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America Dissected

Incision Media LLC

News, Society & Culture, Politics

4.74.4K Ratings


Wellness isn’t just about mindfulness, exercise, or the right skin routine. Science, politics, media, culture, tech — everything around us — interact to shape our health. On America Dissected, Dr. Abdul El-Sayed cuts into what really makes us sick — be it racism, corporate greed, or snake oil influencers — and what it'll take to heal it. From for-profit healthcare to ineffective sunscreens, America Dissected cuts deeper into the state of health in America. New episodes every Tuesday. Want to know where to start? Here are some fan-favorite episodes to search: Cannabis Capitalism with David Jernigan Weight Weight Don’t Tell me with Harriett Brown Black Scientists Matter with Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett.

237 Episodes

America’s NoFundMe Healthcare System

Millions of Americans go without healthcare every year. Many of them turn to crowdfunding to support their needs. Abdul reflects on what that says about how we think about one another. Then he interviews Prof. Nora Kenworthy, author of the new book “Crowded Out: The True Costs of Crowdfunding Healthcare” about who wins, who loses, and how we build a healthcare system where Americans don’t need to crowdfund. This show would not be possible without the generous support of our sponsors. America Dissected invites you to check them out. This episode was brought to you by: Marguerite Casey Foundation who invites you to sign up for their book club at caseygrants.org/bookclub Article who invites you to check out their spring and summer home collection at article.com/AD. Make sure to use promo code AD at checkout to save $50 off your first purchase of $100 or more.

Transcribed - Published: 21 May 2024

A Veterinarian’s Take on Bird Flu in Cows

The H5N1 Bird Flu has been circulating in cows for 5 months, spreading faster and farther than we had previously expected. Abdul reflects on the wake-up call it poses for the public health community. Then he interviews Dr. Kimberly Dodd, a veterinarian and former USDA official, about the risk of spread, whether or not the current regulations are enough to protect humans, and where this goes from here. This show would not be possible without the generous support of our sponsors. America Dissected invites you to check them out. This episode was brought to you by: Marguerite Casey Foundation who invites you to sign up for their book club at caseygrants.org/bookclub Lumen who invites you to unlock your metabolism. Visit go.lumen.me/AD for $100 off at checkout.

Transcribed - Published: 14 May 2024

How Big Food Tries to Co-Opt the Anti-Diet Movement

The Anti-Diet movement has helped us understand some of the downsides of a perpetual diet culture driven by influencers and advertisers selling us this or that fad. But what happens when the influencers behind that movement get co-opted by corporations too? Abdul reflects on the way that corporate interests too often interfere with sound science and public education. Then he sits down with Sasha Chavkin, Senior Reporter at The Examination and Caitlin Gilbert, Well+Being Data Reporter at The Washington Post to learn about their reporting on food corporations funding the anti-diet movement. This show would not be possible without the generous support of our sponsors. America Dissected invites you to check them out. This episode was brought to you by: Marguerite Casey Foundation who invites you to sign up for their book club at caseygrants.org/bookclub Article who invites you to check out their spring and summer home collection at article.com/AD. Make sure to use promo code AD at checkout to save $50 off your first purchase of $100 or more.

Transcribed - Published: 7 May 2024

The Public (Health) Lives of Pets

For so many Americans, pets are members of the family. And our interactions with animals — in our homes, on our farms, and in the wild — shape our health in some important ways. Abdul reflects on what he’s learned about health working in animal welfare. Then he sits down with Melissa Miller, an animal care expert, disaster field responder, trainer, and county animal care and control director to talk about how pets shape our health, how to do our best for our fur babies, and what can go wrong when we fail them.

Transcribed - Published: 30 April 2024

How to build a resilient public health workforce.

Public health professionals are people, too. Too often, though, we don’t think about them that way — their needs, their hopes, and aspirations, their individual skills and areas of passion. But if we want a functional public health system, we really should. Abdul reflects on the experience of leading public health teams. Then he speaks with Dr. Brian Castrucci, President and CEO of the de Beaumont Foundation and co-author of a new book, “Building Strategic Skills for Better Health: A Primer for Public Health Professionals,” about how to build a better public health workforce.

