To Your Good Health: Amount of research done each year is impressive and shared

BY KEITH ROACH, M.D.

DEAR DR. ROACH: Is medical research shared? It seems that after all these years of battling various types of diseases and maladies, more progress should’ve been made than has been done. I suspect that if medical research were fully shared and people pooled their knowledge, more progress could be made. Is it just that various entities don’t want to share because each one wants to be the one to get the Nobel Prize for Medicine? — G.A.

ANSWER: You would be shocked at the amount of research knowledge that is published every year on all aspects of clinical medicine and basic science. Back when I was in in medical school, it was estimated that if a clinician or scientist read eight hours a day, five days a week, 52 weeks a year, just on his or her own field of expertise, at the end of a year he or she would be eight years behind. I am sure it is much greater now. The problem isn’t the lack of studies or lack of sharing. It is in sorting through the sheer amount published.

The quest for personal glory certainly is a part of what drives many scientists. However, I know a great many researchers, and most do so for the love of the science and out of a desire to further the field and to be part of the process that leads to better understanding. Discoveries are (mostly) not made in isolation by a brilliant scientist — they are the result of patient, thorough, gradual work by many scientists across the globe.

Of course I wish progress came faster, but looking back on the medical knowledge when I started in the 1980s until now, the amount of progress has been staggering, and this has been reflected in progressively longer human lifespans, among other important measures.

DEAR DR. ROACH: Perhaps this is beyond the scope of medical science, but one sees many admonitions from health experts warning of the dangers of a “sedentary” life, yet back when I had a day job, it felt so good to “plop down in my easy chair” when I came home from work. I love to read, and do a lot of computer-based activities, so I probably spend more time than I should on my rear end. How can something so bad feel so good? — B.D.

ANSWER: You will have to add me to the list of those advising against a sedentary lifestyle. I agree that it feels good to rest after a busy day, but that resting doesn’t need to go on for hours. Further, the feeling you get after a vigorous workout is also good, and the sense of well-being, increased energy and better sleep that most regular exercisers get every day is even better.

Reading and computer-based activities can be fun, and I certainly spend my share doing them, but getting up periodically (my smartwatch warns me every hour) can help prevent the blood clots that can accompany prolonged sitting at the desk or in that easy chair.

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