Around a third of people who’ve been told they have asthma don’t have the disease at all, while the majority of those with the condition don’t need the medications they have been given.
And – in an epidemic of medical over-diagnosis – up to 80 per cent of people with normal cholesterol levels are being given powerful cholesterol-lowering drugs, say researchers from Bond University in Queensland, Australia.
Every year round $200bn (£128bn) is being wasted on drugs and treatments for people that don’t need them, they estimate.
Mass screening programmes and sensitive diagnostic techniques – coupled with a drug-reliant culture that constantly lowers the threshold on ‘sickness’ – are fuelling chronic over-diagnosis, and rather than healing the sick, modern medicine is more likely to harm the healthy.
(Source: British Medical Journal, 2012; e3502).