Shocking, huh? This is the conclusion that doctors and medical researchers were forced to come to after reviewing thousands of clinical studies examining the effectiveness of these procedures. It's all published in the BMJ Best Treatments guide, which isn't available to U.S. citizens, by the way. This guide blows away a number of common medical myths, most notably the myth that surgical procedures have to be effective to be performed on patients. All across North America, surgeons are convincing patients to undergo completely unnecessary surgical procedures like mastectomies and removal of the prostate -- yet it turns out these offer no measurable benefit to patients. So much for modern medicine being based on "scientific fact!" The science, in fact, says the procedures are just as effective as doing nothing.
Of course, if patients did nothing, they'd get the same results, but the surgeons and hospitals wouldn't generate revenues. So, of course, there's a big push to corral patients through hospitals in order to generate a steady stream of revenues. And all it takes is a guy in a white lab coat with a stern look saying, "We're going to have to operate." Most people don't question that. They just agree and let the surgeon operate.
As Luisa Dillner, the editor of BMJ Test Treatments says, "The big myth about medicine is that people know what works. In fact, they do things for which there is no evidence. There is a tendency for doctors to exaggerate the benefits of what they do..." Keep in mind that's a quote from the editor of a guide published by the British Medical Journal. This is a medical insider commenting on the true situation in the medical industry, and she's saying the industry is basically engaged in the widespread practice of performing completely unnecessary surgeries.
The purpose of publishing this guide is laudable: they're trying to bring information to the patients, to give people the facts about medical procedures so they can make better informed decisions. That's noble. In the United States, you get just the opposite: doctors and surgeons warn people away from the Internet. They want patients to be kept in the dark. Doctors absolutely hate people who do their own research and walk into their clinics with a long list of legitimate questions. (The medical industry can't stand this website, either, since it actually helps educate people about the truth of what's going on with organized medicine.) You sure won't see the Journal of the American Medical Association telling patients that common surgical procedures are worthless -- they need to keep those surgeries going! It's good for the business of the AMA's members!
Getting back to the guide, this is groundbreaking research: someone finally bothered to take a look at many of the medical procedures being done and analyzed the results. You'd think somebody would have done this sooner, right? But here's the shocker: surgeries don't have to be proven effective at all to be practiced on human patients! You read that right: there's absolutely no requirement that surgical procedures be proven effective to be pushed onto any number of patients. It's bizarre. When you're talking to a surgeon, you'd think that they would only recommend procedures that actually work, right? Wrong. They can recommend -- and perform -- anything that's accepted by their peers, regardless of its medical merit! That's how so many unnecessary surgical procedures get carried out: hysterectomies, removal of the tonsils, mastectomies, and the list goes on and on.
Now, I don't mean to paint all surgeons with the same brush here. I give great thanks to the orthopedic surgeon who reconstructed my clavicle after a sports injury. He did outstanding work! But that's an injury, and I've always said that U.S. surgeons are the best in the world at dealing with trauma. The problem is when surgeons try to use scalpels to treat chronic diseases like cancer. Cancer isn't a disease that responds to surgery because it's systemic, not local. You can't "cut away the cancer," because it's a whole-body failure, not a single tumor that can be removed. Surgery and cancer just don't mix, but that doesn't mean the surgeons won't recommend it anyway. Give a guy a hammer and everything looks like a nail... and the same is true with surgeons. They're good technicians -- damn good -- but they think cutting into the body is the answer to everything. The British Medical Journal says it's often no more effective than doing nothing at all.
Doing nothing, but the way, is a lot cheaper and safer than surgery. And, as it turns out, it's sound medical advice.