Science debunked again – prostate cancer screening

You trust science and scientists, after all, they do a tremendous amount of research before publishing opinions.  Unfortunately scientific myth after scientific myth gets over turned.  Now it is the benefits of early screening for prostate cancer per this article.

To be sure this is still an open debate.  But if early screening does more harm than good, this will be yet another in a long line of recommendations the public has latched onto, only to find out the research was wrong.  For example, butter was bad, so margarine was created.  I’m not sure how we got onto the bottled milk kick for babies, but it is clear now that breast milk is far more beneficial than “scientific” milk.  The food pyramid I grew up with has been discredited.  Heck, maybe this is just science of the 60’s that is being discredited.  Isn’t that the era that had ads that said “two out of three doctors recommend Camel cigarettes”?

Back to prostate cancer, the article states “About 1 in 6 U.S. men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their life. Yet the cancer society notes that in Western European countries where screening isn’t common, 1 in 10 men are diagnosed and the risk of death in both places is the same.” In other words 40% get a huge scare and no apparent benefit.

And why not screen anyway? Per the article “…30 percent of men who are treated for PSA-discovered prostate cancer suffer significant side effects from the resulting treatment.”

I can’t find it, but I’m pretty sure I read elsewhere of genome or DNA screening for your likelihood of getting certain kinds of diseases. And what I thought I understood from that is they could tell if you would get a bad kind of prostate cancer vs. one that wasn’t bad. The article cited here seems to say that technology doesn’t exist, so maybe I read about something they believe is down the line.  But what I took from that article was that we are treating cancers that are not likely to kill you with measures that practically do kill you.

The way I grew up was to avoid doctor’s visits at all costs. That included my grandmother who lived until 101.  They say visits to hospitals can cause you to become ill or die when you would not have otherwise. For example, they only recently learned that doctor’s ties carried a tremendous amount of germs from one patient to the next.  Duh.  And in recent years many people have become concerned that shots cause autism.  The jury is out on that, but much of the science say it isn’t true.  But that’s the point of this article – when can you trust the science when so much gets over turned?

So for me, I’ve got 4 years before the recommended age 50 for prostate and colon cancer screening, and I’ll be keeping an eye on the research before I go in for any screening.  Here’s hoping there is some serious advancement along the lines of what I thought I had read over the next 4 years.

RIP Steve Jobs.  iSad for him.  Let’s hope science speeds up and improves its accuracy.

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