Reviews of HRT: Licensed to Kill and Maim
Hormone Replacement: The Symptoms of Menopause
posted by Sepp Hasslberger on Thursday July 19 2007
A Review of HRT Licensed to Kill and Maim. Slingshot Publications
Martin Walker, the author of "Dirty Medicine", has recently published a book on Hormone Replacement Therapy, titled HRT - Licensed to Kill and Maim. The book was reviewed by Emma Holister in this article. My copy of the book was sitting on the shelf for some months before I finally got to crack it open, more out of a sense of guilt rather than genuine interest. But I was mistaken. Walker hasn't written just another dry condemnation of a form of treatment that was widely promoted and then turned out to do more harm than good. He brings the suffering of the women on this therapy to life in a very real way, and he links the story of the failed hormone drugs to the larger reality of today's pharmaceutically controlled medical caste which has become the sales machine for rich pharma multinationals, rather than a source of comfort and healing for individual patients.
Imagine my surprise when I read the headline of a recent Daily Mail article: HRT scares 'have been a catastrophe for women's health'. The author Jenny Hope implies that Hormone replacement was unjustly criticised saying: "One million women are 'suffering unnecessarily' after turning their backs on HRT because of health scares, say doctors."After estimating that HRT prescriptions in the UK have fallen from two million to one million, the article quotes Dr John Stevenson of the Royal Brompton Hospital in London, who says: "A million women are suffering the consequences of not being on HRT. Women now coming into the menopause are too scared to go on to HRT. It is a disgrace."
Of course Dr Stevenson completely ignores scientific studies that have found HRT to be outright dangerous:
The Women's Health Initiative randomized controlled trial scheduled to run 8.5 years was abruptly halted at 5.2 years because women in the treatment group had a 26% increased risk of invasive breast cancer.
He also ignores the extreme plight of women suffering at times terrible and life-changing side effects of a hormone overdose prescribed by their doctor and even at times administered without consent by implant. So is the article merely an attempt by pharmaceutical PR departments to revive a dead therapy?
One might be tempted to think so, especially in view of another recently published study reported on in BBC News, that found HRT increased heart problems, instead of helping. There seems to be no shortage of studies with scary results implicating hormone replacement in serious and at times deadly side effects. But business is business - hey, if some women who take the drugs feel better, who cares about all the rest?
Well, we really should care, says Martin Walker, and he explains why in his book:
HRT Licensed to Kill and Maim
Martin Walker's book is a 'must read' for any woman who must decide whether to start hormone replacement therapy or find other ways to cope with the coming changes. We must learn from past mistakes and Walker's book does a good job bringing into view the mistakes of women who have put their trust in medical doctors and public health officials to guide them in their choices:
Almost all the problems with HRT are created in the space between scientific theory and human practice. The claims of manufacturers, distributors, marketing men and physicians for HRT, in thousands of instances, take no account of the reality of doctor-patient relationships, medical practice and the non-conforming diversity of women's physical and psychological make-up. It is this last aspect that turns HRT from what seemed like 'a good idea at the time' into the most dangerous of therapies.
The supplementation of the female body with hormones to avoid or ameliorate a natural life change is fraught with moral, ethical and technical dilemmas. The moral and ethical questions loom over the production and consumption of HRT, casting doubt on the very motive and direction of medical science in respect of women. Unfortunately science and medicine have slipped the hawsers of ethical debate in this area, turning the issue into a medical question in which the only criterion is a slight and putative improvement in health.
Dr Stevenson, as quoted in Jenny Hope's article, is not alone in his defense of Hormone replacement. Even as the news of damaging effects in the studies about hormone replacement broke, pharma supported patient groups and prescribers of HRT raced to put out the fires:
In calling off the Million Women study and urging more care in the prescription of HRT, the British Government contrived to give the impression that, while doctors had hitherto been circumspect in their prescribing, they would now be positively stringent.
The reality, however, was quite different. At a later date, Dr Maureen Baker, honorary secretary of the Royal College of General Practitioners and a supporter of HRT, speaking of the number of women using HRT over lengthy periods, said "I understand that about 20 per cent of women have stopped taking HRT, but that is likely to include many who have been on it for years and did not really know why they were still taking it." This statement, perhaps more than any other made during 'the HRT crisis' at the start of the new millennium, speaks volumes about the attitude of physicians towards their patients and towards pharmaceuticals.
