Monday, August 19, 2013

Skip the Screening: Prostate Blood Test Doesn't Save Lives !

Medical dogma in cancer care has always been that preventing cancer is better than treating it. So routine screening for the early detection of the disease makes a lot of sense. But now a U.S. government group says that logic doesn't apply when it comes to the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test for prostate cancer.

Regular screening doesn't always save lives once you account for the high rate of false positive results, and it increases men's risk of serious complications from biopsies and treatment of the tumours that would never have killed them. So in new guidelines concluding that the harm of testing outweigh the benefits, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that no men receive routine PSA screening at any age. The advice is based on a review of the research, including two large trials of the PSA test, which found no significant difference in survival rates between men who did and did not get screened, after 10-14 years of follow up.

Prostate Cancer Cells
The idea of forgoing a cancer screen runs counter to everything patients and doctors have been taught about prevention, but the panel's advice stems from the New Science of understanding that not all cancers need to be treated. That's especially true of prostate tumours, which are generally slow-growing and often don't require aggressive intervention: 25% of men test positive for prostate cancer, but only 3% will die of it. Meanwhile, PSA testing can lead to medical interventions that unnecessarily raise the risk of infection, impotence, incontinence and even death.

It may take a while for doctors to accept the new advice, and critics are concerned that halting PSA tests will lead to a rise in more-advanced disease, which is harder to treat. The task force stressed, however, that patients with a family history of prostate cancer or other risk factors may still ask their doctor whether the PSA test makes sense for them, even if it's not part of their routine check-up.

Medical Evolution:   Health advice is based on research, but medical knowledge keeps advancing. The Old Science gives way to New Science; here's a few examples:

     Old Science:   Many organizations advised women to start screening for breast cancer at age 40.
     New Science:  To avoid misdiagnoses, women should start breast screening at age 50.

      Old Science:   Estrogen and progestin protected post-menopausal women from heart disease.
      New Science:  Hormones do not protect the heart and can increase the risk of breast cancer.

      Old Science:   Chest X-rays can detect early lesions and get patients treated sooner.
      New Science:  X-rays don't help patients live longer even after they are treated.

The Way I See It.....there are a number of natural medicinals available that can help reduce some of the benign swelling of the prostate to aid in reducing the number of nightly trips to urinate by allowing fuller emptying of the bladder. Research has shown that a diet rich in lycopene-containing foods helps lower the risk of prostate and other cancers. Lycopene is a carotenoid -- a family of pigments that give fruits and vegetables their brilliant red, orange and yellow colouring. It is a powerful antioxidant that eliminates dangerous free radicals that can damage DNA and other fragile cell structures. Tomatoes are an ideal source of lycopene and is better absorbed in the body when it's combined with some fat, so don't hold back on the tomato sauce.

Now in a report just published in the journal Neurology, a team of Finnish researchers has linked lycopene levels in the bloods to stroke prevention. They made this connection after following more than a thousand middle-age men for 12 years. Men with the greatest amount of lycopene in their blood had a 55% lower chance of having any kind of stroke. The lycopene connection was even stronger (59%) when it came to protecting against strokes due to blood clots (the most common kind). The finding came as a surprise -- the researchers initially wanted to know if other antioxidants affected strokes, such as alpha carotene, beta carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E. But they didn't. So, that makes the succulent tomato far more than a food; that makes it almost a nutraceutical. Other lycopene-containing foods range from tomato puree, juice, and paste as well as watermelon and red or pink grapefruit. Enjoy!

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