Nortin Hadler

Nortin Hadler says he would sue any doctor who tried to test his cholesterol. Likewise, his bone density, prostate levels, colon cells, etc. The Harvard-trained doc, now in his sixties and a rheumatologist and professor of medicine and microbiology/immunology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, says you, too, should avoid these routine tests, as well as most angioplasties, bypass surgeries and routine mammograms. That's because -- contrary to what the medical establishment tells you -- the tests and procedures don't extend most lives, he says; they just convince healthy people they're sick. Skip These Tests?

Achieving Wellness, Whatever That Is

The Last Well Person: How to Stay Well Despite the Health-Care System. By Nortin Hadler.

"We started out with three major randomized controlled trials in the nineteen-seventies of coronary bypass grafting versus medical therapy," Hadler says. "If you look at those original trials there is really no benefit to coronary artery bypass grafting." Hadler writes that, with the exception of a very small subset of patients, these studies showed that even after ten years, patients who had heart surgery did not survive longer or have fewer heart attacks than those who received only medication. He concludes that the risks of heart surgery such as death, emotional distress, and memory loss outweigh the benefits, even for the small subset. These three studies were published in the New England Journal of Medicine (March 22, 1984; November 22, 1984; and August 11, 1988). Subsequent studies, Hadler says, generally compare one form of surgical intervention with another, assuming that any surgical intervention must be better than modern medical therapy. Hadler calls this assumption "unfounded."