Thursday, September 13, 2012

The ongoing PSA/mammogram debate.

I have talked to many people re the debate on whether or not to get a PSA test or mammogram. First of all, I am certainly no expert on cancer, but I do believe that as a patient I would want to be informed of all risks before I agree to a PSA test, and for women mammograms. I am only a reporter. "Don't shoot the messenger" as the saying goes. On 8/12/12 I posted a report about many health organizations and Dr. John McDougall being against PSA testing: http://greg-foodforthought.blogspot.com/2012/08/american-cancer-society-says-no-to-psa.html And on mammograms: http://greg-foodforthought.blogspot.com/2012/08/women-do-not-get-mammogram.html First of all, I completely trust Mr. McDougall, and wanted to put the entries on my blog as soon as I received the info. He would never subscribe to the information on PSA tests or mammograms unless he felt it was solidly based on science and fact. And it is not just John McDougall and many like-minded doctors advising against PSA and mammogram testing. Medical organizations against are listed towards the end of this entry, including The American Cancer Institute. The purpose of this blog is to share information with people which I think is important. It's up to all readers to do your own research and come to your own conclusions. Here is what other bloggers have told me: "You should read at least parts of Dr. Gilbert Welch's book. Here is my review (and recommendation) of it: http://www.anti-itisdiet.blogspot.com/2011/03/bkrev-over-diagnosed-by-dr-h-gilbert.html" Another person said "Those interested in this debate should read two of Dr. Welch's books: Should I Be Tested for Cancer?: Maybe Not and Here's Why by H. Gilbert Welch, and Overdiagnosed: Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health by H. Gilbert Welch, Lisa Schwartz and Steve Woloshin." And another person said "I think the most resistant people to these ideas are those who have had surgery for cancer - no one wants to find out or admit that maybe they had surgery for no good reason - all the money, pain, trauma and fears - after all it must have been worthwhile. They must have suffered to gain something? I know I would be extremely angry if that had happened to me. The problem with cancer is there are very aggressive kinds that will kill and others which are called "indolent" which will not kill you - you will die from something else and in the best scenario you won't even know you had prostate cancer. The problem is our current testing doesn't distinguish between these two - so many people have indolent cancer treated aggressively - and some of those people have even died from that treatment. The crux of the problem is that more people are injured from treating indolent cancers than are saved from aggressive cancers. These screening tests often pick up indolent cancers, and can miss the aggressive ones - the very cancers we want to treat. Until medicine can discriminate, we're safer not having screening. In the ideal world, screening would detect only aggressive cancer. I also know that many of these people who claim "survival" of cancer had indolent cancers that wouldn't have interfered with their living if it had never been found. They are mixed in with people who have had the truly aggressive cancers - so when you hear statistics about various treatments for cancer - well, you have to wonder what are the statistics if you could separate out the patients with aggressive cancer who really need medical intervention? Probably those results are really dismal. I don't think oncologists want to think about such grim realities." And I've heard arguments on the other side of the fence, those who trust conventional medicine, those who believe that PSA testing and mammograms are a good thing. Again, it is up to you to do your own research and decide what is best for you. For me, I trust Dr. McDougall and the many like minded doctors, plus the American Cancer Society, the American College of Preventive Medicine, American College of Physicians, U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, National Cancer Institute (U.S.), British Columbia Office of Technology Assessment, United Kingdom National Health Services, Canadian Cancer Society, Canadian Urological Association, Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care, World Health Organization, European Union Advisory Committee on Cancer Prevention, European Association of Urology, Cancer Council of Australia, Swedish Council for Technology Assessment in Health Care, and National Health Committee, New Zealand all advise against PSA testing. These organizations suggest that men should be aware of the risks of PSA tests before they make a decision to have one done or not, and for women they should know the risks for mammograms. Furthermore, I am thoroughly convinced that the best way to prevent (or in some cases heal) cancer and many other diseases is to follow an optimum diet that is starch-based/plant based, low in fat (especially low in animal fat), low in sugar, low in salt, low in oil, little or no food from animals, and minimize or eliminate junk food and drink.