Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Short doctor visits and confusing messages

Since managed care entered the healthcare industry, visits with doctors (especially primary care physicians) have gotten shorter and shorter. As a result, physicians don't have the luxury to sit and chat with patients like they used to do in the good 'ol days. Don't you miss those days?

CNN has a catchy story titled, "What your doctor doesn't have time to tell you." It's actually a republished article out of Real Simple, but it lists a few points that I found somewhat interesting. These are not necessarily evidence-based points and some of these short sentences may be easily misunderstood, so make sure to always receive medical advice from a physician and not from CNN (or a blog for that matter). I like many of the points addressed in this article, but here are a few points that could cause confusion or controversy in such a short article:
  • Instead of burning your meat, what about reducing meat consumption? Do we know it's the high heat and not the heme, the animal fat, or some other component of red meat? At the end of the day, I wonder what we'll learn about the risks of cancer and meat consumption. If you want to avoid colon cancer, you're probably better eating less red meat.
  • Birth control pills. There are many different types and for some people, the risks may outweigh the benefits. Discussions regarding the pill (actually, there are so many types now, that it can be misleading to call it "the" pill) should be tailored for each patient based on individual risk factors.
  • Postcoital voiding (urinating after intercourse) to avoid a UTI. Do we have enough evidence that this actually helps? It probably doesn't hurt to do this, so it's a reasonable suggestion, but I wonder if we'll ever see robust evidence behind this one. Fortunately, we have a good deal of evidence behind cranberry juice, so I hope you like juice.
  • Here we go with resveratrol again. I'm a big fan and I don't sell any supplements, but I'm eager to see where we end up with resveratrol. I just hope people don't drink too much wine thinking that may reverse aging. It will do just the opposite.
  • Hit the party circuit? I hope we don't have any teens or college students reading this to justify their partying habits.
At the end of the day, I hope you'll have the opportunity to spend more time with your physician. Always write your questions on a piece of paper and take that with you when you go see your doctor. This way, you won't forget any of those important questions.

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