The Seven Year Rule

Newer drugs are not necessarily better drugs

A few days ago at the gym, I was leafing through an issue of Health magazine.

What caught my eye was not the article about preventing stress injuries, or the recipe for a zingy, low-fat curry, but rather the pages devoted to ads for prescription drugs. Drugs to treat psoriasis, hepatitis C, dry eyes, depression, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, arthritis, and overactive bladder, to name but a few.

Each ad took three pages. After doing a little mental math, I discovered the ads for these new prescription drugs made up more than 30% of the … Continue reading

Hygge – The Danish art of happiness

Hygge, pronounced “hue-gah”

A friend sent me a link to an article about the Danish philosophy of hygge. Her stepmother is Danish, so perhaps that’s why it caught her eye.

I hadn’t heard of hygge before, although I do remember reading somewhere that the Danes are considered the happiest people on the planet (ignoring Hamlet, of course).

Apparently that’s because of hygge, from which we get the English word “hug”.

Like a hug, hygge is about being cozy, comfy and cuddled. It encompasses home decor, clothing, social interactions and self-care.

After a January filled with below-freezing temperatures, flu and a … Continue reading

My favorite healthcare books and gifts for 2016

I’m spending the day online getting some gift shopping done, and I thought I’d post about some of the healthcare books and gifts I’m buying for friends and family this year.

I use Amazon a lot (Prime, so I get free 2-day shipping), and I have to include a disclosure here that the following links will take you to my Amazon Associates page. That said, I’m not trying to make any money with my blog, so if you can find these products for better prices elsewhere, great!

For the sleep deprived

As someone who has battled insomnia most of her … Continue reading

“Brain on Fire” – A diagnostic odyssey

brain-on-fireI just finished reading a really gripping and emotional story—Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by journalist Susannah Cahalan. (Soon to be a movie!)

As a twenty-something cub reporter in New York, Ms. Cahalan began experiencing strange, seemingly unconnected symptoms, such as forgetfulness, paranoia and the sensation that bugs were crawling on one side of her body.

The details of her weeks’ long medical journey—which she had to piece together from medical records, her parents’ journals, and the recollections of friends, doctors and nurses because she couldn’t remember most of it—are a pretty frightening look at today’s fragmented … Continue reading

“Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?”

gwyneth paltrowDon’t take health advice from celebrities

I just finished reading a thoughtful, informative and thoroughly entertaining book that examines how our celebrity-crazy culture affects our healthcare and lifestyle choices.

In “Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?”, author Timothy Caulfield makes it his quest to “analyze and debunk the messages and promises” behind celebrities’ overhyped and oversold health, diet and beauty products.

Indeed, celebrity culture has emerged as one of the most significant and influential sources of pseudoscientific blather….The popularity of juicing, cleanses, detox diets, weird exercise routines, and a boatload of beauty and antiaging products and practices can be

Continue reading

Healthy food choices – Dining Decisions

healthy food choicesEven toddlers seem to be playing with smartphone and tablet apps, so why not make it educational as well as fun?

Obesity among children is still a major public health problem. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) hopes their new app, Dining Decisions, will help teach young children how to make healthy food choices.

The app was just released last month, and it’s only available for iPhones and iPads, so I haven’t been able to try it out yet. Hopefully it will be available in an Android version soon! I want to play.  🙂

Related post: Healthy kids Continue reading

Michael Pollan – “Cooked”

cookedIf you have Netflix, I highly recommend watching Michael Pollan’s new series, Cooked.

Based on his book of the same name, Cooked, in typical Pollan style, shows us a fresher, healthier, and more enjoyable way to eat. He focuses not only on the nutritional value of foods, but also the culture of preparing and sharing meals.

The series is divided into four parts: Fire, Water, Air and Earth. Each episode features mouth-watering meals from a variety of countries and cultures.

Pollan also offers theories as to how America’s diet and food culture got so completely messed up.

