The Washington post discovers that patients can find a lot of medical nonsense on line.

Well, duh. Every conspiracy theory known to man is on line. And the more outrageous, the more “hits” and readers you get.

One “advice” column on how to make money blogging suggested you stick to one type of blogging and be a bit controversial so people read you.

Alas, “ain’t it awful” writing is fun and profitable, while quiet voices of reason are ignored.

But in medicine, promoting “controversial” theories that don’t have a scientific basis can mean folks could die…look at the deaths from polio, Measles, whooping cough etc. because the hysterical types were crying about the tiny danger of those vaccines weren’t put into perspective, by noting the very real danger of actually getting those diseases…


One of the advantages of the “health care law” in the US is that someone is now saying: “Well, yes it helps, but not much” when it comes to promoting healthy people to take medicines to prevent disease (aspirin, statins) or to get testing (shhh…with HPV testing, pap smears are becoming obsolete…and don’t get me started about mammograms…) and with the cost cutters behind us, hopefully we won’t be sued for not overtesting and overprescribing for fear of being sued will be decreased.

And maybe they’ll even admit that “quality of life” is more important than obeying numbers.There are some studies that suggest if you try to keep the numbers too low to control diabetes, you end up with low blood sugar problems, especially in the elderly. (i.e. Hemoglobin A1C levels of 7.5 may be better for some folks than levels of 6.5).

So although we will now spend lots of time and effort keeping the sugar tightly controlled in our pregnant women, we won’t worry about  keeping grandmom in such strict control that she passes out when she is in Walmart from low blood sugar..


On the other hand, the “bad new” is that the poor and minoritites are underserved. Well, yes. It’s hard to find folks to work in rural hospitals in isolated areas, where you burn out from overwork and get underpaid by medicaid/medicare and have to write off a lot of care of the “uninsured”. But part of the problem is that a lot of folks just don’t see health as a priority, so they don’t get checked for things that do matter, such as blood pressure or diabetes or colon cancer and pap smears and mammograms for older women.

But it is the cities that need to outreach in places like the local churches and fiestas… but without recognizing the social reasons that health care folks might not want to work in these areas and for local folks to dislike going to physicians, you will continue to have the problem. Maybe start with friendly local clinics where they call you by your name and live nearby?

Do cellphones cause brain cancer?

That question predates cellphones: 40 years ago, we had a lymphoma case on our ward (back then there wasn’t any good treatment). He had been a microwave repair technician in the Air Force, and there were rumors that there was a cluster of guys working on radar and microwave communications in the Airforce being treated for the same thing, i.e. various types of lymphomas.

Then we had former CIA head Casey die of cerebral lymphoma…
Conspiracy anyone? Or was it a coincidence? The “scientific” studies suggested coincidence, so I’ll have to go along with that.

But now reports show that holding a cellphone to your ear increases brain activity in the areas next to the antenna.

Could this be the “missing link” in these cancers?

On the other hand, outside the US, the usual way cellphones are used is to text. Here in the Philippines, the poorest families have a cellphone and can afford to buy “text time” for fifty pesos a load…so has there been an increase in cancers of the thumb?

And could using earphones to keep the head away from the antenna solve the problem?

CDC has an article that discovers Tuberculosis is more common among health workers.

Well, duh. Been there, done that. my exposure was in Africa but I didn’t get the disease, thank God.

But you know, when I started medical school, we were warned that one of us would die of TB before we graduated. Luckily, that wasn’t true, since about ten years earlier TB drugs had started to eliminate open cases, so none of us caught TB during medical school.

But it was true in the past, as reading Walker Percy’s biography shows: His teaching hospital had a few beds set aside for residents who caught TB, and Percy, a pathology resident, was forced out of medicine because of it, and instead became an award winning writer.

The first book I ready by Percy was “The Moviegoer”, but his satires are more to the point….more about Percy HERE

So the loss to pathology was a gain for literature..


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines and writes medical essays on her Xanga Blog.

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