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Hello 2012, Goodbye Better Health

Dear Better Health Friends & Contributors,

2012 will mark Better Health’s 4th year anniversary of group medical blogging. I began Better Health with the hope of organizing “voices of reason” in the health blogosphere so that our ideas would enjoy greater circulation and be more influential. We were the early adopters of social media – some of the first physicians, nurses, patient advocates, and scientists to join together to provide trustworthy content to our readers via blogs. We grew to represent over 130 bloggers and, over the years, were joined by such prestigious organizations as the American College of Physicians, Harvard Health Publications, Diario Médico, and the Centers For Disease Control And Prevention. I am proud of our excellent writing, and I know that we touched many lives through our blogging.

Many of our contributors have enjoyed such success in blogging that they are regular features of several publishing platforms. Others have gone on to careers in social media education and are now sought-after speakers across the U.S. and beyond. Today’s blog audiences often receive their health information via personalized “filters” on Facebook and Twitter, rather than specific websites. And so for these reasons, Better Health has achieved its purpose to promote medical bloggers. I will discontinue future publication of blog posts at the website as of today. Better Health, LLC will continue on as my personal consulting company.

I want to thank you all for contributing content to Better Health – I have personally enjoyed reading your work and I wish you success in your future writing endeavors. As I look forward to the next chapter of my life I hope to remain in touch with you all via email, Facebook (/drvaljones) or Twitter (@drval).

Please note that Grand Rounds will continue as usual, and that the website will remain in archive format indefinitely.

With all my best for 2012,


P.S. I will continue to promote medical blogging via Grand Rounds, and I will be hosting it at USA Today in the near future (date TBD). Please stay tuned for submission information. The Grand Rounds calendar will remain updated at the top of the Better Health home page indefinitely.

The Fallacy Of Relying On Anecdotes In Medicine

Dr. Ian Gawler, a veterinarian, suffered from osteogenic sarcoma (a form of bone cancer) of the right leg when he was 24 in 1975. Treatment of the cancer required amputation of the right leg. After completing treatment he was found to have lumps in his groin. His oncologist at the time was confident this was local spread from the original cancer, which is highly aggressive. Gawler later developed lung and other lesions as well, and was given 6 months to live due to his metastatic disease.

Gawler decided to embark on an alternative treatment regimen, involving coffee enemas, a vegetarian diet, and meditation. Eventually he was completely cured of his terminal metastatic cancer. He has since become Australia’s most famous cancer survivor, promoting his alternative approach to cancer treatment, has published five books, and now runs the Gawler Foundation.

At least, that is the story he believes. There is one major problem with this medical tale, however – while the original cancer was confirmed by biopsy, the subsequent lesions were not. His oncologist at the time, Dr. John Doyle, assumed the new lesions were metastatic disease and never performed a biopsy. It was highly probable Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Science-Based Medicine*

Study Looks At Online Physician Ratings

It’s time for some good news!   A study that looked at online patient ratings  about their physicians from 2004 through 2010 showed that the average physician rating was 9.3 out of 10.  That is amazingly high and shows that patients (at least the ones who posted on Dr.Score) are very content with the care they receive from their doctor.  Even though some patients will post a nasty comment about the doctor, the overall patient satisfaction is high.  Seventy percent of doctors earned a perfect 10.

The survey asked patients to Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

FDA Takes Step To Preserve The Effectiveness Of Cephalosporin Drugs For Treating Disease In Humans

Image by the USDA Agricultural Research Service

Cephalosporins will be used in livestock only for very specific exceptions, after years of debate about the role of antibiotic resistance in farming and how it leads to new strains of microbes with the potential to shift into humans.

The FDA took this step to preserve the effectiveness of cephalosporin drugs for treating disease in humans, the agency announced in a press release.

In 2008, the FDA issued and then revoked an order that prohibited cephalosporins in food-producing animals with no exceptions. Three years later, the agency’s ban includes several exceptions:
–It doesn’t limit cephapirin, which the FDA doesn’t think contributes to antimicrobial resistance;
–Veterinarians will still be able to Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

Improving Your Diet In The New Year

If healthier eating is on your list of resolutions for 2012, look no further. The January 2012 issue of the Harvard Women’s Health Watch offers 12 ways to break old dietary habits and build new ones.

For many years, nutrition research focused on the benefits and risks of single nutrients, such as cholesterol, saturated fat, and antioxidants. Today, many researchers are exploring the health effects of foods and eating patterns, acknowledging that there are many important interactions within and among nutrients in the foods we eat.

The result is a better understanding of what makes up a healthy eating plan. Here are five food- or meal-based ways to improve your diet that we list in the article (you can see all 12 on the Harvard Health website):

Pile on the vegetables and fruits. Their high fiber, mineral, and vitamin content make fruits and vegetables a critical component of any healthy diet. They’re also the source of beneficial plant chemicals not found in other foods or supplements.

Go for the good fats. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Harvard Health Blog*

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