EXHIBITS: Wisdom From the Top Docs

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Science  08 Mar 2002:
Vol. 295, Issue 5561, pp. 1799
DOI: 10.1126/science.295.5561.1799b

The Surgeon General of the United States is supposed to provide the country with the same kind of concerned, thoughtful, sometimes stern advice you get from your doctor. Find out what Surgeons General have prescribed for the nation at this site sponsored by the National Library of Medicine, which offers over 70 reports from the years 1964 to 2000, as well as workshop proceedings, pamphlets, and other documents. The site also features an informative history of the office, which began in 1871 as the director of the Marine Hospital Serviceits brief was caring for sailors. As the position evolved from bureaucrat to health advocate, some Surgeons General have used the office as a bully pulpit, and their outspokenness sometimes angered powerful interests. The site gives you a taste of some of these controversies. For example, you can read the famous 1964 report in which Luther Terry indicted cigarettes for causing lung cancer and a host of other illnesses. And you can page through C. Everett Koop's controversial 1986 volume on the AIDS epidemic, which outraged political conservatives by calling for sex education in the schools.


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