Dr Philip Sarrel, Emeritus Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine, reacting to findings of the Women's Health Initiative, was similarly relaxed about the dangers of hormone replacement therapy, taking the view that new study results did not mean that women should give up on HRT. "The paper does help guide women and their physicians in being selective in a choice of hormone therapy", he said.
Pharmaceutical companies have been accused of "disease mongering", a term for the promotion of quite normal life conditions as somehow in need of pharmaceutical intervention. "HRT is used to combat symptoms of the menopause, including hot flushes and night sweats, with a range of drugs including tablets, implants and patches", writes Jenny Hope in the Daily Mail. Notice the term "symptoms of the menopause", as if the menopause were an illness rather than a period of transformation in every woman's life. Perhaps HRT was one of the earliest examples of pharmaceutical disease mongering.
There is an almost unbridgeable gulf between the theories of medical science and the practice of corporate drug pushing, between human communities and pharmaceutical corporations. Rather than researching, treating and curing long-established illnesses, pharmaceutical companies - 'inadvertently' aided by the processed food industry's manufacture of junk foods, and by other environmentally toxic industries, together with their own manufacture of adverse reactions - now create new illnesses and markets, which their drug development divisions can research.
Martin Walker's book revolves around the story of one woman, Maggie Tuttle, who suffered immensely from Hormone medication but who, being a campaigner, immediately went to initiate a patient self-help group she called the Menopausal Helpline. Over ten years, she had over ten thousand contacts from women who suffered similarly, and she attempted to work with pharmaceutical manufacturers and medical societies to bring about changes. Her communications were blocked at every turn, her group denied all support and eventually, the effort became too great so the help line folded.
Other groups that agreed to listen to the hormone 'experts' and accept money from pharmaceutical manufacturers fared much better by comparison:
The British Menopause Society is just one of a global network of societies that all advocate HRT to a great swath of the world's female population. All of the societies and their activities are funded by a variety of pharmaceutical companies. None of the societies discusses, in any serious way, either alternative remedies or a natural, non-medicated path through menopause.
All the societies, despite any debate about the details, are heavily committed to selling HRT to the menopausal population. The consultants who speak for the societies propose that women try HRT as a first option. More disturbingly than any of this, the clutch of male consultants who direct the policy of the societies, all defend HRT and consistently write against studies that appear to suggest that the drug regime might damage women.
The most prominent consultants based as council members within the British Menopause Society, whose writings are used for many other foreign societies are: David H. Barlow, Timothy Hillard, David W. Purdie, Anthony Seeley, John Stevenson, Professor John Studd and David W. Sturdee.
As soon as the 2003 study results became available, the British Menopause Society quickly set up meetings with other societies, with the intention of making a series of statements that would stabilise the consensus view of HRT.
In the last chapter of his book, Walker attempts to flesh out his view of an ideal society, something to compare today's damaging medical treatments to, so as to start our with an ideal to work towards, not only a bad situation we want to get away from:
My 'other' starting place is one where we accept into our bodies none - or the absolute minimum - of the chemical toxins prescribed for us. It is one where we enjoy nutritious and, as far as is possible, organic fruit and vegetables...
This other place is one where we try to control our immediate environment as best we are able, so as to exclude environmental toxins...
My ideal place is one where, from an early age, we gain as much information as possible about our bodies and how they work; a place where we try to understand how to respect our bodies and treat them with the various healing arts. It is a place where we take what is best from our collective culture and history, and repudiate the violence and emptiness of commercial culture.
Martin Walker wonders why medical culture has so far escaped censure for its actions, despite clear evidence linking treatments and pharmaceutical drugs to damaged health outcomes. A point that struck my mind is that we do have a profession that really is charged with finding out where illnesses come from, but the members of that fraternity are strangely silent on physician-induced illness:
It is to link illnesses with their causal agents that we have epidemiologists. For some obscure reason, however, while epidemiologists help in moving heaven and earth against the butcher, fishmonger or sandwich bar owner who gives even a couple of individuals a salmonella stomach upset, they seem not to operate in the area of drug damage. While the greatest of them will work assiduously for years on behalf of corporations, proving that their products could not possibly damage anyone, few, if any of them, will work on behalf of local communities, and next to none of them, apparently, in community epidemiology.
