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One Man’s Mission To Expose Medical Quackery

Sorry for the late notice, folks… but Revolution Health’s sister site, HealthTalk, is hosting a call-in podcast with Dr. Stephen Barrett, founder of, TONIGHT. The name of the show is, “One Man’s Mission To Expose Medical Quackery” and Dr. Barrett is a polarizing figure for sure. Love him or hate him, it should be a great interview. To join, go to this page.

You can send in your questions in advance, listen to the call live (8:30pm EDT, Wednesday, April 30th), or listen to the podcast post-show. Hope to meet you there!

Here are a few of my recent posts about how to discern truth from error in medicine:

Good Science Makes Bad Television (And Other Truths)

The Three Pillars of Trustworthy Science: Credibility, Plausibility, and Reproducibility

Plausibility, Homeopathy, and Science Fiction

False Positive Research Findings: The Deck Is Stacked

Reproducibility: The Final Pillar of Trustworthy Science

The Rise of Snake Oil In America

The Placebo Effect: Whatever Works?This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at

Foot-in-Mouth Disease, Part 1

As my regular readers know, my husband has a really dry sense of humor. Couple that with a kind heart filtered by a data-driven mind and you get some fairly “harsh” sounding statements that are meant well, but come out oh so horribly wrong. I’ve heard that many men have struggled with ”foot-in-mouth disease”… and so for you ladies who love them, and men who can relate, this one’s for you.

What not to say when you’re jogging

So, I’m not a natural athlete – but I try really hard to stay in shape and have been working extra hard recently because I’m leading a weight loss group here at Revolution Health. I like being outdoors so I figured that jogging would be the right sort of endeavor for a slightly uncoordinated person like me. Of course, hubby is part-human, part-gazelle, so running is right up his alley. I’m probably more part-human, part-water buffalo (if we stick with the African theme here) so let’s just say it’s a bit harder for me to keep up with hubby. Nonetheless I was brave enough to ask to run with him – I thought it would motivate me as well as get both of us out in nature.

We jogged every other day for a few days together, and I was huffing along doing my very best to keep pace and also not die. Hubby was quiet the entire time until one day he looked down at me thoughtfully and said,

“Have you ever considered doing a sport you’re good at?”

I was flabbergasted. I gave him “the look.”

“Well, I just mean that this is obviously quite difficult for you and you might enjoy something that’s more suited to…”

I looked at him, beet red, sweaty and incredulous. “More suited to WHAT?”

“Well… um… perhaps you’d like to hike?”

“Hike where? All the land around us is flat. Do you mean WALK?”

“Sure, walking might be a good option for you.”

And so ended my jogging routine with hubby. I’m vaguely looking for a running partner who’s more my speed. But perhaps I’ll just default to having my husband walk next to me while I jog?This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at

Dr. Val: Poster Child for Skin Cancer Risk

May is skin cancer awareness month, and Revolution Health has created an awareness campaign to help people become more educated about their risks. In a unanimous vote, I was selected as the blogger/spokesperson for skin cancer awareness – probably because I’m “the fairest in the land.” Well, the truth is I’m so white I’m actually closer to light blue - couple that with a high freckle count and green eyes and you’ve got one very high risk lady.

So I’ve decided to see a dermatologist once a year for a full skin check. I must admit that the first year I went I was convinced that I’d be biopsied into oblivion. The only way to be sure that a mole is not cancerous is to take a sample and check it under the microscope. So any doctor with a conservative eye would need to do a lot of “rule out melanoma” testing, right? Wrong. I was happily wrong. Dermatologists are trained to recognize individual freckle and mole patterns, and don’t do a biopsy unless they see an “ugly duckling” mole – one that stands out from all the others. I was so excited to escape the office with my skin in tact that I vowed to be obedient and return for a yearly check up.

If you are fair skinned and/or have had a significant amount of sun exposure in your life, or if people in your family have had skin cancer, you should definitely check in with a dermatologist to make sure you don’t have any suspicious moles. The doctor will tell you how frequently you should have follow up exams.

Here are some things you can do right now:

Find out if you’re at risk for skin cancer and learn what you can do to prevent it.

See what skin cancer looks like.

Check out my recent interview with Dr. Stephen Stone, past president of the American Academy of Dermatology, about skin cancer and about tanning salons.

Coming soon: the true story of my blogger friend who had a basal cell carcinoma removed from the side of her nose. She required plastic surgery to fill the gap, but it looks great now!This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at

Poll: What One Factor Would Most Improve Your Health?

We’ve been conducting a series of opinion polls at Revolution Health, some of which have turned up interesting and surprising findings. This one caught my attention (there were 392 respondents):

What one factor would most improve your health?

  • 23% Less stress at work
  • 4% More time to cook
  • 18% Being in a happier relationship
  • 31% Getting more sleep
  • 22% More time to work out

I thought it was very interesting that SLEEP is perceived by our viewers as their number one most important health intervention, more important than exercise, relationships, or stress reduction.

Does this result surprise you?

I suspect that there was selection bias at play since the poll appeared in the sleep disorders section of our site – but it was also featured in non-sleep related areas of Revolution Health.

Anecdotal for sure, but interesting.This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at

A Surgeon General’s Opinion: Preventing Chronic Disease

In my quest to bring the best possible health advice to the Revolution Health community I am actively pursuing interviews with credible sources. At the top of the list is America’s #1 doctor, the Surgeon General. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Vice Admiral Richard H. Carmona, M.D., who served as Surgeon General from August 2002 to August 2006. He addressed a range of health issues facing Americans today. I am posting the interview in segments; the following post is part of that series.

Dr. Val: What is the most important message that Americans need to hear about chronic disease?

Dr. Carmona: The public needs to realize that we are spending more than 16% of our gross national product on healthcare, which amounts to over 2 trillion dollars per year. If you follow the curves out, and don’t do anything to change them, within the next decade we’ll be spending 20% of our GNP, or 4.1 trillion dollars per year. So the legacy we will leave our children in both disease burden and economic burden is unsustainable.

On top of that, 75 cents of every dollar we spend on healthcare is on chronic disease, most of which can at least be mitigated if not prevented. The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease recognizes this and has put together a coalition of academic and business organizations and advocacy groups to get the word out to the American public that fighting chronic disease is one of the best ways to begin to transform from a “sick-care system” to a “healthcare system.” The PFCD now has 110 partners and growing, because so many people recognize what we recognize – prevention of chronic disease is cost-effective and saves lives.

We need to do everything we can to prevent these chronic diseases, and we hope that more communities, employers, and patient groups will join us. We’re a non-partisan, non-profit organization, and all of us are trying to make the health of the nation better through the most cost-effective preventive strategies. Eliminating chronic disease is one of those main goals.


The Surgeon General series: see what else Dr. Carmona has to say about…

Cost Savings Associated with Preventive Health

Obesity is America’s #1 Health Concern

Consumer Directed Healthcare and Health Literacy

Complementary and Alternative MedicineThis post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Cartoon

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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