Annual Physicals of Limited Value, Study Finds

Dr. Richard Besser discusses a study that says an annual physical might not help save your life.
3:00 | 10/18/12

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Transcript for Annual Physicals of Limited Value, Study Finds
Now, to a huge headline in personal health this morning. Getting an annual physical may not help save your life. There's a new study with 180,000 people that shows the reverse. Abc's chief health and medical editor, dr. Richard besser, is here with what you need to know. Do you agree with this study? This is a bombshell. Doctors and patients all believe in getting the annual physical. But this is really well done. And I agree with the finding. This was a global study. They looked at 14 studies around the world over 50 years. They found that getting an annual physical did not decrease the chance ye going to die at all over the course of the study. It didn't do that. You do say there are tests that you should get. What should you be doing for your health? Well, every two years, you should get your blood pressure checked. You should get your cholesterol checked. Every year, you should get your flu shot. But you can get that at the drug story. If anything doesn't feel right, you should see your doctor right away. If you don't get an annual checkup, you should have frequent conversations or regular conversations with your doctor, right? Right. I'm a big believer in prevention. But when you go see your doctor it's all about testing and not talking, you're not going to get the benefits. Every time you see your doctor, you want to spend more time sitting with your clothes on, talking than you are in that paper gown. You say talk about sleep. Sleep and stress and smoking and your weight and exercise. Those are the things that, in the long run, are going to lead you to a healthier life. It's not all those poking and prodding and testing that you're getting. I'm curious, rich. It's one thing to say that these annual physicals aren't going to help you. They're not going to hurt you, are they? Surprisingly. Your pocketbook. The more tests you get, the more things you'll be diagnosed with. Getting some of the diagnoses doesn't help. You may end up on more medicines. But it doesn't mean you're going to live longer and healthier. If your doctor is working with you on a problem, go every year and get checked. If you're a child, a pregnant woman. But otherwise, you don't need to go every year. Wow. Big news today. It is. Rich, thank you so much.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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