Perhaps this pointer will help us bring about reforms of medicine that are urgently needed, and to change the course of pharmaceutical business into a path less damaging to our collective health. Educating physicians about and making them responsible for the damage they may be doing by prescribing would be part of the solution.
Despite the title and the subject matter, Martin Walker's book is not only for women. Every man who lives with a woman or loves one better read it lest he lose his love to the snares of doctor-induced (iatrogenic) illness. Readers will certainly be applying the lessons of this book to their own lives - be more careful when you next meet your doctor - and hopefully the essential message will spread like wildfire: Take your health in your own hands!
posted by Sepp Hasslberger on Thursday July 19 2007
Martin J Walker's ‘HRT - Licensed to Kill and Maim’
A review by Emma Holister
(See end of article for related cartoons.)
As the media direct the eyes of the world towards Bush’s ceaseless war on terror, to wars in the Middle East and to threats of more wars, it seems somehow irrelevant to consider the plight of the hundreds of thousands of women whose lives have been destroyed by the medical industry’s mass marketing of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT).
What is perhaps surprising, if one can just tear one’s eyes away from the news for a moment, is that the war industry and the drug industry have always been joined in an intimate marriage of profit and propaganda, bringing war to the masses and endless fodder for the junk press posing as national news. This blood-and-guts orgy, spiced up with religious frenzy and passionate TV debate is one more episode in the real-life soap opera brought to us care of the world’s mega corporations. Their friends, the world media, enthral us, the masses, with a real life, seat-gripping drama. The blood and guts of the innocent is far more newsworthy than the boring details of backstage politics and sordid multi-billion dollar drug and chemical industry deals. These are the deals that pull the strings of our puppet governments in their march towards a world of ‘security’ and ever greater civic control.
Martin Walker’s book, ‘HRT, Licensed to Kill and Maim’ is the opening of the eyes, an awakening; the perception of the invisible network of giant industrial corporations working in synch to keep the market of genocide thriving and the eyes of the masses averted.
“In a society obsessed with security, there is no longer any possibility of a real debate on a subject such as iatrogenic death. When society is on a war footing, internal criticism diminishes to a smoking wick. Lights no longer burn for individual liberty, whether for those accused of terrorism or those damaged by powerful industrial interests.
Perhaps even more important than this, in some perverse way, pharmaceutical companies take their marketing battles forward with the soldiers. The ethics of pharmaceutical production get automatically and inextricably bound up with wars. This is not only through politicians who have interests in these companies, but also through their involvement in vaccines for troops and the whole issue of biological warfare and the ‘protection’ of the metropolitan populations sucked into war. American Home Products, previously the parent company of Wyeth, producers of HRT, also manufactured toxic dioxin, containing herbicides and pesticides similar to Agent Orange, the long-term effects of which are still suffered by the Vietnamese people.
At the end of the day, the gathering spectre of ideological oppression and global hegemony can only be challenged by people with a determination to build strong communities. Personal, everyday problems in the community should be the building blocks of democracy; they are, in effect, the reason for democracy.
In this sense, the destruction of an individual life through adverse reactions to a pharmaceutical is at least as important as, if not more so than, the external threat of terrorism. The pharmaceutical industries, together with orthodox medicine, have killed and maimed thousands more people in developed and developing societies than Al Qaeda and all other terrorist organisations put together. Yet their directors, staff, organisers, theorists and representatives consistently escape political, ethical, moral or financial censure.”
HRT Licensed to Kill and Maim is Walker’s ninth book and his third book about medicine after Dirty Medicine a book which has become a cult classic. The book moves away slightly from Walker’s area of speciality which has become the Health Fraud movement and Lobby groups. Although there is some of this story here, the majority of the book relates a slightly more objective and sociological view of the unrecorded suffering experienced by women who have taken HRT. At the centre of these personal stories is that of Maggie Tuttle whose long term adverse reactions to different HRT regimes led to her setting up the Menopausal Helpline in 1996. With an eye to the constant historical bias of the regulatory agencies, the book relates the devastating failure of sex hormone therapy since its ‘unnecessary’ introduction in the 1940s.
