Ask the Doctors

A Final Farewell to Readers

Dear Readers, this will be my 250th column over the past two years. Writing for you has been a great opportunity, and I thank all of you for the questions you have given me. In trying to convey the best information possible, I have learned a great deal. I have pored through multiple articles in my attempt to glean the truth buried within the scientific evidence and to explain how it applies to our everyday life. Now, however, other duties beckon, and so this is my last article for you. My colleagues, Dr. Eve Glazier and Dr. Elizabeth Ko, will continue writing the column and addressing your medical queries.

I feel both a sense of satisfaction in helping so many people, as well as a great deal of regret that I may not have the frequent opportunity to unearth what remains a wealth of untapped knowledge.

There remains a great deal of confusion and much misinformation about health and disease. Even I cling to notions that may be incorrect and, when confronted with studies that are contrary to my beliefs, I must overcome my hubris and admit when I'm wrong. It would be nice if we could all do that.

In one last salvo, I would like to give you my hope for a healthier society:

-- A healthy society is one that provides access to vegetables, fruits and animal protein and rejects the multiple processed foods and desserts that have flooded our markets.

-- A healthy society is one that decreases pollutants that contaminate the air we breathe and the water we drink.

-- A healthy society should have open spaces for its people to hike, walk, saunter or just sit reading a book or taking time to watch the sun set.

-- A healthy society has compassion for its individual members and a reverence to the Earth that harbors them.

I hope that my efforts have provided insight and guidance about your health, even as I hope that each person can commit to contributing in some way to make our world a better place.

To do that, each of us has to take responsibility for our own health. Succumbing to the plethora of unhealthy foods, drugs, alcohol and tobacco available to us, or using one's nonwork time glued to some form of visual entertainment, will not make a healthy individual. Instead, poor health habits lead to disease, the taking of multiple medications with side effects and the inability to live life fully. Our consumer industries feed off our unhealthy habits and, in concordance, our health care becomes ever more expensive. These choices are up to us.

I'd like to thank my wife and kids for being patient with me while I worked on these articles on the weekends. As for me, my first weekend endeavor will be to clean up my garage. It's a mess. I will continue to write medical articles for UCLA Health and will be promoting my novel, "Beautifully Absurd." And I will continue my work as a primary care physician, where I will continue to learn about medicine and the everyday lives of human existence. Thank you.

(Send your questions to askthedoctors@mednet.ucla.edu, or write: Ask the Doctors, c/o Media Relations, UCLA Health, 924 Westwood Blvd., Suite 350, Los Angeles, CA, 90095. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.)

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