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Medical Facts and Myths Everyone Should Know

by Sanjiv Chopra and Alan Lotvin with David Fisher

Pub Date: Dec. 21st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-312-37692-5
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Up-to-date, easily understandable answers to common medical questions.

With the assistance of former Medco executive Lotvin and Fisher, Chopra (Medicine and Continuing Education/Harvard Medical School; The Liver Book: A Comprehensive Guide to Diagnosis, Treatment, and Recovery, 2001, etc.) presents a quasi-reference book in five parts: food and drink; drugs, vitamins and supplements; medicine; alternative medicine; and health risks. Each part includes a half dozen or more questions, such as “Is Wine the Best Medicine?” “Does Aspirin Prevent Cancer” and “Should Children be Immunized?” While most are about common concerns, others, such as “Is Restless Leg Syndrome Really a Billion-Dollar Disease?” read more like a headline from a tabloid. In a brief discussion of each issue, the authors present science-based evidence to support the answer, or in some cases, an examination of the lack of evidence currently available. Sidebars highlight key points in the discussion so that readers looking for a specific answer can readily find it without reading the entire section. Chopra adds a coda to each discussion in which he sums up the take-home message in a paragraph or two. Although the preface and the introduction stress that the doctors will be presenting only evidence-based answers, this is not, strictly speaking, always the case. Chopra inserts his personal experience with acupuncture (“I know it works. I’ve seen it. More important, I’ve felt it”) and with prayer (“I personally pray for my sick patients and encourage their family and friends to do so”), even though the text has made clear that the scientific evidence isn’t there. The introduction’s explanation of clinical trials and of epidemiological and longitudinal studies is clearly written and contains useful information for anyone attempting to assess a medical claim. The concluding chapter outlines the healthful lifestyles of the two doctors along with the gentle suggestion that readers learn from them. Includes a foreword by Mehmet Oz.

Helpful, accessible information about a broad variety of health concerns.