For the millions of people whose lives have been devastated by iatrogenic (doctor induced) illness, regaining control of their health has become a battle of colossal proportions. Ordinary individuals are forced to embark upon in-depth research not only into health issues but complex political and legislative matters concerning the industrial multinational giants and the way in which they work with governments to prevent people from receiving non-hazardous and effective healthcare.
The mere fact of remaining alive in today’s system of pharmaceutically-dominated medicine becomes an act of war against the State, a David and Goliath epic that could consume a person for the rest of their life.
In this masterpiece of investigative writing, Walker devotes much of the book to sharing with us the narratives of women and their personal experiences with HRT, their fight to regain their health and their phenomenal battles to be heard by a male-dominated medical elite apparently deaf to the voices of its women patients.
What this book represents is the opposite of what modern medicine provides. Whereas doctors separate their patients into quantifiable and physical fragments to be medicated and surgically interfered with, Walker’s accounts of the women’s lives confront the reader with the patient as a whole, including her views, her knowledge, her experiences, her feelings and her intellect.
The difficulty of a male author writing on a subject that primarily concerns women is handled with immense tact, respect and constant tribute to the women writers and activists who have preceded him in this field.
The mass medication of the female population with hormones has produced a tidal wave of death and devastation among hundreds of thousands of women. Apart from the massive rise in breast and reproductive cancers and cardiovascular disease that are now known to have been caused by HRT, other common adverse effects include suicidal depression, irascibility, hair loss, skin disorders, dizziness, weight gain, thyroid disease, intestinal disorders, food allergies and chronic muscle pain.
On the whole, these symptoms are ignored, misdiagnosed and dismissed by the medical profession who deny women’s repeated claims that HRT is the cause. Rather than listening to their patients, the medical profession colludes with the pharmaceutical industry and treats women’s pleas for assistance as hypochondria and neurosis, to be dealt with by the prescribing of antidepressants and a wide variety of other health-damaging drugs.
Ignorance is further guaranteed in this field by the fact that the physical and mental distress experienced by those suffering from the side effects can be so humiliating and degrading in nature that most women shy away from talking publicly about the hell they are enduring. Shame and embarrassment prevent most women from talking to others about symptoms that concern intimate and bodily issues that are frequently related to their sexuality.
It is clear, however, that the HRT industry is a winner. Convince women they’ll get old and sexually unattractive to their husbands if they don’t take HRT, and keep those whose lives are destroyed by it silent by humiliating them and dismissing them as hysterics.
Walker exposes the majority of ‘scientific’ studies on the benefits of HRT to be no more worthy and creditable than the junk mail supermarket brochures that are pushed through our letter boxes each morning to litter our floors. Promising everlasting youth and prevention of age-related diseases such as osteoporosis, HRT has been marketed as the magic elixir that will prevent husbands leaving their physically decaying wives for younger and more nubile women. Misogynous PR gimmicks are finely tuned to undermine women’s sense of self-worth by pouring salt into the wounds created by decades of abusive advertising by the food, diet and fashion industries that terrorise women with the horrors of ageing in a society where only youthful and sexually attractive women survive the social round.
Walker’s book is an invaluable tool for those wanting to do research into the historical background as well as the political and financial mechanisms in society that prevent the average person from being able to inform themselves with ease on matters to do with healthcare.
Mapped out in clear explanations are the historical family trees of the mega-corporations enmeshed with one another, creating a united front in the power-block erected by the pharmaceutical industry, the media, the chemical household products and junk food industries. Walker takes us on a fascinating tour of discovery and sheds light on the roots of these giant financial entities, taking us back to the19th century, and onwards through the important role they played in the Nazi eugenics programmes.
He elucidates the complex interrelationships within politics and industry, the ‘who-owns-who’ of the big players in world finance and the production of HRT, from company names to the names of company directors. These are the principal powers governing our planet, these are the people pulling the strings of the politicians governing our everyday lives.
