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Roots of Modern Medicine

David Eells

"Witchcraft" or "sorcery" in the New Testament is from the Greek word "pharmakeia"; English "pharmacy" - Healing through the use of drugs.  [See etymonline.com and dictionary.com.]  Of Babylon it was said:  (Rev.18:23)... for with thy sorcery were all the nations deceived.

The physicians' Hippocratic Oath:

I swear by Apollo the Physician, and Asklepios and Hygieia, and all the Gods and Goddesses that, according to my ability and judgment, I will keep this oath and this syngraphe ('contract'): to consider him who taught me this Art as dear to me as my parent, to share my substance with him, and to relieve his necessities if required; to look upon his offspring as equivalent to my own brothers, and to teach them this Art, if they wish to learn it, without fee or stipulation; and that by precept, lecture, and every other form of instruction, I will impart a knowledge of the Art to my own sons, and those of my teachers, and to disciples bound by a stipulation and oath according to the law of medicine, but to none others. I will follow that system of regimen which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients and abstain from whatever is harmful and mischievous. I will give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked, nor suggest any such advice; likewise, I will not give a pessary to a woman to induce abortion. I will live my life and practice my art with purity and holiness. I will not cut persons suffering from 'the stone', but will leave this to be done by men who are practitioners of this skill. Whatever houses I enter, I will enter for the benefit of the sick, and will abstain from every voluntary act of mischief and corruption, and especially from the seduction of females or males, of free persons or slaves. Whatever I see or hear in connection with my professional practice or not in the life of men, which should not be made public, I will not divulge, considering that all such knowledge should remain secret. As long as I continue to keep this Oath inviolate, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and the practice of the Art, respected by all men, at all times. But if I should trespass and violate this Oath, may the opposite be my lot.
www.csun.edu
 

Apollo in Greek Mythology

Apollo is in many respects the paradigm of a Greek god. He represents order, harmony, and civilization in a way that most other Olympian deities cannot quite equal. One only has to compare him with Dionysos to understand how Apollo is depicted as a bright, rational counterpart to the chaotic and frenzied god of wine and women. Indeed, Apollo is most often associated with the cultivated arts of music and medicine, and his role as the leader of the Muses establishes him as a patron of intellectual pursuits.

Pronunciation
{a-pol'-lo}

Etymology
"Destroy or excite"

Other names
Apollon

(EDITOR'S NOTE: The angel of the abyss is Apollyon, meaning destroyer.)

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Witchcraft or Sorcery in the New Testament is from the Greek word Pharmakia;  English Pharmacy;  Healing through the use of drugs.  Of Babylon it was said, (Rev.18:23)... for with thy sorcery were all the nations deceived.)

The son of Zeus and Leto, and the twin brother of Artemis. Apollo was the god of music (principally the lyre, and he directed the choir of the Muses) and also of prophecy, colonization, medicine, archery (but not for war or hunting), poetry, dance, intellectual inquiry and the carer of herds and flocks. He was also a god of light, known as "Phoebus" (radiant or beaming, and he was sometimes identified with Helios the sun god). He was also the god of plague and was worshiped as Smintheus (from sminthos, rat) and as Parnopius (from parnops; grasshopper) and was known as the destroyer of rats and locust, and according to Homer's Iliad, Apollo shot arrows of plague into the Greek camp. Apollo being the god of religious healing would give those guilty of murder and other immoral deeds a ritual purification. Sacred to Apollo are the swan (one legend says that Apollo flew on the back of a swan to the land of the Hyperboreans, he would spend the winter months among them), the wolf and the dolphin. His attributes are the bow and arrows, on his head a laurel crown, and the cithara (or lyre) and plectrum. But his most famous attribute is the tripod, the symbol of his prophetic powers.
 

In Greek mythology, Asklepios (Asclepius) was the god of healing. He was the son of the Olympian god Apollo and a mortal woman named Coronis.
 

Asklepios (Roman Aesculapius)

The Hesiod places Aesculapius' origin in Thessaly where he lived in a subterranean cleft with both a serpent and a hound as companions. Born of the god Apollo and the mortal woman Coronis (a "former" virgin of the Lapithae), Aesculapius was raised by the centaur Chiron, from whom he learned the art of healing and became a physician.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: This healer God is an imitation of Jesus. This god is supposedly born of  an earthly mother and a god (Son of God) he supposedly raised the dead etc.  The physicians symbol, the serpent on a rod, was an imitation of Moses serpent that was lifted up in the wilderness, which pointed to Christ the healer. This god is clearly a false Christ.)

