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Jenny McCarthy's Body of Work PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Phil Plait   

mccarthybodycountJenny McCarthy is well-known as an actress and something of a bawdy comedian. But her fame is growing in less elevated circles: she's an outspoken promoter of the anti-vaccination movement. Her claims that vaccines cause (or contribute to) autism are nothing short of breathtakingly ridiculous. It's why she won our 2008 Pigasus Award.

Medical doctors Orac and Steve Novella have written extensively about her, as has Skeptical Dad, and the Stop Jenny McCarthy site was created to expose her as the danger she is.

But the bar has been set even higher now: a new website has been created called Jenny McCarthy Body Count. Stark and grim, it has one purpose: to show how many preventable illnesses and preventable deaths have occurred due to unvaccinated people since Jenny McCarthy became the de facto face of the antivaccination movement. The website, created by skeptic Derek Bartholomaus, stops short of saying she is directly responsible for these illnesses and deaths, but her indirect responsibility is arguably relevant. We know that some outbreaks of measles have occurred due to the antivax movement, for example. And there have been deaths - children have died - because they were unvaccinated. McCarthy may have started out as a comedian, but I'm not laughing at her anymore.

The statistics for the site are from the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality reports, which Bartholomaus has linked for reference. The diseases specifically include measles, mumps, rubella, polio, tetanus, Hib, the flu, and diphtheria. In fact, his numbers underestimate the problem, since other vaccine-preventable diseases are not listed in the CDC reports. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of fatalities are from the pediatric flu, a tragedy that is all the more heart-breaking due to its simple preventability.

The Jenny McCarthy Body Count site itself only launched on March 29, but it's already had thousands of views. Bartholomaus, a self-described "statistics geek", updates it by hand once a week, when the new CDC reports are issued. He also has some basic info on McCarthy's claims there, but for more background info on McCarthy and her pro-disease stance, go to Stop Jenny McCarthy.

It's too bad we need something like this site, but McCarthy gets a free pass from the media, even from those that claim to "spar" with her (but really only give her a platform in which she can spew more dangerous nonsense). The Jenny McCarthy Body Count site is a very stark - and sadly, very necessary - reminder that just because people's beliefs aren't real, they can still have a very real and very tragic impact.

As a reminder, the JREF is sponsoring a vaccination clinic at TAM 7. Please donate to this cause, and help us spread a little health and reality to the children of Las Vegas.

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written by Not as crazy as some people, April 02, 2009
I wonder if Derek remembered to subtract the baseline of what the situation was before Jenny McCarthy entered the field (or rather, before the whole anti-vax fiasco). Because even before that vaccination wasn't 100%, so not all preventable cases and deaths can be attributed to this campaign of disinformation.
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written by BillyJoe, April 03, 2009
...except that, unencumbered by the anti-vax movement, the pro-vaccination drive could possibly have reduced the death toll to nearly zero.
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Stop other also
written by jpgmoniz, April 03, 2009
I think we should stop other persons also like Oprah. I think she is the main responsible for Jenny being so famous. We must think more broadly in fighting this and not just one person or one movement.
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written by tmac57, April 03, 2009
Phil's Blog about this on Discover site received criticisms about the statistical method that Jenny McCarthy Body Count uses, and that it fails to show the cause and effect. That said, it seemed that most of the critics were not anti vaxers if you take them at their word, and there are valid points made.
I still have much disgust with McCarthy and other high profile people who have taken very tenuous negative information about vaccines, and used their powerful positions to promote the dangerous idea that vaccines are worse than the diseases that they prevent. We do not need precise numbers to realize that these people have much more influence on some types of personalities, and adding their voices to a growing anti-science movement is going to have an effect. That effect is that more people (especially children) are getting preventable diseases, and some of those will die or have other serious long term health issues.
McCarthy, and others that have this personal view, that is not shared by a consensus of health professionals should stop to ask themselves, "What if I'm wrong, do I really want to personally be responsible for convincing a parent to make a life or death decision about their child?". This goes for anyone who doesn't have the educational background to make that kind of judgment. I am all for people informing themselves about medical issues to keep from making bad health care choices,but having only a cursory knowledge about a complex subject can get you and people that listen to you into trouble.
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Thanks Phil
written by riverstyxxx, April 03, 2009
This sounds like another case of has-been celebrity status. She knows that her modeling and acting days are over, and all those years in the media have just polluted her mind with garbage. She isn't a medical doctor and she doesn't have the slightest clue what she's talking about. That "Chart" lists zero references or sources, just a flashy red-on-gray list of numbers. I don't believe anything until I see the source, and even then I keep a certain degree of skepticism.
This isn't the first time a past celebrity has done something like this, and it certainly won't be the last.

File this one under "Hope they just leave the internet entirely" and let it be that.
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CNN promotes measles too
written by AmyD, April 03, 2009
Jenny McCarthy is on Larry King tonight with her husband Jim Carrey. smilies/angry.gif
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References
written by Ixion, April 03, 2009
That "Chart" lists zero references or sources, just a flashy red-on-gray list of numbers. I don't believe anything until I see the source, and even then I keep a certain degree of skepticism.


