"U.S. Panel Says No to Prostate Screening for Healthy Men" was the title of an article on the front page of the New York Times on October 6, 2011.  The article goes on to suggest that healthy men should no longer receive a PSA blood test to screen for prostate cancer because the test does not save lives over all and often leads to more tests and treatments that needlessly cause pain, impotence and incontinence ...

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In the past decade, the incidence of diabetes in the U.S. has nearly doubled – this is due in large part to the obesity epidemic.  Currently, it is estimated that the lifetime risk of developing diabetes is around 1 in 3 for males an 2 in 5 for females born after 2000.  When you consider that type II diabetes has a strong genetic component – the risk for a ...

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There is a long tradition in folklore, one shared by shamans and occultists, that knowing the true name of something gives you power over it. Many years ago I had a very sick patient in the PICU who one morning, totally out of the blue, broke out in a bright, red rash all over his body. The boy had many critical problems already and, although the rash didn’t seem to be causing ...

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With the obesity crisis in America, one of the major reasons for increasing health costs, the issue of the causes inevitably arises. There seem to be two sets of causes postulated by a growing crowd of experts. Unfortunately, each set is aligned in our current polarized political climate with the right or the left.  Each set of causes has some basis in reality, but neither fully explains the problem. On one ...

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The last post in this series discussed new advances in cardiology – the two themes of genetically informed therapy and technical advances. I will continue with three additional themes – regenerative medicine, minimally invasive approaches and prevention. The third of the five themes is regenerative medicine. One major area of investigation is whether stem cells can heal the damaged heart. Perhaps the field is “more glamour than fact” just now ...

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Test your medicine knowledge with the MKSAP challenge, in partnership with the American College of Physicians. A 72-year-old woman is evaluated for fatigue and decreased exercise capacity. The patient has severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which was first diagnosed 10 years ago, and was hospitalized for her second exacerbation 1 month ago. She is a former smoker, having stopped smoking 5 ...

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Breast cancer may be the most common cancer among women. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t do something to help prevent it. Researchers have found certain risk factors that increase a woman’s chances of getting breast cancer. We can’t change some of these factors, like age or race. But we can try to control others, like weight gain and alcohol use. And, taking responsibility for the things you can control may ...

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Sadly, recent news reports described two food allergy-related deaths in a single week.  Although the details are scant, the victims were a 15 year old and a 20 year old, who apparently ingested unsafe foods and were not treated promptly. These preventable tragedies behoove us to learn how to better manage our food-allergic patients and advocate for them as well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that approximately ...

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Whether you are a physician, nurse, physician assistant, pharmacist, or someone else who cares for sick or disabled people, your job as a healthcare professional is an important one. Healthcare professionals are expected to provide services to individuals in need and to do so with quality and care. One way we can help ensure that we are doing our job the best way possible is to get our annual flu ...

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The Cholera outbreak in Haiti reminded us that this is not simply a disease of the distant and unsanitary past. The outbreak was both unique and typical. Caused by a disease that has a long and devastating history, this Haiti outbreak has much in common with the outbreaks of the nineteenth century and twentieth century. History helps us keep in mind five key factors. 1. The role of media coverage ...

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