Friday, January 09, 2009

Sanjay Gupta? For Surgeon General?

CNN and others are reporting:

Obama asks CNN's Sanjay Gupta to be next surgeon general

The popular television personality, a practicing neurosurgeon, reportedly would be provided a broader portfolio to make wellness, fitness and healthcare reform a top priority.

Reporting from Washington and New York -- President-elect Barack Obama has asked Dr. Sanjay Gupta to be the next U.S. surgeon general, looking to a popular television personality to help provide a public face for his healthcare agenda.

Best known as a health and medicine correspondent for CNN and CBS, Gupta, 39, is a practicing neurosurgeon in Atlanta and a member of the faculty at the Emory University School of Medicine.

The surgeon general oversees some 6,000 officers in the commissioned corps of the Public Health Service. Officers work as physicians, nurses, dentists and other health professionals in various federal agencies -- including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Coast Guard and the Bureau of Prisons.

Past surgeons general have wielded the most influence, however, by using the bully pulpit to focus attention on major health issues. And Gupta would come to the post with an unparalleled public profile and background as a communicator.

Sanjay Gupta? Oh, please Mr Obama, no! Great smile.....popular on-air personality.....but not Surgeon General!

A little about me. I am a RN (class of '76) and have been an avid reader of medical topics for several years. Over the past few years, because of my own increasing age as well as some of the articles and research I've looked at, I have become a proponent of many non-conventional treatments and practices. The areas I am especially interested in are diet and nutrition, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes and other diseases of carbohydrate metabolism. I am a low carb advocate even tho I still struggle with weight and other health issues. I am also an advocate of an interactive doctor patient relationship. I believe all should investigate any disease, condition, prescription etc on their own and doctors should encourage this rather than look at it as questioning their authority. I believe strongly that we are pushing medications to excess, often without even attempting other means of treatment. I believe that many of the non-conventional treatments are viewed as a threat to doctors, nutritionists, and others and are attacked rather than looked into with an open mind.

So.....regarding Dr Gupta......I guess it all depends on what you want for a Surgeon General. If you are looking for a person that will be little more than a spokesperson for the AMA, AHA, ADA et all....if you are looking for someone to try to block real health care reform.....if you are looking for a puppet that doesn't do his (or her) own research, but instead depends on talking points provided by pharmaceutical companies....OK, he's the perfect choice.

But, if you want a Surgeon General is someone that will oversee not only the Public Health Service, but also promote truly healthy lifestyle changes...not what is being promoted today, but changes that really will make a difference....well, I'd say keep looking.

There are so many things that are pushed onto the public that have little or no scientific background. Much of the research that is done is poorly done and many times the results are misinterpreted. I would like to see a Surgeon General that looks at all the the policies and practices and study each issue and check out the research himself. Not just read the summaries, but look at the data and make his own interpretations. Of course I'd want this person to do this with an open mind, not just looking to verify his/her beliefs.

Currently much of the "current wisdom" in the medical industry is based on faulty or non-existent research. You cannot conclude anything from observational (or co-hort) studies, you can only form a hypothesis. You cannot promote a practice based on tradition....or beliefs that have since been proven wrong. You cannot continue to push policy and practices on people where the data just isn't there.

The American Heart Association (AHA) has sold out to Big Pharma and various food manufacturers. Allowing the AHA seal of approval on foods that do nothing to promote heath. Allowing Big Pharma to repeatedly conduct "education" seminars that are little more than sales pitches. Ignoring evidence that many of their practices are at least useless and in some cases dangerous. The American Medical Association too.....either they are complicit with manufacturers and drug companies or they just do their own research.....but they are continuously promoting practices and policies that are not based in science.

And the American Diabetic Association? Well they promote a diet based on the very thing that diabetics have trouble handling! Despite studies done to show more effective treatment, treatment that minimizes complications as well as the need for medications, they continue to promote the same treatments that they have for decades. They repeatedly cite "research". Poorly done, misinterpreted research maybe...but not well designed, well executed studies that show results they don't want to see.

The whole medical establishment repeatedly promotes a diet that is based on processed food!! Think of it.....the largest part of the food pyramid is grains. With few exceptions, grains must be processed in order for them to be edible for humans. So....we base our diet on a processed food? And! At the same time, we should limit protein and fat to very small portions. Even tho we likely evolved on large quantities of fats and proteins with minimal (and mostly seasonal) fruits and vegetables and virtually no grains, the diet that is promoted today pushes limiting naturally occurring fats and protein and encourages processed foods.

Please Mr Obama, look into some others for this position. Look
for someone that is more free-thinking. Someone who does his/her own
research and looks at the data and design of studies before forming an
opinion. Someone that is willing, if necessary, to take on the "big
guys" (ADA, AHA, AMA, Big Pharma, etc) and question or correct policies
and procedures that are ineffective or even dangerous.

For further reading, I highly recommend:
Good Calories Bad Calories by Gary Taubes (or any article written by Mr Taubes)
Blood Sugar 101 by Jenny Ruhl
Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution by Dr Richard K bernstein
Weston A Price Foundation: Know Your Fats
The Great Cholesterol Con: The Truth About What Really Causes Heart Disease and How to Avoid It by Dr. Malcolm Kendrick