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Healthy Skeptic, MD

Author: Dr. Michael Hochman, MD

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The purpose of the Healthy Skeptic MD podcast is to take a deeper dive into health issues through interviews with experts and patients. Hosted by Dr. Michael Hochman, a primary care doctor, a key theme of Healthy Skeptic MD is that although modern medicine has much to offer there's also plenty of room for improvement. We will delve into those issues with other medical professionals from all spectrums of practice. We hope you'll learn along with us!
30 Episodes
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This year, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry went to two scientists – Jeniffer Doudna at Berkley and French Scientist Emmanuelle Charpentier – who played key roles in developing a gene editing tool known as CRISPR. Just a few years later, gene editing – with the aid of the CRISPR tool – began being used for treating genetic disorders in real patients. We are just beginning to get the initial results. In today’s episode, one of the leading scientists using gene therapy talks with us about this frontier, both the opportunities and the real risks.**Be sure to subscribe to The Healthy Skeptic MD on your favorite podcast app and on Youtube!Link for our channel on podcast apps and Youtube: wavve.link/healthyskepticmd
Just when we thought the end was in sight, there are signs that COVID-19 variants – such as the B117 strain first found in the UK – are popping up across the U.S. Worryingly, this B117 strain appears to be more contagious among children. But according to today’s guest, Pediatrician Dr. Jessica Hochman, we should take it all in stride. The miraculous immune systems of children handle the SARS-Co-2 virus very well, and if we can continue rapidly distributing the vaccines to high risk adults, the overall benefits of getting children back in schools outweigh the risks.**Be sure to subscribe to The Healthy Skeptic MD on your favorite podcast app and on Youtube!Link for our channel on podcast apps and Youtube: wavve.link/healthyskepticmd
Many of us assume that the dietary supplement products that we purchase in pharmacies, grocery stores and nutrition outlets – as well as on the internet – are carefully regulated for safety. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. In today’s episode, supplement expert Dr. Pieter Cohen from Harvard Medical School and the Cambridge Health Alliance explains that supplement makers have a very low bar for demonstrating the safety of new products, and that there are many loopholes from circumventing the existing lax restrictions. According to Pieter, the FDA needs much greater authority to oversee supplement safety as well as resources to enforce the regulations. See also Pieter’s new study this week on weight loss and exercise supplements and an article about the legal challenges he faced as a result of his work.**Be sure to subscribe to The Healthy Skeptic MD on your favorite podcast app and on Youtube!Link for our channel on podcast apps and Youtube: wavve.link/healthyskepticmd
Some may dismiss the idea of a national health insurance program due to concerns and skepticism about “big government.” But as Drs. Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein from Hunter College explain, a national health insurance program could greatly simplify health insurance for patients and doctors, while ensuring that everyone in the U.S. is covered. Their data – which has been verified by the Congressional Budget Office and other sources – show significant financial savings from a national health insurance approach. Steffie and David also explain how and why such a system would lead to better, more equitable care for patients.**Be sure to subscribe to The Healthy Skeptic MD on your favorite podcast app and on Youtube!Link for our channel on podcast apps and Youtube: wavve.link/healthyskepticmd
For patients experiencing a heart attack, stents can be lifesaving, restoring blood flow to a blocked coronary artery feeding the heart. But hundreds of thousands of cardiac stents (as well as cardiac bypass surgeries) are performed in the U.S. each year for patients with stable blockages. According to Dr. David Maron, the Director of Preventive Cardiology at Stanford, many of these procedures – particularly those performed for patients without severe symptoms – are unnecessary. According to Dr. Maron, patients, with guidance from their doctors, should drive the decision about when to perform these procedures. Yet too often it is the doctors pushing these procedures.**Be sure to subscribe to The Healthy Skeptic MD on your favorite podcast app and on Youtube!Link for our channel on podcast apps and Youtube: wavve.link/healthyskepticmd
