Friday, January 19, 2007

The biggest threat to the health of most Americans is the health-care system itself.

The biggest threat to the health of most Americans is the health-care system itself. More and more people are being drawn into treatment as a result of an astonishing increase in diagnoses, and ever-expanding definitions of what constitutes a disease.

This actually places these "patients" in greater danger than if they were simply left alone.
One problem is the medicalization of everyday life; everyday experiences such as insomnia, sadness, or twitchy legs are now being diagnosed as sleep disorder, depression, or restless leg syndrome. Especially troublesome is the medicalization of childhood, where trouble reading becomes dyslexia and unhappiness is deemed depression.

Another problem is the drive to diagnose disease early. Illnesses are now being identified in those with no symptoms, but who are merely "at risk." However, advanced technologies such as CT scans, ultrasounds, MRI and PET scans can detect subtle flaws that make practically everyone "at risk."

Meanwhile, at the same time, the definitions or diseases are expanding, as experts drop the thresholds for diagnosing diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis and obesity. The level of cholesterol deemed "normal" has dropped several times. Merely because of these changes, more than half the population is now "diseased."

This epidemic of diagnoses has in turn led to an epidemic of treatments. And while not all treatments have benefits, almost all of them have harms. While the harms may outweigh the benefits for the severely ill, they can be far worse than the "disease" for those with only mild symptoms.

more informations at:

New York Times January 2, 2007
Deseret January 2, 2006

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