Born Free Series — Post 1 / Sept

Geoff Freed — September 2012
Former forensic technician and scientific & medical researcher, lecturer, workshop leader and psychotherapist, Dr. Geoff Freed reports on what is happening energetically on the planet at this pivotal time in history.

Hello Folks

This sums up the utter lunacy of the EU. They are bonkers and very wealthy being stinking filthy rich while many are starving and being subjected to downright indignity, cruelty, poverty and humiliation. Thanks to ANH intl. for permission to send on.

fig011st August 2012

Long-suffering citizens of the European Union (EU) could be forgiven for asking what they have to do to make the genetically modified (GM) nightmare go away. Like the great white shark immortalised in Jaws and its sequels, GM is about to be back on the agenda in a big way, just when most Europeans probably thought it was safe to venture once more into the murky waters of supermarket shopping. Like the death-proof monsters of Nightmare On Elm Street or Halloween, GM organisms (GMOs) simply keep resurrecting themselves and coming back for one more try, no matter how many times EU citizens say ‘no’.

Power, control – and madness

The latest attempt to convince us all of GM’s inherent safety and necessity comes to us courtesy of the European Commission (EC), which appears to have found the ideal person to lead a new pro-GM charge, this time under the tattered banner of ‘evidence-based policy’. GM is safe, they say, and anyone who objects is guilty of ignoring the science and appealing to the emotions: in other words, they’re ignorant Luddites who don’t know what’s good for them. GMOs will save the world, we’re told, they’re cheap and they’re made using processes that are a simple extension of natural plant breeding techniques.

Listening to the pronouncements of the pro-GM camp, it’s tempting to wonder whether they genuinely believe what they’re saying. In an age of deserved cynicism directed toward politicians, it’s easy to believe that they’re saying, at any one time, whatever they need to say in order to stay in their jobs, pursue a particular agenda or appease a vested interest that helped them into power – among other motivations. In short, a politician’s word isn’t worth much these days. But we tend to expect more of our scientists – and it’s bitterly disappointing when the most powerful scientist in the EU blithely overlooks mountains of contrary evidence when she says, “I would be confident in saying that there is no more risk in eating GMO food than eating conventionally farmed food”.

We can only speculate as to why this might be. Has she spent too long at the sharp end of a microscope, so engrossed in the minutiae of scientific discovery that she can no longer see the wood for the trees? Is it possible that she thinks that our current top-down model of economic control by corporations hasn’t gone far enough, and that we should hand over full control of our food to companies like Monsanto, BASF and Dow? Does she owe someone a favour? Or has she simply been promoted beyond her ability, to act as a scientific fig-leaf for the power games of those who pull the strings?

All we know is that it would be utter madness for GMOs to be given the widespread green light that the EC seems to want so desperately. In this week’s linked articles, we bring you the story of the latest assault on our plates and the will of the European people, along with a graphic showing just how far removed from conventional plant breeding GM techniques really are. Please share far and wide – we believe that this is the beginning of a huge struggle, and we need to get ahead in the information stakes!

An Olympic feat

It probably hasn’t escaped your notice that the UK is currently hosting the Olympic Games. As always with events of this sort, our admiration at the achievements of the elite athletes taking part in the Games is mixed with curiosity over the training regimens they have to employ in order to succeed – along with a bit of a shudder at the sheer discipline required to get to that level! In our third story this week, we’ve asked our executive and scientific director Rob Verkerk PhD to do his best to provide something of a window into the world of endurance sports, offering the training tips that he used when he performed his own Olympian feat earlier this year!

Please delve deeply into our stories below – and please forward and share them widely. Education to correct disinformation and widespread promotion of the side of the story you don’t hear from governments and industry are among the most important ways you can make a difference.

In health, naturally

Adam Smith
Scientific and communications officer, ANH-Intl

Strange How the EU can be so mean and stingy, narrow and short sighted in contrast to the Universe’s abundance, free energy, Life and every good thing. Every thing to sustain Life freely and yet they take almost everything from us and make themselves rich on the Universe’s benevolence.

