Health Care
The New York Optimist Health Care Blog Spot:
Fatherhood, Relaxation Tips, &Healthy Lifestyles are some of the
blogs we feature
The Doctor Is In....
Dr. John Ryder, Ph.D.
Our good doctor of wellness and
positivity brings you his weekly
Cold and flu season roll in with the holidays. But how do you know
what you have? Dr. Holly Phillips tells Maggie Rodriguez what to look

Dr. Holly Phillips
Dr. Holly Phillips joined
WCBS-TV in January 2007 as
medical reporter

Dr. Phillips has been a frequent
contributor and medical expert for
media outlets including NBC News,
and Fox News. She has contributed
to health columns for magazines
such as Vogue, Town and Country,
Cosmo and Gotham, and has also
published articles relating to the use
of complimentary and alternative
medicine within the framework of
traditional medical practice.

Dr. Phillips is a Board Certified
General Internist in private practice
in New York. She received her
medical training at Lenox Hill
Hospital in Manhattan, where she
received a Letter of Commendation
for Outstanding Performance in
women's Heath. She maintains hospital affiliation and admitting privileges, as well as resident teaching
responsibilities for the Department of Internal Medicine at Lenox Hill.

Dr. Phillips' community work has included the organization of an informational community lecture series
regarding the flu vaccine, and assisting with cancer screening and health maintenance medical
efforts for the
Park Avenue Women's Shelter.
A British government institute that approves drugs based on cost-benefit analysis is coming under fire at
home even as other countries are seeing it as a model for bringing down costs, the New York Times reports.
Though the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence often balks at expensive life-prolonging
medications—denying one cancer patient a $54000 treatment that would have given him six months—some
see it “as the only workable
paradigm” of US reform.
An African policy group is accusing the UK of deporting immigrants who were being treated for HIV to
almost certain death in places where they will be unable to acquire drugs needed to survive. Advocates call
the move hypocritical since Britain is a vocal backer of an international declaration calling for universal access
to AIDS drugs.
the Guardian reports.
If health care reform passes this time, a major factor will be that its erstwhile enemies are now rooting
for it, the Wall Street Journal reports. An industry roadblock killed the Clinton administration’s attempt in the
early 1990s, but this time, insurers are playing ball. “You see a range of diverse stakeholders trying to work
together to achieve health care reform,”
says a trade-group rep
Even as he undergoes cancer treatment, Ted Kennedy is coordinating bipartisan meetings with
colleagues and lobbyists in an effort to produce health care legislation that includes universal coverage, the
Washington Times reports. The meetings—involving labor unions, insurers, drug companies, and hospitals
“are a testament to how people feel about him,” said a GOP senatorial aide. Kennedy has
called universal
care "the cause of my life."
Chronically ill Americans are
more likely to forgo medical care
because of high costs or bad
experiences than counterparts in
a number of other rich nations, a
study finds. Researchers
interviewed 7,500 adults with
conditions like cancer, arthritis,
depression, and diabetes, and the
Americans led the complaints.
Dutch patients had the fewest
Reuters reports.
Additional Articles:

Alpha waves
Alpha waves are
electromagnetic oscillations in the
frequency range of 8-12 Hz
arising from synchronous and
coherent (in phase / constructive)
electrical activity of large groups
of neurons in the
human brain
Which Men Use Botox, and Why?

Newser) – Just who are all these men getting Botox, and why do they do it—especially during a recession?
The number of male Botox users has soared to 300,000—or about 7% of total face-freezers—since 2001,
and that percentage hasn't dipped in today's economy. Wondering what men lie behind these stats, Robyn
Twomey, writing for Time, calls up his
buddies to see who is using.
Peanut Probe Grows; Feds Trace Salmonella

AP) – The latest national food safety investigation took on new urgency today as federal officials
confirmed salmonella contamination at a Georgia facility that ships peanut products to 85 food companies,
the AP reports. On Capitol Hill, the House Energy and Commerce Committee requested records as it
opened its own inquiry. The outbreak has sickened hundreds of
people in 43 states and killed at least
Obesity may raise risk of ovarian cancer

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Obese women may have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer than their thinner
counterparts, a large study of U.S. women suggests.

Ovarian cancer is a particularly deadly type of cancer because in the initial stages it typically has vague symptoms or none at
all, making it difficult to catch early.

