Articles, Blog

Is it Worth Getting Annual Health Check-Ups?

August 28, 2019

[Music] physicians and patients have come to expect the annual checkup as a routine part of care however considerable research has not demonstrated has any substantial benefits and so a revolt is brewing against a tradition of periodic checkups even the Society for general internal medicine has advised primary care physicians to avoid such routine general health checks for asymptomatic adults checkups seem to make sense but historically medical practice has included all sorts of things that seemed to make sense such as hormone replacement therapy for menopause until it was put to the test and found to increase the risk of breast cancer blood clots heart disease and stroke or like when doctors killed babies by making the so called common sense recommendation that infants sleep on their tummies whereas we all know now face up to wake up we should always demand evidence we check our cars regularly though so why shouldn’t we also check our bodies well unlike cars our bodies have self-healing properties to see the benefits outweigh the harms researchers decided to put it to the test so what are the benefits and harms of general health checks for adult populations the bottom line is that checkups were not associated with lower rates of mortality meaning not associated with living longer or lower risk of dying from heart disease stroke or cancer so general checkups may not reduce disease rates or death rates but they do increase the number of new diagnoses and the harmful effects of the tests and subsequent treatments could have balanced out any benefits possible harms from checkups include over diagnosis over treatment distress or injury from invasive follow-up tests distress due to false positive test results false reassurance due to false negative test results possible continuation of adverse health behaviors due to negative test results adverse psychosocial effects due to labeling and difficulties with getting insurance now that you have a pre-existing condition not to mention all the associated costs for example BT’s wouldn’t be great if we picked up a case of diabetes earlier perhaps not if they were given the number one diabetes drug at the time Avandia which is pulled off the market because instead of helping people it appeared to be killing people adverse drug events are now one of our leading causes of death when it comes to lifestyle diseases like type 2 diabetes maybe we should instead focus on creating healthier food environments like my new favorite organization balanced to help prevent the diabetes epidemic in the first place how many times you tried to inform someone about healthy eating about evidence-based nutrition only to have them come back and say no I don’t have to worry my doctor says I’m okay I’m just had a check-up everything’s normal like having a normal cholesterol is okay and a society where it’s normal to drop dead of a heart attack is the number one killer of men and women I mean if you went to see a lifestyle medicine doctor who spent the checkup giving you the tools to prevent 80% of chronic disease that’s one thing but given the way medicine is currently practiced it’s no wonder perhaps why the history of routine checkups has been one of glorious failure but generations of well-meaning clinicians just don’t want to believe it policy should be based on evidence though poor diet is on par with cigarette smoking is the most common actual cause of death yet the medical profession is inadequately trained in nutrition worse nutrition education and medical school appears to be in decline if you can believe it a shrinking of nutrition education among health professionals so the advice you get in your annual checkup may just be from whatever last tabloid your doctor skimmed in the checkout line screening opportunities should not be regarded as a form of health education when Medical Journal editorial read people who are obese know very well that they are and we have no means of helping them than we should just shut up well if you really have nothing to say that will help them maybe you should shut up especially doctors who say they have no idea what constitutes a healthy diet though veggies and nuts are a good start [Music] you


  • Reply Jack Italix October 9, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    Are you kidding me? Doctors have completely discredited themselves in the 20th century. They are in it for a business, pure and simple. It's just a job where babies are born or destroyed within 9 to 5. This is the reason why I follow your channel. It seems like you are just waking up to what has been widely accepted in the alternative medicine field for decades (and really for millenia). You are going to have your square headed experts of course rushing to debunk common sense. Why put your body into the hands of a businessman when you should be getting connected with your body. You should be the best expert of yourself, not leave it up to the scientistic experts, to over administer anitbiotics, to sedate you with their pharma etc etc bla bla.

  • Reply G.G. October 9, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    Can you take a more in depth look at salt?
    WhatIHaveLearned produces well edited content, but in these videos he talks about average salt intake not being to high, but too low.
    I know you have been critical of high salt intake, so I would want you to stress what the latest science says so we can get closer to the truth.