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Figure 1 A Scrooge named EU

The paradox between Cosmic Sustainability and free everything and the falsification of the Ebenezer Scrooge mentality. We need a spiritual laxative to free up these constipated World Leaders attitudes. Perhaps an awakening is forthcoming.

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How small are we? And yet so powerful in the scheme of things.

The Milky Way is just one of Billions of Galaxies and trillions of Stars. Yet we think we are so important. The Universe will always have its way in the scheme of things. The mystery and the Life and the renewal, regenerative, regenerative transformations are far beyond the lowly human ego and mind. Yet we have the ability to reach to the stars and beyond. To be innernaughts of Inner Space. Yeah to know we are just beginning to grow into amazing space, the space of inner knowing, for our true minds are one with the Creative Life Force and as such in reality can never be separate or isolated.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-uGnmIa3eAk Blue Finn Tuna found to have radiation from Fukushima to California. [3 mins].

fig04

It is very easy to give up, to bury one’s head in the sand, to feel the intense pressure, to feel hopeless, powerless, a little cog in a gigantic machine controlled by power hungry megalomaniacs, to get distracted by glamour, culture, and solace in the arms of some hedonistic subtlety. Yet if we watch the twisted torment of the mind wriggling to get free from the net of conditioning, from the dampening of spirit from the media, the political forum or indeed the salvation of a cult, a channelling source, from a guru, the honey of promised redemption can wear off as we see and feel the same old, same old, when the hype or feeling of salvation fades.

Yet away from the all of the above, there nestles in a quiet unobtrusive part of the mind, in which a gentle yet aware non judgemental witness, an observer begins to see the ploys that the mind induced and seduced by the restless world collective with its fashion, media hype, catch words and political rhetoric becomes obvious and by non opiniated observation breathing gently and quietly, sorts out the false echo’s of the hypnotic marketing of the ‘guardians of the great god Mammon’.

One begins to feel and see what is not. That loss can be gain, that more is not always safety, and that death is but a gateway to transformation. Not death of the body, although that is OK if the it is right timing and natural, be it illness, which can be a sign to leave, not suicide, not overdose. Nay the death or rather dissolving of the accumulation of that which is not needed the debris and dross.

The well are being harmed by medicine that is overdiag-nosing, detecting illnesses that aren’t there and changing the boundaries of what illness is. Up to a third of people—who, a generation before, would have been considered healthy—are today taking drugs or undergoing dangerous treatments they don’t need.

When once medicine prided itself on treating the sick, it is today almost as likely to harm the healthy through drug overdose, overtreatment and overdiagnosis. Mass screening programmes that use increasingly sensitive technol-ogy are detecting cancers that will never endanger the patient and ‘abnormalities’ that are benign, while definitions of ‘disease’—such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels—are becoming tighter, thus bringing millions of people into the ‘disease net’. Abnormalities that will never develop into something that will affect the patient, or endanger life, are called ‘pseudodiseases’ (Arch Intern Med, 2011; 171: 1268–9).

Definitions of disease are driven by a desire to catch problems early—and for finding more customers for drugs. Many of the regulators who sit on boards that determine when disease begins have direct links to pharmaceutical companies that stand to benefit from a larger market for their drugs, says medical researcher Ray Moynihan, from Bond University in Queensland, Australia (BMJ, 2012; 344: doi: 10.1136/bmj.e3502).

One example of the changing fashions for determining disease is the T score—which measures bone density—in menopausal women to determine the risk of osteoporosis (brittle bones). The average T score is set at zero and is based on a healthy, premenopausal woman, so any older woman is likely to have a negative T score. The World Health Organization (WHO) arbitrarily set the T score for osteoporosis at -2.5, but this was changed by the US National Osteoporosis Foundation to -2.0 in 2003—and, quite literally overnight, another 6.7 million American women had osteoporosis when just the day before they thought they were healthy.