In the new study, which included more than 94,000 U.S. women ages 50 to 71, who were followed for more than 7 years,
the researchers found that obese women were more likely to develop ovarian cancer. But the risk appeared to be confined to
those who'd never used hormone replacement therapy (HRT) during menopause. Previous studies have linked hormone use to
a reduced risk of ovarian cancer.

Among women who'd never used HRT, those who were obese had an 83 percent higher risk of ovarian cancer that normal-
weight women did.

The findings, reported in the journal Cancer, suggest that obesity may be one of a few controllable risk factors for ovarian

They also offer women one more potential reason to avoid unhealthy weight gain, said lead researcher Dr. Michael F.
Leitzmann, of the U.S. National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland and the University of Regensburg in Germany.

"Our data suggest that maintaining a healthy weight is associated with a reduction in the risk of developing ovarian cancer,"
Leitzmann told Reuters Health.

It's not entirely clear why obesity may contribute to ovarian cancer, but it may have to do with the effects of excess body fat
on a woman's estrogen levels, according to Leitzmann and his colleagues. The fact that the risk varied according to women's
HRT use supports this theory, the researchers note.

The study also found a link between obesity at the age of 18 and a higher risk of ovarian cancer later in life -- a relationship
was even stronger than the one between later-life obesity and ovarian cancer risk.

It's possible, the researchers say, that weight in adolescence or young adulthood is even more relevant to ovarian cancer than
weight gain later in life.

SOURCE: Cancer, February 15, 2009
Gorilla Fine After Rare Surgery

A 32-year-old female gorilla
underwent a rare gynecological
procedure in Hungary yesterday,
the AP reports. Doctors operated
for three hours on Liesel, who
they suspected had a malignant
tumor on her right ovary. No
tumors were found during the
surgery, but the gorilla will be
kept under observation and apart
from other primates at the
Budapest Zoo.
Doctors will perform more tests to determine why Liesel, a mother of three and the oldest gorilla in
Hungary, hasn’t given birth since 2000. Most kinds of lowland gorillas like Liesel are critically
endangered, the Daily Mail adds, but the populations are doing better than expected.
Coffee Each Day May Keep Alzheimer's Away

(Newser) – Researchers don’t quite know why, but a new study suggests that moderate coffee intake
dramatically reduces the likelihood of Alzheimer’s disease, AFP reports. A 20-year Finnish study of 1,409
subjects shows middle-aged people who drink 3-5 cups a day are 60% to 65% less likely to contract the
disease later in life.
Here is a revolutionary
to use powerful yoga
poses designed to give you
a firmer, more supple
stomach in Abs Yoga for
Beginners. The full DVD
version can be purchased at
. Your
video guide is acclaimed
yoga teacher, Rodney Yee.
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The New York Optimist
Just the Pap Please: Ellie Robyns
As if it wasn’t difficult enough for women to visit their “use-her” friendly GYN for annual checkups.

Try coupling that now, with a visit when you are no longer a “young adult” female but not quite a “menopausal woman” either!

That lovely in-between age group. Still of “child-bearing” years but not quite as biologically fertile. The 35+ woman can find herself almost tortured by the thought of
going to her Dr. now, not only being vulnerable to stirrups, but also to sermons. Sermons from the supposedly “judgment free” physician who tries to hold back  from
“reminding” us that we “may”
want to think about conceiving SOON.
PERCEPTION……..From Puberty to Prostate.
Ellie Robyns

When people say “perception is reality” are they talking about their OWN perception or each person’s perception in
general? IS the perception of the same situation/photo etc., different based on
who is perceiving it or are there
“standard perceptions” which are static?
“Walk Your Way To Happiness”-Nina

The next time someone tells you to “take a walk”, you should say “that is a good idea”!  Walking is the best, most natural way to relieve tension and promote health and
happiness.  When you walk purposefully, you can accomplish a great deal in a short time.  

