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Routine Checkups Don't Cut Cancer, Heart Deaths: Study
Date:11/21/2012

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Nov. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Routine checkups don't help reduce a patient's risk of dying from either heart disease or cancer, new Danish research suggests.

The finding applies to doctor visits among the general population, in which seemingly healthy patients, without any specific disease risk, come in on a regular basis for an array of standardized screenings and lifestyle counseling.

The goal of such checkups is to catch early signs of disease and thereby reduce the risk for early death.

But the fresh review of 14 previous studies involving nearly 183,000 patients uncovered no evidence that such checkups do anything of the sort. On the contrary, the research team found that routine checkups of healthy people may actually promote the use of potentially harmful invasive testing while at the same time leading to overdiagnosis and unnecessary treatment.

"We could not find evidence of benefit from adding systematic, regular health checks to ordinary preventive health care practice, despite having data from many trials of high quality that included almost 200,000 people," said study lead author Lasse Krogsboll, a doctoral candidate in the Nordic Cochrane Centre, in Copenhagen.

Krogsboll added, however, that part of the lack of notable checkup benefit might be due to prevention interventions having already been carried out by primary care physicians outside the checkup context among at-risk patients who they had already been seeing for other reasons throughout the year.

"[So] our results should not be interpreted as evidence against preventive actions to improve health in general," he said, "or evidence against clinicians trying to identify health problems early and treat risk factors in high-risk groups."

Krogsboll pointed out that "we are not saying that early treatment of manifest disease or treatment of risk factors identified as a part of good do
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