The same happened a decade earlier when medicine tightened its definitions for cardiovascular diseases and, in particular, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. In 1997, the ‘danger’ signal for high blood pressure (hypertension) was changed from a reading of 100/ 160 mmHg to 90/140 mmHg, thereby suddenly making 13 million Americans candidates for antihypertensive drugs.

A further 42 million Americans overnight found themselves in line for a statin drug when the ‘harmful’ level of cholesterol in the blood was reduced from 240 mg/dL to greater than 200 mg/dL. As most healthy people have a cholesterol level of around 200 mg/dL, this casts the disease net very wide.

Aggressive overmedicalization comes at a cost both in human and financial terms. Fiscally, it’s reckoned that the United States alone is spending around $200 billion (£128 billion) every year on unnecessary treatments. Yet, the human cost is far higher. Many hundreds of thousands of people experience adverse reactions to antihypertensives, statins and other drugs, while overdiagnosis is also taking a heavy toll, from full mastectomies (complete removal of the breast) for women who don’t even have cancer to life-destroying treatments for men who would have died with prostate cancer, and not from it.

Courtesy WDDTY

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This 5 min video was posted way back, however, it was sent to me and I got the same inspiration from it as back then. Although the title is ‘Never, Ever Give Up’, there are occasions when one needs to let go and surrender. Intuition and non judgemental witnessing is needed from the quiet still mind. Remember the old Chinese saying ‘when undecided between two things, do the third’.

This is an extended version of Arthur’s amazing journey and his Instructor. Just 4 mins more. When I was very poor and did not know what to do I became an all in Wrestler for a time, I got on TV a few times, it was all arranged at a Gym, however you had to be fit and my Judo training held in me in good stead. I wrestled under the name of Geoff Ashley [my middle name] the Australian Kangaroo. The Yoga Instructor for Arthur was the same only more USA style and later in the wrestling development. I have a few DVD’s of my life story [in part] and you can see who I wrestled with. In those days smaller men could wrestle.

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Figure 2 Kent Walton the TV commentator on wrestling. I knew Kent well.

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Figure 3 Kendo Nagasaki was the mystery wrestler? No one knew his name or who he really was. I wrestled with a tag partner Doctor Death at times. It was show time stuff, the illusion of Life, the mystery. Names like haystacks, big daddy, docker Don Steadman it paid the bills and supplemented my income. I enjoyed the razzmatazz. The more masked and ridiculous the outfit the more it drew the crowds.

The spiritual life, the allure of enlightenment being one with God. The mystery of Life. Who are we behind the mask? What are we like without the drama, the pathos, the aliveness of our persona? Like the veil, the enigma, ‘ah sweet mystery of Life’

http://www.pinkbike.com/news/Where-The-Trail-Ends-4.5-Minute-Trailer-Unlocked.html Taking adventure to the limits. Fhwooew!!!!

http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ This beautiful 2 min video by Colin Legg, music by Nocturnal of the Southern Sky, Redux by Unkle .

fig08

New crop circle in Windmill Hill in wheat crop, Avebury, Wilts / 25th July 2012
Photo by Steve Alexander

http://news.uk.msn.com/world/articles.aspx?cp-documentid=250821521 NASA’S Curiosity Rover lands on Mars 06-08-12 , read great technical achievement.

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AP/Nasa / Mars rover Curiosity has landed on the massive Gale Crater

http://uk.lifestyle.yahoo.com/chemotherapy-backfire-boost-cancer-growth-study-154516398.html Hmm, at last. Whilst chemotherapy may work for some, for others, the accepted success rate of five years of torture and agony is horrifying. Yet the medical authorities mostly refuse to look at alternatives.

This short Video depicts the life of Aquanaut who lives in the Aquarius Undersea Laboratory. The point made is that the oceans control the climate and so forth and as one scientist says ‘we are exploring space and looking up, and we should be looking down, time is running out’. The funding is being pulled; they have money for war yet out lives-----no.

