prostate screenings

  1. 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.

  2. Prostate med linked to heart risk

    If you want to lower your risk of prostate cancer, the real answer is often doing nothing at all.

    Naturally, Big Pharma has other ideas for you. They're selling a new study as evidence that the drug Avodart can decrease the odds of developing prostate cancer.

    But that's only half the truth--and when you hear the whole story, you'll want to stay far away from this risky med.

    The study, which you'll find in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that men given Avodart had a 23 percent lower risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer over four years than men on a placebo.

    But don't sign yourself up for this one just yet... because that number only applied to the kinds of low-risk tumors that rarely hurt men, much less kill them.

    When it came to potentially deadly high-risk tumors, men on Avodart actually did much worse: They had a higher risk of the most aggressive tumors than men on the placebo.

    And what's more, men on this med had almost twice the risk of heart failure.

    In other words, if you're looking to avoid potentially deadly conditions, then by all means avoid this drug.

    Don't expect to hear that message from the mainstream, though--they're still desperately trying to push prostate pills. Just last year, a panel of experts recommended that patients who get regular prostate screenings also consider a med like Avodart.

    This isn't ironic--these experts knew (or should have known) this study was wrapping up, yet they rushed out their far-reaching recommendation anyway instead of waiting for all the facts.

    And the experts are still missing the point.

    Dr. Otis Brawley, now chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, actually helped to run this study early on. Dr. Brawley told the Associated Press that men on this med should be watched for heart failure... and if they develop it, "it's reason to stop the drug."

    Of course it's a reason to stop taking the drug--it's hard to give meds to a dead man!

    Here's a better idea: Avoid drugs that can lead to heart failure and more aggressive tumors and focus instead on reducing your risk of prostate cancer the right way, and that often means doing nothing at all beyond maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

    Sounds simplistic, but just look at the facts: Obese men have a higher risk of getting the most aggressive and advanced form of the disease. They're also more likely to encounter cardiac problems such as heart failure.

    Of course, you can be healthy and slim and still face those same risks... all you need are some prostate meds.

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