I learned something new about smoking the other day. It may accelerate degenerative disc problems in your back. That's what a University of Utah spine expert told us is showing up in early research. This is just one more reason to stop smoking or never start. Add this to causing lung cancer, throat cancer, and heart disease…even higher risk pregnancies and birth defects. The list goes on and on.  Why would anyone smoke these days? Yet people do and the cost to them and our society is huge. Certainly we have made progress. I can remember in the 50's when...

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I am attending the 49th annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology in Atlanta. There are some impressive studies that spell good news for people with blood related cancers: conditions like follicular lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and multiple myeloma. There are also some worries that government may be in the way of you receiving some treatments even though they are validated by the latest studies presented here. In follicular indolent lymphoma, also referred to as NHL, a new European study shows great effectiveness in advanced cases using a powerful monoclonal antibody that packs a radiation, cancer-killing punch. According to the...

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We often talk about how not every doctor, nor every nurse, is an expert in our health concerns. Same would be true for chiropractors or naturopaths. These are usually good, well-meaning people who try to keep up on the latest information, but today it's become difficult. So basic to what I preach as "patient power" is for all of us to be smarter patients, sharper healthcare consumers. That works reasonably well in interacting with legitimate healthcare providers. But what about when the "provider" is a slick huckster, out for money only, and practicing fraud in their claims of being help...

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Sandy Kawamoto will always be thankful her husband, Jim, saved her life. It happened in their home outside Portland, Oregon at 3:30 in the morning in 1990. Sandy was up nursing their baby. Jim woke up to fix a pipe that had broken in the bathroom. It was a good thing he was up. He checked on Sandy. She was on the floor of the baby's room and not breathing. Her heart had stopped – cardiac arrest – because of an inherited condition, "long QT syndrome" that Sandy never knew she had. Jeff immediately started doing CPR and it gave...

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As many as 20 million Americans – mostly women in their 40's and 50's – have a lot on their mind as they find themselves responsible for care for an aging parent or in-law. It is very often a highly emotional time as the loved one grapples with recovery from surgery, a serious chronic condition, or even a diagnosis of a terminal condition. What makes it even tougher is that few families are prepared for this. Nobody has talked about it in advance. There are agencies that help with care at home and, if you can navigate the rules, insurance...

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Someday we will cure cancer. Someday we will turn off autoimmune diseases. Someday we will have joint replacements that don't wear out. But will we be able to reverse the terrible increase in Childhood Obesity? The fact is a scary number of our children will predecease us because they are overweight, have high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart trouble. You will begin hearing more and more of children having heart attack or stroke. How can this be? The truth is 17% of our U.S. kids are overweight and in some ethnic groups it is much higher…especially among Hispanics and African-Americans....

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I am a journalist by training and for a long time was a reporter and then a television producer. But I am dismayed about the way the media covers health topics. You could also express displeasure as to the way the media covers many topics. Interestingly, my former co-worker, Maria Shriver (California First Lady, member of the Kennedy family, and NBC News anchor) has announced she won't be coming back to NBC. She has been dismayed with coverage of "stories" like the death of Anna Nicole Smith. Maria and I would agree it's a circus. As for health coverage, there...

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It is controversial but medically doable: doctors can use tissue, nerves and veins from a deceased donor to reconstruct a patient's face. It was done in France no long ago for a woman who had been severely disfigured in an attack by a dog. The procedure remains controversial because of concerns about changing someone's identity and also fears some patients would pressure doctors to let them look better, as another "person," even though the transplant would require taking immunosuppressive drugs for life and opening the door to many risks. But let's step back and look at the marvel of what...

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David Broder, the noted columnist, wrote in the paper today about the need for healthcare reform – a huge national issue. But I am choosing to write about something much more grassroots – the story of 16-year-old Katie Hunter of Duvall, Washington. Katie is the president of her junior class now at Cedarcrest High School and she is running cross country. But three years ago her world fell apart when what looked like a bug bite on her forearm turned out to be malignant melanoma, a serious cancer. She soon had surgery – more than once – and then immunotherapy...

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Many of our discussions focus on living with a chronic health concern and fighting cancer. And so many of you are dealing with those illnesses as you get information and carry on, often quite courageously. But there are other people who are not diagnosed with a disease. To the contrary, they might be quite healthy. And then their health status changes in an instant. That's what happened to my friend Jamie Osborne. Jamie had just had his 50th birthday earlier this summer and life was good. Many days at lunch time this director of information technology for a large retailer...

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December 2007
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