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Latest Posts

Do Chronic Diseases Begin In Utero?

Heart disease. Stroke. Diabetes. Asthma. Osteoporosis. These common scourges are often pegged to genes, pollution, or the wear and tear caused by personal choices like a poor diet, smoking, or too little exercise. David Barker, a British physician and epidemiologist, has a different and compelling idea: these and other conditions stem from a developing baby’s environment, mainly the womb and the placenta.

Barker was the invited speaker at this year’s Stare-Hegsted Lecture, which is a big deal at the Harvard School of Public Health. In just over an hour, he covered the basics of what the British Medical Journal used to call the Barker hypothesis. It has since come to be known as the developmental origins of chronic disease. (You can watch the entire talk here.)

It goes like this: During the first thousand days of development, from conception to age 2, the body’s tissues, organs, and systems are exquisitely sensitive to conditions in their environment during various windows of time. A lack of nutrients or an overabundance of them during these windows programs a child’s development and sets the stage for health or disease. Barker and others use low body weight at term birth is a marker for poor fetal nutrition.

When a fetus is faced with a poor food supply, it Read more »

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

Family Medicine Residents And Students Discuss Leadership And Advocacy

Just wanted to get some initial thoughts down following the Family Medicine Summit organized by the California Academy of Family Physicians. I’ll have some more developed thoughts in a later post. These initial thoughts were from the plane going from that meeting to the Mayo Clinic Social Media Summit – the meeting I’m at right now.

First of all, thanks again to the California Academy of Family Physicians for the invitation to speak. The audience was mainly Family Medicine Residents and medical students. From my understanding, the registration numbers exceeded expectations (I take full credit for that – Hehe). It’s always energizing to me to present to residents & students.

The opening keynote was from CAFP President Dr. Carol Havens. She asked the audience for words that they think of when you hear “Family Physician.” And, as you can see from this twitpic, the audience came up with a huge list of Family Physician qualities. My favorites are “comprehensive care,” “revolution,” and, of course, “Love.”

My leadership & advocacy sessions Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Family Medicine Rocks Blog*

Is It Healthy For Babies To Be Around Pets?

There have been a number of studies in the past investigating whether it is healthy for a baby to be around pets and whether such exposure increases or decreases risk of becoming allergic to them later in life.

In a recent study (published online June 2011), the researchers found that among males, those with an indoor dog during the first year of life had half the risk of becoming allergic to dogs at age 18 compared with those who did not have an indoor dog in the first year of life regardless whether born by C-section or vaginally. Also, teens with an indoor cat in the first year of life also had a decreased risk of becoming allergic to cats. Neither cumulative exposure nor exposure at any other particular age was associated with either outcome. So it appears that Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Fauquier ENT Blog*

Dense Nasal Hair May Reduce Asthma Risk In Allergy Sufferers

Researchers in Turkey found that there is an association between nasal hair density and risk of asthma developing in patients with seasonal rhinitis patients. No joke… They published their findings in the International Archives of Allergy and Immunology in March 2011.

The rate of asthma found in patients with little or no nasal hair was 44.7% whereas only 16.7% of patients with a dense forest of nasal hair had asthma.

They hypothesize that increased nasal hair improves allergen filtration thereby preventing the allergens from irritating the airway. The assumption here being that allergen irritation of the airway can potentially cause asthma.

IF this is true (and that’s a big if)… patients with allergies should be encouraged to grow nice thick nasal hair to prevent future asthma!

Read the research abstract here!

Does Nasal Hair (Vibrissae) Density Affect the Risk of Developing Asthma in Patients with Seasonal Rhinitis? Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 2011 Mar 30;156(1):75-80

*This blog post was originally published at Fauquier ENT Blog*

Do Human Brains Become Larger By Using Tools?

From RIKEN Research:

Scientists from RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Wako, Japan and the Institute of Neurology at University College London have discovered that the brains of macaque monkeys undergo significant development when they are taught how to use tools. This finding may imply that our advanced human brains got as big and powerful as they did thanks to using tools, rather than the other way around.

The researchers used a technique called voxel-based morphometry (VBM) to classify areas of brain tissue in their MRI images as grey matter, white matter, or cerebro-spinal fluid, and to compare the volume of each tissue at different stages of learning. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

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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