Related post:
Continue reading

Be informed – PSA screening tests

PSA stands for Prostate-Specific Antigen. It’s a blood test used to screen for prostate cancer.

Doctors used to recommend an annual PSA test for men over 40. But now we know that the PSA is not a good screening tool. It results in a high number of false positives, and not all forms of prostate cancer need to be treated.

Too many men have received unpleasant, expensive treatment they didn’t need.

In an excellent YouTube video, Dr. Mike Evans explains more:

In 2012 the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended against Continue reading

In favor of childhood vaccines

zuckerbergIt was a nice surprise to see a celebrity use the power of social media to speak in favor of getting children vaccinated.

Well, not so much speak as show. And as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Mark Zuckerberg, of Facebook fame, recently posted this cute photo of himself and his baby daughter at the pediatrician’s office. He simply wrote “time for vaccines”, but surely he realized that he was encouraging his millions of “friends” with kids to vaccinate, as well.

As you can imagine, he received both likes and dislikes for his post.

The Washington Continue reading

Overuse of CT scans is dangerous and expensive

I read two articles yesterday that complemented each other:

In Kaiser Health News (KHN) Heavy Use Of CT Scans Raises Concerns About Patients’ Exposure To Radiation

And on KevinMD two radiologists posted The financial costs of treating CT-induced cancer

Each underscores the fact that CT scans are significantly overused in American healthcare.

Although CT scans are an essential diagnostic tool, the Food and Drug Administration reports that an estimated 30 to 50 percent of imaging tests are believed to be medically unnecessary.

Considering we spend tens of billions of dollars every year on diagnostic imaging, that’s a lot of wasted … Continue reading

PBS – “In Defense of Food”

If you’re interested in starting out the New Year with a better eating plan, check out the PBS production of Michael Pollan’s best-selling book In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto.

What is Pollan’s manifesto? Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

Advice for healthy eating doesn’t get much simpler than that.

In Defense of Food premiers Wednesday, December 30th. Check your local listings for the time. Here’s the trailer:

Michael Pollan hosts the program himself and examines how the typical high-calorie, low-nutrient American diet came to pass and what we can do to reclaim … Continue reading

Be informed – “The Patient’s Playbook”

the patient's playbookI’ve spent most of the holiday weekend happily engaged in reading through a pile of health care books.

And the one I absolutely have to recommend to everyone is The Patient’s Playbook: How to Save Your Life and the Lives of Those You Love by Leslie D. Michelson.

Michelson is not a physician, but has worked in the health management field for more than 30 years, helping individuals and companies navigate our crazy health care system.

Based on his experience, he has organized his book into three sections. Each chapter ends with a helpful “Quick Guide” of the most crucial … Continue reading

Evidence based – “Is that a fact?”

is that a factIf, like me, you’re interested in science and putting a little more “evidence-based” into your health, check out Is That a Fact?: Frauds, Quacks, and the Real Science of Everyday Life by Dr. Joe Schwarcz.

Dr. Schwarcz, a chemist as well as a radio host and a best-selling author, brings some much-needed attention to the overabundance of health information found on the internet and in the media.

As he says in the book’s introduction:

We suffer from information overload. Just Google a subject and within a second, you can be flooded with a million references.

The University of Google is

Continue reading

Hospice and Palliative Care Month

November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month!

I am a huge supporter of hospice and palliative care, but I think it’s underutilized in our health care system.

So to help inform and increase awareness, here are some of my favorite books and DVDs on the topic.

Adults coloring books for stress relief

adult coloring bookA few weeks ago I posted about some simple ways to deal with stress and panic attacks, and I mentioned that I had received an adult coloring book from a friend and thought it was a great way to focus and relax my mind.

Apparently other people think so, too!

I just read this article in The Atlantic: The Zen of Adult Coloring Books

Several trend pieces about adult coloring books lump them in with other “childish” activities that grown-ups are apparently engaging in to regress back to their simpler youth, like adult preschool and adult summer camp. But

Continue reading