Archive for the ‘Medical Controversies’ Category

Do Abortions Affect Women Negatively? Experts Debate

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

by Leigh Ann Otte

Have you been watching the Republican presidential debates? Or are you waiting for the big guns in the fall?

During every heated election cycle, some of the most contentious issues are related to health care. Should we have universal health care? What do we do about Medicare? Should abortions be legal?

We’ve held our own debates on these issues, skipping the politicians and going straight to medical experts. For this week, though, we go beyond the usual talking points—the normal election-cycle questions—and delve into a less-discussed issue related to a commonly debated topic: abortion.

There’s plenty of discussion about whether it should be legal. But some other aspects don’t get a lot of air time. So, to deepen understanding about the topic, we asked our debaters to answer a seemingly simple question: Does abortion cause long-term negative effects? Believe it or not, there’s disagreement over the answer. Some say it can lead to medical and psychological problems. Others say it doesn’t. In our debate, a pro-life ob-gyn and a pro-choice one give us their take.

What’s the most important issue to you this election cycle? Does it have to do with health care, or is that on the back burner for you right now?

Feel healthy. Live well. Smile. With our free, upbeat health newsletter.

Leigh Ann Otte is the managing editor of MyFamilyDoctorMag.com and a freelance writer specializing in health and aging. This information is not meant to be individual advice. Please consult your doctor for that. See our disclaimer here.

Occupy the Internet! Doctors Unite to Build Accessible, Reliable Health Site

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

stethoscope and keyboardby Leigh Ann Otte

It’s amazing how much misleading information there is on the Internet, isn’t it? People claim just about anything—and do it with such authority that it seems like they must know what they’re talking about.

I’ve come across some doozies over the years. I’m convinced that dubious health claims must make up a good 50 percent of the Interwebs. Once, I stumbled upon a psychologist(!) blogger who was spreading the myth that antidepressants didn’t work. He drew his claims from an “expert’s” book on the subject. Just by looking into the first study, you could get a feel for the quality of evidence relied upon. It was on a different class of medicine (tricyclics, not SSRIs—the type prescribed most commonly today) and a tiny amount of people. I posted a comment. The blogger wrote me privately and admitted fault; he hadn’t looked into the studies himself. He was just repeating information.

Sometimes, though, the problem isn’t too much dubious information; it’s not enough of any information. Often, with lesser-known disorders, you can find a smattering of overviews online, if that. Well, there is more-detailed information, but it’s written for doctors and stuffed with so much jargon it might as well be Greek. (I think some of it is Latin).

The lack-of-information syndrome seems to be the case with a disorder called MGUS. Ever heard of it? Probably not, but 3 to 4 percent of people over 50 have it, according to S. Vincent Rajkumar, a hematologist-oncologist from Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. It’s a blood disorder that usually causes no symptoms, but some people who have it end up getting a certain kind of cancer.

We published an article about MGUS a while back, and people started flocking to it. They posted so many questions in the comments section that we decided to do a follow-up answering them. Two top MGUS experts were kind enough to share their knowledge for the piece. The result is this week’s featured article, “MGUS: Questions About Symptoms, Related Diseases.”

That brings us to the early-Thanksgiving portion of this post—a gushing thanks.

We’d like to thank the doctors who took the time to answer the MGUS questions: Dr. Rajkumar of Mayo Clinic and Hani Hassoun, M.D., of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Our purpose at My Family Doctor has always been to give you trustworthy information straight from doctors. We couldn’t do that without the experts who are willing to work with us. Turns out, they like to spread reliable information too. They just need an outlet.

So thanks to you guys—our readers—for supporting that outlet. Down with the 50 percent! Let’s make it 49.5. I think we might be able to do it.

Feel healthy. Live well. Smile. With our free, upbeat health newsletter.

Leigh Ann Otte is the managing editor of MyFamilyDoctorMag.com and a freelance writer specializing in health and aging. This information is not meant to be individual advice. Please consult your doctor for that. See our disclaimer here.

Violent Movies, Violent Kids: Some Researchers Question the Claims

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

by Leigh Ann Otte

Media violence often leads to real-world violence in children and teens. Right? After all, both the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics say so.

Yet many people still aren’t convinced—including some psychologists and researchers. Jonathan L. Freedman, author of  Media Violence and Its Effect on Aggression, has said study results are “overstated.” And associate professor Christopher J. Ferguson, Ph.D., of Texas A&M International University, says he’s found that family situations and a child’s personality are usually to blame, not the media.

