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Larry King Live

Curing What Ails You in the New Millennium

Aired January 4, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, curing what ails you in the new millennium, from cancer to depression, heart disease, weight loss and much more. We've got a terrific panel. In Palm Springs, Suzanne Somers, discusses her popular weight loss programs. In Los Angeles, Phyllis Diller on aging and depression and Morton Downey Jr. on overcoming cancer. In West Palm Beach, ABC news medical editor Dr. Tim Johnson; in San Francisco, Dr. Bob Arnot, medical editor for NBC news; and in New York, CNN's medical correspondent Dr. Steve Salvatore.

They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening from Washington.

Let's start with our doctors and then bring in our other folks to discuss various ailments and the like and what we're doing about it,

Dr. Arnot, your new book, "The Biology of Success." It is published today by Little Brown -- there you see its cover. What do you mean by the title?

DR. BOB ARNOT, NBC NEWS MEDICAL EDITOR: You know, this is a tremendous new head start for many of us, Larry, the new millennium. And what I mean is many of us have been waylaid to believe that success is something that is genetically determined and that we have no choice in terms of our own success.

The great good news is that we can create the tremendous positive mental energy and positive thought pattern that is necessary to be a tremendous success. Look at yourself. You have the two parts of the formula, tremendous positive energy and tremendous positive thought. That's what it takes to be a success in the zeros, as they now call them.

KING: And that effects you medically?

ARNOT: Well, it does. That is, if you look at those people who are most optimistic, they are the ones who are going to have the least amount of chronic disease, who live the longest, have the fewest divorces, are the most successful financially. So it makes a big difference medically in terms of having the optimism to really believe that you can and will succeed.

KING: Dr. Tim Johnson, what's this -- is this a flu epidemic we're in now?

DR. TIM JOHNSON, ABC NEWS MEDICAL EDITOR: It appears to be. By all reports, it's more severe than the usual years. In any given year, approximately 20,000 people will die from the complications of the flu, usually pneumonia, but this year the early reports indicate it's going to be more severe than the usual years.

KING: Does that mean people didn't take their flu shots?

JOHNSON: I don't know the numbers yet. We don't have that. It means, by the way, that it isn't too late to get a flu shot. Even now in January I would recommend it for people. There are two new drugs on the market also -- one inhaled, one taken orally by mouth -- that if you determine very early that you have the flu might be helpful in reducing the symptoms. But the best medicine is still the flu shot. And I'd say for people who are worried about it, they could still get it.

KING: That's Flumadine is the taken internally and Relenza is the inhalant, right?

JOHNSON: Right.

KING: And they're both very positive and working, right?

JOHNSON: Well, they are helpful if you diagnose the flu early. The problem is a lot of people get the flu, and they don't realize for a few days exactly what they have. And by the time they figure it out, they're probably on the downhill course. But if very early on, within the first 24 or 48 hours, you are diagnosed with the flu, taking these medicines can help.

KING: Dr. Salvatore, is there one flu strain? It changes every year. You get a different flu shot because they're -- what...

DR. STEVE SALVATORE, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right.

KING: Do we have different strains going on? Explain that.

SALVATORE: Yes, well actually every year, Larry, about six to nine months before flu season, experts from the CDC get together and decide which strains they think are going to be most prevalent this flu season. So based on the information they have from Asia and other parts of the world, they then put a flu shot together and make a best guess as to what flu they should put in this year's vaccine.

KING: Are they usually right?

SALVATORE: Well, a lot of people would have you think they're not usually right. A lot of times they are pretty accurate, but a lot of times people will get a flu shot and still get what they think is the flu and they say it didn't work. I think the last year or before they weren't right and we had a bad flu outbreak. This year, I think they're doing OK.

KING: We going to cure the cold, Dr. Arnot? ARNOT: Well, I would suspect that in the next 10 years we're getting a little closer, but it's amazing to think of the number of diseases that we have been able to cure, and we have not been able to cure the common cold yet. I do think, though, that in terms of cold prevention, in terms of the right kind of exercise program, diet, and what I would do when I start to get a cold is lots of zinc lozenges, echinacea, vitamin C -- maybe not scientifically proven, but I swear my colds go away before they start.

KING: Dr. Johnson, do you think we're going to cure it next 10 years?

JOHNSON: I think it's unlikely because there are over a hundred different viruses that can cause the common cold, and to figure out a vaccine that would to prevent all of those different strains I think is unlikely. I think we're going to have to deal with the treatment front. I think it's going to be hard to find a single magic bullet to cure all of the possible viruses that can cause the common cold.

KING: Steve, do you concur?

SALVATORE: I pretty much concur. And I think part of what you have to realize, Larry, you know, cold viruses, there are over a hundred different types. And viruses are constantly mutating and changing. You might run into the same problem you have with flu vaccines, you know, where you're going to have problems with patient compliance, you're going to have to get people get them right away to make any kind of noticeable difference.

And I don't know that many people that would go out and get cold shots. I mean, we already have a hard enough time with flu shots...

KING: Yes.

SALVATORE: ... and 20,000 people die from that a year.

KING: Let's bring in our friend Phyllis Diller. She's at our bureau in Los Angeles. She has suffered from heart disease and depression and of course we're going to talk about aging. But this is the time of the year when depression takes hold more, right after the holidays. When did you have it, Phyllis, and have you overcome it?

PHYLLIS DILLER, ENTERTAINER: Yes, I only had it briefly when I was at the bottom of my health cycle, when I was completely paralyzed. I simply wanted to get out and go away and not have to face anymore of the illness.

KING: You mean die?

DILLER: Die is the word.

KING: Why didn't you?

DILLER: Well, nobody would do it for me. I asked several doctors to just, you know, just let me float away to happiness. And they said, well, no, we can't do that. It's against the law. And Kevorkian was already in jail, so I had therapy and a long, long, long road to perfect health.

KING: Are you glad now you didn't make that contact?

DILLER: I couldn't tell you how glad I am.

KING: Dr. Johnson, is depression more common around the holiday?

JOHNSON: It is. It's acknowledged...

KING: Or is that the blues?

JOHNSON: It's a reactive depression to all of the excitement of the holidays and then often the letdown afterward and all the stress of the holidays. Usually that form of depression, the kind associated with an event like the holidays, will get better on its own in a reasonably short period of time. The depression we obviously worry about is the so-called biological depression, the deep-seated depression that often has to be treated with medications.

KING: Which hits millions, right?

JOHNSON: Millions of people suffer from this condition. It is probably one of the most underdiagnosed problems in our society. Even in this new millennium, it's still a matter that often stigmatizes people, so they don't talk about it freely to their friends or their doctors. And that's something we've got to get over.

KING: Back with more of our doctors and Phyllis Diller. Suzanne Somers will join us when Phyllis leaves.

And then later, Morton Downey Jr. We're discussing your health in the new millennium.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Dr. Salvatore, the World Health Organization predicts that by the year 2020 depression will be the second-leading cause of disability and premature death to heart disease. It's going to pass cancer. Do you buy that?

SALVATORE: I buy it, Larry. You know why? Because there are about six million older Americans that suffer from depression, and only about 10 percent of these people are getting treated. What that means is a lot of people are either afraid to get treatment because they're afraid of the stigma or they don't know that they have it. You know, depression is often hidden or masqueraded with other diseases.

You can have people who basically -- doctors might think they have Alzheimer's or they might have dementia, when they actually could have depression also. There's overlap with hypothyroidism, diseases like diabetes and even cancer. So it's a very difficult disease to diagnose, and still, Larry, we've got to get over that stigma, and people don't seek treatment for it. KING: Phyllis Diller, did you associate the depression with aging?

DILLER: No, just with the debilitation, helplessness.

KING: The feeling of not wanting to go on because of your medical condition?

DILLER: That's right. I was -- I never got like that before because I am a positive thinker. The first doctor who had written that book -- you know, that's a great health-giving thing, to be a positive thinker and always think something is going to turn out great. But when I was totally paralyzed, I thought I really had -- I had been in intensive care for three weeks, and that'll weaken you pretty bad to begin with, and I just had it with the whole scene, you know.

KING: With all the plastic surgery you've had, and we've discussed that many times...

DILLER: Yes.

KING: ... you've been on a kind of search to stay young, haven't you?

DILLER: Well, not so much young. I just wanted to look better. You know, I was sick of curdling the milk.

KING: Dr. Arnot, are we -- do we poorly handle our aging? And they're getting to be more of them?

ARNOT: Well, you know, I am a big fan of trying to stay young. I think it's a great kind of effort. And if you do it in a healthy way, it's a great impetus to stay healthy.

But it's very interesting what Phyllis was saying about our own sort of very optimistic attitude, because you know, the sort of epidemic of depression that we see today is really spun, I thin, by what we call pessimism. And pessimism is learned helplessness, the belief that somehow you can't help yourself. And beyond all the drug therapy, I think it's very important to realize that increasingly in our society, people think they can't win, they can't be successful, and they become increasingly pessimistic. And it's by targeting that pessimism with optimism, with what's called cognitive therapy, that can be just as powerful as drugs in being able to pick yourself up. And I'd ask Phyllis if, in the end, it was the drugs that helped her or whether if was her own spirit of optimism that allowed her to recover?

DILLER: Well, I had no drugs for it. I just -- therapy, and I started getting well and being able to move again, and just went through it. It took a lot of patience. But once you're on your way, then the old spirit gets back.

KING: Why no drugs, Phyllis?

DILLER: I beg your pardon?

KING: Why no drugs?

DILLER: Well, I mainly was in that condition because of a drug. The last thing I wanted was another drug. It was a drug that made me -- it was a side effect of a drug that paralyzed me.

KING: Dr. Johnson, is Dr. Salvatore right? Do we tend to overlook older people with depression, as saying, that's a byproduct of being old?

JOHNSON: Absolutely. I think it's one of the most common phenomena we face. It's a very easy to write off changes in the elderly as due to the aging process, but in fact at any age, when you start developing the classic symptoms of depression, that is inability to function in normal ways, loss of appetite, inability to sleep, a lack of interest in your job, or in school, or in sexual function, those are the signs and symptoms of depression at any age. And when we see them in the elderly, we've got to think of depression.

KING: And isn't, Dr. Salvatore, there more of it the older you get? Isn't there more to be despondent about?

