Medical Care: The Third Leading Cause of Death

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Medical Care: The Third Leading Cause of Death

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, but a pound isn’t that heavy. Why change our diet and lifestyle when we can just wait and let modern medicine fix us up? In my video The Actual Benefit of Diet vs. Drugs, I noted that patients tend to wildly overestimate the ability of cancer screening and cholesterol-lowering medications to prevent disease. Surveyed patients report that if they were told the truth about how little they’d benefit from taking drugs, such as cholesterol-lowering, blood pressure, and blood-thinning, every day for the rest of their lives, 90% said they wouldn’t even bother.

The reason we should eat healthier, rather than just counting on a medical technofix, is that we may hold this same overconfidence for treatment, too. In a massive study of more than 200,000 trials, researchers discovered that pills and procedures can certainly help, but genuine, very large effects with extensive support from substantial evidence appear to be rare in medicine. Further, large benefits for mortality—making people live significantly longer—are almost entirely nonexistent. Modern medicine is great for acute conditions—broken bones and curing infections—but for chronic disease, our leading causes of death and disability, we don’t have much to offer. In fact, we sometimes do more harm than good.

In my Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death presentation, I noted that side effects from prescription drugs kill an estimated 100,000 Americans every year, making medical care the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. There are another 7,000 deaths from getting the wrong medicine by mistake and 20,000 deaths from other errors in hospitals. Hospitals are dangerous places. An additional 99,000 of us die from hospital-acquired infections. But can we really blame doctors for those deaths, though? We can when they don’t wash their hands.

We’ve known since the 1840’s that the best way to prevent hospital-acquired infections is through handwashing, yet compliance rates among healthcare workers rarely exceed 50%, and doctors are the worst, as highlighted in my video Why Prevention is Worth a Ton of Cure. Even in a medical intensive care unit with a “contact precautions” sign, signaling a particularly high risk patient, less than a quarter of doctors were found to wash their hands. Many physicians greeted the horrendous mortality data due to medical error with disbelief and concern that the information would undermine public trust. But if doctors still won’t even wash their hands, how much trust do we deserve?

We could go in for a simple operation and come out with a life-threatening infection, or not come out at all. 12,000 more die from surgeries that were unnecessary in the first place. For those keeping score, that’s 225,000 people dead from iatrogenic (“relating to medical care”) causes. And that’s mostly just for patients in a hospital. In an outpatient setting, side effects from prescription drugs send millions to the hospital and result in perhaps 199,000 additional deaths. This is not including all those non-fatally injured (such as the case where doctors accidentally amputated the tip of a man’s penis. Oops).

These estimates are on the low end. The Institute of Medicine estimated that deaths from medical errors may kill up to 98,000 Americans. That would bump us up to 284,000 dead. Even if we use the lower estimate, the medical profession constitutes the third leading cause of death in the United States. It goes heart disease, cancer, then… me.

One respondent pointed out that it was misleading to call medicine the third leading cause of death since many of those we kill also had heart disease or cancer. It’s not like doctors are out there gunning down healthy people. Only people on medications are killed by medication errors or side effects. You have to be in the hospital to be killed by a hospital error. 

To which I respond: Exactly.

That’s why lifestyle medicine is so important. The most common reasons people are on drugs and in hospitals is for diseases that can be prevented with a healthy diet and lifestyle. The best way to avoid the adverse effects of medical care is to not get sick in the first place.

For more background on how scandalous our handwashing history has been, see my Q&A: What about Semmelweis and medicine’s shameful handwashing history? It’s truly an unbelievable story.

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations:


Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.

99 responses to “Medical Care: The Third Leading Cause of Death

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      1. Thea,
        And this sentence is grotesque:…….reduced mortality may be explained by several factors. Most importantly, elective surgeries are curtailed during strikes……
        Do they expect several people to die during elective surgery!?

        1. Plantstrongdoc: I saw that. It made me really stop and think. It’s been my personal experience that the risks of procedures are not communicated or not properly communicated to patients. How many people would do ‘elective’ surgery if they knew the full risks?
          This discussion reminds me of colonoscopies and the people who die from them. While not surgeries (yes?), colonoscopies are certainly elective, especially given that we have other screening options. How often do doctors tell people how likely they are to die from the procedure? How often do doctors tell people about other options? My guess is never — unless it is the rare doctor who watches NutritionFacts… I know my doctor pushes colonoscopies at me without mentioning risks or alternative options.
          Just to share a story that isn’t related to your article per say but is in line with the topic of this page: I have a close relative who was prescribed the wrong dosage for a cream that ended up resulting in a fibroid that ended up resulting in a hysterectomy. Luckily she got through surgery OK, but knowing what I do about the information on this page (and now the article you shared), I sometimes have a jolt of fear for ‘what might have been.’

          1. Allegedly Dr Peter Gøtzsche (Nordic Cochrane Center, Copenhagen) said “screening always causes harm. Sometimes it also leads to benefits, and sometimes these benefits outweigh the harms”

            1. I would say that one needs to always weigh the risks against the benefits when there are optional treatments proposed by your doctors. But sadly not everyone has the ability to wade through all the literature that is necessary to make educated decisions–and to be discerning enough to understand what is legitimate and what is not, on the internet!….and that’s why Dr. Greger’s work, and this website, is so incredibly wonderful, and so appreciated by millions of readers and users. It is truly life changing and life saving work you are all doing. Thank you.

              1. Actually it is the doctors job to present all the options, and pros and cons for each option, and then in the end let the patient choose – at least in the ideal world. The problem is that the doctor-patient relationship has been infected – by money, pharmaceutical industry, bad science, food industry lobbyists, prestige and a quick fix culture.
                Dr Greger is the vaccine….. :-)

          2. Thea, I think you should look up the statistics of how many people “die” from colonoscopies, I think it is quite low. Most HMOs are not going to overuse them, because of added cost. I am a poster child for “get your colonoscopy.” A life long vegetarian, I had a colonoscopy two years ago and was found to have stage 3 cancer. So…be careful how you discourage people from getting this important screening test. Now I eat a whole foods/plant based diet only, and I follow Dr. Greger totally. However, my story includes its own iatrogenic component, despite my support for colonoscopy. I rejected surgery, and I am currently cancer free and hope to remain so, by giving my body its best chance to heal and conquer disease through diet and lifestyle.

