Summer diseases – Shelby Sun

Summer is fun, but it isn’t without hazards. In fact, a surprising number of people become ill or are injured during the summer months. The good news is – summer diseases and injuries are preventable. Take the case of skin cancer. Over one million new cases of skin cancer occur each year. Melanoma, which is […]

American Cancer Society Reaffirms the Benefits Of Mammography – Shelby Sun

October is national breast cancer awareness month and October 17 is mammography day. If you are confused about the screening recommendations for a mammogram, you are not the only one – so are many doctors. A few months ago, the American Cancer Society updated its recommendations for breast cancer screening, hoping to iron out the […] – an awesome resource – Shelby Sun

It’s very likely that you have visited the new food pyramid website, How do I know? Because, the site was clogged for several days after it’s unveiling, due to unprecedented network traffic. The old food pyramid, which was first introduced in 1992 and was well recognized by over 80 percent of the population, needed […]

Mark your calendar – Flu shot – Shelby Sun

On Monday you have a hair salon appointment, on Wednesday it’s dinner at Martha’s place and Friday morning is your flu shot appointment at the pharmacy. If the last appointment is missing you better mark your calendar. Last year 2 of every 5 seniors in Tennessee missed getting a flu shot. Studies show that there […]

The world is flatter and fatter – Shelby Sun

The obesity pandemic – slowly and silently – is killing more people in the world than the bird flu may ever kill. In United States alone, an estimated 300,000 individuals die annually from obesity and its complications such as diabetes, heart disease and breast cancer. According to the World Health Organization, globally, there are over […]

Medicare drug bill – a step towards privatization of Medicare – Shelby Sun

The Medicare legislation being voted on by Congress this week hopes to bring the greatest change to Medicare in its 40 year history. The plan is sure to effect our health, our pocket books, and the future of our health care industry in America. The bill is not just about giving a prescription plan to […]

Meditation – not just for the mind! – Shelby Sun

Last week I attended a talk by Dr. Herb Smith a former Rhodes College psychology professor. He was teaching meditation. I am often asked , “what is meditation?” As doctors we have a fairly sophisticated definition. Scientifically we define meditation “as stylized mental technique from … (Eastern Traditions)… repetitively practiced for the purpose of attaining […]

Diabetes increases the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease – Shelby Sun

Last week, at a breakfast meeting Governor Mike Huckabee spoke about his personal battle and victory over diabetes. As the talk was interesting, one fact stuck to our minds – “every 21 seconds someone new is diagnosed with diabetes.” This threat of diabetes became more concerning when a report at a recent conference held in […]

Dehydration from Bright Lights and Bright Sun – Shelby Sun

When Zuleyka Rivera Mendoza, the newly crowned Miss. Universe, fainted on stage, she was likely squeezed by her tight dress and dehydrated from the bright lights. Dehydration is more common than we think. Thirst is a symptom of dehydration as is dry mouth, decrease urination, and dizziness. If we do not pay attention to these […]

Improving Care for Sepsis Patients – Shelby Sun

A visit to the hospital can be traumatizing. Even more traumatizing can be when the team of doctors and nurses are not coordinated in the recognition, diagnosis and management of a critical illness such as sepsis. Sepsis is a life threatening response of the body to an overwhelming infection. Ironically, the body’s own reaction goes […]

Sticking to It – Shelby Sun

When Ms. Landers, a 30 year old HIV positive patient, comes to my office and is failing on her HAART (Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy), I wonder why. Is it because the medicines are not working and resistance has developed? Is it because there is drug-drug interaction with her medicines? I explore a bit more, “In […]

Time for a check up – Shelby Sun

The odometer on my Toyota Avalon just passed 100,000 and soon the “check engine” light went on. It was a reminder that I needed to take my car for routine servicing. Thought it is annoying the “check engine” light is an “in the face” reminder of needed preventive services. Likewise – I wish there were […]

To eat or not to eat: Spinach – Shelby Sun

Last week while having dinner at a hospital board meeting at the Peabody, I wondered if I should eat the salad – especially the spinach. It is hard to imagine that spinach, the food of Popeye-the sailor, could be more harmful than healthy, yet such is the case in today’s food industry. Foods travel great […]