Latest technology of ‘seeing around corners’ [3 mins].

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/08/08/planting-vegetable-gardens.aspx?e_cid=20120808_DNL_artNew_2 The mad, mad, mad USA and I expect EU will and are in the USA clamping down on growing your own vegetables in your own garden. Stinks, stenches, putrid corrupt officials no doubt in the pay of Monsanto and ‘soon organic is bad for you, and nature is harmful------ don’t laugh they are insane, psychiatrically demented and deformed to implement it.

If you think I am biased have a gander at this: [Just before the biased gander please read this link [short] http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/08/08/baby-website-mmr-vaccine-autism_n_1754439.html there seems to be evidence of a link between autism and MMR vaccine.

Carry on from above: Courtesy WDDTY

fig09The well are being harmed by medicine that is overdiag-nosing, detecting illnesses that aren’t there and changing the boundaries of what illness is. Up to a third of people—who, a generation before, would have been considered healthy—are today taking drugs or undergoing dangerous treatments they don’t need.

When once medicine prided itself on treating the sick, it is today almost as likely to harm the healthy through drug overdose, overtreatment and overdiagnosis. Mass screening programmes that use increasingly sensitive technol-ogy are detecting cancers that will never endanger the patient and ‘abnormalities’ that are benign, while definitions of ‘disease’—such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels—are becoming tighter, thus bringing millions of people into the ‘disease net’. Abnormalities that will never develop into something that will affect the patient, or endanger life, are called ‘pseudodiseases’ (Arch Intern Med, 2011; 171: 1268–9).

Definitions of disease are driven by a desire to catch problems early—and for finding more customers for drugs. Many of the regulators who sit on boards that determine when disease begins have direct links to pharmaceutical companies that stand to benefit from a larger market for their drugs, says medical researcher Ray Moynihan, from Bond University in Queensland, Australia (BMJ, 2012; 344: doi: 10.1136/bmj.e3502).

One example of the changing fashions for determining disease is the T score—which measures bone density—in menopausal women to determine the risk of osteoporosis (brittle bones). The average T score is set at zero and is based on a healthy, premenopausal woman, so any older woman is likely to have a negative T score. The World Health Organization (WHO) arbitrarily set the T score for osteoporosis at -2.5, but this was changed by the US National Osteoporosis Foundation to -2.0 in 2003—and, quite literally overnight, another 6.7 million American women had osteoporosis when just the day before they thought they were healthy.

The same happened a decade earlier when medicine tightened its definitions for cardiovascular diseases and, in particular, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. In 1997, the ‘danger’ signal for high blood pressure (hypertension) was changed from a reading of 100/ 160 mmHg to 90/140 mmHg, thereby suddenly making 13 million Americans candidates for antihypertensive drugs.

A further 42 million Americans overnight found themselves in line for a statin drug when the ‘harmful’ level of cholesterol in the blood was reduced from 240 mg/dL to greater than 200 mg/dL. As most healthy people have a cholesterol level of around 200 mg/dL, this casts the disease net very wide.

Aggressive overmedicalization comes at a cost both in human and financial terms. Fiscally, it’s reckoned that the United States alone is spending around $200 billion (£128 billion) every year on unnecessary treatments. Yet, the human cost is far higher. Many hundreds of thousands of people experience adverse reactions to antihypertensives, statins and other drugs, while overdiagnosis is also taking a heavy toll, from full mastectomies (complete removal of the breast) for women who don’t even have cancer to life-destroying treatments for men who would have died with prostate cancer, and not from it.

Overdiagnosis overload
At least a third of people taking a drug or receiving treatment are healthy. This is an average figure and can be alarmingly far higher for some ‘diseases’, such as high cholesterol, prostate cancer, ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) in children and adolescents, and asthma.

