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Ask Dr. Gott 5/28
Screening not all it's cracked up to be
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    DEAR DR. GOTT: You are sadly mistaken, and you must reconsider your endorsement of Life Line screening. It's a big rip off! Let me explain.
    For a modest cost, they perform several "screening" tests that look very attractive. This is a misrepresentation, because "screening" means to separate good from bad results. These tests are cheap, fast and vastly inaccurate.
    During one of these screenings, my wife was diagnosed with low bone density. We brought the results to our family doctor, who recommended an expensive and thorough test (I don't remember the name), which showed the density to be fine. Another female acquaintance also failed the Life Line bone-density test. Her doctor put her on Fosamax, an expensive medication. When informed of my wife's results, she opted for the expensive bone-density test, and guess what? She was fine, too.
    I have written to my senior center about this, and they have stopped using Life Line testing. Please don't recommend this cheap, inaccurate testing and false representation by Life Line.
    DEAR READER: Perhaps I should have done more research before giving a blanket endorsement for bone-density screening through Life Line. I have received several letters like yours but have not heard of any discrepancies in the cardiovascular screenings. In contrast, the test for osteoporosis seems unreliable.
    I know physicians who use heel bone-density screening units in their offices and appear satisfied with the results. Patients who receive an abnormal result should see their own doctors and request hospital-based X-ray bone-density screenings. In fact, this happened to me, and I, too, needed the special testing, which showed normal bone density.
    Physicians are not on site when this mobile testing is performed by the technicians. All results should be forwarded to the doctor for interpretation. The technicians who perform the tests should give you only a risk factor for osteoporosis, not a diagnosis. I had hoped the inexpensive testing would catch a variety of problems early on and would make people more aware of potential medical problems. I would like to hope Life Line testing for stroke, cardiovascular disease and abdominal aortic aneurysms is substantially more accurate.
    While cost may be an issue for some people, it appears, at least in this case, you certainly got what you paid for. Thank you for sharing your experience.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Osteoporosis."

    DEAR DR. GOTT: My right thumb pained me constantly from arthritis. I read about the castor-oil treatment you recommended, and although it seemed like a stretch, I thought, "nothing ventured, nothing gained." I rubbed a few drops every night over the painful area, and, after a few days, the pain subsided. As long as I keep rubbing the oil on, I'm pain-free. I still don't have strength in that thumb, but it's wonderful not to have constant pain. So, one more advocate of the castor-oil treatment.
    DEAR READER: Thank you for sharing your experience. There are numerous endorsements for arthritis, including grape juice and pectin, anti-inflammatories, over-the-counter Castiva and prescription drugs. Plain castor oil is simple and effective. If it works, stick with it.
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