The question of whether or not schools should reopen this spring has taken center stage. Proponents argue that the benefits of reopening outweigh the risks while opponents fear it could trigger another surge. Today, we hear from Dalia Hochman, PhD, the Head of School at Gann Academy, a Massachusetts high school, which has remained open for in-person instruction throughout the academic year. Dalia will explain the protocols and policies her team has used to ensure her community’s safety. She also offers inspiring words for other school leaders hoping to get their students back in the classroom.**Be sure to subscribe to The Healthy Skeptic MD on your favorite podcast app and on Youtube!Link for our channel on podcast apps and Youtube: wavve.link/healthyskepticmd
Opioid overdoses lead to nearly 70,000 deaths each year in the U.S., and for this reason the medical community has significantly curtailed their use for treating pain in adults. But what about in children? In today’s episode, Pediatric surgeon and researcher Dr. Lorraine Kelley-Quon, from Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, explains that treating pain in children requires a nuanced approach. Dr. Kelley-Quon recently authored the first national guidelines about the role of opioids in children undergoing surgery, and makes the case that we need to find a “sweet spot” in which we treat pain aggressively but without using opioids recklessly. Often this involves maximizing the role of comfort mechanisms to minimize the need for medications.  **Be sure to subscribe to The Healthy Skeptic MD on your favorite podcast app and on Youtube!Link for our channel on podcast apps and Youtube: wavve.link/healthyskepticmd
Last season in the Healthy Skeptic, MD, Dr. Gil Welch educated us about the downsides of breast cancer screening. We get a different take this week from Dr. Christoph Lee, a breast radiologist and researcher at the University of Washington School of Medicine. Christoph is at the forefront of new approaches to breast cancer screening. Christoph also talks about his work on the risks of radiation from medical imaging.**Be sure to subscribe to The Healthy Skeptic MD on your favorite podcast app and on Youtube!Link for our channel on podcast apps and Youtube: wavve.link/healthyskepticmd
Humans have a complex relationship with alcohol, dating back to the stone age. In excess quantities, it can be deadly. But what about a daily glass of wine? The answer is nuanced, as you will learn in this week’s episode with primary care doctor and alcohol researcher, Dr. Ken Mukamal from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.  **Be sure to subscribe to The Healthy Skeptic MD on your favorite podcast app and on Youtube!Link for our channel on podcast apps and Youtube: wavve.link/healthyskepticmd
In 2018, the FDA authorized the first genetic test that could be marketed directly to consumers – a home test made by 23andme for BRCA mutations to assess breast cancer risk. Since then, the number of genes linked to cancer and other health conditions has continued to increase. Yet what to do with this information has not become any less confusing. In today’s episode, cancer specialist Vinay Prasad, MD, MPH from the University of California, San Francisco explains his anxieties about genetic testing, but also the opportunities. Dr. Prasad also discusses a recent controversial article he wrote suggesting that those who have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine can loosen up on the social restrictions. He argues – compellingly -- that for those who have previously been vaccinated, the mental and psychological impacts of these restrictions do not outweigh the small residual infection risk.**Be sure to subscribe to The Healthy Skeptic MD on your favorite podcast app and on Youtube!Link for our channel on podcast apps and Youtube: wavve.link/healthyskepticmd
In 2019, MedPage Today launched an investigative healthcare reporting team. Find out what they have uncovered so far with Kristina Fiore, who directs their Enterprise and Investigative Reporting efforts.As a bonus, we will also hear from Shelly Rosenfeld, a lawyer who co-directs the Cancer Legal Resource Center (CLRC). Find out how this team might help you or a loved one with cancer advocate for your rights during a challenging time.  **Be sure to subscribe to The Healthy Skeptic MD on your favorite podcast app and on Youtube!Link for our channel on podcast apps and Youtube: wavve.link/healthyskepticmd
Tonsil surgery and ear tubes are among the most common procedures in the U.S. The risks are low, but there are downsides. In today’s episode, Pediatric ENT surgeon and author Dr. Nina Shapiro from UCLA talks us through how to know when it makes sense to proceed with one of these procedures. Dr. Shapiro also weighs in on COVID-19 vaccination in children! This is a great episode to pass along to friends, family and colleagues with young children.**Be sure to subscribe to The Healthy Skeptic MD on your favorite podcast app and on Youtube!Link for our channel on podcast apps and Youtube: wavve.link/healthyskepticmd