Breast cancer
Up to 54 per cent of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer after a mammogram don’t have the disease but, instead, probably have DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ), which develops into cancer in only around 10 per cent of cases. Nonetheless, surprisingly few oncologists recognize that DCIS is invariably benign and, instead, prescribe a range of aggressive responses up to full breast removal (Lancet Oncol, 2007; 8: 1129–38). Other studies have produced lower overdiagnosis rates, but they are still high, ranging from 52 per cent (BMJ, 2009; 339: b2587) down to 30 per cent (Cancer Causes Control, 2010; 21: 275–82) and 25 per cent (Ann Intern Med, 2012; 156: 491–9).

Thyroid cancer
The chances of getting a thyroid cancer diagnosis wrong are very high. Sensitive screening technology often detects an abnormality in the thyroid that will never develop into cancer. Even genuine cancers detected in the thyroid are often small, not aggressive and unlikely to harm the patient, although detection invariably triggers therapies that can permanently damage the nerves and require life-long medication (Welch HG, Schwartz LM, Woloshin S. Overdiagnosed: Making People Sick in Pursuit of Health. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2011).

Gestational diabetes
Around 18 per cent of pregnant women have suddenly found themselves in need of urgent medical treatment after the criterion for gestational diabetes (hypergly-caemia in pregnancy) was altered in 2010, thus doubling the number of ‘sick’ people. Advocates for a more rigorous definition have argued that it reduces health problems at birth, including babies that are ‘large for gestational age’ (Diabetes Care, 2010; 33: 676–82).

Chronic kidney disease
Around one-third of the over-65s are deemed to have chronic kidney disease and, yet, fewer than one in 1000 of these cases progresses to life-threatening end-stage renal disease every year. The definition for the disease was altered in 2002 (measured as the estimated glomerular filtration rate, or eGFR), a move that has been described as “a fishing trawler that captures many more innocent subjects than it should” (Nephron Clin Pract, 2011; 119 Suppl 1: c2–4). One problem is the eGFR test itself, which is known to be inaccurate. Despite this, elderly people are being diagnosed with kidney disease based on a single measurement, and “the majority of those held to have chronic kidney disease have no identifiable kidney disease” (Nefrologia, 2010; 30: 493–500).

Asthma
This is a chronic—and sometimes life-threatening—respiratory disorder and, yet, despite its obvious symptoms, more than 30 per cent of patients were so diagnosed when they didn’t have the problem, while around 66 per cent of those who were correctly diagnosed didn’t need the drugs six months later (CMAJ, 2008; 179: 1121–31).

Pulmonary embolism
A blood clot causing sudden blockage of the main artery of the lung can be fatal, and doctors used to detect it only when there was tissue death (infarction) in the lungs. Today, doctors have the benefit of computed tomog-raphy pulmonary angiography (CTPA), which can detect even the smallest clots. As a result, the incidence of pulmonary embolism has apparently doubled, and has led to “an epidemic of diagnostic testing that has created overdiagnosis” especially of clinically un-important cases that are not life-threatening (Arch Intern Med, 2011; 171: 831–7). While a pulmonary embolism is fright-ening, doctors are so vigilant that they order a CTPA scan at the slightest suspicion; for this reason, the authors call for a degree of common sense.

ADHD (attention-deficit/ hyperactive disorder)
This condition has become almost a matter of fashion rather than a genuine diagnosis, and child-ren’s bad behaviour and naughtiness of previous genera-tions have now become a disease that is treated with powerful drugs. To illustrate the point, researchers analyzed the case reports of around one million children in Canada who had been so diagnosed. Those whose birthdays were in December—and thus were among the youngest in their school year—were, on average, 50 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than older children (CMAJ, 2012; 184: 755–62).

Seeing more problem

A change in the definition of what we call disease is certainly one driver of the epidemic of over-diagnosis but, by far, the biggest is the sophisticated screening tech-nology that allows doctors to see an abnormality often before it escalates into disease.

