Paper or plastic?
Which is more ecological: paper or plastic? Are milk, coffee and/or wine good for you or not?Which will kill you faster: carbs or fat?These and other questions mystify us as we tiptoe through the minefield of our extended lives, a winding path through a thicket of warning Do and Don’t signs that randomly reverse themselves.For years hormones were supposed to prevent cancer (Do) and now they’re said to cause it (Don’t).Flashy, permanent labels in my Beetle are a constant reminder that I may be killed by my airbags, though it’s more likely that I will die of a stroke in my rage trying to remove a child-proof cap from a bottle of mouthwash. When Vioxx was taken off the market (instant Do to Don’t), Celebrex ads flooded the airwaves. Ha ha, Vioxx causes heart attacks and strokes and we don’t was the message but then, oops, Celebrex came under fire and other pain meds such as ibuprofen were being set up like 10 pins in a bowling alley and they’re all keeping a low profile now, waiting to see what will happen.It’s impossible for the layperson to sort all this out, but a few things are clear.1. There are trillions of dollars at stake in the drug industry, and your personal welfare is not of primary concern. 2. Marketing is hazardous to your health.3. There will always be a leading cause of death.We are most vulnerable to the marketing, which advertises new drugs directly to us, the consumer (“Ask your doctor”).Paxil was an anti-seizure drug that was found to reduce anxiety. The marketing group hired to promote Paxil bragged that the first thing they needed to do was establish anxiety and panic attacks as a condition of epidemic proportions before launching Paxil as the cure.Similarly, erectile dysfunction was presented as common as dirt just as the little blue cure pill was introduced to fix the problem. Down the road, these drugs may come before congressional hearings, but until then it’s big money in the bank. Your best bet is to use the mute button on your remote control, find a doctor you trust and try not to panic, because we all know that stress kills. Relax and enjoy the show.There will always be a leading cause of death. Stamp out the smokers and the populous gains weight and dies of diabetes and other conditions caused by obesity. The public looks left and right as if following a tennis match and the marketers are one step ahead, predicting and capitalizing on the trends.Is Social Security doomed or not? The scariest thing of all is that the Social Security system will probably be OK if only we stop living so long, in which case the new leading cause of death will ultimately be euthanasia for the halt and the lame and those in pain, rendering the retirement and Vioxx questions moot. Not in my lifetime, maybe, but when the baby boomers are clogging the nursing home facilities, watch out. I’m sure the marketing people will be able to put a positive spin on the death pill. Ask your doctor.Su Lum is a longtime local who would like to be able to open her bottle of aspirin. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times.
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