Medical Facts and Myths Everyone Should Know

By Dr. Sanjiv Chopra, Harvard Medical School

I thought Dr. Chopra provided some useful information in this book, hence this set of notes. I did not focus comprehensively on all subjects in the book, only those that were of interest to me. Chopra is a respected MD and medical academic. His goal is to be objective in his comments, based on medical science and current research data rather than succumbing to often misleading or inconclusive marketing hype generated by special interests and/or the media. Miscellaneous interesting facts: 1) In 2010 there were 750,000 doctors in the US and 5,000 hospitals. 2) Only 1 in 1000 potential drugs make it from the lab into clinical testing.

Drugs and Vitamins

1. Aspirin is truly a miracle drug. The value of aspirin in fighting heart disease has been
proven conclusively. Additional positive effects have not been proven, but are likely.
Everyone should carry aspirin at all times. It could save your life if taken when chest
pain occurs – chew two full-dose aspirins ASAP.

2. Statins have also been proven effective against heart disease and stroke. Unless you get
muscle cramping or have liver problems, Chopra would recommend them.

3. The only other vitamin Chopra recommends is D-3, 1000 unit dose (1 pill) per day. This
is an underrated nutrient. There is not conclusive evidence that any other vitamin or
supplement is worth taking. The FDA does not regulate the vitamin/supplement industry.
While some vitamins or supplements may be helpful to some people, there is not clinical
evidence to support their value and they are largely a big waste of money.

4. “In 1937 the federal government – against the testimony of the American Medical
Association – made the possession of marijuana a federal crime. This was done to
continue to provide jobs for federal employees after the repeal of Prohibition and not for
any sound medical reasons.” Assholes. (Note: personal opinion added.)

5. Coffee is good for you. And more is better.

6. Black tea and green tea have different chemical properties. The value of drinking tea
has not been substantiated. Significant anecdotal evidence would indicate, however, that
green tea is probably better for you than bourbon.

7. Eating fish twice a week and small quantities of nuts (but not macadamia nuts or the
whole damn jar of any nuts) is healthy. “I always have a handful of almonds or walnuts
½ hour before lunch,” says Dr. Chopra.

8. Only 5% – 10% of people lose weight – and keep it off – as the result of a diet.

9. Yes, regular exercise will, in fact, keep you healthier and enable you to live longer.

10. To help prevent cancer: 1) stop smoking, 2) exercise regularly, 3) don’t be fat, 4) limit
red meat, 5) eat fruit and leafy vegetables and 6) take a baby aspirin (81 mg) each day.

11.Get a colonoscopy when you hit 50 or earlier if you have a family history of colon
cancer. Polyps in the colon, which can be cancerous, are highly treatable if caught early.
It’s worth having that long damn tube stuck up your ass.

12. There is no proven way to prevent a cold. You might as well buy beer with the money
you would have wasted on medicine to prevent a cold. If you already have a cold, drink
margaritas and quit bitching about it.

Alternative Medicine

There has been relatively little testing/research done in the entire field of alternative
medicine. “One of the most frequently debated topics in medicine is the importance of utilizing the powers of your mind to improve your health… There are centuries of anecdotal evidence that yoga is beneficial for the mind and spirit even if the actual medical benefits have not beenproven.”

13.Acupuncture: “It sounds like hocus-pocus – except for the fact that in some cases it
appears to be quite beneficial. My personal experience is that acupuncture can be very
helpful. But it is much more difficult to reach that same conclusion using the traditional
structure of clinical testing.”

14. Meditation:
a. “I meditate daily, 20-30 minutes in the morning, 15-20 minutes in the evening,
and it is my belief that it enables me to focus better, it makes me more creative
and it improves my relationships with those around me.”
b. “There is ample evidence that meditating does result in physiological changes.
There is something going on here, we just don’t know what it is. Yet.”

Other General Comments

15. “There appears to be a direct correlation between the reduction in salt and the lowering of blood pressure – and if everybody reduced their salt intake to 3 grams a day there would be a large decrease in heart attacks.”

16. Getting 6-8 hours of sleep a day is important for optimal functioning. Take a nap, if
necessary. Naps are even more valuable for your overall health than is generally known.
A less known consequence of too little sleep is weight gain. Fat people, pay attention.

17. “The final thing I try very hard to do on a daily basis is practice kindness. The Dalai Lama says, “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”