A fi­nal farewell to read­ers

The Record (Troy, NY) - - YOURDAILY BREAK - Robert Ash­ley, M.D., is an in­ternist and as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor of medicine at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Robert Ash­ley

Dear Read­ers, this will be my 250th col­umn over the past two years. Writ­ing for you has been a great op­por­tu­nity, and I thank all of you for the ques­tions you have given me. In try­ing to con­vey the best in­for­ma­tion pos­si­ble, I have learned a great deal. I have pored through mul­ti­ple ar­ti­cles in my at­tempt to glean the truth buried within the sci­en­tific ev­i­dence and to ex­plain how it ap­plies to our ev­ery­day life. Now, how­ever, other du­ties beckon, and so this is my last ar­ti­cle for you. My col­leagues, Dr. Eve Glazier and Dr. El­iz­a­beth Ko, will con­tinue writ­ing the col­umn and ad­dress­ing your med­i­cal queries.

I feel both a sense of sat­is­fac­tion in help­ing so many peo­ple, as well as a great deal of re­gret that I may not have the fre­quent op­por­tu­nity to un­earth what re­mains a wealth of un­tapped knowl­edge.

There re­mains a great deal of con­fu­sion and much mis­in­for­ma­tion about health and dis­ease. Even I cling to no­tions that may be in­cor­rect and, when con­fronted with stud­ies that are con­trary to my be­liefs, I must over­come my hubris and ad­mit when I’m wrong. It would be nice if we could all do that.

In one last salvo, I would like to give you my hope for a health­ier so­ci­ety:

• A healthy so­ci­ety is one that pro­vides ac­cess to veg­eta­bles, fruits and an­i­mal pro­tein and re­jects the mul­ti­ple pro­cessed foods and desserts that have flooded our mar­kets.

• A healthy so­ci­ety is one that de­creases pol­lu­tants that con­tam­i­nate the air we breathe and the wa­ter we drink.

• A healthy so­ci­ety should have open spa­ces for its peo­ple to hike, walk, saunter or just sit read­ing a book or tak­ing time to watch the sun set.

• A healthy so­ci­ety has com­pas­sion for its in­di­vid­ual mem­bers and a rev­er­ence to the Earth that har­bors them.

I hope that my ef­forts have pro­vided in­sight and guid­ance about your health, even as I hope that each per­son can com­mit to con­tribut­ing in some way to make our world a bet­ter place.

To do that, each of us has to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for our own health. Suc­cumb­ing to the plethora of un­healthy foods, drugs, al­co­hol and to­bacco avail­able to us, or us­ing one’s non­work time glued to some form of visual en­ter­tain­ment, will not make a healthy in­di­vid­ual. In­stead, poor health habits lead to dis­ease, the tak­ing of mul­ti­ple med­i­ca­tions with side ef­fects and the in­abil­ity to live life fully. Our con­sumer in­dus­tries feed off our un­healthy habits and, in con­cor­dance, our health care be­comes ever more ex­pen­sive. Th­ese choices are up to us.

I’d like to thank my wife and kids for be­ing pa­tient with me while I worked on th­ese ar­ti­cles on the week­ends. As for me, my first week­end en­deavor will be to clean up my garage. It’s a mess. I will con­tinue to write med­i­cal ar­ti­cles for UCLA Health and will be pro­mot­ing my novel, “Beau­ti­fully Ab­surd.” And I will con­tinue my work as a pri­mary care physi­cian, where I will con­tinue to learn about medicine and the ev­ery­day lives of hu­man ex­is­tence. Thank you.

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