He helps the reader to discern which organisations, associations and charities are controlled by the pharmaceutical industry and which are the true grassroots organisations sincerely helping people to regain control of their health and their lives, such as the Menopausal Helpline created by Maggie Tuttle. It is vital to distinguish between the true grassroots organisations such as these, and the front groups for the drug industry, also known as ‘Astroturf’ or Controlled Opposition Groups. Sometimes the relationships between charitable organisations and the drug companies reveal glaring conflicts of interests, at other times the relationships are more subtle and indirect.
This book is essential reading not just for those interested in learning about the HRT industry; it is a comprehensive analysis of the way pharmaceutical companies function, how they foist their lethal products upon the global market, how they control the medical and legal world and the media in order to render themselves invincible.
Becoming highly informed is now an essential part of ridding ourselves of modern illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes, diseases that are caused by the plethora of toxic products pumped into our bodies, food and environment by the multi billion-dollar drug and chemical industries. The pharmaceutical industry and their number one earner, drugs, are responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths from iatrogenic illness and environmental disease every year. The only hope we have of ridding ourselves of these plagues is to cut through the smog of lies spewed out by the factories of drug propaganda that mainstream media disguise as health information.
Walker is ahead of his time, he is writing in a world where barbaric corporate genocide is the norm, where the individual is crushed, isolated and powerless to control his or her health and life. He is writing for the millions of people rendered mute by a world of scientific hegemony, giving them a chance to be heard in the cacophony of drug, medical and military propaganda. He provides an essential weapon in the fight to protect one’s own life and one’s rights. That weapon is accurate, detailed information about the medical industry and how it conspires to destroy our health and our environment and how it keeps the population of the planet in a state of disease, malnutrition and war.
People now not only need to reassert control over their own physical health, but also their emotional and intellectual health when faced with the challenge of visiting their doctors, who will almost invariably be hostile to any questions or ideas that do not originate from them and their pharmaceutical masters.
The initial stages of pursuing the path of autonomy in health can be fraught with difficulties. A simple visit to one’s doctor can fill a person with a sense of powerlessness and insecurity. It is intimidating to have one’s own thoughts and words dismissed as irrelevant or indicative of some neurosis each time one attempts to communicate views that differ from those foisted upon us by the armies of medical ‘experts’ drowning out the voices of mere mortal patients.
Therefore, baffling as it is, intellectual ‘prevention’ has become as necessary a part of being healthy in today’s world as physical, prevention healthcare. Going well armed with information can be grounding and rid one of that sense of loss of bearings, lack of self confidence, frustration and inability to express one’s thoughts and feelings that so many people now feel when entering the doctor’s surgery.
Medical schools excel in churning out healthcare professionals who are robotic, authoritarian, arrogant, off-handed, condescending, dismissive and unable to listen to the patient to such a degree that it could well be conceived as some form of institutionalised mass psychosis.
Walker’s occasional biting humour and scathing ridicule of macho corporate ideology offers a much needed release from the anger that accumulates as our eyes are opened to the full extent of the scams and abuse we’ve been subjected to.
He sums up the medical establishment’s cunning use of utter foolishness in one chapter’s brilliant conclusive paragraphs about the state of scientific publications on the subject of HRT:
“The ‘confusion’ strategy was a good one. Like dripping water it would, if repeated enough, wear away the immutable quality of the research results. In February 2004, while the argument was still ongoing about the falling away of women patients on HRT, anyone who fed the words ‘confused’ and ‘HRT’ into Google would have come up with two pages of articles about HRT and the confusion that now apparently surrounded it.
People were ‘confused by’ HRT, ‘confused over’ HRT, they were ‘still confused’, ‘confused about’ around six times, ‘confused at’ HRT and ‘confused with’ HRT. Not only were patients ‘confused’, but ‘experts were also confused’, even ‘HRT was confused’ . . . It was mainly ‘women’ who ‘were confused’ and some were even ‘confused and afraid’. Almost everyone could, however, be forgiven for ‘being confused’. On two web pages there were around 25 instances of the use of the word ‘confused’, in relation to the crystal-clear data produced by the scientific studies.”
