A new British Medical Journal (BMJ) study shows that cancer screening does not improve longevity or result in lower overall death rates.
As I presented in last month’s Insiders’ Cures newsletter, women often fall victim to the over-screening and over-diagnosis epidemic. But men get over-diagnosed and over-treated too. Especially when it comes to prostate cancer.
In fact, over the past few decades, aggressive prostate cancer screening programs have led to the radiation and/or removal of prostate glands in millions of men. And in 2004, a study found that doctors diagnose 200,000 men with prostate cancer every year.
Millions tortured and stripped of manhood for harmless condition
As I often argue, what has been called prostate “cancer” is largely a harmless condition. In fact, a 2013 National Cancer Institute (NCI) report found that so-called “early stage prostate cancer” (specifically, high grade intraepithelial prostatic neoplasia, or HGPIN) is essentially a benign, non-cancerous condition. We shouldn’t even call it cancer!
That means, over the past decade, doctors diagnosed and aggressively treated millions of men with a benign, early-stage, non-cancerous condition that would have never gone on to cause problems. Much less shorten their lives.
Tragically, the men may think the screening saved their lives. But — in reality — their lives were never at risk.
The new BMJ study I mentioned above also explained how the prostate screening programs themselves actually caused “off-target” deaths, mostly through the high rate of false positives, over-diagnosis of non-harmful findings as cancer (e.g., HGPIN), and detection of incidental findings.
For example, prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing yields numerous false positive results that contribute to more than one million prostate biopsies per year. And research links prostate biopsies themselves to serious harms, including admission to hospital (by itself a dangerous place these days) and death.
Also, men diagnosed with prostate cancer (whether real or not) are more likely to suffer a heart attack or commit suicide in the year after diagnosis. The needless worry, in older men, leads to suicide, as happened to my aunt’s husband years ago. Of course, these men are also more likely to die from treatment complications for “cancers” that may have never caused any symptoms, let alone been fatal.
PSA testing gets it wrong more than half the time
Amazingly, the PSA prostate screening has an astounding 75 percent false positive rate. You would do better just flipping a coin. (Unless you’re the New England Patriots.) There’s obviously nothing at all “specific” about prostate specific antigen testing.
In fact, here’s my PSA (public service announcement) to you today: Never get another PSA test. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force now strongly recommends against it as well.
Nonetheless, the mainstream government-industrial-medical complex intentionally misleads the public into simply assuming cancer screening saves lives. Yet no real, independent scientific evidence exists to support that conclusion. All the cancer awareness campaigns don’t save lives — but they do completely inflate the public’s expectations.
In a recent review, researchers learned the public grossly overestimates the benefits and underestimates the harms of mammography screening for women, PSA screening for men, and other cancer screenings.
In one study, 68 percent of women thought mammography would lower their risk of getting breast cancer. In fact, 62 percent thought mammography would cut their risk in half. Furthermore, 75 percent of women thought 10 years of annual screenings would prevent 10 breast cancer deaths per 1,000 women. But even the most optimistic analyses of mammography screening don’t approach such numbers.
Actually, the most recent large, evidence-based review of clinical trials of mammography didn’t show any reduction in breast cancer deaths. A review of the Swiss Medical Board decision to not recommend mammography showed that for every 1,000 women screened, one breast cancer death is avoided (reducing breast cancer deaths from 5 to 4 in 1,000 women). However, deaths from other causes still remain at 39 in 1,000 or even increase by one death to 40 in 1,000 women. With more than 600,000 women studied to date, there is no clear evidence of a reduction in overall mortality with mammography screening.
In my view, both prostate PSA screening and breast mammography are a “bust,” so to speak. But you can use many natural approaches to lower your risks, improve your quality of life, and extend longevity. And I will keep telling you all about them right here.
- “Why cancer screening has never been shown to ‘save lives’—and what we can do about it,” British Medical Journal January 2016; 352: h6080
- “Cancer statistics, 2004,” CA Cancer J Clin. 2004; Jan-Feb. 54(1): 8 -29