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Ed Rust, proprietor of, has worked in publishing in a variety of capacities for decades. He started as U.S. circulation director of the Financial Times "way back when they flew the papers into Kennedy Airport from London a day late." He most recently was managing editor of publications at the General Society, Sons of the Revolution.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

RADIUS: Medical Advice from Physicians

Today we're performing a head-to-toe examination of Radius, a new quarterly magazine on medical and health topics written for the layman. The authors are almost all physicians. Radius is from Nightingale Publishing in Carmel, Indiana.

Publisher Dr. Dev Brar explains the magazine's doctor-knows-best concept: "When it comes to health, you should receive accurate information," adding, "You should read what is best for you from physicians in a non-sensational but truthful way."

Articles from medical doctors may be factual, but are they readable? A perusal of a recent issue indicates that the editors have done a pretty good job in either selecting their authors or turning their submissions into interesting prose.

An example is an article by dentist Richard Goldman, who claims that a lot of cases of migraine headache are actually due to the contraction of muscles of the head and neck, a condition called Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction Syndrome or TMJ. Dr. Goldman says that migraine sufferers often travel from doctor to doctor vainly seeking relief from pain so great that it can lead to depression and even suicide. He writes that TMJ, once diagnosed, can often be successfully treated by a dentist without pain-killing drugs or surgery.

Several articles in the issue I've been looking at are about the heart: how it works, what's involved in the condition called congestive heart failure, how to tell if you're having (or not having) a heart attack. All this with lots of advice on how to keep your heart healthy.

There are a couple of "heart friendly recipes" offered by the magazine, but don't look too closely. One, for egg, spinach and bacon sandwiches, uses egg substitutes and imitation bacon bits. What's the point of living forever when that's what you're eating?

Another piece is about the merits of fish oil, specifically the omega-3 fatty acids that are present in fish such as salmon, swordfish, cod and tuna. The very enthusiastic writer, Alan Clark, M.D., makes omega-3 sound like a cure-all, claiming it's been shown to alleviate depression, lessen the risk of heart disease and Alzheimer's, and treat rheumatoid arthritis.

One article seemed a little out of place in a magazine for medical consumers. It's about a computer simulation that lets medical and nursing students practice drawing blood and inserting intravenous lines before approaching their first live patients. But I did like author Dr. Arthur Kaufman's old Chinese proverb: "Tell me, I will forget; show me, I may remember; involve me, I will understand."

The issue also contains a scary article about the risks patrons and workers are exposed to in nail salons. For the workers, it's constant exposure to dangerous chemicals and vapors; for the customers, it's soaking their feet in poorly cleaned throne footbaths and having their cuticles or calluses cut with unsanitary razors and nail clippers.

A digression, but still on things medical. For the last few nights I've been reading a wonderful history of the influenza epidemic of 1918-1919, The Great Influenza, by John M. Barry. It was published in 2004. While I'm only about a third of the way through it, I very much recommend the early chapters for a succinct history of medical education in the United States, which was truly primitive until German-educated physicians started clinically oriented medical schools at The Johns Hopkins University and a few other institutions at the start of the 20th century.

That influenza pandemic, which apparently originated in western Kansas, killed 100 million people around the world in just a few months. It first hit home for me when it claimed red-haired Hazel Bellamy in one of the later episodes of Upstairs, Downstairs.

Back to my diagnosis of Radius: it's is a good read for the layman, and probably a great read for the hypochondriac. An annual subscription (four issues) is $14.95 from the publisher. We'll send you a sample copy for $2.59.