If you're over 40 and male, read this right now...

The Good Life Letter

29th August  2009

  • Why expensive health check-ups could be dangerous

  • If you're over 40 and male, read this right now...

There are loads of things I don't like about getting older...

For instance, last month I went out for a night with Lara.

We taped the kids to the bed (all right, we got a babysitter), dolled up - me in 5 minutes, Lara in 3 days with more
costume changes than Kylie, then went to a bar on the harbourside.

One of those 10ft by 10ft bouncers was on the door, and he stopped us as we went to go in.

"Can I see some ID please?" he asked Lara.

She was a bit confused...

"ID? I haven't got any ID. What for?"

"You need to be 21 to get into this bar," he said.

It took a while for this to sink in.

"You think I'm younger than 21?" Lara beamed, practically
fainting with happiness.

"Don't you want to see my ID?" I asked as I joke.

The bouncer shrugged.

"Naw, it's all right. You look old enough. I thought you were her dad."

Her DAD!

Oh how we laughed about it for the rest of the night. 
 
Her DAD!

Anyway, getting back to the...

Her DAD!

Right. I'm fine now. Really. I'm coping.

But looking older isn't the only thing that changes as the years creep by. You also start to feel a bit older... the odd ache here, the occasional pain there...

And things start to go wrong. I mean I've had two hernia ops in the past two years, my eyesight is slipping  a little, I've had sciatica...

So when I first heard about people having a full health MOT, I thought it was a great idea.

But that's before I dug a little deeper...

Why expensive health check-ups could be dangerous 
 
A while back (when I still had a proper job and more hair), my company paid for one of those health MOT things.
 
You know... where they hook you up to all sorts of contraptions that go BING and WHIRRRR while men in white coats stand around, shake their heads, and make notes?
 
At the time I thought nothing of it. 
 
In fact, it made a bit of sense. 
 
I was in my late thirties, my body hand started to disobey me ('In stomach, IN! Why won't you listen?), and my health was suddenly something I thought I should pay more attention to.
 
But now, I'm not so sure.
 
A team of senior doctors has discovered that these check-ups can be misleading.
 
The report was from the Royal College of Pathologists and three other respected medical and scientific groups.
 
They said that while many tests have great diagnostic value for people with symptoms.... they are 'clinically  irrelevant' for those who are well.
 
For example, CT scans (which X-ray your body from various angles at the same time to spot any abnormalities), involves exposing the body to radiation. 
 
And out of every 2,000 people who have one of these scans, one will develop a fatal cancer.
 
Yes, it's still important to diagnose disease.... 
 
But how much of these checks are down to a desire to make money?
 
Private medical screening is a multimillion-pound industry. Companies advertise scans and tests that they claim can detect diseases before too much damage is done.
 
But it's not necessary for the fit and healthy to go through this.

Instead, here are some natural ways to protect yourself from most of ailments that these health MOTs check for:

  • Heart disease - full body CT scans are used to detect heart disease in early stages, but if you look after your heart properly, you can reduce your risk of heart disease considerably.  
     
    Add cayenne pepper and garlic to your diet.  Cayenne stimulates the heart and strengthens arteries, whilst garlic reduces the likelihood of clotting and lowers blood pressure. 
     
    You might also want to try Hawthorn, a tonic used by the ancient Greeks. The flowers can help protect weak or old hearts, and can help regulate an erratic heartbeats.

  • Liver disease - a liver function test is often performed at these health checks (and you can buy kits for £150 and do it at home), but the results can be skewed. Besides, you can get this test on the NHS if your doctor thinks you need one.  
     
    In the meantime, milk thistle contains strong antioxidants that can repair damage to liver cells caused by cirrhosis, alcohol and prescription drugs - but always check things out with your doctor before taking any herbal remedy. 

  • Cholesterol test - this common blood test checks for levels of LDL (bad cholesterol), which is a main culprit behind hypertension and heart disease. But yet again, this test can be easily done by your GP, so go and have a chat before you shell out any money on a private test. 
     
    And there's a lot you can do to lower your bad cholesterol naturally. Eat plenty of onions, sunflower seeds and oat bran - all of which help lower cholesterol levels.  
     
    Oh, and if you're up for it, take a cold bath. Just run enough water to cover your hips and plunge in for ten minutes, twice a day.


And finally, one for solely for us chaps...

If you're over 40 and male, read this right now...

  • Prostate cancer - a prostate antigen test is often used in a health MOT to try and detect early signs of prostate cancer. The problem is, this test has a huge occurrence of testing positive when there is no cancer present. This leads to an unnecessary biopsy, which can lead to all sorts of trouble such as impotence and incontinence.  
     
    To protect yourself against the risk of prostate cancer, start upping your intake of lycopene, an antioxidant that's found in tomatoes, watermelon and pink grapefruit. 
     

That's it for this today. Enjoy yourself, indulge yourself a little, and have a great bank holiday!


 

 

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