I vividly remember my first visit to the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, that cavernous museum lodged in a Beaux-Arts former railway station. After floating, enraptured, from one Impressionist gallery to the next, I turned a corner and suddenly found myself facing one of Monet’s famous series of water lily paintings. I’d seen pictures of this in Janson’s 1962 History of Art, and in slide shows back in art college classes, but here I was, actually standing in front of the massive original.
I burst into tears.
This spontaneous reaction was utterly surprising to me – but it might not be for those who study such reactions. This was likely, as Italian psychiatrist Dr. Graziella Magherinifirst described it in 1979, just a simple case of “La Sindrome di Stendhal” or Florence Syndrome. Looking at great art, she maintained, just might be hard on your mental health. Continue reading →
When Dr. Victoria Seewaldt of Duke University School of Medicine reviewed a controversial new book about osteoporosis in the Journal of the American Medical Association* in 2005, she started off as an admitted skeptic. The review was for Gillian Sanson‘s book, The Myth of Osteoporosis: What Every Woman Should Know About Creating Bone Health. The book’s premise challenged almost every truism that most doctors believed – and may still believe – about osteoporosis.
Dr. Seewaldt is not only a physician, but also the daughter of an osteoporosis patient; her mother was diagnosed after fracturing a hip at age 72. She explained:
“Until her hip fracture, my mother was a ferocious shopper. Even in her early 70s, my mother would race down Fifth Avenue in New York City, shopping bags in hand, leaving me out of breath and begging for a rest.
“Then one day, my mother fractured her hip. Suddenly, our lives changed. For this reason, l initially approached Gillian Sanson’s book with significant reservations.”
But by the end of this book, Dr. Seewaldt found that her “reservations had turned to enthusiasm”. Continue reading →
Happy Anniversary to us! Me and The Nag. Actually, one and the same. Two short years ago today, I launched this baby sibling to my Heart Sisters blog.
My first post here was about how to read the extra-fine print at the bottom of scientific journal articles to see who’s paying for the positive results being reported in research studies. I’d already built up quite a head of steam over at Heart Sisters about what’s known as marketing-based medicine. I was on a roll, except the roll had almost nothing to do with my important focus of women and heart disease – our #1 killer. As a heart attack survivor who now takes a fistful of cardiac meds every day, I realized that I had no clue which of these drugs were being prescribed for me based on industry-influenced medical journal articles and tainted clinical research. And worse – neither did my doctors.
Best to separate the sibs, I decided, so I could easily divide the emerging cardiology updates there and the marketing rants over here. Continue reading →
Something strange is happening in medicine, according to physician, bioethicist and author Dr. Carl Elliott in his landmark article in The Guardian called Is Ugliness a Disease? No longer, he claims, is medicine being used merely to cure illness. “Medicine is now being used in the pursuit of happiness. We take Viagra at bedtime and Ritalin before work. We inject Botox into our wrinkled brows and rub Rogaine on our balding heads. We swallow Paxil for shyness, Prozac for grief, and Buspar for anxiety.
“For stage fright we use beta blockers; for excessive blushing and sweating, we get endoscopic surgery. We ask surgeons to trim down our noses and suck fat from our thighs in the pursuit of what we believe to be our true selves. Continue reading →
“Selling sickness” means that the line between healthy and sick becomes blurred – and demand for medical treatment increases. If you’re a drug company, it’s a swell way to get consumers to demand treatment that may or may not even be necessary. So says a Dutch study that investigated industry-funded information campaigns around common conditions like restless legs syndrome, overactive bladder and heartburn.
These “ask your doctor” campaigns focused on symptom advertising or disease mongering.
Dutch law, as in Canada (but not, significantly, in only two countries: the U.S. and New Zealand) prohibits “Direct To Consumer” public advertising of prescription drugs. You might well wonder why these two countries are the only ones on earth who still permit this marketing practice. Continue reading →
According to a trio of widely published American researchers, many of us are “over-diagnosed” by being labelled with a medical condition that will never cause us any symptoms or premature death. We are, they tell us, mistakenly swallowing the popular conviction that early detection of everything is always for the best.
Their book, Over-diagnosed: Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health, claims that over-diagnosis is in fact one of medicine’s biggest problems, causing millions of people to become patients unnecessarily, producing untold harm, and wasting vast amounts of resources in the name of disease mongering. Continue reading →