Editor’s note: This week, health writers Deepali Rastogi and Mahesh Tipirneni respond to a letter from a reader regarding their recent column on smoking, which listed medical conditions linked to smoking.
Physicians: It never ceases to amaze me the lengths the current medical establishment will go through to profess their medical opinions as fact.
In all the conditions listed, smoking may have the possibility as a differential. However, direct cause statements without proper diagnosis concerning the individual are not realistic or proper.
It seems that “modern medicine” has resorted to throwing “experience darts” based upon questionable studies instead of investigating the root cause of the disease. Smoking has been the “bad boy” and favorite tool use by medicine to instantly determine a diagnosis or cause. If you go to a physician with an ingrown toenail and you smoke, the cause of the problem is probably (that) you smoke.
The only thing I have not seen smoking blamed for is teenage pregnancy, but I am sure there is someone out there that could assemble a positive study if you paid them enough.
If the people that maintain all the complex diagnostic machinery utilized the same thought process of troubleshooting that “modern medicine professionals” utilize, the result would be failure or misapplication. Actual troubleshooting of processes, whether mechanized or biological, is an art form that requires multiple steps to a conclusion. Experience darts are detrimental to the process.
Also, remember that when a medical professional renders a diagnosis or statement, it is only a medical opinion, hence the term “second opinion.” Most physicians need a reminder about their diagnosis and their statements and the relationship to the real world.
I am not promoting smoking but questioning the methodology.
Dear G.K.: Thank you for reading our article. We truly appreciate your comments, concerns, and questions. If a health care provider solely attributes an ingrown toenail to smoking, then one needs to strongly consider finding another health care provider.
We understand your concerns or fears regarding modern medicine. I would like to first clarify that the article states, “Current data has linked smoking to quite a few organ and system dysfunctions.” Nowhere in the article do we state that smoking is directly and solely responsible for all the listed medical problems. We believe that smoking plays a varying role in many diseases.
I would not completely discredit “experience darts,” or as we in the field call them, “observations.” Observation is what initiates or drives most research, whether medical or non-medical. Observations in medicine have been going on for several centuries. Hippocrates (460 to 370 B.C.), the “father of medicine,” based his theories on observations of the human body. He was the first person to describe numerous medical illnesses accurately, such as pneumonia and epilepsy.
We, as humans, make observations everyday. Sometimes they hold water, and sometimes they don’t. That’s when further research comes in. The research showing tobacco’s “link” to various diseases has been going on for decades, and not just in the U.S., but in many other countries as well. So smoking has been depicted as a “bad boy” internationally for years because it is a “bad boy.”
The human body is the most complex organism we know of, yet we don’t really understand it completely. All the most advanced medical research barely scrapes the surface in our understanding of the human body and the diseases that afflict it. It can take years or even decades and a lot financial resources to precisely identify the “root cause” in medicine.
With the years of strong data that already supports tobacco’s link to heart disease, lung disease and certain cancers, do we really need to spend that much more time and money in finding another strong link just to tell people that smoking is bad for you?
We feel that it is important to separate out which research or data is significant and relevant and which isn’t prior to initiating therapy for patients.
The information we referenced is from federal and state agencies, reputable medical societies and our years of “medical observations.”