Walker’s book should be on the curriculum of every school and university, it should be translated into as many languages as possible and made available in every bookstore in the world. This book is a life belt, for all those involved in the field of politics and healthcare. Those who don’t read it risk being swept away by the tides of ignorance which pass for medical knowledge in post industrial society.
REVIEW: HRT Licensed to Kill and Maim by Martin J Walker
Published by Slingshot Publications London 2006
Back in May 2002 the world received the news that the “Women’s Health Initiative,” a study which looked at the benefits and risks of HRT was to be curtailed. This was the largest randomized study ever to look at combined hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in healthy postmenopausal women. The study was stopped because researchers found an increased risk of breast cancer. They also found that women receiving the estrogen/progesterone combination were at higher risk for coronary heart disease (CHD) and blood clots.(1) The world received the news and women acted with approximately 65 per cent of women on hormone therapy stopping HRT.(2)
In his new book, HRT Licensed to Kill and Maim, author Martin Walker takes us into the world of the unheard women who have suffered and whose lives are forever damaged by the use and abuse of hormone replacement therapy. One of these brave women is Maggie Tuttle. Tuttle is a lifetime campaigner for women’s rights. Maggie had been prescribed HRT for a hormone imbalance and from the beginning of her therapy had intolerable pains in her head. What should have been diagnosed as a severe allergy to HRT after she began suffering from itching and bleeding on her legs and pubis was met with the prescription of more drugs and a barrage of unnecessary medical tests. Maggie ceased taking HRT in 1997 after thirteen years of HRT turmoil.
Throughout her long battle with HRT, Maggies’ doctors repeatedly denied that HRT was the cause of her illhealth. Her trust and naiviety can best be explained by her years of conditioning in regard to the wonders of the medical profession and science in general.As she coped with her own now well- entrenched illness, Maggie sought out the experiences of other similarly damaged women and established the Menopause Helpline. It is from the experiences of these courageous women that HRT Licensed to Kill and Maim takes its raw data.
Martin Walker blends the women’s stories with the history of the Menopause Industry which began after the Second World War when women were being prescribed synthetic oestrogen replacement therapy as the way to produce a successful pregnancy and for other female ailments. By the 1960’s pharmaceutical companies had begun to target the menopausal market. The message was that normal ageing was a problem and that all women needed to be rescued from it ravages.
Over the decades HRT has become a drug for which the need has been created, rather than it being a therapy that we really need. Menopause is simply the cessation of the menses and like all other periods of life it is a natural process that women must pass through rather than it being some pathological condition for which we must be cured. In spite of the fact that exogenous oestrogens have been linked to cancers and other health conditions for many years, profit-hungry drug companies have continued to market HRT for the most trivial of reasons with major long term side effects.
One such condition which catered to the need for HRT was the discovery of osteoporosis. Health researcher, Sherrill Sellman writes: As a disease, it emerged out of obscurity only two decades ago to become a concern for women throughout the industrialised world. Advertising campaigns in the media and fact sheets in doctors' waiting rooms and pharmacies continually warn women of the dangers of disappearing bone mass. The marketing hype announces that one woman in two over the age of 60 is likely to crumble from an osteoporotic fracture.(3)
Shirley was one of the 10,000 callers to Maggie Tuttle’s helpline. When Shirley was fifty-two, she went to her GP to collect a repeat prescription for Thyroxine. During the consultation her GP told her that as she was of small build she might be at risk for osteoporosis and that she would benefit from HRT. Very soon after commencing hormone therapy Shirley began to lose energy and was unable to even get out of bed. After years of suffering and research, Shirley discovered that because she was taking HRT she should have been given increased thyroxine. But her doctors didn’t tell her this!
What started as mere speculation on her GP’s part concerning a condition she may or may never have to worry about meant that Shirley faced years of unnecessary illhealth.
What have we learned from this period of women’s health history?
Can we be content that 65% of women stopped taking HRT after the results of the Women’s Health Initiative study were published in 2002?
Unfortunately the chilling message soon faded and two years later there were reports that one in four women who stopped HRT were now back on it.
