Friday, September 6, 2013

About that risk assessment

There is all this talk these days about what you can do to reduce your risk of cancer, dementia, chicken pox, or the common cold, among a million other things. You know all the advice - eat broccoli, exercise, don't drink, lose weight, exercise, eat margarine no eat butter, drink red wine no white - and all it does is confuse the crap out of us.

Then they start to give people personal risk assessment for an ailment and expect us to believe them. How much conflicting medical advice do you hear on a given day? A lot. Eat red meat and chocolate, no don't, yes, well a little, and the famous words - in moderation. How can you be expected to believe anything?

When you are told what your risk of some thing is - whether being diagnosed with cancer or being hit by lightening, don't you always harbor that little thought in the corner of  your brain that of course they are only talking about other people and not you or anyone you care about. Its always going to affect those other faceless people you don't know.

So why all the surprise when a new study shows that one in five women don't believe their breast cancer risk? I can honestly tell you I was very surprised by both my cancer diagnoses. I thought my back pain was the result of muscle strain and not the permanent debilitating state of the disks in my spine. I thought my aches and pains that turned out to be rheumatoid and fibromyalgia were just normal aging.

Sometimes I think, they were all wrong and I am really a healthy person who can live the way I used to - working full time, having a social life, and going off on adventures regularly that involve beaches, mountains, and the great outdoors.

Seriously, we hear so much conflicting medical advice and then if someone gives us a risk assessment, we are supposed to believe them? I think a risk assessment is like listening to the weather forecast - there is a good chance Saturday will be rainy and it should clear out for Sunday but watch out for a hurricane next week. How do they really know?

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