medicine

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Modern medicine can accomplish a lot, but it can't save every life.  Nor can it answer every question. 

The ethics of medicine are examined by psychiatrist and bioethicist Jacob Appel in the book Who Says You're Dead? Medical & Ethical Dilemmas for the Curious & Concerned

In the title example, who decides you are dead if you are being kept alive only by machines?  If a test determines that a man's daughter is actually NOT his daughter, who does the doctor tell? 

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Bones do so much for us.  Fossilized, they provide records of creatures from the past.  On labels and flags (think pirates), they provide effective warnings. 

Oh, and they keep our bodies from collapsing in a gelatinous heap on the ground.  Science writer Brian Switek celebrates these and many more uses in his book Skeleton Keys: The Secret Life of Bone

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When Sunita Puri was in medical school, she realized that very little attention was paid to situations in which modern medicine has run out of answers. This lead her into the relatively new field of palliative care.

How new? Her book, That Good Night: Life and Medicine in the Eleventh Hour, may be the first book on palliative care written by an MD.  It enters the zone between cures which are impossible or nearly so, and providing comfort to a human in need of it. 

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The same alternative-medicine treatment that makes your doctor frown might also make you feel better. 

We're not all sold on the value of conventional medicine, with the doctors and the drugstores and the stethoscopes and all that.  Even if we are, people have received benefits from treatments conventional medicine did not provide. 

Former New York Times reporter Melanie Warner takes a tour of alternative medicine from many angles, in her book The Magic Feather Effect: The Science of Alternative Medicine and the Surprising Power of Belief

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We go to the doctor because we want to know what's wrong with us, and get it fixed.  The doctor can usually figure it out... unless she can't. 

MDs and other medical pros are humans, not gods.  And the difficulty of figuring out what's what is exemplified by the title of Dr. Steven Hatch's book: Snowball in a Blizzard

He teaches at a medical school and urges doctors to admit that they are stumped, if and when they are. 

Why So Many More Black Babies Die

Aug 24, 2018
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The infant mortality rate in the United States has been steadily declining over time.  One problem, though: the rate for African-Americans is roughly twice the rate for white Americans. 

That's many more black babies dying at or soon after birth relative to the population. 

Dr. Fleda Mask Jackson created one of many programs to target racism in the medical profession.  Dr. Jackson's program is called Save 100 Babies, and it's based in Atlanta.

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Wake up.  Go to sleep.  Run away.  Stay and fight.  Have you figured out the common connection yet?  It's hormones, which influence these and many of our behaviors. 

And boy, does life change--frequently for the poorer--when our hormones get out of balance. 

Medical journalist Randi Hutter Epstein spins a rich history of hormone discoveries and misuses in the book Aroused: The History of Hormones and How They Control Just About Everything

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Paul Offit knows medicine.  And so he speaks from a position of some authority when he talks about issues with the human body and its care and maintenance. 

Dr. Offit notices that scientists are not really good at imparting simple, bumper-sticker information, so other people--politicians, actors, lobbyists, you name it--fill the breach. 

And that's what Dr. Offit addresses in his book Bad Advice, Or Why Celebrities, Politicians, and Activists Aren't Your Best Source of Health Information.  It gives pointers on how to assess the quality of advice being given. 

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Not everybody likes to go to the doctor's office.  With good reason: often, when we go, there's something wrong with us, and we're worried about that. 

Now consider this: it could be that the doctor dreads seeing YOU. 

Caroline Elton, a vocational psychologist, works with doctor, and many of them are having a hard time doing their work.  She gives plenty of examples in her book Also Human: The Inner Lives of Doctors

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"Ouch, my back" and its equivalent is heard frequently around the planet.  By some counts, more than half a Billion people suffer from low back pain at any point in time. 

Treatment for low back pain can take a number of different approaches.  And many of them are wrong, in the eyes of Dr. Roger Chou at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU). 

