Archive for August, 2016

Have there been any recent advances in cataract surgery?

DEAR DOCTOR K: My husband had cataract surgery 10 years ago. Now it's my turn. Have there been any advances in the past decade that I should know about?

DEAR READER: A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye. It commonly causes poor vision and blindness among older adults. But cataracts can be surgically removed and replaced with artificial lenses. In fact, cataract surgery has become fairly routine. The vast majority of people who undergo this procedure have excellent outcomes.

Why am I losing muscle as I age?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I'm in my 60s. Despite exercising regularly, I have been losing muscle as I get older. Why does this happen, and is there anything I can do about it?

DEAR READER: As the years pass, muscle mass generally shrinks and strength declines. It happens to all of us as we age --- even Arnold Schwarzenegger. The key to slowing this process is strength and power training.

Can you recommend nonsurgical treatments to help my face look younger?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I'm 65, and my face is starting to look old. Can you recommend nonsurgical treatments to take a few years off my face?

DEAR READER: Our faces age along with the rest of us. The difference is that our face is the part of ourselves that we look at most often -- and that others look at most often. Some people accept these changes; others fight them every step of the way. But there's also a middle road for people who prefer to make relatively small tweaks that can make a noticeable difference.

Why did TV’s “Biggest Losers” have trouble keeping the weight off?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I heard about a recent study that explained why the "Biggest Losers" had trouble keeping the weight off. Can you explain?

DEAR READER: You're likely referring to a study done at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). As many readers will recall, NBC television put on a competition reality show for several years, beginning in late 2004. Extremely overweight people competed to see who could lose the most weight, through diet and exercise, over 30 weeks.

Can teens help prevent diabetes through exercise?

DEAR DOCTOR K: My teenage son doesn't like sports or exercise. Diabetes runs in our family. You say exercise protects against diabetes and is valuable even in young adults. Can you give me some ammunition to convince my teenager to exercise?

DEAR READER: Perfect timing: A new study has been published that provides an answer. Most studies of exercise have been in adults, often older adults. Until this recent study, there wasn't a lot of information about teenagers.

Should I be worried about lead in my drinking water?

DEAR DOCTOR K: Like a lot of people, I was shocked by the water disaster in Flint, Michigan. I felt terrible for those people. But then I started to wonder: How safe is my drinking water? Should I be worried?

DEAR READER: The sad answer to your question is that I don't know, and neither may your local department of public health.

What can I take to ease shingles pain?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I've been diagnosed with shingles. What can I take for the pain?

DEAR READER: Shingles, also known as herpes zoster or just zoster, is caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It is the same virus that causes chickenpox. Once you have had chickenpox, the varicella-zoster virus remains in your body's nerve tissues. It is inactive, but it can be reactivated later in life. This causes shingles.

I have dense breasts. Does that increase my risk of breast cancer?

DEAR DOCTOR K: My doctor says I have dense breasts, and a friend says that means I have an increased risk of breast cancer. I'm hoping you'll tell me that's not so.

DEAR READER: I wish I could fully reassure you, but I can't. A woman who has dense breasts does have a slightly increased risk of breast cancer, although not clearly an increased risk of fatal breast cancer.