Transcribed - Published: 23 April 2024

The Other Side of Oppenheimer

Last summer’s blockbuster “Oppenheimer” took home best picture for a stirring portrayal of the man behind the world’s most dangerous weapon. But there’s a part the story left out: the devastation wrought by nuclear weapons testing on communities here in the US. Abdul reflects on the broader fallout of producing weapons of war. Then he talks to Tina Cordova, co-founder and Executive Director of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, and Dr. Chanese Forté, a scientist with the Global Security Program of the Union of Concerned Scientists about the testing fallout — and what it spells for the future.

Transcribed - Published: 16 April 2024

Could Medical Tech be “Coded to Kill”? This Medical School Dean Has Thoughts.

In a time when AI is creating new realities faster than we can make sense of them, we need to imagine possible future scenarios to prepare. Which is why a new novel by Marschall Runge, Dean of the University of Michigan Medical School, is so prescient. In his book “Coded to Kill,” Runge helps us imagine what could go wrong, even if so much can go right. Abdul reflects on the critical role of imagination in science. Then he sits down with Dean Runge to talk about what his book can teach us about how we prepare for a future of artificial intelligence in medicine.

Transcribed - Published: 9 April 2024

Getting Practical About Saving Black Moms and Babies

Maternal and child health inequities by race are a blot on our national fabric. But fixing them isn’t about one silver bullet — it’s about systems coming together to do their part. Abdul reflects on the struggle for birthing equity. He interviews Dr. Natalie Hernandez, one of the authors of the “Practical Playbook” on maternal health inequities to understand how sectors can come together to save Black moms and babies.

Transcribed - Published: 2 April 2024

A Bionic Breast

All of us live in bodies. But what happens when those bodies change in ways that rob us of critical life experiences? That’s the question that so many people face after mastectomy. Abdul reflects on the idea of embodiment and the role that healthcare plays in shaping it. Then he interviews Dr. Stacy Tessler Lindau, an obstetrician/gynecologist and scientist designing a bionic breast to help people who’ve lost their breast regain some of the critical functions that they too often lose.

Transcribed - Published: 26 March 2024

Talkin’ Nerdy about Gettin’ Dirty

For so many reasons — shame, privacy, social discomfort — we don’t talk enough about sex as a public health issue. But it's an important part of a healthy adult human life. So, we’re going to talk about sex. Abdul reflects on the forces that keep us from having a healthy, sex-positive perspective. Then he speaks with Emily Nagoski, New York Times Bestselling Author and Sex Educator about how to reframe and rebuild long term sexual relationships.

Transcribed - Published: 19 March 2024

Cash as Medicine in Flint, Michigan.

For nearly a decade, Flint, Michigan has been synonymous with the lead and water crisis that put the city on the map. But Flint is resilient. Abdul reflects on the central role of poverty in all that Flint experienced. Then he speaks with Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, the pediatrician who uncovered the water crisis, and Prof. Luke Shaefer, an anti-poverty researcher, about their new “Rx Kids” program to provide cash to pregnant moms to solve poverty in Flint.

Transcribed - Published: 12 March 2024

No, IVF Embryos Aren’t Kids.

A few weeks ago, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that embryos created in the IVF process had the same rights as children. The ruling was a warning of just how far the anti-abortion might go. Abdul reflects on the hypocrisy at the core of the ruling. Then he sits down with Elisabeth Smith, Director for State Policy and Advocacy at the Center for Reproductive Rights to discuss the broader implications of the ruling and what it means for people in Alabama and beyond.

Transcribed - Published: 5 March 2024

The Invisible Kingdom of Chronic Illness

Chronic illness is debilitating. But it’s not just the pain and dysfunction it causes, but the anxiety of not really knowing when it’ll strike — or get worse. Abdul reflects on the ways that science has been diverted by the goals of the healthcare industrial complex away from answering questions at the edge of chronic illness. Then he sits down with author Megan O’Rourke, author of Invisible Kingdom, a book about the experience of living with a chronic autoimmune disorder, about her experience, how it changed her, and what she wishes more people understood about it.

Transcribed - Published: 27 February 2024

Defunding Public Health? One County Tried. It Didn’t Go Well.

