Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Alcohol and Cancer

A recent European study found that many cases of cancer can be attributed to alcohol consumption, especially when higher than the recommended “upper limits."  The "upper limits" being one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.

Here in the states, alcohol use has also been linked to increased risk of several types of cancer for years, including cancers of the mouth, throat, voice box, esophagus, liver, breast and colon.  How does alcohol affect the body?

The American Cancer Society warns long-term alcohol use has been linked to an increased risk of liver cancer.  Regular, heavy alcohol use can damage the liver, leading to inflammation. This, in turn, may raise the risk of liver cancer.  Regular consumption of even a few drinks per week is also associated with an increased risk of breast cancer in women.  This risk may be especially high in women who do not get enough folate in their diet or through supplements.  Alcohol can also affect estrogen levels in the body, which may explain some of the increased risk.  Reducing alcohol intake may be an important way for many women to lower their risk of breast cancer.

In addition, alcohol use has been linked with a higher risk of cancers of the colon and rectum. The evidence for such a link is generally stronger in men than in women, although studies have found the link in both sexes.

As part of its guidelines on nutrition and physical activity for cancer prevention, the American Cancer Society recommends that people who drink alcohol limit their intake to no more than 2 drinks per day for men and 1 drink a day for women.  The recommended limit is lower for women because of their smaller body size and because their bodies tend to break down alcohol more slowly.

However, if you stay below the 1 to 2 drink limits, there are some benefits to having a beer once in a while.  They include decreased risk of heart attack and stroke as well as research that indicates that "moderate drinkers" have both a longer life span and tend to be "happier" than both those that abstain completely as well as those that would be considered "heavy" drinkers.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

What 6 Questions Should You Ask Your Medical Doctor at Your Next Visit?

1.  “What is my diagnosis and what does it mean?”

It may be hard to believe, but some medical doctors don't even tell the patient what's wrong with them; they just prescribe a medication or schedule a test, pat them on the shoulder and send them on their way.
When your doctor's completed their examination, ask them what the problem is. If your doctor offers a diagnosis ("It's gallstones"), ask them what that means. Make sure they're specific; you deserve to know what's going on in your body and how your doctor plans on helping you to get better.

2.  “What is the primary cause of my health condition?”

Your doctor might not always be able to pinpoint a specific cause of your health issue, but they can at least offer a range of potential causes that will give you a frame of reference. Again, you deserve to know. It's also important information because you may be able to provide insight that will aid in your treatment. For example, is your abdominal pain related to an athletic injury, a spicy food you recently ate, or a medication you've been taking for another condition? Knowledge is indeed power for both you and your doctor.

3.  “How will medication help my condition, and can I do something instead of (or in addition to) taking drugs?”

Medical doctors prescribe medication at alarming rates; in many cases that's their first choice for most patient complaints. You need to know how a medication is supposed to help your condition; don't let your doctor prescribe something without understanding its action on the body, both good and bad. Considering the side effects associated with over-the-counter and prescription medications (a reality emphasized by recent massive recalls of children's cold and cough products), you also should ask your doctor about non-drug treatment options.

4.  “I'm also taking nutritional supplements. How could they interact with the medication you've prescribed?”

Millions of people take nutritional supplements, whether a daily multivitamin or specific nutrients like B vitamins, vitamin D, calcium or magnesium. Doctors rarely inquire about such use, and remarkably, patients rarely tell them. That's dangerous because many medications can interact with nutritional supplements, which can impact how well (or poorly) your medication addresses your health issue.

5.  “Is there a generic version of this drug available?”

If a medication seems like the only option, at least make sure it doesn't cost you house and home. It's not uncommon for doctors to prescribe the brand-name version of a drug - sometimes because the pharmaceutical rep just dropped off some samples at the office. Generic versions use the same active ingredients as the brand-name versions, are approved by the FDA, and of course, they come at a much lower price. That's particularly important if your insurance doesn't cover the drug and/or you need to take it long-term.

6.  “What is the next step if my condition does not improve within X number of days?”

This is always a great question to ask. Patients are worried about their health to begin with; they want to feel as if their doctor "has a plan" if the first treatment option doesn't seem to be working. Will they try another medication? Will they order blood work? Will they schedule a CT scan? Will we "wait and see"? Knowing what your doctor is thinking and understanding your potential course of care reduces stress, pure and simple, which is always a good thing.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

October is National Chiropractic Health Month!

In honor of National Chiropractic Health Month, here are a few interesting facts you may not know about
chiropractic.  Chiropractic is among the most accepted fields in the medicine world. Because of its popularity around the world, especially in the US, one would be interested to know the early beginnings of Chiropractic and its remarkable history.

-  The Chiropractic profession was started in 1895, in Davenport Iowa.

-  According to the October 6th 1999 MSNBC web site, the number of chiropractor visits per capita has doubled in the past 20 years.

-  According to a survey of 1500 adults commissioned by Landmark Health Inc., one in six U.S. adults uses chiropractor services.

-  There are approximately 60,000 Doctors of Chiropractic in active practice in the United States today, according to the International Chiropractors Association.

-  There are approximately 10,000 students enrolled in Chiropractic College.

-  There are presently 16 chiropractic colleges in North America.

-  For the first time in history there are now presently more Chiropractic Colleges outside the United States than inside the U. S.

-  Chiropractic is the largest, most regulated, and best recognized of the complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) professions.

-  Patients favor chiropractors over medical care for back or neck pain in National Surveys. Patients routinely rate Doctors of Chiropractic highly in skill, manner, and explanation of treatment.

-  About 7.4 percent of the population used chiropractor care – a higher percentage than yoga, massage, acupuncture or other diet-based therapies in 2002.

-  Patients under regular Chiropractor care account less visits to Medical doctors and less money spent on health care including less money used up on medications.

-  Aside from private practices, Doctors of Chiropractic provide care in hospitals and other multidisciplinary health care facilities.

-  Chiropractic is the third largest doctoral-level health care profession after medicine and dentistry.

-  Back pain is the second leading cause of all physician visits in the U.S. In fact, half of all working Americans admit to having back pain each year

-  A comparison of the curriculum’s of Chiropractors and Medical schools (in California, Texas, and Iowa) found that Chiropractic students complete 4800 hours of study while Medical students complete 4667.