FIVE Things Your Doctor MIGHT Know in TEN Years
Happy and Healthy New Year to you!
It might seem like I’m starting this blog off on a downer but stay with me for some amazingly good health news.
First, the bad news: Multiple studies show that the longer a doctor is in practice, the further they fall behind the latest medical information and technology.
How far behind, you ask? Two studies found that the lag between the discovery of new treatments and their acceptance into routine patient care averages SEVENTEEN years.
Why don’t doctors keep up?
1. They don’t have time to learn.
2. The pace of new information accelerates every year.
3. The current insurance reimbursement model limits the time a doctor can spend with their patient AND fights against new treatments considered “not medically necessary.”
4. Information that does not support the pharmaceutical industry does not get much attention.
5. When doctors do travel to CME meetings, their actual attendance at learning sessions is voluntary and not monitored. (Ski resort? Hawaii? Vegas??:))
Now the GREAT NEWS: I am freshly returned last month from the Annual World Congress of the A4M – the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine. I’m going to take the next few minutes to take the firehose of information that was three full days of lectures and workshops and share with you FIVE important things your doctor MIGHT know in TEN years. (This is Part 1 – I learned so much, stay tuned for more this year!)
1. Cognitive decline can be reversed.
That’s right! Not just slowed or stopped, but actually reversed.
Dr. Dale Bredesen is widely known for his protocol that flies in the face of the belief among most doctors and people hold – that cognitive decline, including Alzheimer’s disease, is a steady downward path. It is not! The Bredesen Protocol is gaining wider acceptance for stabilizing and even reversing cognitive decline.
Here is a clue: your brain is connected to your gut – bad food feeds bad gut bacteria, which then release toxins that hurt your brain function. (This might be a whole future blog!)
2. Drugs that help certain diseases can hurt you.
An astounding 24% of drugs in the United States disrupt your biochemistry and cause a lack of nutrients.
On top of this, an equally astounding 22% of Americans are on FIVE or more medications! For example, a common drug combination might be for someone who is overweight, has joint pain, and has high blood sugar – she might be on a diabetes drug, a blood pressure medication, and a pain medication. The effect of being on three or more drugs has not been studied.
Solutions are being found in non-pharmaceutical supplements, including ginseng and curcumin, which lower inflammation and blood pressure. Every person taking metformin, a common diabetes drug, should replenish CoQ10, B12 and folic acid; the drug causes deficiencies in these important nutrients at the cell level.
3. For men, good sleep will raise your testosterone level by as much as 95 points.
That’s a big increase! One explanation is that sleep apnea can result in a drop in oxygen to the brain, which leads to a drop in the brain hormone (LH from the pituitary) that stimulates testosterone production by the testicles.
Please see my other (many!) blogs on why sleep is critical to your health. I’m adding this to the list.
4. Depression and anxiety are probably underdiagnosed in men.
Depression has long been thought to be at least twice as common in women; this is the “standard” teaching.
A recent Mayo clinic article detailed all the reasons why depression “is” more common in women (hormonal differences, societal pressures, etc). This is the going wisdom.
I’m sitting in my kitchen early in the morning while everyone is still sleeping. In scrolling through some news stories, I have just read about two different famous actors – both of whose acting work I admire – arrested for driving under the influence. While I don’t know about these two particular individuals, drinking too much and irresponsible driving are examples of “externalizing behavior” that is referred to when we talk about men and depression.
It turns out that the incidence of depression (and anxiety) depends on how you ask the questions. A recent (2020) study of the MDRS – male depression risk scale – asked questions that might resonate more with men. This study showed a higher rate of depression in men. For example, other common depression questionnaires ask “Do you feel depressed?” Women are more likely than men to answer “Yes”, while men may report increases in self-harming behaviors (drinking, reckless driving, etc) rather than identifying the feeling as depression.
Men need to have questions asked in ways they resonate with in order to properly diagnose them with depression or anxiety. The MDSR – male depression risk scale – helps.
This of course also affects assertions about racial differences in depression and anxiety. Lots more research is needed here.
5. Testosterone does not increase the risk of prostate cancer.
This idea was based on a study published in 1941 by Dr. Charles Huggins. I knew this idea came from long ago, but I didn’t realize it was over 80 years ago.
Even more shocking, this study had a grand total of…ONE patient! Not kidding. He also studied dogs (who are the only other species that get prostate enlargement, and they also get prostate cancer). He eventually won the Nobel prize in 1966 for this work.
What we now know: While Dr. Huggins’ research showed that testosterone can increase the size of prostate cancer lesions (and lower T levels correlate with shrinkage of the lesions), testosterone does not cause the prostate cells to become cancerous. In fact, most prostate cancers develop in men with low testosterone levels.