              1. How could you ask this question if you are familiar with this website? Oh well, thanks for asking anyway. I’ll be more explicit. I went from life long vegetarian (using eggs, and cow milk products) to completely vegan: whole foods, plant based. I don’t know what all the factors were. I went through the pre-surgery regime of radiation and chemo (oral capecitebine, and I had zero side effects from that). Right when I was almost done with that, I discovered this website and Dr. Greger’s research. I switched immediately to the diet. And I mean totally, if you are serious, that means no refined grain flours, no added sugars, and no oils, that’s what the “whole foods” part is all about. I also supplemented with spices (notably turmeric) and some specific mushrooms in tea and dried forms, including turkey tail mushrooms which I gathered from the wild, and I honestly have no idea if there was a mix of things or what exactly it was, and I don’t know if the tumor will ever come back, but it disappeared completely. I feel great. I will never change my diet. Exercise is essential too. Dr. Greger’s “Daily Dozen” — do this!

                1. vip, Thanks for being more explicit. From your original post there was no way of knowing what you did differently. Just because you are posting on this website, doesn’t necessarily mean that you follow Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen etc. Plus I thought maybe you did something different that Dr. Greger hasn’t mentioned that we can all learn from.

            1. vlp: Dr. McDougall has that very statistic in one of his articles. “low” and “high” are subjective measures in this conversation, but I considered the number to be quite high. NutritionFacts has covered colonoscopies recently, including reporting that 1 in every 350 cases of colonoscopies results in “serious harm.” How often is that number reported to patients? I consider that number to be *huge*, especially when we have two other screening options, one of which is completely non-invasive. As patients, we have the right to know the true risks and alternatives so that we can make an informed decision on how to proceed based on our values. That’s all I’m saying. You can learn more from the following NutritionFacts video if you are interested:
              Thanks for sharing your story. I’m glad you are cancer-free now! That’s good to hear.

              1. Thank you Thea. It’s so important to be informed. Before I had the colonoscopy, and before I found this website, I did a lot of research on colonoscopies as I was very much opposed to the idea. I had also had all the other types of alternative screenings, and none of them indicated that I had cancer. I was terrified to have a colonoscopy, I was sure I would pick up AIDS or hepatitis or something, I know that it is almost impossible to truly sterilize the equipment. That is not a comforting thought. So…how best to take all this in? I guess everyone has to decide for themselves how much risk they want to take. I had been refusing the colonoscopy since I was 50 (I am 64), although my HMO doctors had been telling me I was “due” for it. I had a slow growing tumor that may have started in my 20s. Who knows? Life is so mysterious. Everyone is different. I thought I was in a low risk group as a non-smoking, active, disease-free vegetarian. I stopped reading about nutrition years ago because I thought I was already so knowledgeable. How wrong I was! I had no idea how horribly disease promoting dairy products are, and although I knew about the fat promoting aspects of oils, I didn’t know about their role in inflammation. But by God, I used the finest organic oils in my cooking, in fact we have been all organic for a long time. This did not prevent me from growing a large ugly tumor. The dairy is by far the worst. I thought I was doing good because I didn’t eat animal flesh. Blaagghh. I can’t believe I once ate cheese, milk, butter, yogurt etc. just thinking about it now makes me want to gag. Anyway, I am the classic worry wort (call me an elitist liberal, and one very depressed by the election…)…so this is probably what did me in more than anything. Some of us just need a little more help, and that is where diet and exercise can give us that extra help.

                1. “Everyone is different”. You’re so right. That’s why even the most carefully planed and performed research by honest and well meaning people should be looked at with a skeptical eye. I’m glad you’re now cancer free. Is there a known genetic component to your cancer? Thanks.

                2. Congrats on your better health and recovery vlp!
                  Your mention of dairy as a probable cause made me think of Mr Rogers as a vegetarian that ended up with stomach cancer. He ate his share of eggs and dairy daily. Milk and cereal for breakfast and cottage cheese, crackers and fruit for lunch.
                  Seems like a good reason to stay away from dairy along with Dr G’s videos warnings of dairy of course.

                  1. Oh dear, I didn’t know that was how Mr. Rogers died. Sad. Yes, dairy is highly implicated in cancer, as you say. All the doctors and the dietician at my HMO were encouraging me to eat dairy products, and the hospital had bowls of fatty chocolate bon bons all over the cancer treatment areas. It would be funny if it were not so terribly misguided. Everyone kept telling me, “Eat whatever you want!” I ignored this. I did learn early on to avoid sugar, after learning about Dr. Petersen’s work at Johns Hopkins and the Warburg 1940’s era discovery of cancer using only the glycolytic pathway to metabolize sugar. I forgot to mention that, I did a fair amount of fasting, too. Not radically, but periodically I would go a couple of days without eating anything. I think this is a good idea for everyone, periodically. But now that I am cancer free I am less inclined…call it less motivated…to fast! I enjoy my totally vegan meals so very much!

                    1. Hi VLP,
                      I am a depressed American concerned about the future of my healthcare as well. May I suggest you Google Thom Hartmann and Free Speech TV for information and resources we can use to try to protect our access to affordable healthcare. If everything reverts back then everything is a pre-existing condition. I am truly terror stricken.

                    2. Thanks for sharing your struggle vlp.
                      I’m no expert but I’ll give you an A+ for your successful health and wellness journey, education and willing to apply all the right things you learned!

                      I also tried fasting a couple times to reset the body. Not very easy to do but it’s in my toolkit also.
                      Now I just do a 24 hr fast if I get a few lbs over my ideal body weight, which is not very often but the fast will knock off the extra few lbs right quick…:)

                3. vip, thank you for again pointing out ho, w very cancer promoting dairy foods are. If people really, REALLY understood that, it could prevent a world of suffering at every level. My near lifelong vegetarian cousin still drinks milk daily in her chai and eats cheese, butter and olive oil. She KNOWS about the research and she has three separate breast cancers – not metastases – all were new cancers, yet she seems to be as addicted to her chai, which is half milk, as any alcoholic is to booze.

