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Barron H. Lerner
Barron H. Lerner, M.D., Ph.D. is a professor of medicine and population health at New York University Langone Medical Center ( He is the author of The Breast Cancer Wars, When Illness Goes Public, One for the Road: Drunk Driving Since 1900 and the forthcoming The Good Doctor: A Father, A Son and the Evolution of Medical Ethics.

Entries by Barron H. Lerner

Not So Simple: The Breast Cancer Stories of Betty Ford and Happy Rockefeller

(2) Comments | Posted September 26, 2014 | 10:44 AM

Forty years ago, when two women -- Betty Ford and Margaretta (Happy) Rockefeller -- went public with their diagnoses of breast cancer, it was historic. In contrast to our modern era, which encourages women with the disease to tell their stories, breast cancer remained a quiet subject in the 1970s....

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Guns, Cars and Too Much Liberty

(17) Comments | Posted June 12, 2014 | 10:53 AM

It is not hard to be moved by Richard Martinez's emotional public calls for gun control in the wake of his son Christopher's death during the recent shootings in Santa Barbara. But they hold special resonance for me and my family. In January of this year, my 9-year-old...

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Sherwin Nuland and the Medical History Wars

(0) Comments | Posted March 7, 2014 | 10:37 AM

Most of the obituaries for the physician-historian, Sherwin A. Nuland, who died on Monday, March 3, have rightfully emphasized his 1994 book, How We Die, which won the National Book Award.

But Nuland held an interesting place in the world of the history of medicine, a torch...

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New Breast Cancer Film to Premiere in New York City

(3) Comments | Posted March 29, 2013 | 2:51 PM

Can you imagine having breast cancer, having lost your sister, mother and other relatives to the disease, and having doctors with no clue as to why the disease is devastating your family?

It should not be that hard to imagine. It was entirely commonplace only 25 years ago until geneticist...

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Extreme Breast Cancer Prevention: Should At-Risk Women Have Both Breasts Removed?

(21) Comments | Posted January 14, 2013 | 1:24 PM

The news that 24-year-old Allyn Rose, Miss District of Columbia in this year's Miss America competition, is planning to have both of her breasts removed in the near future is the latest case of what we might call "extreme breast cancer prevention." Rose's mother died of breast cancer, but she...

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Why Can't the NFL Stop Its Players From Driving Drunk?

(40) Comments | Posted December 9, 2012 | 11:48 AM

Can we stop National Football League players from continuing to drive drunk and killing people?

I ask this question in light of the news that Dallas Cowboys nose tackle Josh Brent has been arrested for intoxication manslaughter after allegedly causing the tragic death of his teammate and...

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Has Breast Cancer Activism Gone Too Far?

(0) Comments | Posted October 29, 2012 | 4:17 PM

It is not surprising that a woman with breast cancer has recently inspired the passage of laws across the country mandating clinics to discuss one of the pitfalls of mammography. Breast cancer survivors have been remarkably successful in using personal stories to place important medical issues on the...

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What Can We Learn From Eleanor Roosevelt's Death?

(36) Comments | Posted October 23, 2012 | 2:23 PM

Fifty years ago this November, when Eleanor Roosevelt's doctor told her that her very debilitating disease was tuberculosis, and potentially curable, he expected her to be thrilled. But she instead uttered "I want to die" three times.

As the Affordable Health Care Act goes into effect, much attention is being...

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All Gone: Alex Witchel on Her Mother's Dementia

(0) Comments | Posted September 14, 2012 | 6:57 PM

Do we need another memoir about a loved one with dementia? Not really. If one goes to and enters the words "memoir" and "Alzheimer," dozens of books appear.

But there is an interesting fact about these memoirs: the vast majority of them have an average customer rating of five...

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Another Tricky Case of Celebrity Illness: Robin Roberts

(0) Comments | Posted September 7, 2012 | 1:04 PM

As the author of When Illness Goes Public, a book on celebrity patients, I strongly doubt that Good Morning America television co-host Robin Roberts' ongoing discussion of her myelodysplastic syndrome is, as one Internet commentator has written, a "self-serving ratings grab."

Being severely ill is a painful physical and mental...

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Car Meets House: Another Drunk Driving Crash

(1) Comments | Posted May 29, 2012 | 1:07 PM

At 4 a.m. on Monday, May 27, a drunk 21-year-old woman drove her car through a house on New York's Long Island. Yes, actually through the house. Amazingly, there were only minor injuries.

There is no chance that Sophia Anderson did not get lectured in her high school...

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When Hospitals Become Factories

(1) Comments | Posted May 14, 2012 | 12:42 PM

My annual month of teaching internal medicine on the wards has always given me a yearly reminder of the changes in inpatient medicine: the increasing presence of "hospitalist" physicians, the proliferation of shift work among doctors-in-training, and a growing emphasis on quick discharge of patients.

But this year's experience has...

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Do Not Resuscitate Orders: Time for Another Change

(11) Comments | Posted March 8, 2012 | 5:25 PM

Walk through almost any medical intensive care unit in the country and you will encounter patients with terminal diseases who received CPR despite having had no chance of meaningful recovery from their conditions.

Alarmed at this situation, a group of end-of-life specialists wants to transform how physicians approach the issue...

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P.J. Lukac, a Medical Student, Researches and Fundraises for His Own Disease: Brain Cancer

(0) Comments | Posted March 7, 2012 | 11:25 AM

The last thing that Paul Lukac thought he had when he developed periods of confusion during his second year of medical school was a brain tumor. After all, he was studying neuropathology, abnormal brain tissue, and that would have been too great a coincidence.

But Paul, known as P.J., had...

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Was Science Sidelined in Cigarette Debate?

(30) Comments | Posted February 13, 2012 | 1:17 PM

It was instructive to be reading Golden Holocaust, Robert N. Proctor's new history of the tobacco industry, during the recent debates over Mitt Romney's leadership of Bain Capital.

Bain made some of its money by closing unprofitable companies that it had bought, often firing hundreds of people...

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