SALVATORE: When you know, Larry, when you get older, there are certain things that happen that make you more depressed. One of the classic examples is the death of a loved one. Many people never get over the death of a loved one. And that really can set them into a depression. And the other thing is, when they get older, they start to develop these chronic illnesses and chronic diseases, and that also triggers this kind of depression.

But Dr. Arnot is correct, you have to get in there and have to find a positive way to approach these things. It's easier said than done, though, I might say, but when you get older, there seems to be bigger challenges. You worry more, you worry about financial things as you're getting older, and you start to see your friends around you that also might be dying. So it is a tough time.

KING: That's right, isn't it Phyllis, you do lose friends?

DILLER: Yes you do. You lose lovers. You lose children. You lose friends. They're dropping dead around you. But the thing is, that I think that if you watch the news it's most depressing. I think not watching the news is a big help.

KING: We'll take a break and come back, get a few calls. If you want to talk to Phyllis Diller, with Doctors Arnot, Johnson and Salvatore, who will be with us throughout the entire program.

And then when Phyllis leaves, Suzanne Somers will join us. Later Morton Downey Jr.

On Friday night, Senator and Mrs. Dole will be with us.

Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Phyllis, there are some who think that in this next generation, a lot of people are going to live to 120. Would you like that?

DILLER: No, no, I think there would be an odor.

KING: Is that going to happen, Dr. Johnson? Are we going to live to 120?

JOHNSON: Well, it's theoretically possible. Most experts think the biological life span, that is the possibility for life, can go to about 120, 130. Obviously, currently the life expectancy, the average is about 76, 77, so we've got a long way to go. I think what people really want, of course, is quality of life rather than sheer quantity. So to live to 120 with pure quality would not be the goal. What we want is to incrementally improve our quality as we grow older.

KING: Dr. Arnot, as the population ages, though, that gives us much greater problems, doesn't it? There are benefits and the there are minuses.

ARNOT: You know, what's interesting, is that there is this common misconception that as we get older we do become more frail and feeble. But yet if you look at the average 75-year-old in the United States, roughly 60 percent of them are up and going strong. So there's really optimism I think about living healthier longer, as Dr. Johnson explains.

What is interesting, is that you get to 85 based on a lot of effort and good healthy living. But over 85, you get -- based on your genes, new studies out of Harvard Medical School shows that those that make it to 90, or 95 or a hundred have something extra going for them, genes that apparently protect them against these connective tissue diseases, like arthritis and against heart disease. And what they're trying to do at Harvard now is to find out what specifically those genes are so that they can bottle them for the rest of us, and that is likely to be the true sort of fountain of youth.

KING: Dr. Salvatore, can you overcome your genes?

SALVATORE: I think that to a certain extent, you can. I mean, there are certain people that can have severe problems with genes. For instance, they might have problems with limpid disorders, or things like that, with extremely high cholesterol levels. Things of that nature makes it very, very difficult to get over those. But as far as increasing your lifespan, if you're talking about your genes, I think that perhaps if you take your diet seriously, and you exercise seriously and get yourself into a healthy, motivated program, you do a lot of preventative medicine, I think you could kind of tweak your genes for an extra few years, at least.

KING: Phyllis Diller, how have you changed your lifestyle, if any, now?

DILLER: Well, I haven't changed it at all. I've just been going on and on and on, busy; I'm back working. Work to me is the big secret of really happiness.

KING: The fact that you work -- you live to work and work to live, right?

DILLER: Yes, well, my work is my great happiness. It makes me happy. I do a lot of work where I hear people laugh, and it gives me a great high. It's natural high. And I have always eaten very carefully, and I keep an open mind, and I am a happy person and positive, and I always felt that way, and I love people, and that makes me happy, you see, and which makes me healthy.

KING: Dr. Johnson, that, in essence, is one of the keys of Dr. Arnot's book and one of the books -- the new book that Suzanne Somers has written. Do you think that you can think yourself healthy, Dr. Johnson?

JOHNSON: I think you can, in some cases, and in certain situations, but I think we have to also be honest and not make people feel guilty that because they have a serious cancer, for example, or a significant heart problem that it was their fault, they didn't think positively enough. I think that works in many areas of life, and I'm all for it. But I think we have to honestly acknowledge that there are going to be serious disease problems that we have to treat with very real medicine.

KING: Would you say, Phyllis, your outlook now is very good?

DILLER: My what?

KING: Your outlook.

DILLER: Oh, why it's wonderful. But as the doctor says, if I have a problem, I go to a doctor, and I recently had a sciatica problem, which I always thought was the hip, but it turned out on the cat scan that it was a certain place in the spine. They gave it a shot, and I was totally recovered in no time at all, and then you see, I've just been very fortunate with things like that. You know, you go and hope that you get well.

KING: Phyllis, I speak for us: We're glad you didn't leave us. Stay well.

DILLER: Thank you.

KING: Phyllis Diller. Suzanne Somers will join us, and Dr. Salvatore, Arnot and Johnson will remain. And later, we'll talk with Morton Downey Jr. And tomorrow night, a major program on stalking.

This is LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be right back. Suzanne Somers joins us. She's got a new book.

Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back for LARRY KING LIVE. I'll reintroduce our panel at the bottom of the hour. But joining our medical group is Suzanne Somers. She's had two hit books on dieting. She's in Palm Springs. Now has a new one out called "365 Ways to Change Your Life."

It's this -- there you see its cover. Is this, Suzanne, in the diet mode or a departure for you?

SUZANNE SOMERS, AUTHOR, "365 WAYS TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE": No, it's not departure. And how are you, Larry? Nice the talk to you.

KING: I'm fine.

SOMERS: It's not a departure. It is -- you know, we have to understand our patterns of behavior to understand ourselves, so it ties in with dieting. I mean, how often have you found yourself standing in front of the refrigerator looking for something to eat when you're not hungry, so what you really have to understand is why you're standing there, why you're eating.

KING: What do you think of Suzanne's approach, doctors -- we'll start with Dr. Arnot this time -- that you could lose weight while eating almost anything you want, pegging it to low sugar and you can have proteins and carbohydrates. I am sure you know of it, you know about it. Bob, what do you make of it?

ARNOT: Well, I've looked at Suzanne's program and am certainly very impressed with parts of it. I think what you find across diets is the idea that if you're dumping many of the, sort of, junkie carbohydrates and refined sugars that you're making a big step forward. But if you eat some protein -- protein is a very satiating substance. If you're not going overboard, but you're eating more protein, you can make a real impact in terms of your ability to lose weight.

KING: Obviously, Dr. Johnson, it's working for her. Do you buy it?

JOHNSON: Well, I think cutting down on excessive calories in any form will help you lose weight. And all of these various diets initially will help people lose weight because they tend to eat less calories overall. The real test of any diet program obviously is the long-term effect. And as we know, many of them don't work long term, because people put the weight back on. So you've got to find a program that you can live with for the long term.

KING: Before we ask Suzanne more about her book, I just want to get Dr. Salvatore's thought basically on Suzanne's concept -- doctor.

SALVATORE: Well, I think the point that she makes is most interesting, and that is, how many times are we standing in front of the refrigerator wondering why we're there? And we have a term for that: It's called "comfort food." And we have to think sometimes, are we eating sometimes to satisfy feelings that we have, or are we eating just because we're actually hungry? And sometimes we binge and we eat the inappropriate foods because they make us feel good, and I think we really need to try and find out what is the underlying problem there, why we eat that way?

KING: Suzanne, do you have to change your life before you can change your food patterns?

SOMERS: Well, I think you have to know why you're eating, because until you know that, you're going to be on a diet roller coaster.

But I do want to say one thing about my program, so that people don't get the wrong idea. I believe in a balanced diet, and I believe you don't have to worry about portion control, but you have to understand what sugars are. My whole thing is eliminating sugars from your diet. I think sugars to me from the studies that I've read really wreak havoc. If diabetes isn't an epidemic -- and the doctors can answer this for me -- we are near an epidemic, and we're on a fast track to obesity.

So we have to do something with -- the conception of the American is a fat American, and what I wanted to say relative to aging, is that you never see old overweight people, and we have to ask ourselves why?

KING: They're gone.

SOMERS: They're gone, because it's too much pressure on the organs.

So I -- my program allows for carbohydrates, but in their whole grain form. It allows for meat, chicken, and fish and real fat -- butter, sour cream, olive oil, cream -- real fats that are essential for healthy cell reproduction. So mine is a healthy approach. It's just that my food is so unbelievably flavorful and great that people are doing it and staying on it. And I've done it for 10 years.

KING: And she's done it 10 years.

Do you believe, Dr. Arnot, you could do that and have a heart disease and eat sour cream?

ARNOT: Well you know, the American Diabetes Association's approach to this was that the real sort of final judge is what happened to your cholesterol level. Now I'm a big believer that if you want to eat more fats, it should strictly be with olive oil. It's a very heart-healthy fat. It's a fat that's very kind to you, if you are at risk for breast cancer. I am not a big fat of saturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. They're obviously a very interesting sort of substitute for refined sugars in a diet. But no, I don't believe that most people's cholesterol levels will be treated kindly if you eat a lot of those foods.

KING: So why is it working for, Suzanne, then do you think?

ARNOT: Well, you know what's interesting, is the more we learn about diet, the more we learn that there are individual's differences, and that for some individuals, they can go an extraordinarily high- protein, very high-fat diet, which seems incredibly unhealthy to the rest of us, lose a hundred pounds, and find that their cholesterol level has plummeted. That's obviously not true of all of us. But that's why when the American Diabetes Association looked at this, they really decided to find out whether the diet is working for you, in terms of your health. Look at what it does to your cholesterol level and see whether it's benefit or a deficit.

KING: Do you think, Dr. Salvatore, it is a lot of -- she writes in her book, a lot of mind matter here going on though, changing the mind patterns.

SALVATORE: Well, I think mind has a lot to do with it, Larry, but I think you really do have to keep in mind calories going on, calories that you're burning in. You have to consider, every time you eat, where's your protein, where's your carbohydrate and where's your fat coming from? And think about in sizes -- in reasonable portions, about the size of your fist, and I think if you stick with that -- pretty much the way I do it -- and I don't have a weight problem myself -- is basically I go six days a week. I am fairly strict. When on the seventh day, I do whatever I want to do. And that works for me.