                  1. I’m so sad to hear that, your poor cousin. Foods can be so addicting, and especially dairy. Maybe a trip to dairy farming country would help her to stop…I know when I saw the veal calf pens at Point Reyes National Seashore, on organic dairies, and saw the bare ground completely devoid of any vegetation…it was heart wrenching, and knowing that I had contributed to that cruelty for so many years. Honestly, it was worth the cancer trauma to wake up and no longer participate in that cruel inhumane activity. I was blind to it.

                    1. Wow! So sad. I imagine most people who drink organic milk think THEIR cows are out there on lush green pastures like the ads show.

                      The cousin in question is otherwise very disciplined about her eating. She has followed an Indian master her entire adult life and he advocates vegetarianism, but olive oil, milk, cheese, butter…it’s all on the table.

                4. Hi VLP, try looking up Thom Hartmann for some direction about your healthcare concerns.
                  I believe that following Dr Greger’s diet and exercise puts us ahead of the curve but some things can’t be avoided despite our best efforts. I wish you the very best.

              2. 1 in 350 is an extremely scary number!
                I turned 50 y.o. three years ago so I had my first colonoscopy as recommended (perfect btw). Nobody mentioned anything about options to me. The facility I had the procedure done at was set up like an assembly line and it was a full house. The gastro dr has a new Bently coup prominently parked near the back door pick-up where patients exit. Judging by the business he was doing that day, one in 350 would be at least one “seriously harmed” patient a month, or more!!! I eat a wfpb diet and I have been eating this way for 4 years now. Prior to discovering Dr Greger, Esselstyn, Campbell, Banard, etc… I only knew about Dr Ornish so I still ate animal protein such as skim milk, ff yogurt, egg whites…but very low fat, for over ten years. I’m not perfect all the time but my cholesterol is consistently ~130 and blood pressure ~100/60 and all other numbers are always great as well. I’m not going to have another colonoscopy.
                Something that I don’t think is discussed enough is how much protein is enough protein. My real turning point was when I read The China Study by T. Colin Campbell. There is a line in the book that says that the World Health Organization (WHO) reccomends just 6% of calories from protein for a pregnant woman. For some reason WHO just carries more weight than just anybody. I followed up by checking on the WHO website and Google scholar and suddenly the pressure was off to eat animal protein. It all seems a little gross to me now though I’ll eat a lobster Rubin at Joe’s when I’m on South Beach.

                1. J D Lowry: Thanks for your reply. When I read about colonoscopies from Dr. McDougall, my mind opened. When Dr. Greger covered it, my perspective changed quite a bit. I do think colonoscopies have their place. Just not as routinely practiced in America.
                  The protein question comes up on NutritionFacts all the time. It sounds like you have solved the question for yourself, but if you haven’t seen the following article yet, I recommend taking a look. It has such great info, and it is something you can have in your back pocket to pass onto others.

                2. Some doctors have a much better track record with various surgeries and other procedures than others, so it would be telling if they had to reveal their own “report card” to patients before a colonoscopy or any other procedure. There ARE times when a colonoscopy or something else invasive is required, though not as often as we are led to believe, so it seems to me we should be able to pick the doctor with the best track record. Of course, the waiting lines would grow even longer at those offices.

        2. A person I know had elective surgery, some type of bariatric. He suffered side effects from a medication in the form of blood clots and died. So, yes, people die from elective surgery.

      1. Darryl: Thank you not only for the link to the study, but the link to Dr. McDougall’s talk. I had not heard that one. I just watched it and was very glad I did.

  1. After working in hospitals, working with doctors and nurses for 44 years I totally agree. Sometimes it was necessary to shame the doctor or nurse to wash after working on a previous case.. Sad but true.. As for me I’d rather choose prevention over intervention… Yes, if I’m in a major accident or serious pain.. Off to the hospital I go.. Other than that I kinda believe in what this guy said.

    Hippocrates “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” and “Primum non nocerum. (First do no harm)”

    I think we lost our way a bit..

  2. “We could go in for a simple operation and come out with a life-threatening infection” An acquaintance went in for wrist surgery, an out patient procedure. A week later, ended up with MRSA, almost lost her entire arm. Thankfully, they caught it early, and all is OK. Hospital born infections are deadly, and worse, preventable.

    1. Oops, that one got away before I was finished! I was going to say I think many patients in nursing homes are drugged to keep them quiet, and I can understand this in cases where they become violent, but I’ve known patients who went noticeably downhill as soon as they moved into those places. My mother had a stroke at 91 and required care after that. They would have her sleeping on her back, but she had obvious sleep apnea. I asked them to have her sleep on her side and that solved the problem. But they would never have done that if I hadn’t requested it.

      A neighbor’s husband started falling after they drugged him for aggression toward other patients. Every time he falls they are required to call 911, so it becomes a big deal. If they would give him medical cannabis, or at least try it, maybe he would become less aggressive and more mellow. It’s legal here – even recreational cannabis is legal – but most doctors are opposed to even learning about it. Yet there isn’t a case anywhere I’ve ever heard of where someone died from an overdose of cannabis. I’ve read the opposite is true. But I’m getting off on a tangent here, so I’ll stop with that.

      1. From my own slip ups I noticed there is an edit button below your own post so you can revise after it posts.
        I totally get what you mean about the cannabis issue…when they were killing my brother with horrendously aggressive chemo and radiation, the few times we managed to procure it, it made his day infinitely more bearable. I know people with other illnesses who could benefit greatly also. Cannabis, and it’s infinitely useful doppelganger, hemp, were only made illegal because they competed with the interests of wealthy industrialists, yet alcohol and tobacco can be had by all over the age of consent? Can you say Corporatocracy?

        1. Duh! I knew that edit button was there, but I didn’t even think of using it after the message disappeared. But when it reappeared I just started a new one. I guess this old dog is slow at learning new tricks.

