Letter: Careful use of steroids

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The Independent Online
Sir, I was sorry to read ("An ill for every pill", 19 November) that Virginia Ironside had been ill and had had bad experience with the drugs used to treat her ulcerative colitis, an unpleasant and sometimes dangerous condition. Her experiences, however, do not justify her wholesale attacks on steroids and on orthodox medicine.

Most people do not have horrendous side-effects from steroids, even in large doses, and doctors are well aware of the side-effects and of the need to limit the use of these drugs as far as possible. Trouble-free medication was never part of the deal: doctors do their best with the knowledge and the treatments available to them.

The difference between orthodox medicine and many of the alternatives is that conventional medicine strives to be science-based, logical and self-critical. Many alternative treatments, on the other hand, are based on received wisdom, superstition or crude forms of empiricism.

ROGER A FISKEN MD, FRCP

Northallerton,

North Yorkshire

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