When Fighting Cancer Is Folly

Sometimes doing nothing is better than doing something.

Whenever I have a medical appointment, my wife inquires, "What did the doctor say?" I always give the same answer: "She said I'm going to die." Not because I have some fatal illness, but because life is a terminal condition.

Americans might keep that fact in mind in considering the recent news made by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. It recently recommended against routine screening of healthy men for prostate cancer, on two grounds: The test doesn't save lives, on balance, and the treatments are usually worse than the disease.

Everyone who gets prostate cancer will die. But usually not from prostate cancer.

There are lessons in the task force report, both for individuals and for institutions that pay for screening of this sort. But chances are, those lessons will be ignored. In the American health care system, the pressures to do something, useful or not, are more powerful than the pressures to do nothing.

Prevention is a totem of modern medicine. Under his health care reform, President Barack Obama says, insurance companies will have to provide free mammograms and colonoscopies because "it saves money, and it saves lives." He stuck to this position even after this same Preventive Services Task Force came out against routine mammography for women under 50.

This is one of those conditions where ignorance can truly be bliss. Most men who live long enough will develop cancer of the prostate. And for most of them, it will be effectively harmless.

The idea of a harmless cancer may be hard to grasp. Typically, though, prostate cancer grows very slowly and has no symptoms, and by the time it gets around to killing you, you're already dead.

In the old days, countless males walked around with a song in their hearts and a spring in their steps, despite the malignant cells in their nether regions. They didn't know, and it didn't matter. But then scientists invented the PSA test, doctors started using it, and men by the millions found out they had prostate cancer.

Worse yet, they—or, rather, their doctors—proceeded to do something about it, namely surgery. When physicians wielding sharp instruments start removing stuff down there, the endeavor has definite drawbacks, such as sexual and urinary dysfunction.

What it doesn't have is definite benefits. A 2004 study found that for every 48 men who undergo operations for prostate cancer, only one will live longer as a result. But half will suffer permanent side effects affecting a certain cherished organ. Other studies are even more damning, finding that screening had zero effect on the death rate.

How can that be? Several reasons: The test often yields false positives, it can't tell if the cancer is truly dangerous, and surgery doesn't always work. A lot of patients get treated for cancers that won't kill them, and others get treated for cancers that will kill them anyway.

Richard Ablin, a scientist at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, discovered the enzyme that the test picks up. But he wrote last year in The New York Times that PSA screening is "a hugely expensive public health disaster."

Some 20 million men get the test each year, to find out something that will almost certainly do them no good. We assume that knowledge is always a boon. But this time, it isn't.

The prevailing approach to prostate cancer illustrates our collective disregard for medical expense. Some $3 billion a year is spent in this country for PSA screening, with Medicare, Medicaid and the Veterans Administration often picking up the tab.

That doesn't count the cost of the roughly 85,000 surgeries done each year on cancerous prostates, or the expense of treatment for the side effects that often ensue. The federal task force didn't factor finances into its recommendation. But the rest of us ought to.

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  • Agriculture is Evil!!!!||

    Before agriculture noone died from cancer. The saber toothed cat killed you first.

  • Paleo Diet||

    Before agriculture no one died from cancer.

    True, mostly.

    Ain't the agricultural city-State (civilization) great?

    The saber toothed cat killed you first.

    They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

  • PIRS||

    While I strongly disagree with almost everything the person who used to go by the handle "White Indian" said I actually have been looking into the Paleo Diet concept. I have even ordered some "caveman cookies" (though they have not yet arrived). It does make sense that our bodies were designed to eat certain foods. This does not, however, mean that we need to give up the concept of agriculture. The grains that we grow are an excellent food source for the cows and goats and other edible animals.

  • ||

    PIRS, the best cookbooks I have for Paleo are Primal Blueprint Quick & Easy Meal and Paleo Comfort Foods. Also on order is Make it Paleo - the blog http://www.primal-palate.com is fantastic from a cooking standpoint. Don't fall into the paleo-cookie trap. Learn to make your own.

    This way of life makes sense for me, works for weight loss and a general sense of well being. Giving up all grain foods (I eat potatoes and some dairy from time to time) has been the best decision I've ever made for my health.

  • PIRS||

    Thanks!

  • ||

    Nom Nom Paleo is also quite good for food pron and ideas.