          You’re right about the ridiculous federal cannabis ban. Yet the government owns a patent on cannabis meds or something. I don’t understand how you can patent a plant, but I have read something about that.

          I’m having an elective surgery, which I put off for years until it really isn’t so optional any more, next week. So at my pre-op appointments with both surgeons I asked about using cannabis for pain after going home. I knew the hospital wouldn’t use it, and neither did either surgeon. They both kind of acted like I was asking them for magic mushrooms or something totally illegal. One of them said to me, “I use narcotics because I know what they do.” Like he was especially proud to know that they often don’t work but they are addictive. It seems quite small-minded to me. I still have a medical cannabis card, and would much prefer to use that instead of narcotics.

          1. Good luck Rebecca, I don’t envy you that!
            Yeah, I know what narcotics do too, they helped kill my son, along with p*ss poor medical management, after he was seriously burned in a fire.

  3. Yes, I would avoid visiting a hospital at all costs. Case in point: I had surgery at a world-class teaching hospital in New Haven, CT about 8 years ago. Despite a sink located just inside the door to my room and prominent signage, only ONE of a continuously rotating shifts of aides, RNs and doctors washed their hands. The day after I got out of surgery, there was one woman (an aide or nurse, I’m not sure) who wanted to “see” the long incision on my belly. When I showed her, she touched it with her finger. Good one! Give me an infection why don’t you!

    When I told another aide, shouldn’t you wash your hands before dealing with the IV in my arm, she got mad; then she apologized and fished out a USED glove from her pocket. My god, if trained healthcare providers don’t know any better, we’re all lost.

    1. But this is really not new. I’ve been doing family research and recently came across the death certificate of my 74-yr-old great grandfather, who in 1955, was hit by a car as he was crossing a road in Philadelphia. He was admitted to the hospital with a broken arm but died of pneumonia 11 days later.

    2. That’s terrible! I have to say that in my husband’s several hospital stays here, everyone who came into his room was very conscientious about hand washing every time. They have to check off a sheet each time they come and again when they go, and wash hands both times.

  4. It might be worthwhile to expand the list for a more comprehensive representation of the risks of Allopathic Medicine. Gary Null and Carolyn Dean, MD ND in their Death By Medicine study from 2003 showed Medical Care is the Leading Cause of Death which has been followed up regularly by Dr. Dean in her book “Death By Modern Medicine” now in its 3rd Edition. The numbers are staggering at over 1,000,000 deaths per year and the studies cited for each method are from the industries own sources.
    I applaud you for all you’re doing Dr. Greger, but a slight rewrite might be well worth the time to accurately portray the situation we’re faced with today.
    All the best!

    1. Yes but how many people have been killed or harmed by poor advice or treatment from alternative health practitioners? How many times do we see naturopaths, chiropractors etc promoting unscientific and dangerous ideas like “the cholesterol myth”?
      Null for example is anti vaccine and an AIDS denialist.
      It is possible that the alternative health community represented by the Atkins, Taubes, Bowdens, Mercolas and Nulls of this world are far more dangerous than allopathic medicine. And at least allopathic medicine can claim to have saved lives.

      1. Yes but? Really? Doctor’s annually kill over 1 Million Americans…but…. How can I possibly begin to respond to someone who starts like that? Clearly the use of safe therapies, like those mentioned, do not cause death as much as risky toxic and invasive Allopathic medicine therapies. I”d suggest “House of Numbers” and “VaXXed” to improve your understanding of the evidence behind Gary Nulls views.

        1. Doctors, drug reactions etc are undoubtedly responsible for may deaths annually. Nobody disputes that. Certainly not me. The question, though, is how many more people have been put in hospital or on drugs (or the cemetery) because of the pervasive advice or people like Atkins, Taubes, Bowden, Mercola et al that high cholesterol is not a risk factor and saturated fat is pretty much a health food.

          As just one relatively minor example, consider the AIDS denialism of people like Null (let’s not even look at the consequences of being anti-vaccine). This has been estimated to be responsible for the deaths of over 300,000 in South Africa alone.

          1. All speculation with no scientifically verifiable evidence of responsibility by those you’re attempting to blame Tom. That is the sorry state of thinking today in Allopathic circles. Always attempting to blame others types of practitioners to deflect focus on the greatest cause of human suffering for decades which is Allopathic medicine’s ineptitude compounded by their unwillingness to take responsibility for or correct fatal practices.
            Royal Raymond Rife – cured cancer 80 years ago then destroyed by medical interests. Max Gerson cured cancer patients and wrote about 50 cases with full disclosure and records in the 1950’s and his clini2wisdom is banned in the US. Harry Hoxsey had multiple clinics curing cancer patients shut down and forced him to relocate his clinic in Mexico depriving cancer patients an effective way to heal without the toxic 3 chemo, radiation and surgery.
            My question is how many millions have died to protect the profits of Allopathic medicine?
            As for AIDS – watch House of Numbers, educate yourself and climb out of the ignorance that suffocates advancing the hopes of patients rights to be cared for properly.

            1. I may not wear a tinfoil hat but that does not mean that I totally lack knowledge or am uneducated about health matters.

              Really, if you truly think that Rife cured cancer or Gerson or Hoxsey did but they were shut down to protect cancer industry profits rather than because of making false claims, then your ideas of credible evidence differ from mine.

              This site deals with nutrition facts not conspiracy theories or wild and wonderful claims that this or that snakeoil cures cancer or is a panacea. You could look at some of Dr G’s videos while you are here. You might even find them helpful

              1. Rife had a USC Study where he had 100% of patients with effective reversals of their cancer, of courae you didn’t know that or will try to ignorantly challenge it. Clearly biased and stuck in your ignorant state. As for what is as is not credible – empirical evidence trumps clinical studies ghost written or industry funded when BMJ long ago found 94 percent of medical claims by Big Pharma ads are NOT backed by clinical evidence.
                As for Dr. Greger and this site I love it and respect what he does – ironically most of it contradicts what is practiced by doctors today. I’m quite familiar with his work so save the effort to try to paint me as an outsider. BTW Tin foil hat and conspiracy theories are terms introduced by people who realize they’re not able to win a conflict.
                Best of health to you Tom.

