Active surveillance for thyroid cancer

Papillary thyroid cancers are overtreated

In 2010 my husband almost died while being treated for a small papillary thyroid cancer.

Papillary tumors are by far the most common type of thyroid cancer, and are typically very slow growing. Most doctors I know say that if you have to get cancer, papillary thyroid cancer is the one to pick!

My husband didn’t choose to get thyroid cancer, of course, but once his primary care physician found the lump during a routine physical, he was put on a fast track to being overtreated.

Back then, we just didn’t know any better.

I … Continue reading

Teen athletes, screening ECGs, and AEDs

screening ecgsThe debate over screening ECGs

When my son was a teenager, he participated in several school sports, including track and field.

And it always freaked me out when I heard a news report about a young teen athlete suddenly dying on a track or a basketball court.

The stories were similar: young, seemingly healthy teenagers died because no one knew they had a problem with their hearts.

Every time I wondered if I should immediately take my son to his pediatrician and demand an (electrocardiogram) ECG to make sure his heart was OK.

I had to remind myself that these … Continue reading

How to prevent colon cancer

Colon cancer on the rise in young adults

I recently read a disturbing report that colon cancer is on the rise in Millenials and GenXers.

People born in 1990 now have double the risk of colon cancer and four times the risk of rectal cancer, compared with those born around 1950 when the risk was lowest, the researchers said.

The overall risk is still very low for that age group, but the study certainly suggests that lifestyle factors—obesity, diets high in processed foods, sedentary habits—could be a factor.

March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month!

A healthy diet and exercise are … Continue reading

Be informed – Poison control number

poison control numberThe Centers for Disease Control (CDC) just released a warning about keeping hand sanitizers out of the reach of small children. Because more people use hand sanitizers during cold and flu season, there are more reports of children being poisoned by the main ingredient, either isopropyl alcohol or ethanol. About 90% of these poisonings were in children younger than five.

Anyway, here is a re-post about preventing childhood poisonings in general, and links to Poison Control and other resources. 

Stay safe! FN

A rising number of childhood poisonings

I don’t know much about e-cigarettes and vaping, but a recent study Continue reading

The Seven Year Rule

Newer drugs are not necessarily better drugs

A few days ago at the gym, I was leafing through an issue of Health magazine.

What caught my eye was not the article about preventing stress injuries, or the recipe for a zingy, low-fat curry, but rather the pages devoted to ads for prescription drugs. Drugs to treat psoriasis, hepatitis C, dry eyes, depression, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, arthritis, and overactive bladder, to name but a few.

Each ad took three pages. After doing a little mental math, I discovered the ads for these new prescription drugs made up more than 30% of the … Continue reading

Don’t use homeopathic remedies on children

homeopathic remediesHomeopathic remedies don’t cure, and they can harm

I’ve posted before about homeopathy and homeopathic remedies. In short, they don’t work. There is absolutely no sound scientific evidence that supports homeopathy.

Related post: A homeopathic parody

At best they’re a waste of money; at worse, homeopathic remedies may be harmful, especially to infants and small children.

In recent months, certain homeopathic remedies for teething babies have been targeted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

These products, Hyland’s Teething Tablets and Hyland’s Teething Gel, contain very small amounts of a well-known poison—belladonna or “deadly nightshade.”

How can poison be a … Continue reading

Healthcare’s perverse financial incentives

A hospital puts profits over patient safety

First do no harm.

That’s part of every medical school graduate’s oath. It should be the motto of anyone working in healthcare.

But I just read a disheartening piece of investigative journalism in my local newspaper, the Seattle Times, about a hospital where I trained, worked, and received care. The story highlights how the perverse financial incentives in healthcare (do more, get paid more) undermine patient care and safety.

…the aggressive pursuit of more patients, more surgeries and more dollars has undermined Providence’s values — rooted in the nonprofit’s founding as a

Continue reading

The health effects of pot – What do we know?

The good news and the bad news

A few years ago my state, Washington, legalized marijuana. I voted in favor.

Since then I’ve wondered if that was a good idea. Tax windfall aside, what do we really know about the health effects of pot, good or bad?