    I actually have my own paleo-ish blog. Also, I'd highly reccomed Perfect Health Diet for a Paleo 2.0 or post-Paleo perspective.

  • steve||

    Second for nom nom paleo. that chick's a riot

  • ||

    The grains that we grow are an excellent food source for the cows and goats and other edible animals.

    Actually, they are not. Ruminants evolved to live on grass, not grass seeds (grain). The massive doses of antibiotics given to cows, pigs, and other grazers are given precisely because eating corn and oats gives them deadly stomach and intestinal infections. The antibiotics allow them to eat corn without getting too sick.

  • PIRS||

    Interesting, I will look more into that.

  • ||

    Whether you consider him a food scold and a tiresome bore or not, Pollan's book The Omnivore's Dilemma gives a good overview of how ag subsidies are a burden all the way around, from the taxpayer to the farmer to the feedlot animals.

    Also look into any of Mark's "definitive guides" on http://www.marksdailyapple.com for some info on nutrient profiles in grassfed vs. cornfed beef, and myriad other topics.

  • Against the Grain||

    ag subsidies

    That's just scratching the surface.

    "Agriculture creates government." ~Richard Manning, Against the Grain, p. 73

  • ||

    I've never read Pollan's book because what I have read of him shows a total lack of basic economics and a statist mindset.

    I believe he wrote something about how people are fat because food is too cheap. And he said classical economics of supply and demand don't operate for agriculture.

  • ||

    He did say all of that, and he is a statist - what else would you expect from a guy raised in MA who became a journalism professor at Berkeley?

    But that doesn't mean his description of the absurdity of ag subsidies and our modern food system is off-point. In fact, I'm surprised he hasn't revised his opinions in light of what his n=1 experiment in tracing the source of his meals.

    You can't end ag in a day, short of a violent and bloody revolution that burns all the corn and wheat fields and sets the cows free (WI starts stroking it right about here)...

  • ||

    Yeah, eating real food is definitely a baptists and bootleggers issue. Pollan comes at it from a completely different direction.

  • prolefeed||

    Ending ag means condemning most people on earth to dying of starvation. Obviously, the would be starvees will not succumb without fighting back against those who wish them to die.

  • Agriculture is a disaster||

    Starting ag means condemning most people on earth to dying of starvation.

    There are consequences for stupid decisions a society makes.

    Agriculture is like fiat money -- a few people profit from it, and it looks great to everybody during the artificial boom.

    Then the collapse. Always happens.

  • Free Market Obesity||

    The free market demands obesity.

  • Cows Eat Grass||

    The grains that we grow are an excellent food source for the cows

    Wrong.

    Cows have 4 stomachs to digest grass.

    Grain fed beef is horrible for your body.

    Compared with feedlot meat, meat from grass-fed beef, bison, lamb and goats has less total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and calories. It also has more vitamin E, beta-carotene, vitamin C, and a number of health-promoting fats, including omega-3 fatty acids and “conjugated linoleic acid,” or CLA.

    http://www.eatwild.com/

    White Indian is right on Paleo Diet.

    White Indian is right on Paleo everything else.

  • Soil, Grass and Cancer||

    Soil fertility is directly linked to human and animal disease.

    Soil, Grass and Cancer
    by André Voisin

  • Paleo diet is a gateway drug||

    This Paleo-diet talk is a gateway to more primitivist-paleo philosophy.

    Don't fall for it.

    Like Jeffery Tucker says about dressing up, in his article How to Dress Like a Man over at LewRockwell:

    If you don't want to be a slob, you have to live with a bit of discomfort....Follow my advice and do your part to save civilization.

    Follow my advice, eat grains from our glorious agriculture, be unhealthy (you have to live with a bit of discomfort) and do your part to save civilization.

    Here's to discomfort and disease! Resist WI's clarion call to be bucolic and well!

  • Dude||

    Paleo diet is crap. Look at milk. Some cultures can't digest it (asians) because they didn't evolve with cows. Some cultures can because they did. Ergo your argument about humans being "designed" to eat certain foods is crap. Human are not static and are omnivores. We can and do eat many, many things. That's why we were successful. Further, we change based on environmental pressures (availability of foods) Agriculture has been around for over 9K years. The idea that we haven't evolved to tolerate grains is silly. Sure, some people are allergic to gluten, but they would have died 8000 years ago. Today they are alive and living in california complaining about global warming.

