Recent Newspaper & Online Columns by Kate Scannell MD

Sometimes, doctors can't see the forest for the statistics

April 30, 2012

Tags: doctors and statistics, innumeracy, numeracy, health literacy, cancer screening, Scannell

By Dr. Kate Scannell, Syndicated columnist
First Published in Print: 04/28/2012

One of my patients used to demand each year that he be screened for "any kind of cancer imaginable." He wanted blood tests and radiographic scans that scoured every reach of his body. He devoured handfuls of so-called "anti-cancer" supplements and wore copper bracelets to ward off malignancies. As healthy as he was, he suffered terribly with cancerphobia.

Ironically, his anxiety was his greatest risk for developing cancer. Every X-ray or CT scan he underwent to help "manage" his anxiety just increased his cumulative radiation exposure and, consequently, his chance of developing a malignancy. (more…)

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Remembering dementia, one world -- and family -- at a time

April 15, 2012

Tags: Dementia, Alzheimer, Alzheimer Services of the East Bay, ASEB, community, Scannell

By Dr. Kate Scannell, Syndicated columnist; First Published in Print 04/14/2012

A few days ago, my friend with severe dementia asked me at least a dozen times whether I'd heard about her granddaughter's scholarship award. We had been speaking by telephone during our weekly phone date, a tradition we've kept for many years.

Each time my friend asked the same question, she expressed continuously renewed joy -- no less infused with delight than any time she had asked before. She seemed to be living "in the moment" -- one that repeated independent of her memory. I was grateful that this moment of her reliving was a happy occasion. It is not always so. (more…)

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Study on weight-loss surgery for Type 2 diabetes has serious problems

April 1, 2012

Tags: bariatric surgery, type 2 diabetes, obesity, new england journal of medicine, weight-loss surgery, conflicts of interest

By Dr. Kate Scannell, Syndicated columnist; First Published in Print: 03/31/2012

Two studies published in last week's New England Journal of Medicine generated much media attention and hope that maybe, just maybe, a swift surgical fix could cure two notoriously chronic and intertwined medical conditions that affect millions of people worldwide: obesity and Type 2 diabetes. But it would be wise -- and healthy -- to scale back any unbridled enthusiasm about that until many more facts weigh in. (more…)

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