Big Pharma Promises Men Endless Youth With Drug That May Cause Clots, Heart Problems, Suicide
Recently, an editorial in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society cited “disease-mongering” of testosterone to men for conditions for which it is not approved. Increasingly low libido, obesity and other age-related changes are attributed to "Low T" or low testosterone.
This spring, I interviewed a coauthor of the editorial, Thomas Perls, a professor of medicine and director of the New England Centenarian Study at Boston Medical Center and Boston University School of Medicine. He defined disease-mongering as “inventing new broader definitions of a disease or even the invention of a disease in conjunction with widespread marketing to increase sales of specific drugs and therapies.”
True instances of testosterone deficiency such as hypogonadism are rare, he said, but “massive marketing campaigns" now claim that common middle-age symptoms like lack of energy, poor sleep and poor libido will respond to testosterone and the number of men labeled with Low T has skyrocketed. Hypogonadism, a condition that is legitimately treated with testosterone, was redefined and some of the consensus panels were sponsored by pharmaceutical companies making and marketing testosterone, he told me.
Both the FDA and Health Canada warn of an increased risk of blood clots in the legs and lungs from testosterone therapy. Cardiac rhythm disturbances like atrial fibrillation and symptoms of coronary artery disease are see in the patients on the hormone therapy and even violent behavior (“roid rage”) impulsiveness and suicide, Dr. Perls told me. Studies suggest dormant cancers can be accelerated or activated by testosterone stimulation.
Sales of testosterone products in the US were $2 billion in 2012.
Of course, everyone (except hormone hawkers) realizes that people lose hormones as they age, they do not age because they lose hormones. But there should be another level of outrage to this marketing: this whole sad scenario has unfolded before—twice, when addressed to women.
A bestselling book in 1966 called Feminine Forever by Robert A. Wilson, a Wyeth-funded gynecologist, told women they would be "flabby," "shrunken," "dull-minded," and "desexed" unless they took hormone replacement therapy. "No woman can be sure of escaping the horror of this living decay," he warned. A 1946 Smith, Kline and French ad in Psychosomatic Medicine actually calls electric shock and estrogenic therapy "fundamental measures" for menopause. Yes, you read that correctly.
As recently as 2000, high-budget Wyeth TV ads with the model Lauren Hutton, said menopause "contributes" to other "age-related diseases," but hormone replacement was a youth elixir that would prevent memory, sight and tooth loss.
The truth was that hormone replacement not only did not work as promoted, it caused the exact scourges it was supposed to prevent. A federal study in 2002 found HRT increased the risk of breast cancer by 26 percent, heart attacks by 29 percent, stroke by 41 percent and doubled the risk of blood clots. Nice. In a related study, HRT doubled the risk of dementia in women and brains of older women given HRT actually shrunk in a different government study.
Women on HRT are more likely to lose their hearing, develop gall bladder disease, urinary incontinence, asthma, melanoma and need joint replacement say studies in top medical journals. They are at greater risk of ovarian, endometrial and lung cancers and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Thank you, Big Pharma.
Not only did HRT increase the risk of breast cancer, it made detecting the cancer more difficult! As early as 1995, an article in the journal Radiology said, "an increase in mammographic density" was demonstrated in most subjects undergoing continuous combined HRT." By 2008, the HRT-caused abnormal mammograms were so well defined, researchers warned that, "This adverse effect on breast cancer detection should be incorporated into risk-benefit discussions with women considering even short-term combined hormone therapy."
The philosophical nail in HRT's coffin came in late 2006 when researchers announced that in the one year since women quit HRT, 2003, the incidence of breast cancer fell 7 percent! It fell 15 percent in women whose tumors were fed by estrogen.
It was the first time breast cancer rates had ever fallen significantly, reported the New York Times. It was the largest one-year drop Peter Ravdin, of the M.D. Anderson Center, said he could remember. The National Cancer Institute reported a "huge decline in breast cancer incidence" the year women quit HRT. As many as 14,000 women who were expected to get breast cancer didn't, reported researchers and the largest breast cancer reductions, 11 percent in California, correlated with largest HRT use.
The results must have been embarrassing to cancer researchers and public health officials. A major cause of cancer was hidden in plain sight and attributable to drug marketing. The War On Cancer should have been a War On Cancer-Causing Drugs!
Worse, the whole sequence had happened before: when women used estrogen-only Premarin in the 1970s which was replaced by Prempro with medroxyprogesterone. In 1975, the New England Journal of Medicine indicted Premarin/estrogen therapy for increasing the risk of endometrial cancer by at least five times. "Long-term use of conjugated estrogen increases the risk of both localized and widespread endometrial cancer," it reported.
Who can guess what happened when women quit Premarin en masse in the 1970s like they quit Prempro 15 years ago? "There was a sharp downward trend in the incidence of endometrial cancer that paralleled a substantial reduction in prescriptions for replacement estrogens," reported the New England Journal of Medicine in 1979.
It is often said that people get the “democracy they deserve.” The same can apparently be said of their age-fighting drugs.
Note: The rise and fall of hormone replacement therapy is found in my expose Born with a Junk Food Deficiency, distributed by Random House.