PSA fails its test

When the mainstream medical community began pushing the prostate specific antigen (PSA) test more than 20 years ago, they had absolutely no proof that the test was beneficial - or even safe, for that matter. But that never stopped them from hailing it as a godsend and announcing to every man in American that having a yearly PSA was the only way to protect against prostate cancer.

And the money came rolling in

It was a good little scam, but the gig is almost up especially if reports like the one just published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute continue popping up.

Dutch and Swedish researchers found that even though more frequent screening increased the number of tumors detected, it failed to reduce the number of AGGRESSIVE TUMORS that appeared between screenings.

Researchers followed two groups of men between the ages of 55 and 65 years old for 10 years. The first group (4,000 men) was tested every two years, and the second group (13,000 men) was tested every four years. As you would imagine, more tumors were found among the group that was tested more frequently - 13 percent verses 8 percent.

But here's the catch: There was no statistically significant difference between the two groups of men in the number of aggressive tumors that formed between screenings. The researchers said, "More screening did not cut the number of these cancer cases as one might have expected."

That's been my point all along. As we age, it's perfectly normal to develop small tumors in our prostates. It's when you start messing with them that you stir up a hornet's nest. But it's the AGGRESSIVE TUMORS that'll kill you - whether you get a routine PSA or not.

The lead researcher of the study, Monique Roobol, said, "We here in Europe feel that over- diagnosis and over-treatment is certainly something you should avoid." That's a not-so-subtle and all-too-deserved slap in the face to the medical community on this side of the pond. And, as you know, I couldn't agree more.

Soap scum

Two years ago (Daily Dose, 7/5/05), I told you about a science experiment conducted by a group of cookie-peddling girls in green vests. After a two-year long experiment, the Minnesota-based Girl Scout Troop determined that antibacterial soaps are only marginally more effective than regular soaps at eradicating germs - .2% to be precise.

Without knowing the ins and outs of their research, I couldn't comment on the accuracy of their results. However, a study was just published in the August issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases that validates their findings - at least for one particular type of antibacterial soap.

According to the study, antibacterial soaps containing the active ingredient triclosan are no better than regular soap at killing germs - and in fact, they can do more harm than good. Apparently the concentrations of triclosan used in commercial hand soaps aren't sufficient enough to kill bacteria such as E. coli, and they can also reduce the effectiveness of some common antibiotics.

Bottom line: Stick with plain 'ol, tried and true, antibiotic-free soap.