Wednesday, April 07, 2010

"PSA Testing Can't Detect Prostate Cancer." - Richard Ablin

Those are the words of Richard J. Ablin, the man who discovered prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in 1970, and the man who claims use of the PSA test "has led to a hugely expensive public health disaster."

Here's an editorial he wrote for the New York Times a few weeks ago:

The Great Prostate Mistake

  • PSA testing can’t detect prostate cancer and, more important, it can’t distinguish between the two types of prostate cancer — the one that will kill you and the one that won’t.

  • Infections, over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen, and benign swelling of the prostate can all elevate a man’s PSA levels, but none of these factors signals cancer.

  • Men with low readings might still harbor dangerous cancers, while those with high readings might be completely healthy.

  • [One study found] 48 men would need to be treated to save one life. That’s 47 men who, in all likelihood, can no longer function sexually or stay out of the bathroom for long.

  • Why is [PSA testing] still used? Because drug companies continue peddling the tests and advocacy groups push “prostate cancer awareness” by encouraging men to get screened.

  • Testing should absolutely not be deployed to screen the entire population of men over the age of 50.
Ablin says men who truly have prostate cancer are more likely to die of some other disease first since the majority of prostate cancers grow so slowly.

The National Cancer Institute has become absolutely wishy-washy about recommending the test, in the end saying a very non-committal "It's controversial:"
"Using the PSA test to screen men for prostate cancer is controversial because it is not yet known for certain whether this test actually saves lives."
This was notable:
"There is some evidence that a diet higher in fat, especially animal fat, may increase the risk of prostate cancer."
I'll add to that dairy products.

1 comment:

caulfieldkid said...

While looking around for some studies on short chain w-3 and w-6 fatty acids I ran across this:

It's looking at how fats and caloric intake correlate with prostate cancer. (They conclude that it's still not clear).