  • Paleo Injun||

    Paleo diet is crap. Look at milk.

    Who said milk is essential to a paleo diet? Nobody forages or hunts milk in a paleolithic society.

    The idea that we haven't evolved to tolerate grains is silly.

    Call Mayo Clinic and set them straight.

    Cardiovascular Disease Resulting From a Diet and Lifestyle at Odds With Our Paleolithic Genome: How to Become a 21st-Century Hunter-Gatherer

    James H. O'Keefe, Jr, MD and
    Loren Cordain, PhD

    From the Mid America Heart Institute, Cardiovascular Consultants, Kansas City, Mo (J.H.O.); and Department of Health and Exercise Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins (L.C.)

    http://www.mayoclinicproceedin...../101.short

    Remember, White Indian right on Paleo-diet.

    White Indian right on Paleo-everything else.

  • Dude||

    Milk (specifically lactose) is an example of something we've evolved to be able to eat/digest. I never said it was part of the paleo diet. I think you knew that though, and were just determined to straw-man me. Nice try. Further, you'll never be able to get around the confound that we're living longer when making your argument. I'd like to see you separate out the variables. Are more cancer and more heart disease the results of longer life, or of agriculture. You can't prove it's agriculture any more than I can prove it's cell phones.

  • GroundTruth||

    "Sure, some people are allergic to gluten, but they would have died 8000 years ago. Today they are alive and living in california complaining about global warming."

    And (just for laughs) the ones that are allergic to shellfish are snidely sitting on the sidelines lamenting the fate of the poor lobster as he is thrown, kicking and screaming, into a cauldron of boiling water.

  • ||

    Cows milk is for baby cows.

  • Dude||

    And baby cows are for veal, and veal is for me.

  • MJ||

    Grains are grasses.

    Cattle do naturally eat grains, they just are not adapted to eat the seed corns all the time.

  • ||

    THere is plenty of scientific research that indicates certain chemicals in the germ of wheat, in wheat, are bad for you. That doesn't mean we have to go off on some mystical pseudo-scientific journey to follow "krog" the caveman, or even know what he ate.

    Especially when you consider: 1. archaeological finds of cooking fires support ancient man did eat grains after all. Probably not as much as us but they still did.
    2. genetic testing shows us that the hunter gatherers did not turn into agriculturalists, but instead were driven out and killed, so we are related to the agriculture using people.
    4. We've seen major changes in animals in isolation now the past few years, blowing away our ideas of how fast evolutionary change can happen. We can see the proof of this in our own bodies: many of us have the enzymes to digest milk, which we never needed 10,000 years ago. We have changed, and the humans with the benficial changes survived. (That is not proof milk is great, but I use it as proof we change faster than the paleos want us to believe)

    I myself follow an almost paleo diet, but don't fall for the mysticism.

  • Free Market Mysticism||

    Mysticism?

    Libertarian religio-economics is pure mysticism.

  • ||

    I think most of Mark's readers are smart enough to recognize the "Korg" character is a framework for lighthearted discussion - Sisson is a smart but lighthearted guy, I gather, from reading his stuff. Look beyond Korg and read his more academic articles and you'll see it's not mysticism.

    Dairy - we all need it til about 3 years of age. And I don't mean cow's milk, I mean human milk. That some people retain the ability to produce digestive enzymes for milk might be an evolutionary advantage. I tolerate fermented dairy better than straight milk.

    Eating some grain foods does not mean wholesale subsistence on them the way we do now. ALL paleolithic peoples were not driven off and killed by agriculturalists (many were, not all). And from whom did the agriculturalists descend - a second creation pulled off in the land of Nod?

    Consider too that modern wheat and corn are not the same einkorn or emmer or maize that early agriculturalists fostered and grew. Perhaps we are evolving our foods faster than we are evolving to eat them.

    I can't get a doctor to take me seriously when I say "I think I have a gluten intolerance, can we test to be sure?" I get told I'm just over-reacting and it's likely just indigestion. So I did an n=1 and removed wheat, all gluten, then rice and oats, and corn from the diet and fucking-A I have no more bloated belly, heartburn, insomnia, migraines, or mood swings. That I could accomplish all that without meds and by making a rather simple shift in diet is more of a medical miracle to me than antibiotics or antidepressants.

    Paleo is just a framework to think about a dietary shift. It worked for me, maybe not others. Veganism seems to work for some, not others.