Recently, one of my favorite health news sites, Healthcare Triage, posted this video: What we know about pot in 2017

Dr. Carroll presents a good summary of available research on the health effects of pot. Unfortunately, as he points out, there just isn’t enough quality research being … Continue reading

We’re doing too many screening and diagnostic tests

More tests = more money

Anyone who has read my blog over the years knows this is a subject I come back to again and again: the overuse of screening and diagnostic tests.

It’s a problem in our healthcare system for a couple of reasons.

First, the majority of healthcare providers are paid based on volume. In other words, the more patients they see, the more tests they run, the more surgeries they perform, then the more they get paid. It doesn’t matter if the outcome is poor, because they still get paid. In fact, they make even more money … Continue reading

Learn CPR and first aid

♥It’s Valentine’s Day!♥ In honor of that I thought I would re-post about learning CPR. It’s a great skill to have! FN

Here’s a feel-good story about a young man who saved a life because he knew how to perform CPR—and wasn’t afraid to use it!

CPR delivered: “I left a pizza boy and came back a pizza man”

CPR is a great skill to know. It’s not going to be useful in every scenario, but just having the knowledge of how to do it can be very empowering in an emergency situation. And many CPR classes also teach you … Continue reading

Baby boomers and HCV screening

harvoni and hcv screeningDon’t get health advice from commercials!

While nursing my cold last weekend, I was watching TV and one prescription drug commercial caught my eye. (One of oh so many. FTC—please make these go away!)

Actually, the ad didn’t mention any drug by name, but it was sponsored by Gilead Sciences, the makers of the new hepatitis C drug, Harvoni.

The commercial was aimed at baby boomers, who were advised to get tested for the hepatitis C virus (HCV).

One in 30 baby boomers could have HCV and not know it, the voice over said, “…because Hep C can hide Continue reading

Use over-the-counter sleep aids with caution

over-the-counter sleep aidsNot safe for everyone

I’ve had problems sleeping most of my adult life. And I admit over the years I’ve tried using Benadryl (diphenhydramine) as a sleep aid now and then.

So I was interested when Consumer Reports recently published a warning that too many people are too frequently turning to over-the-counter sleeps aids.

A 2015 Consumer Reports national survey of 4,023 adults found a troubling trend: Of the 20 percent who took an OTC medication within the past year to improve sleep, almost 1 in 5 respondents, or 18 percent, said they took it on a daily basis. Most

Continue reading

Whitening toothpaste abrasiveness

whitening toothpaste abrasivenessThe allure of whiter teeth

I’ve never whitened my teeth, and usually I’m happy with that. But sometimes I get the niggling idea that I would look younger and more sparkling if only my teeth were whiter. My life would be so much better!

Not true, of course, but we all have those unhelpful thoughts now and then, don’t we?

Having your teeth whitened professionally, by a dentist, is the safest way to go and offers the best result. However, it can be expensive.

There are many over-the-counter teeth bleaching sets available for a fraction of the cost—although still pricey, … Continue reading

Don’t presume your provider’s office knows best

This guest post is from a good friend of mine. She’s not in the healthcare industry, but she is one of the most savvy healthcare consumers I know. When she was telling me about some of her recent dealings with providers and insurance, I immediately asked her to write up her experiences to share with my readers! 

I don’t willingly part with my money, especially when I see a healthcare provider.

I question unnecessary tests, and I don’t want the office staff to be cavalier about spending my money. I expect the office to be familiar with my insurance plan, … Continue reading

Home remedies for carpal tunnel syndrome

carpal tunnelWear a wrist brace at night

I’m one of millions of women over the age of 45 who suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome.

The symptoms of carpal tunnel—numbness, tingling, pain and eventually weakness—occur when the median nerve is pinched as it passes through the “tunnel” of your wrist.

Because I definitely want to avoid surgery, I’ve done a lot of research into the best home treatments.

Studies show that a three-week stint of wearing wrist braces at night helps alleviate mild to moderate carpal tunnel symptoms. Wrist braces are a low-cost, low-risk home treatment, and a good place to start.… Continue reading