(NaturalNews) The medical-industrial complex is backtracking heavily these days from recommending that men undergo prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests for prostate cancer, as continually emerging evidence reveals the test to be dangerous, inaccurate, and essentially useless for most men. In fact, the American Urological Association (AUA) at its recent annual meeting admitted that, based on the available data, PSA tests provide no benefit to men 99.9 percent of the time, which by any reasonable standards renders the test a complete hoax.
Because of this incredibly dismal failure rate, the AUA is now recommending that men younger than 55 and older than 70 not get PSA tests at all. And for those within this age range who do choose to undergo screening, the AUA recommends that they first have a thorough and lengthy discussion with their doctors about the potential risks, which include false positives and a slew of harmful side effects such as impotence and incontinence.
The new recommendation aligns with that of the American College of Physicians (ACP), which last month suggested that PSA tests be administered on a case-by-case basis depending on an individual patient's risk, and only to men in their 50s and 60s. Like the AUA, the ACP also urges men to first consult with their physicians to discuss not only the general risks associated with PSA tests, but also the personal likelihood of sustaining harmful side effects.
"I look upon this guideline ... as the beginning of a targeted-based screening," says Dr. H. Ballentine Carter, chair of the panel that developed the AUA's new guidelines, and a urologist and oncologist at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. "Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, we're trying to emphasize that there is a group of men between age 55 and 69 that are much more likely to benefit."
Government task force says nobody should get screened using PSA tests
But is the legitimacy of PSA tests for any age group at all verifiable by science? The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (PSTF), a government agency that investigates such matters, does not seem to think so, having discovered last year that PSA tests are wholly unreliable; they tend to lead to many false positives; and they do not increase either lifespan or quality of life, contrary to popular belief.
"There is a small potential benefit and a significant known harm," says Dr. Virginia A. Moyer, a professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, and chair of the PSTF. Based on their findings, Dr. Moyer and her research team are basically now advising that male patients in all age categories avoid PSA tests entirely.
Similar conclusions were arrived at by the AUA, with the noteworthy exception that this particular group is not advocating against PSA tests entirely. Instead, the group hopes both patients and doctors will be more aware of the risks, which are much more prevalent and likely to occur than any alleged benefits. As it turns out, only one additional man out of every 1,000 men screened with a PSA test will avoid death, while many more will suffer harmful side effects or incur permanent health damage as a consequence of it.
"The evidence for the benefits of prostate cancer screening was moderate, but the quality of evidence on the harms was high," adds Dr. Carter, as quoted by Reuters. "The idea that screening delivers benefits may have been over-exaggerated."
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