I was a professional soccer player and winner of the reality show Survivor Africa - but cancer does not discriminate.
One half of all prescription drugs developed in the past 25 years are based on natural sources like rainforest plants and marine sponges. Libraries of potential new medicinal compounds are lost forever as species and habitats are destroyed.
Have you survived cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, or HIV? Many drugs used to treat these chronic disease are based on natural sources.
Join survivors & doctors taking action to protect global ecosystems.
Prescription Medications from Global Natural Areas
Roll over the red dots to see how ecosystems and species around the world contribute to human health.
Chemical compounds synthesized from species as diverse as a Brazilian snake and a Chinese tree provide the basis for the drugs that help millions of Americans combat myriad potentially fatal diseases. More than 70 percent of cancer medications are based on natural sources. But natural areas and species around the world are rapidly disappearing. The alarming extent of ecosystem and species loss is a serious threat to human health and welfare. As ecosystems and species are destroyed, libraries of natural compounds potentially useful to medicine are lost forever. The United Nations Environment Programme predicts that current extinction rates will result in the loss of one major new drug every two years.
I am a retired Emergency Room physician and a heart transplant survivor. One of the prescriptions I take to keep my heart healthy is a blood pressure medicine used by 30 million Americans. Lisinopril was developed using the venom of the Brazilian pit viper. This snake lives in Brazilian jungles which are rapidly being felled for timber, plantations, and development. A compound in the viper’s venom dramatically lowers blood pressure. I have learned in my medical work, and as a patient, that there are many similarly surprising substances found in nature — some so complex that they cannot be made in the laboratory. Half of all our newest drugs come from nature. Diverse natural environments like jungles can have thousands of different species in a single square mile. Destroying these species destroys a literal gold mine of drugs. Developed countries must work together to help ensure native peoples living in the world’s rapidly disappearing rainforests and other wild places benefit from protecting these biologically rich ecosystems. Read more survivor stories.