Wednesday, February 23, 2011
This is Part 2 of three parts (the third part will discuss healthful alternatives).
The information in quotes has been condensed from an NHD Health Watch article by Ian Robinson (received via e-mail) --
PSA Screenings: a Money-Making Scam
"...prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screenings [are] more about making money than your health ... And most of the players in the medical community know it. The feds know it. The American Cancer Society knows it. Even the guy who discovered PSAs knows it. In fact, the only group that doesn't know it is the public, who's out there blindly taking the tests!"
"Simply put: PSA testing can't detect cancer; it can't even distinguish between malignant and benign prostate cancers. ...[but] it's become a big money-making industry; generating $3 billion per year."
"What Is PSA Screening?
PSA is a protein created by the prostate gland. It is found in small amounts in the blood of healthy men. Men with prostate cancer may show elevated levels. However, so too do men with benign prostate enlargement."
"The PSA test was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1994. It is now the most popular tool for detecting prostate cancer."
"But do PSA screenings save lives? The answer is a resounding 'no.' Most statistics suggest they don't even lengthen life. In fact, many experts suggest they don't make any difference at all."
"Supporters argue that PSA screenings allow for early detection of prostate cancer. ...However, in the case of prostate cancer, early detection does not necessarily save lives. Why? Because most prostate cancers are slow growing: those 'survivors' would likely have enjoyed the same lifespan with or without treatment."
"The man who discovered PSA is Dr. Richard J. Ablin. He recently spoke out against PSA screenings."
"'American men have a 16 percent lifetime chance of receiving a diagnosis of prostate cancer, but only a three percent chance of dying from it,' he said. 'That's because the majority of prostate cancers grow slowly. In other words, men lucky enough to reach old age are much more likely to die with prostate cancer than to die of it.'"
"This theory was supported by a wide-ranging study published in 2008. The study revealed that screening did not reduce the death rate in men 55 and over. In other words, early detection usually offers little benefit. What's worse, it can lead to unnecessary personal harm."
"According to Dr. Ablin, PSA screenings 'can't detect cancer.' They only diagnose how much prostate antigen men have in their blood. However, ...Everyday factors can significantly affect those levels."
"Three common factors that elevate men's PSA levels include:
-- Over-the-counter drugs
-- Benign swelling of the prostate"
"A man with high levels of PSA does not necessarily have cancer...And the reverse is also true. Men with low levels may have prostate cancer."
"Dr. Ablin is not alone in speaking out against the tests. Dr. Otis W. Bramley, MD [the chief medical officer for the Cancer Society], also opposes them...."
"'I'm against telling people that [PSA testing] works,' said Dr. Bramley. 'That it saves lives when the evidence that supports those statements simply does not exist.'"
"An in-depth study published by the British Medical Journal last year provided further testimony that PSA screenings are flawed. The study was led by Jennifer Stark, research fellow at Harvard School of Public Health, Boston."
"'PSA cannot differentiate between indolent and lethal prostate cancer,' said Stark. 'Before PSA testing is performed, men should be... informed that the test cannot tell whether they have a life-threatening cancer.'"
"PSA screenings immediately impact the patient in a negative way. [including] adverse psychological effects, [and] financial expense. ...False readings leading to unnecessary biopsies. ...A positive PSA test starts the ball rolling on a painful and often unnecessary personal nightmare."
"Having tested positive, the doctor then calls for a biopsy. ...Biopsies are associated with many negative consequences, including: psychological stress, pain, and fever.
If the biopsy shows any signs of cancer, the doctor then pushes for treatment. Treatment options include anything from prostate surgery to radiation therapy. The conventional treatments may vary, but the results are all damaging."
"Three damaging side effects of prostate surgery or radiation therapy include:
-- Urinary incontinence
-- Erectile dysfunction"
"Now consider this: 70 percent of diagnosed men have cancers that will cause them no harm whatsoever if left untreated."
"A European study revealed further shocking findings in 2009. ...'People who were never going to get a dangerous cancer get treated and suffer the ill effects of needless treatment,' said study co-author Dr. H. Gilbert Welch. ...The study showed that just one out of almost 50 men would be saved through PSA screenings. The other 49 men would receive surgery with no benefit whatsoever. What's worse, they'd suffer impotence or incontinence because of the treatments."
"Alternatively, men who chose to practice 'watchful waiting' often lived out their lives unimpaired ... according to research presented by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. The study was conducted by Dr. Martin Sanda."
"'Men diagnosed with low-risk tumors who deferred treatment were still doing fine an average of eight years - and up to 20 years - following their diagnosis,' said Dr. Sanda."
"Study after study is discrediting PSA screenings. ...Earlier this year the American Cancer Society urged greater caution using PSA screenings. The American College of Preventive Medicine refuses to recommend routine screening. Even the Preventive Services Task Force, a federal panel evaluating screenings, ...recommended against screenings for men 75 years and older. The panel has yet to issue guidance for younger men."
"The industry experts and organizations know the truth. So why are 30 million men still taking the screenings?
...The answer is simple: because there are huge profits to be made out of screenings. PSA testing is a long-established source of revenue. Drug companies push the tests. ..."
"'Several of the leading prostate cancer survivor organizations that do a lot of the pushing of screening are funded by the makers of the PSA screening kits,' said Dr. Brawley."
"Likewise, the man who discovered PSA knows that PSA screenings are a money-making scam."
"'I never dreamed that my discovery four decades ago would lead to such a profit-driven public health disaster,' said Dr. Ablin. 'The medical community must confront reality and stop the inappropriate use of PSA screening. Doing so would save billions of dollars and rescue millions of men from unnecessary, debilitating treatments.'"
Part 3 will have healthful alternatives for those who wish to avoid drugs and conventional medical procedures.