Martin Walker’s book HRT Licensed to Kill and Maim needs to be on every woman’s bedside table.
The Rumor Mill News Reading Room
HRT : LICENSED TO KILL AND MAIM
Posted By: Daystar <Send E-Mail>
Date: Tuesday, 8 August 2006, 6:49 a.m.
I recommend the book below. It is not just about hormone replacement therapy and those who have been harmed by it but it shares with us some of the root causes behind the corruption of our medical system
A Review of HRT Licensed To Kill and Maim by Martin J Walker
Martin Walker has been writing and publishing books examining various intrigues at the heart of orthodox medicine since 1993 when he published "Dirty Medicine", a book primarily about the war waged by science, big business and orthodox medicine against alternative treatments.
HRT: Licensed To Kill and Maim is Walker's third book in five years. His book "Skewed" looked at ME, CFS, GWS and MCS and last year "Brave New World of Zero Risk", originally issued for free on the internet, investigated the world of medicine and science lobby groups, paying particular attention to the controversies around ME and MMR.
Like Walker's other books, his latest stretches it's subject well beyond the very specific title. The book is not just of interest to those women who are considering Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) or to those who have been damaged by it. It is for anyone concerned about their health and who wants to learn more about how government agencies and corporations play a major role in creating and perpetuating disease. Unusually the book is also of interest to campaigners. The focus of Licensed to Kill and Maim is on iatrogenic illness, disease produced by the medical industrial complex.
As a Lyme disease patient and activist, the book holds special meaning for me. As I read through the heartrending accounts of the women damaged by HRT, I was struck by the parallels between how menopausal women and Lyme disease patients have been treated. I found the book full of valuable information about the dangers and corruption of our current medical system.
Maggie Tuttle is the power behind Walker's book and her photograph is displayed on the cover along with a photo of Walker. Maggie was adversely affected by HRT and the experience compelled her to become an activist. She set up The Menopausal Helpline (MHL) to give support to the many thousands of women who, like her, suffered side effects of the drug. Maggie Tuttle funded much of the Helpline on her own, at some expense, but she decided not to turn the MHL into a professional organization, for very good reasons. I was very pleased to see that Walker included this statement in his book. "I personally agree with her about not forming more of a "professional" representative organization. My experience of campaigning organizations since the late sixties is that their radicalism rarely survived the transitions and anyway, this is the door through which, in time, the drug companies enter."
I have found this to be very true with Lyme disease activism and politics. The majority consensus seems to be that small unified groups don't have enough power or pull and therefore cannot affect change. I have noticed the opposite to be true. Small groups, where people work together without worrying about who gets credit or if any official label is attached to them, seem to get better results in the long run. Those in these groups know each other intimately and are aware of each member's integrity. When organizations become too large, this all gets lost. Many are volunteers and use mostly their own money to accomplish their goals. This prevents drug companies or other corporations, government agencies, etc, from infiltrating and blocking any progress trying to be achieved.
Walker clearly puts into words, what many activists have been finding out through experience. "What was centuries ago, the first Hippocratic Principle to 'do no harm', has long been forgotten by the majority of medical professionals in an age of pharmaceuticals. It's modern equivalent, to 'do as little harm as possible to the majority', leaves thousands vulnerable."
Quoting directly from letters to the MHL and from interviews, Walker shares with us, in a number of extended case histories, how women have been adversely affected and changed by HRT. Not only have the women themselves been harmed but whole families often suffer. Many of the women interviewed have a common thread running through their experience. Most have never had their hormone levels measured before being prescribed HRT. I would think that measuring hormone levels would be an obvious requirement in order to determine whether or not a hormone was actually needed. Even more puzzling.....when women begin to experience side effects and acquire severe symptoms, their hormone levels still were not measured. He relates how many women had hormone implants placed in their bodies during surgery, sometimes without their knowledge or consent. Later ,when they became ill and had their estrogen levels measured, their levels were found to be many times over the normal limit. When asking to have their implants removed, they were told that this was impossible. Many women still suffer severe effects of excess estrogen after ten or more years since their last implant.
