Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Latest Posts

HealthyRT

HealthRT LogoWhat is HealthyRT?

HealthyRT is a Twitter account managed by a volunteer staff of healthcare professionals. Founded by Dr. Val Jones, CEO of Better Health, LLC, the goal of HealthyRT is to provide Twitter subscribers with a peer-reviewed stream of science-based content, trustworthy health information, and links to excellent medical journalism. It is hoped that those who follow the feed will re-tweet (RT) the links and stories that they find most helpful. By re-tweeting the messages from HealthyRT, subscribers can easily lend their support to the promotion of sound science.

Why do we need HealthyRT?

In today’s rapidly evolving digital world, misinformation, exaggerated claims, and bad science is promoted (often unwittingly) via social media platforms every day. This can lead to misconceptions that drive poor health decisions. Individuals may seek out unnecessary tests, unsafe or unproven treatments and procedures, or even opt out of effective or life-saving treatments because of misinformation from the Internet. HealthyRT hopes to offer a trusted counter point to misguided or inaccurate health claims and information.

Who are the reviewers for HealthyRT?

Here is a list of reviewers who currently write the tweets from the HealthyRT account:

Name/Degree(s) Specialty Location Social Media
Jay Rosenbloom, MD, PhD Pediatrics Affiliate Assistant Professor at Oregon Health Sciences University Facebook site
John Weiner, MD Allergy/Clinical Immunology Melbourne, Australia site
Robert Miller, MD Oncology/Medical Informatics Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins
site
Hisham Rana, MD Los Angeles, CA Facebook site
Catherine Anderson, PhD Medical Genetics Vancouver, British Columbia site
Laura Nathan-Garner Communications MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX Facebook site
Paul Storey Health Data Harmonisation Canberra, Australia site
Ryan Madanick, MD Gastroenterology UNC School of Medicine site
Russ Johnson, MD Psychiatry Greeley, CO site
Justin Bosley Medical Student U. Penn, Philadelphia, PA
Nicholas Fogelson, MD Obstetrics & Gynecology site
Elizabeth Lee, MD Surgery Berkeley, CA site
Vijay Sadasivam, MBBS, DMRD, DipNB Diagnostic Radiology Salem, Tamil Nadu, India site
Joseph Albietz, MD Pediatrics/Pediatric Critical Care University of Colorado, Denver site
Damon Ramsey, MD Family Medicine St. Paul’s Hospital, Vancouver, Canada site
Houtan Chaboki, MD Facial Plastic Surgery Washington, DC Facebook site
Natasha Burgert, MD Pediatrics Pediatric Associates, Kansas City, MO site
Ann Becker-Schutte, PsyD Counseling Psychology/Grief & Loss Kansas City, MO Facebook site
Melissa Travis Sociology Columbus, OH site
Howard J. Luks, MD Orthopedic Surgery New York Medical College, Katonah, NY Facebook site
Eric Marcotte, MD Family Medicine Sheridan, Indiana site
Scott Gavura, RPh Pharmacy Toronto, Ontario site

How do I become a reviewer for HealthyRT?

If you are a trained healthcare professional with a commitment to science-based medicine, please contact Dr. Val Jones to be considered for the HealthyRT review team.

Thank you for following HealthyRT on Twitter. I hope that you’ll find our content enlightening and that you’ll support our efforts by re-tweeting our content as much as possible.

With Best Regards,

Val Jones, M.D.

The Energy Drink

By Scott Gavura, BScPhm, MBA, RPh for Science-Based Medicine

My stimulant of choice is coffee. I started drinking it in first-year university, and never looked back. A tiny four-cup coffee maker became my reliable companion right through graduate school.

But since I stopped needing to drink a pot at a time, an entirely new category of products has appeared — the energy drink. Targeting students, athletes, and others seeking a mental or physical boost, energy drinks are now an enormous industry: From the first U.S. product sale in 1997, the market size was $4.8 billion by 2008, and continues to grow. (1)

My precious coffee effectively has a single therapeutic ingredient, caffeine. Its pharmacology is well documented, and the physiologic effects are understood. The safety data isn’t too shabby either: it’s probably not harmful and possibly is even beneficial. (I’m talking about oral consumption — no coffee enemas. Please.) In comparison, energy drinks are a bewildering category of products with an array of ingredients including caffeine, amino acids, vitamins, and other “natural” substances and assorted “nutraceuticals,” usually in a sugar-laden vehicle (though sugar-free versions exist). Given many products contain chemicals with pharmacologic effects, understanding the risks, signs of adverse events, and potential implications on drug therapy, are important.

So are energy drinks just candied caffeine delivery systems? Or are these syrupy supplements skirting drug regulations?

The Message

The ads are seductive. Who doesn’t want more energy? Who doesn’t want their mind and body “vitalized?” And don’t we have time-starved lifestyles? Initially envisioned for athletes, energy drinks are now marketed mainly towards teens and young adults, where uptake has been dramatic. Cross-promotion with extreme sporting events, and creating names like “Full Throttle,” “Rockstar,” and even  “Cocaine” burnish the “extreme” image. The market is now segmented further with products targeted at women, vegetarians, diabetics, celiacs, and more. However you identify yourself, there’s probably an energy drink developed with you in mind. Read more »

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

FDA Warning: Industrial Bleach As A Cure For Cancer And HIV?

On the heels of Scott Gavura’s superb post on dietary supplement regulation in the U.S. and Canada, I bring you one of the most egregious and obscene product cases I have seen in 15 years of teaching on botanical and non-botanical products: Miracle Mineral Solution. Please accept my apologies in advance for not having a scholarly post for you — this is just too unbelievable not to share with science-based medicine readers. Read more »

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

Fake Doctors With Real Drugs: Quackery In Canada

Two weeks ago, Canadian Skeptics United published on their Skeptic North site a piece by an Ontario pharmacist criticizing a proposal by the province to grant limited prescribing rights to naturopaths. The essay, which was reprinted in the National Post on Tuesday, outlines the intellectual and practical conundrum presented by allowing those with education that diverges from science-based practices to prescribe drugs.

The naturopath lobby came out in force and was relatively unopposed in the 54 comments that followed, primarily because the NP closes comments 24 hours after online posting. Therefore, those with a more rational and considered viewpoint based in facts were locked out from commenting. This is quite disappointing to me personally and professionally because of the wildly emotional appeals, strawman arguments, and smears and attacks on the author himself without, of course, addressing his well-founded criticism of the prescribing proposal before the provincial government.

At the Skeptic North post, the piece even drew a naturopath who equated the criticism of his/her field with the Nazis and Mussolini. However, you can’t write critiques of these practices without attracting attacks ad hominem, especially Godwin’s Law, that are the resort of those whose arguments are logically flawed. 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…

Read more »

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…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

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…

Read more »

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…

Read more »

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…

Read more »

See all book reviews »