In the News: The Health Benefits of Coffee

a full coffee cup waiting for someone to drink itTwo recent studies showed that there’s an positive correlation between coffee consumption and longer life. The EPIC study found that people who drank the most coffee had a significantly lower risk of death than non-coffee drinkers. The Multiethnic Cohort study showed the same thing, which held true for all ethnic groups except—strangely—for Native Hawaiians. Read More→

A Patient Asks: “Does Light Therapy Really Work for Depression?”

a woman talks on the phone next to a light boxSeasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) describes episodes of major depression that regularly occur during particular seasons. The most prevalent form of SAD is winter depression, marked by recurrent episodes of depression that begin in the fall or winter and, if left untreated, generally remit in the following spring or summer. The lifetime prevalence of SAD in the general population is approximately 0.5 to 3 percent. Read More→

A Novel Treatment for Addiction and Post-Traumatic Stress

a man prepares to inject a drugIt’s hard to read a newspaper these days without seeing an article about the epidemic of drug use and drug overdoses sweeping the country. Addiction to all kinds of substances remains a major health problem and treatments are often tragically unsuccessful. Recently, however, we’ve begun to better understand the underlying neurological mechanisms of addiction, and with that understanding has come a novel intervention aimed at treating the problem at its source. Read More→

A Direct Primary Care Doctor Takes Over My Medical Care

The story of a frustrating experience with the fee-for-service medical world

a stethoscope and pen on a medical record

The Problem

Shortly after moving to Chicago from Vancouver, Canada in 1999 I developed a rash on my face. I thought it would resolve on its own, but after several weeks of persistent itching I went to see a primary care doctor. She told me she thought the rash was the result of dust mites in my apartment. So I moved. Read More→

In the News: Flu shots save lives

Though the flu shot is known not to be 100% effective, a recent study confirmed that the flu shot dramatically reduces the risk of death in children and adolescents. From July 2010 through June 2014, 358 laboratory-confirmed influenza-caused deaths were reported in the U.S. among children age 6 months through 17 years. Vaccination status was known for 291 of those who died.  Read More→

A Patient Asks: “How do you treat snoring?”

Snoring is a sound produced by vibration of the soft tissues of the upper airway during sleep. It usually occurs during inspiration, but can also occur during expiration. Habitual snoring is common, occurring in 44 percent of men and 28 percent of women between the ages of 30 and 60. Occasional snoring is almost universal. Read More→

Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss (and Other Health Benefits)

In recent years, interest in intermittent fasting—that is, not eating at all for a certain number of days per week—has been increasing. Intermittent fasting (IF) has been practiced worldwide based mostly on traditional, cultural, or religious grounds, but recent experimental data suggest it’s not only safe but also effective for achieving weight loss. What’s more, evidence is accumulating that it can produce a myriad of other health benefits. In this article, I summarize the data supporting the use of IF and include my recommendations for who might want to try it and how they should do it. Read More→

In the News: Advances in treating Alzheimer’s disease

New studies have been showing some exciting results that hold promise for the effective treatment of Alzheimer’s dementia. One such study showed that infusion of an investigational drug cleared amyloid plaques—the tangled clumps of protein found in the neurons of Alzheimer’s patients—by stimulating the immune system. The study wasn’t powered to show if it had an effect on the symptoms of Alzheimer’s but larger studies are sure to follow. Read More→

A Patient Asks: “How do you know if an infection is bacterial or viral?”

The question: When you have an upper respiratory infection, how can you tell if it’s bacterial and you need antibiotics or it’s viral and antibiotics won’t help?

The science: Statistics show that by far the majority of infections in the respiratory tract (sinuses, nose, throat, lungs) are viral. Bacteria are responsible for sinusitis, for example, in only 0.5-2% of all cases. Bacteria (specifically strep infections) are responsible for pharyngitis (sore throats) in only 5-15% of cases. Rarer bacteria are responsible in less than 5% of cases. Viral infections account for sore throats in 80% of cases. Bacterial infections are responsible for bronchitis in only 1-5% of cases. Read More→

Letter to a Widow

I remember when I first read the pathology report on my patient, Mr. Jackson (not his real name), my stomach flip-flopped.  “Adenocarcinoma of the pancreas” it said. A week later, a CT scan revealed the cancer had already spread to his liver. Two months after that, following six rounds of chemotherapy, around-the-clock morphine for pain, a deep vein thrombosis, and pneumococcal pneumonia, he was dead. Read More→