Meningitis Vaccine for Teenagers – Shelby Sun

Our pediatrician poked a pen in my teenage daughter’s arm and said “That’s how much it will hurt, or I will give you ten dollars” He was talking about the meningitis vaccine. Meningitis is an infection of the fluid surrounding the spinal cord, and can be caused by bacteria or virus. Often patients complain of […]

Memphis – First in Addressing Childhood Obesity – Shelby Sun

Who would have imagined that the first interactive national conversation on childhood obesity would begin in Memphis? But that is what is happening on September 17, 2005 as 1,200 people – parents, youths, doctors, politicians, corporate executive, school teachers, and many more will gather in a town hall meeting at the FedEx Forum. Memphis is […]

Norfleet Forum- Focuses on Diabetes and Obesity – Shelby Sun

For several months I have been on the planning committee for the Norfleet Forum, which is an annual meeting in Memphis of health care providers, to be held on November 13-14. The Forum has taken on the challenge to reverse the epidemic of obesity and diabetes in the greater Memphis area. “Why diabetes and obesity?” […]

Only in America …dietary guidelines – Shelby Sun

Only in America do we order a big double cheese burger, large fries and a diet coke from the drive-through and the government tells us this is wrong. Early this month when the new dietary guidelines were unveiled by the Department of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, it was another jab at our culture […]

Patients and Family are Part of the Healthcare Team – Shelby Sun

Few weeks ago my wife, also a physician, and I attended a medical seminar on teamwork. A Navy pilot, Steve Harden, was teaching us teamwork skills from the aviation industry so that we could reduce medical errors in the healthcare setting. The hotel ballroom was packed with 400 doctors with 10 doctors at each round […]

Feel the power of prayer – Shelby Sun

Last month I spoke to students at Rhodes College on “Does Prayer Really Work?”. I am not a preacher or a pastor but a doctor. Why would a doctor be talking about prayer? A controversy has brewed in the field of medicine- whether doctors should pray with their patients or encourage patients to pray to […]

The ballooning cost of prescription medications – Shelby Sun

Nearly 84% of the elderly take a prescription medication regularly. Each year we pay 10% to 17% more than the previous year for our medication, which is a rate higher than the rate of inflation and even higher than the overall rise in cost of healthcare. Why is this happening and what can we do […]

Giving Thanks for Health – Shelby Sun

On Thanksgiving Day we had a gathering of family and friends for a feast. Before the meal we all prayed together and then one by one-  old and young -answered the question. “What are we thankful for?” Nearly everyone said there were thankful for “our family, our food, our good fate…” Some like me had […]

A can a day will keep fitness away – Shelby Sun

It’s 7th grade math. One 12 ounce can of soda has 150 calories. There are 365 days in a year. One can of soda per day will add 54,750 calories in a year (150 x 365). One pound of body fat has 3,500 calories. So, if one can of soft drink is added to a […]

Remembering the mad cow disease epidemic of 1990s – Shelby Sun

History repeats itself, and so do epidemics. Yet, over time we have become better prepared to handle epidemics. Before the holidays, when one Holstein cow in Washington State tested positive for mad cow disease, an epidemic had occurred. Yes, just one case of mad cow disease is an epidemic – and rightly so – because […]

Aspirin the wonder drug – Shelby Sun

Have you ever wondered how the wonder drug works? What magic does aspirin have that allows it to reduce pain and fever, save 110,000 lives globally per year, save the muscles of the heart, and the working power of the brain?  And now, a recent study shows that women who take aspirin once a week […]

Canadian drugs for Seniors – Shelby Sun

My dad gets his beta blocker (high blood pressure medicine) from overseas, but my wife insists on carrying an entire course of antibiotics when we fly out of the country. Just like our family, the Congress is uncertain if it should legalize the import of drugs from Canada and other countries. There are a several […]

When patients and doctors don’t agree… – Shelby Sun

Mrs. Johnson refused to have her second leg amputated. She lay on the hospital bed with her one prosthetic leg leaning against the wall, the straps dangling; the dark skin of the prosthetic leg matched her skin color. The leg almost looked life like. Her other foot had now become necrotic and odorous from her […]