He's part of a study team evaluating treatments like opioid painkillers. 

Himalayan Cataract Project

When you live up where the air is thin and the sun is closer, cataracts can be much more common. 

So the people who live in Nepal are prone to blindness from cataracts, a condition that can be corrected by relatively inexpensive surgery--still too expensive for most of the people in that poor country. 

So the Himalayan Cataract Project was born to bring the surgery to the people, and Dr. Matt Oliva from Medford's Medical Eye Center is part of the team. 

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You've heard plenty about research into the use of stem cells to heal humans. 

But our pets, too?  Yep... stem cells show just as much promise in treating the ailments of dogs as in people. 

Animal Cell Therapies is running trials, with the help of vet clinics like West Ridge Animal Hospital in Klamath Falls. 

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You may wait a while to get an appointment with doctor, and may wait a while to SEE the doctor, but how long in the room WITH the doctor? 

In most people's experience, it's not a very long visit. 

And that is precisely the issue Victoria Sweet, herself a physician, has with modern medicine: the speed. 

She says good medical care takes time, and she advocates for it in her book Slow Medicine: The Way to Healing.  How slow? 

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The many health insurance discussions generally do not include any mention of direct primary care (DPC)

The payment scheme in DPC is like a cable TV or cellphone bill: a monthly flat fee that is not connected to how much you use the service. 

The model is already in use in our region. 

Dr. Jill Friesen in Redding operates a DPC practice, as does Dr. Phillipp Olshausen in Medford. 

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While Congress is still debating the near future of the American health insurance system, how about a refresher course in the healthcare system itself? 

Sociologist Paul Starr won a Pulitzer Prize for his 1983 book The Social Transformation of American Medicine.  It tracks huge changes over the country's life... like the huge rise in money for practitioners, the rise in corporate control, and the constant blocking of a truly national health insurance. 

And it's newly updated, with a fresh preface and epilogue tracking changes since publication. 

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There are those who walk in the forest, and those who walk in the forest and recognize what grows there.  Scott Kloos is firmly in that second category. 

He is the founder and managing director of The School of Forest Medicine. 

So you can probably guess what his new book is about.  Yep, it's called Pacific Northwest Medicinal Plants, a guide to foraging and finding wild herbs, which Kloos says are superior to the herbs you could grow in a garden. 

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Cass Ingram is a believer in marijuana as a healing agent. 

But there's room in his heart and in his osteopathic practice for other herbs, as well. 

Dr. Ingram wrote a book called "The Cannabis Cure," but recognizes its legal limitations.  So he also suggests the use of various herbs as remedies for various afflictions, things from hops to cinnamon. 

Understanding Ayurvedic Healing

Feb 28, 2017
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The world wasn't created yesterday.  And over the years, human beings have learned a few things about how the body works and thrives. 

Some of the things learned are very old, including the ancient Indian healing wisdom of Ayurveda. 

Acharya Shunya is a practitioner, and offers up advice in her book Ayurveda Lifestyle Wisdom: A Complete Prescription to Optimize Your Health, Prevent Disease, and Live with Vitality and Joy

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The doctor arrives in the exam room after you've waited a while. 

And it's great that she's finally here, but is she really present? 

Doctors are thoroughly trained, but they also have to work like the rest of us to make sure they're present in the moment. 

Ronald Epstein, a doctor himself, writes about mindfulness in medicine in his book Attending. It includes examples of doctors who have (and have not) stepped up when the moment demanded.

Ashland Company Boosts "Cancer Moonshot"

Aug 17, 2016
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President Kennedy talked about putting humans on the moon by the end of the 1960s.  The job got done, but it took a lot of people, money, and work. 

Now President Obama wants the same kind of effort in finding a cure for cancer.  The head of an Ashland-based company is excited.  Michael Stadnisky is the CEO of FlowJo, which works with human cells. 

One aim: helping the body's immune system fight cancer. 

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