                1. Best of health to you too but just where is that study that you say demonstrates Rife’s methodology? I want to see the evidence not listen to unsubstantiated claims, personal anecdotes and opinions no matter how strongly they are held. If that makes me biased and ignorant rather than rational, so be it. And I am not even from Missouri.

                  1. You would have to read the history about Rife and access copies of the newspapers back then because the medical machine was hard at work during that time to crush competition that could wipe out its Cash Cow in cancer and other condition Rife’s technology threatened. Truly a fascinating and horrific story of a genius destroyed by an industry.
                    Whether you choose to believe it or not is up to you but the premise that one needs a study to substantiate an idea, when studies have been so heavily manipulated and biases eliminating competing fields of study is what very well may cost many more their lives.
                    You don’t know what you don’t know but if you’re opposed to learning new ideas because they don’t come wrapped neatly in a certain way you are in quite an unfortunate situation.
                    This site is evidence of the simplest truth that food has destructive tendencies and effects on health, an idea completely ignored for profit by most Allopaths. Studies prove it clearly and yet, like you, “experts” ignore logic and evidence to hold to their profit premise while millions die from reversible chronic conditions.
                    25+ years of study and experience inform my view Tom – no suggestions in black and white I have seen and debated for over 20 years from like minded individuals as yourself who ignore history or refuse to learn can change what has proven itself empirically and scientifically to my satisfaction.
                    Best of luck to you.

                    1. Thanks but a willingness to believe extraordinary claims simply because of stories you have read online or in sensational books is not proof that you are willing to learn. It is proof that you are willing to believe things without any real evidence.

                      Doesn’t the fact that people have been building and selling Rife machines for at least 80 years and yet in all that time nobody has ever been able to replicate the results claimed by Rife, give you the slightest pause for thought? You don’t have to be from Missouri to suspect that Rife’s claims were, shall we say, incorrect.

                      Look I enjoy a good juicy conspiracy theory as much as anyone but that doesn’t mean I believe them simply on the strength of one person’s claims. Especially when that person, Rife, had a strong vested interest in the claims being accepted.

                      Also, I don’t know why you claim that “allopaths” ignore the evidence about nutrition and health when even the briefest examination of the facts shows that this isn’t true.

                      One can certainly legitimately argue that most health professionals don’t pay enough attention to diet and lifestyle but claiming that it is ignored is manifestly untrue. But that is one of the problem with many such conspiracy theories – they are contradicted by known facts as well as by simple logic. If Rife’s claims were true, for example, people with all sorts of disease would have been cured by the busload by owners of Rife machines around the world. They haven’t.

                      If you want to believe this sort of stuff simply because of unsupported online claims and in the teeth of the evidence, and I don’t, then you are correct that it says something about me and you.

                      Good luck and good health.

                    2. Tom your absence of evidence does not verify your claims of no evidence or proof of concept. The reality you’re ignoring and claiming is insufficient to prove a theory is at the very heart of what clinical studies in humans are based entirely upon – the experiences of people.

                      What is your evidence that Rife technologies do not work and did not cure 19 our of 19 patients in a study at the University of Southern California? Ignorance and nothing more.

                      What is your purpose here? Deflection? Deflection away, after your admission of the same, from the verifiable fact that Allopathic Medicine is by far the Leading Cause of Death in America dating back in my studies at least 13 years to 2003 when “Death By Medicine” was published.

                      This has been interesting on my end because the same techniques I saw 20 years ago in defense of Allopathic Medicine are being used by you here and they are equally as ineffective – deflect, distract, blame, imply without evidence of anything and ultimately applying the Allopaths Trump Card – “Conspiracy Theories”.

                      Go ahead and follow your path and the AHA’s vague uncertainties about the advisable dietary protocols to follow – if you can find them – and I’ll continue to pursue opening up the minds of the willing.

                      I’ll leave you with this quote for your consideration: “If you are not willing to learn nothing can help you. If you are determined to learn nothing can stop you.”

                      I will continue to listen to those with evidence of lives transformed and saved rather than ascribe to or listen to the voices of those who are the Leading Cause of Death in America 13 years running and responsible for over 13 million deaths and countless more by disinformation such as yours.

                    3. I am bemused.

                      You have provided no evidence that Rife cured 19 out of 19 patients. Nor apparently has anybody else been able to demonstrate that Rife machines can cure cancer – despite 80 years of their use. You are the one making the claim that Rife’s machine cured cancer. The onus is on you is to provide the evidence to support your claim. Yet you accuse me of having no evidence!

                      You also accuse the cancer industry, the FDA etc of a conspiracy to suppress Rife’s supposed cancer cure, then object when I characterise this claim as a conspiracy theory.

                      It is also not a verifiable fact that medicine is the leading cause of death. Citing a book by a well known quack and a doctor whose medical registration was revoked is not convicing evidence of this claim.

                      If you want to believe fanciful claims in the absence of evidence, and dismiss actual evidence to the contrary and inconvenient facts, that is your privilege. What I don’t understand is how you choose particular claims to believe in. After all, there are so many claims out there with great stories but no real evidence and surely you can’t believe all of the,.

                      Thanks for the quote though although you don’t say where it is from or who it is by (is it an actual quote at all?). I would however say that learning and gullibility are two different things. Nevertheless, in exchange, perhaps you might find this link relevant

                    4. Funny you should choose the “sciencebasedmedicine” team as your go to Tom – they are a hoot. Nothing science based about them. Science = knowledge and the entire article you linked was pure philosophy as a means to discredit Death by Medicine which cites the industries OWN STATISTICS often cited in the press.

                      You continued ignorance of my statements about Rife don’t bother me as they more deeply expose your bias. Now it is more about your pride than it ever was about proof.