However, in the pride of his powers, Aesculapius ventured to transgress the laws of nature and to bring the dead back to life. Naturally, Pluto the lord of the underworld was none too happy with this turn of events, and complained to Zeus that Hades was being depopulated. So Zeus slew Aesculapius with a thunderbolt (sorry).

According to Greek legend, patients seeking healing would sleep the night in the temple of Aesculapius. During the night, Aesculapius would appear to the patient in a dream, accompanied by his daughter, the goddess Hygieia, and by a serpent who followed Aesculapius wherever he went. At that point, Aesculapius would treat the patient in the dream, often by having the serpent lick his or her wounds. In the morning, the patient would awaken healed.

As a result, throughout history, the symbol of the physician has been, and continues to be, the Staff of Aesculapius, a wooden staff with a SINGLE serpent entwined. Many readers, however, are probably more familiar with the Caduceus, which is the winged staff of Hermes, the messenger of the gods, with TWO intertwined serpents.

His followers established temples called Asclepions, temples of Asklepios, temples of healing. The greatest asklepion was in a grove of trees south of Corinth, Greece where the sick had to spend a night while the proper remedies were revealed during a dream to the priests of the temple and the cured had to make a suitable sacrifice (usually a rooster) to the god.

According to mythology, Asculapius had a number of children including Hygieia, the goddess of health (from whose name comes the word "hygiene") and Panaceia, the goddess of healing (from whose name comes the word "panacea" for a universal remedy).

Today, the staff of Aesculapius is a commonly used symbol of medicine. It is the symbol of the American Medical Association (AMA) and many other medical societies.

Greek god of healing. He was not a regular member of the Olympian pantheon and his worship began seriously only with the 5th century, especially at his sanctuaries in Epidaurus and on Cos. In art he appears as a bearded man, with a staff and snake, often with his daughter Hygieia (Health)
 
Chiron taught Asclepius the art of healing. According to Pindar (Pythian Odes), Asclepius also acquired the knowledge of surgery, the use of drugs, love potions and incantations.
www.loggia.com
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Physician Humor.........or is it?

Think about this:
Statistically, doctors are approximately 9,000 times more dangerous than gun owners.

a. The number of physicians in the US is 700,000.
b. Accidental deaths caused by Physicians per year is 120,000.
c. Accidental deaths per physician is 0.171. (US Dept. of Health & Human Services)

Then think about this:

a. The number of gun owners in the US is 80,000,000.
b. The number of accidental gun deaths per year (all age groups) is 1,500.
c. The number of accidental deaths per gun owner is .0000188.

Statistically, doctors are approximately 9,000 times more dangerous than gun owners.

FACT:   NOT EVERYONE HAS A GUN, BUT ALMOST EVERYONE HAS AT LEAST . . . ONE DOCTOR!

Please alert your friends to this alarming threat.  We must ban doctors before this gets out of hand!  As a public health measure I have withheld the statistics on lawyers for fear that the shock could cause people to seek medical attention.

 

Man's Methods and God’s Glory

But God chose the foolish things of the world, that he might put to shame them that are wise; and God chose the weak things of the world, that he might put to shame the things that are strong; and the base things of the world, and the things that are despised, did God choose [yea] and the things that are not, that he might bring to naught the things that are: that no flesh should glory before God (1 Cor.1:27-29).

God’s methods will always be considered foolish, weak, base, and despised by the world and the worldly church. I inherited from my father a chronic weakness in nasal, sinus, and inner ear infections. By the time I came to the Lord, my eardrums had burst many times because of these infections. I dreaded this because it was very painful. My hearing was impaired due to scars on my eardrums. Also, as did my father, I carried nasal spray with me almost year-round to open up my sinuses. This had destroyed the lining in my nose, which made the problem worse. Because of this, I started using saltwater as a nasal spray, which did not work as well. Penicillin became useless and vitamin C, too.

Shortly after I came to the Lord I discovered that I did not have to seek healing any more because 2,000 years ago I was healed by Jesus’ stripes. I threw my nasal spray and my vitamin C away by faith. My nose and sinuses have not stopped up since, even when I have had a cold. I have had no more burst eardrums, either. This testimony has been given to many who also came to faith and were healed. At the end of all of my works to save myself by man’s methods, God gave me faith to see His works. God’s method was faith in Him combined with my own weakness. He said, “[my] power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor.12:9). Faith is foolish, weak, and base to the world but it brings God’s power.

