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Conflicts of Interest Are Hurting Our Health

When health officials get caught investing in products known to kill us, it is fair to wonder what else they are doing that is all about money.

The slogan of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is “24/7: Saving Lives, Protecting People.” Paying lip service to this mission statement, CDC’s director, Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, was quoted last November as stating: “Too many Americans are harmed by cigarette smoking, which is the nation’s leading preventable cause of death and disease.” She then vowed to “continue to use proven strategies to help smokers quit and to prevent children from using any tobacco products.” This does not come as a surprise as it is well known that smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death in the United States.

The surprise came when the news broke that she had purchased “tens of thousands of dollars in new stock holdings in at least a dozen companies, including Japan Tobacco, one of the largest tobacco companies in the world.” An oversight? A mistake made by her stockbroker? Not at all. According to Politico, the day after the purchase, Fitzgerald “toured the CDC’s Tobacco Laboratory, which researches how the chemicals in tobacco harm human health.” Baffling, for sure. But is it criminal?

Federal law forbids senior government officials from owning, trading, or purchasing properties that pose a direct conflict of interest with their official roles, although nothing will probably happen beyond Fitzgerald’s resignation, amid questions about her judgment and conflicts of interest. Beyond the negligent vetting process, this story highlights the disregard from many officials for our well-being, as individuals and as a nation.

When health officials get caught red handed investing in products known to kill us, it is fair to wonder what else they are doing that is all about money. Probably everything. After all, Washington is well versed with the “horse trading” practice: congressional support for legislation in exchange for reciprocal concessions, rather than to further the public interest. In every sector, we see many of our laws being designed by the companies and special interests who have the means to control the regulatory environment that impacts their bottom line. But more than in any other sector, it is in the health and medical field that the consequences are the direst, as they affect all of us.

Overall, many public health policies regarding prevention have been fairly good, including smoking cessation, which is credited for being the most effective reason for the decrease of lung cancer.
However, it is worth noticing that the push by special interests, mostly pharmaceutical companies, has also led to stifling of most information about natural medicines because natural medicines won’t bring in the money that pharmaceutical companies, and their army of lobbyists, need to secure their cozy position.

Benjamin Rush, one of our Founding Fathers and a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was already promoting public health by advocating medical freedom in the 18th century. “Unless we put medical freedom into the Constitution, the time will come when medicine will organize into an undercover dictatorship to restrict the art of healing to one class of Men and deny equal privileges to others; the Constitution of the Republic should make a special privilege for medical freedoms as well as religious freedom.” Unfortunately, the Founding Fathers did not take Rush’s advice. Medical freedom was not included in the U.S. Constitution, and now we are faced with a corrupted, drowning health system.

There is an old saying, “He who has health has hope, and he who has hope has everything.” Corrupt officials and corrupt policies are actually robbing us of our health, and therefore everything. Even worse: in the face of this failure, those who are supposed to be accountable for our malfunctioning public health policies will often witch-hunt the free thinkers and discoverers who dare defy the laws of money, think outside the box, and, in the end, offer substantial help to humanity. Campaigns like UK based “Friends of Science in Medicine” are targeting many modalities, from acupuncture, naturopathy, and chiropractic to energy medicine, homeopathy, and tactile healing. “Psiram”, a wiki- mostly German Internet project, where authors hide behind anonymous nick names in order to expose “quackery, esotericism, conspiracy theories, pseudoscience and lots of other crap”, meaning everything related to complementary medicine. In the U.S., movements like “The Truth about Cancer” regularly expose “the Witch Hunt for Alternative Medicine Practitioners.

Dr. Mirko Beljanski, a PhD. in Molecular Biology associated with the prestigious Pasteur Institute in Paris, who passed away twenty years ago and is recognized by many as the father of environmental medicine for his work on the cumulative and progressive destabilization of the DNA, is still described by Wikipedia as promoting “a number of ineffective cancer treatments,” despite the avalanche of posthumous evidences contrary to that. I strongly believe that the work done today by organizations like The Beljanski Foundation, a New York City-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization who sponsors research on the anticancer properties of natural extracts, is of utmost importance. First, because of the scarcity of quality research on natural compounds, and, second, because those research programs, conducted with several high-profile institutions, have all led to peer-reviewed publications that give hope to many.

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