Ottawa County, Michigan made national news last year after a MAGA take over of its County Commission. Their first major act? To try to defund their public health department. Abdul reflects on the impending risk of this across the country. Then he sits down with Adeline Hambley and Marcia Mansaray, the leaders of the Ottawa County Health Department to learn what happened — and what they did next.

Transcribed - Published: 20 February 2024

How Cars Got More Deadly

More pedestrians are dying in auto accidents. Abdul reflects on the public health challenges that cars pose in general. Then he sits down with Dr. Deborah Kuhls, a trauma surgeon who studies pedestrian fatalities to understand why and how to stop it.

Transcribed - Published: 13 February 2024

Sickle Cell and All the Diseases We Choose to Ignore

Sickle Cell Disease is a debilitating genetic disease that almost exclusively affects Black folks. While genetic breakthroughs have made a cure possible, the high price tag may keep them away from people who need them. Abdul reflects on the way that society shapes the scientific questions we ask — and whose diseases we take seriously. Then he interviews Dr. Titilope Fasipe, a pediatric hematologist who treats sickle cell disease — and has lived with the disease her whole life.

Transcribed - Published: 6 February 2024

A Public Health Catastrophe in Gaza

In less than four months, more than 25,000 people have been killed by Israeli bombardment in Gaza. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of devastation. Abdul reflects on how the way we talk about this will shape how the international community values human life. Then he interviews Dr. Tanya Haj-Hasan, a pediatric intensive care doctor with Doctors without Borders and creator of the social medial channel “Gaza Medic Voices.”

Transcribed - Published: 30 January 2024

Has Public Health Lost Its Way? This Public Health Dean Thinks So.

Abdul sits down with Prof. Sandro Galea, Dean of the Boston University School of Public Health to talk about his new book, Within Reason, in which Galea argues that the pandemic uncovered an “illiberal,” even, at times, authoritarian, strain within the public health community.

Transcribed - Published: 23 January 2024

America’s Drug Policy Czar Breaks Down the Fentanyl Crisis

Over the past decade, Fentanyl, a cheap, hyper-potent, and synthetic opiate has accelerated the opioid pandemic already ravaging the country. Abdul reflects on the way that our atomized, lonely communities left us vulnerable to opioid addiction and fentanyl and sits down with Dr. Rahul Gupta, director of National Drug Control Policy to talk through the history of the opioid epidemic, fentanyl, and how the federal government is working with local communities to solve it.

Transcribed - Published: 16 January 2024

New Year, New You?

America’s most common New Year’s resolutions focus on health–weight loss, fitness, or something else. While almost all of them focus on physical health, they all run through our mental health. Abdul reflects on how essential health is to everything else we do. Then he sits down with psychiatrist and author Dr. Jud Brewer to understand the mind-body axis and how mastering it can help us nail down those resolutions.

Transcribed - Published: 9 January 2024

Words Matter. Especially in Public Health.

It’s not only what you say — it’s how you say it. And that’s often where public health gets it wrong. Our producer Emma talks to a recovered anti-vaxxer about what ultimately brought him around. Then Abdul talks to Jessica Malaty Rivera, an epidemiologist and health communicator, about how far humility and accessible language can go to protecting health.

Transcribed - Published: 19 December 2023

Nasal Congestion is More Complicated Than You Think.

Feel that in your nose? If you’re like everyone else this time of year, you’ve probably got that dreaded nasal congestion that comes with the colds and flus this time of year. But nasal congestion is more complicated than you think. Abdul reflects on the collective burden of the annoying illnesses we fight through every year. Then he speaks with Sarah Zhang, a staff writer at the Atlantic who recently wrote about why nasal congestion is more complicated than you might think.

Transcribed - Published: 12 December 2023

It’s Cold & Flu Season. Here’s How to Protect Yourself.

It’s cold and flu … and RSV, and COVID season. But vaccinations are down this year — and we haven’t made critical investments in things like air purification and ventilation that we could have and should have to protect ourselves from airborne diseases. Abdul reflects on the opportunities missed and the consequences of missing them. Then he sits down with Dr. Katelyn Jetelina, author of the Your Local Epidemiologist newsletter to talk about what folks can do to protect themselves.

