Please help me summarize the following article. MAKING SENSE OF MEDICAL NEWS BY Steven Lamm, M.D. Today a patient came in clutching a newspaper article reporting a study that found hormone...

Please help me summarize the following article. MAKING SENSE OF MEDICAL NEWS BY Steven Lamm, M.D.

Today a patient came in clutching a newspaper article reporting a study that found hormone replacement therapy(HRT) increased the risk of breast cancer. Since she has been taking the hormones for 3 years, she was quite upset. She'd been taking HRT to reduce the risk for two other problems: osteoporosis and heart disease. Now she faced a dilemma: Should she take the hormones and risk breast cancer, or stop taking them and make herself more vulnerable to the bone-thinning disorder and heart trouble? "Don't panic," I told her. "There'll soon be a rebuttal study, followed by another newspaper article," The upshot is that there is still no consensus on whether HRT increases the risk of breast cancer, but when the second study appeared, I got a call from my patient asking why scientists can't make up their minds. I hear this question a lot, and I can understand the frustration. The problem is that it takes hundreds of studies, many of them conflicting, to create a consensus on a particular lifestyle change or medical therapy. And since studies make the news, they inevitably create confusion. This isn't going to change. In fact, I'd guess that about 50% of the medical information we follow today will be considered obsolete, or at least will undergo major modification over the next five years. But while this process is unlikely to change, your reaction to it can. My advice: When you see or hear about study X or Y, stay calm and consider it an update rather than the final word. Learn to evaluate studies and their relevance to you. Here are some guidelines: Note the size and duration of the study. The larger it is and the longer it went on, the more dependable its findings. Also consider the type of study. The results of clinical research comparing one carefully selected group with another are generally more significant than those that simply observe a large population for trends. Check out the group studies: a study of men or women in Sweden may be less relevant to you than one of men and women of Mediterranean descent. Also, read the report to see whether it corroborates or contradicts past research: the more evidence there is for something, the more likely it is to be true. Finally, remember that just because a study result seems to apply to you doesn't mean you should make a change. The only exceptions are giving up smoking, wearing seatbelts, moderating alcohol use and using condoms. Otherwise, adopt changes only if they are practical and make sense to you, and then do so gradually. But if it's an important medical change, such as deciding whether to take HRT, talk to your doctor. Here's another real-life example. A recent study reported in newspapers across the country concluded that consuming lots of soy protein lowers high cholesterol. Should you start adding soy to your diet? If you have high cholesterol, and you like soy, sure, add more soy-based foods. If you hate it, however, watch for future studies. In truth, medicine is more of an art than a science, and it should be tailored to each; individual's situation, needs, and concerns. Since the patient I mentioned earlier didn't have a family history of breast cancer, she decided that the risks of HRT outweighed the negatives. Another woman's case might be completely different. I sympathize with the distress studies can cause, but I also see them as a good sign. It means we're constantly learning more about how to preserve our health and combat the ailments that plague us. My advice is to expect change and not be intimidated by studies. In the end, you're still in control.

Expert Answers
pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In order to write a summary of an article, you first need to read the article.  As you read through the article, you need to look for what the main points are.  Try to determine what the author is trying to get you to understand.  Take note of these main points and then put them in a paragraph.  Now that we know how to write a summary, let us look at Lamm’s article to see what its main points are.

The main point of Lamm’s article has to do with how people should react to news that they read about medical research.  The article starts with Lamm talking about a woman who was confused about whether to keep taking hormone replacements because she had read that they might put her at a higher risk for breast cancer. 

Lamm goes on to say that people need to realize that no single medical study has the whole truth.  Medical researchers have to do many studies before they can really know the truth about anything.  Therefore, people should not worry too much over the results of any single study.

Lamm gives a few pointers about how to determine if a study is likely to be good.  For example, he says that you need to look at how long the study lasted and how many people were involved.  You also need to look at the population that was studied and make sure that it is made up of people similar to you.

Finally, Lamm tells us that we should consider all medical news that we read in the context of our own lives.  We should adopt the changes recommended by the study if they make sense for us.  We should not just blindly try to follow every new study that comes along.

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