August 2013

In my annual nutrition review last year, Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death, I explored the role diet may play in preventing, arresting, and even reversing our top 15 killers. Actually, if you recall, the top 16. Since side effects from prescription drugs kill an estimated 106,000 Americans a year, the sixth leading cause of death may actually be doctors.

And that’s just from adverse drug reactions. Add in medical mistakes (which the Institute of Medicine estimates kills at least 44,000 Americans) and that brings “health”care up to our country’s third leading cause of death. Throw in hospital-acquired infections, and we’re talking maybe 187,000 Americans dead every year (and millions injured) by medical care.

The best way to avoid the adverse effects of medical and surgical treatments and tests is not to avoid doctors, but to avoid getting sick in the first place. This year I thought I’d run through the top dozen reasons people visit their doctors to highlight some of the latest research in hopes of moving me and my colleagues lower down the list of common killers.