If you click the numbers, then Derek has provided a breakdown of each week's numbers through a link to the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, through which he gets the data.
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Badge campaign
written by Gridman, April 03, 2009
I wonder if this sight can/will release a badge for people to put on their blogs, if they choose. I for one would be willing to help...
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tmac
written by BillyJoe, April 03, 2009
This goes for anyone who doesn't have the educational background to make that kind of judgment.

You would be surprised how few people actually have the educational background to make that judgement.
We must, nearly all of us, rely on expert opinion. The only judgement some of us can make is to decide who are the experts and which experts' track record makes them a reliable source of information. But most of us even have to rely on others to make that judgement call, based on our knowledge of their track record. That's about third hand, but it's about the best most of us can do.

I am all for people informing themselves about medical issues to keep from making bad health care choices...

You can possibly do that for one medical condition, maybe two. For example, if your father died of prostate cancer (personal example), you can, with a lot of time and effort over long period of time, inform yourself sufficiently so that your opinion can rival that of many GPs. However, for a greater number of subjects or a more complex subjects, this is just not possible.

...but having only a cursory knowledge about a complex subject can get you and people that listen to you into trouble.

This and their actual intellectual deficiency. smilies/wink.gif

BJ
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written by Caller X, April 03, 2009

You can possibly do that for one medical condition, maybe two. For example, if your father died of prostate cancer (personal example), you can, with a lot of time and effort over long period of time, inform yourself sufficiently so that your opinion can rival that of many GPs. However, for a greater number of subjects or a more complex subjects, this is just not possible.


Glad to hear your father live a long life, unless he was Frank Zappa of course. I already know, without any time or effort, everything a GP needs to know about prostate cancer: how to recommend a specialist. And of course....

Savage yourself daily, my babies!
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written by BillyJoe, April 03, 2009
I already know, without any time or effort, everything a GP needs to know about prostate cancer: how to recommend a specialist.

Which shows that you have absolutely no idea.

BJ
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Telling people what they want to hear...
written by BillyJoe, April 03, 2009
Savage yourself daily, my babies!

Sorry, but the evidence is just not there.
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written by tmac57, April 04, 2009
BillyJoe-"You would be surprised how few people actually have the educational background to make that judgement."
We must, nearly all of us, rely on expert opinion."
No, I would not be surprised at all. That was the point of my post, that people that do not have expertise in a subject should be careful what they say about said subject,especially those with a big microphone.
Otherwise, I agree with all of your other points.
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tmac
written by BillyJoe, April 04, 2009
Sorry, I shouldn't have assumed that you did not understand the degree to which all of us have to rely on expert opinion (ie third-hand acceptance).

BJ
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written by Caller X, April 04, 2009
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written by BillyJoe, April 03, 2009
I already know, without any time or effort, everything a GP needs to know about prostate cancer: how to recommend a specialist.
Which shows that you have absolutely no idea.

BJ


I know that what a GP knows about treating prostate cancer is irrelevant since he isn't qualified to do it. Therefore, why would I want to train myself up to a GP's knowledge level in this narrow area? I know that tmac is the only person in the world whose father has died of a PC. I simply don't care. Knowing where information is is as important as knowing information is.

Parse it, my babies!
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written by Caller X, April 04, 2009
How did people trim their toenails before toenail clippers were invented?
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Caller X
written by tmac57, April 04, 2009
"I know that tmac is the only person in the world whose father has died of a PC."
Hey X, don't drag me in to your squabble. I made no such statement. Read a little closer please.
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written by BillyJoe, April 04, 2009
I know that what a GP knows about treating prostate cancer is irrelevant since he isn't qualified to do it.

He isn't qualified to do it, but he knows, or should know as much as a Urologist does, how it should be handled from presentation to life or death.

Therefore, why would I want to train myself up to a GP's knowledge level in this narrow area?

In case medicine is practised differently in your backwoods, I could just as well have said "Urologist".

I know that tmac is the only person in the world whose father has died of a PC.

That was my father.
(But, in fact, I was a little inaccurate because he died of lung cancer before his metastatic prostate cancer got him)

Knowing where information is is as important as knowing the information.

Which goes to show once again that you have absolutely no idea.

BJ
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Does anyone understand the process of making a vaccine?, Lowly rated comment [Show]
Does anyone understand the process of making a vaccine?
written by Bart B. Van Bockstaele, April 05, 2009
Yes. Those who make them ^_^

There are several methods, but they all involve substances that fool the body into thinking it is being attacked. As a result, it mounts defenses and once the vaccine has been eliminated, the memory remains and when the real disease attacks, the body can fend it off before it becomes actually harmful.

>>How many chemicals are in a vaccine?
Not very many. Vaccines must be rather pure, otherwise they don't work.

>>How many of those chemicals are carcinogenic?
Completely irrelevant, unless they would be so toxic that they would be forbidden products. Why irrelevant? Because of the truly minimal amounts.

>>Can the track record of vaccines accurately be measured?
No. The sad reality of medicine is that it is about living beings, living beings that live just as long as we do. However, what we do know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is that vaccines have drastically increased our quality of life and our lifespans. How do we know that? Because we know, for example, how many cases of measles there were before vaccines became mandatory. We know how long our lifespans were. And we also know how these numbers have changed since. Also, measles numbers are likely to be fairly accurate because it was a common disease and most doctors were familiar with it.

