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Wed, 9th September 2015
 

The breast cancer saga winds relentlessly on. Mixed messages continue to proliferate, leaving women in a state of bewilderment and uncertainty. Some reports indicate the disease is lessening in America but increasing in Australia. What should women do? According to many reports the US figures may be declining. But then, other medical reports suggest American women are not bothering with mammograms with the same focus as Australian women. As mammography is the best early indicator of breast cancer ("even when the size of a grain of rice") heaps put their head in the sand and hope it will not happen.

Danger

This inevitably leads to a later and more dangerous diagnosis, when intervention is less likely to succeed. Good news short term, bad new long term. For the past decade Australian women have been brain washed to undergo annual mammograms from age fifty onwards, and forty in some states. The earlier diagnosis and treatment start the better the outcome. Also, in America, more women appear to have been influenced by the "oestrogen horror" theory. When a womens health study several years ago indicated a slightly greater risk of breast cancer in women taking HT (hormonal therapy, usually oestrogen), many dropped their treatment instantly. Some claim this has lead to a decline in cancer rates.

HT Is Safe

In Australia, the momentary halt in oestrogen intake quickly faded, as most doctors believed the studies were flawed (women were overweight and many smoked) and did not indicate the true picture. In Australia, the view is that HT is safe for up to five years in post menopausal women. Therefore, there is a fairly high use of HT here, but not US. There indeed is a growing number of breast cancer cases in younger women, specially in their late thirties and forties. Some still believe this may be due to the oestrogen factor in the contraceptive pill, others fiercely deny this. What to do? Regular breast self examination is still recommended, although in Britain has largely fallen from favour. It costs nothing and plenty of cancers are self diagnosed. Keep it up. The pill is considered safe. HT is OK for up to five years in older women. Talk to your doctor and participate in regular screenings.

 
SORE SPOT IN BACK

Q: 

I suffer from a sore spot in my back about 12 cm in diameter on the left side, especially after a fair bit of sitting.

A: 

This is simply contraction or spasm of muscle fibres of certain back muscles. It is often caused by sitting, and being stationary. Regular movement at all times is essential, and specially in desk jobs. Move about, turn and twist and stretch back muscles, even if you do look like the village idiot. Most others will have similar issues, and probably follow suit. Try some deep massaging, all of which help break spasm and improve blood flow. There is a penalty to sedentary jobs.

 
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PAPER NAPS

Q: 

Like all other young mums, I use a truckload of paper naps, and feel sorry for my mum who had a truckload of washing every day with fabric ones. But I occasionally feel guilty about the number of trees hacked down to supply this convenience.

A: 

Millions of tonnes of paper are wasted each day. Just look at the newspaper industry, telephone directories world wide, cardboard boxes used once then discarded. It is all part of the modern throw away society. Of course trees are needlessly hacked down, as planet earth is being denuded. Most play lip service to global warming and all that, and it will inevitably catch up. But meantime we all keep our heads in the sand, and hope it will go away It will not.

 
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ZERO LIBIDO

Q: 

Twelve months ago I underwent removal of the prostate due to enlargement and inability to urinate normally. I was told my sex life would probably be unaffected but imagine my dismay now that libido and performance are now 100% zero. So much for good advice. What now?

A: 

Probably 90% of guys have a similar outcome after prostate removal, or TURP as it is called. Although the surgeons (called urologists) try and preserve the nerve system which is around the edges, this is often impossible. With this, libido, performance, sensations go south, usually permanently. Some find Viagra and similar medication may enhance erectile dysfunction, but it won't bring back sensation. However, many guys refuse surgery for this reason, with the ultimate outcome being even worse. Your doctor was probably trying to protect you with the pre-surgery comment.

 
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DEEP BREATHING

Q: 

We are often told to try deep breathing, such as ten deep breaths 2-3 times a day. Is this worth the effort?

A: 

Any activity that will oxygenate the blood is worthwhile. The more oxygen to the brain, and other organs, the better. Neuronal activity wilts with inadequate supplies. Taking ten very deep breaths, holding for say ten seconds, then exhaling is a good idea. The whole body benefits. The more times per day this is carried out the better. The same applies to any physical exercise.

 
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ASTHMA

Q: 

The doctor has changed my asthma medication yet again, but at least I now use only one puffer instead of two. The doctor says this is a simpler method and better in the overall picture.

A: 

Symbicort, one of the most recent asthma treatments, combines a steroid (cortisone like) medication with a bronchodilator (open up the airways) Once, the patient used two different sprays. Now, combined in one, risks of forgetting are reduced, and overall outcome is much improved. It is available on the NHS on a doctors prescription.

 
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This health advice is general in nature. You are advised to seek medical attention from your doctor or health care provider for your own specific symptoms and circumstances.

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