Four Tests to Avoid at the Doctor's Office

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A routine physical may seem like a harmless, better-safe-than-sorry idea. But there is no evidence that it improves your health and may even do the opposite. A big part of the reason is over-testing. Carefully consider these if you're healthy with no preexisting conditions.

1. Metabolic Panel
The "Chem 7" panel tests for seven things related to liver and kidney function, and the "Comprehensive" for as many as 20. As epidemiologist Mark Ebell says, they almost never turn up useful data.

2. Electrocardiogram
The EKG measures the electrical activity of the heart. If you don't have cardiac problems, however, the EKG, often included in annual checkups, is unnecessary.

3. Blood Lipid Screen
It's not a bad thing to know your LDL number, though doctors have a nasty habit of being too quick to prescribe statins. A high reading should cue lifestyle changes, but in an otherwise healthy person, it's no reason to panic, experts say.

4. PSA
Because of the risk of false positives and harmful, unneeded treatment, automatically getting a PSA test during a physical is unwise. Weigh when to test with your doctor.