Some letters I might have gotten lately

Dear Doctor: I know that you are not a medical doctor. However, I have been following your interviews with prominent Vitamin D physicians and researchers. They believe there is epidemiological evidence that low Vitamin D levels can be correlated with increased instances of some very serious diseases. I need to know how much of the Vitamin D I should take. Can you tell me? By the way, I love you on the radio; my husband does not. I threw him out and he’s living down South.

Please sign me, “Looking for Health in Lanesboro.”

Dear Looking: Thanks for your nice letter. I appreciate your support. You are quite correct that I am not a medical doctor, nor do I pretend to be one. I do interview a lot of them on my Medical Monday edition of Vox Pop, Mondays at 2 p.m. on WAMC.

Virtually every doctor I have interviewed has been very upbeat about Vitamin D. In fact, I have had more calls about how much Vitamin D to take than pretty much anything else we’ve covered on the program. People really care about their health.

In my case, I can offer some anecdotal evidence. I have a very mild case of Barrett’s Esophagus. This can be a precancerous disease in which the lining of the esophagus is eroded by reflux acid. Mine was caught years ago, and thankfully, has not progressed. Nevertheless, I get an endoscopy once a year to see what has happened and if there is any further damage.

In previous years, things seemed to stay the same. I have been taking about 8,000 units of Vitamin D every day for about two years. This year the report came back saying, “No evidence of Barrett’s.” My doctors believe that there is a real possibility that the Vitamin D turned this around. Of course, the test might have missed something or the lab may have messed up. But it sure does make you wonder.

In any case, you should never self-medicate. You should go to a doctor and you should ask the doctor to do a Vitamin D Hydroxy test. That way your doctor can tell you how much vitamin D you need.

The further away you are from the equator, the more likely you are to need Vitamin D supplementation. Based on what I am hearing from a myriad of physicians and nutritionists, I am very excited about Vitamin D.

Dear Doctor: How much of what you hear on the Internet should you believe?

My ex-husband always tells people, “It must be true – I read it on the Internet.”

Please sign me, “Suspicious from Stockbridge.”

Dear Suspicious: Congratulations on unloading your clearly wrong-thinking husband. It is extraordinary to see how much misinformation exists online.

There are days when I think some of these characters who post have nothing better to the spew lies, hate and made up nonsense on the Internet. It is a small handful of malicious, unhappy people who spoil it for all the good people who use online resources. You have a lot better chance sticking with what you read in newspapers and books.

In addition to the obvious hate-mongers with their racist and sexist and homophobic Web sites, the Web has a lot of malicious and seriously disturbed individuals out there commenting on anything and everything. Some are sexual predators. Others are convicted criminals. Sometimes they are several bad things. If they malign you or lie about you, there is precious little you can do about it. Some keep themselves “asset free” or “judgment proof” so you can’t even sue them.

Sooner or later, our courts and legislatures will come around to figuring out how to make them pay. Just take you husband and multiply by several hundred thousand and you’ll know what we are dealing with here. Good luck!

Dear Doctor: My husband, who I am in the process of divorcing, loves to listen to Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage and Bill O’Reilly. A lot of our friends live in very small houses. Their children don’t have health care.

They can’t afford private schools and they certainly don’t have the money that the right wing schlock-meisters have, and yet they listen to these people who logically they should abhor. In other words, why do they listen to people whose arguments run directly contrary to their own best interests? It makes me so mad that I told my husband I couldn’t live with him any more.

Please sign me, Gretchen in Great Barrington.

Dear Gretchen: I could not have said it better myself. These people don’t realize that these right-wing proselytizers are just digits on the hands of the folks who pull the puppets’ strings. Trust me, if one disappears, they’ll find another. The secret is education. The stupider we get as a country, the more likely that these folks will get their way with those who don’t know any better. As for your husband, give him another chance. He doesn’t know what he’s saying.

Originally Published in the Berkshire Eagle, 2/27/10

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