Before I knew the Lord, I applied for a job at Exxon. Their physical showed that I had hearing loss from scarred eardrums and a nonfunctional heart murmur, which I had from childhood. They almost did not hire me. A few years later after I discovered the Lord and His method, they called me in for another physical. There was no sign of hearing loss or heart murmur. My poor attendance record, caused by sickness, also made a complete turnaround. Worldly methods failed me, but faith in the promises brought the most awesome deliverance. Glory to God!

Recently, I watched a report on antibacterial soaps on the national news. They reported that the net effect was that they were not wiping out bacteria, but making them resistant. What did penicillin do but make antibioticresistant bacteria for which there is no medical cure on the horizon? Poisons on the crops, to try to destroy the curse, go into the water supply and cause a multitude of diseases. Read your toothpaste tube; fluoride is a deadly poison. The Journal of the American Medical Association Vol. 284, July 26, 2000, reported that doctors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S., causing 250,000 deaths every year from iatrogenic causes! Iatrogenic is defined as induced in a patient by a physician’s activity, manner, or therapy, used especially of a complication of treatment. If this is what their organization admits, what is the truth? The numbers are much higher. If, as some believe, this is God’s preferred method of healing today, He is surely making a lot of mistakes. I have a good doctor friend named John Farmer, who prefers to not use drugs. He has told me how he prays for patients who will believe, with results. The problem is that most are not interested in deliverance from their curse if it takes repentance and faith so he does what he can.

My mother took a drug for years. One day she was reading an article by Reader’s Digest on the sideeffects of medicines. The sideeffects of the drug she was on were breast cancer and glaucoma, and she had them both. That was a terrible trade. My father’s favorite doctor told him after an examination, “One thing I am sure of, you are not going to die of a heart attack. You have the heart of a much younger man.” About a month later, he had a serious heart attack. I became convinced it was because of a drug he was taking to put oxygen into his blood because he lost a lung to smoking. Two close friends took a drug that had a sideeffect of damaging their kidneys. Their doctors admitted this in both cases. Man shifts the curse around and sometimes multiplies it, but he cannot deliver by his own efforts. If he could, then Jesus’ death was for naught. I believe it is God’s purpose that we understand that there is no permanent deliverance from the curse except God’s deliverance through Jesus Christ. The world’s deliverance is a deception, because, ultimately, their gods fail them. God wants us to see through that.

We have been told that God now uses modern methods for delivering us from the curse. God’s method is always free. It is salvation by grace, which is the unmerited, unpaid for, favor of God. Neither Jesus nor His disciples charged anything for healing, deliverance, provision, or any other form of salvation. The world’s method always cost. The poor often go untreated until they die. In God’s kingdom, all are treated on condition of faith. God desires to use the same method He used in the Scripture, the word of faith, because it is the only one that does not give glory to man. If a Christian receives a recovery from some disease while under the care of doctors and medicine, everyone wants to know what the medicine was or who the doctor was. God will not share His glory with another. I am not condemning those who use doctors or medicine. I offer the good news that Jesus has already healed you almost 2,000 years ago. Reading the New Testament once shows that God did not use the methods of man. In the coming wilderness we will need to understand this.

Soon God’s people will not be able to buy or sell with the world. Then all will be forced into a wilderness experience where there will be no idolatry with the gods of this world. For the people of God in the wilderness there will be a great lack of doctors, medicine, lawyers, bankers, psychiatrists, insurance, food, clean water, and public assistance of all types. Then we will see God's power in man’s weakness (2 Cor.12:9-10). The churches’ methods of obtaining provision today are the same as the world’s methods and are therefore acceptable to it.