Many patients go to the doctor’s office each year expecting to get a full panel of tests, including a blood count, platelets, kidney and liver tests and electrolyte levels. But are these tests really necessary? Could they lead to more harm than good? In today’s episode, primary care doctor Steven Hochman makes the case that patients and doctors could do more to promote health by focusing on healthy eating, exercise and addressing active medical issues rather than performing extensive routine blood testing.**Be sure to subscribe to The Healthy Skeptic MD on your favorite podcast app and on Youtube!Link for our channel on podcast apps and Youtube: wavve.link/healthyskepticmd
This week’s episode kicks off season 2 of the Healthy Skeptic, MD. We will focus on key medical decisions that we may all need to consider at one point or another, such as: Should you take a daily multivitamin? Is red wine healthy for the heart? Do mammograms save lives? In today’s episode, Dr. Rita Redberg, a cardiologist at the University of California, San Francisco, and Editor-in-chief at JAMA Internal Medicine, explains why a healthy lifestyle and regular exercise are much more important for preventing heart attacks and strokes than a daily cholesterol pill.  **Be sure to subscribe to The Healthy Skeptic MD on your favorite podcast app and on Youtube!Link for our channel on podcast apps and Youtube: wavve.link/healthyskepticmd
Older adults are the most vulnerable both to the directs effects of COVID-19 but also to the indirect impact on psychological and mental health. Dr. Jay Bhatt – a geriatrician and the former Chief Medical Officer for the American Hospital Association – breaks down the risks and provides advice for the holiday season. After today’s episode, we will take a  break for the holidays and pick it up again for season 2 of the Healthy Skeptic, MD on Friday January 8. Season 2 will focus on key health decisions we all should be aware of, such as the pros and cons of a daily multivitamin and whether or not to take cholesterol medications. A happy and safe holiday season to all!**Be sure to subscribe to The Healthy Skeptic MD on your favorite podcast app and on Youtube!Link for our channel on podcast apps and Youtube: wavve.link/healthyskepticmd
We’re now 9 months into this pandemic and malls and casinos have reopened, but in many parts of the nation schools have not. Hear from Pediatrician Dr. Jessica Hochman how we might safely get kids back in their classrooms (at least when this latest surge settles down!). Also, we’ll discuss the latest of the COVID vaccine and whether there’s a better approach to managing the latest surge other than renewed “safer at home” orders.**Be sure to subscribe to The Healthy Skeptic MD on your favorite podcast app and on Youtube!Link for our channel on podcast apps and Youtube: wavve.link/healthyskepticmd
Dr. Kedar Mate is the new President and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), perhaps the world’s most respected healthcare quality improvement organization. Today, we discuss his vision for healthcare improvement in the coming years. We also will touch on the latest health news.**Be sure to subscribe to The Healthy Skeptic MD on your favorite podcast app and on Youtube!Link for our channel on podcast apps and Youtube: wavve.link/healthyskepticmd
In this episode, we review the basics of COVID-19 with Dr. Pieter Cohen, a Harvard doctor who literally wrote the COVID-19 textbook (he is the lead author of the chapter on outpatient COVID-19 management in the popular medical textbook UpToDate). In this episode, Dr. Cohen reviews the basics about COVID-19 for patients. This is a great episode to share with friends and family who want a better understanding of the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and how it is treated.**Be sure to subscribe to The Healthy Skeptic MD on your favorite podcast app and on Youtube!Link for our channel on podcast apps and Youtube: wavve.link/healthyskepticmd
This Thanksgiving week, we hear about what healthcare is like for those living on the streets from three frontline clinicians who care for homeless patients. Their stories should make us all feel thankful.This week’s episode also covers the latest on COVID-19, as well as new evidence suggesting that some patients with appendicitis may not need surgery.**Be sure to subscribe to The Healthy Skeptic MD on your favorite podcast app and on Youtube!Link for our channel on podcast apps and Youtube: wavve.link/healthyskepticmd
How safe are we in the doctor’s office or your local hospital? Not as safe as you might think, according to today’s guests, Linda Beck, the founder of Square One Elder and Health Advocacy (https://squareoneadvocacy.com/), and Michael Eisenberg, producer and director of the documentary “To Err is Human” (https://www.toerrishumanfilm.com/). Also here the Healthy Skpetic, MD take on vitamin D supplementation to protect against COVID-19 as well as the new Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine data.**Be sure to subscribe to The Healthy Skeptic MD on your favorite podcast app and on Youtube!Link for our channel on podcast apps and Youtube: wavve.link/healthyskepticmd
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