There are plenty of things a man can do to boost his odds of living longer and better–but getting screened for prostate cancer isn’t one of them.
It’s been obvious for years that PSA tests just don’t work–now, a major new study confirms it: Men who get regular screenings are no more or less likely to die of prostate cancer than men who don’t.
In other words, there’s no reason to get screened in the first place–and if your doc tries pushing a PSA on you, push a copy of the journal BMJ in front of him instead.
In it, he’ll find the new study in which Swedish researchers recruited 9,026 men and had 1,500 get screened every three years between 1987 and 1996–starting out with digital rectal exams for the first two screenings, and adding PSA tests for the remainder.
During the 20-year follow-up period, 6 percent of the men who were screened were diagnosed with prostate cancer, versus 4 percent of those who weren’t screened.
But despite more cancers being “detected” among those who got screened, the odds of dying of the disease was almost exactly the same in both groups.
What’s more, the cancers that were detected by the screenings tended to be exactly the ones you shouldn’t worry about: small tumors that hadn’t spread.
These tumors won’t hurt most men–they grow so slowly that you’re almost certain to outlive them. But once they’re detected, it’s easy to panic over the “Big C” and seek treatment.
And plenty of cancer doctors will be more than happy to accomodate you– setting in motion a chain of events that won’t save your life… but might ruin it with side effects ranging from incontinence to impotence.
For some men, those problems never fade.
But despite all the evidence against screenings, they’re still too routine for too many–and another new study shows how the men who need them least are getting them the most.
Researchers looked at data from nearly 15,000 men who took part in two national health surveys conducted in 2000 and 2005 and found that 46 percent of men in their 70s and 25 percent of those past the age of 85 were still getting screened.
These are men who would outlive any cancer detected–and face a much higher risk of side effects and complications if they were treated for it.
There’s no reason to put them through the ringer–and any doc who does is only interested in one thing.
And it’s not good health.
Edward Martin is a health journalist who writes about today's most pressing health issues. He chronicles the most cutting-edge alternative methods for beating everything from diabetes to cancer and reports on the latest FDA foul-ups and Big Pharma conspiracies.