Archive for April, 2012

Warren Buffet And Prostate Cancer Screening

April 18, 2012

I have been asked multiple times today about Warren Buffet’s diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer. The questions include: Why was Mr. Buffet even screened for prostate cancer? and Why would Mr. Buffet be treated for prostate cancer with radiation therapy.

Mr. Buffett has disclosed that he will undergo radiation treatment for the cancer, but he is at greater risk for harm from the treatment than from the cancer itself. Long-term side effects of radiation treatment include erectile dysfunction, frequent urination, bleeding and rarely urinary incontinence.
Let’s look at the facts: The risks of screening are greater for an 80-year-old than a 60-year-old. If a healthy 82-year-old has a life expectancy to 94, and he is informed of the potential risks and benefits, then screening might be appropriate.
The longer a man lives, the more likely it is that he will develop prostate cancer. Autopsy studies among men in their 50s (who died of unrelated causes) showed that 10 percent had prostate cancer but didn’t know it. By the time men reach their 80s, autopsies show that nearly all of men will have prostate cancer. Thus older men are likely to die with prostate cancer and not from prostate cancer.

And in older men, even when cancer is found as a result of a P.S.A. test, the cancer typically is so slow-growing that it will never cause harm, and the man will die of another cause. There is no evidence that P.S.A. testing of men 75 or older saves lives, but the test increases the risk of harm from invasive biopsies and treatments that can cause pain, impotence and loss of urine.

So what to do? If you are over age 75, have no urinary symptoms, have multiple co-morbid conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, or hypertension, you may discuss the situation with your doctor and decide not to have the PSA test. Also, if you find out that you have prostate cancer but would not undergo treatment such as surgery or radiation, then you probably don’t need to do a PSA test.

Bottom Line: This is a situation where a discussion with your doctor is important. A thought out decision is really the best decision. For more information, please go to my website, http://www.neilbaum.com

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Ladies, Another Reason To Work on Your Abs

April 14, 2012

It’s a fact that some women experience sexual pleasure by working out-and this can be accomplished without toys or even a partner! The secret is to workout from the core abdominal muscles. The University of Indiana discovered this phenomenon by surveying hundreds of women who reported sexual pleasure during exercise,. Most of the women reported that the sexual pleasure including orgasm occurred during an abs workout. The lead investigator, Debbie Herbenick, has coined the pleasure experience while working out the abdominal core, coregasm.

Bottom Line: There are plenty of reasons to work out and especially paying attention to your core group of muscles. You may not get a six pack but you can have a lot of fun trying!

Signs of Good Health: Check Your Color-Your Pee and Not Your Hair!1

April 8, 2012

Sometimes we get caught up with work and neglect our health.  We don’t see the subtle signs of stress, poor performance, and deteriorating health.  There are easy signs that you look for that will help you manage your health and get you back on track.

Do a color check of your urine.  A dark urine can indicate a lack of hydration.  The opposite also holds true: the lighter the color of your urine, the better your state of hydration.  Proper hydration aids the absorption of nutrients and helps increase energy levels.  If your urine is darker than usual, the cure is simple, go to the water tap and poor yourself a big one!

Other tell-tale signs include your resting heart rate.  Before you get out of bed, take your pulse.  There are even free apps that will make this easy to do.  Usually your heart rate will stay within a few beats per minute.  However, you are overworked or experiencing too much stress, your heart rate increases to send more oxygen to your body and brain.  If your heart rate is high in the morning, get a little extra sleep and decrease the caffeine consumption.

 

Check your weight.  If you lose or gain more than 1% of your body weight from one day to the next, something may be wrong.  Lack of nourishment and hydration (your pee color will also help with this issue of hydration) can impair your higher-level mental functions.  Or you may have been so distracted that you failed to notice that you were over-eating.

Bottom Line:  Pay attention to your state of hydration, your pulse and your body weight.  These are easy to monitor and will help put you back on track for good health.

