You Wanted to Know: Calcium

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Today I want to talk about one of the body’s most important (and one of my favorite) minerals: Calcium.  Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, and serves many crucial functions, including building and maintaining strong bones and teeth, making muscles and nerves work, clotting blood and keeping your heart beating regularly. Without calcium, we wouldn’t be able to live. One of our viewers, Jade, asked me about this important mineral on Twitter

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You Wanted to Know: Colon Cancer Screening Options

Rare Diseases Are Hard to Overcome

Though none of the screening options to detect colon cancer are particularly fun, they are some of the most important and scientifically proven things you can do to safeguard yourself from this second-leading cause of cancer-related death. There are several different options for colon cancer screening, including colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy and fecal occult blood tests (FOBTs). One of our viewers asked me on Twitter about the best way to choose between these screening tests.

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You Wanted to Know: Muscle Cramps

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Whether it’s the excruciating pain of a charley horse or a dull, achy pain in your neck, nearly everyone has had or will experience a muscle cramp at some point. These sudden, involuntary muscle contractions usually only last a few seconds to 15 minutes, but they can be temporarily debilitating. One of our viewers, Alex, is looking for solutions:

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You Wanted to Know: Hemorrhoids

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For a problem that’s so common, hemorrhoids are not often talked about (perhaps because they don’t make for very good dinner conversation). But the fact is that by age 50, nearly half of Americans will deal with one or more symptoms of hemorrhoids, including itching, discomfort and bleeding. Chio asked me about solutions for this uncomfortable problem on Twitter:

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You Wanted to Know: Fibromyalgia

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Widespread aches and pains and severe fatigue are the hallmarks of fibromyalgia, a painful disease that affects nearly 2% of people. Fibromyalgia is a frustrating diagnosis for the many people who suffer from it, particularly because its causes are unknown and it often does not yield obvious signs on either physical exam or imaging tests. One of our viewers asked me to talk more about this debilitating condition:

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You Wanted to Know: Atherosclerosis

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Atherosclerosis is one of my greatest enemies as a heart surgeon. Over the course of a lifetime, atherosclerosis, or hardening and clogging of the arteries, affects nearly all Americans to some degree. Though it can start as early as childhood, it doesn’t usually cause serious problems until later in life, when it can result in heart disease, peripheral arterial disease, strokes and other potentially fatal conditions.

So what gets this deadly process going? That’s what one of our viewers asked me on Twitter:

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You Wanted to Know: Kidney Stones

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There are few medical problems more painful than a kidney stone – in fact, some have likened it to the pain of childbirth. While kidney stones usually don’t cause lasting damage, I guarantee you don’t want to get one. One of our viewers, Steven, asked me what he can do to minimize his chances of getting a kidney stone.

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You Wanted to Know: PPIs

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Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), acid-reducers often used to treat heartburn and indigestion, are among the most commonly taken medications in the U.S. Thousands of Americans take over-the-counter PPIs like omeprazole (Prilosec), lansoprazole (Prevacid) and esomeprazole (Nexium) now and then to ease abdominal discomfort, usually with few side effects. But for many with severe symptoms, GERD or other stomach conditions like ulcers, taking a PPI can become a daily necessity that can continue for years. One of our viewers asked us about the potential long-term consequences of taking PPIs:  

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You Wanted to Know: Chocolate

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For chocolate lovers, few holidays rank as high as Valentine’s Day. Fortunately for fanatics, chocolate is not only a delicious treat – it can also be a healthy one. But if you duck into the candy aisle without knowing exactly what to look for, you might find that you’re doing yourself (or your loved ones) a disservice. One of our viewers, Umita, asked us whether chocolate really can be good for you:

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