                      Stephen Barrett as a source from Casewatch? And a Medical Board sanctioning a promoter of Natural Medicine? Not surprising to me that you would use these. Probably the first items in a Google search for information on Carolyn Dean MD ND, but let’s consider the source for a moment Tom as I’ve known Barrett and had dealings with his ideas for 2 decades. Here is his epitaph on Stephen Barrett’s credibility from his dealings in court:


                      You can continue to cite these sources and posit these ideas but let me just assure you I’ve been exposing these types of attacks for over 20 years.

                      I’m in exceptional health and quite aware of my own deficiencies and limits where it comes to knowledge and I know where to go for wisdom when needed and Barrett, AHA, Mayo Clinic and the like are not on my list. No offense, but they simply are IMHO more a part of the problem than any solution.

                      Good day!

                    5. You clearly have no interest in the evidence and instead prefer a good well-told story, no matter how palpably false it is. Sadly, you aren’t alone. Equally clearly you and like-minded people represent a significant market given the number of books, magazines and websites pandering to such attitudes. This doesn’t bode well for the future of Western civilisation.

                      Of course, I am partly guilty of contributing to this situation because back in the ’90s I bought Nexus magazine for a couple of years and my pennies would have tossed a tiny amount of fuel onto this fire. Mind you, I read it for the entertainment value – it opened up a plethora of wild, weird and whacky vistas – and wondered how people could actually believe all that tosh. It is interesting to see how you rationalise your own beliefs here in your posts, and how much they remind me of those old Nexus articles.

                      Apparently, I have not been alone in wondering about the psychopathology of such beliefs

                      But, yes, G’day to you.

                    6. What evidence have you provided Tom?

                      I could say the same but that would be futile as you have demonstrated no interest in the truth.

                      A suggestion for you – less ad hominem attacks and delusional claim about others and more attention to knowing historical facts and you’ll be a more positive influence here.

                    7. Hi Wm, You asked about evidence and suggested I should pay more attention to historical facts.

                      The evidence I have pointed to is the historical facts. Leaving aside the fact that you have not provided a link or a reference to the study that supposedly shows that Rife cured cancer, the historical facts show that in all the many decades since Rife machines first became available, nobody has ever been able to replicate the results which Rife claimed he achieved.

                      Doesn’t this cause you even the slightest bit of doubt about Rife’s claims? It should.


                    8. Oh, so now you are back to bearimg the “allopathic medicine id bad” drum?
                      I have already written that I accept people die from medical errors, side effects and overservicing. The deflection is your refusal to accept that alternative health practitioners promoting grossly unhealthy diets are a major problem. Such people confuse and mislead. Consequently, the public and the media appear to believe that high fat and high protein animal foods are safe and even represent the diet we were designed to eat. As a result, cardiovascular diseases and cancers are the leading killers in the Western world.
                      And you were the one who started talking about the blatantly false claims for cancer cures like Rife’s.

                    9. Newsflash Tom that is what this thread article is about “Death by Medicine”.

                      Your conceding that point and attempt to cast blame elsewhere is the definition of deflection. You’ve got no evidence of deaths from alternative medicine. You certainly have not added anything to this thread with refocusing the discussion to Rife and ignorant rants about who he was and what he was all about and did or didn’t do.

                      The fact that I am here, a proponent of Dr. Greger and his research ought to tell you I am not a fan of the meat heavy dietary systems but hey false charges seem to roll from your fingertips with ease. Again no idea why you say what you say and try to charge me in the process.

                      Maybe you ought to redirect your anger into those who know nothing about nutrition and who prescibe harsh and toxic chemical therapies rather than educating on the value of a lifestyle change and power of food choices to heal chronic diseases.

                    10. if you reread your original post (which started this thread), you will see that you quoted approvingly a book by two alternative health practitioners – a famous quack and a deregistered doctor.- as evidence for your claim. (Seriously?) In a later post you went on to quote approvingly supposed cancer cures like that of Rife (Seriously?) . And now you make accusations of deflection when I respond to the claims you make.and discuss these alternative health promoters. Fascinating stuff ………….

                      You still apparently refuse to accept that poor dietary choices,… often assiduously promoted by alternative health practitioners … are often what put people into the medical system in the first place place. Gary Null was apparently hospitalised because he consumed one of his own dietary supplements for example. .As Dr G frequently notes, the majority of deaths in the US are premature and preventable by healthy diet and lifestyle choices. If, as you claim, you follow this website, you will know that poor diet is a bigger killer than “allopathic’ medicine.

                      And alternative health advocates – Atkins, Taubes, Mercola, Bowden etc- are a large part of the reason why high animal fat and protein diets are still so widely followed and people distrust and do not follow official dietary guidelines (which while not perfect are better than the diets advocated by such people)..

                      BTW, I am not angry at your posts – amused, bemused and saddened yes – but not angry. How you equate a refusal to believe tall tales and unsubstantiated claims by ‘health entrepeneurs” with ignorance still baffles me. How anyone can believe that people like Null and Rife are the solution and not part of the problem also baffles me. Even your reasoning baffles me but perhaps it all makes sense to you/

                    11. Interesting Tom that you blame some doctors and authors for the love affair of Americans with bad diets that cause diseases rather than industry driving governmental factors like the USDA Dietary Guidelines which have been influencing choices for generations. Or media and advertising which far exceed the influence of those you might cite.
                      I must say you have shown a pattern of overlooking the profound to choke off the minutest of factors.
                      You’ve chosen to go after the authors with biased character assassination and ignorance of the fact that their study merely cited INDUSTRY DATA, not some biased Alternative sources. But that is common for apologists of the Allopathic medical community.
                      Another silly point is to point out Dr. Dean license issue when you cite Stephen Barrett the defrocked psychologist whose court record proves him a fraudulent character.
                      As for Gary Null and your attacks on him you might be surprised by the fact he shared a spotlight with Dr. Greger as featured speakers at THE REAL TRUTH ABOUT HEALTH CONFERENCES both worthy of identification as experts in speaking truth on health issues.
                      Now you’ve got your opinion and I’m going to leave you to it to suffer the consequences that come from a blind faith in your medical gods and their pharmacopeia/sorcery and I’ll be living by the wisdom of the ages demonstrated by lives saved naturally and with respect and explanations of why things work in the human body – something seldom found in the “we don’t know how” world of Allopathy.

