People often take too much medicine

Medicating Yourself To Death

People often take too much medicine
Medicine might do more harm than good

Medicine Doesn’t Always Work

There’s a good article in Time about the benefits of preventive screening, and how sometimes, they’re not what they’re cracked up to be.

In the article, they focused on cancer prevention screening, and how it often has no effect on your health:

In 2009, two eye-opening reports claimed that routine prostate-cancer screening does not seem to save lives, or at the very least that any longevity benefit is modest and comes with serious risk of over diagnosis. Then, later that same year, an influential federal panel recommended that women under 50stop getting regular mammograms, the go-to test for detecting breast cancer.

And while it seems cold and cruel to suggest that somebody not get medical treatment, it’s often the case that our intuitions about the benefits of medicine lead us astray.

The Missing Benefits of Medicine

For instance, there’s a long line of evidence that suggests medical treatment has absolutely no effect on our health.

The most famous example is a study conducted by the Rand Corporation in 1984 which found that additional medical care provided at no cost did zilch for everyone involved in the experiment. The reasons are similar for those listed in the Time article. Lots of preventive medicine leads to lots of false positives, which causes many people to over-medicate themselves.

A variety of other studies have confirmed this observation.

I think a useful way to approach the issue is to look at the lifestyle patterns of people who live to be very old. Their most striking characteristics are their positive attitudes, strong social ties, and healthy lifestyles.

Those attributes have little to do with the consumption of medicine.


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