What's the beef with meat?

Red meat isn't just a type of food—it's a deep-rooted part of our culture. Not too long ago, no dinner table was complete without a hearty portion of meat and potatoes. During summer celebrations we fill our grills with hot dogs and hamburgers. Bacon and sausage play starring roles with eggs at breakfast. This love affair with red meat (which includes beef, lamb, pork, and veal) may be endangering our health. Several studies have linked diets high in red meat to cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. A recent report from the Harvard School of Public Health goes one step further, suggesting that regularly consuming red meat may lead to premature death. (Locked) More »

Ask the doctor: Should I buy a blood pressure monitor?

If you have high blood pressure, it makes sense to buy a blood pressure monitor and check your blood pressure at home. This gives a more accurate view of your blood pressure than intermittent office-based readings or the occasional check. (Locked) More »

Ask the doctor: How can I deal with jet lag?

Jet lag is common when flying long distance across several time zones. For every time zone you cross, it takes about a day for your body to adjust. There is no proven solution for jet lag, but you may be able to minimize its effects. (Locked) More »

Vitamin D and calcium supplements: Take them or leave them?

Conflicting recommendations and study results are sowing confusion about whether or not to take calcium and vitamin D supplements. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recently recommended against taking low-dose calcium and vitamin D supplements. Not long after, another analysis suggested that calcium and vitamin D supplements might help older adults live longer. The issue isn't whether you need calcium, it's how you should get it. Most, if not all, of your calcium should come from your kitchen—not your medicine chest. While it's best to get all nutrients from food, the decision to take supplements should be individualized based on your diet and your health profile. (Locked) More »

Surviving cancer-what happens next?

Almost 14 million cancer survivors—more than half of them women—are living in the United States today. Better survival odds make planning for life after cancer almost as important as planning treatment for the disease. Cancer-free does not mean home free—cancer that has been treated can return. But there are many things a cancer survivor can do to reduce the risk that cancer will return. New guidelines from the American Cancer Society offer three key steps: stay at a healthy weight; exercise for at least 150 minutes a week; and eat a diet high in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. (Locked) More »

Weight-loss drug review

  The recent FDA approval of a new medication to treat obesity may make it seem like a cure is at hand. Lorcaserin (Belviq) was the first new weight-loss drug to be introduced in more than a decade. Belviq suppresses hunger by stimulating a receptor for the chemical messenger serotonin, which regulates fullness and metabolism. But there's no magic bullet for shedding excess weight—diet pills promote only modest weight loss as long as you are a good candidate for drug therapy and you use the pills correctly. Even then, you'll need to consider whether the risks of these drugs (which range from heart problems and liver damage to possible addiction) are worth the weight you'll lose.   More »

Making smart screening decisions: Colon cancer screening

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer among men and women. Several tests can find hidden colorectal cancer while it is still small and treatable. These include colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy, CT colonography, fecal occult blood test, and others. Testing should generally start at age 50, but women (and men) with a strong family history of colorectal cancer should talk with their doctors about having their first colonoscopy sooner than that. It's best to have a colonoscopy once every 10 years; a virtual colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy, or double-contrast barium enema once every five years; or a stool check for blood once a year. (Locked) More »

Unique stroke risks in women with atrial fibrillation

Women with atrial fibrillation, a common heart-rhythm problem, are at greater risk for a stroke than men, and may need to be treated more aggressively with medicine that protects against stroke by preventing the formation of blood clots. (Locked) More »