                    12. Nice to hear that you will be living by the wisdom of the ages (whatever that is a euphemism for).

                      Good luck to you and try not to buy too many bridges.

                    13. Wm B: All Tom Goff is saying is that there is no credible evidence. His points are right on point–hardly deflection. I would turn that accusation around since you keep bringing up the point about how much harm allopathic medicine can cause (in addition to the benefits and help it gives). Allopathic weaknesses are not in dispute. Obviously 2 things can be true at once. The question on the table is whether there is any real evidence (beyond some article Rife wrote) to support your beliefs. Do you have anything *new* to add? Any studies published in peer reviewed journals? That is the *minimum*/starting standard of evidence used on NutritionFacts.

                    14. Thea I appreciate the response (support is below) but I must strongly dispute the idea that it is not a deflection.

                      His opening words:

                      “Yes but how many people have been killed or harmed by poor advice or
                      treatment from alternative health practitioners? How many times do we
                      see naturopaths, chiropractors etc promoting unscientific and dangerous
                      ideas like “the cholesterol myth”?”

                      When he deflected to a suspicion of alternative medicine after admitting the fact with “Yes but…” that is what has led to this long thread.

                      I never cited any article ever written by Rife himself as my supportive documentation so I’d appreciate it not being inferred of me. I cited sources above in the last few edited comments, maybe you’ve not had the time to review them so here they are again with

                      peer reviewed journals and more supporting his wisdom and efforts over his career.

                      As to the “minimum” standard you cite, your site your rules and I respect that and appreciate the opportunity to respond in this forum – by only goal is to provide truth and what has helped me better assess the world system in which I live.

                      But the absence of a citation does not equal the absence of scientific evidence. A quick read of the AHA and Mayo links above which offer instructions but no citations show the commonality of that – yet people in my position will be told they have no evidence when that may not at all be the case.

                      Likewise, in a world where Peer Reviewed Journals are easily bought and influenced by corporate interests citing articles and trusting them can put you at risk of being duped as much as it may support your view. This was evidenced in the Lancet’s publishing and subsequent repudiation followed by the exposed error and corruption in the case of Dr. Andrew Wakefield for those who cared to continue to pay attention and hear both sides of the story.

                      Dr. Greger and many colleagues at The Real Truth About Health Conference 2015 dealt with this issue and the way citations are abused to defend various beliefs. I am not implying that is done here, but merely that it occurs and raw data from studies are not always supportive of their summaries or conclusions.

                      Finally we can believe whatever we want to believe or ignore whatever we choose to – that is a great blessing we have.

                      All the best.

                    15. Wm B: The reason I said that peer reviewed journals are the minimum/starting place for evidence is because I am aware (and NuritionFacts has covered) that not all published studies are valid. However, a great many peer reviewed studies are valid. You just need someone who knows how to weed through it all. That’s what this site is all about. If you can’t produce that type of information,, then you don’t have the type of evidence that people here can rely on.
                      I thought this sentence was interesting: “But the absence of a citation does not equal the absence of scientific evidence.” I’d argue: It does, especially when talking about curing cancer. To claim a cure, you need a number of well designed scientific studies that have been reproduced by independent parties. That’s what ‘scientific evidence’ is. You find such well designed studies in scientific journals…

                    16. However Thea when you have the likes of Abram Hoffer MD and often cited Peer Reviewed Journal published author of studies telling how his studies from the mid 1960’s on were refused consideration, despite his long demonstrated skills, one needs to inquire – what changed and how has it impacted Journals?

                      You have shared your viewpoint and I respect that. Maybe it is worth a rewrite to help clarify the quote you challenged: “But the absence of [your knowledge of] a citation does not equal the absence of scientific evidence.”

                      I would hope that you’re in agreement with that.

                      My point: No one has omniscient knowledge of every study ever done. No repository of knowledge hosts the entirety of all studies ever published or done worthy of respecting. You can choose to respect a study or reject a study and I wouldn’t impose my belief on you, but a prime example of the extremely dangerous premise is shown by Hippocrates Health Institute where for the past 60 years they have been doing, in essence, human trials and tracking the health of thousands upon thousands who have been healed through what is taught there and with no intention of ever submitting a study for peer reviewed publication. Does this mean their practices are not scientific – read knowledge based? Certainly not. That is absurd, but a standard you are free to require to your own detriment I guess.

                      As to cancer cures – what happens when a person like Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski goes through Phase I and II Trials for FDA approval but cannot get NHI funding, despite great success in those studies, for a Phase III study and all of this against overwhelming opposition and moving standards? To reach the point of a Peer Reviewed Journal publication he would have to get by opponents paid in part by the Pharmaceutical Industry influenced to protect an industry.

                      That standard, while it is entirely yours to hold to, would cause one to overlook such simple principles as the 2 pronged approach to overcoming most chronic illnesses today which is Detoxification and a Nutrient Dense diet. I see people radically transforming their health in short periods of time, much like Dr. Gregor cites in the Plant Based Diet studies reversing chronic conditions in days and weeks as opposed to months and years or never. They are able to do this by following those 2 simple principles – I’ll follow this and remain unfazed by the idea that it must be peer reviewed and clinically studied to be backed by scientific evidence – the evidence often comes in the understanding of how the body works and giving it what it demands.

                  2. You will not see that USC study, Tom. From the Royal Rife Digital page, “the records at the University of Southern California “mysteriously disappeared. “” See, it is all part of the vast medical conspiracy to keep cancers from being cured because the entire medical profession is so venal, so evil, that it prefers the horrors and deaths caused by cancer(which attacks medical professionals as well) rather than allow a hero like Rife to cure it with his miraculous Royal Rife Machine.

                    1. Aah, I see. The fact that the paper can’t be found proves that there is a conspiracy. And the undoubted fact that there is a conspiracy proves that the Rife machine worked. QED. How could I have been so blind?

