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Book and Media Reviews
October 26, 2011

Rethinking Aging: Growing Old and Living Well in an Overtreated Society

JAMA. 2011;306(16):1804. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.1546

In this book, Nortin Hadler, well known for his previous writings on the excesses of modern medicine, addresses issues facing the aging population. He opens with 2 sentences that leave no doubt where he is headed: “Aging, dying, and death are not diseases. Yet they are targets for the most egregious marketing, disease mongering, medicalization, and over-treatment.”

Hadler dissects the medical literature covering clinical trials assessing a variety of interventions, procedures, screening tests, and use of pharmaceuticals. His reviews and careful analyses of the literature focus on modalities that provide little or no proven benefit to the public, especially the aging population. In particular, he presents the details of the results of trials on coronary stenting and coronary surgery. He comes to this firm statement, which he backs up with his analyses of many reported studies and clinical trials: “There is no doubt in my mind that interventional cardiology and cardiovascular surgery for coronary disease have written the bleakest chapter in the entire history of Western medicine.”