Medicine: Blood & Iron

Only a generation ago, anemia was both a common and a fashionable complaint. It was good for endless speculative chatter, because doctors understood little about it, and nearly every patient had his (or more often her) favorite patent nostrum. Last week, Salt Lake City's Dr. Maxwell Myer Wintrobe told a Manhattan audience of doctors how drastically the anemia story has changed in a mere three decades.

In the first place, Dr. Wintrobe emphasized, anemia is no longer recognized as a disease, but only as a symptom of some other disease. As a result, a...

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