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Old 06-24-2008, 10:10 AM   #1
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Default NYT Book Reviews: "Achieving Wellness, Whatever That Is"

The New York Times today reviews two new, diametrically opposed books about "wellness", which it describes as: "that shimmering grail of our time." The books are Worried Sick: A Prescription for Health in an Overtreated America and Medical Myths That Can Kill You And the 101 Truths That Will Save, Extend and Improve Your Life.

Medical Myths was written by Dr. Nancy Snyderman, who many of us are familiar with from NBC news. The review says:

With chirpy, can-do optimism she recapitulates the standard wisdom. Watch your diet, exercise, lose weight, stop smoking, be screened regularly for a variety of dire illnesses, rein in cholesterol and blood sugar, stay in touch with your doctor and be sure to check out those aches and pains pronto, just in case. So speaks the medical establishment.

In contrast, Worried Sick, written by Dr. Norton Hadler of the University of North Carolina, eschews most conventional wisdom:

We are all going to die, he reminds us. Holding every dire illness at bay forever is simply not an option. The real goal is to reach a venerable age say 85 more or less intact. And the statistics tell Dr. Hadler that ignoring most of the advice Dr. Snyderman offers is the way to do it ... Dr. Hadler sees no evidence that mild high blood pressure or mildly elevated blood sugar pose much of a risk to longevity certainly not enough to warrant the aggressive drug treatment often offered for them. The same goes for the extra 20 pounds that make you overweight but not obese, and the modest elevations in serum cholesterol that, these days, spell a statin drug for life for many healthy people.
Two very different approaches to health and wellness and two interesting books. Read the review in its entirety here.
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Old 06-24-2008, 10:12 AM   #2
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WOW, I want to read them both. I'll look into the library, this week. Thanks!
"I do feel that spiritual progress does demand at some stage that we should cease to kill our fellow creatures for the satisfaction of our bodily wants." -Gandhi
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Old 06-24-2008, 10:49 AM   #3
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I *tend* to agree with Dr. Hadler (though I've read neither book) that as Americans, we DO worry ourselves sick, hence all the commercials for medications and health problems and all the "You Can Die from This!!!!" news reports on TV, which you really ONLY see in the US.

I personally believe (and I have felt this way for a few years) that we are overmedicating AND overtreating ourselves for conditions that might not even exist if our lifestyles were better. I really believe that if only FOOD in America were organic/of higher quality, a vast majority of health problems, from diabetes/heart disease to obesity to even DEPRESSION would be severely reduced. This is just my opinion, mostly, but I have done some research on this hunch and I do think I'm on to something.

But of course.. there is money to be made in fear-mongering AND in producing poor quality food...
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Old 06-25-2008, 12:55 AM   #4
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Both muster science, statistics and a judicious smattering of personal experience to present, with no small fanfare, completely, utterly, diametrically opposite advice.
By now, it should be obvious why no one but me is likely to be reading both these books. You, reader, have undoubtedly already decided which author is a sage and which one a lunatic, which advice is sound, worthy of reading and re-reading, and which is simply misguided.

And that is the final thought-provoking lesson. Our health beliefs are so deeply ingrained that data, admonitions, guidelines and oceans of ink on reams of paper will seldom dissuade us from believing what we want to be true.
I've been researching nutrition and health issues lately and have run into "completely, utterly, diametrically opposite advice." I thought about starting a thread here to ask how you all cope with this fun house of health, fitness, and nutrition information.

I've come to the conclusion I'm probably going to "buy" the advice that fits my world view. I tend to be suspicious and at least sympathetic to conspiracy theories, so I'm lapping up every published sin of Big Pharma. I was prescribed Prempro for menopause 16 years ago (I went through it early). Women are winning big money in lawsuits today because of the cancer it caused. I was prescribed drugs for osteoporosis that have been shown to cause permanent muscle pain, not to mention disintegrating jaw bones. I'm convinced the hospital (sadly, legally) murdered my elderly mother.

As it stands now, I'm taking no drugs. I've written here before about how I'm trying to banish depression with food and exercise. Boy oh boy, have I run into some conflicting information about that subject. One author swears caffeine directly causes depression (Caffeine Blues) and another (The Good Mood Diet) insists one drink it regularly to prevent depression.

Well, I'm trying to navigate with as much grace as possible.
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Old 06-25-2008, 09:45 AM   #5
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I have read Medical Myths and will have to look for the other in the library. I especially enjoyed the many myth-busters and the tone of the book which felt like a conversation instead of many how-to books. I found a book club spot for the book on BeWell, with more info.

Personally stuck at 20 lbs, up and down a bit...but the scale's needle is not moving in the right direction.
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