For the USA: there were
245.42 cases per 100,000 people in 1960
23.23 cases per 100,000 people in 1970

That's a rather steep drop in ten years time. The number is now so low that we are at 0.01 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

In case these numbers don't ring a bell, there were 441,703 cases in 1960 and 47,351 cases in 1970. There were 37 reported cases in 2004. Those drops are even bigger than it seems, since the USA population has dramatically increased at the same time.

>>How many times does big business skew the data?
Not. Big Business has nothing to do with these data

>>How can governments react to alarm bells when their hands are filled with a cut of the profits?
Easy. It would not only come out, it would be devastating to any and all politicians involved, and their enemies would make sure it did. Furthermore, the profit on vaccines is minimal. It is actually so low, that it has become hard to motivate pharmaceutical companies to still make them. The sad reality is that pharmaceutical companies, even the big respected ones, are all moving into selling "natural medicine" and homeopathic products, for the profit margins on these are vastly superior to those on products that works.

>>It is possible that autism is not caused by a vaccination containing mercury, or thimerosal.
That is correct. Reality has shown us that since thimerosal -something that was done to appease the public, there was no scientifically valid reason to do this- was eliminated there has been no drop in autism cases. Quite logical, since the MMR vaccine that is usually quoted as the culprit by the "Green Our Vaccines" brigade, never contained mercury in the first place. However, even if it did, it would have made no difference for the quantities are ridiculously small. Remember, that this thimerosal is used to preserve the vaccine, not to disinfect it.

>>How many infected needles have passed on diseases, in areas that cut costs by reusing needles?
What does that have to do with anything? When you cut your wrist with a broken wine bottle, will you then accuse the winery?

>>Who is to say, that saving the weak, will better the strong?
That is cruel into the extreme. We are humans, we care about everybody's life, not just about the lives of the "strong". We came about thanks to evolution through natural selection, but that does not mean in any way, shape or form that we should use it as a foundation of our society. We are no longer a survival-of-the-fittest society. We are a more compassionate society, and striving to become better at being compassionate.

>>Should I suppose that, "Pro-vaccine" also means "pro-government" regulations making it mandatory to vaccinate your child before they can attend school?
No. However, I would like to point out that not vaccinating your child, except in the extremely rare cases where it is contra-indicated, is a crime because you are willingly and knowingly putting your child in harm's way by not vaccinating it.

>>Mercury, formaldehyde, kidneys, chicken blood, crusty cowhide scrapings, manipulated human blood cells in Bayer's aspirin, no thank you. You can pass around my share.
You are misinformed. These products are not in Bayer's aspirin.
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written by Caller X, April 05, 2009

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written by BillyJoe, April 04, 2009

I know that what a GP knows about treating prostate cancer is irrelevant since he isn't qualified to do it.

He isn't qualified to do it, but he knows, or should know as much as a Urologist does, how it should be handled from presentation to life or death.

Therefore, why would I want to train myself up to a GP's knowledge level in this narrow area?

In case medicine is practised differently in your backwoods, I could just as well have said "Urologist".

I know that tmac is the only person in the world whose father has died of a PC.

That was my father.
(But, in fact, I was a little inaccurate because he died of lung cancer before his metastatic prostate cancer got him)
Knowing where information is is as important as knowing the information.

Which goes to show once again that you have absolutely no idea.

BJ


Correctomundo about the gaffe. I read it right the first time and even drafted my response right but then got myself turned around and thought it was tmac. Below is a corrected and expanded version:

I know that what a GP knows about treating prostate cancer is irrelevant since he isn't qualified to do it. Therefore, why would I want to train myself up to a GP's knowledge level in this narrow area? I know that BJ is the only person in the world whose father has died of a PC. I simply don't care. Knowing where information is is as important as knowing information is.

When my father got the PC he ended up going to an oncologist after being sent to a urologist by his internist. Those country doctors sure do have some book learnin'! Never dealt with a GP at all. If a GP knows as much about PC as a urologist, what's the point of being a urologist? Or is a GP's urology knowledge limited to PC? Ms. McCarthy is only doing what you say you did, except with autism. Whether she does it well is another discussion.

Apologies to tmac, no gruel for BJ.

Checking my prostate now, my babies!
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I'll try again
written by BillyJoe, April 05, 2009
I cannot speak for your country but, in Australia, the GP is the gatekeeper to the specislists, the coordinator of patient care, and the advocate for the patient. As such he needs to know if the patient needs to see a specialist, which specialist or specialists he needs to see, and to follow up the patient to ensure he is being provided with all the necessary care and no unnecessary care. In order to do this job he needs to know how each condition is optimally treated.

As I said, he knows how to treat PC. He should therefore know when to do a PSA & DRE test (or whether they should be done or at least the arguments for and against and apply that knowledge to the patient in front of him), when a biopsy should be done, and the indications for the various treatments such as prostatectomy, radiation and chemotherapy. But he does not know how to actually do a prostate biopsy, or a prostatectomy, or how to administer the radiotherapy. This is the role of the specialists to whom he refers the patient.

Knowing where information is is as important as knowing information is.