Travelers Beware – Shelby Sun

“We should go to Africa for our next vacation.” said my friend. “Africa?” I questioned. Imagining exotic diseases, I shuddered at the thought, while my friend was contemplating an open-jeep safari in the grasslands of Kenya racing a zebra. Each year million of Americans travel overseas exposing themselves to uncommon illnesses. Though I fear and […]

What to do – I got the flu? – Shelby Sun

You have a  fever of 100 degrees and a runny nose, but you still manage to go to work. So you think you have the flu? Nope.  You don’t have the flu. Relax,  it’s just a common cold. The flu is – well, like getting hit by a Mack truck. Symptoms of flu include sudden […]

Resistant Staph Infections Disguised as Spider Bites – Shelby Sun

Mrs. Scott insisted she had been bitten by a spider as she caressed a deep ulcer on her right thigh.” “Did you see the spider?” I asked. “No, but it looks like a spider bite” she said. When we got the wound culture report back, we realized it was not a spider bite, but a […]

Education of mothers helps reduces infant mortality – Shelby Sun

Last week I along with several of my public health colleagues sat with Governor Bredesen during lunch. He pointed to us and asked “I need a simple message. Just as children we learned that ‘we must brush our teeth daily and visit the dentist,’ what message can I use to help reduce infant mortality in […]

Herbal Therapy and the Common Cold – Shelby Sun

As a doctor I rarely recommend herbal or alternative therapy for the common cold to my patients, but as a parent I use it all the time. Why such different behaviors? The common cold is “common” occurring 1 to 3 times a year in an average American. Yet, the common cold is not trivial; it […]

Covering my Behind – Shelby Sun

It is not the calls from patients or the hospitals that keep doctors awake at night, but it is the risk of a potential malpractice lawsuit. Nearly 1 in 2 doctors has been sued. Nearly, 3 of 4 doctors in practice for more than 10 years have been sued. Almost all the cardiac surgeons in […]

Eating Soy Foods Can Reduce Bone Fractures – Shelby Sun

In our society soy foods do not get special preference, in fact some people find them disgusting. However, a recent study that showed that eating soy foods could protect us from getting bone fractures may change our minds. The September issue of Archives on Internal Medicine reported on a study of 24,403 Chinese women between […]

Cell Phones Don’t Cause Tumors, But They Do Cause Accidents – Shelby Sun

My brother called me several months ago and asked, “do you know if cell phones cause brain tumors?” He was calling from his cell phone with a hands free headset while driving. “I don’t know.” I said, “but, I will look into it.” Several years ago, one Swedish study had claimed that there was an […]

Holiday Candies Expanding Waistlines – Shelby Sun

Each fall Halloween kicks off the candy eating season- still to come are Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and Valentines Day. By the end, an average American would have gained an extra pound of weight. Thought this may not seem much, we never shed this extra pound, and it accumulates through the years. No doubt, candies […]

New Orleans Last Week – Not Unlike Bombay Last Month – Shelby Sun

I was stranded overnight in a car and then waddled 5 miles through hip deep dirty brown water. This was not in New Orleans last week, but in Bombay, India a month ago when 38 inches of rain fell in one day (Memphis receives 48 inches in a year). Flooding is common place in the […]

Married adults live longer. but why? – Shelby Sun

I told my wife about a recent study, “Honey, married people live nearly a decade longer than unmarried people.” She smiled. Then asked “Who.the married men or the women?’ “Both,” I said. “The data from federal death records showed that married men lived 10 years longer than divorced men and married women lived 9 years […]

Fast Food Needs To Change Fast – Shelby Sun

We went to McAlister’s Deli for lunch last Saturday. As my daughter and I peered at the four columns of menu items above the counter, she noticed one column entitled  “Vegetarian”. “Daddy, one-fourth of the meals are vegetarian”, she said. (She is learning fractions in her 5th grade class.) At McDonald’s, we can peer at […]

