death rate

  1. 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.

  2. A not-so-fond farewell to the PSA test

    It's one of the smartest moves ever made by a government panel -- so naturally, they're catching hell for it.

    The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has urged docs and patients to put the kibosh on the PSA test -- because after some 2 million prostate surgeries and procedures based on that screening, the disease's death rate has remained unchanged.

    In other words, it's crystal clear that those PSA tests haven't saved lives. They've only increased the number of life-altering surgeries and other treatments that have left men battling side effects like incontinence, infection and sexual dysfunction.

    And in the cruelest irony of all, some men have even died as a direct result of those prostate screenings and surgeries.

    But I'm sure you've heard the noise by now: Instead of welcoming the Task Force's long-overdue move toward common sense, there have been howls of protest.

    Look closely, however, and you'll see none of them are coming from objective scientists.

    They're coming from people with a stake in continued PSA testing.

    The loudest cries are from the urologists and oncologists who've earned big money on prostate procedures over the years. In fact, as of this writing, the only major medical groups to come out against the new recommendations are urologists.

    Even the American Cancer Society has remained silent -- with some of its top officers admitting that PSA tests have led to the mass overtreatment of harmless prostate cancers.

    "We didn't start using this test because we had clinical trials that showed it worked -- we started using it because it was around and we were told it saves lives," Dr. Leonard Lichtenfeld, the organization's deputy chief medical officer told PBS News. "There's nothing to indicate that was true."

    But many of the men who've had a cancer detected by a PSA test -- and treatments on those cancers -- are convinced it saved their lives. They make up the other group protesting this, even though they have no way of knowing whether the treatment actually prevented their own death.

    In fact, the numbers show the opposite: They almost certainly would have lived a long and healthy life never even knowing they had prostate cancer -- and eventually, they would have died of something else.

    It's tough to believe that, especially if you've gone through the trauma of a prostate surgery and battled the side effects afterwards… but those numbers don't lie.

    And now, even the government is ready to admit it. The real question today is: Will your own doctor play along?

    I'm not done with prostate cancer yet -- keep reading for more on the vitamin that WON'T raise your risk.

  3. Literacy can save your life

    It's about how they understand -- or fail to understand -- information about their own health, and researchers say those who suffer from "health illiteracy" are more likely suffer from actual health problems and are even at risk for an early death.
  4. Men living with prostate regret

    The real "disease" facing many prostate patients isn't cancer -- it's regret.

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