You haven't corrected this sentence so I guess you intend it to stand as is, in which case, I have to say I don't understand what you are saying.

Ms. McCarthy is only doing what you say you did, except with autism. Whether she does it well is another discussion.

BS.
She hasn't got a clue about autism.
I have informed myself extensively about PC.
She has spread misinformation.
I have given information.
She has received wide publicity.
I have a small presence on the JREF forums.

NOTE:
I have informed myself extensively about PC because it was suggested to me that I needed an annual PSA & DRE test from the age of 40 but, at teh same time, happened to read somewhere that such a test should not be undertaken lightly.

BJ
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written by Caller X, April 07, 2009
'll try again
written by BillyJoe, April 05, 2009
I cannot speak for your country but, in Australia, the GP is the gatekeeper to the specislists, the coordinator of patient care, and the advocate for the patient. As such he needs to know if the patient needs to see a specialist, which specialist or specialists he needs to see, and to follow up the patient to ensure he is being provided with all the necessary care and no unnecessary care. In order to do this job he needs to know how each condition is optimally treated.

As I said, he knows how to treat PC. He should therefore know when to do a PSA & DRE test (or whether they should be done or at least the arguments for and against and apply that knowledge to the patient in front of him), when a biopsy should be done, and the indications for the various treatments such as prostatectomy, radiation and chemotherapy. But he does not know how to actually do a prostate biopsy, or a prostatectomy, or how to administer the radiotherapy. This is the role of the specialists to whom he refers the patient.

Knowing where information is is as important as knowing information is.


You haven't corrected this sentence so I guess you intend it to stand as is, in which case, I have to say I don't understand what you are saying.

Ms. McCarthy is only doing what you say you did, except with autism. Whether she does it well is another discussion.


BS.
She hasn't got a clue about autism.
I have informed myself extensively about PC.
She has spread misinformation.
I have given information.
She has received wide publicity.
I have a small presence on the JREF forums.

NOTE:
I have informed myself extensively about PC because it was suggested to me that I needed an annual PSA & DRE test from the age of 40 but, at teh same time, happened to read somewhere that such a test should not be undertaken lightly.



Of course a test should not be undertaken lightly. Especially when it involves sticking a finger up the butt, in through the out door as Led Zeppelin said. Up the down stairs, like the 1960's novel. When is there ever a reason NOT to do a digital rectal exam? When the patient has issues. The only concern with the PSA is when the baseline is established and the reliability of the test as an indicator of disease. You don't sound all that scary knowledgeable.

"Knowing where information is is as important as knowing information is."

Okay, remedial English 101: Knowing where to find information is as important as knowing information.

The sentence in quotes is something a fourth-grader (ten year old) should be able to read.

So you've confirmed what I said, that a GP's knowledge only needs to extend to the specialist's phone number.
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written by BillyJoe, April 07, 2009
Of course a test should not be undertaken lightly.

We agree. smilies/shocked.gif

Especially when it involves sticking a finger up the butt...
smilies/cool.gif

in through the out door as Led Zeppelin said.

All is forgiven - another Led Zeppelin fan! smilies/smiley.gif

When is there ever a reason NOT to do a digital rectal exam?

When it is not indicated.
If there is no evidence that treating PC improves survival or quality of life, then there is no indication for detecting it early as this may lead to in a decreased quality of life such as living with the knowledge of cancer, septicaemia from prostate biopsy, or impotence and incontinence from prostatectomy.

When the patient has issues.

Everyone has issues. The GP needs to deal with the patient he has not the patient he would like to have.

The only concern with the PSA is when the baseline is established and the reliability of the test as an indicator of disease. You don't sound all that scary knowledgeable.

The test is unreliable. Only 1/3 with elevated levels have PC, and 1/6 with normal levels have PC. But this is not the only problem with the test. The big problem is whether it is worth doing. There is no evidence yet that detecting PC early confers any benefit. If that is the case the test is unnecessary and the follow up of a positive test can cause harm to the patient (see above).

"Knowing where information is is as important as knowing information is."
Okay, remedial English 101: Knowing where to find information is as important as knowing information.

Okay, so the "is" in your original sentence should not be there.
Despite that error, I understood you the first time, but I was a little confused when you actually repeated your error.

The sentence in quotes is something a fourth-grader (ten year old) should be able to read.

Yes, if you had said "Knowing where information is is as important as knowing the information" smilies/wink.gif

So you've confirmed what I said, that a GP's knowledge only needs to extend to the specialist's phone number.

Which just means you've ignored everything I've said.
Yoiu can lead a horse to water...
And I can't help it if your GP doesn't do his job properly.

BJ
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written by BillyJoe, April 07, 2009
BTW, that sentence is also wrong in what it says which is more to the point.

Knowing where to find the information is not as important as, as useful as, or equivalent to knowing the information.

BJ
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written by Caller X, April 08, 2009
"Knowing where information is is as important as knowing information is."
Okay, remedial English 101: Knowing where to find information is as important as knowing information.


Okay, so the "is" in your original sentence should not be there.
Despite that error, I understood you the first time, but I was a little confused when you actually repeated your error.


