Thursday, February 11, 2010

Pick your poison

At what point does the cure become worse than the disease?

I’m starting to wonder about a lot of the so called cancer treatments and cancer preventions coming down the pike. Everyone is terrified of cancer, and it seems the medical profession is working over time to find cures or at least treatments that can prolong life, ease suffering or make it less likely for people to get cancer.

What scares me is, it seems like most of the things they’re coming up with cause greater problems.

This article talks about hormone replacement therapy as a possible stop gap in the fight against colon cancer in women. It highlights a study that shows estrogen therapy has some effectiveness in lowering the risk of colon cancer, the controversial side effects of HRT itself notwithstanding.

Is it worth it to risk:

o Endometrial bleeding
o Breast tenderness
o Increased breast density, higher rates of abnormal mammograms and breast biopsies
o Increased risk of cancers, including breast, ovarian, lung, and malignant melanoma
o Cardiovascular events (e.g., heart attack, stroke, cardiovascular death)
o Gallbladder disease
o Venous thromboembolic events (blood clots)
o Reduced insulin sensitivity
o Brain atrophy, increased risk of dementia, decline in memory and cognition

in order to prevent colon cancer?

Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t understand why we should have to choose between one health risk and another. Good health is good ‘overall’ health. How can the medical profession tout something as being beneficial if it helps one thing while making something else worse?

We all accept side effects of our medications – everything has a down side, even taking aspirin can put you at risk for some other health concern. But should we really accept side effects, especially deadly ones, as just a matter of course? If you use HRT to prevent colon cancer, why should you have to then fear an increased risk for some other disease? In my opinion, something is not truly effective as a disease prevention if it has to the potential to cause another disease. Obviously, if doctors believed this, we would have very little in our pharmaceutical arsenal…but then maybe we could hope to find a medicine that helps without hurting.

Or is that too much to ask?


  1. Sometimes I think the side-effects aren't worth it....a morphine drip would be more my style...