Transcribed - Published: 5 December 2023

Reaching Back into the America Dissected Archive to Remember Ady Barkan

Ady Barkan was a lion for healthcare justice. After his diagnosis with ALS, he spent his final years fighting for Medicare for All. Ady passed away this month at 39. We go back into the AD archives to 2019, when Abdul sat down with Ady to learn about his activism and his hopes for the America he’d leave his kids.

Transcribed - Published: 28 November 2023

Food Contamination is On the Rise. Here’s What History Can Teach Us About How to Stop It.

One of the hallmarks of living in a high-income country is that we can usually take food safety for granted. But what happens when food contamination recalls are on the rise? Food contamination was a full-blown epidemic at the turn of the 20th century. Abdul reflects on how much behind-the-scenes work goes into keeping food safe. Then he interviews Deborah Blum, a science journalist and author of two books about the history of food safety about what the history of food safety regulation should teach us about the future.

Transcribed - Published: 21 November 2023

Public Health vs. The Internet: LIVE from the American Public Health Association Annual Conference in Atlanta

America Dissected comes to you LIVE from Atlanta at the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting. Abdul reflects on the ways that the internet is fundamentally reshaping the way we think about place–and its impact on public health. Then he sits down with Ian Bogost, professor, video game designer, and contributing writer at the Atlantic.

Transcribed - Published: 14 November 2023

Mexico Tried to Regulate Tony the Tiger. Here’s what Happened Next.

In 2019, the Mexican government instituted a new rule that took mascots like El Tigre Toño off of high-sugar foods. The food industry fought back. And now a similar fight may be coming to the United States. Abdul reflects on the role of marketing in our food environment. Then he speaks with Nick Florko, a reporter at STAT News, about Mexico’s struggle to cage the tiger. GoFundMe to support the family of Ady Barkan: https://www.gofundme.com/f/remembering-ady

Transcribed - Published: 7 November 2023

Is Ultra-Processed Food…Even Food?

You are what you eat, right? If so, then our guest has a message for us: we’re “ultra-processed people.” In this episode, Abdul reflects on just how culturally-driven our food choices are and how big corporations use that to influence those choices and feed us food that’s…barely food at all. Then he interviews Dr. Chris van Tulleken, a physician and health researcher, about his book “Ultra-Processed People.”

Transcribed - Published: 31 October 2023

Some Bad Mother Suckers with Stephanie Nolen

Episode Description: Mosquitoes are responsible for upwards of half of all deaths in human history. Beyond being a simple nuisance, the diseases they spread are a menace to humanity. A decade ago, we thought we’d had them beaten. We didn’t — and they’re winning. Abdul reflects on the simple tradeoff inherent in mosquito containment. Then he interviews New York Times Global Health Reporter Stephanie Nolen about her recent reporting on the resurgence of mosquitoes and the illnesses they spread.

Transcribed - Published: 24 October 2023

Rizzing Up Public Health? with Prof. Jerel Ezell

Public health is really cool! Ok … maybe it’s cool to all of us who do it for a living. But to be honest, public health’s got a serious brand problem — a “rizz” gap. Abdul reflects on how the turn toward individualism left us wagging our fingers at people rather than taking on righteous fights. Then he talks to Prof. Jerel Ezell about how to address the public health swag gap.

Transcribed - Published: 17 October 2023

Activating Public Health with Dr. Shelley Hearne

The truth should speak for itself. The problem is that it just doesn’t speak very loudly — we have to speak for it. Which is why public health has to be a lot smarter about the process of policy change. Abdul reflects on the contrast between publishing and publicizing. Then he speaks with Dr. Shelley Hearne, a co-author on a new book on public health policy engagement about how it's done.

Transcribed - Published: 10 October 2023

Red State Public Health with Drs. Judy Monroe and Lindsay Weaver

Public health has never been more political than it is today — and unfortunately, that’s often made it partisan, too. Which is what makes the 1500% increase in local public health funding by the state of Indiana — a state with Republicans controlling both houses of the Indiana State Assembly and the governorship — so important.

