Residency – especially intern year – can be compared to the trenches of war. You are enlisted for a period of time, while you dutifully carry out the orders of superiors, and fight the enemy (disease) while you tend to the already wounded and dying. It removes you from your normal life and can send you into unknown territory, consuming the vast majority of waking hours (sometimes as high as 100-120 hours per week, which is the rarely discussed loophole within the rule of “[no more than] 80 hours per week averaged over a 4-week period”). It can be doubly isolating because the only people who really understand your experience are your compatriots – the co-interns and co-residents fighting in the trenches alongside you. Further, doctors in training, like our veterans, suffer from psychiatric illness and substance abuse issues, but this doesn’t garner much attention unless there is a string of suicides or high-profile articles on the subject. (Time Magazine also ran a story about it in September 2015.) (more…)
“The species of animal you eat may matter less than what the animal you’re eating has itself eaten. The fact that the nutritional quality of a given food (and of that food’s food) can vary not just in degree but in kind throws a big wrench into an industrial food chain, the very premise of which is that beef is beef and salmon salmon.” – Michael Pollan (more…)
“Life beats you up. You can either curl up in a ball and die, or you can stand up and say: ‘We’re different, and you can’t break us!’”
Read on to learn about the next big show you should be watching. (more…)
The recent resurgence of sexual abuse allegations against Bill Cosby led to some interesting family discussions at the Thanksgiving table recently. In case you have not been following the news, Bill Cosby has allegedly throughout the course of his career sexually assaulted female coworkers; many have now come forward to make their stories public, and the resulting commotion has led to cancellation of new projects that Cosby had been about to launch, as well as a general tarnishing of his iconic reputation.
One of my cousins (let’s call her Allison) works in a support shelter for survivors of domestic violence, and she and another relative (let’s call him Roger) were arguing over how the public and the media should respond to the many allegations. The crux of the debate came from the fact that so many women have been coming forward all seemingly at once. They certainly couldn’t all be telling the truth, Roger asserted. Certainly some of them were doing it for the fame and/or potential money, he guessed. (more…)
One of the questions that I am often asked is why I chose to study public health in addition to my medical training. The answer is simple: I believe that the therapeutic relationship can and should exist outside the four walls of the doctor’s office. While medicine and therefore physicians will always be necessary to cure disease, I see problems in the world that must be solved on a structural level — from the environments in which we live and work that promote unhealthy behavior, to the very real disparities in access to and quality of care.
Though significant improvements to health can be achieved through policy change (making healthier choices the default option) and through the smart use of behavioral economic principles (like rewards and incentives), many health promotion programs suffer from an inherent bias: they primarily help only those who are ready to help themselves. People who are “pre-contemplative” and not yet considering behavior change are overlooked.
This is a troublesome situation. Any program or organization committed to health should make a conscious effort to “recommit to serving the most vulnerable” people, as Project Renewal recently did. By constantly striving to reach the toughest and most recalcitrant of cases, we as a society will avoid the complacency and poundage associated with simply “cream-skimming.”
How can we realize this goal? (more…)
A newly released study demonstrates that approximately one third of Alzheimer’s cases worldwide are attributable to seven modifiable risk factors: depression, physical inactivity, diabetes, midlife hypertension, midlife obesity, smoking, and low educational attainment. The largest proportion of cases was attributed to physical inactivity, which affects more than half of all Americans. Depression, which affects approximately 14.8 million Americans, accounted for approximately one in ten cases of Alzheimer’s disease globally.
These findings highlight the urgent need for more investment in prevention – and specifically in a holistic approach to health promotion, which includes mental health. (more…)
In 2012, Pepsi kicked off a global “Live for Now” campaign, which promoted the idea of living “each moment to the fullest” and “embrac[ing] the ‘now’” particularly as it related to pop culture. In addition to TV, radio, and outdoor advertising, it promoted its new “Pepsi Pulse” digital and social media platform to connect with users and their experiences on-the-go. Last month, Pepsi furthered this campaign with a “Global Fashion Capsule Collection” – branding the “Live for Now” mantra on clothing and accessories.
The #YOLO (“you only live once”) generation will almost certainly eat this up, but Living for Now has the potential for sending the message that one should make decisions made “in the now” without worrying about future consequences. This sort of thinking has deleterious effects, leading to everything from rising credit card debt to unhealthy diet or lifestyle behaviors. (more…)