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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

I Was America's Leading Writer of Health Articles


I still hold the record for Woman’s Day – about 35 articles. I stopped as I reached middle-age in the 1990s in favor of my yearning to write literature. Don’t expect a plug for my fiction. It’s been published, but you have to look hard to find it.

Mass-market health articles deliver positive information that readers can use. Editors have no interest in controversy, muckraking, entertaining anecdotes, or the writer’s personal experience – the sort of material you find in this blog.

I knew this, but I sometimes broke the rules.

Here’s an example. Media doctors love to warn us of hidden dangers, ominous symptoms, and important information that would make us healthier if we only knew about it.   

I wanted to do the opposite – tell readers of things they don’t need to worry about and things that are supposed to make them healthier but don’t.

Patients worry that a headache means their blood pressure is high, fatigue that their blood pressure is low, and that their fifth cold of the year is a sign of low immunity. This is not true.

Green mucus, yellow diarrhea, smelly urine, sharp chest pains, and white spots on tonsils rarely require urgent action and usually no action at all.

Healthy readers learn that they can become super-healthy. If they are doing everything right, they can do still better – eat certain nutrients, cultivate a positive attitude – and “boost” their immune system, slow the aging process built into our DNA, and prevent disease. It's equally true that a terrific life-style will reduce a nine month pregnancy to seven months.

Media doctors insist that will-power and a positive attitude cures disease. To heal, you must fervently want to heal. I call that the “be happy or die” approach.

Editors hated this.

“Readers look up to us. Why should we tell them that our other doctors are wrong?” they asked. 

“We never tell a reader not to worry,” they added. “If she follows your advice, and something bad happens, she will blame you. And us. And she will sue.” 

This article remains unpublished. It never came close.

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