                2. Wm B and Tom Goff: This conversation has gotten unproductive. I’m going to ask you both to leave it be, at least for now.

                  I’m having the last word here/now so neither of you got the last word. ;-) Any future posts on this specific conversation are likely to be deleted. Best to let it go for now. Thank you.

      2. Let the people read what Gary Null has said on these topics for themselves and research this for themselves:

        It is among the lowest forms of conflict and communication to attempt to assassinate the character of people with spurious claims of harm NEVER backed by anything of any substance. It is time to elevate your game and stop with the indefensible deflection away from the proven killer of Americans which is Allopathic Medicine.

        As for the “cholesterol myth” the science is proving more and more that it is not the concern it has been promoted to be and a tremendous profit center for pharmaceutical companies. To that issue here is more for people to read:

                1. Tom Goff: This conversation has taken a huge dip and gotten nasty overall. You may not have seen, but earlier today I declared the conversation over and said that I would delete any more posts on this discussion/thread at least for a while. No one gets the last word but me. :-)

                  1. Yes, I didn’t see your post. I was just going through my Disqus posts and didn’t want to let promotional videos for the likes of Null and Hippocrates go unanswered. I just find it hard to resist responding to posts like these because ignoring them can give the impression that these claims and statements are unobjectionable or even true..

                    However, the discussion is pretty repetitious by now so it has no utility other than some very limited entertainment value. Also, I doubt whether anyone but Wm, me and you ever read it anyway so it is fairly pointless.

                    1. Hey, Tom, you might be surprised how many people read your posts. I, for one, greatly appreciate your posts whether you are commenting on the video subject or responding to others’ points. I often follow up on the new links you post and learn much from you in this way. I particularly appreciate your challenges to those who make claims with no evidence. I’ve learned that after 2 or 3 exchanges between you and the other person it is quite clear weather that person has an evidenced-based understanding of their points and therefore whether it is useful to me to follow the thread any further. So my thanks to you and others on this site who share so much knowledge and references, and who respectfully challenge those who post unsubstantiated claims.

                    2. Thanks JS. You are very kind.

                      I certainly learn a lot from checking out the references in Dr G’s videos and then researching the claims made by critics. It is quite depressing at times to see how much snake oil is being sold on websites all over the net and how many “true believers’ are drinking this Kool-Aid

            1. The Hippocrates people seem to be more about money than “wisdom” “Wisdom” is what you claim when you have no evidence to support your position but want to try to justify it somehow/anyhow.

              And if you genuinely wanted to let people make up their own mind, you would also link them to contrary viewpoints which criticise the Hippocrates people for making false claims

  5. Not trying to defend anyone but: I worked in an air conditioned lab where I had to wash my hands relatively frequently. In the winter, my hands got so dry that they would just spontaneously start bleeding. It was terrible. It wouldn’t surprise me if this was one of the reasons health care workers don’t wash their hands.

    1. Blair Rollin: I heard an infectious disease specialist say once that the alcohol gels are as effective or better as hand washing when the hands are not visibly soiled. They also found that using the gels gets more compliance than hand washing. I wonder why more medical establishments don’t use it.

      1. I don’t know. Sounds like a good idea. I would think it would be better to wear gloves too. Or use the gels as mentioned below. In my case, I couldn’t wear gloves at work. I was employed as a machinist and the shop where I worked happened to be in a chemistry lab building. Your hands get dirty working in a machine shop. Lots of oil and dirt.

  6. I won’t even go into the litany of medical horror stories I and family members have dealt with, including deaths and near deaths, but thank you Dr Greger for shining the light on this scary topic and always continuing to be the change you, and all of us, would like to see in the medical profession.

  7. My mom was shopping incredibly soon after open-heart surgery, in Oregon. She had a doc who was showily proactive about hand-washing, requiring handwritten signs about it all over the place. She eventually died of MERS in Virginia, after hip surgery, and my son holds the Virginia facility at fault to this day. Care is uneven. I have a friend who teaches community-health nursing, and she bird-dogs her friends and relatives when they are in hospitals. So many things can go wrong.

  8. Many years ago Canada was debating and voting on creating the Universal single payer health plan we now enjoy. Canadian doctors were saying that if we did vote for it–they would go on strike. One newspaper published a report showing that–when Israel created their government health plan– the doctors actually did go on strike. The interesting result of that strike was–the death rate plummeted.

  9. My brother died of CDiff acquired in the major Rochester NY hospital when an unnecessary antibiotic was administered, by health professionals, no overdose or anything. The antiibiotic knocked his natural gi biota down so the ever present hospital CDiff to take charge.
    My niece in law died in the same hospital – she died of a brain virus because the MS medication administered by her doctors wiped out her brain immune system and she was wide open to viral infection. This was a well known side effect and the doctors knew it. There is an approved treatment in England not approved in the U.S., the FDA could care less. My nephew sat at her bedside day after day as her brain gradually died. BTW, there are diet treatments for MS which are so successful there are MS patients still going 50 years later.

    1. Jerry,

      I’m sorry for your multiple losses. Should you ever have the experience of CDiff , you might add to the mix Saccharomyces boulardii a sacrificial yeast that has decades of published data with it’s use and interactions with the toxins produced by CDiff. Dr. Alan Kadish Moderator for Dr. Greger.

  10. If you’re healthy and without symptoms, there’s no benefit to annual fishing expeditions for a diagnosis:

    Krogsbøll et al, 2012. General health checks in adults for reducing morbidity and mortality from disease. The Cochrane Library.

    General health checks did not reduce morbidity or mortality, neither overall nor for cardiovascular or cancer causes, although the number of new diagnoses was increased….With the large number of participants and deaths included, the long follow-up periods used, and considering that cardiovascular and cancer mortality were not reduced, general health checks are unlikely to be beneficial.

    1. Darryl: I’ve been meaning to comment on this post. It is SO interesting.
      There is a big interest for a lot of people in prevention over treatment. I’m all for the general concept. But the devil is in the details. There is an assumption by many that annual health checkups are part of healthy prevention. This study sure makes one re-think that assumption. I really appreciate you sharing this info.

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