About the Symposium

Overdiagnosis and overtreatment are causes for increasing concern

The XXIX Paulo Scientific Symposium will bring together a group of outstanding international scientific experts to raise awareness of problems related to medical excess and to identify the best sustainable evidence-based practices. The Symposium aims to find methods for eliminating sources of bias from clinical trials and guidelines, to advance the dissemination of accurate scientific information and to promote critical societal debate about medicine.

Too Much Medicine is organized in collaboration with the Preventing Overdiagnosis Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, on Aug. 20-22, 2018


Medicine is a force for good. However, it can be overused, underused and misused. Professional and commercial interests may collude in ways that do not serve the best interests of society or individual patients. When clinical trials of pharmaceuticals or other health interventions are selectively published, our wealth of scientific knowledge can become biased and patient care can suffer.

Increasing evidence shows that  many common established clinical practices are ineffective or even harmful, resulting in human suffering and the wasting of scarce economic resources.Overdiagnosis and overtreatment have been shown to extend to almost every field of medicine, from various cancers (1-3), psychiatric diseases (4), hypertension (5), type II diabetes (6), chronic kidney disease (7) to a myriad of other conditions. As new treatments are developed ever more rapidly, our societal resources to supply care to all becomes increasingly strained.

Accurate and unbiased information about health and disease will not only benefit individual patients, but will also help to ensure that financial resources allocated to health care are spent wisely and appropriately.

The XXIX Paulo Symposium, “Too Much Medicine”, will bring together an outstanding group of internationally renowned scientific experts to promote increased awareness of the problems related to medical excess and to identify the best sustainable evidence-based medical practices. In addition, the Symposium aims to identify improvements in how clinical trials should be conducted and reported to ensure that the results are reliable, and to encourage nuanced dialogue about methods of eliminating sources of bias from clinical guidelines.Because of the pivotal role that journalism plays in shaping societal beliefs and influencing attitudes, a special session will be dedicated to advancing the dissemination of scientific research findings more accurately in the media. Encouraging journalists to critically appraise research evidence about health and disease is of vital importance to informed consumer decision-making .

We hope to see you in Helsinki in August!

The Organizing Committee


  1. Kamerow D.How to decrease overtreatment in cancer.BMJ. 2013;347:f5071.
  2. Heleno B, Thomsen MF, Rodrigues DS, Jorgensen KJ, Brodersen J.Quantification of harms in cancer screening trials: literature review.BMJ. 2013;347:f5334.
  3. Carter JL, Coletti RJ, Harris RP.Quantifying and monitoring overdiagnosis in cancer screening: a systematic review of methods.BMJ. 2015;350:g7773.
  4. Dowrick C, Frances A.Medicalising unhappiness: new classification of depression risks more patients being put on drug treatment from which they will not benefit.BMJ. 2013;347:f7140.
  5. Martin SA, Boucher M, Wright JM, Saini V.Mild hypertension in people at low risk.BMJ. 2014;349:g5432.
  6. Yudkin JS, Montori VM.The epidemic of pre-diabetes: the medicine and the politics.BMJ. 2014;349:g4485.
  7. Moynihan R, Glassock R, Doust J.Chronic kidney disease controversy: how expanding definitions are unnecessarily labelling many people as diseased.BMJ. 2013;347:f4298.


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