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Foundations Of Life: Still Dancing At 93

Dance legend Mary Anthony has had a life-long love of dance. At 93 years old, she continues to dance and teach students. Dr. Jon LaPook talks with Anthony about her philosophy on life.


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Dancing At 93 Years Old

Twenty-five years ago, Jennifer Dunning wrote in The New York Times: “DANCE doesn’t seem to take much stock of its wise elders. Among those veterans is Mary Anthony, one of the city’s most highly respected modern dance teachers.” I’m a big fan of wise elders. It’s how I learned medicine.

So when I got the chance to meet the now 93-year-old Ms. Anthony earlier this week, off I went to her beautifully-lit, peaceful but active studio in the East Village of New York City. My goal as a doctor: try to gain some insight into her longevity. Yes, genes are important and she certainly chose the right parents. Exercise and diet are important (she still dances and is a vegetarian). But — more interesting to me — what have been the emotional and philosophical foundations of her life? Read more »

Synthetic Life Created: The First “Micro-Avatar”

For the first time in history, a living organism has been manufactured with the help of a computer-generated genome. Dr. Jon LaPook reports on the groundbreaking discovery’s widespread implications.


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The First Micro-Avatar

Craig Venter and his team of scientists recently announced that they had created the first “synthetic cell” — a bacterium controlled by genetic material that they had designed on a computer and concocted from four bottles of chemicals. This is the closest thing to creating life that has happened outside of a science-fiction movie. If it doesn’t fire your imagination, then you should fire your imagination.

Basically, what Venter et al did was remove the “brain” (the genetic material that runs the cell) from one species of bacteria (Mycoplasma capricolum) and inserted a new brain — one synthetically created based very closely on the known genetic makeup of a second species of bacteria (Mycoplasma mycoides). The new organism then divided just as a normal cell would and followed the instructions of the new brain. Think micro-Avatar, except that the Avatar’s body morphs into one designed by its new brain. Read more »

Plastic Surgery: Thoughts Before Going Under The Knife

More than 10 million Americans undergo elective cosmetic procedures each year. Dr. Jon LaPook reports on what every patient should know about anesthesia with Dr. Panchali Dhar, author of “Before the Scalpel.”


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Plastic Surgery: Risks Of Going Under The Knife

Last year — despite the recession — there were about 10 million cosmetic procedures in the United States. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, over 90 percent were in women and about 1.5 million were surgical. 
 
The top five surgical procedures were breast augmentation (311,957), liposuction (283,735), eyelid surgery (149,943), rhinoplasty (138,258), and abdominoplasty (127.923). As you awaken on the morning of your elective surgery, there’s no way you haven’t yet met the surgeon who will be performing the procedure. But odds are you still haven’t met the person who will be most responsible for keeping you alive: the anesthesiologist. Read more »

Debunking The Myths Of Mental Illness

Misconceptions about mental health can have devastating effects on individuals, families and communities. National Alliance of Mental Illness’ Wendy Brennan talks with Dr. Jon LaPook about the importance of education and treatment.


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The Evolution Of The Pill And Its Effect On Sex

What role has the birth control pill played in human sexuality? Dr. Jon LaPook looks at the evolution of sex as the pill turns 50 and discusses the effect of the pill on female sexuality with sex therapist and educator Miriam Baker.


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Does The Pill Lower Sex Drive?

The pill that ushered in the sexual revolution may have also thrown cold water on women’s libido. Fifty years ago, on May 9th, 1960, the FDA announced the approval of oral contraception.

The birth control pill has allowed women to control their reproductive cycle, delay childbearing, and develop careers. But it also may have the potential to disrupt sexuality by blocking normal hormonal surges that occur in a woman’s cycle. Here’s how. 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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