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Name: Benjamin L. Cohen
Hometown: New York
Place of Practice: Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York, NY
Why did you want to become a doctor?
After realizing pretty early on that I probably wouldn’t be a professional athlete or rock star, I knew I needed to do something that involved helping others. Medicine allows me to combine intellectual curiosity, teaching, collaborative work and helping others into one career. Each day brings something different which keeps things fresh.
What sets you apart from other doctors in your field?
In addition to my gastroenterology training, I spent an extra year doing a fellowship in Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. I think those patients are unique because they tend to be young and generally healthy before their diagnosis. It’s a shock when they get sick and generally something they aren’t ready for. It’s important to think beyond just how the disease affects the patient physically. I think all of us who take care of these patients really put in time to understand where each patient is coming from to help figure out the best treatment. The choices aren’t always clear cut and it’s important to lay things out in a way they can understand. I think that’s probably my greatest strength.
What are your tips for living longer?
- When educating yourself about health decisions, follow the evidence and not the anecdotes. Even if you want to pursue alternative therapies, don’t do it at the expense of proven, effective therapies. Most doctors will work with you to go through all your options and find the treatment plan that fits best for you.
- Say yes to colonoscopy and no to colonics. Colonoscopy screening beginning at age 50 in average risk adults and earlier in patients with a family history of colon cancer or polyps has been shown to reduce incidence of colon cancer, as well as death due to colon cancer. Despite their popularity, there is no evidence for the benefits of colonics and the procedure carries risk.
- Always be planning fun things for the future so that you have something to look forward to during the stressful, busy times. For me it’s figuring out what concert I will go to next.
- Juicing – your fruits and vegetables that is – can be a fun way to help you meet your nine servings per day recommendation. It can be more convenient than cooking or preparing solid whole foods and allow you to enjoy the nutritional benefits of some foods you may not otherwise eat. Always use the edible skins in your preparation and remember that juicing should be incorporated into your diet and not replace your diet. Fruits and vegetables in their whole forms are still the best source of fiber, which is important for your digestive health