1. Patients say real colonoscopy has less pain than virtual ones

    Patients prefer real colonoscopies to virtual ones

    When a patient hears the word "colonoscopy," he starts looking for the door -- and that view of his rear end fleeing the room is usually about as close as a doctor will get to examining his backside.

    People are just terrified by the procedure, and for no good reason. It's relatively painless and highly effective. It not only detects the growths that cause colon cancer, but also removes them.

    No growths, no cancer -- and that's why people who get regular colonoscopies simply don't die of the disease.

    But most patients don't even want to talk about it. It sounds painful... uncomfortable... and for some people, even a conversation about "butt health" can be a little embarrassing.

    Some doctors have been pushing the less invasive "virtual" colonoscopy because patients seem to think it's a lot more comfortable -- but a new study shows that's not the case.

    Researchers gave both procedures to 90 patients between the ages of 19 and 65 years old, and then asked them which one they preferred.

    Turns out, the real deal beat "virtual" colonoscopy in just about every measure. Patients say they had less anxiety, less pain, and even liked the exam rooms better when they got the real colonoscopies.

    That might sound a little counterintuitive, but remember that patients who get a real colonoscopy get sedated.

    Patients who get the virtual procedure do not.

    As a result, patients who get a real colonoscopy don't feel a thing (some even fall asleep). Patients who get a "virtual" one do -- and while the "virtual" name might make it sound like a procedure that takes place on a computer screen instead of in your body, that's not quite the case.

    There's no scope in a virtual colonoscopy (unless polyps are detected), but a thin tube is put into the rectum so air can be pumped in. This inflates the colon and makes it easier to see.

    It doesn't hurt. But patients say it's not the most comfortable thing in the world, either -- and that's reflected in the 69 percent of patients in the survey who said the real colonoscopy had less pain.

    In addition, a full 77 percent said they would choose the real colonoscopy over the virtual procedure in the future.

    In other words, the real procedure isn't nearly as bad as most people fear. But there are other reasons why I prefer the real deal to the virtual ones.

    First, virtual colonoscopy a relatively new technology and there are still question marks over its effectiveness.

    Second, and more importantly, it uses a CT scan -- and CT scans rely on radiation. It seems a little backwards to me to use cancer-causing radiation to detect and treat cancer... but then again, a lot of the cancer screenings and treatments out there are backwards.

    Third, if you have polyps or a suspicious-looking lesion, you'll need to get another regular colonoscopy to biopsy the lesion -- leading to the very procedure you were trying to avoid in the first place

    So skip the gimmicks, and along with "virtual" colonoscopies that means avoiding the less thorough (and cheaper) sigmoidoscopy. And definitely stay away from the up-and-coming procedure, the "laxative-free" colonoscopy -- because it's really just another version of the virtual colonoscopy.

    Real colonoscopies are proven, and they work -- and they represent one of the best examples of mainstream medicine getting it right.

    I don't see any reason to mess with success.

    PS: If you have diabetes, be sure to start screening earlier -- at 40 instead of 50. New research shows that diabetics in their 40s have the same risk of precancerous colon growths as non-diabetics in their 50s. It's as if the disease ages the colon by an entire decade.

  2. Mediterranean diet benefits are physical & mental

    Supercharge your health practically overnight

    There's a quick and easy way to improve both your physical and mental health at the same time -- a diet that can help you to lose weight and dramatically slash your risk of battling today's leading killer diseases.

    It's a simple diet backed by science... one so easy to follow just about anyone can do it. And it's a diet I recommend to all my friends, family, and patients -- including a patient who just contacted me from Hong Kong after suffering a stroke and wanted to know what changes he should make to his lifestyle.

    It's the Mediterranean diet, a diet low in processed foods and rich in fish, lean meats, whole grains, and some of the most delicious meals you'll ever have in your life -- and the latest research confirms that it's the best overall health boost you can give yourself.

    Researchers from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and the University of Navarra in Spain tracked the eating habits of 11,015 university students over four years, using questionnaires to rate how closely they followed the Mediterranean lifestyle throughout the study.

    They were also given a standardized survey to measure quality of life. And, no surprise to me, those who stuck to the Mediterranean diet -- the ones who ate the most fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and fish -- had the highest quality of life scores.

    They had higher scores in nearly every major physical and mental health category -- including vitality, pain, physical function, and even better overall general health.

    If the study ended there, we could call it a "relationship" between the diet and good overall health.

    But something else happened to prove that it's more than just a relationship -- because some of the students had dietary improvements during those four years. They starting out eating lousy foods but gradually shifted towards a Mediterranean diet.

