How Understanding Chemistry can help in your Daily Life

Every day, we’re faced with decisions. Some decisions – buying a car, choosing a mate – we take more seriously than other decisions. Sometimes we have only a few seconds to spend on making a gut instinct call. Having a solid knowledge of chemistry will vastly improve your quality of life when it comes to these “quick and dirty” decisions. Here are just a few example areas, because honestly, whole books could be written on this subject:

Pharmaceuticals. Which cough syrup is best? Don’t pick the one with added Tylenol if you’re also taking Tylenol tablets for your fever, because otherwise you just fried your liver. Are name brand over-the-counter or even Rx brand-name medications better than generics? What should you expect as side effects from most common medications?

Another classic example from the world of pharmaceuticals: there is a drug with the brand name “Proscar”. It’s indicated for males who suffer from an enlarged prostrate. Treatment is 5 mg once per day, just a small white pill. It works quite well, as far as clinical trials have shown.

The same chemical company (who will remain unnamed) who markets Proscar also markets a very effective drug for the prevention of male pattern hair loss named “Propecia”. It came out about the same time as Proscar. Dosage: 1 mg once per day, a small brown pill.

So, what’s the problem? Here’s the problem: both pills have the exact same active ingredient – a molecule named finasteride. The cash cost for a months supply of Proscar (150 mg of finasteride) is about $50, give or take. The cash cost for a months supply of Propecia (30 mg of finasteride) is about $80, give or take. The drug company knows *precisely* what it’s doing with this ploy. What’s to stop you from explaining this ridiculous situation to your doctor, getting an off-label prescription for Proscar, buying a $2 pill cutter from Walgreens, and effectively turning $50 of proscar into $400 of Propecia? Nothing…provided you have sufficient understanding of the chemistry to make that intelligent decision.

Chemistry is all around us. It’s the air we breathe, the food we eat, it’s the science of our body and the materials which affect our health (both for the better, and the worse). It’s the electromagnetic spectrum that surrounds us, bringing us TV, cell phones, music. To understand chemistry is to understand the world around you. There is simply no value to the argument that understanding chemistry *can’t* help you in daily life. The more you know, the more you are able to make smart decisions about life choices.

Everyone should be encouraged to learn the basics of science. It’ll assist in making intelligent decisions about your health, about what products you buy, about the truth behind the scams that are ever present on the Internet and TV. It will be the best time you will have ever spent, and probably amongst the most enjoyable. Chemistry is *fun*, and anyone can learn enough for it to be useful to them.