Key health issues need attention

Key health issues need attention Open letter to Leona Aglukkaq, minister of Health, minister of Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, minister Responsible for the North, Thank you for the opportunity to meet with you and share my concerns about

Open letter to Leona Aglukkaq, minister of Health, minister of Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, minister Responsible for the North,

Thank you for the opportunity to meet with you and share my concerns about the health of Canadians and my concern about the Canadian health system.

I see some key issues that need to be addressed in order to ensure the continued ability of our health system to deliver the premium health care that Canadians cherish.

1) Support for preventative strategies, as it is much easier and cheaper to prevent disease than to “cure” disease, such as education of proper diet. For example, the role of sugar in contributing to the creation of most degenerative diseases.

I remember the Participaction campaign of the ‘70s, which was very effective in bringing to Canadian minds the importance of exercise and of becoming active to maintain a healthier lifestyle.

I feel there definitely can be a role for Health Canada to be pro-active in educating Canadians about the importance that diet plays in their health, through ads on the radio, in magazines, on TV, in the schools, in government departments Ð the list goes on.

To be effective, however, we must face the hard truths that latest research is showing in the culpability that sugar and refined carbohydrates play in the development of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, cancer and other degenerative diseases. Unfortunately, for the past 40 years, fat has been vilified as the culprit, but research is showing more and more that the ingestion of refined carbohydrates contributes to obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and a host of other problems afflicting our society, and puts a tremendous strain on our overworked health-care system.

2) Address the genetically modified organism issue. We need to practise the precautionary principle in Canada vis-a-vis GMOs and insist on real, independent, peer-reviewed studies and not on the questionable work done by the seed companies themselves.

Genetically modified organisms pose unknown health risks to all Canadians.

Right now, ordinary people are noticing an astronomical rise in the incidence of all cancers on the Prairies and on P.E.I., where heavy use of Roundup (glyphosate) is the norm. The heavy use of Roundup is key in the management of genetically modified crops.

Health Canada could work proactively with other government departments on insisting that independent peer-reviewed studies be done before any genetically modified seed be approved for use in Canada.

Right now, Canada is on the brink of approving GM alfalfa, with no independent, peer-reviewed studies having been done to determine safety to the environment, animals or insects (bees would be principally affected). It is also of great concern for people’s health, as the effects of genetically modified crops move up the food chain. And no long-term studies (spanning 20 to 30 years) have ever been done on the effects of GM foods on human health.

At present, the Canadian government has suggested to food companies they can voluntarily label whether foods contain genetically modified ingredients as a courtesy to concerned consumers. As might be expected, not many companies are complying, as it is well known that most consumers would not knowingly consume GMO products if food was so labelled.

I would suggest that mandatory labelling of all food containing genetically modified organisms would be in line with what most Canadians would like to see so that they can make more informed food choices.

3) Scrutinize and possibly eliminate “frivolous” vaccines that zap our health budget and waste Canadian’s money. For example, the Tamiflu vaccine has now been shown to be ineffective after independent, peer-reviewed European scientists recently published their findings, the first independent study that was done on this vaccine. The Canadian government invested billions in the purchase of this vaccine based on the studies of the drug companies, not on independent science.

Right now we are being encouraged to get teenage girls vaccinated with Gardasil to protect against the human papilloma virus in an attempt, we are told, to protect them against cervical cancer. What we are not told is that the Gardasil vaccine only protects against four strains of the virus and there are up to 30 varieties of the virus “out there” and the vaccine is useless against the other 26.

We are also not told that the incidence of cervical cancer has plummeted over the past 30 years due to women getting regular PAP tests, which catches early signs of pre-cancerous cells and has led to cervical cancer being one of the least dangerous types of cancer now encountered.

I asked my doctor whether he would have his own daughters vaccinated with Gardasil, and he told me probably not, as it wasn’t really necessary, in his opinion.

Barbara Drury

Whitehorse