Category Archives: Healthy Living

Is Excessive Texting Bad For Your Health?

My husband’s elegant and dignified grandmother always sat and stood ram-rod straight. Nana never suffered a broken bone or missed a conversation.  Her posture was often envied for its beauty, but now there is even more evidence that good posture is healthy for you, too. (more…)

Think Twice – No, Thrice – Before Getting that Tattoo

One of the most difficult aspects of the preparation and planning of new patients for radiation treatments is giving them their “tattoos.” I tell them that we have to make a few tiny permanent markings on their skin with India ink that will help guide the setup for the precise delivery of treatment each day. I assure them that the marks will be very tiny, and noticeable only to those who know how to look for them. While some women view the marks as a badge of honor or a sign of solidarity with the breast cancer sisterhood, most women are quite fearful at the thought of being “marked for life.” (more…)

Tanning and Skin Cancer

Teen girl seating at a beach under umbrellaNow that the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer are finally upon us, it’s a good time to think about a topic on which there has been a lot of recent news and information lately: skin cancer prevention.

Now, I don’t want to be a killjoy. Getting outside and taking advantage of all of the wonderful activities that summer presents is (more…)

Chewing Tobacco is NOT a Healthy Alternative to Smoking

snuffAh, the sounds of summer: the crack of the bat, the roar of the crowd…the “pffft” of the tobacco juice?

The passing last week of major league baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn reminds us that even a seemingly innocuous ritual—one that starts on a baseball field, no less—can have an unfortunate ending. Gwynn died of salivary (mouth) cancer that he was certain was caused by dip, or chewing tobacco, a habit he maintained during the 20 years he played for the San Diego Padres. (more…)

Healthy at Every Age

We have all heard the message that early detection saves lives. Research shows that getting screened regularly for conditions like breast, cervical, colorectal and lung cancer significantly reduces deaths from that cancer. Finding an early cancer or pre-cancerous lesion in a person without symptoms who feels absolutely healthy dramatically increases survival rates. Smaller tumors are easier to treat and are less likely to metastasize (spread). The message here is know your body and don’t be afraid to discuss changes that seem to “come out of the blue.”

However, many people aren’t clear about when to start screenings and/or how often to get them done. To help, I’ve put together the list below, organized by age group. (more…)

Heat, Crowds and Helping One Another

Last Monday, I ran the Boston Marathon. Despite having run the race many times, the anticipation I feel at the starting line – of the supporters who will be cheering from the sidelines, the camaraderie of the other runners, and the satisfaction of crossing the finish line in what I hoped would be less than four hours – never seems to diminish.

A year ago, due to a missed flight that stranded me in Chicago on a business trip, I never made it to the race. I later came to the numbing conclusion that I would have been crossing the finish line at just about the time the bomb went off.  I was determined that nothing would keep me away this year. (more…)

Be Smart and Check Yourself

April is Testicular Cancer Awareness Month, so we are thrilled to share with you a guest blog from Brian Harrington. Brian was a newly married, 30-year-old physical education teacher and fitness professional living in the New York City area with everything going for him. Then, one day, something was wrong. Read his story, and learn why it’s so important for young men to check themselves regularly for this frightening yet, if caught early , highly treatable form of cancer. (more…)

Beware of Supplements Bearing False Claims

beforeafterIt’s virtually impossible these days to avoid the sections of magazines that contain advertising of “nutritional” supplements.  It’s hard to resist the before and after photos of the woman who goes from a size 12 to a size 2 in 6 weeks with some magic pill or powder.  Or the photos – supposedly unretouched – of men who go from 98-lb. Weakling to Mr. Universe in time for beach season. (more…)

FAQ: What is “Safe” to Use on Sensitive Skin?

skincarelargeThough I’m not a dermatologist, it seems that every day I’m asked questions about skin care by patients, customers, colleagues and friends.

They boil down to the following most Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. What can I use when my 6 weeks of radiation are all over?
  2. How can I get that healthy look I can only describe as “pregnancy glow?”
  3. What do I do for ultra dry skin—for example the dry flaking “snake like” skin that resulted from having a cast on a limb for a month?
  4. What is safe to use after surgery?  Can I rub cream near my scar?
  5. What is safe to use during pregnancy?
  6. What is safe for kids with delicate skin? (more…)

Concussions and Youth Sports

As mothers, grandmothers, aunts and friends of children who play sports, we have first-hand knowledge that physical injuries have become increasingly common. I’m not talking about the broken bone from falling off a bicycle, or the sprained ankle from an informal game of kickball in the backyard. These are a normal part of growing up, and have been occurring for a hundred years. (more…)

Women Abusing Alcohol: A Growing Problem

womandrinkingwineThis past Monday one of my normally upbeat and outgoing patients, whom I’ll call Jill, burst into tears when I asked about her weekend. On Friday night, while driving to pick up her daughter from a school activity, she was stopped by police at a sobriety checkpoint in her town. She’d had two glasses of red wine that evening, and her blood alcohol level was over the legal limit. She was issued a summons and had to call her husband to come and get her. The whole experience, she said, was beyond mortifying. (more…)

Can You Really Afford to $moke?

costofsmokingEveryone understands the health dangers of smoking, both for smokers and those breathing secondary smoke. Smoking is linked to lung cancer, heart disease, and stroke, and has ill effects on virtually every organ in the body.

Few smokers, however, seem to realize just how detrimental it is to their wallet.

