November 30, 2015

John Swartzberg, M.D.

Dr. Swartzberg is an internist and specialist in infectious disease who is Chair of the Editorial Board of and the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter. He has directed coverage at the Wellness Letter since 2001. Dr. Swartzberg is also a clinical professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health and the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine.

Dr. Swartzberg is an outspoken advocate for public health issues. He was the coauthor of the Complete Home Wellness Handbook (2001), and he writes regular columns for

Can You Trust Health News?
Cancer Screening: It’s Your Decision
Should You Listen to Dr. Oz?

We like to ask our board members a few questions that are on our minds. Here are a few of Dr. Swartzberg's answers.

If you could give only one piece of advice to a friend or patient to make their health better, what would it be?
Besides stop smoking, exercise, and eating healthfully? Those are givens. My other piece of advice is to spend time strengthening your relationship with friends and family. You'll benefit physically and mentally. And no one approaches old age and wishes they has spent less time with the people they love.

What one thing can someone do in 15 minutes a day that makes the world a better place?
Encourage at least one different person a day to follow my advice in Question 1.

Do you take supplements, and if you do, which ones?
Because I don’t think I get enough calcium and vitamin D in my diet, I take those supplements. I try to get the rest of my vitamins and minerals through healthy food.

What health advice do you tell other people that you don’t follow yourself?
I don’t wear sunscreen on a regular basis and I know I should. I just don’t like to put creams on my body. I have one sunscreen that’s really cool. It’s a sunscreen with zinc oxide that you put on with a brush. It sits in my bathroom drawer but I never put it on. I don’t know why.

What’s your favorite food indulgence?
I love nuts. Never salted. Usually roasted. Nuts have high oil content, so a quarter cup—a handful really— can have nearly 200 calories. But they’re delicious, healthy, and filling, so I indulge.

More Content from Dr. John Swartzberg

Not So Sweet News
Most Americans eat far more sugar than they realize because it’s hidden in so many foods.

The Pros and Cons of Testing for Alzheimer’s
There are good reasons to think twice before undergoing testing for early Alzheimer’s.

How Big Tobacco Hurts World Health
The tobacco industry is creating new markets for cigarettes, in the poorest of nations, in a most insidious way.

Reducing Traffic Deaths
We could prevent many deaths on U.S. roads if only we focused on driver behavior instead of on cars.


  • Beyond Sadness
    Be Well

    Beyond Sadness

    by John Swartzberg, M.D.

    The bereaved are often more resilient than predicted, frequently able to return to normal life on their own, however deep their grief may be. Work, friends and familiar situations and pastimes help.

  • Aging and Driving
    Be Well

    Aging and Driving

    by John Swartzberg, M.D.

    Getting a driver's license is a major milestone in the lives of many people. Another milestone that many older people may have to face, far more reluctantly, is hanging up their car keys for good.