God has a peculiar method for ministering deliverance from the curse that costs nothing, gives no glory to man, and proves His sovereignty. (1 Cor.1:28) And the base things of the world, and the things that are despised, did God choose, [yea] and the things that are not, that he might bring to nought the things that are: (29) that no flesh should glory before God. We see here that God chose to use something that does not exist in the physical realm in order to destroy the things that do. The “things that are not” are the promises in the Word that we do not see fulfilled. The “things that are” are the cursed things of sin, sickness, and lack, which God wants to “bring to nought.” For example, if you are sick, that is a thing that is; but “by whose stripes ye were healed” is a thing that is not in the physical realm. God chose faith in His promises “that are not” in order to bring to naught the sickness. Jesus and the disciples used God’s method for dealing with the curse by calling “the things that are not, as though they were” (Rom.4:17). They just commanded it done according to the promises. They did not choose “the things that are,” like doctors, medicine, psychiatrists, banks, and such to bring to naught the things that are,”  like sin, sickness, torment, lack, debt, etc. The things that appear in this realm are the things that are and are all under the curse. (Heb.11:3) By faith we understand that the worlds (Greek: ”ages”) have been framed by the word of God, so that what is seen hath not been made out of things which appear.

God’s method is to use the Word and not the physical things that appear, just as in the Gospels and Acts. In anointing with oil, it is obviously not the oil but the faith that heals. Oil is just a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Paul’s handkerchief did not heal; it was the power from his faith (Acts 19:12). Some might think that once Jesus also used things such as when He made clay with His spit to heal a blind man in John 9:6-7. It was not the clay that healed his eyes, but the washing it out of his eyes; clay symbolizes the Adamic nature and the things that are (Job 10:9; 33:6; Isa.29:16; 45:9) just as man was made from clay.

In other words, our eyes must be cleansed of seeing through eyes of clay. We need the spiritual eyes to see the promise as done by faith. (2 Pet.1:3) Seeing that his divine power hath granted unto us all things that pertain unto life (Greek: zoe, “God’s life”) and godliness….To have spiritual eyes, we must see that Jesus has already given us His life and blessings. We need to be cleansed of fleshly eyes that keep us from God’s blessings.  … The natural man (of clay) receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually judged (Greek: “examined” or “seen”) (1 Cor.2:14). By the way, the spit from Jesus’ mouth symbolizes that which comes out of the mouth of the Lord that gives life to man, the Word or manna (Dt.8:3; Jn.1:13; 6:33,51).

I once knew a preacher who said, “The reason Paul did all those miracles was because Luke the physician was with him.” Wrong! Not in one verse do we see Luke using physician skills, which could never result in a miracle. The Greek word iatros is falsely translated “physician”  but it just means “healer.” Iatros is also used of Jesus as “healer.” Translators put their modern ideas here. “Physician” means “one who practices medicine,” which Jesus and the apostles never did. The term used for drugs or medicine in the Greek is pharmakia (English: “pharmacy”) and is translated “witchcraft” or “sorcery,” which Paul called a work of the flesh in Galatians 5:20. The nations are deceived with pharmakia (Rev.18:23). Luke was a healer in the same way Jesus and the other disciples were.

It should seem strange to these people that Jesus and his disciples did not use “the things that are” to administer healing or deliverance. If Paul's handkerchief had the power to heal, why could it not heal before he touched it? It only acted as a medium to carry the healing anointing to the sick by faith. I have prayed over handkerchiefs, water, or people as mediums and seen healings. A brother, whose wife was very sick, came into our meeting. He was very troubled and on the edge of tears about this. The brother was not yet convinced that he needed to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Asking the Lord in my thoughts what to do, it came to me to pray over him to impart healing power to him, which we did. Then I said, “Now brother, go lay hands on your wife, and she will be healed.” He was not convinced that healing was our right today, but he went home to lay hands on his wife. When he did, she was healed, and he came back excited. You see, it is not the medium; it is the healing power manifested through it, or in this case him, by faith. Jesus imparted authority to the disciples to heal before they received the Holy Spirit.

So how do we use God’s method of “the things that are not”  ? By calling “the things that are not, as though they were” (Rom.4:17). In other words, agree with the promise and call it done. God chooses to use “the things that are not, that he might bring to nought the things that are: that no flesh should glory before God” (1 Cor.1:28-29). God does not desire to use man’s inventions so that only He can brag. God’s salvation is not by our works. It is by getting our eyes off the problem and on the promise. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 teaches that our affliction will be temporary if “we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.”  When the Israelites got their eyes off the snake bite (curse) and on the serpent on the pole (Christ who became our curse [Jn.3:14]), they were healed (Num.21:49).

As we saw, Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” had nothing to do with sickness but a demon that was bringing him into humbling circumstances where he was weak to save himself so God’s power was present to save him. His advice to Timothy puts a question in some concerning the use of remedies. In the text we can see that sin is the subject before and after the verse in question. (1 Tim. 5:22) Lay hands hastily on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure. (23) Be no longer a drinker of water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities (Greek: asthenia; meaning “weaknesses”). (24) Some men's sins are evident, going before unto judgment; and some men also they follow after. (25) In like manner also there are good works that are evident; and such as are otherwise cannot be hid.

