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Book Review: The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks

If you like science, true history, and an engaging story, pick up the new book by journalist Rebecca Skloot, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” and prepare for a great read. I knew nothing about the young black woman whose cells were taken back in 1951 by a scientist at Johns Hopkins Hospital and how those cells have revolutionized modern cell biology and research.

The HeLa (named after HEnrietta LAcks) cells were taken as she lay dying on the “colored” ward at Johns Hopkins Hospital of aggressive cervical cancer at age 30. Everyone who studies basic cell biology has heard of HeLa cells because they were the first human cell line to be successfully grown in culture and they are alive today. HeLa cells were sent to researchers all across the globe and have been used to develop the polio vaccine, viruses, cloning, gene mapping and in-vitro fertilization. Billions of the same immortal HeLa cells are used by researchers fighting cancer, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, and diabetes. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

10 New Year’s Resolutions For Doctors And Patients

#1 Doctor: Resolve to let patients speak without interruption and describe their symptoms.
Patient: Resolve to focus on the problem I am seeing the doctor about and not come with a list of 10 complaints for a 15-minute office visit.

#2 Doctor: Resolve to keep a pleasant tone of voice when answering night and weekend phone calls from the answering service, patients, or nurses.
Patient: Resolve to get my prescriptions filled during office hours, not forget my medications while traveling, and to use night and weekend phone calls for emergencies only.

#3 Doctor: Resolve to exercise a minimum of four times a week for better health.
Patient: Ditto.

#4 Doctor: Resolve to train my staff and model excellent customer service for patients.
Patient: Resolve to understand that getting an instant referral, prescription, note for jury duty, or letter to my insurance company from my doctor is not my God-given right and I will stop [complaining] if it doesn’t happen the day I request it. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

Macular Degeneration And A Healthy Lifestyle

We now have another condition that may be prevented by eating a healthy diet, exercising, and abstaining from smoking: Age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Macular degeneration causes a loss of central vision and makes it difficult to recognize faces and read small print. The macula degenerates with age and severe macular degeneration causes blindness. Treatment is costly and doesn’t work very well.

A new study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology looked at 1,313 women aged 55 to 74 years. They reviewed their diet and exercise habits. Eating a “healthy diet” meant 3.5 servings of fruit and vegetables, 2.3 servings of dairy, 2.7 ounces of meet and 3.5 servings of grain a day. Exercise habits and smoking history were also monitored. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

Women’s Health In The U.S. Gets An “F”

The Oregon Health and Science University has published its fifth report card since 2000. It grades and ranks the United States on 26 health-status indicators for women. In 2010, not one state received an overall “satisfactory” grade for women’s health, and just two states — Vermont and Massachusetts — received a “satisfactory-minus” grade. Overall, the nation is so far from meeting the goals set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that it receives an overall grade of “unsatisfactory.”

The national report card uses status indicators to assess women’s health:

  • Women’s access to healthcare services (medically under-served area, no abortion provider, no health insurance and first trimester prenatal care)
  • Wellness  (screening mammograms, colorectal cancer, pap smears, cholesterol)
  • Prevention (leisure time physical activity, obesity, eating five fruits and veggies/day, binge drinking, annual dental visits, smoking)
  • Key conditions (coronary heart disease death rate, lung cancer death, stroke death, breast cancer death)
  • Chronic conditions (high blood pressure, diabetes, AIDS, arthritis, osteoporosis)
  • Reproductive health (chlamydia, maternal mortality, unintended pregnancies)
  • Mental health
  • Violence against women 
  • Infant mortality rate
  • Life expectancy
  • Poverty
  • High school completion
  • Wage gap
  • The score on these varied status indicators fluctuated depending upon which state a woman lives. California and New Jersey ranked highest on state health policies, while Idaho and South Dakota ranked last on policies. Read more »

    *This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

    A Simplified Formula For Good Health

    You can’t do anything about your genes, but here’s a formula for good health — simplified:

    0          Cigarettes
    5          Servings of fruits and vegetables a day
    10        Minutes of silence or relaxation a day
    30        Body mass index (BMI) below
    150      Minutes of exercise a week    

    You knew this already, but are you really doing it?

    *This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

    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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