Doctor’s Tip: More random health tips

Farma Darya

Last week’s column consisted of several short, random health tips, and today’s is more of the same.

VITAMIN D, NEW STUDIES: Vitamin D has been touted over the years for several things, but recent studies have brought many of these claims into question. According to an article in the December issue of the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter, well-done studies over the past few years found that vitamin D did not protect against cancer, heart attacks, strokes, depression, chronic knee pain, macular degeneration, migraine headaches, or age-related cognitive decline. Furthermore, although vitamin D is necessary for calcium absorption, the recent VITAL study showed that it did not prevent fractures. Measurements of vitamin D are a major lab test expense for Medicare. There is no harm in taking vitamin D in reasonable doses (usually 2,000 mg. a day for adults), so at this point don’t stop taking it. However, it’s probably not worth spending extra money for a D test at a health fair, or Medicare’s money — especially since the accuracy of the test is questionable.

NEW INSPIRE DEVICE FOR OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNEA? There are two types of sleep apnea: 1. obstructive, which is more common in men and usually associated with obesity and snoring; and 2. central sleep apnea, associated with living at altitude (3,000 feet or higher), and therefore prevalent where we live. Both types are associated with depression, hypertension, and heart disease including arrhythmias such as atrial fib. Screening involves wearing an oximeter on your finger that records pulse rate and oxygen level during the night, followed by a formal sleep study if the overnight oximetry is abnormal. The gold standard treatment is CPAP. For the occasional person who doesn’t tolerate CPAP, a dental appliance is another option. You may have seen ads for a new, third option for obstructive (but not central) sleep apnea called Inspire, which is discussed in the current issue of Berkeley Wellness Letter. This device has to be surgically implanted, which can result in complications. Furthermore, Inspire is not as effective as CPAP. For further information, check with your primary care provider or The Lung Center at Valley View Hospital.

LIFESTYLE STRATEGIES TO REDUCE RISK OF COLON CANCER: According to the current Berkeley Wellness Letter, the following measures help prevent this second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S.: 1. Get screened by colonoscopy or a stool test called FIT starting at age 45 and earlier if risk factors such as family history of colon cancer are present; 2. Maintain ideal body weight; 3. Eat a diet high in fiber, fruits, and vegetables; 4. Avoid or at least limit red and processed meat (smoked or cured); 5. Exercise regularly; 6. Aspirin was recommended in the past to prevent colon cancer but no longer is.

LEAD IN CERAMICS: The same publication warns against using traditional glazed ceramics for cooking or storing foods or beverages, due to reports of lead poisoning.

EXERCISE AND CANCER: According to Nutrition Action, published by Center for Science in the Public Interest, people who get 150-300 minutes of moderate or 75-150 minutes of vigorous exercise a week have lower risk of bladder, breast, colorectal, kidney, stomach, and uterine cancer.

LUNG CANCER kills more Americans than breast, prostate and pancreatic cancers combined and 2-½ times more people than colorectal cancer. Eighty percent of lung cancer deaths are due to cigarette smoking, according to Nutrition Action.

OVERWEIGHT AND CANCER: According to the same publication, being overweight is a risk factor for the following types of cancer: colorectal, uterine, kidney, thyroid, postmenopausal breast cancer, esophagus, gallbladder, liver, ovarian, pancreatic, stomach, and the blood cancer multiple myeloma.

Dr. Feinsinger is a retired family physician with special interest in disease prevention and reversal through nutrition. Free services through Center For Prevention and The People’s Clinic include: one-hour consultations, shop-with-a-doc at Carbondale City Market and cooking classes. Call 970-379-5718 for appointment, or email [email protected].

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