Monday, January 13, 2014

Hypocritical Oath

Over the holidays I was watching TV with my kids and an advertisement came on for a prescription drug for Psoriasis. It struck me, as the voice over was listing the possible side effects associated with that particular drug, that the medical industry has a very warped sense of what is safe. I am no doctor, but to me, it seems silly, even hypocritical, to say that these drugs are safer than UV.  Not that they were comparing the two, but what I have heard Dermatologists claim about tanning versus a product they promote to treat a skin condition is double talk. Let me explain what I mean.

When I testified last year at 2 legislative hearings to ban anyone under 18 from tanning, there were Dermatologists there testifying about the dangers of sunbed use.  They talked about skin cancer, of course, and how terrible it is to treat a young person with the disease. Not one of them testified that they had treated young people with skin cancer that was a direct result of using sunbeds; they just implied that it could have been preventable and that young people tan in salons so connect the dots and you come up with tanning causes cancer so there should be a law against it.  Now, these doctors use sunbeds regularly to treat psoriasis and the treatment is meant to burn the skin. That procedure known as Phototherapy actually increases a person’s risk of skin cancer by 96%, but they don’t want their use of sunbeds to be regulated or banned. That seems pretty hypocritical to me.
They also prescribe medications to treat the skin condition. I decided to look up the adverse reactions listed with the prescription Humira as an example. I have simply copied and pasted the information I found below:
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
·         fever, night sweats, weight loss, tiredness;
·         feeling full after eating only a small amount;
·         pain in your upper stomach that may spread to your shoulder;
·         easy bruising or bleeding, pale skin, feeling light-headed or short of breath, rapid heart rate; or
·         nausea, upper stomach pain, itching, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).
Stop using adalimumab and call your doctor at once if you have any of these other serious side effects:
·         signs of infection (fever, chills, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea, flu symptoms);
·         shortness of breath with swelling of your ankles or feet;
·         confusion, neck stiffness, seizure (convulsions);
·         pain or burning when you urinate;
·         chest pain, ongoing cough, coughing up mucus or blood;
·         numbness or tingly feeling, weakness in your legs;
·         red, purple, or scaly skin rash, hair loss, joint or muscle pain, mouth sores;
·         joint pain or swelling with fever, swollen glands, muscle aches, vomiting, unusual thoughts or behavior, and/or seizure (convulsions); or
·         patchy skin color, red spots, or a butterfly-shaped skin rash over your cheeks and nose (worsens in sunlight).
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.
Now, interestingly enough, as I am writing this, the commercial came on the TV. The side effects listed above make no mention of possible cancer, but the TV commercial does.  I also looked up some other Psoriasis medications and they listed the same kind of adverse reactions and mentioned cancer. One had the disclaimer highlighted below.

Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.

I do understand there is some risk with every medication, but the point I want to make is that these doctors are the ones saying there is no such thing as a good tan, or UV in any amount is dangerous. They are not being honest with themselves or with their patients, that there could be benefits to UV exposure that would outweigh the minimal risk of cancer. They are ignoring the evidence that a healthy Vitamin D level is essential to combat many different diseases including several forms of cancer. They ignore the fact that UV exposure is the most efficient and effective method to get and maintain a healthy Vitamin D level. Instead, they are taking the position that any and all UV exposure will lead to cancer. But if that were true, every one of our ancestors would have died from skin cancer. Think about it. How did humanity survive for thousands of years before the invention of sunscreen?

So, how is it ok for Dermatologists to say to lawmakers that sunbed use should be banned for anyone under 18, but they should be allowed to use the exact same equipment without restriction? Let’s not kid ourselves, if they could outlaw professional salons completely for all ages, they would. I do believe that will be coming up in the future if they have success with the teen bans.

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