This blog is my best effort at providing some balance to the increasingly strident healthcare lobby that seems intent on scaring everyone about almost everything. Is there a foodstuff that is safe to eat anymore? Is there any activity that does not cause cancer or heart disease?
Sausages… get thee behind me Satan.
This constant haranguing about health has had an impact. It was first noticed by a US doctor called Clifton Meador.
‘Nothing has changed so much in the health-care system over the past twenty-five years as the public’s perception of its own health. The change amounts to a loss of confidence in the human form. The general belief these days seems to be that the body is fundamentally flawed, subject to disintegration at any moment, always on the verge of mortal disease, always in need of continual monitoring and support by health-care professionals. This is a new phenomenon in our society.’
Just as I was writing this introduction, a story about cervical cancer screening appeared on the BBC website.
‘Women diagnosed with cervical cancer as a result of a smear test have a far better chance of being cured than women who do not go for tests, a Swedish study suggests. The researchers found a 92% cure rate after a smear test diagnosis, compared with 66% for symptoms-based diagnoses.’ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-17221910
So, there you go. Women, you must get screened, or you are going to die of cervical cancer. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED! YOU MUST BE REGULARLY CHECKED.
But what does those figures actually mean. One thing I can guarantee you is they do not mean what you first thought. It could mean that cervical screening is a good thing. It could mean that screening is a bad thing. Stay posted.
This is a common finding. Things that look like clear cut benefits turn out to be something else completely, as beautifully highlighted in a book on mammography screening by Dr Peter Gotzsche ‘Truth, lies and controversy.’
In a world where the truth can be, literally, turned upside down, how can you know what to believe, and who to believe? This blog will represent my attempt to dig down to find the meaning behind the headlines.
‘We must remember this, in spite of the blandishments, threats, warning and various campaigns by governments to make us eat this eat or that, to forgo a familiar habit or to exercise ourselves until we drop. It is a sobering though, first expressed by John Locke in 1689 in his treatise ‘A letter Concerning Toleration’: ‘No man can be forced to be healthful, whether he will or no.’ In a free society, individuals must judge for themselves what information they choose to heed, and what they ignore.’
Stanley Feldman, Vincent Marks Panic Nation