  • GroundTruth||

    "It worked for me, maybe not others. Veganism seems to work for some, not others."

    We may be omnivores as species, but many of us as individuals have unique GI systems that run better or worse one one fuel as opposed to another.

  • TANSTAAFL||

    This is very well said. I do bio-research in this area and it is exactly right. Some truths about human diet and metabolism are universal others vary by the population, family and individual.

  • ||

    Exactly. find what works for you and go with it.

  • Dude||

    That's definitely fair. People are vastly different, and some don't do well with certain foods. I developed lactose intolerance at 19, my sister at 22. So I drink lactose free milk. That doesn't mean I've developed some weird religious dogma about my food. Although I do think that good barbecue is an almost religious experience.

  • GroundTruth||

    "good barbecue is an almost religious experience"

    or good bacon, Bacchus be praised!

  • steve||

    Plus, although Dairy isn't Paleo, when you dig into it you find that raw milk, esp from grass-fed cows is a whole lot better for you than any other option w/ fewer of the negatives that come with what you find in the store -- makes the fed's war on raw milk, covered well in this blog, appear all the more stoopid.

  • CE||

    I have even ordered some "caveman cookies"

    Cavemen didn't eat cooks. Bugs and larvae, maybe, if they had a good day and found some.

  • CE||

    Cookies, I meant.... they probably did eat cooks, from other tribes.

  • cynical||

    I think a few thousand years is plenty of time for evolution to adapt us to an agricultural diet. Unless you literally mean "designed" in which case, end of discussion.

  • Government is Medicine||

    Government is proven necessary throughout history. Libertarian told me so.

    It's medicine in the right dosage.

  • PIRS||

    Libertarians like Murray Rothbard and Walter Block would disagree. But I will agree with the minarchists that less government is better than huge government.

  • Small Govt=A Little Pregnant||

    The agricultural city-State is externally invasive and internally repressive.

    Think you're going to change the leopard's spots?

    The libertarian minarchists don't have the slightest grasp of how government formed. Quite simply:

    "Agriculture creates government." ~Richard Manning, Against the Grain

    The libertarian anarchists forget that the State is an integral part of the agricultural city-State (civilization.)

    The only consistent "non-state" anarchist is an anarcho-primitivist, who knows the empirical evidence of human history:

    NON-STATE AND STATE SOCIETIES
faculty.smu.edu/rkemper/cf_3333/Non_State_and_State_Societies.pdf

  • Civilization = Cancer||

    From the article: The prevailing approach to prostate cancer illustrates our collective disregard for medical expense.

    True.

    The prevailing approach to the cancer of the agricultural city-State (civilization) illustrates our collective disregard for environmental costs.

    True.

    I'd like to share a revelation that I've had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species. I realized that you're not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move to an area, and you multiply, and multiply, until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet, you are a plague, and we are the cure.

    ~Agent Smith
    The Matrix

    Agent Smith is wrong. Humans are not a virus. Humans lived in balance with the earth, not running up environmental deficits, for millions of year.

    The agricultural city-State is the cancer, the virus, the destroyer.

    Close, but no cigar, Agent Smith.

  • GroundTruth||

    I sort of like the city-state, to the extent that it allows me to have stable supply of very cheap, relatively good food, a nice warm and dry house, and running water. Hard to get most of that as a hunter-gatherer.

  • Original Affluent Society||

    Actually, basic necessities of life are easier to get as a hunter-gatherer.

    Original Affluent Society
    Marshall Sahlins
    Professor of Anthropology Emeritus
    http://www.primitivism.com/original-affluent.htm

  • L13||

    "...let him live the simple life who will, I've had (between us) enough of that, no bird from here to Babylon, could survive on this for a day"... ("The Threepennny Opera" with my apologies to for a truly awful translation). Even Bertold Brecht the old socialist knew it was better to live in comfort than "free as a bird".

  • Ted S.||

    He stuck to this position even after this same Preventive Services Task Force came out against routine mammography for women under 50.

    The pink ribbon bullies have a much stronger lobby behind them than almost any other disease. I remember a similar report two years ago (it might even have been the one you mentioned), and all of the news coverage was couched in tones of "We're so sorry to confuse you; keep getting your mammograms for the time being." And that was about the nicest tone the reporting took.

    There's been much less reporting on the PSA test research, and I certainly have heard very little angry "You're going to kill us" shrieking.