  • Reply Tina Turner October 9, 2017 at 12:15 pm

    Once I get my blood pressure normalized, I am seriously considering dropping my health insurance. My doctor is not plant based. There aren’t any in my area. Every time I go it is like pulling teeth to get her to understand why my goal is to be off medication!

  • Reply Lichtblick October 9, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    Preventive checkups/screenings are made, to turn healthy people into sick people!

  • Reply Bumble Bee October 9, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    Just finished reading your book. having clove powder in my tea….omg, what a taste-changer….sooooo good! keep em coming!

  • Reply VICKIE WHITE October 9, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    Recent studies have shown heart attacks are caused by inflammation…not high cholesterol.  Dr. Greger, please respond …am I miss understanding this? Is it both that are causing heart attacks…high cholesterol and inflammation?  Thank you

  • Reply Ed October 9, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    IDK I get blood test at least once a year for cholesterol. I will not take their statins but I do like to see the results as a reminder to eat well and curb bad habits.

  • Reply Anon Ymous October 9, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    How did we, as a society, get so far away from the truth?

  • Reply Universal Earthling October 9, 2017 at 1:08 pm

    Interesting. I'd like to see a video on well baby check ups.

  • Reply Vegan For The Animals Ⓥ October 9, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    Good video doc, thanks

  • Reply Joe Smith October 9, 2017 at 1:30 pm

    Interesting, but I wonder how cholesterol and high blood pressure factors into it. People get high blood pressure and high cholesterol with no symptoms, but it can be dangerous.

  • Reply Ronnie & Minh October 9, 2017 at 1:37 pm

    I have been totally raw for 18 years, no checkups, no insurance, plenty of aches and pains, plenty of injuries but my body seems to be able to heal itself of everything. My Grandfather, Father and my Brother and only sibling all dyed of heart attacks at age 69 …… I am 68. I have irregular heart beats a lot, chest pains and sometimes shortness of breath. If I die tomorrow, it's been a great ride!

  • Reply patty 8873 October 9, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    Are you including mammograms in a routine checkup?

  • Reply 21st Century Man October 9, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    Link pls to this new website "balanced". Thanks.

  • Reply Marina Capri October 9, 2017 at 2:45 pm

    Preventive check ups and health screenings are not made to make healthy people unhealthy. It gives the doctor and assistants a chance to screw up. It also gives the medical profession the chance to victimize the patient to make some money 💰 off the patient. These things happen every day! I only go to a doctor for a specific reason when I need to. Otherwise I avoid the medical profession and just take care of myself. Let’s give this comment the thumbs up if you live your life as I do and spread the word.

  • Reply colonyofcells iamamachine2 October 9, 2017 at 2:47 pm

    I have not been going for annual check ups bec I hate seeing obese doctors and obese nurses.

  • Reply Falafelzebub's Den of Vegan Iniquity October 9, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    People can get their own blood pressure monitors, cholesterol test kits, and very inexpensive blood sugar test kits if they worry about giving up annual health checks with their doctors. Learn what your numbers should be and then go to the doctor if they get too high.

  • Reply Gabrielle Ferguson October 9, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    It drives me crazy that my doctor is always after me to get check ups. Why? Why? Why? I'll stick with eating my veggies thanks. And when God calls me home, there's nothing that's going to stop that anyway.

  • Reply NorthWest3 Productions October 9, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    I went to a plant based doctor and she STILL recommended annual checkups. I think the money is just too tempting in the U.S. system.

  • Reply Vince October 9, 2017 at 3:34 pm

    The part about false positives is what's keeping me away from the doc. Can you imagine what you'll be put through for a false positive cancer diagnosis and the possibility of death, scary.

  • Reply Luminous Views Gallery October 9, 2017 at 3:36 pm


  • Reply Jacob Rosenberg October 9, 2017 at 3:44 pm

    Wow, Dr. Gregor, that was a bold thing to admit! I am sure you will get severe reactions from the medical industry. But I am grateful for your admission, I have felt that to me true for a while but its hard to get around our mental programming. What's next, how often should we see the dentist and get our fill of radiation and mercury?

