Tagged disease

Epidemic Obesity: Adaptation Gone Wild

Obesity is unnatural, but it’s natural to try for it.

titian_venus_mirrorThis morning I sat on a panel for medical students; the subject was obesity. Nationally, as anyone who hasn’t been hiding under a rock knows, the picture is not pretty-in fact it’s pretty ugly. By the standard definition, obesity means a Body Mass Index (BMI; weight in kilos over height in meters squared) above 30, and in about 15 years starting in 1990 we went from 22 percent to 33 percent obese.

Now, I don’t care what you call it or Read more

The Crab in the Breast

In breast cancer, promising approaches of twenty years ago are still…promising.

Today I talked about breast cancer to an audience already energized about Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Among other things, I told them that diseases need lobbies, and that breast cancer has one, having learned from the AIDS awareness movement, which in a momentous few years in the 1980s turned our country toward committed prevention.

But in breast cancer, science has made limited progress Read more

Swine, Flu and Us

It’s always wrong to panic, but it’s never wrong to be prepared.

There is an ancient relationship between humanity on the one side, and parasites, microbes, and viruses on the other. It has been rightly called an evolutionary arms race—or more exactly, a series of them—and I will return to that idea in a moment.

But the writer in me prefers another metaphor, used by the virologist Richard Krause as the title of a book: The Restless Tide. As the subtitle explains, Read more

Obesity

Is obesity an epidemic? Is it even a disease? Semantics aside, it’s huge and growing burden.

boys eatingI’m writing this in an airport, and a couple of hours ago as a line of passengers filed past me in the airplane aisle, I noticed, as I often do, that some of them were not just overweight—many are that—but obese. I remembered from yesterday’s news that some airlines are considering charging such people for two seats. It seems unfair, and yet… Read more

Who’s Delusional? 2

Thank "goodness," for sure, but stop and ask yourself how the goodness might have come about.

I have to say that at the Salk Institute "Beyond Belief 2006" conference, I was most moved and impressed by the philosopher Dan Dennett's contribution. It was phoned-or I guess emailed-in, because the poor guy was flat on his back in a hospital bed recovering from a dissecting aortic aneurysm.
Read more

Eat Like a Hunter-Gatherer

An excellent new study once again takes us back to the future.

Last week’s issue of The New England Journal of Medicine carried another powerful vindication of The Paleolithic Prescription, a book co-authored by Boyd Eaton, Marjorie Shostak and me just twenty years ago. Boyd and I fired the first salvo in the same journal in 1985, with an article called “Paleolithic Nutrition.”
Read more

In Sickness and In Wealth

"Maladaptive" habits help the poor cope with their stressful lives, and the best healers don't blame them.

I recently had the privilege of "shadowing" one of the best docs I know as she made hospital rounds at Grady. Grady is one of those places-like Los Angeles County Hospital, Cook County Hospital in Chicago, and Kings County in Brooklyn where I volunteered as a high school kid-
Read more