I had a discussion yesterday with a friend. As a direct result of my challenge to my GP to keep me alive for another twenty years, I now take three tablets each morning – a Statin, a baby aspirin, and a vitamin-D.
Now much as I hate taking pills, I can’t demand that my Doctor keep me alive without following his instructions based on his understanding of percentages, and of results of experiments.
My GP believes that taking Statins will reduce my risk of clots, stokes, heart attacks and so on. Likewise the blood-thinner, for I think that that is what aspirin is. And Vitamin-D? He said “You are seventy, and you live in Toronto”. Fair enough.
So, here I am “popping pills” on a daily basis and I’m not ill. I am disgustingly healthy. I did not grow up popping pills. My mother’s stance is summed up as “If you are too sick to go to school, go lie down in your bed; if you are well enough to get out of bed, you can go to school”.
Lying down when we are ill is a good thing. The body can devote its depleted energies to healing itself, rather than on running or cycling or stressing around.
Here is the difference between then and now:-
Back then, (1950s and 60s) medication was used to cure the symptoms or alleviate the pain. Medication was a Corrective Measure.
Today medication has a second role: Preventative. And I am inclined to believe that Prevention is Better Than Cure.
So, back to the Statin: I have no real baseline, nothing that will tell me going forwards if the Statins are slowing down the rate of increase of bad cholesterol in my bloodstream. I have no baseline to tell me going forwards if the baby aspirin is slowing down the rate of whatever-is-bad in my bloodstream. And I can have no idea whether it was the Vitamin-D that staved off rickets or gave me an extra six months of life off the back end.
The alternative, I suppose, is to refuse preventative medication, die early, and have my GP pronounce “I TOLD him so!”.
But there again, what really is the difference to me (that is, apart from the Profit Margin of the Big Pharmaceutical Companies) between taking preventative medication and taking preventative exercise and taking preventative oatmeal for breakfast and light salads for lunch?