TO LEAVE WELL ENOUGH ALONE;
Or if it isn't broken, don't fix it!
By Shari Schreiber,
friend e-mailed me the article following this preface. I was thrilled
to finally read some
material that echoed what I've believed for decades, and I considered
it valuable and important enough to share with you! The author is
a physician, who questions the viability of the medical community's
'early detection' practices, and in my
opinion, it's time someone did!
I'm appalled by TV and radio ads that bombard us with health concerns,
which instill fear, warn us of serious dangers if we're not hypervigilant
regarding our bodies--and tell us to ask our doctors if various
drugs are "right" for us. And have you ever noticed,
we're given absolutely no clue as to what these
drugs are supposed to treat? I can't imagine that your doctor's
the least bit happy about those commercials, regardless
of all the free drug samples he receives from the manufacturers
making them! Under the guise of "guarding your good health,"
there seems to be a tendency to undermine it, by making
sure that fear of "life threatening diseases"
remains in the forefront of your mind, and that just can't
is an important emotion--but it can weaken and disempower us when
it overrides rational thought! Throughout history, entire
societies have been controlled and manipulated, simply
by keeping people fearful. One of the most powerful
emotions we experience is fear, because we feel it intensely
in our bodies. When we feel afraid, chemicals like adrenalin are
released into our bloodstream to help us react to that stressor
with fight or flight. Sadly, many of us grew up in homes
where our 'fight' response had to be suppressed (in
order to survive), so we're conditioned
not to protect ourselves from someone
or something we think has more power than we do. When our
safety or survival is threatened, our autonomic nervous
system automatically responds to the anxiety/panic
that's triggered, with physical symptoms; shortness of breath, chest
pains, dizziness, nausea, sweating, etc. I bet you remember each
of the times in your life you felt really afraid--and how
hard it was to give your attention to anything else.
principles teach us that what we give our focus to, is what we manifest
and create more of, in our daily reality. If this is true, that
adage we've all grown up with, "be careful what you wish
for" can't be nearly as dangerous, as "be careful
what you fear!" In short, we easily attract
what we fear the most, because we're constantly focused
on trying to evade it! Psychologically astute individuals may refer
to this phenomenon as prophesy fulfillment, whether it
applies to fears about swine/bird flu, global warming, cancer--or
just "waiting for the other shoe to drop!"
the baseline of this tendency is an entitlement
issue, which asserts; I'm not deserving or worthy of receiving
what I need and want. This notion must
be dismantled and eliminated, or you'll push away anything and anyone
who could bring you real joy, for the rest of your life.
present concern is about these damned TV commercials that urge parents
to protect their daughters against the Papilloma Virus.
This is a fancy name for a sexually transmitted disease
called genital warts--which may spawn
cervical cancer! Instead of warnings which stress that condoms should
be used to protect females against contracting and passing along
this virus, mass inoculation is encouraged for young women--and
that's just not right! Pay close attention to the contraindications
of this "preventive" measure, and figure out if you want
to take those risks with your child's health. Have you wondered
why this virus isn't presented as a sexually transmitted issue in
those television spots? Well, you can be certain that the manufacturer
of this drug is making millions off your fear! Cervical
warts are very difficult to get rid of, and females aren't generally
aware they have an outbreak--which makes spreading them through
unprotected sex easy--but mass vaccinations aren't the answer. Better
sex education, is.
context of the article below, there
are some practitioners who believe that mammograms are
harmful to our breast tissue because of repeated, yearly exposure
to radiation. The darned machines they use these days can
be injurious to women, because they're hydraulically (rather than
manually) adjusted to a patient's breast size. A few of my friends
are physicians and I deeply respect them; still, as an independent
thinker, I'm somewhat rebellious--especially when it comes to my
health and the care of my body.
the course of many years, I've healed myself of things that doctors
couldn't, simply by listening to my instincts and intuitive wisdom.
Long ago, I decided to get ultrasound scans
every couple of years instead of going the traditional (X-ray) route,
just satisfy my gynecologist's mandated medical protocol. This is
an inexpensive, painless procedure that's used
as a secondary (more detailed) diagnostic tool, when your "abnormal"
mammogram needs further evaluation. In my mind, choosing
this procedure made perfect sense! Write
me, and I'll be happy to answer your questions and/or
let you know where to get this done.
context of mammograms, just think for a moment about when you last
got an X-ray of your tooth. Didn't they throw a big lead shield
on your entire torso, before they took that photo of something way
up in your mouth area? Yah, that's my point. If they're concerned
about radiation to your body from a specific beam aimed at your
cheek, what in the world is happening to that poor, compressed breast
tissue every year we let them radiate it--no matter how
minor a level that's supposed to be?! And what's the cumulative
impact~ which of course, includes all those years of fear and worry?
heard of individuals who were terrified of getting cancer, whether
they had a hereditary predisposition for it or not. They went on
strict macrobiotic diets, never touched junk food, chocolate, alcohol,
cigarettes, etc., and they ended up succumbing to the damned disease!
Why? They focused on it every single day of their life, and kept
envisioning and dreading it!
am not trying to dissuade you from caring
for your own health in whatever manner seems correct for you. I
am asking that you check-in with yourself
about how you think about staying healthy and strong, and
figure out what YOU need (or don't need) in order to have peace
of mind about it! This is a free choice issue, and there's no right
or wrong. Just start listening to your inner voice about this--and
whatever you decide, don't let these choices be motivated
by Fear (or you could end up regretting them).
recently got some great news about prostate cancer procedures.
This used to be a horrible surgery with substantial risks involved.
