'Virtual colonoscopy' is effective, less expensive, easier
Scientists are excited about the long-awaited X-ray
alternative to the dreaded colonoscopy. Medicare is considering paying
for the procedure.
Doctors predict that this cheaper, easier option
could persuade more people to be screened for cancer's second-largest
killer. A new federal study, the largest of its kind, confirms the
effectiveness of the virtual colonoscopy for diagnosing colon cancer.
The study focused on CT colonography with a super
X-ray. Though the test didn't predict all cancers, a report in the New
England Journal of Medicine says that the technique was excellent at
ruling out cancer.
It also was valuable for targeting patients with
questionable results, who are then referred for a traditional
colonoscopy. That requires preparation to clean out the bowel, general
sedation, and a missed day of work. The cost of the procedure is up to
The X-ray test also requires cleaning out the bowel,
but the procedure is not invasive and it requires no general sedation.
The cost is $300 to $800
The X-ray test should be available before very long.
Doctors hesitate to discuss end-of-life care
Physicians often don't want to depress terminal ill
patients by discussing end-of life care. A study presented at the
American Society of Clinical Oncology's recent annual meeting, however,
suggests that those who receive the information become no more depressed
than those who do not.
Patients who were given end-of-life care advice were
more likely to acknowledge being terminally ill and value comfort more
than life extension. Their families reported feeling more at peace with
the knowledge that making the patient comfortable was all they could do.
Other research that was published in the Journal of
the American Medical Association shows that 15 to 20 percent of cancer
patients nationwide, who have incurable cancers, receive chemotherapy
within 14 days of their death. It would have virtually no chance of
helping at that point.
Having correct information about the patient's
prognosis would have prevented further chemotherapy, allowed the patient
to be more comfortable and have an easier transition toward death.
Eat more, weigh less, rev up your metabolism
If you're beginning to notice a touch of middle-age
spread, there's a good reason for it. It's not that you are eating more
than you used to. In fact, you could be eating less and gaining weight.
Doctors at the Weight Management Center of the
University of Pittsburgh say metabolism slows by 5 percent every decade
after age 25. You will burn 100 calories less at age 35, 200 calories
less at age 45, and it continues after that.
With age, muscle mass declines with your metabolic
rate, the number of calories you burn in 24 hours including sleeping and
active time. Muscle burns more calories than fat.
When you want to lose weight, it pays to lose slowly,
say researchers at McMaster University in Ontario. Reduce calories but
not dramatically and include more protein from chicken, fish and lean
meat in your diet. Protein will help to preserve your muscle mass.
Exercise, but don't just do cardio. Walking, biking
and swimming help the heart and lungs but in most cases, they don't
build much muscle.
Pumping iron does. Regular strength training builds
muscles that burn more calories day and night. And muscle takes less
space. Replace three pounds of fat with three pounds of muscle, and
you'll be smaller.
Fidgeting and incidental movement make a difference.
It's called non-exercise thermogenesis.
Take advantage of thermogenesis by moving as often as
possible. Get up from the couch frequently, walk the dog or pump a few
dumbbells during a TV commercial. People with high thermogenesis energy
burn about 350 more calories a day than those who don't.