taking a superpill could develop one of these damaging side effects we need to be sure that the benefits outweigh the risks.

Using simple (and archaic) blood tests to determine whether your risk of heart problems warrants such a gamble seems too much of a shortcut to me.

Shouldn’t the investigation be a little more thorough? After all we have hospitals packed to the rafters with the sort of machines the Jetsons, Captain Kirk and Space 1999 (another favourite from my childhood) would all recognise.

Using them to find out the true risk would make a lot more sense than forcing drugs upon us unnecessarily.

In my case I have the daily pills I need to hand.

I take my BergaMet Mega before my meals, and a daily natural mineral and multivitamin to top up my essential nutrient levels.

These are totally futuristic – but entirely safe.

The BergaMet protects me from spikes in my blood sugar, controls my blood cholesterol and lowers my blood pressure without causing any side effects at all.

My simple daily medical regime seems a bit sci-fi but it is in fact just extracts from honest, natural and healthy fruits, vegetables and minerals.

I know I have a safe future!

Yours, as always


Ray


P.S. If you follow my advice and choose a BergMet and Multivitamin daily tonic don’t forget to use the Regular Saver option for peace of mind and a 10% saving of both products.

References;
(1) Parkin, L., Paul, C., & Herbison, G. P. (2014). Simvastatin dose and risk of rhabdomyolysis: Nested case–control study based on national health and drug dispensing data. International journal of cardiology.

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