    Over on NFL-related boards, I keep suggesting I'd like to see the NFL tell the Komen folks, "No, we'll fund the fight against some other disease" and not do all the pink PR. (I like to suggest pancreatic cancer since it has a terrible prognosis, and since it killed NFLPA head Gene Upshaw.) You'd be amazed how badly people react to this.

  • ||

    You'd be amazed how badly people react to this.

    I wouldn't be but I am a curmudgeon. Your point is a good one; if the NFL actually did what you suggest, the air would ring with the cries of "misogynist!". Most of the people yelling the word have no idea what it means but that won't stop them.

  • Ted S.||

    Last January, while walking through Green Bay's airport either on his way to or from a playoff game (I forget which), Aaron Rodgers was listening to his MP3 player and didn't notice some cancer victim dressed in pink.

    Just for that asshole Viking fan Mike Florio spewed a ton of vitriol. To make matters worse, Florio decided to continue digging the hole for himself when Packer fans (and the woman in the video that started the whole thing) came to Rodgers' defense.

    Read the whole story, as they say.

  • rsi||

    Preventive Services Task Force = Death Panel

  • Free Market Death Panel||

    "The free market means that those without money to buy what they need do not have the right to live."

    - John McMurtry

  • RandomGermanDude||

    Wait - An anti-capitalist philosopher argues against free markets? What a break-through discovery!

  • White Indian||

    Indeed.

    Can't refute his opinion?

  • RandomGermanDude||

    Opinions can't be refuted, propositions can.

    Maybe you offer any insight on what his definition of "the right to live" and its constraints are and how he derives it.

  • Weasel Slayer||

    LOL Weasel.

    Opinions can't be refuted

    I can refute that opinion with a dictionary definition of refute.

    Refute \Re*fute"\ [F. r['e]futer, L. refuteare to repel, refute. Cf. Confute, Refuse to deny.] To disprove and overthrow by argument, evidence, or countervailing proof; to prove to be false or erroneous; to confute; as, to refute arguments; to refute testimony; to refute opinions or theories; to refute a disputant.

  • RandomGermanDude||

    IMHO an opinion can assign a truth value to a proposition. But it is not a proposition by itself. That's what I was aiming at.
    The conventional translation of refute to my wonderful native language does result in a word which if applied to opinions does not make sense under that assumption.

    But now I am arguing semantics with a troll that always tries to argue in bad faith. Back to work.

  • Semantics Man||

    You trolled the issue of semantics. Then lost. Good riddance.

  • ||

    You lost? Is this a contest? What is the prize for victory?

  • anon||

    e-peen, duh.

  • ||

    Well that Mcmurty quote sure convinced me...

    It makes perfect sense for the government to spend an infinite amount of money keeping me alive for infinity.

    Or maybe, just maybe, I have the right to live only as long as I can provide for my own well being.

  • Free Market Aggression||

    I have the right to live only as long as I can provide for my own well being.

    Not hardly, pilgrim. The "Free" (LOL!) Market put a violent end to that sort of lifeway.

    "[The Native Americans] didn't have any rights to the land...Any white person who brought the element of civilization had the right to take over this continent."

    ~Ayn Rand
    West Point Military Academy graduation speech, March 6, 1974

  • ||

    You seem confused about what a free market is. Of course there is nothing free about it. Markets, by definition, are places where things are sold or traded. Native Americans, were big on free markets (trade). Except when they fought rival tribes for resources.

  • ||

    That was a response to FMA.

  • anon||

    Sure, I can refute McMurty's position:

    Those without the means or will to contribute to a free society do not deserve the benefits of living in that society, and neither should that society endeavor to provide the means for sustenance to those unwilling to provide it for themselves.

  • Captialism isn't free society ||

    You slipped in a lie. Capitalism isn't a free society, by design. It's highly coercive, or it wouldn't work for the capitalist hierarchy.

    Our system of private property in land forces landless men to work for others; to work in factories, stores, and offices, whether they like it or not. wherever access to land is free, men work only to provide what they actually need or desire. Wherever the white man has come in contact with savage cultures this fact becomes apparent. There is for savages in their native state no such sharp distinction between "work" and "not working" as clocks and factory whistles have accustomed the white man to accept. They cannot be made to work regularly at repetitive tasks in which they have no direct interest except by some sort of duress. Disestablishment from land, like slavery, is a form of duress. The white man, where slavery cannot be practiced, has found that he must first disestablish the savages from their land before he can force them to work steadily for him. Once they are disestablished, they are in effect starved into working for him and into working as he directs.