  • Reply Mike Wilpizeski October 9, 2017 at 3:52 pm

    I go for an annual check-up because my employer offers a discount on medical coverage.

  • Reply kinpatu October 9, 2017 at 4:22 pm

    If I wasn't getting yearly blood tests, I wouldn't have known that the whole plant foods diet blew up my lipid panel and pushed me to pre-diabetic A1c levels. I'd still be marching on blindly. Fortunately, I finally faced the data and escaped the echo chamber.

  • Reply Jeong-hun Sin October 9, 2017 at 4:27 pm

    Avandia? Abandon ya.

  • Reply cookletsdothis October 9, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    Go looking for a problem and you just might find one.

  • Reply OJJL October 9, 2017 at 5:02 pm

    All i get done every year is blood tests, my family is at high risk for many diseases and anemia runs in the women on both sides, and I'm in France so it's free.

  • Reply Bunny McBunnyBun October 9, 2017 at 5:27 pm

    This was so hilarious and sad at the same time! Stop confusing my feels, Dr.Greger!

  • Reply SWProspector October 9, 2017 at 5:52 pm

    I use the annual check-up as a chance to get blood data to compare to the year before. I think it's beneficial to have a record of annual blood data, especially homocysteine and cholesterol levels. High cholesterol helped me to kick the vice of delicious pastries and add more greens.

  • Reply vitamindubya October 9, 2017 at 6:18 pm

    I'm a little skeptical. A lot of doctors seem to hurry people in and out and just write off a quick prescription.

    Routine health checks don't seem to have much value.

  • Reply Doug bananaboy October 9, 2017 at 6:18 pm

    HeAlthy people stay the f away from doctors

  • Reply Little Voice October 9, 2017 at 6:40 pm

    The Functional Health Forum has some great info too

  • Reply Foreverchanges October 9, 2017 at 6:46 pm

    What about a physical every two years? Blood work and a finger wave?

  • Reply SulforaphaneMeUp October 9, 2017 at 7:33 pm

    Ignorance can be bliss but I do think someone should know about an adverse health disease whether there is a pharmaceutical cure or not. That way they can make lifestyle changes to fix the problem or make is less dangerous to their health.

  • Reply Peter Rabitt October 9, 2017 at 10:55 pm

    Checkups for what? My cholesterol is 120, BP 110/70, exercise regularly, lift weights and walk/run/cycle/row, no symptoms of anything. I look great, I feel great. I know for a FACT my diet is at least in the 99th percentile of quality. Why in THE HELL would I want to go to a sick-maker?

  • Reply iridium56 October 9, 2017 at 11:17 pm

    I was talking to a friend and he said that he was healthy cause his checkup was "good". But then he said that he has high blood, pressure type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol so I told him " So your not healthy?" But then he told me that yes he is still healthy cause he has medicine he takes. And that everyone else is like that and its normal.
    The idea of "health" has been so distorted that as long as your not breathing through a tube and can stand up longer then two minutes some people think your automatically " healthy".

  • Reply Yoso October 10, 2017 at 12:30 am

    Everybody so scared of dying; as if they can live forever. It's funny how conditioned we are; go to the doctor to prevent this, to prevent that. One can really get caught up in the system, particularly when insurance offers to pay for the initial scanning as part of a "wellness visit." Be careful. Don't get caught up. Lung cancer screening is a great one to read up on, for example, over 90% are false positives during the covered first visit. Then you become part of the for profit system. Ride your bike or go for walk instead of giving yourself and your money to the system. Best way to die a good death ;).

  • Reply Kristen's Good Bites October 10, 2017 at 3:43 am

    check out my channel for a great healthy recipe!!

