International Association Against Painful Experiments on Animals


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© Lorraine Kay/Dr. Robert Sharpe
(2) Tuberculosis USA. The arrow marks the introduction of specific drug therapy.

childhood disease

© Lorraine Kay/Dr. Robert Sharpe
(4) The decline in British mortality from measles, scarlet fever, diphtheria and whooping cough.

In an analysis of ten common infectious diseases, Boston University researchers John & Sonja McKinlay concluded that:

“In general, medical measures (both chemotherapeutic and prophylactic) appear to have contributed little to the overall decline in mortality in the United States since about 1900 - having in many instances been introduced several decades after a marked decline had already set in and having no detectable influence in most instances.”6

The McKinlays found that medical measures (drugs and vaccines) only accounted for between 1% and 3.5% of the total decline in mortality in the US since 1900.

A similar picture emerged in Finland and Sweden. Researchers at the University of Tempere discovered that the already declining death rates from most infectious diseases did not accelerate with the introduction of antibiotics. Such drugs, they suggest, have not had the dramatic effect popularly attributed to them.7 In fact, life expectancy has been increasing since the mid-18th century. Between 1755 and 1766 life expectancy for Swedish men averaged 33 years, but increased to 40 a century later. By the 1930s it had further increased to 64 and by 1975 to 72 years.8 Much the same is true in England and Wales where a detailed analysis by Thomas McKeown, formerly Professor of Social Medicine at the University of Birmingham, found that the decline in mortality during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries owed little to specific medical measures. Once again he identified improvements in the environment and also the
diminished virulence of some micro-organisms.9



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