(NEW YORK) — Should I wash prewashed lettuce? Will eating eggs give me high cholesterol? And is antibacterial soap better than plain soap?
Those are just a few of the questions Dr. Richard Besser answers in his new book, Tell Me the Truth, Doctor, which hit store shelves Tuesday. It’s the first book by Besser, who is ABC’s chief health and medical editor and a practicing physician.
“We’re constantly bombarded with so much confusing and conflicting health information,” said Besser, who before joining ABC in 2009 served as acting director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “People want information they can trust. What I try to do with this book is provide people with clear information on confusing health issues so that they can make the right decisions to improve their health. It’s all about empowering people so they can decide what is right for them.”
Besser, who grew up in a medical family in Princeton, N.J., said he was inspired by the neighborhood practices his father and grandfather built on trust.
“I think many of us long for the days when we had a relationship with a doctor who really knew us, whom we could trust,” he said. “In the book I talk about how you can work to have that kind of relationship and why it’s so important to work on that while you are well.”
The 244-page book answers 68 basic health questions, such as “Should I take a multivitamin?” and “Do I need an annual physical?” The answer to both questions is no, according to Besser.
“If you read this book carefully, you can actually save a lot of money,” Besser said. “So many of the quick fixes that are being pushed on us cost money and provide no return on the investment. I’ll help you avoid some of those.”
The book also lays out simple solutions for healthier living.
“The principles I lay out for health are so incredibly simple — not always easy, but so simple,” said Besser, adding that the book distills the latest research into no-nonsense bottom lines. “I’m a big believer in science. It is a beautiful thing. Science, when used properly, can answer our most important questions.”
Besser said his favorite part of writing the book was getting to work alongside his wife, Jeanne, who has penned five cookbooks.
“This was truly a partnership,” Besser said. “I think we both wondered how it would be to work together professionally, and thankfully, it was a real pleasure.”
The book received rave reviews from bookseller Barnes & Noble, which called it a “valuable hands-on, anxiety-lifting tool.” It also drew admiration from Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts, who battled myelodysplastic syndrome last year.
“You have helped me so much through my health issues,” Roberts told Besser on GMA. “And the book is beautiful, because it’s you. You are talking to people.”
Besser hinted that his first book would not be his last, noting, “There’s a lot more that I want to say about health,” and “it would be great to be able to continue working with my wife.”
In the meantime, he’ll be tracking the deadly outbreak of bird flu in China and translating the latest medical research into news you can use.
“Every day I get to look at the most important health issues facing Americans and try to bring them to our audiences,” he said of reporting for ABC News. “What a privilege!”
So should you wash prewashed lettuce? The answer is no: Washing it can actually contaminate it with bacteria from your kitchen. And no, eating eggs will not give you high cholesterol – as long as you keep it to one a day. And no, antibacterial soap is no better than ordinary soap, so you might as well avoid the harsh chemicals.
Tell Me the Truth, Doctor is published by Hyperion, which is owned by ABC’s parent company, Disney.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio