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You can't buy good health but you can buy good health information. Check out these newly released Special Health Reports from Harvard Medical School:

The top 5 tests you probably don't need, from the October 2013 Harvard Health Letter

Some health tests, such as colonoscopies and cholesterol checks, are wise preventive measures. Others aren't, and may be unnecessary, reports the October 2013 Harvard Health Letter. "I think we're doing too much screening," says geriatrician Dr. Suzanne Salamon, an instructor at Harvard Medical School.

Screening means checking seeming healthy individuals for hidden disease. Sometimes it finds a problem. More often it leads to the discovery of harmless variations of normal body parts, which then leads to expensive, anxiety-producing, and often painful testing and unnecessary procedures—none of which would have been needed without the initial test.

So which tests should be avoided? Harvard experts say that for individuals who don't have any symptoms or family history of a particular ailment, it can be a good idea to skip the test that screens for it. Five tests that can often be skipped include

  • electrocardiograms
  • whole body CT scans
  • coronary calcium scores
  • tuberculosis skin tests
  • and low-dose CTs for lung cancer

It's important to talk with a doctor, though, before making the decision to forego a screening test.

Read the full-length article: "The top 5 tests you probably don't need"

Also in this issue of the Harvard Health Letter

  • The top 5 tests you probably don't need
  • Ask the doctor: Does stress make us age faster?
  • The glaucoma you may be missing
  • Depression: Is it just a slump or something more?
  • Could your joint pain be bursitis?
  • Getting your protein from plants
  • Get to know your food labels
  • Bad mix: Blood thinners and NSAIDs
  • News briefs: Skipping breakfast hurts heart health, says Harvard study
  • News briefs: Harvard research finds protective link between most cancers and Alzheimer's disease
  • News briefs: Read a book, preserve your memory
  • Ask the doctor: Are self-tracking devices effective?
  • RDAs, food sources for selected vitamins and minerals

More Harvard Health News »


About Harvard Health Publications

Harvard Health Publications publishes four monthly newsletters--Harvard Health Letter, Harvard Women's Health Watch, Harvard Men's Health Watch, and Harvard Heart Letter--as well as more than 50 special health reports and books drawing on the expertise of the 8,000 faculty physicians at Harvard Medical School and its world-famous affiliated hospitals.