Medical facts you probably didn’t know

Writer: Richard T. Bosshardt, MD, FACS


If you get painful canker sores in your mouth frequently, there is a simple, effective solution: avoid sodium laurel sulfate (SLS). This is the substance that makes toothpaste foam. It damages the mucous lining in your mouth, setting you up for canker sores. Try a toothpaste, like Verve, that does not have SLS in it. You will cut down canker sores dramatically, possibly even eliminating them altogether. Who needs foaming toothpaste?

Do you have multiple skin cancers? Medicare will pay your surgeon to remove only up to four skin cancers at one time. If you have more than four, your surgeon will not be paid for any ones removed after the first four. The others will have to be done another time. Why? I have no idea. It makes no medical or economic sense. Think of that when you contemplate turning all medical care over to the federal government.

If you have several skin cancers, some surgeons will remove only one at a time and allow several months between the surgeries. They do this because they are paid better if they remove the cancers this way rather than removing several at one time. Is this better for patients? Maybe, maybe not. It is certainly better for the surgeon’s bottom line.

Despite widespread education, media campaigns, and more options than ever to protect yourself from unnecessary sun exposure, between 2000 and 2010, the incidence of the two most common skin cancers, squamous cell cancer and basal cell cancer, increased by more than 250 percent and 145 percent, respectively. Is there a lesson here?

All name-brand, high-quality sunscreens work. The best sunblock is the one you use. Sun protection factor (SPF) values higher than 30 are unnecessary. Most people use too little, apply it too late, and don’t reapply frequently enough. Apply enough to cover your skin liberally; 1 ounce (about a shot glass) total for exposed areas. Apply to dry skin at least 15 minutes before you go out in the sun. Reapply no less than every two hours and more often if you sweat or get wet. It’s best to stay out of direct sun as much as possible. Tanning—any tanning—is unhealthy.

The closest thing in medicine to a “magic bullet” can be summed up in one word: exercise. “Use it or lose it” is not just a pithy saying. It reflects the reality that being sedentary is unhealthy. So, here is an action plan in one word: MOVE!

Medicare supplement insurance policies kick in only after Medicare approves the care and pays its share. If Medicare denies a claim, your supplemental will, too.

You have heard that “you are what you eat,” but did you know that you also are what you eat eats? Beef from cows that are pasture-raised and grass-fed has much healthier fats than that from cows raised in feed lots on corn and grain. Organic fruits and vegetables grown in healthy soil have up to 40 percent more nutrients than the same fruits and vegetables grown in soil that has been treated with pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Good reasons to buy local and organic when you can.

A calorie is a unit of energy. Nothing more, nothing less. It is the energy required to heat one gram of water one degree centigrade. It is a measure of the energy stored in food. A calorie is the same whether it comes from fat, protein, or carbs. Your body handles excess calories only one of two ways: if you take in more calories in a day than your body’s metabolism can burn, it can store a little of that as a carb, glycogen, in the liver and muscles. After that, it’s all fat, baby. Ignore this fact of physiology and you end up with a U.S. population where more than two-thirds of adults are overweight and half of those are obese.

Vaping with electronic cigarettes has not been proven to be safer than smoking regular cigarettes. We are only beginning to appreciate the potential adverse health effects of vaping. It appears that, rather than helping cigarette smokers reduce their risks of smoking or quitting altogether, e-cigarettes are hooking a whole new generation on nicotine and exposing them to risks that are not yet fully understood. The verdict is still out on these devices.

Genetics is important in your health history but not all powerful. We know that people can have a lot of control over the expression, or non-expression, of genetic tendencies. Because your parents were heavy does not mean you inevitably will be, too. Because one was an alcoholic or drug addict does not doom you to the same fate. You make choices every day that may speed up or slow down the expression of your genetic inheritance from your parents by what you eat and drink, how much rest you get, how much you exercise, how you deal with stress, and so on. Choose wisely.


About the author

Rick Bosshardt, M.D., FACS

Richard Bosshardt, M.D., graduated from the University of Miami School of Medicine in 1978. He founded Bosshardt & Marzek Plastic Surgery Associates, Lake County’s first practice to provide full-time cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery services, in 1989.

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