Skip to content
Medications have their dark side. Exercise, diet, and other
changes can be alternatives, but could feel like a whole lot of
We've gotten used to taking pills for much that ails us, but
these days, the medicine cabinet is looking like a rogues'
gallery. There's been bad news about the painkiller rofecoxib
(Vioxx), the diabetes drug rosiglitazone (Avandia), and, most
recently, the cholesterol-lowering combination of ezetimibe and
simvastatin (Vytorin). Problems with hormone therapy and
antidepressants have also been bannered in headlines.
We don't lack for alternatives. Plenty of research shows that
exercise, diet, and other lifestyle changes are effective weapons
against many chronic diseases. But there are more findings about
preventing diseases with so-called lifestyle changes than there
are about treating them. And you won't find many head-to-head
comparisons between the conventional drug treatments and the
nondrug ones. Often it seems like the nonpharmacological approach
doesn't quite get its due. The long review papers on treatment
choices typically squirrel it away in a small section, almost as
Because milk and dairy foods supply so much of the calcium in the
typical diet, it's hard to tease them apart when using data from
epidemiological studies. With ovarian cancer, there's reason to
believe that dairy products are the culprit because of evidence
pointing to intake of lactose, the sugar in dairy foods, as a
risk factor. With prostate and colon cancer, the evidence points
to calcium itself.
Studies have repeatedly found that we're far better off getting
most of our nutrients from food rather than from pills. With
calcium, it's more complicated. In many ways, dairy products, and
milk in particular, are an ideal source of the mineral. The
calcium content is high and easily absorbed. But when dairy comes
into the diet, saturated fat comes with it, and high saturated
fat intake increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other
cardiovascular problems. A few studies suggest that dairy food
itself increases the risk of certain cancers (see the answer
above). Of course, people can easily get around the saturated fat
problem by buying nonfat products, but not everyone likes the
taste of those nonfat products. Many vegetables are a good food
source of calcium, but spinach, chard, and a few others also
contain oxalate, and the presence of oxalate interferes with the
absorption of calcium.
Food is still the best way to get calcium, with the best choices
being nonfat dairy products (in limited amounts), certain types
of fish (salmon, sardines), and certain vegetables (kale).
Whether you need to "top it off" with a supplement depends on
your diet and whether you're trying to adhere to the official
Doctors are diagnosing more cases of celiac disease, leading to
an increased interest in gluten-free foods, although not everyone
who has difficulty digesting gluten has celiac disease.
Concerns about calcium are addressed by answering some commonly asked questions about this nutrient.
A patient-safety research organization has compiled a list of
principles intended as guidelines for conservative prescribing of
Finasteride has been prescribed for my BPH. I think that the most
frequent side effect is erectile dysfunction or loss of sexual
desire. Would Levitra or a similar drug (like Viagra or Cialis)
overcome the side effects of finasteride?