Dr. Len's Cancer Blog

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Dr. Len's Cancer Blog

The American Cancer Society

The Cancer Drug Shortage: Patients And Families Deserve Better

by Dr. Len February 13, 2012

Does it get much worse than this?


A story in the New York Times last week highlights the dwindling supply of the drug methotrexate, which is vital in the treatment of a form of childhood acute leukemia. The closure in November of a key manufacturing plant-without other readily available sources of the drug-means that children with a very treatable form of leukemia may go without a drug that can make a difference in their lives. And there are no immediately obvious solutions to the problem.


This is-unfortunately-only the latest chapter in a saga that has been unfolding over the past year. For a variety of reasons, the supplies of vital drugs necessary to treat cancer and other diseases have been in various periods of short supply, and we as a nation have been unable to find answers that make sense.


Maybe, just maybe, it's time to take the actions necessary to deal with the problem. Too many lives are at stake to expect otherwise. More...

It's Groundhog Day; So How Large Is Your Shadow ?

by Dr. Len February 02, 2012

It's Groundhog Day, and that means millions of people will focus their attention on a furry little creature in Punxsutawney PA to see whether or not the animal sees its shadow. Breaking news bulletins say that he did, so we have six more weeks of winter to look forward to.


I--on the other hand--think there is a greater significance to Groundhog Day. It is the day when I check on my own shadow, and determine whether or not I have kept my commitment to keeping my weight steady during the past year, which has proven to be a difficult accomplishment. The answer this year is mostly yes, partly no.


A brief history:


A couple of years ago I took a look at my weight charts for the past decade (yes, Virginia, there are some of us who do that). What I saw disturbed me: for the three previous years, my weight would go down in January and February when I would rigorously diet, only to rise over the remaining months of the year. And, on top of that, when I looked back I saw that both the peaks and valleys were becoming higher and higher, so that each year my weight at the bottom of the trough was higher, and so was the peak in December. And that, my friends, would not suggest a healthy outcome.


So I dubbed this observation my "Groundhog Day Diet," based on the Bill Murray film of the same name. You may remember the picture: Murray relives Groundhog Day every day until he gets it right. Much like Mr. Murray, I decided that I would get it right by not going through the same cycle year after year.


Finally, this year I met with some success: I did gain some weight, but the peak was lower. And the numbers on the scale were steadier over the course of the year. I partly accomplished my goal. Where I missed was that I still weigh too much, just like lots of you. And, as any good doctor would tell you, over time weight takes its toll on things like our joints, our blood pressure, our cholesterol, you name it. More...

Filed Under:

Diet | Environment | Exercise | Prevention

About Dr. Len

Dr. Len

J. Leonard Lichtenfeld, MD, MACP - Dr. Lichtenfeld is Deputy Chief Medical Officer for the national office of the American Cancer Society.