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Latest Posts

How Lack Of Sleep Affects Your Health

Columbia’s Dr. Neil B. Kavey, M.D., discusses how sleep deprivation affects everyday activities and overall health, and Dr. Jon Lapook trys Yelo Spa’s power-nap treatment for the sleep deprived. 


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When 32 Million New Patients Look For A Doctor

With the passage of healthcare reform, an estimated thirty two million new patients will try to find primary care doctors. That’s not going to be so easy because we already face a shortage of primary care doctors and about 13,000 more will be needed to take care of those newly eligible for insurance.
 
According to the American Medical Association, there are about 312,000 primary care doctors practicing in the United States. That includes family medicine, general practice (GP), internal medicine, and pediatrics. (In addition, there are 43,000 ob-gyn’s who also may serve as primary care doctors.) The estimate that another 13,000 will be needed comes from a study done by the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care in partnership with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

 

Sixty five million Americans already live in areas that don’t have enough primary care doctors. And relief is not on the way anytime soon. It takes 5 to 8 years for a first year medical student to be trained as a primary care doctor. And the trend for budding doctors over the past decade has been away from primary care and towards more lucrative specialties. Read more »

What You Should Know About Stem Cell Research

Camouflaged in the politics, controversy, and hype surrounding stem cells have been two stunning and unexpected dividends: the ability to study diseases in a petrie dish and a new way to think about cancer. This is separate from the most well-publicized stem cell story: the potential of embryonic stem cells to morph into any cell in the body and replace injured or defective cells — for example in diabetes, Parkinson’s, and spinal cord injury.

Human embryonic stem cells (HES cells) are collected from unused embryos created by in-vitro fertilization. About two years ago, scientists figured out a way to turn ordinary skin cells into stem cells. This was a huge deal.  These cells — called “induced pluripotents stem cells” (IPS cells) — are not identical to HES cells and may not be quite as nimble in morphing into other cells. But they are electrifying the field because diseases can now be studied outside the body – in a petrie dish. For example, researchers have taken skin from patients with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), turned them into stem cells, then turned the stem cells into the kind of nerve cells (motor neurons) damaged in the disease. Read more »

CBS News’ Dr. John LaPook: Do Happy People Live Longer?


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For decades, research has suggested that people with positive emotions may live longer and healthier lives. An analysis of the autobiographical writings of 180 Catholic nuns found those with the most positive feelings in their early twenties had the greatest chance of being alive sixty years later. Now, the first study of its kind has linked positive emotions to a lower risk of coronary heart disease. Read more »

How Much Does Technology Improve Health?


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Last week’s CDC report, “Health, United States, 2009” confirms that Americans are increasingly turning to medications, scans, and procedures to improve their health. Exercising, eating right, and weight loss: not so much.

Don’t get me wrong. I love technology as much as the next guy. Maybe more. I’m writing this on a laptop while jetting from California to New York. My iPhone, Blackberry, and Kindle are all within ten feet of me. But my inner Luddite is starting to stir. Read more »

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 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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