It is assumed that medical tests are prudent and wise preventive drugs. But medical tests are dangerous in themselves and can also mislead people into thinking that diagnosis is the same as healing.
Regular health checks
Perhaps one of the most insidious dangers in modern technology is the medical test. While it would be nice to be able to visit our doctor and get them all plugged in with electrodes, inflatable handcuffs, probes, needles and catheters and have a read-out telling us exactly how we work and where there is a problem, it is a myth, not reality.
Such tests create false confidence and illusion for people that they are wise and practice “preventive medicine”. But prevention does not detect existing diseases. The diagnosis should not be confused with cause or cure. Not only do patients have these misconceptions, the whole medical industry does as well. Modern medicine is focused on naming diseases and treating symptoms, not preventing diseases and tackling the causes.
Medical tests (performed on yourself or by others) give a false sense of control and knowledge. The best choice is to take all the steps we can to change lifestyle and nutritional habits to actually create health, not just live life brilliantly and have annual stress tests and mammograms. Waiting for the disease (reacting to injuries, what is the disease) to strike and then taking action is certainly not a smart approach.
None of this speaks to the waste of much of the $ 200 billion a year that is spent on clinical and laboratory tests. Not only do they drain our economy and create no health, but they are often inaccurate and useless. About 75% of the doctors surveyed admitted to having carried out more tests than necessary. In a study of 25,000 tests, only 20% of them repeated the same result 90% of the time.
This brings me to a serious risk of laboratory tests: a false positive or false negative. If the test is false positive, the emotional trauma of believing that you may have a serious illness may be enough to create an illness. So a test can make a person sick. A false negative could send you on your way happily to believe that all is well and that no modification of the life is necessary. Meanwhile, the disease continues to incubate and spread.
Medical tests present inherent dangers like any other medical procedure and should only be submitted with this understanding. Even entering a hospital or doctor’s office poses a risk of exposure to infectious diseases (nosocomial infection). A “sterile” needle for drawing blood could lead to a fatal (although rare) systemic infection. Pressing the breasts for a mammogram can activate dormant cancerous tissue and increase the spread of cancer cells (metastases) by 80%. (Greenburg, DS. NCI puffed for mammogram confusion. The Lancet. 345 (8942): 129.) Pap smears are performed millions of times a year but have never been proven to change morbidity or mortality . (McCormick, JS. Pap smear: a questionable practice? The Lancet. 2: 207-209. 1989.) Ultrasound can influence fetal growth. (Newnham, JP, et al. Effects of frequent ultrasound during pregnancy: a randomized controlled trial. The Lancet. 342 (8876): 887-91.) X-rays are always dangerous (carcinogenic) and their effects are cumulative during a lifetime. Vaginal and rectal exams can introduce the infection. Cancers penetrated with biopsy needles can increase the spread of cancer to the sentinel lymph nodes up to 50% above mass excision. It is estimated that one in 20 liver biopsies cause new tumors. (Evans, GH, et al. Safety and Need for Needle Biopsy of Liver Tumors. The Lancet. 1: 620. 1987.) Let the buyer (patient) beware.
Understanding Your Medical Test Results
Health is something you do to yourself, not something others do to you with machines or tests. Health “by the numbers” of cholesterol, blood pressure, prostate antigens, white blood cell count and more is a fantasy. Subscribing to this idea will start you on a slippery slope of medicaments, drugs to treat side effects of drugs, surgeries and other interventions that destroy health, not build it.
This is not to say that diagnostic tests are not important for refractory diseases or those to which no reasonable cause can be attributed. But as a “reinvented” measure for healthy individuals the benefits of the practice are questionable at best.