It's not an error (or as Arnold said, "It's not a tumah!"). The sentence as I wrote it is perfectly good English. Diagram it. I can explain that process if you're not familiar with it.

Wait a minute, I stand by the snarkiness of my response, but I did indeed type "is is". My bad. I thought you were talking about the final is. Please sir, may I have another?

When is there ever a reason NOT to do a digital rectal exam?


When it is not indicated.
If there is no evidence that treating PC improves survival or quality of life, then there is no indication for detecting it early as this may lead to in a decreased quality of life such as living with the knowledge of cancer, septicaemia from prostate biopsy, or impotence and incontinence from prostatectomy.


You're confusing tests and treatments. PSA tests are in no way harmful, nor is sticking a finger up the butt, provided it's done lovingly.


I have informed myself extensively about PC because it was suggested to me that I needed an annual PSA & DRE test from the age of 40 but, at teh same time, happened to read somewhere that such a test should not be undertaken lightly.


Unless someone's going to force you to undergo treatment based on the test results, there's no reason not to have your blood drawn and a finger up your butt other than preferring not to know whether or not you have cancer.
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written by Caller X, April 08, 2009
I take that back. The sentence was correct. Turn and cough.
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written by BillyJoe, April 08, 2009
It's not an error. The sentence as I wrote it is perfectly good English. Diagram it. I can explain that process if you're not familiar with it.

Go ahead. I'm not afraid to be wrong.

Wait a minute, I stand by the snarkiness of my response, but I did indeed type "is is". My bad. I thought you were talking about the final is. Please sir, may I have another?

It is indeed the final is that of concern is.

You're confusing tests and treatments. PSA tests are in no way harmful

Consider: The PSA test comes back positive.
Your life will never be the same again.

nor is sticking a finger up the butt, provided it's done lovingly.

Each to their own.

Unless someone's going to force you to undergo treatment based on the test results...

They won't need to.
A postive test result will be enough to drive you on to the next stage and all the stages that follow.
You need to think about all the impications of a positive result BEFORE you have the test.

there's no reason not to have your blood drawn and a finger up your butt other than preferring not to know whether or not you have cancer.

If their is no evidence that early detection will improve the outcome of prostate cancer, then there is no point knowing that you have prostate cancer. Before the test was discovered, many men lived with prostate cancer never knowing they had it and never suffering any ill-effects. Others died of cancer but lived more carefree years not knowing they were cancer patients.

BJ
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$#!+
written by BillyJoe, April 08, 2009
their should be there
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written by Caller X, April 08, 2009
Consider: The PSA test comes back positive.
Your life will never be the same again.


PSA tests by definition do not come back "positive" or "negative", rather, they give you a number to compare against a baseline. Aren't you the one who knows as much as a GP who knows as much as a urologist about prostate cancer?

I'm not afraid to be wrong.


Clearly.
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written by BillyJoe, April 08, 2009
Pedant.

It was just the short-hand version.

Here is the longer version:
There are age group levels, beyond which your PSA is said to be elevated and in need of follow up investigation to exclude prostate cancer.

I'm not afraid to be wrong, but you have to do better than that.

BJ
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written by Caller X, April 08, 2009
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written by BillyJoe, April 08, 2009
Pedant.

It was just the short-hand version.

Here is the longer version:
There are age group levels, beyond which your PSA is said to be elevated and in need of follow up investigation to exclude prostate cancer.

I'm not afraid to be wrong, but you have to do better than that.


As hard as it is to type with one hand tied behind my back, I shall indeed do better than that. Ideally PSA levels are compared to a baseline measurement made before you enter the age where prostate cancer tends to occur. The baseline may be different from person to person. I hope you didn't pay your GP for your information.

I do admire your fearlessness. Why be afraid, after all, of something you love so much?
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written by BillyJoe, April 09, 2009
Ideally PSA levels are compared to a baseline measurement made before you enter the age where prostate cancer tends to occur.

Baseline PSA simply refers to the first PSA test that a man ever has done.

I have only once ever seen a study or medical protocol that suggests that males should have a baseline PSA before they reach an age where prostate cancer tends to occur. It is certainly not the accepted norm.

Sometimes I think you really do talk throught your...

smilies/grin.gif

BJ
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written by Caller X, April 09, 2009
Ideally PSA levels are compared to a baseline measurement made before you enter the age where prostate cancer tends to occur.


Baseline PSA simply refers to the first PSA test that a man ever has done.

I have only once ever seen a study or medical protocol that suggests that males should have a baseline PSA before they reach an age where prostate cancer tends to occur. It is certainly not the accepted norm.


What part of "ideally" do you not understand? I can only be responsible for so many things, and stuff you don't know doesn't make the cut.
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written by BillyJoe, April 09, 2009
If you think doing a PSA on every 35 year old male is an "ideal" towards which the medical profession and the public should strive, I think you need a reality check.

There is as yet no evidence to support the idea that the early detection and treatment of prostate cancer confers any benefit. In fact, the two most recent large trials actually suggest that the reverse is the case. In these circumstances, the case for doing PSAs at all, at any age, has yet to be made, let alone across the board at the age of 35.

regards,
BillyJoe
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written by Caller X, April 11, 2009
written by BillyJoe, April 09, 2009
If you think doing a PSA on every 35 year old male is an "ideal" towards which the medical profession and the public should strive, I think you need a reality check.