We decided to host a written debate on the topic, so you could see what each side contends and decide for yourself. We asked Dr. Ferguson to argue his side against psychologist Keith D. Kanner, Ph.D., who believes the studies clearly indicate a connection. Here’s what they had to say.

What do you think? You can chime in at the end of the article or under this blog post.

Feel healthy. Live well. Smile. With our free, upbeat health newsletter!

Leigh Ann Otte is the managing editor of MyFamilyDoctorMag.com and a freelance health writer. This information is not meant to be individual advice. Please consult your doctor for that. See our disclaimer here.

Embryonic Stem-Cell Research: Get the Facts Behind the Opinions

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

by Leigh Ann Otte

Embryonic stem-cell research has been in the news lately. But how much do you really know about it? Where do embryonic stem cells come from? Why do many researchers want them when there are also adult stem cells? And what’s a stem-cell line?

We’ve published a quick Q&A to fill you in on the basics, and a more in-depth debate between two experts. Each expert weighs the facts and forms a different opinion. We’re interested: where do you stand?


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Leigh Ann Otte is the managing editor of MyFamilyDoctorMag.com and a freelance writer, editor and blogger.

Elective C-Sections: A Woman’s Choice Versus Safety?

Monday, June 14th, 2010

by Leigh Ann Otte

Sometimes, a C-section is medically necessary. But what if it’s not and you want one anyway?

Some women schedule C-sections so they can have their baby on a certain date. Others do it because of fear for themselves or their child, says ob-gyn Annette Perez-Delboy in this week’s feature article. And those aren’t the only reasons. But are they good ones?

Some doctors say yes, a woman has the right to choose. Others disagree. They argue that elective C-sections—surgeries—are riskier for the mother and baby, so why have the option?

We asked two doctors to debate this issue. Here’s what they had to say. What do you think? You can weigh in below or at the bottom of the article itself.

Leigh Ann Otte is the managing editor of MyFamilyDoctorMag.com and a freelance writer, editor and blogger.

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Should Medical Marijuana Be Legal? Experts Debate, on National Pot Smoking Day.

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

by Leigh Ann Otte

Today, 4/20, is National Pot Smoking Day. Yeah, it’s unofficial. But around the country, people will be smoking marijuana at 4:20 p.m.

So we thought this would be the perfect moment to examine a different side of this illegal drug: the medical one.

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Universal health-care debate rages—on our Web site!

Monday, March 29th, 2010

by Leigh Ann Otte

Our universal health-care debates consistently rank as two of the most popular articles on the site. But when the bill passed last week, the comments section lit up like crazy.

People seem to need an outlet—somewhere to rant or rave, rather than just listen to the pundits do it. At the beginning, the comments were so, um, passionate? that we had to bleep quite a few naughty words. Now, though the bleeping has slowed, the fire remains.

Have you felt the need to vent about your feelings on universal health care—positive or negative? How have you done it? Did it make you feel better?

You can check out the debates here:

Leigh Ann Otte is the managing editor of MyFamilyDoctorMag.com.

Soy is good for you but needs more research, says registered dietitian

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

by Leigh Ann Otte, managing editor

Remember when the experts were telling us to eat more soy? Tofu, edamame—lap it up! Then, wouldn’t ya know it, we were told it causes cancer. Thyroid problems. Male infertility. Too much of a good thing …

In “The Soy Controversy,” registered dietitian Janel Ovrut considers the evidence to give us the bottom line: what we know and what we don’t about soy right now.

What do you think? Do you eat soy? Has it ever worried you? I, for one, love it. Roasted soy butter (like peanut butter), edamame, tofu … yum ….

Would you eat meat from cloned animals?

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

by Leigh Ann Otte, managing editor

Did you know it’s legal to sell meat from cloned animals–but the USDA has asked companies not to because people are wary of it? We just posted a debate about whether it really is safe here.

Though meat from cloned animals isn’t supposed to be in your grocery store, meat from their offspring has been there for years. Proponents say it’s no different than regular meat. Skeptics say we don’t know that yet. What do you think? (You can share here or in the article’s comments section.)

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Can Fruit Really Rot in Your Stomach? The Truth About the Food Combining Theory.

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

by Leigh Ann Otte, managing editor

Just around the corner loom … dum, dum, duuuuum … New Year’s resolutions! Let the dieting begin!

This week, we focus on one type of diet that has not only your waist size but your entire physical health in mind: the food combining theory.

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