  • Reply Conscientious Omnivore October 10, 2017 at 8:38 am

    The comment at the end is pretty sad. How long is it going to take for people to realize they need to eat a healthy, whole food, plant based diet if they don't want to suffer from the standard western diseases? Also, the part at the beginning showing the negative impact of previously touted "common sense" procedures was quite telling. Thanks as always for an informative video Dr. Greger & team!

  • Reply Yakov Butterfield October 10, 2017 at 9:10 am

    What about the benefits of Blood letting and Leaches? They have a history of 1000's of years of medical use and were recommended by all the best Greek and Roman Doctors such as Erasistratus and Archagathus, How about the benefits of X Ray treatment for ear infections in the 1950s or the use of thalidomide? Is not Modern medicine wonderful?

  • Reply Kathy Fausett October 10, 2017 at 10:36 am

    The diagnostics are getting pretty good, but if all your doc has in his toolbox is a scrip pad and a hypodermic needle, you could be in trouble.

  • Reply Kamil Osięglewski October 10, 2017 at 11:56 am

    Dr. Greger could you explain to me how come cholesterol is so dangerous for us? I know that from what you’re saying it’s found in plagues in our arteries however on the other hand it’s not the main factor of it as 90% of a plague is made of calcium. It’s literally a bone that’s created in our arteries. Cholesterol is there but is not the main cause.
    Could you clarify please?

  • Reply Rivka SC October 10, 2017 at 11:56 am

    I checked out the website. I don't understand why I would hold food companies responsible for what I eat or what I buy at the grocery store. I'm in complete agreement with exposing bad food for what it is, and for informing the gen pop of the benefits of good nutrition.

  • Reply BreeZ Place October 10, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    I always found “well child” checks to be a waste of time

  • Reply luis villanobo October 10, 2017 at 3:10 pm

    Good video Dr greger

  • Reply Semi Veg October 10, 2017 at 3:11 pm

    I go to the doctor every year, but not for just a "general" checkup. All they do at those are check your weight, height and blood pressure. I can do that myself. I want a full comprehensive blood test since I can't do that myself. Then on top of that, I check my urine every month at home with test strips I buy online. This is very important because you can actually have a number of diseases without experiencing any symptoms. I actually diagnosed myself with kidney disease since the doctors were clueless. I don't take their drugs, I treat myself with herbs and every time I go back, they're always shocked that I'm not on any drugs. Doctors are great if you can "use" them for your needs, but terrible at treating (and even diagnosing) disease since all they know how to do is prescribe toxic medicines. You really have to become almost a doctor yourself and get them to do the tests you want and know what they mean and how to interpret them. I have spent the last 15 years doing this. I'm not a doctor, but I know how to interpret every test I've ever had done, and then I do hundreds of hours of research to figure out how to heal myself, because believe me, they don't know how to do it.

  • Reply susan brandt October 10, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    Ignorance in the medical field is costly and unnecessary. To get a discount on my health insurance through my place of employment I am required to get an annual physical which includes the usual blood work. It’s a waste of money because I eat a whole food plant-based diet and my numbers are always good. They should be using that money for those people who are at greater risk of developing obesity related diseases.

  • Reply val vali October 10, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    god bless you dr!!

  • Reply April Hall October 10, 2017 at 4:24 pm

    Hah! Thanks for giving evidence that I'm making a thoughtful, prudent decision to forgo the annual checkup. I went in this year ONLY because my doctor wouldn't renew my Valtrex rx without a visit. (That stuff should be OTC, anyways) I got major scare tactics thrown at me when I said I'm not getting a mammogram or colonoscopy. In the future, I won't be allowing the physical breast exam or pap smear, either. Stay healthy and stay out of the doctor's office!

  • Reply Darlene Brockmeyer October 10, 2017 at 5:07 pm

    The checkups they currently give are primarily set up to bring in money for both the doctor and big pharma. They only treat disease they don't know how to heal.