I've marveled at how the medical profession could continue removing
the prostate gland with such little concern for the man having this
done! I've been outraged about this for years, thinking
surely there must be a better, easier, less invasive way to remove
this gland. Well, a colleague just had his prostate removed (2009)
through his navel. Recovery time
was practically non-existent, and he's fine! If you ask me, it's
about time someone figured it out.
dad used to say, "when you buy health insurance, you're betting
that you'll get sick and need it~ and the insurance company is betting
that you won't. How much sense does that make??" I guess the
real question is, are you at all comfortable with gambling?
medicine has developed wonderful, innovative techniques for saving
lives, but "preventative" healthcare in the U.S. has become
Big Business and tragically, you're paying for
it with scans, tests and escalating insurance premiums! But the
greatest cost to you, is that you're being programmed to
live with constant levels of fear and anxiety about (God forbid)
overlooking something that "might" some
day, pose a threat to you. I hope this inspires you to think for
yourself, and begin trusting your instincts more, so you
can live life according to what's healthy, reasonable and right
in Early Detection
By H. Gilbert
well. You're only 60. Your PSA --
the blood test for prostate cancer -- is normal. Much to
your chagrin, you learn of recent research that suggests
you still might have prostate cancer.
But the only way researchers know this is because they performed a
more aggressive test -- placing a probe through the
rectum of normal men and inserting a biopsy needle
six, maybe 12 times to search for cancer in various parts of their
prostate. Should this procedure be performed on you? Should
it be performed on all healthy men?
This is American
medical care today -- care increasingly directed
toward the well. Ironically, the primary service
we offer them is relentless testing to establish whether they are,
in fact, sick. We screen for early forms of diabetes, heart disease,
osteoporosis, hepatitis, vascular disease and, of course, cancer.
The conventional wisdom is that early detection improves
health. But this assumption may be wrong.
early disease detection means more people become patients.
Inevitably some will be treated needlessly and suffer as a
To understand this,
you need to understand that each of us harbors
early forms of disease. Even in middle age, many
of us who feel well have evidence of diabetes,
heart disease, osteoporosis, hepatitis, vascular disease and cancer.
Just because we harbor these early forms of disease doesn't mean that
they will ever affect our health. Some diseases progress so
slowly that people die of other causes long before the diseases
generate symptoms. Other diseases may not progress at all.
Unless we were tested, we'd never
have known we were sick.
cancer is the classic example. Among men age 60, around half
have microscopic evidence of prostate cancer if
we look hard enough. Yet only four in 1,000 will die from
prostate cancer in the next 10 years. How can this be? Because prostate
cancer isn't just one disease: It's a spectrum of disorders. Some
forms of prostate cancer grow very rapidly and kill men. Some
grow slowly and men die of something
else before the cancer ever causes symptoms. And others look
like cancer under the microscope but never grow at all.
A little over a
decade ago, doctors started looking hard for prostate cancer
using the PSA and lots of needle biopsies. And we found a great deal:
Roughly 2 million cases were diagnosed in this period -- almost a
million more than would have been without the test.
cancer screening help men? To be honest, we aren't sure about
the net effect. There has been a small decline in the death rate from
prostate cancer, but this may simply reflect that our treatments are
better. While screening probably has helped a few men live longer,
it has also clearly hurt others. Millions have been biopsied
who otherwise wouldn't have been. Many with nonprogressive
disease have been turned into cancer patients unnecessarily.
Most have been treated, and many have suffered ill effects. A
few have even had their lives shortened by treatment.
the reality of early detection. A few may be helped, because
their disease is destined to cause problems and because early treatment
is able to solve those problems in a way that later treatment cannot.
But many simply are told earlier that they have a disease and gain
nothing, because their disease could have been treated just
as well later, when symptoms appeared. And others are hurt
by treatment for a disease that would have otherwise never
affected their health.
What's next? Consider
CAT scans of the chest to look for lung cancer. During mass screenings
in one region of Japan, CAT scans found 10 times
as many patients with lung cancer as had been found a few years earlier
using chest X-rays. Incredibly, nonsmokers were almost as likely to
have lung cancer as smokers. Is smoking getting safer? Of course not.
Everyone agrees that smoking is far and away the most important cause
of lung cancer. The CAT scans were simply labeling some people
as lung cancer patients who otherwise would never be affected by a
few abnormal cells.
Why not treat
these patients -- just to be safe? Because some people die
from treatment. In the Mayo Clinic study comparing lung cancer
screening (using chest X-rays) to standard care, more people in the
screening group were told that they had lung cancer. It didn't help
them live longer; in fact, slightly more people in that group
And some think
we should scan the whole body. But the harder we look, the
more we find. CAT scans of the chest lead more people to
be told they have lung cancer, and there are even more abnormalities
to find in the abdomen. As one radiologist who has read thousands
of these scans put it, "With this level of information,
I have yet to see a normal patient."
of healthy Americans are being told that they are sick (or "at
risk"). More are undergoing invasive evaluations
with needles, flexible scopes and catheters. And more are
taking drugs for early forms of diabetes, heart disease,
osteoporosis, hepatitis, vascular disease and cancer.
to start asking hard questions about whose interests are served by
the relentless pursuit of disease in people who are well. Clearly
it's good business -- for test manufacturers, hospitals,
pharmaceutical companies. And it's good for some doctors.
it in society's interest? Many suggest that it saves money
by lowering the cost per patient. But the savings
per patient (if they exist) are overwhelmed by the increased expense
of having so many more to treat. Is it in the interest of sick patients?
Absolutely not, as caring for the well increasingly distracts
doctors from caring for the truly sick. And what about the
well? Is it in their interest? Only
they can decide -- after they have been informed that early
detection is a double-edged sword.
[The book, "Should
I Be Tested for Cancer? Maybe Not and Here's Why" is
written by H. Gilbert Welch. The writer is a professor of medicine
in the Department of Veterans Affairs and Dartmouth Medical School.
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