    THIS UGLY CIVILIZATION
    by RALPH BORSODI
    NEW YORK
    SIMON AND SCHUSTER
    1 9 2 9

  • anon||

    Well, you can cross out free and still have the same exact meaning. Although I dispute your claim of capitalism not being the only means to a free system of governance, I don't particularly care to argue against your inane bullshit.

  • anon||

    Also:
    men work only to provide what they actually need or desire.

    This is universally true of all men that have ever existed anywhere ever. Congratulations, you're on the path to recognizing why capitalism is the only workable economic system consistent with a free society.

  • Captialism isn't free society ||

    Actually, egalitarian Non-State society, or the Original Affluent Society, is the only workable economic system consistent with a free society.

    Because capitalism relies on coercion to draw abstract lines on the earth to prevent the free movement of free people.

  • anon||

    To which, you continue to offer zero evidence that such a system is "workable" without the deaths of literally billions of people.

    I like how nutjobs always advocate for the extermination of most of the human population for their utopias to exist.

  • Agriculture = death sentence||

    Agriculture is a death sentence. Agriculture ensures collapse of a society, as history shows. The consequences cannot be avoided.

    Billions would rather die than give up unsustainable city life. It's their choice.

  • anon||

    riiiiight, that's why agriculture allowed civilization to flourish. Idiot.

    I guarantee you the vast majority of our species would rather not starve to death. I'd bet anything on it.

  • Agriculture = death sentence||

    I guarantee you the vast majority of our species would rather not starve to death.

    Research shows you're wrong.

    In the end, the Viking colonies of Greenland starved to death–next to a sea teaming with fish. To the end, they never touched them. Their Norse cousins lived on fish; they knew this. They lived in full view of the Inuit, who lived happily as they starved to death. They called them skraelings–”wretches”–because they were naught but ignoble savages. Savages who survived–and quite happily–while the civilized Europeans died a long, agonizing death. They ate their herds of cows, even the young, all the way down to the hooves–a clear sign that they had given up on the future. They ate their dogs. And again, in the end, they ate each other. But to the very end, they never ate fish.

    The Arneborg study does show that the Greenland Norse were incredibly adaptive, learning to change their diet to match changing circumstances. It’s not a lack of desperation that’s at fault here; it’s a lack of imagination. It’s the cultural construction of food.

    Thesis #28: Humanity will almost certainly survive.
    http://rewild.info/anthropik/thirty/index.html

  • ||

    Right, so let's go with communism. After all, that has worked out so well...

  • Communism = Capitalism||

    Communism and Capitalism are slightly different variants of the same system:

    Control all the food and put it under lock and key, thus getting people to work for the system or starve.

    Communism concentrates power and wealth even faster than Capitalism, this it fell faster. Capitalism is now causing the same privation as was seen in the Soviet Union, and is in collapse now too.

  • RandomGermanDude||

    Wait - An anti-capitalist philosopher argues against free markets? What a break-through discovery!

  • Matrix||

    like, what, food? They can hunt or forrage on unowned lands, or find someone who doesn't mind.

    Medical care? Well, if they have money, they can pay someone to tend to their wounds. They can also find charities to help them. If neither of those is fitting, they'd have to do it themselves or FORCE someone else to heal them.

    Yeah, force is soooooo much better.

  • Nothing free about free market||

    They can hunt or forrage on unowned lands

    Wrong.

    That is prevented by force and genocide. The hunter-gatherers of NA have been killed off or put on a reservation, and now the environment is too degraded by agriculture.

    why? You can't get people to work for capitalism if they are free. As Dr. Borsodi states:

    Our system of private property in land forces landless men to work for others; to work in factories, stores, and offices, whether they like it or not. wherever access to land is free, men work only to provide what they actually need or desire. Wherever the white man has come in contact with savage cultures this fact becomes apparent. There is for savages in their native state no such sharp distinction between "work" and "not working" as clocks and factory whistles have accustomed the white man to accept. They cannot be made to work regularly at repetitive tasks in which they have no direct interest except by some sort of duress. Disestablishment from land, like slavery, is a form of duress. The white man, where slavery cannot be practiced, has found that he must first disestablish the savages from their land before he can force them to work steadily for him. Once they are disestablished, they are in effect starved into working for him and into working as he directs.