Here are the economics: a pack per day habit can cost a smoker in an urban area like New York over $5,300 per year. That’s more than 10% of the median U.S.  household income —  incredibly hard to justify. It’s recommended that people spend 25% of their income on housing.  Would you rather smoke or have a nicer place to live? (more…)

Behind the Wheel? Lose the Phone.

DontDietoReplyThere are Mothers Against Drunk Driving. There should also be Mothers Against Distracted Driving.

Using cell phones or smart phones behind the wheel, or “driving while intexticated,” results in the death of 11 teens each day in the US, according to the Institute of Highway Safety. Almost a quarter of all car accidents, or a total of 1.3 million crashes last year, involved cell phone use.

Though none of my kids yet drive, they will be driving soon, and I’m terrified at what I see happening on the roads. When a light turns green, the cars don’t even budge  — because drivers are all looking at their smartphones. (more…)

Take This Important Step to Prevent Cervical Cancer

ccamJanuary is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, a good time to learn more about this deadly disease that is the third leading type of cancer in women worldwide. Cervical cancer’s symptoms are neither seen nor felt until the disease is advanced and hard to treat. That’s a lot of women suffering from a disease that can now be prevented with a vaccine. (more…)

Top Ten Healthy Resolutions for 2014

Doctor run to new yearDo you resolve every year to get healthy, only to see your enthusiasm fizzle out by late January? Well, make 2014 your year to get it done! We hope our list of top ten healthy resolutions will give you motivation to tackle these important goals.

1. Lose Weight

Most people will put “losing a few pounds” on their New Year’s Resolution list, but new evidence in one area makes it essential for women (and men) of all ages.

Obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the U.S., and in its wake is Type 2 diabetes.  The majority of women of childbearing age are overweight or obese as measured by body mass index or BMI of over 26.  When women are overweight going into pregnancy, it’s more likely that their babies will be obese.  Girl babies then grow into heavy women and the cycle continues.  Obesity leads to many health problems and is a serious issue for children in the US.  (more…)

The Return of the Fist Pump and Air Kiss

Worried man reading his temperature on a thermometerAccording to the CDC, flu season has already started! Here are some tips on: what to do when those around you are sick, how you can help them, and how to keep from catching the flu yourself.

Get a flu shot! It’s not too late – unless you’ve developed symptoms already. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that each year over half the adults in the US fail to get a flu shot. Since getting vaccinated dramatically increases the odds that you won’t get the flu, why take the risk that you might get sick, miss work or school, and spread the virus to others?

Make sure what you or your family member has is really the flu! Flu symptoms include fever over 101 degrees, chills, body aches, dry cough, fatigue, headache and sore throat.  Don’t rush to the doctor’s office without calling first.  Waiting rooms are just about the most infectious places on earth.  If the nurse or physician recommends that you come in for an office visit, bring your own reading material and don’t touch anything! (more…)

Please Take Care – It’s Icy Out There

DangerIceI just hung up the phone with my dear friend Penny, who is expecting her first child. She commutes to work each day on the train, and often finds herself on a slippery slope – literally.

It’s hard enough to navigate sidewalks, steps and street corners when you are not pregnant, but winter snow and ice present an extra challenge. (more…)

E-Cigarettes: Better for You, or Just Another Form of Addiction?

young female smoker smoking e-cigarette outdoors. Head and shoulders, side viewLast week, a patient of mine who has lung cancer told me that our recent heart-to-heart discussion about his need to quit smoking cigarettes in order for his radiation treatments to be effective had actually worked: After 42 years of the nasty habit, he had stopped.

The tears that started to well up in my eyes quickly began to dry, however, as he went on to explain that he had replaced his Marlboros with electronic cigarettes.

Like most non-smokers, I did not know much about electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs, as they’re commonly called, except that they have been frequently mentioned in the news (more…)

Passion and Purpose: Women Transform Their Careers at Midlife and Thrive

passionandpurposeThe following is an excerpt from a recently-published article in A Woman’s Health that included a profile of BFFL Co. founder and CEO Dr. Elizabeth Chabner Thompson. To read the entire article, click here

Putting Patients First

Elizabeth Chabner Thompson always knew that she wanted to be a doctor. “I grew up in a very medical home—my father and grandfather were physicians—and it was considered an honored profession,” she says. (more…)

The Buddy System Helps Grownups, Too

Patients In Doctor's Waiting RoomWaiting rooms have twice as many chairs as they have patients. People tend to come in pairs, and that’s a good thing, not only for passing the time waiting, and getting to and from treatment, but also for clinical outcome.

The survival benefit associated with being married is larger than the survival benefit of chemotherapy.  After reviewing the records of more than 700,000 patients, researchers at Harvard concluded that married patients were less likely to die from cancer than patients who had never married or were divorced, separated or widowed. The conclusions were significant even after adjusting for type of cancer, demographic characteristics, tumor, nodal stage, and the use of definitive therapy. (more…)

The Ten Best Brain Foods

With back-to-school season in full swing, students, teachers and parents everywhere are looking for that “extra edge.” They’re stocking up on the newest calculator, the sharpest mechanical pencils, the latest e-reader, and the snappiest weekly planner. What many of them don’t know, however, is that the best tools for brain power might be sitting in their kitchen!

A growing list of healthy foods, it turns out, are believed to be very helpful in enhancing cognitive function and memory, increasingly important to academic success. (more…)