Ask Doctor K is a health-oriented newspaper column that runs weekdays in hundreds of newspapers throughout the United States and beyond. Each week, Doctor K answers reader questions on a wide variety of health concerns. The column is presented by Harvard Health Publications, the publishing division of Harvard Medical School, and distributed by United Features Syndicate.
The doctor behind Ask Doctor K is Anthony Komaroff, M.D., a practicing physician in Internal Medicine, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and Editor of Harvard Health Letter. Dr. Komaroff is a Senior Physician at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, where his experience and medical knowledge, access to the most current research and techniques, and warm “bedside manner” have helped thousands of patients through the years. He has written more than 200 journal articles and textbook chapters and was the editor for the best-selling book, the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide.
Doctor K’s Mission
I’m a practicing doctor. I see and treat patients, and am a professor at Harvard Medical School. I am also responsible for all of our school’s newsletters, special health reports and books about health for the general public.
Why am I writing this column? A patient of mine once surprised me by asking: “You take my medical history, you examine my body, you order tests and prescribe treatments. So what’s the most important thing you do for a patient?”
No one had ever asked me that question. I hadn’t asked it myself. So I had to think for a minute. Then I told the patient: “The most important thing I do is explain — explain what I think is wrong, and why, and explain what needs to be done, and why.”
I’m writing this column because I believe in the power of information to improve people’s health.
In the years since I went to medical school, two hugely important things have occurred. The first is that medical science has progressed much faster than most doctors expected. What once was science fiction is now reality. For example, we can see deep inside your body without touching you. We can determine whether you have a particular genetic defect and treat it.
The second important thing is that scientific studies (many of them conducted at Harvard) have revealed how powerful lifestyle changes are in lengthening life and making those added years healthy ones. You’ve almost surely heard that “eating right” and regular exercise are good for you. That’s not news. What might be news is just how good they are for you. Did you know, for example, that specific changes in your diet and regular exercise can reduce your risk of getting the most common kind of diabetes by 70 percent? No medicine yet invented can do that for you. But you can do it for yourself.
You can send questions to me through this website. I won’t be able to answer all the questions that are sent to me, but I’ll do the best I can. On this website you also can learn about all of Harvard Medical School’s publications—newsletters, special health reports and books. When you want to pursue a particular subject in more depth, I think you’ll find these publications easy to understand. They can help you solve problems, and keep up with medical progress.
I can’t offer any specific medical advice, of course: Only your doctor knows you well enough to do that. Instead, I want to provide information that you can use to protect your health, and to deal with symptoms and diseases. I also want to tell you about the amazing new discoveries that can help you and your family—new treatments that are available today, or will be soon.
About Harvard Health Publications
Harvard Health Publications is a division of Harvard Medical School. It produces health information for the general public. Since 1975, Harvard Health Publications has been publishing newsletters, reports, books, online content and interactive tools, videos, mobile apps, magazine articles, and newspaper columns on a wide range of health topics, all aimed at helping people improve their health and quality of life.