Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Art and Science of Natural Products: Fish Oil, Cranberry Juice, and Probiotics

From the May 2010 NCCAM Newsletter (the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health):

The Art and Science of Natural Products

The use of "natural products" to improve health has become very popular. Shelves at health food stores and supermarkets are full of natural products that claim to improve health. But what do we know about them? Are these "natural" remedies safe and do they work?

NCCAM-funded investigators are studying how natural products might affect health, including three that have attracted public interest and show scientific promise—fish oil, cranberry juice, and probiotics.

Read the full article at

Want more information? Use the Drugs and Supplements section of MedlinePlus or contact the librarian at the UCSF Patient Health Library for help finding information about the safety and efficacy of natural products.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

UpToDate for Patients: A Unique Resource

UpToDate for Patients provides free access to current information on hundreds of health topics to inform patients and help them share in the decision making process with their healthcare providers.

Similar to the UpToDate information for health professionals, the patient information topics are reviewed every four months based on the recent medical literature. All patient information topics are written and edited by UpToDate's in-house nurse practitioner and physician editors and reviewed by an external physician author and section editor. Thus, their information is current, accurate and evidence-based.

The health topics include an in-depth discussion of the risk factors, causes, diagnostic processes, preventive measures, complications, and recommended treatments for many of the most common conditions. There are extensive references and links to article abstracts.

You can find UpToDate's website on the UCSF Patient Health Library's Health Information Websites page along with many other health information resources.

Need more help? Contact the Patient Health Librarian, by email, telephone, or in person.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

MedlinePlus: Online Health Information

MedlinePlus is a free, easy-to-use health information service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health. Check out the new look of the MedlinePlus website that was unveiled today!

Resources and tools include:
  • Health Topics: Over 800 topics on conditions, diseases and wellness
  • Drugs & Supplements: About your prescription and over-the-counter medicines, herbs and supplements
  • Videos, Tutorials and Cool Tools
  • Medical Encyclopedia and Dictionary
  • News: Current health news and press announcements
  • Directories: Find doctors, dentists and hospitals
Find it at

Friday, July 9, 2010

Facts about Smoking and Help for Quitting

[Click on the image for a larger version]
The Facts About Cigarettes

(Data compiled from,, and Originally posted at /

The UCSF Medical Center's Tobacco Education Center offers classes as well as individual consultations with doctors trained in treating tobacco addiction. They help smokers maximize the likelihood of success in their efforts to quit. Services include:
  • Smoking Cessation Classes
  • Relapse Prevention Program
  • Doctor Consultation
For more information, to schedule an appointment or to enroll in a class, please contact the Tobacco Education Center at:

UCSF Medical Center at Mount Zion
2330 Post St., Suite 420
San Francisco, CA 94115
(415) 885-7895

See also the UCSF Legacy Tobacco Documents Library. This digital library contains more than 11 million documents created by major tobacco companies related to their advertising, manufacturing, marketing, sales, and scientific research activities. The library also includes video and audio clips and court transcripts.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The New Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan

On July 1, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced a new program created by the Affordable Care Act (the new healthcare law that Congress passed in March 2010) to help provide coverage for uninsured people with pre‑existing conditions.

The Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan will provide a new health coverage option for you if you have been uninsured for at least six months, are a U.S. citizen or are residing here legally, and either have a pre-existing condition or have been denied health coverage because of your health condition.

In California, this program begins in August 2010 (apply by July 15 to have insurance by August 1). See details and find out how to apply at

Read an easy-to-understand, printable brochure on how the Affordable Care Act helps people with pre-existing conditions.

Read the press release from the Department of Health and Human Services.