Shop earlier for Medicare plans this year

By Tom Murphy
Posted on September 16, 2011

A new deadline for Medicare Advantage plans — privately run versions of the government’s Medicare program — may trip up seniors who typically wait until the holidays to settle on their health insurance coverage for the coming year.Medicare Advantage plans cover more than 11 million people. They offer basic Medicare coverage topped with extras, such as vision or dental... READ MORE

Robotic surgery may not be better choice

By Dr. Richard A. Hodin
Posted on September 16, 2011

Q. A hospital in the area is advertising robotic surgery. Is it really any better than having a surgeon do the operation?A. A better term might be robotic instrumentation, because ultimately, there’s always a human surgeon with his or her hands on the robot’s controls. The first such surgery was performed in the mid-1980s. Now thousands of operations are being done with the... READ MORE

Don’t just cut sodium, boost potassium

By Mike Stobbe
Posted on September 01, 2011

The debate about the dangers of eating too much salt has gained a new wrinkle: A federal study suggests that the people most at risk are those who also get too little potassium.The new research is one of the first and largest U.S. studies to look at the relationship of salt, potassium and heart disease deaths.Potassium-rich foods, including fruits and vegetables, have long been recommended... READ MORE

Hypnosis can replace general anesthesia

By Maria Cheng
Posted on September 01, 2011

As the surgeons cut into her neck, Marianne Marquis was thinking of the beach.As she heard the doctors’ voices, she was imagining her toes in the sand, the water lapping.Marquis had been hypnotized before surgery to have her thyroid removed. She’s among a growing number of surgical patients at the Belgian hospital, Cliniques Universitaires St. Luc in Brussels, who choose... READ MORE

Cataracts don’t need to ‘ripen’ anymore

By Dr. Jeffrey S. Heier
Posted on August 19, 2011

Q. I think I may have cataracts. I heard somewhere that they need to be “ripe” before I get surgery. Is that true?A. The lens of the eye is normally clear and has a consistency that is a bit stiffer than Jell-O.A cataract is a clouding of the lens caused by degradation and clumping of various proteins in the tissue. When that happens, the lens also gets stiffer, and in extreme... READ MORE

Irradiated food is safer, but unpopular

By Lauran Neergaard
Posted on August 19, 2011

Microwaving salad fixings with just a bit of radiation can kill dangerous E. coli and other bacteria — and U.S. food safety experts say Europe’s massive outbreak shows that wary consumers should give the long-approved step a chance.The U.S. government has OK’d irradiation for a variety of foods — meat, spices, certain imported fruits, the seeds used to grow sprouts.... READ MORE

Cancer risks abound. Should you worry?

By Marilynn Marchione
Posted on August 01, 2011

You’re sitting in a freshly drywalled house, drinking coffee from a plastic foam cup and talking on a cell phone. Which of these is most likely to be a cancer risk?It might be the sitting, especially if you do that a lot.Despite all the recent news about possible cancer risks from cell phones, coffee, styrene, and formaldehyde in building materials, most of us probably face little if... READ MORE

Benefits of custom-made blood vessels

By Marilynn Marchione
Posted on August 01, 2011

Three dialysis patients have received the world’s first blood vessels grown in a lab from donated skin cells. It’s a key step toward creating a supply of ready-to-use arteries and veins that could be used to treat diabetics, soldiers with damaged limbs, people having heart bypass surgery and others.The goal is to one day have a refrigerated inventory of blood vessels in various... READ MORE

Beware free trials of anti-aging products

By Arlene Weintraub
Posted on July 15, 2011

Kathleen Cole was browsing an Internet drugstore when an ad popped up too tantalizing to resist. A company called Syndero was featuring a 14-day free trial of Dermitage, a cream that promised to fade wrinkles and restore youthful-looking skin.Cole, 70, was happy with how she looked, but what, she wondered, did she have to lose? So she handed over her credit card number with the... READ MORE

Do men go through a ‘male menopause’?

By Dr. J. Taylor Hays, M.D.
Posted on July 15, 2011

Menopause refers to the end of menstruation and fertility in women. It’s caused by a dramatic drop in production of the female hormone estrogen by a woman’s ovaries. There’s no equivalent in men.But men do experience a hormonal change as they get older. Clear evidence indicates that they gradually produce less testosterone, the primary male hormone, throughout... READ MORE