But like Dr. Arnot said, you know, you have to look at many, many different people. You can't just look at one person's example.

KING: We'll take a break and come right back with more of Suzanne Somers, and we'll reintroduce our doctor's panel, and then we'll be meeting later, Morton Downey Jr., who's licked lung cancer.

Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Let's reintroduce our panel. In West Palm Beach is Dr. Tim Johnson, ABC news medical editor. In San Francisco, Dr. Bob Arnot, NBC's news medical editor, and his new book "The Biology of Success" published today by Little, Brown. In New York, our own Dr. Steve Salvatore, CNN's medical correspondent. And in Palm Springs, California, the actress who has become as famous in the field of writing books and in diet as she does on the stage and in film, Suzanne Somers. Her new book is "365 Ways to Change Your Life," published by Crown.

Let's get in a quick call from Cabe Breton Island, Nova Scotia.

Hello.

CALLER: Hi, how are you, Larry?

KING: Hi.

CALLER: I would like to ask Dr. Arnot, I have been on Paxil for a year and a half, and it has been working effectively up until now I find my symptoms are recurring, and is there something that I could possibly do to supplement the Paxil?

KING: Is that antidepressant, Dr. Arnot?

ARNOT: Yes.

Well, actually, it's very interesting, what you ask, because the psycho-pharmacologists who are such great experts at determining what kinds of medications to use actually do supplement. They'll use a variety of different medications, or boosters, along with it. One thing I would suggest, and I have used that Paxil often with patients, is to look at cognitive therapy.

In "The Biology of Success," my new book, I talked about how important optimism is, about being able to take that sense of pessimism you may have and to turn that around so you get a real sense that you can win. Through cognitive therapy, there is the belief that you're actually changing neurologic connections in the brain, so that you're getting beyond just the effect of the drugs to become healthier and to become much more positive about your potential fate.

KING: Suzanne, do you buy that? Do you take any medication?

SOMERS: No, I don't take any medication. But I -- you know, I once was very depressed. I know I come off as this happy person...

KING: You were?

SOMERS: Yes, and it's what I have written about in my other books, growing up in a violent, abusive...

KING: Yes, I remember.

SOMERS: ... alcoholic home.

And that is another kind of depression, and what you really have to do with that kind of depression -- when you are ready, and that's a big part of it -- is go back, and look, and keep peeling back until you get to as far back as you can remember, so that you can understand what was going on at the time and understand that it wasn't your fault.

So there are different kinds of depression. I think what the doctors are talking about is clinical or chemical depression, and the depression that I am talking about is the curve that we're all thrown in our life -- either have been or will be thrown -- and how you respond to it. And sometimes it's impossible to respond to it in a way where you can help yourself without professional help.

KING: Do you think obesity, a tendency to obesity, Suzanne, is inherited?

SOMERS: Yes, I -- you know, you look at families, and you can see the traits.

KING: Yes.

SOMERS: But I really believe now, with what we understand about our bodies and what we put into it -- you know, most people take better care of their car than they do their bodies. If you pay attention to what you're putting in your mouth -- and of course, you know, I have told you before that if you would follow my program, you can go back to those lamb chops, Larry, because it's...

KING: I know.

SOMERS: Because according to the studies that I have, it is not fat that's manufacturing cholesterol, it's the excess sugar through the liver that's manufacturing the cholesterol. So my whole thing is eliminating the sugar. But most people think they know what sugars are -- they think it's cake and cookies and candy. It's the high- starch vegetables, it's white flour, white pasta, fructose, honey. Those are the real culprits that spike your insulin.

KING: London, Ontario, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry.

When Suzanne was on your show in the fall, she mentioned that she had a problem with sugar cravings, and she got some help from a health-food store, but I don't think she ever mentioned what she used. I was wondering if she could tell me that now.

KING: What was it?

SOMERS: It's called beta food, and it just takes away your craving for sugar. It's a herb.

KING: B-e-t-a?

SOMERS: B-e-t-a food. And it takes away the sugar cravings. It really works for me, because I -- I mean, I could eat sugar night and day. I love it. I love cake and cookies and chocolate...

KING: Beta -- beta food?

SOMERS: Beta food, yes. It's a herb.

KING: Dr. Salvatore, "Time" magazine says that 75 percent of women in the United States in the year 2020 are going to be obese. Does that alarm you?

SALVATORE: Well, Larry, considering the present number, I think 55 million Americans are now obese or overweight. It alarms me because just recently the American Heart Association added obesity as one of its risk factors for heart disease, and heart disease is the number-one killer. So what we're doing, Larry, is we're setting up ourselves as a population as a whole for heart disease. We're already there, and it is just getting worse, so it scares me for those people.

But what's really most upsetting about the whole thing is that this is preventable. If people would get serious about it, and like Suzanne says, take better care of themselves than they do their car, they can avoid all of this.

KING: Is that old statement, Dr. Johnson, "You are what you eat" -- is that true?

JOHNSON: It's true up to a point. One thing we haven't mentioned thus far in the discussion is the other half of the equation for weight control, which is exercise.

KING: Yes.

JOHNSON: And I personally don't think you can ever have a long- term successful weight program without a regular exercise component. So eating is certainly part of it, an important part of it, but it's also important to burn it off, and exercise has all kinds of benefits including weight control.

