Local doc co-writes book on women's health

Local doc co-writes book on women's health

After 20 years of chatting back and forth, Drs. Robin Miller and Janet Horn realized their off-the-cuff conversations about health and aging could benefit other women of their generation.

Five years later, the two have published what they say is one of the few books in the medical field to offer a casual, humorous tone.

"The Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife and Beyond" (New Harbinger, $19.95) fills the gap in women's health books, most of which are just about menopause, says Miller, a 55-year-old Medford practitioner and director of Triune Integrative Medicine.

"Humor works ... it's a really good way to get people comfortable," Miller says. "I just see humor everywhere."

Although she and Horn don't exactly share the same brand of humor, the collaboration worked, Miller says.

The two first met as interns in 1979 at George Washington University Hospital and cemented a friendship in 1983 at Johns Hopkins Hospital. A former faculty member of the university's medical school, Horn practices part-time at a Baltimore clinic for the uninsured.

"She loosened up by the end," Miller laughs.

Loosening up readers, Horn's opening chapter on memory and the nervous system sets the tone for the following 260 pages:

"Let's start with a story. You've just gotten home from a busy day of (choose one): work/running errands. You've taken off your gloves (you got a great deal on them from QVC), and you're busily looking through the mail. Suddenly your cell phone plays its usual 'I Can't Get No Satisfaction' ... while you continue going through the huge stack of letters and catalogs, you answer. It's your (choose one): daughter/best friend ... saying that perhaps she shouldn't have worn that red plaid miniskirt to her meeting with her boss. Suddenly you realize there's no sound coming from the phone. You go blank. Who were you talking to? How can you not remember who you were just on the phone with? ... You think, 'This can't be happening to me — of all people — I'm a world-class multi-tasker!' "

Whether retold as a joke or as parable of prevention, the doctors' and their patients' own real-life stories punctuate the 15 chapters. The book contains question-and-answer sections written in the form of dialogue between the two docs, along with "pearls of wisdom" — or bullet-point summaries of each chapter.

Miller says she believes the book — released Sept. 1 and subtitled "A No-Nonsense Approach to Staying Healthy After 50" — empowers women to rely on their intuition and to advocate for themselves.

"So often women get dissed and missed," Miller says, adding that it's "very common" for female patients to come up short on answers from their physicians, particularly when it comes to heart disease.

An excerpt from the book's chapter on heart health can be read online at Other book topics are: keeping sight, hearing and balance intact, cancer prevention, the lungs, gastro-intestinal and urinary tracts, the reproductive system, menopause and hormones; the musculoskeletal system and how to keep active, skin care, fitness and diet; vitamins and supplements, alternative medical therapies and "how to enjoy being a 21st century woman."

"The advice is there for anybody," Miller says. "There's even some ... for men."

The book's Web site also includes the authors' blogs, where readers can ask questions. In addition to scheduled radio programs and city tours in Portland, Seattle, San Diego, Chicago, Phoenix and Denver, Miller will sign books at 1 p.m., Nov. 8 in Medford's Barnes & Noble store on Biddle Road.

"We're still not done," Miller says. "We have many more pearls to share."

"The Smart Woman's Guide" can be purchased at Barnes & Noble or from the online stores Amazon, Booksamillion and IndieBound.

Reach reporter Sarah Lemon at 776-4487, or e-mail

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