You don’t need a large chunk of time to enjoy the benefits of walking.  Every step you take counts.  Take a walk during your lunch break, first thing in the morning, a
ten minute break between classes or any time during the day.  When you walk you are exercising, but walk purposefully.  Become aware of your posture and align your
body properly.  All four corners of your feet should touch the ground.  Most people walk on the outsides or insides of their feet and don’t realize it until they end up at
the podiatrist.  Evenly align your feet and you will benefit greatly from walking since this alignment will effect your leg muscles, as well as your spine.  Be sure your
shoulders are back, your spine is straight, your head is aligned over your spine and your pelvis tucked under.  Walk tall and notice your movement; is it bouncy,
purposeful or sluggish.  As you notice how your body moves you can begin to make corrections toward proper alignment. Now, in addition to paying attention to all
your body parts, notice your breathing, as well.  You should breathe in and out through your nose, not your mouth.  Your nose is a filter for bacteria flying around.  As
you notice your breathing, allow it to deepen naturally.  Breathe into your belly, filling your rib cage and chest and exhale from your belly, rib cage and chest.  This is the
three part yogic breath which brings great amounts of healthful oxygen to all the cells in your body and releases stress and toxins with each exhalation. Although this
seems like an awful lot of work, you will notice as you move and put all your attention to your physical being that you did not once think of the stress in your life.  This
is focused attention; it is a form of meditation and you can do this
each time you take a walk.  
You Tube
Digg It
Body Image- "Love Handles"-Ellie Robyns

The Reasons why they are called "Love Handles":

If the pretty, pouchy area around your hips and stomach are called "love handles", why do most women HATE them so

In that case, they should be called HATE Handles, but they are not! And for good reason!

Most of us write, use and speak words without thinking about their implication. Women say it all the time "I HATE my
LOVE Handles!"  Hello, this is a true oxymoron! I would rather LOVE my HATE handles~

And why are they called "handles?"Do they open cabinet or car doors?

If it is so hard to get a "handle" on your love handles, no matter how hard you diet and exercise..why not call them hate
hips, or love layers?

In reality, the best way to physically curtail these "handles" is through a consistently proper diet and exercise regimen.
You do not have to go crazy or put too much focus on this one area, these "love handles" are really a function of and
connection to your entire core area. Abdomen,
hip flexors and nearby muscles and tissues.
Quality of Life Interventions from the Columbia University Department of Surgery

Vascular Disorders Large and Small

James McKinsey, MD
Site Chief, Division of Vascular Surgery
Columbia University Medical Center
In Affiliation with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital
Phone: 212-342-3255

Disorders of the major arteries of the vascular system are common and can cause problems ranging from
life-threatening to cosmetic.
Vascular Disorders: Types
Columbia Surgery
“Choose Happiness!”

By: Nina Mistier

Today is the most important day of your life!  It is because it is the only day you have control of.  Yesterday is over,
tomorrow is not here, but today is the day you can choose; do I want to be happy or not? You can choose to be happy or
sad, angry and disappointed.  So what will it be?  Choose to be happy!

We have a tendency to think happiness is out of our control.  We awaken in the morning and think, I hope today is a
good day, but what if you don’t wish for it and make today a good day.  Tell yourself today will be a good day and make
it so.  Whatever happens, good, bad or indifferent,
make a choice to remain happy and not allow anything to bring
Columbia University Dept Of Surgery
Quality of Life Interventions from the Columbia University Department of Surgery
Breast Cancer: Defenses and Interventions
Sheldon Feldman, MD
Chief, Breast Surgery Section
Comprehensive Breast Center
Columbia University Medical Center
In Affiliation with NewYork-Presbyterian
Phone: 212-305-0728
The second leading cause of death in women after lung cancer, breast cancer claimed the lives of approximately
40,000 women during 2007. Fortunately, effective treatments are available, and most women who develop breast
cancer enjoy a long life.

Lowering risk of developing the disease is a woman’s first line of defense. The steps our team recommends include:
•        finding out from your doctor whether you are at high risk;
•        following a screening regimen appropriate for your age and risk level;
•        maintaining a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, limiting alcohol intake to less than one drink per day,
and maintaining a normal body weight (findings suggest obesity increases the risk of breast cancer).
As breast specialists, our goal for our patients with breast cancer must be multifaceted. We strive first to provide
treatments to ensure a patient’s long-term survival, second to prevent recurrence, and third to address quality of life
issues including cosmetic outcomes through techniques such as oncoplastic surgery.

