Dr. John Corso, M.D., has been practicing medicine for over 20 years. This Bend, Oregon based physician is author of the new book Stupid Reasons People Die, and he is on a mission to explain why Americans need to know more about the real reasons why people get sick and die.
The answers may surprise you.
In the past few years, more and more people watch their health crash for some of the silliest reasons you can imagine. This is in spite of a near fanatic desire to maintain and perpetuate youth, fitness and health.
Dr. John Corso has analyzed what is going on and what this means for people and their future. He has identified the real culprits and reveal the inside story on a small group of diseases that are most likely to cut your life short â€“ and why we tend to let them get away with it. His book explains the top causes of death, what people do that brings it about, provides unique and timely commentary, and analysis of the latest medical tests and technologies.
Here are the most common causes of a â€œStupid Deathâ€:
â™¦ Colon Cancer: â€œI donâ€™t want to spend a day cleaning out my intestines so a six-foot tube can be inserted from the bottom up. Besides, itâ€™s gross.â€
â™¦ Malignant Melanoma: â€œItâ€™s just a beauty mark…â€
â™¦ Heart Attack: â€œIâ€™m cutting back on eggs, thanks anyway.â€
â™¦ Esophageal Cancer: â€œEverybody gets heartburn, right?â€
â™¦ Cervical Cancer: â€œPAP Smear every year, I’d almost rather die…”
â™¦ Aortic Aneurysm: â€œNever heard of it.â€
â™¦ Lung Cancer: â€œIâ€™ve already quit five times. It isnâ€™t going to happen.â€
â™¦ Breast Cancer: â€œThat mammogram thing hurts.â€
â™¦ Prostate Cancer: â€œI pee fine. Why bother with a test even my doctor hates to perform?â€
â™¦ Bladder Cancer: â€œHey, I already gave a urine sample.â€
â™¦ Heart-Lung Failure: â€œOk, my own snoring woke me up sometimes, but who knewâ€¦â€
â™¦ Complications resulting from a broken hip: â€œDonâ€™t need that bone density test. Every time I see that doctor heâ€™s got something else he wants me to do.â€
Dr. Corso explains the typical and most common stupid reasons people die:
#1 Human Nature: weâ€™re reactive, not proactive.
#2 Waiting until insurance pays for it. â€œA good screening test is a good screening test no matter who writes the check.â€
#3 Falling through the Gap between The State of the Art and The Standard of Care in health screening and treatments.
#4 Misunderstanding medical information â€“ E.g.: Most heart attacks strike people
with normal cholesterol!
#5 Inadequate treatment of problems: failure to identify all risks or failure to treat known risks aggressively.
#6 Fear of science and technology and so choosing ineffective alternatives to effective treatments.
#7 Belief that â€œall naturalâ€ means â€œall healthy.â€
#8 Assuming our health-care system can or should cover our preventive-care issues.
#9 Believing and reacting to sensational news stories in the media.
Dr. Corso describes how people can prolong their health by finding the hidden medical time bombs.
Dr. Corsoâ€™s book gives you an up close look at the diseases most likely to cut your life short, such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer and how the best tests and treatments modern medicine has to offer can protect you from a needless early death. He explains the key reasons why we hesitate to do whatâ€™s right for us:
Â¨ We donâ€™t want to go looking for something we donâ€™t want to find
Â¨ Tests not always recommended by your doctor
Â¨ Tests not always covered by insurance
Dr. Corso says that people need to be proactive and think preventively. This is the only thing that makes sense these days. He says when you go to the doctor you need to:
Â¨ Bring a list of the tests you want and ask for it.
Â¨ Pay out of pocket even if not covered.
Here are Dr. Corsoâ€™s top seven most important steps to avoid an early death:
#1. Learn which diseases are the â€œbig-ticketâ€ killers and how to screen for them.
Become more empowered and proactive about your health care.
Things have really changed. We can detect and prevent most big ticket killers.
#2. Eat Right, Stay Fit, Drop Dead – Learn why eating right and staying fit alone will not prevent an early death from common diseases.
If you have common, genetic causes for heart disease, you may have no symptoms and still have a heart attack.
You could have an aortic aneurysm and be fit as a fiddle.
You could have a hidden cancer and still have been eating right.
#3. Become aware of the Bogus Beliefs and Bad Data in our own minds that keep us from taking smart action.
Identify your own prejudice and misconceptions about â€œhealthyâ€ and â€œunhealthy.â€
Tune in to your emotional vs. rational response to health information news.
Learn to interpret new health information correctly by getting all the facts and learning how to apply them to your specific, situation.
#4. Understand that your own doctors and health insurance company may not recommend, the state-of-the-art tests that could save your life.
Most doctors practice â€œStandard-of-Careâ€ not â€œState-of â€“the-Artâ€ medicine, a standard that is a decade behind the times. An insurance companyâ€™s bottom line allegiance is to their shareholders not their insured. Insurance companies will wait a very long time (decades) to take a test off the â€œexperimentalâ€ status. Then they may cover it. Stop thinking â€œMy insurance wonâ€™t cover it, therefore I cannot have it.â€
#5. Stop assuming that â€œnaturalâ€ is better than â€œchemical.â€
In health, â€œNaturalâ€ is a meaningless word hijacked by the advertising industry to sell everything from tampons to motor oil. Many gruesome things take place in Nature! Millions of all-natural substances are poison. In health, â€œchemicalâ€ has come to mean â€œdangerous.â€ Yet everything we are/eat/breath/think is a chemical. This includes all supplements/vitamins. The most effective life-saving/extending technology has come from the pharmaceutical industry.
#6. Become aware of the insidious effect the media has on your health care decisions.
