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America’s Doctor (part 3)

Published: July 29, 2010

Dr. Doug and Dr. Dean Edell wrap up their conversation with a discussion about physicians in the media (a commonality they share) and some tips for dieting and living well.

RP: When you got into radio, there were no doctors on the airwaves. Now there are conventions for media doctors. I’m curious to your reaction to the news that neurosurgeon and media physician Sanjay Gupta, was named Surgeon General.

DE: I’m proud of that. I was one of the first media docs, I think I was the first doing radio. In the beginning, I got a lot of heat from media professionals and journalists asking, “Who’s this guy walking in the back door?” I was fortunate to be on television and radio in major markets early in my career without going to “journalism school.” Not that most journalists on TV went to journalism school! There was a lot of resentment. There was resentment from the medical profession, to tell you the truth. They didn’t like the idea that I was expressing opinions that occasionally clashed with their opinions. I remember early-on with estrogens. I kept telling women 25 years ago; “I don’t know if we have the evidence that every woman when she reaches 51 should be put on estrogens.” There were gynecologists doing that automatically, because a woman hit 51. That wasn’t hard to figure out. I think it’s great that a “television doctor” was recognized to be of high enough quality to take up the highest medical job in the land. I wish him luck. I don’t imagine politics is like neurosurgery or CNN, yet I think the skills he brings to the job are important. He knows how to work the camera, garner an audience, and communicate! He knows how to deal with issues concisely and directly. I think he’s a good choice.

RP: Diets fascinate Americans. Could you give us your remarkably simple summary of how to approach diet?

DE: It has gotten simpler. Unfortunately, you can’t write a book of one sentence. We have to admit that the diet failure rate is 90-something percent. If we in medicine did anything that has failed at 90+ percent, or any industry did something that failed at that level, we’d throw up their hands. So I tell people to eat what they want. If they’re not eating what they want, they’re not going to stick to any diet. Dieting is a lifelong deal. I tell people: eat less! It is so simple and a lot easier than working out in a gym. It’s a lot easier than mono-diets, strict diets, and feeling deprived all the time. It’s really easy to push away that last piece of pizza and say no to desserts. I think people will wind up more satisfied and control their weight better. That’s my opinion. It’s a minority opinion, unfortunately.

RP: Let’s close with advice you gave in Eat, Drink and Be Merry on how to avoid counterproductive behavior. This may be one of the great keys to wellness. You note that if we can control stress, and anger, and hostility (things we do have control over) it pays huge dividends.

DE: Life is short. We spend so much time worrying about the future and the past. We allow ourselves to get stressed out. Americans are so into numbers. We worry about everything. When it comes to living life… well, you don’t know. Tomorrow you could get run over. Live it to the fullest every day. Say the things to your loved ones you want to. No one is going to be on their death bed thinking, “Hey, I wish I spent another day at the office.” Unfortunately, too many of us have that attitude. Life is very sweet. It is to be enjoyed. I don’t think there is more I can say than that.

RP: Dr. Dean, it has been a great pleasure to speak with you. I have learned a lot of medicine listening to you. My patients benefited, as did I. Many thanks.

DE: Absolutely. Be well.

For those of you interested in more of what Dr. Dean Edell has to say about healthy living, you can visit his website http://www.healthcentral.com.  For those interested in hearing more of Dr. Doug’s interviews, you can head on over to http://www. radioparallax.com, or for those in the Davis/Sacramento area you can tune to 90.3FM KDVS on Thursdays from 5pm – 6pm.