There is as yet no evidence to support the idea that the early detection and treatment of prostate cancer confers any benefit. In fact, the two most recent large trials actually suggest that the reverse is the case. In these circumstances, the case for doing PSAs at all, at any age, has yet to be made, let alone across the board at the age of 35.

regards,
BillyJoe


As the Catholics might say, you are invincibly ignorant on what a baseline is (ideally). You don't wait until the person develops or is at risk of developing the condition before you start testing for it. When a doctor hasn't done that, he is forced to use the first test as a baseline. It's really pretty simple.

I'll dumb it down for you. If you tested Tony Robbins or Andre the Giant's hormone levels later in life, how could you say they're juicing? The only way to tell is to start testing at an age before people normally start juicing. To save you the trouble, they're/were both acromegalic.

You pulled the age 35 out of thin air. I was advised to have a PSA long before that. And I would never advise any medical procedure (including vaccination) to be done on "every" member of any population. That was a strawman argument, thank you very much.

Now, before I turned 35, I had to have a fairly extensive medical examination for a job. The doctor said she normally didn't do digital exams on men under forty, but "let me just check your anus." Then she said "You have a perfect anus." So I've got that going for me.

Your obsession with the last word and use of a strawman argument gave me an opportunity to tell that story.

If I had prostate cancer I would want to know, but that's just me. No one's forcing anyone to be tested or treated. Maybe you should talk to someone about the issues you have around this issue.
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written by BillyJoe, April 11, 2009
Ideal:

This word "ideal" just cannot be used in reference to prostate cancer. And that applies to both the testing and treatment of prostate cancer. The reason is that the evidence to date supports neither the testing for prostate cancer nor the treatment of prostate cancer.

Baseline:

I know what the word "baseline" normally means. However, in the context of testing for prostate cancer, it almost exclusively means the first PSA test ever done. I have only once have I ever seen a protocol for doing a "baseline PSA" in your meaning of the term.


Age 35:

If your doctor did a PSA test on you before the age of 35, she was not following any protocol for PSA testing that I have ever seen. The age of 35 was not pulled out of thin air. It was quoted from a particlar protocol written by a group of American urological oncologists. It is the earliest age for doing a PSA test mentioned in any protocols that I have ever read.

Doing PSA on everyone:

Even though you do not advise "any medical procedure to be done on "every" member of any population", this is indeed what the American college of GPs advises GPs to do. Of course, in this case, "any medical procedure" means "the PSA test" and "every member of any population" means "all males in the American population". I should add that make this recommnendation while at the same time acknowledging that there is no evidence to support this recommendation.

The doctor said she normally didn't do digital exams on men under forty, but "let me just check your anus." Then she said "You have a perfect anus." So I've got that going for me.

If true, this story is truely bizarre.
What is this meant to mean? That your "perfect anus" means that your prostate must also be perfect?? That you don't need a DRE when you anus is perfect??? Can she quote you a study that establishes that fact?
It's like a doctor saying to a teenage girl that he normally doesn't do smear tests on girls under twenty, but "let me just check your vulva" and then saying, "You have perfect vulva".
I don't know about you, but I would advise that teenage girl to find herself another doctor.

If I had prostate cancer I would want to know, but that's just me. No one's forcing anyone to be tested or treated.

That is exactly right.
What I have been trying to do is show you that there is no evidence to support PSA testing. That's all.
What anyone ultimately decides to do is entirely up to them.

Maybe you should talk to someone about the issues you have around this issue.

Putting aside the word "issues", which is a loaded term in this discussion and which certainly does not apply to me, does it really sound to you that I have not done that. As I said, sine my father developed prostate cancer, I have read and discussed extensively on the issue and my conclusion is that there is no evidence that detecting prostate cancer early by regular PSA testing confers any advantage in terms of survival and can actually increase your morbidity in the form of septicaemia, incontinence and impotence. The latest two large studies from America and England released earlier this year and involving 160,000 and 75,000 patients respectively only serve to strengthen this view. As a result, and preferring to follow the evidence wherever it may lead me, I have decided not to have a PSA test.

Your obsession with the last word

I only wish to correct inaccurate information, inadvertant as it may be. But no one should take my word for it. If interested and motivated enough, everyone can find these facts for themselves.

regards,
BillyJoe
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written by Caller X, April 11, 2009
written by BillyJoe, April 11, 2009
Ideal:
This word "ideal" just cannot be used in reference to prostate cancer. And that applies to both the testing and treatment of prostate cancer. The reason is that the evidence to date supports neither the testing for prostate cancer nor the treatment of prostate cancer.

Step off, Humpty Dumpty. Words mean what the dictionary says they mean, and if you're telling me I can't use the word "ideally" (the word I actually used, not the noun form)... Oh No You Di'n't!!