KING: Suzanne, I thank you very much. We're anxious to read this book. We'll have back you on to discuss it and it alone. Thanks very much.

SOMERS: Thanks. Bye, Larry.

KING: Suzanne Somers -- bye -- her new book is "365 Ways to Change Your Life."

Morton Downey had lung cancer. You all remember it, he appeared on this show the night before his surgery. He appeared on this program from his hospital bed after his surgery. We'll talk about advances in cancer with our panel and Morton Downey right after this.

Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: He was a long-time smoker. He's become one of the stronger advocates against it. He is Morton Downey, Jr. He's at our bureau in Los Angeles. He had lung cancer -- his entire right lung was removed, part of his left lung was removed. I know he spoke to his doc...

How are you doing as of right now, today, Mort?

MORTON DOWNEY, JR., FORMER TALK SHOW HOST: Larry, right now today I am doing great. And the doctor, as a matter of fact, said today -- you know both of my doctors -- said that I was cancer free. Now, I got a hell of a case of asthma, but I am cancer free.

KING: You also look like you have lost a terrible amount of weight?

DOWNEY: I went down to 112. I am back up now to 148. I'll get up to about 162 -- a lot of weight.

KING: Except for the asthma, are you OK in every other regard, heart and everything?

DOWNEY: I am. Heart's normal. Brain has never been normal. My depression -- my depression was, as you know, that my little girl at the time -- she's 6 now -- was only 2, and I was afraid I would not have a chance to see any of her grow up.

KING: Dr. Salvatore, cancer is no longer a death-knell, right? SALVATORE: Well, in certain instances -- we're talking today in certain instances it still is, but you know, a lot of researchers feel that within the next 10, 20, 30 years, with some discoveries that are going on with human genes and part of the Human Genome Project, that they will be able to manage cancer probably as a chronic disease. In other words, you get cancer, and you would go to the doctor and you would get treatments for it. It's not so much that you would get cured, per se, but it would be a disease that you would live with. That's what most experts are looking at in the near future.

KING: How, Dr. Johnson -- I know you don't know his case -- how can Mort Downey, Jr. be with us with no right lung and part of a left lung gone?

JOHNSON: Well, you can live on on a small part of your lung. It may be difficult to breathe and you may have less exercise tolerance, but you can certainly get in enough oxygen to live with even a small portion of your lung remaining. You may have to make, as I say, life adjustments.

DOWNEY JR.: What about sex, doctor? When can I expect to have that?

JOHNSON: That's one question I can't answer over the...

DOWNEY JR.: My poor wife.

KING: Mort, do you feel now that it will never recur? Are you confident that you have beaten this disease in that regard?

DOWNEY JR.: I was always confident, Larry, as you know. Except for that one short little period there where you kicked my slats to get me feeling good again. I don't think it will come back. I think it's gone. The radiation screwed me up a little bit, but I'm back. I have memories with my wonderful life Laurie and little girl Shawna (ph), and I get to make all new friends. It's wonderful.

KING: Dr. Arnot, how much of Mort's success can come from positive feelings?

ARNOT: Well, as Dr. Johnson pointed out, you're certainly not going to cure a disease with positive feelings, but when you have a disease you're more likely to do well with that disease, whatever the eventual outcome is going to be. For instance, a study of breast cancer patients show that even those that had positive lymphnodes lived up to 36 months longer if they were in a support group and had positive feelings about their outcome.

Those patients who had had a near fatal heart attack were up to 25 times less likely to have a second major heart attack if they remained optimistic. And we as health care providers have to be able to give our patients that basic sense of optimism that they're going to survive.

What is interesting in terms of lung cancer is these new scans can pick it up so early that it may be curable. And it's thought that it's this early detection and prevention which may be much, much more powerful in terms of actually prolonging life and preventing death from cancer than any of these new sort of biological or genetic cures that seem to elude us year after year.

KING: Morton Downey Jr., how was yours picked up?

DOWNEY JR.: Mine was picked up in a normal physical when I thought I had pneumonia. And they did, came back a couple of weeks later and it was still there, and they went in and did a needle biopsy. By the time they got through, they did a lung reduction, which was because of emphysema and cancer. And sure enough, here it comes again a year later. And you had me on after the first operation and right after the second operation. I have to...

KING: Yes. And the...

DOWNEY JR.: I have to beg a difference with the doctor here. I think it's awfully important to have a positive attitude and to dismiss anyone who tells you can't live because of your cancer, to dismiss them as liars. You can live. You will live. You're tougher than the people who say you won't.

KING: Dr. Arnot, there are some -- I remember, a doctor on this program some years back, that no doctor should ever tell a patient he's terminal or she's terminal. Do you agree with that?

ARNOT: Absolutely true. Many of these patients have...

KING: No one knows that.

ARNOT: Yes, the best recent example was with Boris Yeltsin. His own doctors got on television and said, he's not going to survive. He has terrible liver and lung disease. This operation we're going to do on his heart is so difficult, we don't think he'll survive. Dr. Michael DeBakey went to Moscow, and he said, you know what? He does have some lung and liver disease, but you know what? He's got a great attitude. You're a good operating team. We think we can win.