  • Reply Gordo October 10, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    I like to do check ups just to get blood work done, if I could get blood work without a doc visit, that would be greatly preferred. The blood work can tell you important things like your lipid profile, fasting glucose, inflammation, white blood cell counts and breakdowns, liver enzymes which could indicate a problem with some food item you’ve been eating, PSAs may be important for older men (if you have prostate cancer you may need to remove it to prevent premature death) etc. A good doc might also do a mole check for melanoma, and test your hearing and vision. Recent research says untreated hearing loss is a major contributor to dementia.

  • Reply Back Door October 10, 2017 at 9:29 pm

    Thanks for your posting, it supports my suspicion that the "medical community" doesn't actually know anything about how to preserve health.

    BTW, this YT channel is using your name and likeness as click-bait, ""

  • Reply odizzido October 11, 2017 at 6:17 am

    Studying nutrition and preventative medicine is a terrible idea… least if you're trying to profit off of people getting sick.

  • Reply Lemmy October 11, 2017 at 7:52 am

    Still waiting for the intermitent fasting videos and he’s putting up pointless videos like this😩😩😩😩

  • Reply Daniel October 11, 2017 at 10:13 am

    A doctor a day will keep the apples away!

  • Reply Carolyn McAuley October 11, 2017 at 4:19 pm

    Have not been to a doctor in 20 years..sonce being vegan…

  • Reply IAmAgainst October 11, 2017 at 10:21 pm

    I can't believe people really fall for these cults.. in some years we'll start to see the terrible aftermath of this anti medicine craze.

    I only feel sorry for the kids raised by these freaks, who not only won't get a chance to fully develop mentally but also will be denied to get the consequences of such abuse diagnosed and taken care of..

  • Reply jholmie October 12, 2017 at 12:06 am

    my doctor has no problem giving me annual checkups, but when i asked to have my bloodwork done for my own basic knowledge and prevention he argued vehemently that it wasn't necessary…..

  • Reply Rhea Morales October 13, 2017 at 10:26 pm

    While Dr Greger is in Arizona, can he provide a list of Arizona doctors who are vegan friendly? I'm in south eastern AZ and the one physician recommended to me by several people is retired. Healthy vegan seeks doctor who understands plant based/vegan lifestyle. Thanks!

  • Reply Laura Bair October 17, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    How do you find a good lifestyle family medicine doctor?

  • Reply Michael October 18, 2017 at 1:12 am

    Wish my car had self healing properties..

  • Reply November 5, 2017 at 2:30 am

    I totally agree!

  • Reply kingmike40 January 4, 2018 at 2:59 am

    Go to your local blood bank and donate blood. They will test the blood give you a cholesterol level. Check blood pressure and pulse. I have been donating for years.

  • Reply kingmike40 January 4, 2018 at 3:02 am

    A yearly examine is how Steve Job's cancer was found. Too bad he tried to heal it with food when he should have just had it cut out. I guess that is a bad example to promote vegan lifestyle.

  • Reply uhavemooface June 5, 2018 at 7:24 am

    I have not had a check up in 23 years. I am still alive.

  • Reply Emely Sommer November 14, 2018 at 5:37 am

    As a Doctor I agree with a lot that you say about prevention through nutrition. And if the Patient has the ability to check his blood pressure/sugar etc. on his own and to track the progress of the benefits of a lifestyle and diet change to get him off (or rather don't even get him on) Medication – that's great! But to generalize check-ups and discouraging people to visit any of those ja dangerous imho. What about the pap-smeard just to name one example. So many women die young from cervixcancer, especially when it's diagnosed late. Women can't do this test at home. I wouldn't recommend to Skip that at all.

  • Reply H H March 23, 2019 at 12:09 pm

    I went in for a physical a few months after going vegan. The doctor asked me if I was on vacation since I looked like I had good skin color in the middle of winter. I said I changed my diet to 100% vegan. Guess what she asked me-yeah – "where do you get your protein ?" Haha Haha I was not at all surprised. I feel so much better now and I know exactly why I'm eating a healthy vegan diet from now on. We have to take personal responsibility for our health. Many thanks to for so much good information!

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