Thursday, Jul. 23, 2009

10 Questions for Dr. Mehmet Oz

Americans are constantly being told the benefits of good health practices, yet we get fatter year by year. Is there hope? Sharon Melnick, Wellington, Fla.
We have, without question, the most educated population in the history of mankind about our bodies. What we don't have is the awareness of why it matters. Without that, you don't have motivation, and without motivation, it doesn't frankly matter.

Heart disease is still the world's No. 1 cause of death. Why do you think that is? Marvin Quianzon, Quezon City, Philippines
The heart, our internal metronome — it keeps us pounding. Of all the organs we have, it's always on call. What kills more human beings than anything is hardening of the arteries. With heart disease, we don't have a Plan B.

Many doctors today lack a good bedside manner. How did you acquire such an empathetic demeanor with your patients? Christine Baker, Brownsburg, Ind.
You learn how to take care of people from the women in your life. My mother was all about unconditional love, and I don't think we give that to our patients a lot. At the end of the day, what they really need you to do is to look at them in the eye and say, "I'm here for you. I'm going to make sure this works out."

What is your best advice for med students in terms of finding a specialty? Merih Griswold, Birmingham, Ala.
We have a lot of young doctors who want to be specialists. I think we need more doctors who are general practitioners.

What was the best advice someone gave you while you were in medical school? Alicia Perry, Flower mound, Texas
"Half of what we will teach you in medical school will, by the time you are done practicing, be proved wrong."

What emerging medical technology do you see as being most successful in the future? Butch Boyett Jr., Seattle
Our ability to look at your genomes and customize the cure you need. What we do now is such a terrible shotgun approach. At least 20% of the medications we give are probably not the right medications for you or the right doses.

How do you imagine stem-cell technology will be utilized in future medical treatments? Jared LeMoine, Lake Forest Park, Wash.
I think we'll have drugs within the next few years that will be powerful enough that we will be able to use them for some of the more chronic ailments like Parkinson's and others that we know can be treated by just putting the right cell on the right place to release the right chemical.

What is your daily diet and fitness regimen like? Cathy Delfino, Encinitas, Calif.
I get up in the morning and do a seven-minute yoga workout. I know the most likely time I'm going to do something is when I first get up, and I make it short because, like you, I don't really want to do that first thing in the morning. Food — I love nuts. I eat them all the time, they're easy to carry around, and I am never hungry all day long.

In your opinion, which country has the most efficient and equitable health-care system? Donald Gartman, Charleston, S.C.
Switzerland. Everyone has to have coverage. People who do not have insurance who come to the hospital cost a lot more, and they do far worse.

If you were not a doctor, what would you be? Narendra Trivedi, Santa Clara, Calif.
When I was 7, I was taken into this ice cream shop. There was a 10-year-old in line in front of me, and my father says to this little boy, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" And the little boy says, "I don't know." My father turned to me and said, "I don't care what you want to be in life, but I never want to hear that answer from you. I always want you to have a goal." So I decided in that ice cream shop that I wanted to be a doctor. Later, in high school, I decided I wanted to play pro football. Go figure.