Baseline:
I know what the word "baseline" normally means. However, in the context of testing for prostate cancer, it almost exclusively means the first PSA test ever done. I have only once have I ever seen a protocol for doing a "baseline PSA" in your meaning of the term.
I can't be responsible for what your "doctors" tell you. If they don't do it right, that's not my problem.[quote}

Age 35:
If your doctor did a PSA test on you before the age of 35, she was not following any protocol for PSA testing that I have ever seen. The age of 35 was not pulled out of thin air. It was quoted from a particlar protocol written by a group of American urological oncologists. It is the earliest age for doing a PSA test mentioned in any protocols that I have ever read.
When did I ever say my doctor (who was not my doctor but my employer's doctor] did a PSA test on me? STRAWMAN. You pulled age 35 out of thin air, made it up out of whole cloth when you attributed to me the belief that every male at age 35 should be subjected to a PSA. I never came close to saying that, STRAWMAN. I think males below that age would be well advised to take that test, but I have no medical credentials or training, unlike BJ, who knows as much about PC as a GP.

Doing PSA on everyone:

Even though you do not advise "any medical procedure to be done on "every" member of any population", this is indeed what the American college of GPs advises GPs to do. Of course, in this case, "any medical procedure" means "the PSA test" and "every member of any population" means "all males in the American population". I should add that make this recommnendation while at the same time acknowledging that there is no evidence to support this recommendation.

You need to put the Fosters down and go back an proofread that part.

If true, this story is truely bizarre.
What is this meant to mean? That your "perfect anus" means that your prostate must also be perfect?? That you don't need a DRE when you anus is perfect??? Can she quote you a study that establishes that fact?
It's like a doctor saying to a teenage girl that he normally doesn't do smear tests on girls under twenty, but "let me just check your vulva" and then saying, "You have perfect vulva".
I don't know about you, but I would advise that teenage girl to find herself another doctor.



No, she was just saying she didn't normally stick her finger up the butt of men under forty. If I had been better informed at the time, I would have requested a PSA test.

Your consternation is funny, I always just assumed she was checking for hemorrhoids. Sometimes it's really that simple. You certainly did read a lot into that. I don't know how teenage girls crept into this story, but I would advise them to go back to the sleepover. Nothing to see here. Why you brought teenage girls up is another issue that you might want to talk about with someone. I'm just talkin' 'bout my anus. Not a PSA test, not teenage girls.

Your conflation of the anus and the vulva is seriously troubling. Perhaps talking to someone would be a good idea. You may have issues. Teenage girls have anuses too, you know. Oh, who am I kidding, of course you know.

[N]o one should take my word for it. If interested and motivated enough, everyone can find these facts for themselves.


You certainly nailed that one. What with your conflation of orifices, WHERE you nailed it is open to question. How a simple inspection for hemorrhoids becomes a lack of due diligence is beyond me.
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written by BillyJoe, April 12, 2009
Yes it seems it was not your doctor but you.

I am afraid you are just too bizzare to be bothered with any further. So I will just urge anyone else following this to look into this further themselves.

Everything I have said about Prostate cancer and the PSA is correct. And the only reason some protcols do not follow the evidence is because the media have made it their issue.

To their great credit, neither the Australian college of GPs nor the British college of GPs recommend that GPs test for prostate cancer. I say "to their great credit" because they have followed where the evidence leads rather than where the media want them to go. The only concession thay make to the ill-advised media is that they advise that, if a patient comes in requesting a PSA, then it would be prudent to do one, the medicolegal climate being what it is. They are also advised, before doing the test, that they inform the patient about the implications of having a PSA test (which I have enumerated above).

As a primer, here is an interesting article by Dr Ben Goldacre about the some of the media coverage of the those large recent trials on testing for prostate cancer:

http://www.badscience.net/2009...ow-busted/

The British study...
...took over 160,000 men between the ages of 55 and 69 and randomly assigned them either to get PSA screening, or to be left alone. The differences were marginal. Yes, there were 20% fewer deaths in the screening group. What does that mean in terms of real people, in real numbers you can understand, not percentages...
1410 men would need to be screened to prevent one death. For each death prevented, 48 people would need to be treated: and prostate cancer treatment has a high risk of very serious side effects like impotence and incontinence.
The American study...
took over 75,000 men and randomly assigned them to either a screening programme, or no screening.
It found no difference in death rates between the two groups at all...


regards,
BJ
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written by Caller X, April 12, 2009
Those must have been long running studies if they followed every participant until their death (when presumably, although you did not state it, COD was determined). The British study, as described by Humpty, is obviously flawed because it only tracks subjects after the age at which they would reasonably be expected to be at risk for prostate cancer.

Now let's talk about Farrah Fawcett's anal cancer. She was a great lady and will be missed.
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written by BillyJoe, April 12, 2009
Both studies followed up patients for about 14 years. They obviously did not follow every participant till their death. They compared the cumulative death rate from prostate cancer in the active and control groups.

The British study, as described by Humpty, is obviously flawed because it only tracks subjects after the age at which they would reasonably be expected to be at risk for prostate cancer.

Unless there is a typo, this sentence assumes that there is an age beyond which prostate cancer is no longer a risk. Just in case there is no typo, there is no age beyond which men are no longer at risk of prostate cancer. In fact, the risk increases with age.
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A final word from the NCI...
written by BillyJoe, April 12, 2009
The National Cancer Institute (America) is one of those medical organisations that recommends PSA screening but ackowledges that there is no evidence base for doing so.

