Medications have their dark side. Exercise, diet, and other
changes can be alternatives, but could feel like a whole lot of
We've gotten used to taking pills for much that ails us, but
these days, the medicine cabinet is looking like a rogues'
gallery. There's been bad news about the painkiller rofecoxib
(Vioxx), the diabetes drug rosiglitazone (Avandia), and, most
recently, the cholesterol-lowering combination of ezetimibe and
simvastatin (Vytorin). Problems with hormone therapy and
antidepressants have also been bannered in headlines.
We don't lack for alternatives. Plenty of research shows that
exercise, diet, and other lifestyle changes are effective weapons
against many chronic diseases. But there are more findings about
preventing diseases with so-called lifestyle changes than there
are about treating them. And you won't find many head-to-head
comparisons between the conventional drug treatments and the
nondrug ones. Often it seems like the nonpharmacological approach
doesn't quite get its due. The long review papers on treatment
choices typically squirrel it away in a small section, almost as
To continue reading this article, you must login
Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.