On Nutrition by Ed Blonz

Medical Progress Remarkable, But Still Too Slow For Some

DEAR DR. BLONZ: I was surprised and disappointed at your recent comments about the progress of medical research. I’m just a layperson, but considering the number of major diseases that faced humans even 100 years ago, compared to today, medical science has made incredibly rapid progress. The development of antibiotics, for example, has cured too many diseases to list.

I’m really surprised at you. I experience atrial fibrillation and am alive because of heart medication and blood thinners, which will hopefully prevent a stroke, as my father had. Additionally, I’ll have surgery to implant a defibrillator to prevent sudden death from the condition.

Many cancers have been slowed or even “cured” through advances in therapies and surgeries. Medical advances are helping childhood diseases even before birth. At this point, we’ve cured so many diseases that the remaining ones are very complex, but medical science is finding innovative ways to tackle these by incorporating the body’s own immune system.

While it can be slow to get new drugs to market, this ensures that the drugs are safe -- and considering the tragedies of the past, when drugs have been rushed to market, this is a very good thing. Unfortunately, the progress of the past may be slowed or reversed by the current reluctance of parents to vaccinate their children. Even so, science continues to make incredible strides.

Dental health is frequently overlooked, but we’re learning that oral inflammation contributes to diseases of the whole body. The increasing number of medical specialties points to the rapid progress in medicine.

I believe you owe your readers and the entire medical profession an apology for your poorly thought-out response. -- S.R., Walnut Creek, California

DEAR S.R.: I appreciate your comments and the important perspectives they provide. There have indeed been amazing advances, but I had attempted to side with those suffering in the here-and-now from ailments such as autoimmune issues, Alzheimer’s and other dementias, ALS, Parkinson’s, unstoppable cancers and various forms of intractable pain from pathologies such as arthritis. All of these are instances where solutions remain beyond our grasp at the moment.

That questioner appeared to be writing from the standpoint of frustration within her circle of friends, and I did not want to respond in a palliative way by providing a glowing list of all science had accomplished to date.

Again, my regrets if this came across as a put-down to research; that was not the intention. As one focused on research and communication, I endeavor to keep chipping away at the unknowns, and I acknowledge and celebrate all that continues to be accomplished.

Send questions to: “On Nutrition,” Ed Blonz, c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO, 64106. Send email inquiries to questions@blonz.com. Due to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.