Too many doctors do what we call laying crepe, laying crepe around the coffin to protect themselves so the family won't be disappointed when they lose. One of the most important thing we can do as doctors is to give that positive mental attitude.

KING: Dr. Salvatore, do you agree you should never tell a patient they're going to die or do you disagree?

SALVATORE: Well, I think what you should do, Larry, rather than say they're going to die I think you should give them realistic odds. And you might want to tell patients, look, in this type of cancer, whatever it might be, 90 percent of people die within the first five years. However, 10 percent live. There's no reason to think that if you have the right attitude, if we do everything you can, you listen to everything we do, you might be in that 10 percent.

So that's a lot different than saying, you're terminal. We can kind of give you what the statistics are for most people. And then I think the best thing to do is put it back to the patient and their family and say are you willing to fight this? Do you want to go through this? Because you could be that 10 percent.

KING: Yes.

SALVATORE: I mean, every day, Larry, people play the lottery, you know? And they put their money in and hope to win that, you know, $10 million.

DOWNEY JR.: They lose their wallet, not their life.

KING: Yes. Fifteen hundred people a day are dying of this, Dr. Johnson. Shouldn't we go to a bigger war against it?

JOHNSON: Well, we are in a bigger war, I think. And I'd like to add a voice to this discussion in favor of the genetic and biological knowledge we've accumulated.

In the last 10 to 20 years, we've accumulated a lot of knowledge about what goes on inside the cell. And I think that's going to start paying off. And we had a very dramatic example of that reported widely in the press just a few weeks ago.

Chronic myologenous leukemia is a form of leukemia that affects about 5,000 Americans a year. We reported on a new treatment that targeted a single genetic defect in that form of cancer...

KING: Right.

JOHNSON: ... It's called the Philadelphia chromosome. It was a form of treatment that got right at that defect. It didn't affect the rest of the cell. There were no side effects. And in 31 patient who had failed all other forms of treatment and were really terminal, they went into remission. Now that's a great example of where biological knowledge can pay off, also. I'm all for positive attitudes. I think they can add enormously, but let's not ignore the hard-won battle of science that we're going to see paying off in the next 10 to 20 years.

KING: Morton, there's no doubt in your mind that smoking was the cause of your problem, right?

DOWNEY JR.: One hundred percent, Larry. One thousand percent. I smoked up to five packs a day.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with more on this subject. We'll include your phone calls, too.

This is LARRY KING LIVE.

Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Let's take a call. Bremerton, Washington, hello.

CALLER: Hello? KING: Hi,

CALLER: My wife has lupus. Is there anything that we can do with her diet to reduce the amount of drugs that she needs to take to help comfort her?

KING: Dr. Salvatore?

SALVATORE: For lupus, basically, is she on steroids? Is that what she's taking at this time? It's kind of hard to...

CALLER: Correct.

SALVATORE: Well, basically, the best thing you could do is make sure she's on a well-balanced, healthy diet and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. You want do make sure that her immune system is as strong as it can be.

KING: Yes.

SALVATORE: A lot of people, when they get sick they tend not to eat healthy, and they tend to put their diet as secondary. And I think probably the best thing you could do is get yourself into a diet that's very rich in fruits and vegetables and get yourself as healthy as possible.

KING: Lupus is simply what -- if it's possible to say "simply."

SALVATORE: Lupus is a connective tissue disease that can cause problems with your lungs and with your kidneys. In many women, it can not cause major problems, it can cause minor joint things. But in other women, it can be fatal and cause problems with the kidneys and liver.

KING: Mort, have you changed your diet, Mort?

DOWNEY JR.: I have, sir. Because I needed to put on so much weight, I'm now eating about a quart of ice-cream a day.

KING: So you had to...

DOWNEY JR.: I'm eating five -- go ahead.

KING: You had to put on weight?

DOWNEY JR.: I had to. I...

KING: Colorado Springs -- hello.

CALLER: Hi, I'm 25 years old and I'm a flight attendant, and last year my right lung collapsed, and I had two lung surgeries. And they don't -- they couldn't -- it was a spontaneous pneumothorax, so they really couldn't explain why it happened. I was just wondering if flying would have any effect on my lungs long term or if that can bother my asthma also?

KING: Dr. Johnson, should she continue to fly? I know you can't...

JOHNSON: Well, I'd be loathe to try to answer that question without knowing a lot more details about this.

KING: Well, what's the effect of flying on upper respiratory?

JOHNSON: Well, it's hard to say . People report all the time that they tend to get colds or even flu-like symptoms after taking a flight that they felt the air was stuffy, that they noticed people coughing. But when we've tried to do hard-nosed studies of the quality of air in airplanes, it's hard to prove that diseases are easily transmitted in modern airplanes with good air circulation. But certainly people can feel that the air is not of good quality and have these complaints after a flight. Whether or not they actually pick up diseases in flight is a more difficult thing to prove.

KING: Unionville, Ontario, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry, you're having an excellent show tonight.

KING: Thank you.

CALLER: You're welcome.

I am just wondering -- my mom has multiple myeloma, which is a bone-marrow cancer. And I wanted to know if the doctors knew of any new treatments that would be available for this.

KING: Bob?

ARNOT: Well, it is interesting that with multiple myeloma that there are a number of experimental protocols.