    THIS UGLY CIVILIZATION
    by RALPH BORSODI
    NEW YORK
    SIMON AND SCHUSTER
    1 9 2 9

  • MJ||

    "...do not have the right to live."

    McMurty apparently believes the right to live is a positive right, and there is where his logic goes off the rails. His implication of a "right to live" is that a person can demand to live off the fruits of others efforts indefinitely without making any contributions of his own. No society or culture can survive for long under that ethic. "Money" is just the method we use to store the value of how we contribute to others survival.

    There is an interesting (though geeky) take how money works at the end of this.

    http://blip.tv/sf-debris-opini.....ew-5603035

  • Captialism isn't free society ||

  • anon||

    Aw, cat got your tongue?

  • ||

    ""The free market means that those without money to buy what they need do not have the right to live."

    - John McMurtry""

    This is why I take issue with a right to life. NO WHERE in nature is a right to life. It's a responsibility to surive. Just about any nature show will prove that.
    It's a concept made up by humans that does not exist in the natural world.

  • ||

    Your responsibilty to survive means you must figure out a way to feed yourself.

  • MJ||

    There is nothing objectionable a "right to life" if it is understood as a right not to be killed rather than a right to force others to keep you alive.

    There is no such thing a positive right.

  • no such thing as rights ||

    Then there's definitely no such thing as a negative right.

  • ||

    Donald Rumsfeld, please call your doctor's office.

  • ||

    In the American health care system, the pressures to do something, useful or not, are more powerful than the pressures to do nothing.

  • ||

    Fixed.

  • ||

    Homeopathy is the bane of the American medical system.

    It must be destroyed.

  • Obama||

    Yes dear.

    FDA Bans Hyland's Homeopathic Teething Tablets

    The FDA is stealing your right to use safe products. Remember, the FDA says you have no right to health—and they mean it.

    by Heidi Stevenson

    20 October 2010
    http://gaia-health.com/article.....duct.shtml

  • ||

    You don't jump from a PSA to surgery. You have a biopsy. The patient decides what to do next. There are many options.
    Only my husband's surgery showed the spread of his cancer. His biopsy was badly done. He was in his 50's. He'd probably be dead now if his PSA test hadn't started the process of figuring out what to do about his cancer.

    PSA's are easy, cheap, and valuable. Let's keep them.

  • A Secret Band of Robbers||

    This task force is infuriating and terrifying. I don't know if they're right about prostate cancer or not; only the data can prove them right or wrong. Unfortunately, these guys have shown that they don't give a damn about the data. For their mammo recommendations, they cherry picked two obscure studies to get the results they wanted, and ignored a large-scale longitudinal study from Sweden that had just been published showing huge improvements in mortality from screening the 40-50 demographic. It wasn't good science. It wasn't even an expert opinion. There was not a single radiologist on the panel.

    They were right, in a way, about mammo: it's a pretty lousy test for screening in that it has low sensitivity. Mammo actually misses about half of all cancers. But when studies are coming in showing big benefits from screening even with a crappy modality, why would you conclude that you need to ditch the screening altogether?

    I think this is just another case of the Obama administration's love of rule by shitty experts.

  • MJ||

    "...why would you conclude that you need to ditch the screening altogether?"

    Controlling costs. Everything that people hate about the cost savings measire private insurance uses still apply to health insurance directed or run by government.

  • A Secret Band of Robbers||

    You can buy a lot of screenings and biopsies for the cost of one course of chemotherapy. A mammogram costs $100, and even breast MRI only costs $1,000. If we used MRI for all breast cancer screenings, we could make many, if not most, surgical treatments into outpatient procedures with no chemo and no reexcisions.

    In contrast, Avastin, which used to be the most common chemotherapy drug, costs $110,000. Herceptin costs around $60,000 to $70,000. That's not even counting the cost of the actual surgery.

    Notice I say that Avastin *used* to be the most common chemo drug. It hasn't been replaced. They just stopped using it because it DOESN'T WORK. It gave patients chemo brain for years, made them suffer agonizing side effects, and causes heart problems that may very well kill them. And despite its low success rate, terrifying side effects, and high cost, it was standard treatment.