The word sometimes translated “infirmities” is actually “weaknesses” and is clearly seen in other texts where the same word is correctly translated. (1Cor.1:25)The weakness of God is stronger than men. Now we know that God is not infirm or sick so this word has to be “weakness.” (2 Cor.13:4) For he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth through the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him through the power of God toward you. We know that Jesus Christ was not crucified through infirmity, but weakness because He would not defend Himself when He was brought before Pilate and the Jewish leaders. Timothy had spiritual weaknesses for which the only cure was the spiritual wine of the nature of Jesus. The stomach or belly was spiritually considered the seat of rulership for the carnal man. It represented being driven by the lusts (Greek: “desires”) of the flesh, driven by sin. (Php.3:19) Whose end is perdition, whose god is the belly, and [whose] glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things. Peter called those who returned to their sins, “the sow that had washed to wallowing in the mire.”  The sow best identifies those who are servants to their flesh’s appetites.

On the other hand, wine was considered the cure for bondage to sin. Wine represents the blood of Jesus. (Mt.26:27) And he took a cup (of wine), and gave thanks, and gave to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; (28) for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many unto remission of sins. (29) But I say unto you, I shall not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom. Through our own blood we have inherited the lusts of the sinful flesh and through Jesus’ pure blood that nature is destroyed. (Lev.17:11) For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh atonement by reason of the life. His blood is in us to the extent that we repent and partake of the life of His Word. (Jn.6:53) Jesus therefore said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood (wine), ye have not life in yourselves. (54) He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life: and I will raise him up at the last day. Partaking of the blood or wine is a matter of walking in His Word by faith in His blood that was given to us. (1 Jn.1:7) But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

The combined fruitful faith that resides in the true body of Christ is the answer to the question of why Isaiah commanded a cake of figs for Hezekiah’s boil. (Isa.38:21) Now Isaiah had said, Let them take a cake of figs, and lay it for a plaster upon the boil, and he shall recover. The figs here represent the Body of Christ or Israel as in Jesus’ warnings about bearing fruit.  (Lk.13:6)And he spake this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came seeking fruit thereon, and found none. (7) And he said unto the vinedresser, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why doth it also cumber the ground? (Rev.6:13) and the stars of the heaven (Abraham’s seed) fell unto the earth, as a fig tree casteth her unripe figs when she is shaken of a great wind. Jesus identified the righteous as being under the fig tree when He saw Nathanael there as an Israelite without guile (Jn.1:4750). Notice that in the verse before the “cake of figs” was laid on the boil, faith was expressed to God by the body for Hezekiah’s healing as the saints in the “house of the Lord” were praising God for this. It was the figs’ faith that sucked the poison out of the boil. (Isa.38:20) The Lord is [ready] to save me: Therefore we will sing my songs with stringed instruments All the days of our life in the house of the Lord. The cake of figs was a natural parable that represented a spiritual happening just as in Jesus’ parables of planting wheat and corn, etc.
 

Medical Errors Costing U.S. Billions

Mistakes resulted in 238,337 preventable deaths from 2004-06, survey finds.

Robert Preidt

TUESDAY, April 8 (HealthDay News) -- From 2004 through 2006, patient safety errors resulted in 238,337 potentially preventable deaths of U.S. Medicare patients and cost the Medicare program $8.8 billion, according to the fifth annual Patient Safety in American Hospitals Study.

This analysis of 41 million Medicare patient records, released April 8 by HealthGrades, a health care ratings organization, found that patients treated at top-performing hospitals were, on average, 43 percent less likely to experience one or more medical errors than patients at the poorest-performing hospitals.

The overall medical error rate was about 3 percent for all Medicare patients, which works out to about 1.1 million patient safety incidents during the three years included in the analysis.

Among the other findings:

  • Patients who experienced a patient safety incident had a 20 percent chance of dying as a result of the incident.

  • The overall death rate among patients who experienced one or more patient safety incidents fell by almost 5 percent between 2004 and 2006.

  • However, over that time, there were increases in post-operative respiratory failure, post-operative pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis, post-operative sepsis (blood infection), and post-operative abdominal wound separation/splitting.

