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 What Doctors Don't Tell You: STEROIDS - THE SLEAZIEST OF DRUGS 
 
What Doctors Don't Tell You © (Volume 7, Issue 2)
Doctors tell you that steroids only cause side effects after many years. But new research shows that permanent damage is immediate and devastating. Here's how to avoid it.

Steroids are fast catching up with antibiotics as the most abused class of drugs in your doctor's black bag. There's no doubt that the discovery of steroids a half century ago was a major advance in medicine a life saver for those like the late President John F Kennedy, who suffered from Addison's disease, a disease of the adrenal glands causing insufficient hormone production. Steroids mimic the action of the adrenal glands, the body's most powerful regulator of general metabolism. John Stirling, director of the vitamin company Biocare, credits a very short course (three injections) of steroids with jump starting his failing adrenal system after anaphylactic shock and saving his life.

The problem is, like antibiotics, steroids appear to be a miracle "cure". Patients with crippling arthritis or asthma seem to be instantly better on steroids. The wheeze, the swelling, the pain go away. So doctors turn to steroids as the first, rather than last, line of attack for their anti inflammatory and anti allergic effects.

As with antibiotics, what was once reserved for the extreme emergency is now being used on the most trivial of conditions. Steroids are now handed out as readily as antibiotics, even to babies, at the first sign of inflammation of any sort. The latest drug set to replace gripe water for babies with croup is a steroid (budesonide); hydrocortisone is included in the latest over the counter medication for piles. Steroids make up many OTC skin drugs, and are considered the drug of choice for asthma, eczema, arthritis, back problems, bowel problems like ulcerative colitis indeed, for any and all inflammations or allergic reactions and new uses are still being invented. The sole exception is Addison's Disease, where steroids act as a replacement therapy of cortisone, much as insulin is given to diabetics.

Far from being a wonder drug "cure all", steroids cannot cure one single condition. All they do is suppress your body's ability to express a normal response. In a few instances, this type of suppression will give the body a chance to heal itself. But more often, the effect is immediate, devastating and permanent damage. And we are only now realizing just how quickly damage can occur. Despite what doctors say, that steroids only have side effects after many years of use, there is no such thing as a safe dose.

Studies show that steroids cause permanent, debilitating effects after a single dosage. "Steroids are probably the most sleazy of modern day medications," says John Mills, former professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco and chief of infectious diseases at San Francisco General Hospital.

Although steroids are used for virtually all types of inflammatory and autoimmune illnesses, they have not been subjected to long term scientific study to find out how or whether they work for specific conditions. Septic shock and adult respiratory distress syndrome are two conditions where steroids were widely used as treatment until scientific trials demonstrated that they were not only of no benefit, but may actually have been doing harm (Science, 1990; 250: 1196-8).

Unlike with antibiotics, steroids are all broad spectrum that is, they don't specify simply the area of the body you wish to treat, but scatter effects through every cell the central nervous system, cells in bone, smooth muscle, blood, liver and a number of other organs of the body (The Lancet, March 9, 1996). Doctors have been trying to rearrange the chemistry of cortisone, to make it more specific to certain parts of the body. However, thus far, this goal has proved elusive; new side effects appear with new preparations and doctors complain that more research is needed into its effects (Europ Resp J Suppl, 1989; 6: 566s-567s).

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What Doctors Don't Tell You What Doctors Don’t Tell You is one of the few publications in the world that can justifiably claim to solve people's health problems - and even save lives. Our monthly newsletter gives you the facts you won't......more
 
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