Exercise vs Pills | The true fountain of youth
Contrary to the popular believe that drug invention and intervention has defectively increased mortality of human life, a recent study by Huseyin Naci, John P A Ioannidis and Co. suggests that exercise is as effective as drug therapy in the secondary prevention of coronary heart disease, rehabilitation after stroke, care of heart failure, and prevention of diabetes – combined together as the major cause of human mortality. This fascinating study, published by a group consisting of researchers from London School of Economics, Stanford University School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School, combines data from over 300,000 participants in 305 randomized controlled trials.
Implications | One: the evidence base for exercise in chronic disease is woefully lacking and skewed in favor of drug-based approaches. Two: even the limited available evidence indicates that exercise is often at least as effective as drugs at preventing death from the most common killer diseases. This meta-epidemiological review is the first to compare the mortality benefits of exercise and drug interventions. This comprehensive look at the existing body of evidence highlights the need to perform randomised trials on the comparative effectiveness of exercise and drug interventions. Given the scarcity of financial resources to fund future trials of exercise interventions, one option would be to require such evidence from pharmaceutical companies that are under increasing pressure to perform active-comparator trials for market entry. For example, regulators should consider requiring pharmaceutical sponsors of new drugs to include exercise interventions as an active comparator arm in drug trials. In cases where drug options provide only modest benefit, patients deserve to understand the relative impact that physical activity might have on their condition.