    And those who did also saw their quality-of-life scores shoot right up as their eating habits improved, according to the study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

    That tells me there's a direct connection between a Mediterranean diet and overall good health -- and this isn't the first study to prove it.

    There are literally hundreds out there, and they've shown that this healthy lifestyle can slash your risk of heart disease, cancer, Parkinson's disease, dementia, and more.

    It can also prevent or ease asthma and allergies, improve blood pressure, and help reduce the risk of lung diseases.

    More importantly, it's a realistic diet that's not as restrictive as many of the others out there. And the food's so good, you'll actually want to stick to it.

    How's that for a change?

  3. Low magnesium levels can boost your heart risk

    Low levels of the essential mineral magnesium can double your risk of death by heart disease -- and you probably have low levels.
  4. Acupuncture and hypnosis proven to help quit smoking

    Acupuncture and hypnosis are proven to be more effective than patches, gums and even drugs at helping smokers to kick the tobacco habit.
  5. Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil can slash cancer risk

    There's another great reason to eat more seafood as the latest research shows how the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil can slash your risk of cancer.
  6. New diet drug lorcaserin is not effective for weight loss

    New drug lorcaserin, approved by an FDA panel for weight loss, fails to meet even minimal FDA standards for effectiveness and is linked to cancer and heart problems.
  7. How supplements can save you from cancer

    I was just about to celebrate the American Cancer Society's new common sense guidelines for disease survivors on the role of exercise and nutrition in preventing a recurrence -- until they started taking potshots at supplements.
  8. Oregano can kill prostate cancer cells

    Oregano is a powerful antioxidant that packs antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties into every little green flake. It's even shown promise in the battle against cancer -- and the latest research shows it could be an especially potent weapon in the war against prostate cancer.
  9. Do cellphones cause brain tumors?

    I remember 12 years ago a friend of mine was scheduled for thyroid cancer surgery. He was relatively young, had no strong family history of the disease and no exposure to any major source of radiation... except for one. As we spoke, I found out he was using his cellphone for buying and selling for 8 hours or more every day!
  10. Too much of this mineral can be bad for the brain

    Most nutrients are not only safe in high amounts, they're necessary -- because too many people simply don't get nearly enough of the essentials from diet alone.
  11. Green tea can keep you on your toes

    Drop for drop, it's hard to top green tea when it comes to health benefits. The drink has been shown to help fight cancer, boost the immune system, and even help you to live longer. And now, a new study shows that it can keep you active and on your feet -- especially if you're getting up there in years.
  12. Broccoli beats breast cancer

    I recommend cruciferous vegetables for detoxification so often that I'm sure some of my patients think I own stock in a broccoli farm.
  13. When cholesterol gets too low

    So you've followed your mainstream doctor's advice and brought your LDL cholesterol levels crashing down to meet the latest guidelines, probably with the help of drugs such as statins. And now, instead of good health, you're sicker than ever.
  14. Soda scare: Sugary drinks linked to new heart risk

    Any time I use the words "soda" and "study" in the same sentence, it's never good news for soda. I can't recall a single study that shows soda benefits anything other than the bank accounts of the people who sell it. And the latest research is no exception.
  15. The true risks of soda

    Sugar is probably the most dangerous ingredient in most sodas -- but I have to say "probably" here, because it's got some pretty tough competition. Most sodas aren't drinks so much as water mixed with a collection of ingredients that seem like they belong in chemistry kits instead of food and beverages.
  16. Dying to get some sleep

    Some people are lucky enough to fall asleep the moment their head hits the pillow. I've never been one of them, but I've never had to rely on sleep meds to get my rest, either, and that's a good thing: The latest warning finds that these drugs come with one whopper of a death risk.
  17. Diet soda in new health scare

    Let's face it: There's nothing "diet" about diet soda. It won't make you healthier and it won't even help you to lose weight -- and that's been proven.
  18. The one cancer screening that works

    Over screening for cancer is nothing short of a national disaster. But there's one screening that's different -- a screening that can detect a deadly cancer and remove it at the same time.
  19. How to avoid pancreatic cancer

    They're called "trace" elements for a reason: Tiny amounts of the right stuff can boost your health and save your life... while even a drop of the wrong stuff can end it. Now, the latest research shows how these same trace elements can play a major role in your risk of getting or avoiding one of the deadliest forms of cancer on the planet -- pancreatic cancer.
  20. The tests seniors should skip

    Even as the mainstream moves away from routine cancer screenings for men and women alike, there's one group of Americans that are still getting screened regularly for cancers that almost certainly won't hurt them. And that's the elderly.

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