Junkfood Science: Grand Rounds 4.02

October 02, 2007

Grand Rounds 4.02

The latest edition of Medical Grand Rounds is up at Musings of a Distractible Mind, featuring 38 of the best medical articles currently on the web. As Dr. Rob says:

There are some who may say that a blog is a blog

Like a cat is a cat, or a dog is a dog

But let me tell you that there are some that out-stand

And that is the reason for the rounds that are grand!

With a creative Dr. Seuss theme, Dr. Rob has made reading serious and thought-provoking articles on science and medicine fun. There are some wonderful reads. And to keep you on your toes, there’s a bit of woo [hint] and marketing slipped in.

Two articles may be of special interest to Junkfood Science readers.

An emergency room doctor writes a sad and troubling post about the difficulty in trying to help patients caught up in the nocebo effect, believing that something is terribly wrong with them when there isn’t. But even showing them medical proof doesn’t help put them at ease or convince them. Writing of an extreme case, he says: “this is the crux of the problem... they don’t want to be told the truth, they want their belief to be validated, real or not, sensible or not....the human brain has a remarkable ability to explain away rationality to believe whatever they want.”

And for those wondering whatever happened to former Surgeon General Richard Carmona, Healthline blog reveals all. You’ll remember Dr. Carmona from his famous speech line: “Obesity is the terror within. Unless we do something about it, the magnitude of the dilemma will dwarf 9-11 or any other terrorist attempt.”

While JFS readers will, no doubt, have a different take on this press information, it is enlightening. Healthline reports that last October “he joined Canyon Ranch as vice president of their Life Enhancement Company, CEO of their health division and - my understanding is this was the piece de resistance for him - president of the non-profit Canyon Ranch Institute.” Healthline Networks, a provider of health information services based in San Francisco, also appointed Carmona to its Board of Directors in June.

Let’s depart from Grand Rounds for a closer look at the significance of this information for us. For those unfamiliar with Canyon Ranch, it’s a “wellness and life enhancement company” that started in Tucson, Arizona, and now has elite spas around the country. It generates $140 million a year offering guests stays with fitness and spiritual classes, self-discovery, integrative health, workshops to develop positive lifestyle habits, a personal advisor, and “focuses on the spiritual health of guests who participate in Energy Medicine, reiki, acupuncture, qi gong or healing touch.” A week at this spa costs one from $4,560 to $12,180.

Its Executive Health program is a joint venture with the Cleveland Clinics, “where executives can have their health thoroughly evaluated by doctors, nutritionists, behaviorists and other wellness professionals.” Cleveland Clinic, as JFS readers will remember, is the source for a lot of our health news on TV and on the web. The joint venture between Canyon Ranch and Cleveland Clinic was announced on August 4, 2005, and was described as a new paradigm in preventive medicine to address “the alarming growth of chronic illnesses attributable to lifestyle choices, diet, stress and obesity.” In addition to serving as president of The Life Enhancement Company, The University of Arizona announced in October that Carmona has also been appointed as professor of public health.

Nothing better illustrates the need for us to educate ourselves on the science and to think critically about the health information we hear, even that coming from the nation’s most prestigious experts.

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