What You Need to Know About Common Cancer Screening

doctor-patientIt’s easy to feel like everything in medicine should be straightforward, but unfortunately that’s far from true. New research is constantly changing and deepening our understanding of how to keep people healthy. But I also recognize that getting conflicting advice can be tough to navigate, especially when it comes to getting screened for cancer. To help us out, the American College of Physicians, the nation’s leading organization for internal medicine doctors, has reviewed the evidence and recommendations for cancer screening to clarify what we know. I wanted to walk through their findings with you so that you can get a better sense of how to stay on top of your cancer risk. Read more  »

Protecting Your Eyes as the Days Get Brighter

couple beach sunglasses funOne of my favorite parts of this time of year is how long the days start to get. While I spent the winter leaving for work and coming home in the dark, the days are finally long enough that I can enjoy the sun’s glory for almost my entire day. Last week I spent some time talking about how to keep your skin safe when the sun’s rays start to strengthen during this time of the year. Today, I want to talk about how that protection applies to your eyes. Most people know to put on sunscreen when they head out in the sun, but few recognize how much protection their eyes need. Read more  »

The Best Way to Enjoy the Summer Sun

Sunscreen_PromoThe summer sun finally made an appearance in New York this week, bringing with it the warmest temperatures we’ve had so far. I took the opportunity on Sunday to get outside with my family and enjoy the warm air. But that outdoor adventure also brought me a first for the season: a sunburn. When the weather changes outside, we all tend to forget about the dangers of the sun after having been covered by coats and hats all winter long. May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month and, with the temperature climbing, it’s time to start thinking about how you’re going to have fun in the sun while also protecting yourself and your family from the potential harms of the sun’s rays. Read more  »

Knowing the Signs of Stroke Could Save Your Life

woman-with-headacheI’ve talked a lot about stroke on my show, both because strokes are often disabling and deadly and because most women don’t realize how at risk they really are. Stroke is the third leading cause of death in women, and more women have strokes every year than men. In spite of that, I find that many people think about stroke as a man’s disease and the symptoms they look for when assessing a stroke reflect the symptoms to watch for in men. Few people are even aware that women can have different symptoms.

This point was brought home to me this past week with the release of a survey out of Ohio that showed that only one in 10 women surveyed recognized some of the less common, female stroke symptoms as signs of stroke. I want to take some time to cover the signs and symptoms of stroke so that you can better recognize when you or a loved one might be in danger. Read more  »

Why Visiting the Doctor Is Worth Your While

doctor-patientI know how busy life can get. Between the patients I see and the guests on my show, I’m constantly amazed with how much people are squeezing out of their lives. But too often I meet people who fill their days with things that seem important while neglecting their health in a way that undermines the work they’re putting into their future and their families.

I was reminded of this by Taylor Swift’s recent post on her unusual Christmas present request from her mother and her mother’s subsequent cancer diagnosis. I’ve always been floored by the strong relationship Taylor obviously has with her mom and I can only imagine how hard her mom has worked over the last few decades to ensure the health and success of her family. But it also sounds like all of that work may have caused her to neglect her own well-being. So I want to take some time to talk about why a visit to the doctor is worth your time, even when it seems like you’re too busy to make an appointment. Read more  »

Food Recalls: Why They Happen and Why We Should Care

food rotten smells badIt’s a fact of life that bacteria are everywhere around us. They’re on our clothes, in our guts and all over the food we eat. Most of those bacteria don’t do any harm. In fact, many of them help us. But occasionally we come across a few bad apples that can do us some serious damage. On the show, I’ve covered several cases of food-borne illness and Sabra’s recent hummus recall is just one more in a very long list that just seem to keep getting longer. I think it’s important we all know how our food is made, tested and kept safe, which is why I want to take a few moments to talk a little about the food safety.

Who regulates food production?

The modern food industry has mostly shifted production away from local making of food to industrial production of food that then gets shipped to locations across the nation. While farmer’s markets are making a comeback in a big way, they don’t come anywhere near competing. When this move to industrial food production took place, factories weren’t always the cleanest of facilities. You might have read Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle at some point in school, which talked in part about the unsanitary practices of meat preparation. Read more  »

Why Talking About Race Is Still Important in Health Care

women weights exercise happyOne of the things I’ve been most proud of about my show is the way it reaches people from all different backgrounds. I’m always amazed by the way my audience cuts across all racial groups, social groups and economic classes. That broad interest has shown me time and again that all Americans, no matter where they come from, want to improve their health and are ready to take steps toward a healthier, fitter version of themselves.

Unfortunately, we’re not all given the same opportunities to do that. Study after study has shown that race still plays an enormous role in your risk for several diseases and in your ability to access services that will keep you healthy. Medicine is still lagging behind in treating everyone equally and ensuring that all people, regardless of their race, status or resources, get what they need to get the most out of their health. It’s National Minority Health Month, and I want to take a moment to talk about why this is an important topic. Read more  »

3 Myths That Shouldn’t Fool You This April

women friends smiling laughingI’ve been a part of my fair share of pranks over the years as well as the target of many. But don’t worry, you’re safe from pranks today, or here on the blog at least. Instead of throwing a joke or two your way, I thought I’d dispel three myths that I find to be particularly persistent when I talk to patients to help you get the most out of this great spring weather.

Myth #1: Eating healthy is hard.

This is the myth I hear the most from my patients. They tell me everything from “fresh fruits and vegetables don’t taste good” to “the recipes are too complicated.” I get it. During the years that I spent in medical school and residency, I found myself short on time and often chowing down on the easiest, fastest thing I could get into my mouth. Read more  »

Knowing Your Options When You’re Diagnosed

doctor with patientThe time of diagnosis can be a terrifying one. As a cardiothoracic surgeon, I’ve had to deliver diagnoses that I know will change a person’s life forever. Some will need to change their lifestyle, others will need drastic surgery, and still others may face imminent death. But what I’ve always loved about being a physician is that patient care is rarely the same even in cases where the diagnosis is identical. One patient might decide to go for medications while another goes vegan. One patient might elect for surgery while another decides to get their affairs in order and pass away surrounded by loved ones.

It’s for that reason that I think Angelina Jolie’s recent article on her ovary removal is so powerful and so important for all of us to hear. Read more  »

Prepping Yourself for Spring Allergy Season

sick woman allergies sneeze tissueThe weather is changing for the better outside, but not everyone is pleased. If you’re like millions of other Americans who suffer from seasonal allergies, the warming weather also signals the coming of pollen season along with itchy eyes and a running nose. To help you get a jump on your seasonal allergies, I’ve put together a few pieces of information that I think will be helpful in getting you well prepared.

Where do seasonal allergies come from?

Our body’s immune system has a variety of different cell types to combat various invaders. The cells that trigger allergies are mast cells and basophils and they’re supposed to fight foreign invaders that can infect our bodies. In the case of allergies, these cells get tricked into thinking that pollen found in the air is a foreign invader. They respond by releasing a variety of inflammatory compounds to fight off the pollen, which leads to the itchy eyes and runny nose that you get during seasonal allergies. Read more  »