  • The most common types of medical errors were bed sores, failure to rescue, and post-operative respiratory failure. Together, they accounted for 63.4 percent of incidents.

  • Failure to rescue improved 11.1 percent from 2004 to 2006, while both bed sores and post-operative respiratory failure worsened during that time.

  • Of the 270,491 deaths that occurred among patients who experienced one or more patient safety incidents, 238,337 were potentially preventable, the researchers said.

  • If all hospitals performed at the level of the top-ranked hospitals, about 220,106 patient safety incidents and 37,214 patient deaths could have been avoided, and about $2 billion could have been saved.

"While many U.S. hospitals have taken extensive action to prevent medical errors, the prevalence of likely preventable patient safety incidents is taking a costly toll on our health care systems -- in both lives and dollars," Dr. Samantha Collier, HealthGrades' chief medical officer and primary author of the study, said in a prepared statement.

"HealthGrades has documented in numerous studies the significant and largely unchanging gap between top-performing and poor-performing hospitals. It is imperative that hospitals recognize the benchmarks set by the Distinguished Hospitals for Patient Safety are achievable and associated with higher safety and markedly lower cost," Collier said.

Starting Oct. 1, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will stop reimbursing hospitals for the treatment of eight major preventable errors, including objects left in the body after surgery and certain kinds of post-surgical infections.
 

Many Blood Transfusions May Increase Risks, Doctors Warn

· UK study found dangers for heart surgery patients
· Fears over death rate and storage lead to US inquiry

  • The Guardian,

  • Thursday April 24 2008

  • Article history

  • This article appeared in the Guardian on Thursday April 24 2008 on p12 of the UK news section. It was last updated at 00:08 on April 24 2008.

    More than half of blood transfusions may do more harm than good, with some patients facing a six-fold greater risk of dying following surgery because of transfusions, doctors warn today.

    Fears over the safety of blood transfusions have prompted some physicians to recommend they are used only as a last resort, with hospitals urged to be more selective over which patients receive blood. According to a report in New Scientist today, the National Institutes of Health, the US government's largest medical funder, has launched a review into the safety of the procedure. Bruce Spiess, a cardiac anaesthetist at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, America, told the magazine: "Probably 40%-60% of blood transfusions are not good for the patients."

    While the risks of contracting life-threatening infections, such as HIV, from blood transfusions are well understood, doctors believe the danger posed by the blood itself is more serious.

    Although they do not fully understand why blood transfusions are linked to higher death rates, they suspect that ageing blood that has been stored before being given to patients is less able to carry oxygen to vital organs and causes damage to the immune system.

    Blood transfusions became a common procedure during the two world wars, when they were used to save critically-injured soldiers. They are now used routinely in heart surgery, hip replacement operations and cancer treatment. According to the National Blood Service, only 8% of donated blood is used in accident and emergency situations.

    According to New Scientist, a recent flurry of studies highlighting the risks of blood transfusions has prompted the wide-ranging safety review. One study of almost 9,000 patients, led by cardiac surgeon Gavin Murphy at the Bristol Heart Institute, found that patients who had heart surgery between 1996 and 2003 were three times more likely to die a year after their operation if they had a blood transfusion. In the month after surgery they were six times more likely to die than patients who did not receive donated blood.

    "There is virtually no high-quality study in surgery, or intensive care or acute care, outside of when you are bleeding to death, that shows that blood transfusion is beneficial, and many that show it is bad for you," he said. There are more than 30,000 cardiac operations in Britain each year, with around half involving blood transfusions.

    The American review will attempt to find out why blood transfusions appear to be so harmful to many patients.

    One theory is that chemicals in donated blood suppress the patient's immune system, making it harder to fight off infections. But doctors also know that within hours of being collected red blood cells stiffen up, making them less able to squeeze down narrow blood vessels and supply oxygen to vital organs.

    A study published last month in the New England Journal of Medicine found that patients who received blood that was more than two weeks old were almost 70% more likely to die within a year than patients who received fresher blood.

    John Wallwork, professor of cardiothoracic surgery at Papworth hospital in Cambridge, said: "We are concerned about blood transfusions for a variety of reasons. We don't want to use blood unless we have to. In heart surgery around half receive blood transfusions, but often they are patients who are sicker or bleed significantly during the operation. It's always a case of balancing the risks."
     


    New study: Radiation treatments create cancer cells 30 times more potent than regular cancer cells


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