Health News Review

Reuters story

The Telegraph reports:

“President François Hollande of France admitted on Wednesday that he had surgery in 2011 on a swollen prostate just before he ran for office, igniting fresh debate over how honest French leaders are about their health problems.”

Really?

In my mind, what has been re-ignited is miscommunication about prostate health issues.

I understand that there have been issues in the past with former French leaders covering up prostate cancer or a rare blood cancer.

I won’t get into the politics involved, as The Standard reports:

“The revelation will place further pressure on the embattled 59-year-old Socialist head of state, who faces daily calls for his resignation.”

But this was benign prostate enlargement, which has nothing to do with prostate cancer.  In a man in his late 50s.

Some estimates project that prostate enlargement affects about one third of men over age 50. So we’re not talking about a rare or life-threatening condition.

Almost all men develop benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH as they age.  From Medline Plus:

“A small amount of prostate enlargement is present in many men over age 40 and more than 90% of men over age 80.”

Some men don’t even seek treatment for BPH.  They learn to cope with the symptoms.

Deep in the same story in The Telegraph, at the very end, is this:

“Bernard Debre, an MP with the opposition conservative UMP party who is also head of the urology department at Cochin hospital where Mr Hollande was treated, played down the procedure.

“It was nothing. It’s as if we were saying: you know, François Hollande was operated for appendicitis when he was seven. So what?” he said.

The prostate, a small gland found only in men, is located between the penis and bladder.

Benign prostatic hypertrophy, or prostate enlargement, is a common condition that affects older men. It is rarely a serious threat to health and has no link to prostate cancer.”

In the end, it just seems to be a pissing match over a benign urinary condition.

I was working for CNN in 1987 when President Ronald Reagan had surgery for BPH.  The live-shot-hungry network went nuts over the news.  Of course, Reagan was 16 years older than the French President is now. Interestingly, Reagan’s operation is exaggerated even in retrospect, as in the New York Times obituary for the surgeon.  The obit was headlined, “Surgeon Who Removed Reagan’s Prostate Dies.”  The entire prostate wasn’t removed.  The obit itself later explains that the surgery was “to chip away at prostate tissue, of which he removed slightly less than an ounce.”

“This is a man’s world,” James Brown sings.  And my amendment to one of his lyrics: “But it wouldn’t be nothing, nothing….Without some more prostate craziness.”

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