KING: What is that?

ARNOT: The best thing to do -- well, the best thing to do with cancer is to make sure that you're getting standard state-of-the-art therapy by calling 1-800-4-CANCER. They will tell you for the stage of disease whether or not you're getting the proper therapy. I had a friend whose wife had multiple myeloma, and we went through a series of experimental medications -- that is, experimental trials usually sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, that you can access by, again, calling 1-800-the letter four, and then the word cancer. And they will tell you about the available clinical trials.

KING: That means many cancers, multiple myeloma?

ARNOT: Well, multiple -- no, that is a particular kind of cancer...

KING: Oh.

ARNOT: ... and it is a cancer that has been particularly difficult to treat -- can be a chronic position that patients can live with for many, many years. But I think it's very important with multiple myeloma to look at standard treatment, make certain that you're getting state-of-the-art treatment, but to have a game plan so you're looking at various experimental protocols before you get so sick that you're no longer eligible for those protocols, very important (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to cancer.

KING: We'll have some final -- we'll have some final thoughts from all of our guests, and do that right after this. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: As you know, millions of people watched CNN over the past four days and our incredible coverage of the millennium. We're going to have a special edition of CNN "NEWSSTAND" immediately following this program, which will relive the turn of the century. Please stay tuned for that, all of the highlights in one solid hour, special edition of CNN "NEWSSTAND."

Orlando, Florida, hello.

CALLER: Yes, I was calling about the -- I wanted to ask the doctors about depression.

KING: Yes.

CALLER: My brother is severely depressed but he refuses to talk about it, he denies it, and he won't get any help. And I just don't know what to do.

KING: Dr. Johnson? Can you help...

JOHNSON: That's a tough situation.

KING: ... someone who doesn't want to be helped?

JOHNSON: It's tough to do. You sometimes have to get a so- called family intervention. That is, more than one person -- try to get a lot of members of the -- excuse me -- of the family together to confront this person about what you're witnessing, and how he can be helped if he can get the right kind of help. But it's a hard thing to do, and I don't have easy, glib answers. But I'll tell you...

DOWNEY: Doctor?

JOHNSON: ... if it's that severe, you have got to get that person to doctor and...

DOWNEY: Doctor?

JOHNSON: ... to somebody who knows how to treat depression.

KING: Mort?

JOHNSON: Yes?

DOWNEY: I'm sorry to bother you, it's Morton Downey.

My young brother Kevin committed suicide, very depressed, under treatment for many years. Called the hospital -- and I checked all this out -- called the hospital to beg them to admit him, to look at him, to medicate him. They said he had used his eligibility up -- wouldn't let him in. Five years, five years -- five hours later, he was dead in the back seat of his car.

JOHNSON: Yes. That is the risk...

KING: Mort, were you depressed when all of this happened to you?

DOWNEY: I was at first, Larry, but you, frankly, and my wife Laurie, and my friends Chris Divine and that, gave me the drive. They kept saying, come on, you're the kind of guy who can beat this stuff. Well, you know what? I kidded myself into believing it. I am a pretty good kidder and it worked. And I am grateful.

KING: Dr. Arnot, does your profession, medicine, lend you to optimism or pessimism, frankly?

ARNOT: Well, I think to optimism. I mean, you look at the tremendous future that we're creating in medicine, the kinds of things Dr. Johnson is talking about, with this tremendous accumulation of genetic knowledge and biological knowledge that means we're going to cure more and more disease. People are going to live longer and longer. They're going to live better and better. And I think that that's, you know, a tremendous service that we provide to our fellow human beings, and it gives us the opportunity to give them some real optimism that we have the tools to help them. It's what makes it -- it's a wonderful profession.

KING: Dr. Salvatore are you optimistic, generally? Do you think...

SALVATORE: Larry, my glass is half empty, half full, Larry. There are some wonderful discoveries that have been made in this country, and wonderful advances. But, you know, there's a whole world out there that still doesn't have the vaccine for polio. You know, polio is wiped out in this country, yet there's a huge population of the world that's still dying because they don't have clean water.

So for every wonderful advance that we make here, and we're optimistic, and gee, isn't it great, you know, there's an entire world of people out there that don't have the basic fundamental medical care that we take so for granted here in this country.

KING: I know Bill Gates and Ted Turner are trying to vaccinate every person in the world for polio that's not vaccinated.

Dr. Johnson, you optimistic?

JOHNSON: I am optimistic because of the knowledge base, but I also agree with what Steve said, that we have got a long way to go in providing access to health care for many in our own country, let alone the rest of the world. And that should be an equal challenge to building up our knowledge base. We have got to get what we know out to the population so they can have access to that knowledge.

KING: And Morton, my friend, I'll be optimistic for you. Long life. You're a great guy. You deserve it.

DOWNEY: Thank you, sir.

KING: Morton Downey, Jr. and doctors Timothy Johnson, ABC news, Bob Arnot, NBC news, his book "The Biology of Success," and Steve Salvatore, CNN medical correspondent. Earlier Suzanne Somers and Phyllis Diller.

Tomorrow night a major program on stalking.

Stay tuned for a special edition of CNN "NEWSSTAND," as we relive the turn of the century.

Thanks for joining us. From Washington, good night.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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