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Latest Posts

Egg Freezing – Not As Successful As You Might Think

NPR is running a typical media hype story on oocyte preservation (egg freezing), featuring the standard happy family photo with their “miracle” baby born after thawing and fertilizing a cryopreserved egg.

It’s a heartwarming story and a pretty photo, but far from a complete picture of what women need to know about this still experimental fertility preserving procedure. Nowhere does the article tell women the actual success rates of occyte cryo-preservation.

So before you run out to freeze your eggs, know this – the chance of having a pregnancy after egg freezing is less than a 50/50 shot – at most about 39%, according to the latest data.  That’s about the same odds you’d have if you just wait till 40 to try to get pregnant on your own. In addition, while somewhere between 1 and 2 thousand infants have been born using the technology, we do not yet have data on their long term outcomes. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Blog That Ate Manhattan*

Goodbye, Dr. Oprah – And Good Riddance

I wrote once that not only is Oprah Winfrey not a doctor, she plays a really bad one on TV. From promoting Jenny McCarthy and the anti-vaccine movement, to allowing Suzanne Somers a bully-pulpit for her medical woo, to pushing Prudence Hall and her high-dose hormone treatments without acknowledging their potential risks, to leading the church of the Secret as a way to avoid facing the harsh realities of cancer, Oprah did more harm than good when it comes to health.

And while the publishing industry may be hanging crepe, the medical community is breathing a sigh of relief that Oprah has left the airwaves, at least for now. After all, we “conventional” docs were repeatedly relegated to a seat in the audience by Oprah, who usually presented us as naysayers and officials in the Church of Medicine to Oprah’s self-appointed Galileos of Woo, rather than the health experts we are. Of course, it was all couched in terms of female empowerment, a tactic that Oprah long ago taught marketers can be used to sell anything and everything to women.

My axe to grind against Oprah is not just professional, it’s personal. For I saw my sister, nearing the end of her life, turn to the Secret, believing that if she just believed enough in herself, she would be cured. Rather than strengthen her, Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Blog That Ate Manhattan*

How To Take Back Control Of Your Google Searches

Eli Pariser talks at TED about how we’re losing the internet to algorithmic gatekeepers at Google, Yahoo, Facebook and even our news sites, which tailor search results to what they think we want to see. Which is why I often start exploring my search results on page 10 instead of page 1. But what if some search results don’t even make it onto my queue?

The side by side comparison of two different users’ internet search on the term “Egypt” during the crisis there is a stunning example of how computerized gatekeepers choose for us what we see (and don’t see) when we log on.

You can’t have a functioning democracy if citizens don’t have a free flow of information.

I encourage you to watch the entire video, and hope the big mahoffs of the internet sitting in the TED audience heard Pariser when he told them this  – Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Blog That Ate Manhattan*

Birth Control And Sexual Attraction – The Wall Street Journal’s Breathtakingly Bad Reporting

In an article filled with speculation, misinformation and broad sweeping generalizations, the Wall Street Journal does its damned best to make the birth control pill seem to be the worst thing to have happened to modern civilization, implying that by interfering with ovulation, the pill impairs our natural ability to choose a mate, causes women to choose less masculine partners and then stray from them, and makes us pick genetically similar rather than dissimilar mates.

Women on the pill no longer experience a greater desire for traditionally masculine men during ovulation….Researchers speculate that women with less-masculine partners may become less interested in their partner when they come off birth control, contributing to relationship dissatisfaction…That could prompt some women to stray, research suggests. Psychologist Steven Gangestad and his team at the University of New Mexico showed in a 2010 study that women with less-masculine partners reported an increased attraction for other men during their fertile phase.

“Less masculine” men. What the heck does that mean? Less hairy? Less into sports? Less violent? Not into Nascar or big trucks?

How about more likely to engage in conversation? More likely to care about their partner’s satisfaction in bed than their own? More likely to accept a woman having a career? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Blog That Ate Manhattan*

Physician Says It’s Legally Safer To Blog About Food Than Healthcare

A Rhode Island emergency room doc has been fired for posting about a trauma patient on her facebook page. While the post did not reveal patient name or personal identifiers, it had enough clinical info that a third party was able to  recognize the patient.

I say if you’re going to write online about a patient, you had better disguise them so well they don’t even recognize themselves, and never post anywhere near the time of the event’s occurrence. Some bloggers I know change age, sex and other details, and post events long after they’ve happened, so no one one could ever know for sure who they’re talking about. Some doc bloggers go so far as to disguise themselves – preferring to remain anonymous both to protect themselves and their patients.

Some medical blogsites are rich with teaching cases, including x-rays and clinical information that, if disguised, would alter the diagnostic possibilities. As online venues begin to replace the time honored medical journal or local grand rounds, how do we keep our ability to teach one another with clinical cases and still respect patient privacy?  In the past, the limited circulation of medical journals kept these cases amongst the medical community, but now with the internet (and the lay public’s interest in medicine), the audience for such case histories is limitless. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Blog That Ate Manhattan*

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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