Monthly Archives: July 2007

Robin Roberts: The Journey Begins

I am certain everyone who has seen ABC Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts’s announcement that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer is as touched as I am by this news.


I have commented frequently about public figures facing cancer, and the special role they play in our lives.  Not only do they have to deal with a serious diagnosis, but they also frequently have to cope with that diagnosis while in the public eye.


Here we have someone who is very special to so many facing just that circumstance.  She did so with the grace and sincerity that is so much a trademark of her “on camera” persona.


Ms. Roberts says she found a lump in her breast and promptly sought medical attention.  She said a mammogram failed to show the cancer, but an ultrasound ordered by her physician did find the lump and a biopsy confirmed the diagnosis.  Surgery is scheduled for Friday.


Ms. Roberts emphasized the importance of access to quality medical care.  For her, the system worked. 


But her comment acknowledges a serious problem in this country, namely that too many women do not … Continue reading →

Tammy Faye Messner: The CNN Interview

I caught a brief preview of the CNN Larry King Live interview with Tammy Faye Messner on Wednesday night, prior to the airing of the full interview last evening.


Perhaps you were as shocked as I was at her appearance.  But that sense of disbelief passed fairly quickly for me, since as a physician I have seen many cancer patients in similar circumstances during the course of my professional career.


Her appearance did give me a moment’s pause as I asked myself what “normal people” were thinking, seeing her on television with the mild wheezing and the obvious emaciation.  Her pride was very much a part of the picture.


I imagined that some must have felt fear: fear that they could some day look like her; fear that they have been diagnosed with cancer and this might represent the outcome; renewal of fear from the past, having dealt with a loved one, a friend, a colleague they knew who died from cancer.


But most of all I had admiration for what Ms. Messner did.


We cannot ignore the fact that CNN demonstrated a commitment to those whose lives have been touched by cancer … Continue reading →

Vitamin D and The New England Journal of Medicine

An article in today’s New England Journal of Medicine is bound to get a lot of attention, but not for all the right reasons.


The article is a review of vitamin D deficiency and the implications for health and disease.


It is written by a researcher who is well known in vitamin D circles, Dr. Michael Holick from the Boston University School of Medicine where he is a member of their Vitamin D, Skin and Bone Research Laboratory.


What is perhaps less well-known is Dr. Holick’s close relationship with the tanning industry.


Many might end up asking why the Journal would choose someone widely viewed as having a pro-sun exposure and tanning bias to author an authoritative review on the subject, and why they would allow funding from the indoor tanning industry to play a role in the work.  You would have difficulty finding this information unless you knew what to look for and where to look.


Vitamin D issues are no stranger to this blog.  I have written several postings reflecting a changing personal viewpoint on the impact of vitamin D on health, particularly with respect to cancer.


My position … Continue reading →

Skin Cancer Prevention and the New York Times

It is one thing to cover the news and science related to cancer.  It is something different when your organization and you personally become the news.  Such is the situation with an article that appeared yesterday in the New York Times. 


The focus of the article was an American Cancer Society public service announcement about skin cancer that has run the past two summers in several magazines read by young women.


First, some background.


The American Cancer Society has been concerned about skin cancer and the risks of sun exposure for many years.  Our website has information on sun-safe behaviors, and our Cancer Facts and Figures publications talk about the risks for developing skin cancers, including the role of sun exposure.


Our basic protection message is “slip, slop, slap,” which translates into: slip on a shirt, slop on the sunscreen and slap on a hat to protect yourself when in the sun.  Wearing sunglasses with ultraviolet protection is also important, as is avoiding the sun during the peak hours of the day, usually from 10AM to 4PM.


Our concerns regarding skin cancer and sun exposure are shared by many other … Continue reading →