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Latest Posts

Why Don’t Psychiatrists Like To Show Patients Their Notes?

Please see my post on Clinical Psychiatry News and yesterday’s post What’s in a Note? along with the reader comments.

One reader asked why it’s weird to want to see your shrink’s notes and why shrinks refuse to show them on the grounds that they may distress the patients.  Another reader asked why doctors write “patient denies” as though they don’t believe the patient.  These are both great questions worthy of their own post.

Why don’t psychiatrists like to show patients their notes?  Are they really going to “harm” the patient?  There are a few reasons why a psychiatrist may not want to show a patient her notes.  Here is my list of thoughts as bullet points. Please feel free to add to it. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Shrink Rap*

Calcium Supplements: Good For Your Bones But Bad For Your Heart?

Calcium is good for us, right? Milk products are great sources of calcium, and we’re told to emphasize milk products in our diets. Don’t (or can’t) eat enough dairy? Calcium supplements are very popular, especially among women seeking to minimize their risk of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis prevention and treatment guidelines recommend calcium and vitamin D as an important measure in preserving bone density and reducing the risk of fractures. For those who don’t like dairy products, even products like orange juice and Vitamin Water are fortified with calcium. The general perception seemed to be that calcium consumption was a good thing – the more, the better. Until recently.

In a pattern similar to that I described with folic acid, there’s new safety signals from trials with calcium supplements that are raising concerns. Two studies published in the past two years suggest that calcium supplements are associated with a significantly increased risk of heart attacks. Could the risks of calcium supplements outweigh any benefits they offer? Read more »

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

Is Corn Syrup Evil?

Photo of FDA

Several people have asked me if corn syrup is the root of all evil. This cheap, high calorie sweetener is adding hidden calories to everything from spaghetti sauce to condiments to peanut butter. But is it actually worse for you than “regular” cane sugar? Is there something special about corn syrup that makes it worthy of national vilification?

The truth is that corn syrup isn’t any “worse” than any other highly refined sugar – there’s nothing special about corn that makes it harmful to consume (unless maybe if you’re allergic to corn, but that’s another story). The real issue is that we humans love sweet things, and that food product manufacturers are simply adding sweetener to their products to cater to our taste buds. In so doing, hidden calories add up… and waist lines expand in response.

Folks with diabetes understand how difficult it is to find unsweetened products these days, and they have to work extra hard to avoid the high fructose corn syrup in so many foods. For those of us who don’t have diabetes (yet?) we’d probably do well to follow their example and consciously cut down on our sugar intake if not to manage our insulin levels, but at least to avoid unnecessary calorie consumption.

I myself am a bit of a sugar addict by nature – I resolved to cut down on carbs a few months ago and have dropped 10 pounds already. I have learned to like unsweetened almond milk, unsweetened organic ketchup, and I make my own sauces and avoid refined flour products.

In my next post I’ll speak with Penny M. Kris-Etherton, Ph.D., R.D., Distinguished Professor of Nutrition, Penn State University about what she learned at the recent American Dietetic Association Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE) in Chicago. She’ll explain why all the fear mongering about corn is a bit exaggerated.

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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