The use by practioners of HRT, while hiding the main adverse reactions from patients, leads Walker to ask a question which echoes the title of Barbara Seaman's last book on HRT, "The Greatest Experiment Ever Performed on Women. Walker introduces the idea of experimentation, not as some futuristic or diabolical plan but bringing the whole matter down to earth by suggesting that a major part of pharmaceutical prescription is, in fact, ongoing experimentation on patients.
Martin Walker is a very keen critical observer and has conveyed clearly the root causes of our failing medical system. It is very crucial for us to understand the history of medical experimentation on the public so we can better understand what is taking place today. In the United States it is legal to experiment on unwitting citizens. The U.S. CODE : Section 50 lists the circumstances where it is legal to experiment and test chemical or biological substances on the public.
Walker does an excellent job of tying together the connections between the pharmaceutical companies, charity organizations and government agencies. He explains how profit is often the main goal, at the expense and harm to millions. For some reason many people feel that modern man has outgrown much of it's barbarism concerning human experimentation for science, profit and certain ideologies. However, Walker aptly shows us how this deception and experimentation is still occuring, creating much suffering, disability and death.
On page 172 Walker describes one channel through which experimentation is taking place. "The drug companies, in the guise of conducting research, now control almost all 'specific illness' charities. What better way to sell drugs could there be than drawing together all the patients with a particular illness or perceived illness, and then suggesting that they can help by joining drug trials?"
One thing I have found very odd, in relation to many medical charities, is that I am not aware of any cures having been developed. Isn't this supposed to be a charity's main goal - finding a cure? All I have noticed are hundreds upon hundreds of symptomatic treatments which only cover up or control the person's symptoms and does nothing for the underlying cause of the disease itself. It is much more profitable to treat many symptoms than it is to treat with a drug or natural remedy which cures. A cure would take away a charity's reason for existence and vastly lower the profits of the drug companies and other related industries.
The author goes right to the heart of the issue and explains how the drug companies reap profits from an entire segment of the population; every woman goes through menopause. They only need to be convinced that this is a medical condition and therefore they need extra assistance to get through it. A quote from page 133 sums up this misconception. "It could also be said that the great task of medical science is not to enhance and support being human but to transcend being human."
We are told that one would not be surprised or shocked to read the following slogan ' we'll make you feel better while you continue to make yourself sick'........and this is exactly what is happening.
Walker includes sources on where to obtain more detailed information on alternative approaches to the discomforts of menopause. He brings up the fact that diet forms the basis of our health and he summarizes the changes we need to make in our nutritional habits.
I want to share a quote from the book which I feel is key to the issue. "With respect to foods and supplementation, which provide the body with estrogens, the objective is not to raise estrogen levels to the levels that existed prior to menopause, or to exceed these levels. Nor is it the objective, as so often appears with HRT, to live the rest of your life with a high estrogen count. The idea is to smooth out the curve of the change and make it seamless."
Licensed To Kill and Maim not only presents the dangers and sometimes the irreversibility of HRT but most critically it shares with us the underlying political and economic issues which are allowing this crime against women to occur. In four detailed chapters he traces hormone replacement therapy from it's early synthesis in the 1940s through to it's contemporary marketing. The crimes of the medical system are clearly not just confined to HRT and Walker's book gives us the tools to understand the medical system as a whole.
Dr. Benjamin Rush, one of the signatories to The Declaration of Independence, who was also George Washington's physician predicted that "Unless we put medical freedom into the Constitution, the time will come when medicine will organize into an undercover dictatorship."
It looks as if this time is upon us. But this does not mean the situation cannot be resisted or reversed. In the closing chapter of this book, Martin Walker asks some tough questions - ones that need asking but ones that many people do not want to confront. However, if we continue to stick our heads in the sand, the current problematic state of our "health" care system will only continue to expand until we are all too sick to do anything about it.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is considering HRT or who has been harmed by it. I also recommend this book to anyone who is sick and tired of being ignored, brushed off and or literally made sick by the medical establishment. In essence, everyone needs to read this book. As I mentioned before, HRT: Licensed To Kill and Maim, gives us the knowledge and tools to take back responsibility for our own healthcare. True knowledge is the source of action and power.