Screening asymptomatic patients for cancer is based on a simple premise: cancers that are detected early before they produce symptoms should be easier to cure than those that progress to become clinically detectable. Yet, this seemingly simple idea is fraught with problems. There are several factors that contribute to the difficulty of proving the value of cancer screening. First of all, any test will have false negatives, in which case a patient’s cancer goes undetected. Secondly, tests for cancer are often falsely positive because cancer is relatively rare in an asymptomatic population, meaning that many patients with positive test results will not have cancer. It is unwise, however, to ignore a positive test, so additional testing is

Last year, the American Journal of Medicine, aka "The Green Journal," ran a series of articles about the problems inherent in the American healthcare system. They were written by Dr. Edward Hoffer from Mass General Hospital in Boston. I would like to share with you some information from his article about the U.S. Pharmaceutical Industry. While spending on medication makes up only about 14% of total U.S. health care spending, it is rising rapidly and represents one of the most egregious failures

Yeasts, aka fungi, can infect people, and one of the common types of yeast is called Candida. This species of yeast causes mostly skin infections, especially in moist areas of the body where there is skin-to-skin contact, like the armpits and groin. These skin infections are more common in those with impaired immune systems, for example diabetics, but can usually be successfully treated with topical creams and lotions. Rarely, yeasts may cause systemic (bloodstream) infections in severely ill

As anyone who has had shingles knows, it is a painful and often debilitating infection that may last for weeks or months. A particularly troubling type of this infection is herpes zoster ophthalmicus (HZO), or shingles of the eye. It may lead to serious eye problems including blindness and is considered an ophthalmologic emergency. Researchers have been concerned about the rising incidence of shingles and HZO. HZO increased from 10 cases per 100,000 population in 2004 to 30 cases per 100,000 in

Lactose intolerance refers to the clinical syndrome in which symptoms of bloating, flatulence, abdominal discomfort, and diarrhea arise following the consumption of lactose-containing foods. Lactose is a sugar found in dairy products. It is a disaccharide, meaning it is made of two monosaccharides (simple sugars), namely glucose and galactose. As an aside, the third monosaccharide is fructose, or fruit sugar. Fructose, when combined with glucose, forms the disaccharide sucrose, known as table

If you are a reader of this column, then you know that I have written previously about the healthy effects of the Mediterranean diet. This diet, initially thought to be a fad diet when first introduced in the 1970s, is a healthy way to live and eat, especially when combined with moderate exercise and weight control. The main staple of the diet is olive oil, although most people who live in the Mediterranean basin use olive oil on salads and cook with lard and butter. The other ingredients of

The  use of insect repellents is strongly recommended by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to prevent infectious diseases transmitted by mosquitoes and ticks. Insect repellents applied to exposed skin or clothing should be used together with long pants and shirt sleeves, plus avoidance of outdoor activities during peak mosquito-biting times. Mosquitoes can transmit Zika, chikungunya, dengue, West Nile, Eastern equine encephalitis

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