If Suzy Cohen’s passion for health care could be bottled, it would indeed be a miracle elixir. While that isn’t possible, the good news is that dispensing Cohen’s energy and knowledge via the written word is.
For nearly a decade, Cohen has been reaching millions of people — an estimated 24 million readers a week — with her nationally syndicated newspaper column, “Dear Pharmacist.” With the recent publication of Cohen’s first book, The 24-Hour Pharmacist, her readership is poised to reach the sky’s-the-limit category.
Published by HarperCollins, the book is not a compilation of Cohen’s weekly Q&A newspaper column. Instead it is a uniquely informative and surprisingly entertaining health care book. A quick glance at the contents page headings gives the reader a hint that this isn’t going to be a run-of-the-mill health book. The book is organized into five parts: “Above the Waist,” “Above the Neck,” “Below the Waist,” “And Everything in Between,” and “Think Outside the Pill.”
If that doesn’t catch your attention, the chapter titles will surely have you raising your eyebrows. And depending on your sense of humor, either laughing out loud or gasping. Here’s a sampling of the chapter titles: “From Stupor Woman to Super Woman;” “Snoring and Other Things That Go ‘Boom’ in the Night;” “When He Wants Viagra and You Want a Valium;” “Lose Fat While You Sleep… When Pink Elephants Fly;” “Toenail Crud and Other Really Icky, Weird Stuff.” In a refreshing light-hearted twist, many of the chapters begin with a health-topic oriented cartoon.
Also dispersed throughout the book is additional information under “Suzy’s Secrets from Behind the Counter.” These are also complemented by other sensible health tips and safety warnings in shaded boxes. These are just some of the user-friendly aspects of the 368-page book, which is also being published immediately as a soft-cover book. This makes it handy to carry around and read, using it as a shopping guide at the health food store, grocery, or pharmacy. It also lends itself to guilt-free underlining or highlighting of certain passages.
But don’t be misled to think that this is a spoof of the multitude of health books already out there. Make no mistake about it — this is a well-researched and well-written book by a self-professed clinical nerd. Need proof? The “Resources and References” sections at the end of the book are chapters within themselves. The comprehensive information is presented in a concise yet conversational tone with a liberal dose of Cohen’s sense of humor infused throughout.
Think of it as chocolate-covered health care advice. And, yes, Cohen makes note in the book that dark chocolate in moderation is actually good for you! Good news for chocoholics — and, in case you’re wondering, Cohen is a member of that club.
On the professional side, Cohen is also a member of the Florida Pharmacy Association, The Association of Natural Medicine Pharmacists, and The Institute of Functional Medicine. A registered pharmacist, Cohen graduated in 1989 from the University of Florida’s College of Pharmacy and remains on faculty there as a courtesy clinical professor.
Need more credentials? Cohen still practices as a clinical pharmacist — in her 18th year — and continues to work as an on-call pharmacist with the CVS drugstore chain.
Cohen’s “Dear Pharmacist” column, which was the brainchild of her chiropractor husband Dr. Sam Cohen, began in 1999 with a weekly column in the Lake City Reporter. Soon it was picked up by Chicago-based Tribune Media Services and became a nationally syndicated newspaper column that has spilled over into an international audience. Her resume soon included television, radio, and satellite media tours, as well as serving as the spokesperson for the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.
Put this all together and it’s clear that a health care book was inevitable.
“I had been walking around with a book in my head for a long time,” says Cohen, 42, who won her first of many science fairs as a Vanguard High ninth-grader. “I’m a bit of a bookworm and often tuck into bed with a good clinical research study. I’m always researching medicine because you can’t believe everything you hear on TV or some of the biased studies that are advertised. I like to get my hands on any material regarding health, medicine, and nutrition so I can share with my readers the latest research, often years before it’s mainstream.”
With that book in her head, the Cohens acquired a New York-based agent, went to New York City, pitched the idea to the biggest publishers in the book business, and within a month had a book contract. All without having yet written one word of the book.
“It was such a whirlwind, very surreal,” says Cohen, a petite brunette who considers herself bold and blunt when it comes to health care. “But I knew the book was going to happen, so I wasn’t worried about selling it without having written it first.”
Sam Cohen describes the beginning of the actual writing of the book best, saying, “We came home after signing the book contract and Suzy sat down at the computer, sighed, and said, ‘I guess this would be a good time to write my book now.’ And then she just started writing it.”
In between writing her weekly column, taking care of her family, and dealing with other professional obligations, Cohen would sequester herself in her Ocala home office and write away on the book.
“I couldn’t have asked for a more loving, supportive husband,” says Cohen. “Sam helped me every step of the way, whether it was compiling research, procuring interviews, editing my chapters, cooking a meal, or offering a much-appreciated backrub.”
Six months and 80,000 words later, the book that had been in Cohen’s head had materialized. In mid-June 2007, The 24-Hour Pharmacist was released to the public.
HarperCollins launched a major marketing and publicity campaign for Cohen’s book. The agenda includes a 50-city radio tour, a national talk-show blitz, book signings, and Internet marketing. Reader’s Digest and Prevention magazines, as well as the Lifetime TV network were among the first to express media interest. In other words, the book’s publicity campaign schedule will likely make Cohen literally the 24-hour pharmacist.
But Cohen is taking it all in s tride, knowing it’s all part of her mission.
“I give the best advice that I can,” says Cohen. “I want people to think outside the pillbox and get into the driver’s seat of their own health. This isn’t about fame and fortune for me. In fact, the biggest reward has come from the heartfelt thank-you letters from readers. All I really want is to make a difference in people’s lives.”
Seven Secrets From Behind the Counter
A Sampling From Suzy Cohen’s New Book.
- Timing Is Everything: Bone-building mineral supplements are best taken at night because calcium is taken up into your bones during the wee hours of the morning.
- Replenish Your Riboflavin: If you’re prone to menacing migraines, try about 400 mg daily of riboflavin.
- Foods That Cause Wrinkles: Sugar, breads, pasta, coffee, processed foods, artificial sweeteners, MSG.
- Wrinkle Busters: Water, salmon, olive oil, grape seed oil, blueberries, orange juice, green tea, kale.
- Avoid The “Nightshade Family”: Say no to tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, peppers, and — surprise! — tobacco. They all make either type of arthritis worse.
- Chicken Soup Is Good For You: At least if you make it with garlic and onions. These powerful antioxidant-filled vegetables really do boost your immune system while killing bacteria, fungi, and viruses.
- Chocolate For Your Heart & Soul: Okay, here’s the best secret I’m ever going to give you — chocolate is actually good for your heart. That’s right. Researchers studied people eating chocolate and found that two hours after a yummy dark-chocolatefest, levels of a heart-healthy nutrient called procyanidins went up by a factor of 20! Sweet! If you have no allergies or sugar issues, you could easily justify two squares of dark chocolate a day.
The 24-Hour Pharmacist:
Advice, Options, and Amazing Cures
from America’s Most Trusted Pharmacist
By Suzy Cohen, R. Ph.
368 pages, HarperCollins, $14.95
Available at all major bookstores,
Franck’s Pharmacy, and www.Amazon.com.
Meet Suzy in person!
Booksigning on Sept. 11, 2007
For a complete list of local booksigning dates,