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Cyclist Asks: Is Sugar Abstinence Possible?

After spending an entire vacation reading stories, I would like to start tonight’s post with a tiny dose of fantasy. Can we try using a daydream to learn something about the challenge of making good nutrition choices?

The fantasy goes something like this…

You have just been sentenced to eternal life on a far-away sun-drenched island. This island has mountains, paved roads, wide bike lanes, and mountain bike trails. You get to take two bikes, a couple riding buddies and your family—if they’ll go. You also get to take one Apple product.

Sounds good so far.

The kicker is that you only get four food choices—and liquids count.

You are a cyclist, so after coffee and beer there are only two food choices remaining. Obviously, you will need a protein source. Smart choices here would include nuts, mercury-free fish or organically-fed animals. The protein isn’t the point, let’s keep moving.

Now we are down to the carbohydrate source.

Choose one of the following:

A.) Arugula
B.) Quinoa
C.) Cranberries
D.) Fruit Loops

Herein lies the primary hurdle that smart-nutrition advocates face: unhealthy simple sugars taste really good. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr John M*

The Art Of Misleading Statistics: Redefining Psychotherapy


This month’s Psychiatric Times continues the discussion [registration required 🙁 ] about the NY Times article on psychotherapy that Dinah and readers discussed on April 9. This time, our colleague, Ron Pies MD, authored this article which deconstructs the myths perpetrated in the NYT article, which interviewed a med check doctor who found it “sad” that his patients found him to be important to them in their lives (read the article for the full flavor).

I’m glad that Ron pointed out (as we have) that the 2008 Mojtabai and Olfson article — which implied that only 11% of US outpatient psychiatrists provide psychotherapy — was a misleading statistic. Why? Because they did not consider brief psychotherapy sessions (30 minutes or less) to be classified as “psychotherapy” for their session. Thus, a 90807 (45-50 min) is considered psychotherapy, but a 90805 (20-30 min) would not be considered so, even though the AMA’s CPT manual defines it as psychotherapy. Also, brief and supportive forms of psychotherapy are often given even when only a “med check” is billed. Nonetheless, the sound bite from that article has been: “Only 11% of psychiatrists do psychotherapy”. It just ain’t true. As Mark Twain said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.“—–

*This blog post was originally published at Shrink Rap*

Physician Attacked On Message Board Because Commenters Believed His Wife Got Special Treatment For Her Cancer

A Well Blog post series in the NY Times, written by Peter Bach, MD, an attending physician at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in NYC, chronicle’s his experiences with his wife’s diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer.

As painful as it was to read of Bach’s wife’s breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, I found reading the comments section on the first few posts to be equally difficult. The comments ranged from supportive to downright vitriolic, as patients took the opportunity to vent at doctors and a medical system that they perceive gave Bach’s wife better access to treatment than theirs. The bitterness that comes through these comments is astonishing, but should not be. Read more »

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

The Dartmouth Atlas Debate: Careful Consideration Needed

The worst-kept secret in journalism circles recently was that the New York Times was planning an article critical of the Dartmouth Atlas. Among the main points in the article:

• “The mistaken belief that the Dartmouth research proves that cheaper care is better care is widespread.”

• “The atlas’s hospital rankings do not take into account care that prolongs or improves lives.”

• “Even Dartmouth’s claims about which hospitals and regions are cheapest may be suspect.”

• “Failing to make basic data adjustments undermines the geographic variations the atlas purports to show.”

The Times has also published the correspondence it had with the Dartmouth team about methodology questions.

The Dartmouth team challenges each of these criticisms. The team says the Times made at least five factual errors and several misrepresentations. They write:

“What is truly unfortunate is that the Times missed an opportunity to help educate the American public about what our research actually shows — or about the breadth of agreement about what our findings mean for health care reform.” Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Gary Schwitzer's HealthNewsReview Blog*

New Condom Delivers Erection Medicine Via The Skin

The New York Times profiles research by Harvey A. Liu and Kenneth J. Balkus Jr. of the University of Texas at Dallas to create a therapeutic nitric oxide releasing bandage. Nitric oxide can play a significant role in peripheral vasodilation, relaxation of pulmonary vasculature, and other physiological processes, such as penile erection. Therefore, an effective method of delivering this free radical should allow the development of new types of vascular stockings, bandages, and other therapeutic (or recreational) devices.

A snippet from NYT:

As they describe in a paper in Chemistry of Materials, the researchers use a zeolite, an aluminosilicate mineral that has a three-dimensional cage structure. Zeolites have been shown to be able to store and release nitric oxide and other chemicals. They embed the mineral in fibers of a biocompatible polymer, polylactic acid, as they are spun and form a tissue-like mat. The fibers are then infused with nitric oxide; by controlling the porosity of the fibers, the researchers could control the release of the gas.

The researchers say the resulting material could be incorporated into socks for diabetics that would deliver nitric oxide through the skin. It might also prove useful before transplants as a wrapping for organs to help preserve them outside the body for longer.

More from the New York Times…

Abstract in Chemistry of Materials: Novel Delivery System for the Bioregulatory Agent Nitric Oxide

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

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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