Purchasing Medications Online-Let the Buyer Beware

April 7, 2012

With the high cost of prescription medications many patients are frequently asked about ordering medications online. This is certainly understandable with the high cost of medications, so many of our patients on fixed income, and the high unemployment rate making affording medication difficult or impossible. Patients are looking to their physicians for advice on buying medications online. This is the advice I give the patient in a written form to help them make the decision of whether to purchase medications over the Internet.
The FDA is trying to stop the flow of illegal ED drugs, but these medicines still circulate freely on the Internet. Legitimate online pharmacies do exist. It just takes a little bit of sleuthing to find them.
Here’s what to look for when you buy ED drugs online:
• A licensed pharmacy with an address in the U.S. (Check with your state board of pharmacy or the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.)
• A pharmacy that requires a prescription from your doctor
• Drugs that are approved by the FDA
• Containers that are clearly labeled with the name of the drug and the dosage
• A licensed pharmacist who is available to answer your questions
• A contact phone number to call if you have questions or problems
A clearly stated privacy policy that protects your credit card number and other personal information
Bottom Line: Doctors can only assume responsibility for medications they prescribe that are obtained from reputable pharmacies located in the United States. However, it may be possible to find drugs online if you follow the caveats described above.

Lifestyle Changes For Preventing Cancer

April 7, 2012

Dr. David Agus, an oncologist at the University of Southern California, wrote a book, The End of Illness, which offers lifestyle changes that may help prevent cancer. This article will review ten of his suggestions.

1. Keep a predictable schedule. Try to eat, sleep and exercise about the same time every day including weekends. Regularity of sleep is more important than total hours slept.

2. Move frequently and avoid prolonged sitting. Sitting for long periods of time is linked to a higher risk of early death and many diseases. You should try to aim for one hour of moderate exercise a day. If you have a sedentary job you can lift small weights, 2.5 pounds, at your desk or while talking on the phone using a headset. You will learn the definition of multitasking when talking and exercising at the same time.

3. Stop using vitamins and supplements. Unless you have a documented vitamin deficiency or are pregnant, you can ditch the dozens of vitamins and supplements that so many Americans use every day. Many well controlled studies have pointed out that vitamins have no benefit and even may be harmful. For example, vitamin E raises the risk of prostate cancer by 17 percent in healthy men. (Study from Journal of American Medical Association in 2011)

4. Get an annual flu shot. Getting the flu is a stress on the immune system. Getting a flu shot helps dampen the harsh immune response if you get the flu.

5. Discuss use of daily aspirin with your doctor. Low dose aspirin or one baby aspirin a day reduces the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and even some cancers.

6. Wear comfortable shoes. High heel shoes contribute to poor posture and back pain. Also comfortable shoes will help you move and walk more and longer distances.

7. Conduct a medications inventory. At least once a year go over your medication list with your doctor and find out which ones may cause side effects or drug-drug interactions and which ones are no longer necessary. As a whole we are an over-medicated society and you can often decrease your medications with a discussion with your doctor.

8. Check out healthy lifestyle incentives. Your employer may reduce your health insurance premiums if you commit to a smoking cessation program. Some employers are paying some or all of the cost of a gym membership.

9. Look to your doctor as a partner. Ask your doctor what he\she is doing to stay current on the latest medical advances. Ask how many hours of continuing medical education they receive each year (minimum is 20 hours). Feel comfortable talking to your doctor about any topic. If you can’t, find a new doctor.

10. Keep your own medical records. Keep a copy of your lab tests, x-ray reports, and any hospital discharge summaries. Your physician will make this available to you at no cost. Now if you go to another doctor or are in another city and need medical care, you have that information available which will help provide continuity of medical care. Savvy patients are storing this data online which means less paper and instant access on a 24\7\365 basis.

Bottom Line: Very little can be done to change your genetic predisposition to cancer or to change the toxins in the air or water. But there’s a lot you can do with practicing healthy lifestyles, exercising regularly, and being proactive about your medical care by developing a partnership with your doctor.