From the sale of â€œall naturalâ€ as â€œalways betterâ€ to the alarmist reporting of new information about prescription medicines, media exists to sell advertising and garner high ratings â€“ NOT necessarily to inform. They must use fear, not facts to pull this off.
#7. Learn exactly which screening tests you should have and how to get them.
Your doctor may not suggest certain tests. He or she may not even know they exist. Your insurance may not cover it, get them anyway!
Here is Dr. Corsoâ€™s updated list of the top medical tests worth paying for:
Ultra Fast CT Scan of the Heart to detect Atherosclerosis These lightening-fast scanners allow us to determine whether or not a person is developing â€œhardening of the arteriesâ€ in their coronary arteries. Cost $99-250
Is it worth it? Donâ€™t walk, RUN for this test for men over 40 or women over fifty. Worth it at ten times the price.
Ultrasound of the Abdomen to screen for Aortic Aneurysm. This benign and relatively inexpensive study is highly sensitive for detecting aortic aneurysms, (which are now being recognized as a major source of preventable death in American patients.) It also has the benefit of finding kidney cancers when they are small and detectable, and screens for other intra-abdominal pathology. It need be performed only about every three or four years for people over the age of 40 and costs about $225 locally. Cost $99-250
Is it worth it? Another no-brainer. Safe and cheap â€“ averaging $50 per year.
Extended Lipid Testing for patients with Atherosclerosis. Lipoprotein particles, (the â€œfloating containersâ€ for cholesterol and triglycerides) come in all different shapes and sizes. The state-of-the-art in treating patients with either known heart disease or an EBT scan showing â€œhardening of the arteriesâ€ relies on understanding not only a personâ€™s cholesterol, good and bad, but also the size and shape and buoyancy properties of these particles. Cost $200-600
Is it worth it? Yes. The state of the art in heart attack prevention is a detailed analysis of lipids but the results must be interpreted by a physician who specializes in this area.
Colonoscopy to screen for Colon Cancer and Polyps. Every man and woman should really have a colonoscopy as a special treat on their 50th birthday â€“ sooner if you have a family history of colon cancer or polyps. Colon cancer attacks men and women equally. A single colonoscopy, no later than age 50, can be one of the most life-saving tests a person will undergo. Cost $1500-2000
Is it worth it? Yes, Yes, Yes a hundred times yes. This is a near-perfect screening test. Highly sensitive (finds problems when they are there) and highly specific (never cries â€œwolfâ€)
CAT Scan screening for Lung Cancer. Taking annual chest X-rays failed to demonstrate any ability to prevent death from lung cancer and has been widely abandoned. However, the newer imaging technologies like EBT and multi-detector CT scanning give such high quality pictures, that very small tumors can be detected and more accurately determined to be malignant or not. At the time of this writing, the International Early Lung Cancer Action Program, I-ELCAP, has published the results of a twelve-year, 31,000-patient study that demonstrated a ten-year survival rate of over 80 percent in lung cancer patients who underwent CT screening. The ten-year survival rate without screening is a miserable 5 percent! Available now, for smokers and former smokers. Cost $99-200
Is it worth it? Jury still out. To be truly effective this screening will need to be performed frequently. Is the radiation too high? Probably not. Is there any reason not to get one now and wait for more information over the next year or two? Definitely not.
UroVysion â€“ A New Step Forward For Early Detection of Bladder Cancer. Bladder cancer strikes 50,000 Americans every year and kills about 11,000 of them. Checking the urine for blood once a year is the only screening currently done in most settings. This is latest of the high-tech probes now available to screen patients for bladder cancer. This test has been demonstrated to find bladder cancer earlier than any standard screening test. Whether it leads to fewer deaths, while quite likely, is still unproven. Cost: $250-300
Is it worth it? If money is no object, sure. Three hundred a year, every year, for a low yield is expensive. But like most new technology, the price is likely to plummet very soon so why not get started now?
PillCam screening for Esophageal Cancer. Thankfully, it’s not among the most common cancers in Americans but occurrence of esophageal cancer has been increasing at an average rate of over 40% per decade. Aggressive debate in the medical literature has gone so far as to suggest routine endoscopic screening (a camera down your throat) of the esophagus. However, itâ€™s expensive, somewhat invasive and requires intravenous sedation – all in all, no oneâ€™s idea of a good time. Now thereâ€™s a new technology called the PillCam, a camera the size of a large vitamin that is simply swallowed by the individual. As it makes its way down the esophagus, it rapidly flashes light and snaps pictures (14 per second) transmitting them to a receiver outside the patientâ€™s body. It is important to realize that the PillCam is a screening tool only, used to look for abnormal tissue in the esophagus. Any suspicious finding will mean a follow-up endoscopy to biopsy the area of concern. Cost $600-1200
Is it worth it? Probably not for everyone until the price comes down. For men over 50 with a long history of smoking and/or drinking it makes sense.
Dr. John Corso is a practicing, board-certified internist who has been on the medical front lines for more than twenty years. After graduating with honors from The University of Health Sciences/The Chicago Medical School in 1985, he completed his medical training at the prestigious UCLA-Harbor Medical Center. In 2001, he launched the innovative Personal Access Program. It is a practice model that offers patients the time, accessibility, and personal relationship that originally defined medical practice. Patients receive comprehensive and individualized care for a small monthly membership fee that includes same-day appointments, direct access through 24 hour phone and email response, home visits and direct advocacy with specialists, hospital clinicians, and insurers. He continues to maintain a medical practice in Bend, Oregon.
Dr. Corsoâ€™s pivotal message is that advanced health screening tests and methods for treating common risk factors can substantially increase the length and quality of your life. Ignoring them can kill you. For more information visit www.stupidreasonspeopledie.com