It has been drilled into our brains since early childhood that regular health checkups are necessary and can prevent many diseases. Scientists now say that they might be more harmful than useful.
A group of scientists analyzed data on about 180,000 people, from a number of sources. Their conclusion is that regular physicals or other checkups done when we are healthy are not useful, and can be in fact harmful.
Scientists compared mortality of people who had regular yearly checkups with those who did not, and noticed no difference. There was also no difference in the number of hospital admissions, work absence, disabilities or the number of additional doctor’s visits.
The only health issues that benefited from the checkups were high blood pressure and cholesterol.
On the other hand, scientists found that checkups often result in the unnecessary treatment for health issues which would not cause any harm, symptoms or death to the patient.
Are checkups preventing diseases?
Scientists who did the study accepted that the source of information they had available is fairly old and that the results might be different under current conditions, when the diagnostic equipment is much more sophisticated. They admit that one possible reason for their result also might be the fact that the primary care providers are doing great job in the disease prevention even without checkups.
Considering the latest discussions on the high costs of medical care, it is difficult not to wonder if the study has been influenced by the efforts of the government to cut on the doctors’ visits and the use of equipment, unless a person is already ill. But, it is easy to calculate how much more expensive it is to treat a disease than to prevent it by nipping it in the bud if it is diagnosed early.