Fresh Living

There have been several news articles this week about prostate cancer, with which more than 186,000 American men will be diagnosed this year alone.

First, Reuters reported today on a University of Southern California study that showed that taking folic acid supplements increased a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer.

Then there was this AP article, the latest in the ongoing debate over whether prostate cancer is over-diagnosed (and over-treated) in this country.  The article reported on a study that found that 2 out of every 5 men whose cancer was caught through a routine PSA blood test had a tumor that was too slow-growing to ever be a threat to that man’s life.

My father was diagnosed last summer with prostate cancer, so I’m very familiar with the “to test or not to test?/to treat or not to treat?” debate.  After extensive research and further testing, he opted to have surgery using a robotic technique that gave him amazing results. Still, surgery is surgery, and he didn’t choose that option lightly.

Truthfully, the decision in the end came down to a kind of visceral response: we do not offer cancer sanctuary in our bodies, period. If we can get rid of it, we will.

But for many men, “watchful waiting,” where the tumor is monitored but left alone until and unless it becomes large or appears to be spreading, is the best choice–especially for those with other health conditions for whom surgery or radiation would bring up complications. 

Thank God, my dad is now cancer-free, but the debate goes on.  Which side do you come down on?

Meanwhile, here’s some other health news from around the web:

  • A new study shows that the heat fluctuation and pressure of weather changes substantially affects those who suffer from migraine headaches.  This will come as no surprise to any headache sufferer I know…..

  • Tara Parker Pope’s New York Times column this week is about a fascinating ongoing study in Europe about whether stress, genetics, or age alone makes our hair turn gray.  Timely indeed, given the recent speculation about President Obama’s graying hair less than 100 days into his administration.

  • Does the circumference of your neck predict your heart attack risk?  Yes, says a new study from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, though researchers were quick to add that the findings are preliminary.

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