However, the new technology is also discovering something rather interesting: most of us have some ‘abnormality’ that will never develop into a medically recognized disease. This phen-omenon, referred to as a ‘reservoir of abnormalities’, has been high-lighted by researchers who have screened healthy individuals who had no symptoms and nevertheless discovered that:

  • around 10 per cent of us have gallstones, as detected by ultrasound, and yet have never displayed any symptoms—such as pain, nausea or problems with fatty foods (Invest Radiol, 1991; 26: 939–45);
  • about 40 per cent of us have knee damage, as detected by MRI scans, and yet have no knee pain or even a history of knee injury (Radiology, 1990; 177: 463–5);
  • more than 50 per cent of us have bulging lumbar discs, according to MRI scans, but we’ve never experienced any back pain (N Engl J Med, 1994; 331: 69–73).

These figures are averages, and may differ according to age and gender. For example, only 2 per cent of men under the age of 40 have gallstones detected by ultrasound when they have no symptoms compared with 9 per cent of women aged under 40, whereas 80 per cent of both men and women over the age of 50 have bulging discs with no symptoms (Welch HG, Schwartz LM, Woloshin S. Overdiagnosed: Making People Sick in Pursuit of Health. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2011).

Another problem is the reliability of the findings. Not only is screening technology picking up symptomless abnormalities, but it also ‘sees’ problems that aren’t even there. Mammography, designed to detect early-stage breast cancer, produces 10 ‘false-positive results’— cancers that aren’t there—for every genuine case it detects (Pol Arch Med Wewn, 2010; 120: 89–94). Indeed, the rise of breast cancer over the last 20 years is almost entirely due to overdiagnosis, or false positives, say researchers from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. Comparing annual cancer rates for the years 1991 to 2009, new diagnosis levels remained stable in the 40- to 49-year-old group, yet rocketed by 50 per cent in the 50- to 69-year-olds, immediately after routine mass mammography screening was introduced (Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen, 2012; 132: 414–7).

Overtreatment

If you do have symptoms and a problem is confirmed by a scan, the next level of medicalization then comes into play—overtreatment.

However, symptoms and a confirmatory test still don’t necessarily point to the correct cause: a patient complaining of knee pain—and whose scan reveals damaged cartilage—is in the fast-track queue for arthroscopic knee surgery. Yet, as we have seen, scans pick up a reservoir of abnor-malities, and it’s possible that the damaged cartilage isn’t the problem and that the pain is, instead, being caused by arthritis. In that instance, knee arthroscopy may well do more harm than good (N Engl J Med, 2008; 359: 1097–107).

The greatest examples of overtreatment are seen when ‘cancer’ is detected, a finding that inevitably sends medicine into overdrive. For prostate cancer, surgery and radiation are the two main assaults—as they are for most cancers. Surgery—called ‘radical prostatectomy’, or complete removal of the prostate and its surrounding tissue—causes life-long sexual dysfunction in half of all patients, and 30 per cent have problems urinating. Radiation has the same side-effects but, in addition, can also damage the rectum; 15 per cent of men treated with radiation develop “a moderate or big problem” with defecation, usually in the form of pain or urgency (J Natl Cancer Inst, 2000; 92: 1582–92; N Engl J Med, 2008; 358: 1250–61).

Women diagnosed with breast cancer face similar, life-debilitating courses of action, including chemotherapy, radiotherapy and/ or breast surgery. The side-effects of chemotherapy drugs include mucositis (inflammation of the mucous membranes), heart and bile-duct problems, bone-tissue death, infertility, and lower white and red blood cell counts.

Many of these cases were misdiagnoses of breast cancer or, in the case of prostate cancer, were not killers. Pathologists discovered the presence of prostate cancer in 80 per cent of men aged between 70 and 79 years who were examined following an accidental death, suggesting that most men develop the cancer, but few die because of it (Cancer, 1989; 63: 381–5).

