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Tell Me the Truth, Doctor: Easy-to-Understand Answers to Your Most Confusing and Critical Health Questions Hardcover – April 23, 2013
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
About the Author
Dr. Richard Besser is ABC News' Chief Health and Medical Editor providing medical analysis and commentary for all ABC News broadcasts and platforms, including "World News with Diane Sawyer," "Good Morning America," and "Nightline." He also has appeared on ABC's "The View" and "The Chew," on ESPN, and many other news/entertainment programs. He received a 2011 Emmy nomination for "Outstanding Investigative Journalism," for his "World News" story on Cord Blood Banking, and in 2013 won 2 Peabody Awards, along with the ABC News staff, for coverage of Hurricane Katrina and Robin Roberts's health journey.
Since joining ABC News in 2009, Dr. Besser has been at the forefront of news coverage for every major medical story, including the earthquake in Haiti and the Japanese radiation release. He was the leading correspondent on ABC's global health series, Be the Change, Save a Life. Dr. Besser came to ABC news from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), where he served as Acting Director for the CDC from January to June 2009, during which time he led the CDC's response to the H1N1 influenza outbreak. Prior to that, he served as Director of the Coordinating Office for Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response. In that role, he was responsible for all of the CDC's public health emergency preparedness and emergency response activities.
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Do I need to take daily aspirin to prevent a heart attack or cancer? Should I throw out all medications after the expiration date? Is acetaminophen or ibuprofen best for fever?
As the author, Dr. Richard Besser,points out (and most potential readers probably already know), "this country is in the middle of a health crisis." But how to handle that crisis on both a personal and broader level? How many of us frequently deal with the frustrations of soaring medical costs, inadequate answers, poor health, and the difficulties of navigating the medical system?
Of course, this book isn't a solution to all those woes but it can certainly keep you from wasting time and money following advice that does nothing for you. It can even prevent a needless call to a doctor. Yes, there are the common suggestions: eat less, exercise more, get enough sleep. The section of weight loss and diet seemed fairly basic to me. But not the others. Ever wondered if you need to take a statin? Information about that certainly surprised me.
I was riveted by the book but found the information about aspirin regimens particularly interesting. As the doctor himself asks, "Who could have guessed that a decision about something as seemingly simple as taking a daily aspirin could be so controversial?" He is not afraid to challenge some of the studies which show benefits for some types of aspirin regimens are small and to point out the very real risks of taking aspirin for various health conditions. Then he presents his conclusions.
I also pored over the information about statins. I hate statins but am in a borderline category for cholesterol. This means that some doctors firmly advise me to take them while others suggest the risks outweigh the benefits. So I definitely wanted help calculating the risk/benefit ratio for taking cholesterol medications. Dr. Besser presents the actual dilemma his own wife faced when it came to statins and links to several helpful charts were provided.
Each chapter in the book focuses on a different health topic and is filled with a variety of questions on those subjects. Each section also concludes with a "Bottom Line" summary. If desired, I could simply pick up the book and find a particular question and answer. It isn't necessary to read the entire book in one setting, from first page to last.
If you are simply curious about whether you should rinse your chicken or lettuce before using it (including pre-washed lettuce), you can go to the page with that question and find the answer. But I couldn't help reading the book thoroughly. Like trying to eat just one potato chip (okay, maybe not the best analogy for a medical book) I couldn't stop with just one question. I wanted to know the answers to the others. I wanted to know what type of dental x-ray machines are most commonly used and how often it is safe to have x-rays. And I had always wondered if getting medical tests to "rule everything out" in the face of some alarming symptoms were actually beneficial.
I found the answers to those concerns in this book - and plenty more of value. With that added information came advice that will help me avoid needless purchases (bottled water is one example) and suggestions about when to confront a doctor about tests or other advice which might actually endanger my health.
A well written, easy to understand and absorbing book! A nice gift for a friend interested in health issues!