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Regular medical check-ups do not necessarily help in preventing illnesses

New research suggests regular medical check-ups do not necessarily help in preventing illnesses.

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An annual health check up sounds like a reasonable idea. After all, you can catch diseases early and get a report card on how healthy you've been over the past year.

But new public health studies suggest this idea may be flawed and even potentially harmful. A team of Danish public health experts analysed 14 different long-term trials that involved more than 180,000 people in all. Some underwent periodic health checks while others did not get any.

In nine trials, the Danish team found no difference in fatality rates between the groups that underwent periodic checks against the groups that didn't. The only noticeable difference from one of the 14 trials was a 20 per cent increase in diagnoses for people getting regular checks. However, they proved no more or less healthy than the non-monitored group. In fact, when you account for the cost of the check-ups and diagnostic tests, there may be a marginal benefit in the long run.

On the contrary, researchers suggest two things. First, that doctors spend more time with patients asking them about their lifestyle and medical history. This alone can result in valuable, timely interventions. They also suggest tailoring health checks to each patient based on their age, sex, lifestyle, family's medical background and specific risk factors to eliminate unnecessary testing.

Here are two old food "rules" that can now be put to rest. Red meat causes cancer In the 1980s, Japanese scientists found that rats that ate meat overcooked at a high heat developed cancer due to a carcinogen that formed. However, human studies on this were based on surveys and don't show actual links. If you are worried about potential carcinogens, simply scrape off the charred bits on your steak. Sweet potatoes are healthier than regular potatoes This is true if you fry regular potatoes. This raises their fat content and calorie count. However, if you bake or boil regular potatoes, as you do with sweet potatoes, you needn't worry.

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