When Cancer Meets the Internet

Dr. Google doesn’t always know what’s best.

By Jane Brody

When faced with an actual or potential diagnosis of cancer, most people are inclined to consult Dr. Google, often before they see a real live medical expert. Unfortunately, Dr. Google doesn’t always know what’s best.

A generation ago, patients were largely dependent upon the physicians they consulted as to how best to deal with a disease like cancer. Nowadays there’s the internet, replete with a virtual tsunami of information offered by all kinds of sources, from experts equipped with evidence-based facts to people selling products or outright quackery. The trick is to know how to tell the difference, especially since the disparate guidance provided can become a matter of life or death.

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Art Credit: Gracia Lam

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The Science behind Taste Buds

by Nicolette Francey Asselin

The ability to taste food is a vital part of our lives.

While some studies differ on this point and claim that it is inherited, the ultimate sense of taste is learned and developed at an early age. Early exposure strongly influences the components of flavors, detected by our sense of smell (olfactory system) and taste (gustatory system). Read

The Race to Diagnose Cancer With a Simple Blood Test

By Ron Wislow

Liquid biopsies could transform cancer care as we know it.

Five years ago, a team of researchers pored over the results of a prenatal genetic test given to more than 125,000 healthy pregnant women and made a stunning discovery. The blood test, marketed by gene-sequencing giant Illumina, was designed to detect chromosome anomalies associated with conditions such as Down syndrome by analyzing fragments of fetal DNA circulating in the mother’s blood.

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Illustration by Eric Peterson

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Marguerite’s Table

by Nicolette Francey Asselin, M.D.

“As a child, my family’s approach to mealtime was without food fights. What I learned stayed with me throughout my life. I realize now that’s how both my loved ones and I have effortlessly maintained good health.”

Envision the meal you carefully prepared with love, spattered all over your kitchen!

“Eating should be fun.”  Chef José Andrés on «60 Minutes»

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Author: Nicolette Francey Asselin M.D. “Taste Buds” The Magic and Fun of Sensible Food.

Is It A Nasty Cold Or The Flu?

By Patti Neighmond

It’s that time of year again. You wake up with a scratchy throat, stuffy nose, a little achy — maybe a fever. Is it a classic head cold, or do you need to be more concerned? Could it be the flu?

“There’s lots of confusion out there, because both are viral respiratory illnesses,” says Dr. Yul Ejnes, an internal medicine specialist in private practice in Rhode Island and spokesperson for the American College of Physicians. “No one likes to get a cold, but people are more fearful of the flu.”

And rightly so.

Last year’s influenza season was particularly severe, resulting in an unusually high number of hospitalizations and deaths from flu complications. Read on