Measure it or…Else.
A nationally known ‘longevity’ doctor recently died of prostate cancer at 58.
Yes, it could happen to anyone but, I confess this fact makes me oddly angry. Primarily because he was apparently a kind and good man and a gifted physician. So, sad loss to all; his family especially.
Please, God, let nothing I say take away from his memory, the value of his work nor add anything to the loss of those who knew and loved him.
But I am angry.
The reason I am ‘oddly angry’ is twofold. First, had he been an advocate of measuring and tracking medical data rather than only being a font of good advice, he almost certainly would not be dead.
Be forewarned, this assumption is based solely on his record of recommending good diet and exercise and not recommending checking metabolic markers and cancer markers.
Let me explain, justify and qualify my anger.
I am very passionate about what I do and about why I do the work I do: I deeply do not want people to die or suffer if personal choices can make the difference.
What has that to do with the now deceased Doctor?
His work was usually a reader friendly exposition of mostly sound advice about the value of good diet and proper exercise. He did a good thing and, probably, many people a great good favor.
What he did not do, or at least did not publically advocate doing, was ‘measure and modify.’ He didn’t measure deep biological markers nor advise others to do so. In his own too tragic case had he a nice graph of his PSA at very, very regular intervals over many years, he almost certainly would have detected his own emerging prostate cancer as many of those who follow QM have done. Not only detect it, but detect it early enough in its course to have saved his life. I wish he were alive, I wish he were an active colleague in changing organized medicine’s commitment to medications rather than healthy lived lives.
The second and deeper reason for the anger his death triggered, is really the foolish frugality of organized, government directed healthcare. A physician faces all but insurmountable obstacles to regularly measuring many very important markers of health and risk of disease.
Organized medicine is trying to save pennies by denying or making difficult, frequent testing of important health markers when it could save thousands of lives and millions of dollars by getting all the expensive ‘cost-containment’ bureaucracies out of the way. See our blog post on government enabled over-priced pharmaceuticals.
So, in short, here is an all too graphic example of why I am so fanatical about ‘measure and modify.’ I advocate tumor marker measurements, metabolic marker calibration, hard end-point markers like bone density and coronary calcium markers.
As humans, we are all so blind to our own foibles that we can deceive ourselves about how well we exercise, how carefully we are eating, how successful our chosen spiritual or relaxation practice is in achieving its goal of destressing our metabolism. The mirror of our ego is cracked and dark.
We need to ‘measure and modify’ frequently to save us from our own – brilliant! – self-deception.
If you never read “Quantitative Medicine,” if you never see me, Dr. Mike, as your physician, still always be your own advocate. Government-mandated, organized-medicine sponsored healthcare is not interested in your health. They are interested in treating the population as one large amortization risk and quantifying and structuring costs to control outcomes.
The news is, large scale amortized risk does not apply to you, the ‘you’ reading this, the you that matters. Your personal risk of any number of things is not found in generic advice and expert guidelines. It is found and only found in your personal metabolic numbers, your personal cancer markers. It is only found within you and revealed by measurable risk factors.
Measure and modify.