A patient of mine told me yesterday that she thought too many of my posts were negative:  this supplement doesn’t help, that medication doesn’t work, this intervention doesn’t make a difference.  She’s right.  A lot of my posts are negative.  There are two reasons for that.  One is that we’re constantly bombarded by advertisement and bogus information in the mass media about the latest and greatest medical wonder, usually long before any evidence exists about its effectiveness.  So I partially see my job as deflating those claims and reminding you that a lot of this stuff doesn’t do anything.  The other reason is that effective therapies are just so darned rare.  For every proven claim, there are so many others that are purely speculative, so I’d like to spread a little healthy skepticism to my readers.

But I guess everyone wants a positive story once in a while.

Of course the big picture is overwhelmingly positive.  Americans are living longer than ever, with an average life expectancy at birth of 77.8 years.  Treatments for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease are dramatically better than they were even ten years ago.  New surgical techniques make recovery from surgery easier.  (A very sweet 76 year-old lady who has been under my care for years was just admitted two days ago with acute appendicitis.  Her appendix was removed and she went home in wonderful condition this morning.)  New advances in understanding have revolutionized treatment for diseases like stomach ulcers.  (They’re caused by a bacterium!  Who knew?)  And the future promises further advances on all fronts.

So there’s great reason for optimism.

Next week, I’ll probably be back to something negative, like reminding you that your vitamin C supplement is worthless.

Tangential Miscellany:

Do you have a health-related topic you’d like me to write more about?  Less?  Let me know!