This month, the literature and medicine group at my hospital met to discuss Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman. The play, which first opened in 1949 with Lee J. Cobb in the leading role (clip here) and is now playing in Boston at the Lyric Stage Company, concerns Willy Loman, a man in his sixties who hauls a sample case up and down New England with "a shoeshine and a ...

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I wrote a column recently about the role computers play in the doctor patient relationship, and my concern that screens shift physicians' focus away from their patients. This column is part of a large conversation going on nationally and beyond about what I'd call "distracted doctoring." A Wall Street Journal opinion piece by my colleague Dr. Victoria McEvoy addresses the issue of whether all the digital box checking now required of doctors as ...

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Now that medical marijuana is legal in Massachusetts and licenses have been awarded for the first twenty dispensaries across the state, you'd guess that my practice is busily preparing to meet the demands of patients seeking marijuana prescriptions for several debilitating conditions including chemotherapy-related nausea and AIDS-related weight loss. You'd guess wrong. Since Massachusetts voters approved legalization of marijuana in 2012 I've received no special training (required for physicians to certify patients as ...

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The doctor at the summer camp I attended as a kid believed that calamine lotion and time cured just about anything that ailed campers -- and he was right. Time still heals most wounds, but patience is a tough sell to people whose visits to my office often involve taking off work or getting a babysitter, fighting traffic, and shelling out for parking and insurance co-pays. After all that, time doesn't ...

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The exam room and hospital bedside are usually non-partisan zones. Though there have been exceptions -- anti-nuclear activists Dr. Benjamin Spock and Dr. Bernard Lown come to mind -- physicians tend not to be particularly political people. And even when they are, their politics don't usually intersect with their clinical work. When President Reagan was shot and joked with surgeons, "I hope you're all Republicans," the response from one doctor (a Democrat) ...

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How much weight do you think the average person gains over the holidays? I guessed about 5-10 pounds. I was wrong. According to a 2000 study in the New England Journal of Medicine, people overestimate how fattening the holidays are. We think we're likely to gain at least five pounds, while the actual gain is closer to one pound. Perhaps holiday weight gain has increased since 2000 -- it hasn't been formally studied ...

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Does fat shaming help people lose weight? Until a few days ago, the most unpopular person on the Internet was the woman who posted the image above. That woman has now been replaced as Most Hated in Cyberspace by the North Dakota woman who planned to withhold Snickers and KitKats from trick or treaters she deems overweight and, instead, hand them this note: Does fat shaming help people lose weight? This ...

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Mark Twain once quipped: "Everyone talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it." Is the same true of exercise? Despite a growing, multibillion dollar fitness industry, despite an increase in sales of treadmills, weights, and other home exercise equipment, despite public education campaigns like Let's Moveeighty percent of Americans -- four out of five of us--do not get the recommended amount of cardiovascular and strength training. 41 million Americans belong ...

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study by researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Dana Farber Cancer Institute published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology confirms what primary care doctors already know: marriage is often, but not always, good for your health. The study found that among more than a million people with common cancers such as colon, lung, breast and prostate, those who were married were more likely to be diagnosed early and stick ...

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The word "doctor" derives from the Latin verb docere: to teach and, as a doctor, I do often offer instruction. But when a woman in her eighties comes in for her annual physical and tells me she's still dancing, mowing her own lawn, and helping out herolder neighbors, I have no illusions about which of the two of us should be doing the teaching. Particularly since reading this lovely feature story about Ethel Weiss, ...

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