For five decades I have been fighting the absurd myth that drug companies and doctors have prolonged life expectancy.
This, I’m afraid, is a self-serving piece of propaganda which exists solely to promote the pharmaceutical industry and the medical profession.
The simple fact is that at the end of the 19th century, and the beginning of the 20th century, infant mortality was horrendously high.
Babies often died before they reached their first birthday.
And this gave the impression that life expectancy for adults was lower than it was.
It’s simple to explain.
If one baby dies just after birth, and another baby lives to be 80 then the average life expectancy is around 40 years.
Better drinking water, better sewage facilities, better housing and better food mean that today it is uncommon for babies to die. The infant mortality rate has improved dramatically.
And this has had a dramatic effect on average life expectancy.
If one baby in 100 dies just after birth, and the other 99 live to be 80 then the average life expectancy is close to 80 years.
This statistical anomaly enables drug companies, and the medical establishment, to claim that they are responsible for improving life expectancy – and deserve massive amounts of applause.
The truth is that the change in life expectancy is almost entirely due, as I said earlier, to cleaner drinking water, better sewage facilities, better housing and better food.
Very few major improvements have been made by medical science.
The biggest development was the serendipitous discovery of antibiotics nearly a century ago.
And the advantage antibiotics gave us over infections has been squandered by absurd overprescribing and by allowing farmers to give antibiotics to most or all of their cattle. These disastrous errors have led to the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria.
Drug companies and doctors have had virtually no impact on life expectation. Indeed, it is possible to argue that, on balance, they have done more harm than good. Certainly, thirty years ago I produced clear evidence that doctors are one of the three biggest killers – alongside cancer and circulatory disease.
But the medical establishment, and journalists bought by the pharmaceutical industry, continue with their favourite and most powerful lie, suggesting that they and they alone are responsible for improving life expectation.
Naturally, they refuse to debate the myth because they know they will lose the debate.
Vernon Coleman’s book Why and How Doctors kill more Patients than Cancer is available as a paperback and an eBook.