Been away for longer than I planned. Some medical problems of my own, early in the year, and many illnesses in the people around me. Judging by what's been going on, it is easy to believe that there's an epidemic of cancer - but, of course, that's just the cluster effect talking.
It's important to keep an open mind and remember the big picture. That means keeping to the facts as much as is humanly possible.
Of course, the facts are always changing. Difficult to follow a moving target!
All the more important, then, to learn as much as possible about a subject before drawing conclusions. In medicine, even relatively simple problems have a multitude of factors, yet many physicians seem to focus on a few at the expense of others (more or less guaranteeing that they won't see the big picture).
Take one example. One of my friends with cancer told me that not one of the several doctors he has met with in the past six months has ever asked about his diet. Considering that his cancer is located in his digestive system, you would think that that inquiry is a no-brainer. I had similar experiences with chronic but non-fatal problems of the gut, several years ago. No one asked what I ate. For all they knew, I and my friend could have been living on cheeseburgers, fries, and Pepsi. No one asked, and gentle hints went nowhere.
Not because the doctors didn't care, but because they didn't know.
It took me a long time for me to find out why. The average medical degree provides only one hour of human nutrition instruction in the entire four- or five-year program!! Appalling. The biggest interface between the body and the environment--nutrients, toxins, indigestible matter--occurs in the long tube called the alimentary canal, more than skin or lungs. How can the study of those daily interactions be overlooked to such an egregious extent? Why hasn't anyone called attention to this already? The connection between eating habits and health goes beyond obvious disorders such as anorexia nervosa and obesity. Food affects everything from energy levels to mood, immunity to healing.
If medical students everywhere had to take a full-term course in human nutrition and the diseases related to poor or excessive nutrient intake, more patients would be able to have the conversation with their MDs that I wanted (and still want) to have.
"Doctor, am I eating the right things in the right way in order to stay healthy?"