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  • Temporarily Able By Dr. Malcolm Kendrick (The definition of health)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
    Monday, February 22, 2010 10:27 am Email this article
    Some time ago, I was looking through the latest definitions of various states of health. I can’t remember why. I think I was writing a paper on multiple sclerosis and trying to establish the various stages that you may progress through, from fully fit and able to bed bound and incapable of feeding yourself.

    All types of health “states” were catalogued for all sorts of diseases. However, the really depressing definition was left to last. Someone with no disease or disability of any sort — the type of person you or I might call “healthy” — was defined as temporarily able. As if health is a strange abnormal state, which, happily, given a bit of time, will revert to the more normal human condition of illness.

    (This article was written by Malcolm Kendrick, MD, author of the wonderful, eye-opening, paradigm-shifting book The Great Cholesterol Con: The Truth About What Really Causes Heart Disease and How to Avoid It .) UK Introduced Screening for Bowel Cancer

    Is this a good thing?

    For some reason, this memory sprang into my mind when it was announced that the United Kingdom is going to introduce bowel-cancer screening for everyone between the ages of 60 and 70 as part of our new Brave New World of enforced healthiness for all. An announcement that left me profoundly depressed.

    Despite my misgivings, however, I have to admit that, in general, most people seem ecstatic about the introduction of yet more health screening. It seems to be a self-evidently good thing. Pick up a disease early, especially cancer, and you can cure it. But if it were left for a few more years, it would be deadly. Who could possibly object to that? Anything that stops people from dying must be a good thing, mustn’t it? Stop being an old curmudgeon.


    Stopping People from Living

    It is not just how long we live, but how our lives are lived

    I don’t know…. Somehow all this screening and monitoring and treating things like raised blood pressure with drugs — for the rest of your life — seems to me to be in danger of stopping people from living, not dying. It may seem trite to say “no one gets out of life alive.” This attitude is often dismissed as defeatist or nihilist. But I think it is critically important how our lives are lived — not just how long they are.


    False Positives

    So many tests lead to many false positives and cause people unnecessary worry and anxiety

    Even from a purely practical perspective, I have doubts. If two million people are sent kits through the post to test for blood in the faeces (how lovely), around five percent will test positive. That is 100,000 positive tests. Around 90 percent of these will be false positive, by which I mean the test will come back positive for a variety of different reasons, not cancer.

    So, 90,000 people will be scared witless. (I was going to say *#$tless, but it didn’t seem appropriate.) They will all undergo colonoscopy, an unpleasant and costly procedure, and then be pronounced “healthy” — sort of. Despite this, many of them will become horribly worried and a certain number will suffer chronic anxiety. Believe me; I see them in surgery every day.

    If, on the other hand, you decide to throw the kit away in a fit of deranged personal liberty, you will be reminded and chided for years that you really should take the test — it’s for your own good, don’t you know.


    Is It Worth It?

    I’m not sure if I want to live in a world where we are all considered to be ill

    I don’t know. There are always those who will say that even if one life is saved, it is worth any price. But I am not so sure. After all, we accept tens of thousands of deaths each year for the convenience of driving cars. Why won’t we accept a few hundred more deaths a year for the freedom of living without added anxiety and fear in our lives?

    As readers of Red Flags are probably aware, if you screened everybody for every illness, everybody would be found to have an illness — even if many of these findings would be false positive. And if everyone is ill, then everyone needs treatment of some sort. And I am not sure whether I want to live in a world where we are all considered to be ill, and under the command of the medical profession. For now, I am temporarily able and I would like to stay that way.



    Article Previous Published on THINCS.org

    This article was previously published on THINCS.org

    This article was previously published on THINCS.org (The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics).

    I republished the article here with Dr. Kendrick’s permission.


    Malcolm Kendrick’s Contact Info

    Malcolm Kendrick’s Email Address—.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    Dr. Malcolm Kendrick can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

    Malcolm Kendrick, MD is the author of the wonderful, eye-opening, paradigm-shifting book book The Great Cholesterol Con: The Truth About What Really Causes Heart Disease and How to Avoid It .)


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