Posted 1/12/2007 1:12 PM (GMT -7)
I think a good question to ask when they give you a pill for some problem you didn't even know you have, is why do you have a problem in the first place? What do they think is causing your triglycerides to be high? Doesn't sound like it's your diet. Sometimes doctors throw pills at people willy-nilly instead of just telling them "quit doing x" or "do x" and that will fix the problem. That's from a combination of doctors getting free handouts from drug companies and Americans generally being too lazy and stubborn to be willing to change themselves in even a minor way. People would rather take a pill with side affects than get up from the couch and exercise 30 minutes a day, or eat fast food less often.
Another good piece of information to have is the "number needed to treat". I posted an article on this some time ago, but the gist of it is, when you are being given maintenance-type medicine (like cholesterol, blood pressure, etc.), ask what the number needed to treat is. When drug companies do studies on medicine, they have to figure out how many people this medicine seems to help. Some cholesterol meds and other types of maintenance meds have a high NNT. For instance, if the NNT was 50, that means out of every 50 people, only one person recieved any benefit over placebo. That's pretty high odds, in my opinion, for the risk of side affects and the cost of being on this medicine for the rest of you life; and yet doctors put patients on these meds by the dozens hoping they'll prescribe it by accident to the one person in 50 who gets a benefit from it. Americans like medicine because it makes them feel safe; it's a shame a lot of people are probably taking medicines that don't help them in the least bit.