In the 60s and 70s, we all trusted the doctors, but it turns out that several of these recommendations were faulty…who knew? The good news is that medicine has improved since the “lobotomy” days of the 40s and 50s. The bad news is that these five things may only be a partial list!
If you were a baby-boom kid, you accepted these things without question…after all, the Doctor, your Mom, and Reader’s Digest had long established that they were true, without question, and who were little-punk you to question? However, it turns out they may have been setting the table for a lifetime of medical issues for you. Most of these things result from a kind of naïve post WW II arrogance, when we should have left Nature alone in many respects.
Having your tonsils and adenoids removed: You were five, you ran around with a runny nose and sore-throat half the time, and yes…you were being scheduled to have your tonsils and adenoids removed since as Bill Cosby once said “they had lost the war with the germs and joined the other side”. Plus what did you care? You had no idea what was about to happen, plus your older brother said “you get to eat a lot of ice cream”. But it turns out that Nature gave you those tonsils and adenoids for a reason…they really helped later to prevent asthma, sinusitis, and other infections, some of which became miniature epidemics for the generation of kids that had their tonsils, and especially their adenoids removed. (Reinberg, 2018),
Switching from Mother’s Milk to Formula: The good news about the advent of the 60s was that vaccines and antibiotics were now widely available, but the bad news was that you were REALLY GOING TO NEED THEM BECAUSE THEY WERE TAKING AWAY MOM’S MILK! Back then, they didn’t realize how really really good mother’s milk was, thinking they could simulate the ingredients of milk (but not realizing they were leaving out the natural antibodies that Nature uses to prime our gut flora). In addition to the “convenience” of formula, there may also have also been a campaign by Nestles and others to deceive mothers. With modern urbanization, there may also have been a stigma against breast-feeding in public (which is silly since its the most natural thing in the world?). Untold damage was done to a generation of infants, most likely the compromising of gut flora, resulting in an increase in SIDS, obesity, diabetes, and leukemia. (Stuebe, 2009), (Krasny,2012)
Overprescribing of Antibiotics: Doctors used to give out antibiotics like candy, and over-vigilant Mommies consumed with the germ-theory (pushed by the antibacterial product industry and popular magazines) were only too eager to give them to their kids. Though no huge damage was done, there may also have been a generation of kids who became immune-compromised, suffering from allergies and possibly other latent diseases (including obesity and diabetes). What is now known is that early in life, the gut flora needs to “tune” the immune system, thus lack of Mom’s milk and too many antibiotics may create a “wuss” immune-system, which you need later. There is also the danger that many of the “bad” bacteria are becoming antibiotic resistant. Much of this abuse continues to this day (in addition to indiscriminate use of antibiotics in factory-farming). What should happen is the banning of antibiotics in food animals, plus the taking of cultures to determine whether the malady is viral (in which case antibiotics don’t help). Ironically the over-use of antibiotics may have helped mute heart-attack and stroke in some patients, due to infections such as infective endocarditis. For many other patients however, too many antibiotics may increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. (Llor,Bjerum,2014),(Langdon,Crook,Dantas, 2016), (vascularhealthclinics.org, n.d.)
Overprescribing of Proton-Pump Inhibitors: An interesting and emerging phenomenon is the disappearance of H Pylori in our stomachs (which once caused an ulcer epidemic, especially in heavy drinkers and smokers) and the emergence of GERD (acid reflux). Scientists think now that the high usage of antibiotics essentially killed of H Pylori (and other bacteria, which also helped digest food), thereby increasing the occurrence of GERD. The long-term use of Proton-Pump Inhibitors (PPIs, which include Prilosec) are thought now to diminish the viability of gut flora, and possibly increase the risk of stomach cancer, bone fractures, and Clostridioides Difficil infections. There are also very weak implications in other diseases. H2 Blockers (an antihistamine, in products such as Pepcid AC) are considered safer, as they cause less disturbance of gut flora. Some side-effects are diarrhea and hypotension. It would appear that GERD might be best treated by eating smaller dinners earlier in the day (let’s say 5 pm), and avoiding late-day alcohol and spicy food. H2 blockers would seem best used on an occasional basis, while PPIs would seem to be best avoided. (Rowles,2017)
Removal of Breast/Thyroid/Prostate Glands for Cancer Treatment : As it turns out, some of this is sort of an “Oops! I guess we didn’t need to remove your (pick one): Breast/Thyroid/Prostate Gland because it turned out to be Benign Lumps/Localized Papillary Microtumors/Benign Prostate Hyperplasia and so I guess we should have monitored instead of removing and ruining your figure/throat nerves/sex life unnecessarily”. There are much better diagnostic tools now, plus much better knowledge of which lumps or cancers are benign and which are life-threatening. Unfortunately, a generation of patients had to suffer the effects of some of these unnecessary surgeries. In addition, there may have been an overreaction to the “epidemic” of intestinal cancer, in which patients over 50 were given colonoscopies every three years and polyps found resulted in removal of portions of intestine (resulting in many other negative health effects). Nowadays, doctors are more likely to check your stool for evidence of blood, follow up with a sigmoidoscopy (less intrusive) and remove the offending polyp with outpatient laparoscopy (followed by monitoring). In addition, cancer prevention is heading more towards better genetic testing and imaging. (BBC.com,2013),(Soo,Choi,2020),(Sauerwein,2017)
That this may only be a partial list begs the mentions of some apparently less than efficacious cardiovascular interventions (stents and angioplasty), and perhaps-in-hindsight-barbaric neurological treatments such as lobotomies and possibly electro-shock. (White,2019),(Patriarca,Clerici,2019)
What is the moral of this story? Well, just because all the doctors are doing it doesn’t mean that its right. Before undergoing any procedure, ask for more than one medical opinion, read the studies and know that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Also know that when in doubt, Nature knows best (Some exceptions: when a deadly epidemic is raging or you’ve been shot or run over by a vehicle).