Fairly often I see articles claiming sugar causes cancer, or that something else causes it. I figured I’d post this for people to read.
As someone who’s learned some Brazilian Portuguese (and still has a lot to learn), something like this has been on my mind for a while. One of the things that us physicians are supposed to have is cultural competence. I think that before I started learning Portuguese, when I heard the term Latino/a or Hispanic, Spanish speakers typically came to mind. Though I’ve also recently read something arguing for treating those from Portuguese speaking countries as a distinct group (though in the US they’re often lumped in with those from Spanish speaking countries). Granted I realized that encompassed people from many places as cultures (a patient of Puerto Rican decent who’s family has been in the U.S. Mainland for a generation or two might not have all of the same concerns as people who came from Columbia, Peru or Mexico).
Even people who come from the same country might be very different, though more similar to each other than they are to the ‘average’ american. In this I think of people from China where there are many languages and dialects spoken. Even in the U.S., someone who grew up in New England might have a much different outlook than someone who grew up in the Mid West or South East of the U.S. They might have different dietary proclivities as well.
Does that mean it’s useless or futile to try to be culturally competent? No. But it does make it more interesting at times. I think it just means keeping an open mind and remembering people from other cultures might have different expectations of time, needs from their physicians, etc. It is also helpful to know who a patient might – or would – rely on for decisions and for help. What might be considered to be “on time” for an appointment for a physician, might not be for someone where the sense of time is more fluid.
Another reason for being culturally aware – and here I am also including having a knowledge of a country’s or ethnic groups history – is risks for certain diseases. For example, if one doesn’t know much about the colonization of Cape Verde, one might not know to test a patient for Cystic Fibrosis mutations in a couple who are concerned about genetic diseases before getting pregnant. In Jewish populations, one might think of Tay Sachs as being a “Jewish Disorder”. However the genetic disorders jewish patients who trace their ancestry to Spain prior to 1492 (Sephardim) or to the near east (E.G., Persia) actually mirrors the countries they come from (For example,they can carry mutations for certain forms of Muscular Dystrophy). Knowing this kind of history helps inform decisions about testing and treatment.
In an earlier post I asked where people get their health information. In this post I’m just listing some more websites people can get some unbiased health information:
If a couple of the links sound familiar, it’s because I used the phrase ” Talking with your doctor” as a title of a much earlier blog post. Of note, I wasn’t aware of the above links when I wrote my original blog post.
While I don’t have any answers as to universal health care coverage, whether there should be one payer or many. However it’s nice to see something that shows a positive effect for having insurance.
This site is a reminder to take a lot of “advice”, or at least some headlines, with a grain of salt. In earlier posts I’ve gone over a bit as to where to get health information and things to think about when evaluating claims (Here are the posts: Where do you get your health information? and Evaluating Health Care Claims ). This link talks about some of the more common myths that still make rounds a lot on the internet.
This article is interesting to me for a few reasons. One is that the current fad of calling refined sugar ‘evil’ (as well the fad of considering high fructose corn syrup as even worse than Satan) is something that has come and gone. This is something that the article does point out repeatedly.
The other is that, as with many things dietary and lifestyle related, perhaps caution with somethings is warranted but that for many things (like sugar), a moderate approach is better. It’s perhaps wiser to avoid refined sugar as much as possible (no two liter bottles of regular soda, have candy only occasionally, etc), but not get upset if one does have a can of soda or a piece of candy on occasion. If having something with a lot of refined sugar once in a while helps someone eat in a healthy manner, it’s better than going overboard with too much refined sugar. A can of soda or a piece of cake isn’t going to undo one month, or one week for that matter, of eating a healthy diet.
I would no more suggest that people don’t exercise because they might get injured than I’d say cut out sugar entirely. Better you do both (exercise and have sugar) moderately. That way if you do have something “bad” for you then won’t beat yourself over the head when you do so.
For me this is an exiting and interesting story. As I have said in earlier posts, exercise is important. This just reinforces the notion that exercise, even if started later in life, does help health. I won’t wax poetic about how exercise is a “veritable fountain of youth” as I try to avoid being overly dramatic with health care claims.