Our multidisciplinary approach to breast health includes risk-assessment, medical care, educational programs, and
support groups. The center also offers clinical trials of new prevention techniques and breast cancer therapies such as:
•        interventions for women at higher risk of developing breast cancer;
•        a new therapy known as accelerated partial breast irradiation, or APBI, which may shorten the course of
radiation from six or seven weeks to just one week;
•        a breast cancer vaccine clinical trial beginning in 2008.
Breast cancer exacts an enormous toll throughout our society, striking women of all ages and backgrounds; the good
news is that the numbers tell only part of the story.

For more information, please visit
Quality of Life Interventions from the Columbia University Department of Surgery
Advanced Procedures that Make Cardiac Surgery Safer

Craig R. Smith, MD
Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery
Columbia University Medical Center
Phone: 1-800-227-2762

Traditionally, heart surgery required all patients to have a chest incision 9-10 inches in length and to
be placed on the heart-lung machine to pump the blood while the heart was stopped. Both of these
factors represent increased risk and discomfort for patients.  

Today, many cardiac surgery procedures involve smaller incisions, with the surgeon accessing only
the section of the heart being operated upon. These minimally invasive procedures reduce
postoperative pain, minimize scarring, and speed recovery time. Hand-in-hand with minimally invasive
techniques, many heart surgeries can now be performed
off-pump, without stopping the heart.
Procedures affected by these advances include the following

•        Coronary artery bypass surgery, in which the surgeon attaches a new vessel and reroutes blood
around a blockage, can now be performed by restraining a small area of the beating heart to sew on
the new vessel.

•        To correct the abnormal heart rhythm condition known as atrial fibrillation, a procedure called
atrial fibrillation ablation creates incisions inside the heart to form scar tissue. This
procedure can be performed as a minimally invasive procedure and without stopping the heart.

•        A faulty mitral valve can be repaired by threading a slim tube called a catheter through the
vessels and into the heart to bind the valve’s leaflets together and prevent leakage of blood backwards
from the left atrium into the left ventricle. The heart continues beating throughout the procedure, and
the patient usually leaves the hospital within 48 hours.

•        An aortic aneurysm (ballooning of the vessel wall) may involve damage to the valve connecting
the aorta and the heart. Both problems may be addressed simultaneously using a catheter threaded
through the vessels to deliver a new valve and a supportive mesh stent.
This list includes some of the most advanced procedures available. Ultimately, a highly experienced
surgeon will be the best judge of what procedure is right for you or someone you love.
Energy and Recovery,
-Taimak Guarriello

The most important factors that every athlete, that every person,
engaging in a physical activity, wishes to accomplish. Whether you
are a professional 22-year old basketball player, an Olympic class
weight lifter or a 67 year-old woman doing water aerobics, you
want to know that you are reaching your peak energy level on a
sustained basis. You want to ensure that you are achieving peak
performance at all times.
Quality of Life Interventions from the Columbia University Department of Surgery
Thyroid and Parathyroid Disorders
William B. Inabnet, MD
Director, Columbia University New York Thyroid/Parathyroid Center
Columbia University Medical Center
in Affiliation with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital
Phone 800-227-2762

Thyroid disorders are extremely common in the U.S., with over 20 million people
undergoing treatment. Women are especially vulnerable, as thyroid disease is up to eight
times more common in women than in men. Parathyroid disorders are generally less
common, occurring twice as often in women. Because these disorders tend to have
multiple symptoms, may involve ongoing medical consultations, and sometimes require
specialized surgery, a dedicated center such as the New York Thyroid/Parathyroid Center
of Columbia University can be a good approach to treatment.

Located just above the collar bone, the thyroid gland secretes hormones the body depends
upon to regulate metabolism. The four parathyroid glands surround the thyroid gland and
secrete hormones that regulate blood calcium levels.

Thyroid and parathyroid disorders include:

Hypothyroidism—thyroid gland produces too little thyroid hormone. Symptoms include
fatigue, weight gain, joint pain, increased sensitivity to cold, and depression.

Hyperthyroidism—thyroid gland produces too much hormone, speeding up metabolism.
Symptoms include sudden weight loss, a rapid or irregular heartbeat, sweating,
nervousness and irritability, goiter (enlarged thyroid).

Thyroid nodules/lumps—can indicate the presence of cancer, but most often are
noncancerous with no symptoms. Symptoms of thyroid cancer include hoarseness, or
trouble swallowing or breathing.

