Ask the Doctors

Alzheimer’s Disease

Q: I am concerned that the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia is increasing. I have also heard that the popular cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins may decrease the chances of getting Alzheimer’s. I find that I sometimes struggle to remember words or names; should I be worried, and should I ask my physician to prescribe statins?

A: You are absolutely correct about the increasing incidence of Alzheimer’s disease.


Bariatric Surgery

Q: I am overweight. I lost 50 pounds, and I am still 50 pounds overweight. The terrible thing is, I am starting to gain the weight again, and I’m terrified. I exercise, but it seems I would need to do three or four hours a day to keep the weight off.

A: We sense how painful this is for you, and pray that you will be spared additional pain.


Benign Breast Lumps

Q: I am 35 years old, and have had a history of lumps in my breast. The doctors have told me that I have “benign breast disease.” My concern is that I have an aunt who had breast cancer. Should I be worried?

A: As much as we would like to completely reassure you, we can only do so conditionally. Benign breast disease can be divided into three groups that are significant when it comes to associations with breast cancer.


Best Fats or Oils

Q: What fats or oils are the best for me to use? I am trying to improve my family’s diet by methodically implementing changes in what I buy.

A: You are the kind of mom who is so wise by making incremental changes that your family will hardly notice, yet will do them so much good.


Breast Cancer Questions

Q: I was diagnosed with and treated in the standard way for breast cancer. My friends have given me a lot of advice, which has varied from the standard medical approach to the exotic. What can you tell me that can assist me in the post-treatment phase of my breast cancer?

A: We are very pleased that you have undergone standard treatment for your breast cancer.


Cesarean Sections

Q: My daughter lives in Brazil, and she tells me it is fashionable to have cesarean section rather than natural childbirth. What do you say?

A: We are men, so we could get into deep trouble on this one. Those “funny” letters behind our names are Canadian and South African qualifications.


Cold Weather Exercise

Q: With the winter coming, I find it more difficult to get out to exercise. Do you have any ideas?

A: We have great empathy with you—exercise requires motivation even in the finest weather. As winter approaches, outdoor activities become more challenging, especially in the northern climes. Whatever our environment, it is important to know the benefits of exercise.



Q: Ever since my babies were born four years ago, I have been troubled with hemorrhoids. My problem is that in the past couple of months I have noted bleeding. My husband is pressuring me to go for a checkup. Is this necessary?

A: Hemorrhoids are varicose veins below the anal mucosa that can bulge through the sphincter and cause pain, itching,


Importance of Cancer Aftercare

Q: I am 72 years old, and have a history of cancer (ovarian and histiocytoma in my leg). Five years ago I had a mastectomy, and I have scar tissue from the surgery. A few months ago I developed pink scar tissue in the area where the staple was pulled out. Within the pink scar tissue a large dark mole came, then another. It oozes occasionally, and at times is painful—usually after I do housework. I have had other large dark moles that eventually fall off, as well as several moles that start out as skin color and itchy, but then turn into dark moles. Should I be concerned about them?


Melatonin: Is It Safe?

Q: I have heard that melatonin is good for sleep disorders. Is it safe to take, and is it effective?

A: Melatonin is produced by a part of the brain known as the pineal gland. It appears that its function is to keep the body’s internal events synchronized with the changes between light and dark (night and day) in the environment.


Pernicious Anemia

Q: What is the treatment for this kind of anemia?

A: Pernicious anemia results from the inability of the body to absorb vitamin B12 taken in food or any oral form. It is therefore necessary to give vitamin B12 injections on a regular basis for life. These injections are given into the muscle.If the anemia is caused by a nutritional lack of B12 in the diet .


Safe Holiday Eating

Q: With the festive season approaching, quite frankly, I’m dreading it! I have carefully lost 20 pounds over the past six months, and the prospect of blowing it over the holidays frightens me. Everyone is coming home for the holidays, and I don’t want to be like the Grinch who stole Christmas. Any advice?

A: Don’t I understand! It seems I have the same problem—six months to take it off, six days to put it on.


Smallpox Vaccine

Q: I am concerned about the smallpox vaccination. How safe would it be? Is there any way to treat smallpox that would avoid vaccination if there were to be a terrorist attack using this germ?

A: Here we are, 25 years after we thought smallpox had become extinct, worrying about it again. The problem lies in the fact that stocks of the virus called “variola major” were held in “safe” keeping in laboratories in the U.S.A.


Vitamin E

Q: Is supplemental vitamin E helpful in the treatment or prevention of cardiovascular disease (especially strokes and heart attacks)?

A: There has been an ongoing debate about this issue for a number of years now, with conflicting advice being offered to date. However, a recent study was done using a computerized.


What to do About Insomnia

Q: For the past couple of years, I have found it difficult to go to sleep. It takes maybe two hours, and then I awaken early. I am healthy, but feel fatigued and need an afternoon nap to help with the tiredness. Should I take sleeping pills?

A: It sounds as though you have chronic insomnia. The problem is a common one, affecting between 10 and 15 percent of people.


Wine and Breast Cancer

Q: Is it true that drinking wine may lead to an increased risk of breast cancer?

A: Many factors are associated with breast cancer. The older a woman is, the greater the chance of exposure to potential cancer-promoting agents, and so age is clearly a factor. Genetics play an important role…


Women’s Heart Disease Symptoms

Q: I am 48 years of age and fairly active. I get occasional chest discomfort along with breathlessness. Since heart disease usually happens to men, could these be symptoms of menopause?

A: My first response is to ask the question “Is heart disease the sole domain of the male gender?”


XDR Tuberculosis

Q: Is the XDR form of tuberculosis as dangerous as the media made it out to be in the recent episode of the man who traveled by air after being told not to? Or is this much ado about nothing?

A: We believe you are referring to the Andrew Speaker case, which has global ramifications. Andrew Speaker was diagnosed in March 2007 with tuberculosis.