Wednesday, January 26, 2011

From the Mouths of Doctors

I was astounded last month when I went to an American Cancer Society's "Look Good, Feel Better" program. One of the women there said that she didn't wear underwire bras because her doctor said that it messed up the lymphatic system and may have a part in getting breast cancer. I was astonished at this, but thought perhaps something had changed since 12 years ago when I first heard this old wives tale and after all...it was her doctor who was saying it.

Then, last week, when I was looking at carpet, the sales woman spoke to me about her boyfriend who was diagnosed with a rare form of kidney cancer and his doctor said that the "city water caused it." Well, that I knew was complete hogwash because there is absolutely no documentation or evidence of in inordinate amount of kidney cancer in this area, which you would find if there were something to be said for that accusation.

The underwire bra comment seemed to me to be hogwash because first of all, the underwires are not that tight as to constrict the flow of anything. In addition, the lymph glands are not on the underside of the breast, but on the upper part of the chest and under the arm. So, I looked on line to see if there had been any further studies...no, just the old chestnut from the anthropologists who wrote a paper citing anecdotal information (that is to so, no scientific study but a "he said she said" situation which was shot down pretty strongly by the medical community. Nothing new.

The next step was to talk to my oncologist who practiced at the Cleveland Clinic and keeps up on the very latest of information. He said no, that that was incorrect. He hadn't heard of anything about that and it didn't make sense for the same reason I thought.

So, if someone makes some flat statement like that, check to see if there has been a study which has been published and review, preferably in a medical review such as Lancet (a British Publication) or the New England Journal of Medicine. Other countries have other high end , heavily reviewed and researched periodicals. If there is a study cited some where, look to see how many people participated (it has to be a big study in order to see if the sample proves anything or not) and for how long. Were there follow up studies by other doctors which proved the same results? If not, then this may not be real medicine, but folklore.

It's hard. You don't want to say "Your doctor is an idiot and should probably be practicing in a barnyard".....Sometimes you can ask questions to get people thinking. And sometimes you can't.

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