The may 2007 issue of self magazine featured a story The Deadly Twist, which shares the stories of patients who’ve had strokes following a chiropractic cervical adjustment. The article is quite painful to read. I can’t help but feel a tremendous amount of sorrow for these folks.
The article reveals a study, reported in Neurology 2003, that shows "patients with strokes caused by hemorrhaged or torn vertebral arteries are nearly five times more likely to have had a recent neck adjustment than those with strokes caused by something else." The above statement probably sent shivers down the spine of every reader who’d ever had a chiropractic adjustment. However, reading between the lines, we need to realize that most strokes come from clots, not torn vessels. The majority of strokes occur when a blood clot blocks the flow of oxygenated blood to a portion of the brain. This is known as an ischemic stroke. An ischemic stroke can be caused by a blood clot that forms inside the artery of the brain (thrombotic stroke), or by a clot that forms somewhere else in the body and travels to the brain (embolic stroke).
Americans experience over 700,000 strokes a year. Ischemic strokes account for 83 percent of this number. In the U.S., approximately 3,000 cases of vertebral hemorrhage occur annually. Chiropractors see roughly 10 percent of the U.S. population a year. You do the math; it is highly improbable that chiropractic adjustments could be causing thousands of strokes a year as some web sites have promoted.
In fact, the incidence of stroke following chiropractic adjustments has been estimated to be less than one to three incidents per million adjustments. One study covered a period of twenty-eight years, while another involved reviewing about 110 million chiropractic visits. The results of these studies show conclusively that the risk of stroke from a chiropractic adjustment is so small as to be statistically insignificant.
Certainly this doesn’t warrant such malicious anti-chiropractic diatribe from the Chiropractic Stroke Victims Awareness Group or Stephen Barrett’s virulent anti-chiropractic commentaries on his Quackwatch.org site. Those who live in glass houses should be careful about throwing rocks.
If these folks are really concerned about protecting the American public from dangerous health practices, they should look no further than their own medical profession. Over 700,000 Americans die each year from government sanctioned, FDA approved, AMA sponsored medicine.
Iatrogenic or doctor-induced illnesses take the lives of 783,936 Americans each year. This makes conventional medicine the number one killer in the United States, ahead of heart disease and cancer.
And be aware that as few as 5 percent of iatrogenic events are ever reported. This implies that iatrogenic deaths are much higher and would be equivalent to six jumbo jets falling out of the sky each day. Now that’s news!
An October 2003 JAMA study from the US governments Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) reported 32,000 mostly surgery-related deaths costing $9 billion and resulting in 2.4 million extra hospital days in 2000.
Americans submit to over 600,000 bypass surgeries each year. The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that up to 10 percent of bypass patients die from the surgery. Yet, the National Institutes of Health has estimated that 90 percent of Americans who undergo bypass surgery receive no benefits. Another study involving fourteen major heart hospitals around the world showed that one-third of all heart bypass surgeries were unnecessary and actually increased the risk of death.
Americans are now dying, one every three to five minutes, from the effects of FDA sanctioned drugs, used as directed. Over a lifetime of drug taking, the average American has a 26 percent chance of being hospitalized from a drug injury. Of the 30 million people admitted to hospitals each year, approximately ten percent, or 3 million, are admitted specifically because of adverse drug reactions. In 1995, a JAMA report noted that, "…approximately 280,000 die annually as a result of these injuries." And hospital born infections kill another 26,000 (conservative estimate) patients each year.
The General Accounting Office reports of the 198 drugs approved by the FDA between 1976 and 1985, 102 of them or 51 percent had serious post approval risks, including heart failure, myocardial infarction, respiratory failure, seizures, and kidney failure.
The FDA estimates that NSAID’s cause 200,000 cases of gastric bleeding annually, leading to 10,000 to 20,000 deaths.
Calcium channel blockers increase the risk of stroke by five-fold.
Americans take over 5 billion sleeping pills each year. And each year, 15,000 Americans die from these same sleeping pills.
The heart drug Digoxin causes over 28,000 cases of life-threatening or fatal adverse reactions each year.
The very drugs that are being used to treat various illnesses are causing more American deaths in one year than occurred in the Vietnam War. Yet, in spite of the fact that these FDA approved drugs are killing over 100,000 Americans each year, people still believe health comes from a pill bottle. Annual spending on drugs continues to grow by 12 percent or more each year. The public and the medical profession have been brain-washed into believing drug therapy is a safe and effective way to "cure" every ailment known to man. This starts at an early age as our kids become jaded to the idea of lining up for the school nurse who dispenses their Ritalin and other psychotropic drugs. To safeguard their stranglehold on public perception, the pharmaceutical industry makes sure doctors are thoroughly duped with half-truths and pseudo-science about the newest, greatest wonder drugs.
In 2001, drug companies paid for over 60 percent of the costs of all doctors’ continuing education classes. And over 80,000 drug reps give away $11 billion worth of samples each year. There is now one drug rep for every doctor in the United States.
However, today’s latest greatest drug is often tomorrow’s widow maker. Do Rezulin, Zelnorm, Baycol, Fen-Phen, Propulsid, Avandia, Vioxx, and Bextra ring any bells? Vioxx alone has been linked to 27,000 cases of heart attack. The diabetes drug Avandia increases heart attack risk by 43 percent and increases risk of death from heart disease by 64 percent. Dr. David Graham of the Food and Drug Administration estimates that Avandia may have caused 30,000 to 140,000 heart attacks or deaths since it was introduced in the U.S. in 1999.
As a chiropractor that cares deeply for his patients and his profession, I believe that I’m providing a life enhancing service every time I deliver a cervical adjustment. I believe the scientific data, clinical experience of thousands chiropractors, and their patients from around the world all provide irrefutable proof that cervical adjustments are safe and beneficial.
Instead of hyping the tragic, yet rare, danger of the Deadly Twist, SELF and other media sources should be sharing the ever-growing Deadly List of conventional medical dangers.
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