From their site:

http://www.cancer.gov/cancerto...ection/PSA

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. Moreover, it is not clear that the benefits of PSA screening outweigh the risks of follow-up diagnostic tests and cancer treatments. For example, the PSA test may detect small cancers that would never become life threatening. This situation, called overdiagnosis, puts men at risk of complications from unnecessary treatment.

The procedure used to diagnose prostate cancer (prostate biopsy) may cause harmful side effects, including bleeding and infection. Prostate cancer treatments, such as surgery and radiation therapy, may cause incontinence (inability to control urine flow), erectile dysfunction (erections inadequate for intercourse), and other complications.

For these reasons, it is important that the benefits and risks of diagnostic procedures and treatment be taken into account when considering whether to undertake prostate cancer screening.


regards,
BillyJoe
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written by Steel Rat, April 13, 2009
It's not an error (or as Arnold said, "It's not a tumah!"). The sentence as I wrote it is perfectly good English. Diagram it. I can explain that process if you're not familiar with it.

Wait a minute, I stand by the snarkiness of my response, but I did indeed type "is is". My bad. I thought you were talking about the final is. Please sir, may I have another?


Sorry I'm a bit late to the fray, but here you seem to be saying that you meant to say the following:

"Knowing where information is as important as knowing information is."


You're telling us that's "perfectly good English"?? Oops, almost forgot, is.

Switch to near beer, dude.
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Take pity.
written by BillyJoe, April 14, 2009
Come on Steel Rat, you're embarassing the guy.
He had this thread safely dead and buried.

smilies/grin.gif

BJ
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written by Caller X, April 14, 2009
written by BillyJoe, April 12, 2009
Both studies followed up patients for about 14 years. They obviously did not follow every participant till their death. They compared the cumulative death rate from prostate cancer in the active and control groups.

The British study, as described by Humpty, is obviously flawed because it only tracks subjects after the age at which they would reasonably be expected to be at risk for prostate cancer.


Unless there is a typo, this sentence assumes that there is an age beyond which prostate cancer is no longer a risk. Just in case there is no typo, there is no age beyond which men are no longer at risk of prostate cancer. In fact, the risk increases with age.


Not a typo, just working without an editor. What I should have said was:
The British study, as described by Humpty, is obviously flawed because it only tracks subjects after the earliest age at which they would reasonably be expected to be at risk for prostate cancer.

over 160,000 men between the ages of 55 and 69

What makes no sense to me is why run a study on people who are already well over the age when a lot of people get PC. And I note that you say the study ran for 14 years and the age range you mentioned is also 14 years. Interesting. And you didn't mention the age range in the 75,000 man American study. Interesting.

Bottom line is, you're confusing the risks of
PSA screening
and
the risks of follow-up diagnostic tests and cancer treatments
.

If you don't trust people to make their own decisions regarding medical care, that's your business. I do trust people to make their own decisions. More precisely, I don't lose any sleep over it.
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written by BillyJoe, April 15, 2009
The British study is obviously flawed because it only tracks subjects after the earliest age at which they would reasonably be expected to be at risk for prostate cancer.
You will have to explain why that is a flaw.
...unless "after" is another typo and you really meant to type "later than". smilies/wink.gif

What makes no sense to me is why run a study on people who are already well over the age when a lot of people get PC.

In fact:
- The incidence of prostate cancer increases exponentially with age.
- 80% of men with prostate cancer are over 65 years of age.

They chose that age range to increase the power of their trial. For the same number of patients, decreasing the lower age limit would decrease the number of cancers detected and hence decrease the power of the trial.

And you didn't mention the age range in the 75,000 man American study.

This is a direct quote from my post: "Both studies followed up patients for about 14 years."

Bottom line is, you're confusing the risks of PSA screening and the risks of follow-up diagnostic tests and cancer treatments

The point is that having a positive PSA test leads almost inevitably to a biopsy which, if positive leads almost inevitably to some type of treatment. The risks, as opposed to benefits, involved in all of these procedures must all be considered BEFORE you decide to have the PSA test.

Permit me to quote again form the National Cancer Institute:

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. Moreover, it is not clear that the benefits of PSA screening outweigh the risks of follow-up diagnostic tests and cancer treatments. For example, the PSA test may detect small cancers that would never become life threatening. This situation, called overdiagnosis, puts men at risk of complications from unnecessary treatment.

The procedure used to diagnose prostate cancer (prostate biopsy) may cause harmful side effects, including bleeding and infection. Prostate cancer treatments, such as surgery and radiation therapy, may cause incontinence (inability to control urine flow), erectile dysfunction (erections inadequate for intercourse), and other complications.

For these reasons, it is important that the benefits and risks of diagnostic procedures and treatment be taken into account when considering whether to undertake prostate cancer screening.


If you don't trust people to make their own decisions regarding medical care, that's your business. I do trust people to make their own decisions.

I have been trying to show that people often make decisions whilst not being fully informed of the facts.

BillyJoe

BJ
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written by nodata, April 16, 2009
http://www.nytimes.com/1987/03...sec=health
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written by Steel Rat, April 16, 2009
I much prefer Jenny McCarthy's body over her body of work. smilies/tongue.gif
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