Monday, May 7, 2012

What kills one in seven men every year?

Have you seen the prostate cancer article in the Canadian edition of Reader's Digest for April 2012?

No, you haven't.  It doesn't exist. There is no prostate cancer article in the April edition of Reader's Digest, although I do encourage you to check it out.

There is an 'advertorial' to raise funds for Prostate Cancer Canada, an organization that provides support to present and future cancer patients and their families.

The advertorial says, (my emphasis)

"You can't test yourself, you can't see it, a lot of people can't even get the name right - 
yet it kills one in seven men every year."

I'm all in favour of supporting people with cancer, but I'm not in favour of making false statements in the interest of getting a donation from me.  I will not donate to a cure for cancer.

Kills one in seven men every year?  Surely I would know several people it killed last year?  I know hundreds of men.  At that rate, in theory, more than 50 percent of Canadian men would be dead in (just a moment while I jump out to Excel to check my numbers), in less than 5 years.  Frankly, I'm surprised that Prostate Cancer Canada (PCC) printed this ridiculous statement - and I'm also surprised that Reader's Digest accepted the advertorial without checking the simplest facts.

Let's be honest, I can guess what they meant to say.  But it's not up to me to guess. There are several more, totally false statements - and more statements that are subject to significant challenges in scientific and medical circles.  I might be guessing, assuming a lot if I try to guess what they really meant.

Read the advertorial and you might also 'learn' that "Over 90% of prostate cancer cases are curable if detected and treated in their earliest stages."  However, on the very same page it says, "Ultimately, what PCC is looking for is a cure."  Which is true?

The truth, there is no known cure for prostate cancer.  A 'cure' would restore health, without damage.  The only current treatments for prostate cancer are surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.  None of them 'cure' the cancer, they simply try, often without success, to 'kill the cancer'.

The other truth? No-one is looking for a cure for cancer.  There are lots of companies looking for better ways to treat cancer patients, better ways to kill cancer, but no-one is looking for a cure.

The truth - Ultimately, PCC is looking for your dollars.  When you get to the last page and you will see that the entire advertorial is designed to have you register in the "SAFEWAY FATHER'S DAY WALK/RUN Prostate Cancer Canada
Take the first step.
Register today! FATHERSDAYRUN.CA  Sunday, June 17, 2012"

PCC wants your money. I'm sure four page advertorial in Reader's Digest does not come cheap - even if you are a charitable organization. PCC would like you to help them pay for it, and more.

They go on to say... "As Director of Prostate Cancer Canada's Atlantic region, Peter Mallette wants everyone to know that the disease does not discriminate.  It does not care if you are gay, or straight, rich or poor, black or white."

But.... the Prostate Cancer Foundation clearly states different: "Race: African Americans have a 40% greater chance of developing prostate cancer and twice the risk of dying from it. Conversely, Asian men who live in Asia have the lowest risk; however when they migrate to the west, their risk increases."  So does the PCC's own website, which states: "even more important for those of African or Caribbean descent as they are at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer, the most common cancer to afflict Canadian men."

Rich or poor? "The risk of developing prostate cancer for men who live in rural China is 2% and for men in the United States 17%."

two out of three wrong, more?:
"Rates of prostate cancer were significantly lower in gay men than other groups.However, both gay and bisexual men were significantly more likely than heterosexual men to have been diagnosed with an “other” form of malignancy." according to:

It is unfortunate that this advertorial starts out with the words "A little education goes a long way." I'm convinced that they are trying to 'sell' me not educate me.

I encourage you to go to their website and come to your own conclusions.

You might want to research the PSA testing controversy. Much of the latest research into prostate cancer has surrounded the information suggesting that PSA tests often lead to false positives, and to further tests and treatments that actually cause more damage than the disease would have - if left alone. What does PPC say?  On thier front page it says "we recommend that men consider prostate cancer screening using the simple PSA blood test. Talk with your doctor."

The Huffington Post recently reported that many men are still getting PSA tests, even in cases where the US Preventative Services Task Force specifically recommended, in 2008, against PSA test for anyone 75 years or older.

What does the PPC website say?  If you search for PSA testing, you will find posts recommending PSA tests, but check the dates.  The latest post appears to be from April 2009, today is May, 2012 - three years have passed.  What has PPC done in these three years?  I'm not sure...

It appears the PPC organization is doing some good work.  I think they can do better.  I think their advertorial in the Canadian April 2012 edition of Reader's digest is a very poor piece of work.

This blog is about health.  Prostate cancer is a disease.  I am not a doctor.  But when I see totally ridiculous statements like "kills one in seven men every year", I need to rant!

Everyone has a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of healthiness.

to your health, tracy

Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: