Quarterly Bloodwork: Good Idea?

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Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks NBA team, recently stated that people who had enough money should pay to have quarterly bloodwork done, in order to anticipate any medical problems. The regular testing would provide a baseline from which to compare results. This may sound logical, and with the continued advances being made in medical technology, feasible for more and more people–but is it really a good idea?

A recent article brought into question whether this idea would really be helpful. (The article, “Tracking Your Own Health Data Too Closely Can Make You Sick,” can be accessed by clicking the link here.)

The problem is that a certain number of abnormalities in test results is normal, and false positives would lead to many unnecessary treatments–treatments that have undesirable side effects. Similarly, much discussion has centered in recent years on the value of the PSA test for men, with the thought that many men have undergone radical prostate treatments that ended up doing more harm than good.

A Dartmouth College professor of medicine, Dr. H. Gilbert Welch, is quoted in the article referenced above as being against the idea of testing quarterly. He comments, “What I’m worried about is allowing health to be defined as some set of biometric measurements. … Health is about more than a bunch of physical measurements. It’s about a state of mind and we have to be careful not to undermine that state of mind. Ironically, part of health is not being too focused on it. … Much better for people to develop good relationships, have good friends, be outside, eat well — find things that produce meaning in their lives.”

And what about the financial ramifications? Obviously, there are companies that would stand to make a fortune if this were to become common practice. And many individuals would be poorer through the added expenses.

Personally, I would rather focus on being proactive with healthy living day to day. Quarterly testing could lead to an obsessive and hypochondriac mindset that is easily turned negative. I would rather be in touch with my body and how it feels–energy level, endurance, and state of mind. Granted, there may be times when a particular condition necessitates having more frequent testing.

What about you–do you think this is a good idea? Is this just a matter of how you use the data?

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