Transcribed - Published: 3 October 2023


Transcribed - Published: 26 September 2023

YouTuberculosis Advocacy with John Green

Tuberculosis is one of the worst murderers in the history of the world. It remains that way today — even though we have diagnostics and treatments that should have helped to decimate it. The challenge? The greed of the corporations that hold those technologies hostage to fees that low-income people and countries can’t afford. Abdul reflects on the disease of poverty. He interviews bestselling author and YouTuber John Green about his quest to mobilize his platform to hold those corporations accountable.

Transcribed - Published: 19 September 2023

Dialyzing for Dollars with Tom Mueller

Dialysis is a medical miracle — vastly extending the lives of people with kidney disease. But then big business got involved.

Transcribed - Published: 12 September 2023

COVID Learning Loss with Prof. Thomas Kane

COVID was a generation-defining global trauma. Though the virus itself hit seniors hardest, the pandemic may have hit young people longest.

Transcribed - Published: 5 September 2023

Drowning to Swim with Mara Gay

Drowning is an epidemic in America. And like so many other public health challenges, it’s what happens when we over-privatize a public good.

Transcribed - Published: 29 August 2023

Humans in Eight Plagues with Prof. Jon Kennedy

We’ve all lived through a pandemic now. But did you know that so much of our pre-pandemic lives was the result of … pandemics?

Transcribed - Published: 22 August 2023

The In-Between with Hadley Vlahos

Dying … is not a topic most of us like to talk about. But we probably should, considering that all of us are going to do it someday.

Transcribed - Published: 15 August 2023

The Injustice of Place with Prof. Luke Schaefer

Abdul reflects on the powerful role of place in public health.

Transcribed - Published: 8 August 2023

The Injustice of Place with Prof. Luke Shaefer

Abdul reflects on the powerful role of place in public health.

Transcribed - Published: 8 August 2023

What the HOKA? with Dr. Jordan Metzl

You can’t miss them, HOKAs — those clunky athletic shoes with the thick foamy sole — are everywhere. But why?

Transcribed - Published: 1 August 2023

Sound Advice with Prof. Erica Walker

Abdul breaks down the ways sound can shape our health.

Transcribed - Published: 25 July 2023

Affirming Care with Dr. Kellan Baker

What is gender-affirming care — and why is the far right trying to ban it?

Transcribed - Published: 18 July 2023

The Rise of Doctors Unions with Dr. Lorenzo Gonzalez

Abdul sits down with Dr. Lorenzo Gonzalez, the president for one of the most powerful unions on the front line of physician organizing.

Transcribed - Published: 11 July 2023

Trooth Decay with Tooka Zokaie

Why are there so many conspiracy theories about fluoride?

Transcribed - Published: 27 June 2023

Pandora’s Gamble with Alison Young

We don’t have definitive proof of how COVID-19 emerged. But lab leaks happen more often than you probably think.

Transcribed - Published: 20 June 2023

DrGPT with Dr. Eric Topol

ChatGPT set off a flurry of excitement — and anxiety — over the impact Artificial Intelligence will have on every aspect of society. One of the most important disruptions that AI will impose is on health and healthcare. Abdul reflects on the power, promise, and peril of AI. Then he sits down with Dr. Eric Topol, one of healthcare’s foremost futurists and author of “Deep Medicine: How Artificial Intelligence Can Make Healthcare More Human,” to discuss it.

Transcribed - Published: 13 June 2023

The Kids Are NOT Alright with Dr. Anthony Iton and Leslie Campos

The pandemic took a major toll on the mental health of young people. But truth be told, mental illness had been rising among young people for the decade before that.

Transcribed - Published: 6 June 2023

MSG for You and Me with Yasmin Tayag

Food is life. But just like lives, some foods are valued more than others — some are told they don’t belong. So what happens when the entire medical establishment becomes a part of that exclusion? That’s exactly what happened to MSG, a flavor enhancer common in many Asian cuisines. Abdul reflects on racism through food and the ways that health can be weaponized against certain kinds of foods. Then he sits down with Yasmin Tayag, staff writer at The Atlantic, to talk about how recent studies may be flipping the script on MSG.

Transcribed - Published: 30 May 2023

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