What was I saying earlier about the dangers inherent with diagnosis? Look at this quote in today’s Daily Mail explaining why even the President of the Royal College of GPs refuses to have a mammogram:
“The potential dangers of over-diagnosis have even led the president of the Royal College of GPs, Iona Heath, to decline invitations to attend screening sessions. Advocates of such screening say it prevents diseases, prompts early detection and saves lives — along with millions of pounds of NHS money.
But as Dr Heath explains, a study of research evidence by the respected Cochrane Reviews Library ‘suggests that for every 2,000 women invited to screening for ten years, one death from breast cancer will be avoided but that ten women will be overdiagnosed with breast cancer’.
She adds: ‘This overdiagnosis is estimated to result in six extra tumour removals and four extra mastectomies and in 200 women risking significant psychological harm relating to the anxiety triggered by the further investigation of mammographic abnormalities.’
Obviously, this is not the case for everyone and I am no way saying you shouldn’t get screened. What I am saying is don’t follow blithely what you are told to do. Research it a bit and make an educated choice.
This piece was included in the Mail’s report of a new book by Dr H Gilbert Welch who maintains that the ‘healthy’ levels determined by doctors of diseases like high cholesterol and diabetes has been steadily coming down over the past few decades which is leading, he thinks in error, to more people being diagnosed and no doubt to Big Pharma boosting their profits. Quite rightly, he is asking if the changes have actually led to any positive saving of lives.
If you had a 7.6 score of cholesterol just 20 years ago, you would have been considered healthy. Now, you need under 5.1 (and in some cases I have seen people told under 3). For diabetes, the Dr Welch explains:
The old rule, from when I was in medical school 30 years ago, was that if you had a blood-sugar level over 140, you had diabetes. But in 1997 experts changed the international definition. ‘Now, if you have a reading of more than 126 you have diabetes. That little change turned millions of people into patients.
Apparently, the diabetes score is about to be lowered again. I am in two minds: I want diabetes to be stopped, although I’m not so sure about the cholesterol which, in my opinion, is coming down ridiculously low – we do need some for very important jobs in the body, but I can’t help feeling cynical here. Can’t the money that will now go into pharmaceutical companies go into a healthy eating campaign to stop the problem in the first place? Seems a bit after the fact to me. Ah well.
- Cancer rates rise by a fifth in a generation (telegraph.co.uk)