Given such overdiagnosis and overtreatment, you would at least expect the death rate from cancer to have fallen—but it has hardly altered in the past 30 years. Around 25 men per 100,000 die due to prostate cancer every year and have done so since 1975 and, yet, over the same period, diagnoses have increased from around 90 per 100,000 in 1975 to 150 per 100,000 in 2005, peaking in 1993 with 227 new cases per 100,000 men (SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2005; http://seer.cancer.gov/ csr/1975_2009_pops09/results_merged/sect_23_prostate.pdf).

A similar picture can be seen for breast cancer. Despite the increase in diagnoses—and subsequent treatment—the number of women dying from the disease has remained the same for 30 years.

In 1975, 27 women per 100,000 died of the cancer; in 2005, the figure was 25 per 100,000. During the same timeframe, new diag-noses were increased by up to 75 per cent, from 100 new diagnoses per 100,000 women in 1975 to 175 per 100,000 in 2001, falling away slightly to 155 per 100,000 by 2005 (SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2005; http://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_ 2009_pops09/results_merged/sect_04_breast.pdf).

Body, heal thyself

Overtreatment is a manifestation of a medical system that sees itself as the guardian against all that ails us, and does not recognize the extraordinary healing powers the body itself possesses.

Stroke, for example, is a debilitating and sometimes fatal disease—and one that has the doctor pushing the panic button. Despite this common perception, many of us have suffered a stroke and have never realized it. One study of around 2000 healthy people discovered that 10 per cent had suffered a stroke, usually a ‘silent stroke’. It also happened to younger individuals: an MRI scan revealed that 7 per cent of the under-50s had had a stroke at some point and, yet, the brain had been able to repair the damage (Stroke, 2008; 39: 2929–35).

Astonishingly, cancer is another feared disease that doesn’t always follow an inevitably aggressive pattern. Breast cancer, for exam-ple, seems to have a six-year cycle, at the end of which it appears to regress. Researchers made the discovery when they analyzed the progress of the cancer in Norwe-gian women who were regularly screened, and compared them with those who were screened only at the beginning and end of the same six years. Although the cumulative rate of cancer was higher in the screened group, as would be expected, those who had cancer detected at the beginning of the six-year period had no trace of the disease when they were screened at the end of the trial (Arch Intern Med, 2008; 168: 2311–6).

Think again

Medicalization—the harming of the healthy—is becoming a hot topic in medicine, and politicians and health regulators are starting to join in. In 2010, Archives of Internal Medicine, a prestigious peer-reviewed medical journal, launched a ‘Less is More’ campaign, where doctors were invited to suggest treatments and routine screenings that may be doing more harm than good.

This year, nine physician groups and organizations have joined forces to launch the ‘Choosing Wisely’ campaign, and, as a group, these different specialties have listed 40 procedures or tests that they believe are unnecessary (see box, page 13).

Policy groups across Europe are also discussing ways to tackle excess in medicine, and The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice is holding an important conference next year, entitled ‘Preventing Overdiagnosis’.

Medicine’s own governing bodies are beginning to loosen their definitions of illness, and the first could be a relaxation in the thresholds of high blood pressure. If the proposals go through, 100 million people will suddenly be ‘well’ and will no longer need to take antihypertensive drugs.

In general, overdiagnosis may be the result of a desire to do the best, and to beat disease before it takes hold but, in so doing, medicine has caused enormous damage—and perhaps it is finally waking up to the harm it is doing to the healthy.

Bryan Hubbard

Be well. Geoff

 

ADDENDUM

At a bar ...

Having already downed a few power drinks, she turns around, faces him, looks him straight in the eye and says:

"Listen here, good looking. I screw anybody, anytime, anywhere, your place, my place, in the car, front door, back door, on the ground, standing up, sitting down, naked or with clothes on; it doesn't matter to me. I just love it!"

Eyes now wide with interest, he responds:

"No kidding, I'm in banking too! Which one are you with?"

Hangovers in Vegas[3mins]

 

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