Thursday, March 4, 2010

People want a pill

I'm taking a fascinating class this week about cancer and emerging therapies. Today we had a lecture on COX1 and COX2 inhibitors (enzymes which are blocked by aspirin, ibuprofen, and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs - NSAIDs).

Brief summary: Inflammation in the body can promote cancerous growth. Conversely, decreasing inflammation is protective against cancer.

This does not mean we should simply take anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) as cancer prophylaxis, because these have side effects (as all medications do).

After the lecture, I asked the speaker how diet affects inflammation levels in the body. He said: 1) there is evidence that increasing omega 3 fatty acids decreases inflammation, 2) people in Japan and India (where there is lower meat intake) have lower rates of colon cancer (which then increases when they switch to a western diet), and 3) body fat acts as an inflammatory substance.

Then he said:

“But people want a pill. They don’t want to have to change their lifestyle.”

I'm wondering if that's really true – do people really want a pill? It’s easy to use that as an excuse for expensive drug studies, but I also think that people (especially doctors) aren’t educated enough about the power of diet and lifestyle change.


  1. Hi Christina,

    Glad your comment led me to your blog. It's great. I agree with you. I would much rather change my diet and lifestyle than take a pill. But then I think he is right people generally don't want to change but then well in some ways that is how they are programmed. Strong word to use perhaps big topic. Someone I know was seriously ill with bowel cancer recently. Post surgery her first question was when can I eat chocolate. Doctor told her she could. Isn't that like telling someone with lung cancer to smoke?

  2. Your blog is great, always eye opening.
    An example of a patient with a minor aliment:
    I have planter fasciitis in my right foot, has been very painful. The podiatrist has given me excersizes,flexing my foot at the heel "do it 30+/day for 30+ seconds", heating pad to the base of the foot for 10 minutes wake up and go to sleep...even more things.
    Do I do it all? No, maybe 10-15 flexes, no heating pad. Is it getting better? Yes.
    I do wear the custom insoles in my shoes. Love the insoles, so easy.
    If I was offered a once a day pill instead of the the other efforts I would have taken it.

  3. Hey Helen, great to hear from you! Who knows, maybe chocolate after surgery was just what she needed (hopefully the doctor also talked with her about other long term dietary changes she could make...)

    Adam, good point about pill & insole approaches saving time and effort - I totally understand that. Everyone has many things to think about and do. Exercises, heating pads, diet changes, etc, are hard to maintain especially if you don't see an immediate benefit from them.

  4. Yes, your probably right always good to look at things from another perspective. :)