Guess who turned 40 this year? – Shelby Sun

Like it or not medicare is here to stay – infact there are many who advocate it as the insurance plan for all Americas who cannot insurance from their employees or self-insured. Now that would qualify for a mid-life crisis. The big 4-0 The health program that provides coverage for seniors and eligible people with […]

Forgiveness – it’s healthy for you – Shelby Sun

Many Christmas dinners have come and gone and you still have not talked with Uncle Stan. Since that heated family argument ten years ago, neither has apologized and neither has forgiven. This holiday season reconsider your grudges. Forgiveness is not just a virtue, but it is also healthy for you. This past October top scientists […]

Disease management program – a new strategy – Shelby Sun

Last Thursday I along with 20 other physicians met with Governor Bredeson for over an hour and a half. He was selling his TennCare reforms. Most of us listened. Some of us praised him. Some griped and others gave him new ideas, which he jotted down. Most obviously, Tenncare will undergo major structural changes by […]

Happiness and health – are they linked? – Shelby Sun

During morning rounds at the hospital I examine Mr. Jones. He had a lung transplant a year ago, and has made more visits to the hospitals than to the supermarket. I ask myself, “Is Mr. Jones happy?” I pass the automatic double door out of the ICU onto the hospital floor that has many acute […]

Health report cards – Shelby Sun

This school year in addition to getting a scholastic report card on your child, imagine receiving a health report card, which would tell you how overweight or underweight your child is.  If you lived in Cambridge Massachusetts, that would be the case. A study published last month showed that parents who received the health and […]

How healthy are our restaurant menus? – Shelby Sun

Last week we dined at a restaurant, we have been frequenting for the past 10 years. The young polite waiter asked for the order. I looked at the menu, then I paused and asked for something completely out of the ordinary. “Do you have a menu that lists the nutritional content of the items you […]

How much to drink? – Shelby Sun

My wife is a drinker. She drinks 7-10 glasses each day – of water that is? She wants me to be like her, but I refuse. I am stingy with my drink – only with meals or after a work-out or when my thirst nudges me to bend over a water fountain, suck up a […]

Meningitis Vaccine for Teenagers – shelby Sun

Our pediatrician poked a pen in my teenage daughter’s arm and said “That’s how much it will hurt, or I will give you ten dollars” He was talking about the meningitis vaccine. Meningitis is an infection of the fluid surrounding the spinal cord, and can be caused by bacteria or virus. Often patients complain of […]

Nonviolence Conference to Address Racial Disparities in Healthcare – Shelby Sun

If an African-American patient comes into a doctor’s office, does he get similar care compared with a Caucasian patient? “No,” says the Institute of Medicine. The present research “demonstrates significant variation in the rates of medical procedures by race, even when insurance status, income, age, and severity of conditions are comparable. This research indicates that […]

When an epidemic becomes a pandemic – Shelby Sun

A few months ago, a hospital surveyor asked me. “As an infection control practitioner, what would keep you awake at night?” “Outbreaks of staph infections and hospital acquired infections are a concern,” I said. “But, we can manage them. I worry about a global flu pandemic.” Each year, during the winter season we have a […]

Patient’s Rights- Know Them and Exercise Them – Shelby Sun

Do patients have “needs” or do patients have “rights?” When I was in medical school – a couple of decades ago – we talked about patient’s needs. Today, the concept has matured to patient’s rights. In fact, in 1997 President Clinton signed a Patients Bill of Rights into law. However, if you are like me, […]

New Vaccine Can Save ER Visits – Shelby Sun

Parents and pediatricians can add another vaccine to their laundry list (now at 15) of childhood vaccines. Oh no…another shot, that sounds painful. But wait, the new vaccine, RotaTeq, is an oral suspension given in 3 doses to babies younger than 8 months old. RotaTeq protects against rotavirus, which causes fever, nausea, vomiting, and watery […]

Addressing Obesity at a High-Tech Town Hall Meeting – Shelby Sun

An estimated 11 million people in Africa will die of famine this year. Approximately, two-thirds of all adults and one-third of all children in the United States are now overweight; of these, nearly 50% of adults and 16% of children are obese. Though, we live in an age of globalization, our world still has incredible […]