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  • There is only one (1) medical screening test that has been shown to reduce overall death

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
    Saturday, May 02, 2015 4:06 pm Email this article

    “There is only one cancer screening test that has definitively been proven to help people live longer: lung cancer screening in heavy smokers,” writes Prof. H. Gilbert Welch, MD in his most recent book Less Medicine, More Health: 7 Assumptions That Drive Too Much Medical Care.

    (It is from Chapter 3 / Assumption #3: Sooner Is Always Better: Disturbing truth: Early diagnosis can needlessly turn people into patients, under the section titled “Does Screening Save Lives?”)


    “Because heavy smokers face a twenty- to thirty-fold [20- to 30-fold] increased risk of lung cancer death.

    “In other words, for heavy smokers, lung cancer is a big component of their overall death rate.”

    To say this another way…

    He started the chapter by saying, “THIS CHAPTER MAY CHALLENGE your assumptions about screening—specifically, cancer screening.”

    Prof. H. Gilbert Welch, MD is also the author of the wonderful book Overdiagnosed: Making People Sick In Pursuit Of Health which is about the same topic as this book, the topic of over-diagnosis and over-treatment which does NOT help people live longer.

    The reason that I feel passionately about this is because my mother suffered tragically from drug-induced side effects which her doctors were blind to.

    It is along the same lines as Prof. Welch’s books which look at the effects of of over-diagnosis and over-treatment.

    Prof. H. Gilbert Welch, MD goes on to say…

    “The beneficial effects of population-wide screening are small.

    “Its effect on longevity is uncertain.

    “But no matter how small and uncertain, I believe a few people—on the order of 1 per 1,000—win big.

    “Maybe you are that 1—but you are certainly more likely to be one of the 999.

    “Nevertheless we’d all do it for the chance to be that 1, if nothing bad happened to the others.

    “We’d all do it if there were no harms,” Prof. H. Gilbert Welch, MD concludes.


    Welch HG. Less Medicine, More Health: 7 Assumptions That Drive Too Much Medical Care. 2015; 240 pages.

    Author’s Contact Info

    H. Gilbert Welch, MD
    Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice
    Dartmouth College
    Hanover, New Hampshire 03766, USA
    .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
    (603) 653-0836 phone

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