Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wahls, Brindley, and Finding a Cause

Today, I was thinking about some unrelated research that I had been doing this past week, and I had a sudden flash of insight. I have been researching more about Terry Wahl's "Minding Your Mitochondria" diet simply because I had some questions about it that I was trying to get answered. During my research, I found a list of things that Dr. Wahls finds (if I understand correctly) causes MS in particular and autoimmune disease in general. Those things are genetics, infections (including infection history), toxins (taken in through food, physical contact, or breathing), micro-nutrient deficiency (not eating healthy enough), hormonal balance, food allergies or sensitization, and stress. She is quick to point out that with the exceptions of genetics, we have some control over the rest of the items.

The other area of research that I have been doing is on impotence, now more often called erectile dysfunction. I realize that this might be an odd area for a woman in a female/female relationship to be researching, but I had been hired to write an article on sildenafil (Viagra), and I needed to understand exactly how the drug worked to write a good article. On the site How Stuff Works, I found an interesting and rather amusing story:

The first real breakthrough in the treatment of erectile dysfunction came in 1983. Prior to that time, it was thought that erectile dysfunction -- the inability to achieve an erection -- was primarily mental.
That concept came crashing down at the 1983 American Urological Association meeting in Las Vegas when Dr. Giles Brindley injected his penis with the drug phentolamine. Following the injection, Brindley appeared on stage and dropped his pants to display one of the first drug-induced erections to the incredulous audience of urologists.

I filed this away as interesting and amusing in my mind, but pretty much stopped thinking about it after my article was written.

This morning, after reading about Terry Wahl's list of causes of autoimmune diseases, I found that story about the 1983 urological conference popping back into my head.  Prior to 1983, in my lifetime, impotence was thought to be primarily a psychological disturbance, all in someone's head! Whoa! MS is thought (by most people) to be a primarily genetic illness caused mostly by people's genes.  Obesity, my pet illness, it is thought to primarily be caused by people's laziness.  (I hate to say it, but it is true! Even the medical community says, well you can just eat less and exercise more.) Those in the medical community who look deeper seem to attribute obesity to a combination of genetics, psychological issues, and a sedentary lifestyle.

What if obesity is a little more like erectile dysfuntion?  What if it has a physical cause and yet we are counseling people to a place of blame and ultimately shame?  Wow! I mean as a fat positive blogger who still sees weight as a health marker (yes I am a study in contradictions), I don't blame people for being overweight, but I never real thought how the current thought patterns towards obesity held by the vast majority of members of the medical establishment could be so far off.

I feel that perhaps bariatric researchers need their equivalent of Dr. Giles Brindley. Someone who isn't afraid to take center stage and metaphorically drop their pants in the name of truth.

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