Breast cancer risk-reducing medications may decrease the risk of primary breast cancer in some women aged 35 and older who are at increased risk of breast cancer. While there is no specific cutoff to define that increased risk, most studies define it as at least a 3% chance of developing it in five years. So how is that increased risk determined? The answer is a complex one. Obviously, family history is an important consideration, especially if there is a familial genetic mutation, for example the rare BRCA mutation. Other factors include age at which menstruation began and reproductive factors such as the number of children and pregnancies. Another risk factor is very dense breasts as seen on mammography, which make mammographic detection

Coffee and tea are among the most popular beverages worldwide and contain substantial amounts of caffeine, making caffeine the most widely consumed psychoactive agent. A variety of plants contain caffeine in their seeds, fruits, and leaves. Besides coffee and tea, these plants include cacao beans (an ingredient of chocolate), yerba matte leaves (used in herbal tea), and guarana berries (used in various beverages and supplements). Caffeine can be synthesized and is added to foods and beverages

The carotid arteries are vital blood vessels that supply oxygenated blood to the brain, face, and neck. At about the level of the mid neck, the common carotid artery splits into the internal and external carotid arteries. There is a small bulge at the level of this bifurcation. It is known as the carotid sinus or bulb. The carotid sinus contains vital pressure sensors, called baroreceptors, that help regulate blood pressure. The internal carotid arteries supply blood to the brain and the

Recently, one of the medical journals that I read published a book review. The book is The Cigarette: A Political History by Sarah Milov. The book was published last year. According to the review, the book contains some startling revelations and is a must-read. For starters, cigarettes remain the leading preventable cause of death, a morbid fact that is easily lost in our current COVID-19 frenzy. Even if this virus kills 200,000 Americans, that death rate pales in comparison to the half a

Anosmia (the inability to smell) and hyposmia (a decreased ability to smell) describe the range of olfactory dysfunction, or smell disorders. The sense of smell is a complex process that involves the nose and the brain. When air passes into the nose, odor molecules bind to the receptors of the olfactory nerves. These nerves are found in a specialized lining at the top of the nasal cavity called the olfactory epithelium. The stimulation of the olfactory receptors and the nerves cause them to

Spondylosis of the cervical spine, or neck bones, occurs in nearly everyone as we age. It is a condition where the cervical vertebrae and the discs and ligaments that support the vertebrae, degenerate and break down. When the discs degenerate, there is loss of the space between the vertebrae, sometimes causing pressure on and squeezing of the nerves that exit from the spinal cord. This condition can also be referred to as simply arthritis of the neck. The term spondylosis comes from the Greek

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is used to treat patients with severe, life-threatening conditions of the heart and lungs. ECMO uses a pump to replace the function of the heart and an oxygenator to perform the work of the lungs. The oxygenator both delivers oxygen to the blood and removes carbon dioxide from the blood. ECMO provides short-term support, allowing the heart and lungs time to recover from damage or injury. The ECMO machine is similar to the heart-lung bypass machine used

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