Last night I finally watched the Oscar-winning Dallas Buyers Club with Matthew McConaughey, not realizing until the credits at the end that it is based on a true story. Set in 1984, the movie details a time in the life of Ron Woodroof, a hard-living homophobic Texas electrician and rodeo buff whose rough and careless lifestyle lands him in the hospital where he is informed he has AIDS/H.I.V. and is given 30 days to live. When conventional medicine fails him, he resorts to back-alley alternative treatments which result in moderate improvements to his condition. He begins to educate himself about the disease and launches into an all-out effort to provide himself and other victims with the seemingly simple but unavailable treatment drugs. He reluctantly befriends a transgendered drug addict who becomes his business partner and together they launch a dispensary in a motel room to provide victims with the drugs they need to stay alive.
The movie grabbed me emotionally right from the beginning with my early discomfort soon turning into anger and frustration. What struck me as ridiculous obstacles to treatment in 1984 are not all that different 30 years later. My anger is precipitated by the seemingly total control that the pharmaceutical industry has over doctors, hospitals, medical care and the governing food and drug authorities. While I am certainly no expert on the treatment of chronic diseases, as a simple bystander I am troubled by the questions raised. Why is it that after two generations of charitable organizations raising billions of dollars for cancer research and treatment, some progress has admittedly been made but not proportionate to the time and dollars being thrown at the problem.
In my humble, boomer-on-the-street opinion it is not in the best interests of the pharmaceutical industry to come up with a cure for cancer. Imagine if we had directed those billions of dollars instead into the science of cause and prevention. As stated in an earlier blog, there is evidence that stress is a significant factor in the cause of chronic diseases. Is there a correlation between the incidence of cancer and the chemicals in our food chain, specifically the use of pesticides and food genetically modified to withstand large doses of chemical pesticides? We may never know because research is controlled by the large pharmaceutical and chemical companies complicit with the federal control agencies.
We all know someone who has lost a friend or relative to cancer and to a lesser degree with AIDS. We seem to be making a snail’s progress on cures. Is it time to start standing up to the big guys and demanding answers that do not amount to pat-on-the-head rhetoric encouraging us to be patient. Let’s start looking further down the line at what chemicals are doing to our environment and what we put into our bodies.
Case in point: the recent removal from Subway® sandwiches of a chemical called azodicarbonamide used for aeration in such plastic products as shoe soles and yoga mats (http://abcnews.go.com/Health/subway-takes-chemical-sandwich-bread-protest/story?id=22373414) and the announcement by Kraft Foods Inc. that they will be removing dangerous yellow dye from three of their mac and cheese products for children. I guess the rest of us don’t merit that attention. Every day we blithely pour quantities of azodicarbonamide, which has been banned in Europe and Australia, into our bodies in hundreds of foods. Perhaps we should step back and take a closer look at these types of additives as potential causes of chronic diseases. But we need the food industry, the chemical and pharmaceutical industries and governing authorities to be responsible and honest about the danger associated with these products and that’s not going to happen.
Thank you Dallas Buyers Club for reminding me to be vigilant about what I consume and to not accept what the large multi-nationals are saying is the truth and to demand the truth they are keeping from us. It makes me sick.