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Dietary Changes To Improve Your Health: Does It Work For Cancer?

The new book is out about Steve Jobs. You may have already heard that he regretted delaying surgery for months for a type of pancreatic cancer and explored alternatives, including dietary changes. He told his biographer he later came to the conclusion that it was the wrong personal health decision.

If you check out social media conversations about health, the value of dietary changes is always a hot topic. Can becoming a vegetarian, for example, arrest the development of cancer or prevent its recurrence?

This week I will participate in a webinar on social media and breast cancer. One other panelists helps run a patient advocacy group. The other is a respected nurse who helps run the breast center at Johns Hopkins. In a preliminary discussion they each noted that Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Andrew's Blog*

Harvard Revamps MyPlate To Create A Guide To Healthy Eating

Back in June, federal authorities unveiled MyPlate, an icon designed to help Americans follow healthy eating patterns. It’s a nice, colorful image that was a welcome successor to the misguided MyPyramid. But it doesn’t offer much in the way of useful information.

A group of my colleagues at Harvard Health Publications worked with nutrition experts at the Harvard School of Public Health to create a better version. We call it the Healthy Eating Plate. “We gave MyPlate a makeover to provide consumers with an easy to use but specific guide to healthy eating based on the best science available,” says Dr. Anthony Komaroff, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Editor in Chief of Harvard Health Publications.

The Healthy Eating Plate uses visual elements of MyPlate as a starting point, because the government’s icon is already becoming a recognized teaching tool. But the resemblance ends there: Read more »

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

Study Shows That Processed And Unprocessed Meats Pose A Diabetes Risk

Red Meat! by ThisParticularGreg via Flickr and a Creative Commons license

There’s a strong association between daily servings of red meat, especially processed meat, and a nearly 20% increased risk of type 2 diabetes, researchers found.

Replacing red meat with healthier proteins, such as low-fat dairy, nuts, or whole grains, can significantly lower the risk, according to a study was published online at the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Researchers reviewed questionnaire responses from 37,083 men followed for 20 years in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, from 79,570 women followed for 28 years in the Nurses’ Health Study I, and from 87,504 women followed for 14 years in the Nurses’ Health Study II. Diet was assessed by validated food-frequency questionnaires, and data were updated every four years. Diabetes was confirmed Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

Dr. Oz’s First Colonoscopy Finds Pre-Cancerous Polyp: What Can This Teach Us?

Dr. LaPook and Dr. OzDr. Mehmet Oz just might be the last person on earth people would expect to get a colon polyp. He’s physically fit (he left me in the dust the last time we ran together), he eats a healthy diet, he doesn’t smoke, and he has no family history of colorectal cancer or colon polyps.

But several weeks ago, when Mehmet had his first screening colonoscopy at age 50, I removed a small adenomatous polyp that had the potential to turn into cancer over time. Statistically, most small polyps like his don’t become cancer. But almost all colon cancers begin as benign polyps that gradually become malignant over about 10 to 15 years.

Since there’s no way of knowing which polyps will turn bad, we take them all out. The good news is there’s plenty of opportunity to prevent cancer by removing these polyps while they are still benign. But only about 63 percent of Americans between ages 50 and 75 get screened for colorectal cancer. Read more »

Is Red Meat Hazardous To Your Health?

Red meat consumption has been linked to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and several types of cancer (breast, colorectal, stomach, bladder, prostate, and lymphoma).

There are plausible mechanisms: Meat is a source of carcinogens, iron that may increase oxidative damage, and saturated fat. But correlation and plausibility are not enough to establish causation.

Is red meat really dangerous? If so, how great is the risk? A couple of recent studies have tried to shed light on these questions, but they have raised more questions than they have answered. Read more »

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

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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