Holiday Gifts that Show We REALLY Care!

Tis the season of gift giving, and what do we see? Piles of chocolate and other treats- yummy! I love sweets as much as the next person (I hear my friends laughing and making piggy noises…yes, I know- just keep away from my gluten-free treats!)  HOWEVER, this is my annual plea to think seriously about the edible gifts that you send. If your friend is wonderfully fit and able to eat high calorie treats in moderation, knock yourself out & send the chocolate cheesecake- but if your friend has diabetes or struggles with their weight, please consider a different gift.… Read more

WORLD AIDS DAY – Does It Affect YOU?

Today, December 1, 2012, is World AIDS Day. Hopefully you will see some red ribbons around that reflect more than Christmas cheer- they are symbols of AIDS awareness. Many Americans are unaware that HIV disease is still a concern, since it is no longer a common lead story on the nightly news. Ironically, our capitol, Washington D.C., has the highest prevalence of HIV disease within our country.  There are now over 1.1 million Americans living with HIV disease. The good news is that with the tremendous advances with antiviral therapy in the last decade, most people with HIV infection … Read more

Birth Control Pills Going Over the Counter?

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) have released a committee opinion statement that they recommend over-the-counter access to oral contraceptive pills (OCs). ACOG believes that access and cost are the major barriers to women using contraception, and that OTC birth control pills will greatly reduce those barriers, thus lowering the unintended pregnancy rate. ACOG feels that there is no significant safety risk when OCs are compared with medications such as aspirin, which has been OTC for decades. (Note, however, aspirin would unlikely be approved if it were starting the whole FDA approval process in 2012! Great drug, very … Read more

Texting Can Save Lives?

Following up on yesterday’s Great American Smokeout…, an interesting study was published this year looking at the effectiveness of TEXTING support to help people quit smoking. This was an analysis of several other studies, including over 9000 total participants. Text messages were used either exclusively or as a supplemental part of smoking cessation programs. Although the results were not fully consistent between the individual studies, ultimately the data is encouraging to support use of this ever-present appendage to aid people in quitting smoking.

In fact, the National Cancer Institute has a texting support program for smokers wanting to quit. … Read more

Great American Smokeout!

TODAY, the third Thursday in November, is the annual GREAT AMERICAN SMOKEOUT sponsored by the American Cancer Society. Each year, smokers are encouraged to use this day as a QUIT date, or at least as a day to make a plan to quit. If you have a friend who still smokes, please reach out to them today and kindly encourage them with a reminder that today is a special day earmarked for their health. With this vice, there is NO amount that can be justified as being “good” for you.  Tobacco harms virtually every organ in the body. Everyone knows … Read more

Elect NOT To Gain Weight This Holiday Season

Happy November! In honor of election day tomorrow, let’s ELECT NOT to gain the standard 7-10 pounds during the holidays this year. We have begun the eating trifecta…Halloween, Thanksgiving & Christmas/Hannukah. Americans love to celebrate these holidays with excessive amounts of high calorie foods- in large quantities. Can you enjoy the season and NOT gain weight? Of course! But yes, some discipline and primarily large doses of awareness are necessary.

Let’s start with the Halloween candy. Most people have “leftovers” of snack-sized chocolates. We finish up our favorites (always the Reeses cups in our home) and then mindlessly polish off … Read more

Can’t Swallow That?

Difficulty swallowing, known medically as “dysphagia”, is a very common complaint. In fact, up to nearly a quarter of patients seen in primary care settings will suffer from this problem. Dysphagia is definitely more common in the older population, whether they are in nursing homes or living independently.

What causes dysphagia? The most common cause depends on the age. In small kids, there may be structural problems present from birth that may need surgical correction. In adults, however, the cause is often something that can be fixed more simply, with medications and/or behavior changes.

Smoking, excess alcohol, and obesity all … Read more

Hormones: Should We Take Them or Not?

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for menopausal women has been back in the news. In medicine, we’ve swung from placing virtually every post-menopausal woman on estrogen to barely allowing even the most miserable, hot-flashing, night-sweating woman to have any (after the Women’s Health Initiative- WHI). What’s the answer? Is estrogen safe or not?

As always, the devil is in the details. The WHI never said that we shouldn’t be using estrogen (and progesterone) for women who had menopausal symptoms (such as hot flashes and night sweats). In fact, this is an excellent use of estrogen, and physicians and patients need … Read more

Gardasil: Not for the FAINT…

Continuing my discussion this week about the HPV vaccine Gardasil, I’d like to address side effects. At this point in the United States, there have been over 46 million doses of HPV vaccine administered (the vast majority Gardasil), which implies over 15 million people (since a series includes three shots.) Unfortunately, when you start involving a population this large, within that group there will be uncommon diseases that occur in the general population. For example, a disease that occurs in only one out of 500,000 will have 30 cases in this group. Sorting out which of these rare occurrences are … Read more

Gardasil: What’s IN it?

Continuing the discussion about the HPV (Human Papillomavirus) Vaccine Gardasil...I’d like to step back and talk about exactly what is IN this vaccine. Much of the fear about immunizations surrounds concerns about the makeup of the vaccine, and what peripheral damage could potentially be caused from the content.

First of all, can you “catch” HPV from the vaccine? NO. Absolutely NOT. There are vaccines (like chicken pox or measles) that contain essentially watered-down versions of live virus, and as such, can in the course of an appropriate response cause a mild version of the disease as the body reacts … Read more