cervical cancer

  1. Do women really need less of this life saving test?

    If there's any cancer screening that actually works -- one that saves lives without ruining any in the process -- it's the Pap smears used to detect cervical cancer in women.

    Yet the mainstream is starting to back away from them -- and now, the latest recommendations say women can get smeared much less frequently. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says most women can get Pap smears every three years between the ages of 21 and 65.

    Under 21 and older than 65 can skip the test altogether, and women between the ages of 30 and 65 can get theirs every five years if they get an HPV test at the same time as their Pap smear.

    That's a test that checks for the presence of the sexually transmitted HPV virus that causes the cancer.

    The Task Force says it just wants to cut back on screenings to lower the risk of overtreatment, since many cervical lesions will go away on their own -- and that's all true enough.

    But the Pap smear doesn't have the same issues as some of the other cancer screenings, like the radioactive mammograms that can actually cause the very breast cancers they're supposed to detect -- so the risks here are minimal.

    Dr. Mark Stengler put it best when I asked him about the new recommendations.

    "I have no problem with yearly screenings with a procedure that is nontoxic," he told me.

    On the other hand, he said some women can indeed safely go three to five years between screenings: women who are not sexually active and have no history that would suggest they're at risk for cervical cancer.

    But a Pap smear is really just a small piece of the picture here, because the best way to beat this cancer is to avoid getting in the first place.

    Dr. Stengler says one of the simplest ways to avoid the cervical dysplasia that can turn into cancer -- and even help beat the HPV infection that causes it -- is with a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, especially those rich in vitamin E.

    In his book "Prescription for Natural Cures," Dr. Stengler also offers seven natural remedies for cervical dysplasia, including indole-3-carbinol (I3C) and diindolylmethane (DIM).

    The names don't exactly roll off the tongue, but all you really need to know is that they're extracts from the cruciferous vegetables -- like broccoli -- that you should be eating anyway.

    I'm not done with women's health yet. Keep reading for the latest natural solution for hot flashes.

  2. The tests seniors should skip

    Exploitation -- it's the only word that comes to mind here.

    Even as the mainstream moves away from routine cancer screenings for men and women alike, there's one group of Americans that are still getting screened regularly for cancers that almost certainly won't hurt them.

    And that's the elderly.

    These are the people least likely to need treatment even if a cancer is detected -- and least able to withstand the traumatic surgeries, dangerous drugs, and toxic chemotherapy often used to "treat” those cancers.

    But the numbers don't lie -- and the newest numbers show that 57 percent of men between the ages of 75 and 79 were screened for prostate cancer, while 42 percent of men older than 80 were actually given PSA tests.

    You have to wonder what the doctors are thinking here: They know these cancers can take decades to develop, decades an 80-year-old doesn't have. They know that even younger men have nothing to worry about in most cases. They know that the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recently recommended doing away with the PSA test altogether.

    They know all this... yet they're screening anyway, and not just men.

    The same study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that 62 percent of women between the ages of 75 and 79, and 50 percent of women older than 80 have been given mammograms over the past two years.

    And if PSA exams are useless for men, mammograms are every bit as useless for women -- so useless that even mainstream docs are backing away from them.

    That's because all the mammograms in the world have barely made a dent in the breast cancer death rate. These screenings have succeeded in finding harmless cancers, which then end up being treated with disfiguring surgeries and dangerous radiation.

    Similarly, the study also found that 53 percent of women between 75 and 79 and 38 percent of those older than 80 were given pap smears to test for cervical cancer.

    It's ridiculous -- and even the mainstream groups that normally back most cancer screenings agree. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends ending pap smears as early as 65, while the American Cancer Society says there's no benefit after the age of 70.

    In reality, many of these screenings have no benefit at any age. But for seniors, many of whom are already fighting health issues, these screenings, biopsies, and inevitable cancer treatments can turn the golden years into a living nightmare.

    Skip ‘em -- because in this case, what you don't know almost certainly won't hurt you.

  3. Dangerous vaccine now pushed on boys as well as girls

    I don't care how you feel about vaccinations in general -- but whether you love 'em, hate 'em, or just aren't sure, there's one needle out there that simply doesn't belong anywhere near a child. It's Gardasil, the dangerous HPV vaccine.

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