    In contrast, screening has been proven through a number of very large scale studies to yield major results, and could very well be the best way to reduce treatment costs in the long term. But this task force is trying to minimize it based on two relatively small, old, shitty studies that at best can't be a good judge of modern screening, and probably weren't great at the time.

    I should say that I expect private insurance to figure this out, because in the long run, they really do want to reduce their expenses, and screening probably is the best way to do that. They can be slow and stubborn, but eventually they figure it out. The government, on the other hand, only has to look like they care about improving outcomes, whether it really helps or not, and they aren't any more sincere about reducing expenses.

  • ||

    PSA screening saved my dad's life. So change "effectively zero" to "effectively at least one."

  • ||

    The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recently recommended against routine screening of healthy men for prostate cancer, on two grounds:The test doesn't save lives, on balance, and the treatments are usually worse than the disease.

    I'm pretty sure Frank Zappa would disagree.

    As mentioned upthread, you don't (shouldn't) go from PSA test to the operating table.

    There may be some doctors that just want to make money from doing an operation too.

  • ||

    Hmm....we live longer than ever, suffer more from diseases of old age than from food-related problems, are blindingly more successful at EVERYTHING than any earlier culture, etc., etc. If you want to eat a paleo diet, do so, but please don't get holier than thou about it - it's just your choice. Wouldn't you rather have problems with being lactose-intolerant, than with, as often times was the case previously, not having enough to eat period?!

  • ||

    "and by the time it gets around to killing you, you're already dead.
    Heartless libertarian - no concern for the pain and suffering of the dead...
    If I were elected, we would institute a program to employ the dead - they would be as productive as our current government employees, and I would declare a war on death. The economic boom of 180 years olds - think of the demand for "depends" will cause a boom (and maybe boom booms in our pants)in our economy!

  • Oncologist||

    When looking at information from agencies such as the USPSTF, it is far more valuable and telling to see what healthcare the "experts" seek for themselves and their families, vs. what they recommend for the controllable masses.

    In my 15 year career, I most certainly treat FAR less metastatic prostate cancer today than I did 10-15 years ago. It is not possible to rationally quantify the cost, in dollars and in humanity, of dealing with painful, metastatic cancer.

    Unless you believe that manipulatable statistics are more valuable than empiric outcomes. In that case, you can also conclude that morphine pills and death are cheaper than cancer care, and therefore more desirable.

    But be sure to pay attention to what these "experts" do for themselves and their families...

  • rather||

    "But be sure to pay attention to what these "experts" do for themselves and their families..." Good idea but I always ask my doctor what he would do if he was banging me

  • A Secret Band of Robbers||

    This.

  • DDavis||

    This is one of the more stupid arguments floating around these days.

    "You don't need a cancer test, because doctors are so incompetent that their usual course of treatment is worse than doing nothing."

    The answer to that is not to be ignorant of your disease, but to improve the treatment regimen. It's not that the treatments are never effective, it's that doctors don't expend the effort to narrow down their application of the treatment.

  • ||

    Homeopathy is the bane of the American medical system.

    It must be destroyed.

    "...for the purposes of popular discourse, it is not necessary for homeopaths to prove their case. It is merely necessary for them to create walls of obfuscation, and superficially plausible technical documents that support their case, in order to keep the dream alive in the imaginations of both the media and their defenders." --Ben Goldacre

    If homeopathy works, then obviously the less you use it, the stronger it gets. So the best way to apply homeopathy is to not use it at all. --Phil Plait

    http://skepdic.com/homeo.html

  • Valkyrie927||

    Horrible misleading.

    My grandfather died from prostate cancer at age 70. Both of my uncles were diagnosed with it, because they knew to look, one at age 65 and the other at age 62. One is now 70 years old and free and clear of prostate cancer and the other is approaching 70. I work in cancer research, specifically lung, and I know that often preventative screening can have only a small impact, but my uncles are the small group that does benefit. What if it was your father or uncle? Ignoring the benefits of screening and pretending that you're find without is a horrible recommendation.

  • M Miller||

    A very good argument against PSA screening. But who said anything that we have now is perfect? Sophistry in argument is a human frailty. We TRY to find solutions and sometimes a step forward IS a step forward. Prevention and turning away from the Standard American Diet could make this discussion moot. Until then if I feel something is wrong in my ..."nether regions" I WILL have that test thank you very much.
    thousandfeathers.com phytonutrients that fight cancer

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