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Last week, a friend handed me a copy of a book entitled Overdosed America and suggested that I read it. The author is John Abramson, a family doctor and a faculty member at Harvard Medical School. The book is not new, it’s been available for a dozen years, but I was amazed at how true it continues to ring.

Dr. Abramson takes an in-depth look at many popular drugs that are heavily marketed by pharmaceutical companies—marketing that often selectively presents misleading information for the sole purpose of increasing sales and profits.

For example, the medications Celebrex and Vioxx are marketed as powerful—and expensive—treatments for arthritis, but Dr. Abramson shows that they’re actually no more effective than Motrin, Advil or Aleve. According to Dr. Abramson, other drugs—everything from hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to statins to meds for diabetes and obesity—follow the exact same pattern. Not very effective, but making the companies who make them a ton of money.

In almost every case, the doctor concludes that changing our lifestyle is not only a lot less expensive than drugs, but is also a far more effective way to improve our overall health. Even better, the changes he recommends aren’t even all that demanding:

  • Regular exercise, including walking.
  • A healthy diet. Specifically, he recommends a “Mediterranean diet” that consists of fruits, vegetables, grains, and lean meats like chicken and fish, while limiting beef to not more than one serving a week.
  • Controlling your weight.
  • Not smoking.

The amazing part about Dr. Abramson’s findings is that they benefit every aspect of our lives. By following his simple plan, we can reduce our cholesterol, develop healthier hearts, manage our weight—and in the process, improve our quality of life.

It’s a win-win-win situation.

Written by: Dr. John Farah