Worried Sick

A Prescription for Health in an Overtreated America

Nortin M. Hadler, MD

The theme of this book is clearly stated on the first page; “We are becoming increasingly medicalized, made to think that all life’s challenges demand clinical intervention, when the science dictate’s otherwise”. p. 1…

We don’t know why heart attacks are no longer so common or so evil. Medicine deserves little if any credit. But heart attacks are no longer your father’s heart attacks. p. 17

Man Having Chest Pains


Ten percent of all drugs approved for marketing by the FDA between 1975 and 1999 were subsequently either withdrawn from the market because of adverse reactions or labeled with a “black box” indicating special hazards. p. 39

The denser breast is at greater risk for breast cancer but unfortunately also for a breast cancer that escapes detection by mammography. We seem to be asking more of anatomical imaging technology than it can possibly deliver. p. 87


If you choose to seek the care of someone licensed to practice medicine or surgery, you move from a person with a predicament to a patient with an illness. This particular transition is a form of medicalization. p. 109

It’s abnormal to go long without experiencing regional back pain. Low back pain is one of many recurring predicaments of life, like heartburn and heartache. To be well is not to be spared. To be well is to have the wherewithal to cope until the pain goes away, cope so well that the episode is not even memorable. p. 111


All elderly have degenerative diseases of the spine. All elderly cope with backache frequently. There are many surveys suggesting that backache colors the year for as many as half of women over age sixty-five. Osteoporotic fractures are a minor factor in all this morbidity. p. 157

Despite speaking of morbidity, this is not intended to be morbid. The challenge for everyone is when to seek medical consultation for a problem and when to self-treat and wait. And when we do seek care, we need to find competent people for whom we continue to be a person, not just a patient. It not only feels better to us, it works better. Medicine uses science, but practicing medicine is an art as is living an art.

drLet Them Eat Dirt

Balanced and Barefoot

Snowball in a Blizzard:A Physician’s Notes on Uncertainty in Medicine