Hyperparathyroidism—parathyroid glands produce too much parathyroid hormone.
Symptoms include fatigue, frequent urination, bone demineralization (osteoporosis) and
kidney stones.

Diagnosis of thyroid and parathyroid disorders is often simple, consisting of a blood test
and a physical examination. If you have a sudden onset of symptoms resembling a
thyroid or parathyroid disorder, you should not hesitate to visit your primary care
Quality of Life Interventions from the Columbia University Department of Surgery

Diseases of the Pancreas: Risk factors, Interventions, Treatments

John A. Chabot, MD
Medical Director,
Pancreas Center
Columbia University Medical Center
Phone: 1.800.227.2762

Situated behind the lower portion of the stomach, the pancreas plays an essential role in converting the food we eat into fuel
for our body's cells. There are several disorders that affect the pancreas, including pancreatitis, precancerous conditions, and
pancreatic cancer.


Pancreatitis refers to inflammation of the pancreas occurring when pancreatic enzyme secretions build up and begin to digest
the organ itself. Characterized by upper abdominal pain, pancreatitis can occur as a temporary condition, or may be chronic,
developing over a period of years.  Pancreatitis has a variety of causes, including long-term alcohol use, gallstones, and
buildup of certain medications and compounds in the blood.

To treat pancreatitis, a gastroenterologist or surgeon resolves immediate symptoms through careful monitoring and may
temporarily administer fluid and nourishment intravenously. Special endoscopic procedures are used to determine and treat
the cause. Depending upon the extent and the cause, treatment may require surgery.

Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most challenging diseases physicians face today because it is difficult to treat and can quickly
spread to surrounding organs. A contributing risk factor for cancer of the pancreas is cigarette smoking. A family history of
pancreatic cancer and hereditary cancer syndromes also greatly increase risk. Certain nonmalignant pancreatic conditions are
known to be precursors to pancreatic cancer and call for immediate intervention, such as removal of all or part of the

Treatment for Pancreatic Cancer
Surgery to remove all cancerous tissue currently offers the best chance for a cure. Not every patient is eligible for surgical
intervention because of factors including the location of the tumor, and whether the cancer has spread to other organs.

Risk Analysis for Pancreatic Cancer

Risk analysis can potentially help those living with a family history of cancer or with other risk factors for pancreatic cancer
to avoid the disease through regular screening tests. Steps in risk analysis include:

•        Family medical history of the patient is analyzed.
•        Genetic counseling and testing may accompany this process.
•        The physician may opt to image the pancreas with sensitive instruments to detect pre-cancerous abnormalities or     
small cancers that are surgically curable.
•        If the patient learns there is significant genetic risk, an ongoing testing regimen may be recommended so they may
ultimately avoid the disease

Because pancreas operations are complex, it is important to locate a surgeon and a facility that have extensive experience
with pancreatic cancer and that perform a high volume of the operations. Studies have shown patients treated at such high-
volume centers have fewer operative complications and better surgical outcomes.
Quality of Life Interventions from the Columbia University Department of Surgery

Kidney Transplantation

New and Better Options for Patients and Donors

Lloyd E. Ratner, MD
Renal and Pancreatic Transplantation
Department of Surgery
Columbia University Medical Center
In affiliation with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital
Phone: 800.227.2762

Those with advanced kidney disease or kidney failure find their lives transformed by kidney transplant, which has become
the most common and successful organ transplant.

Obtaining a suitable donor organ can be one of the greatest challenges for a transplant candidate. Some are fortunate enough
to receive a kidney from a relative or friend. Others must join the national waiting list, which can mean enduring their
kidney disease for several years longer.

The good news regarding live kidney donation is that availability of minimally invasive laparoscopic techniques for removing
a kidney from a live donor (also known as harvesting the kidney) has greatly improved the safety and comfort of this
procedure. This in turn increases the number of individuals willing to be donors. Laparoscopic techniques also permit some
individuals who would not have been considered good candidates for an open procedure, such as older individuals, to
donate an organ. Laparoscopic kidney harvesting has rapidly been adapted as a standard of care worldwide because of its
considerable advantages.

Our team employs all available strategies to maximize transplant opportunities and reduce waiting times, including:

  • Use of “extended criteria” organs, from donors who are older or whose health or a mild kidney injury might
    otherwise prevent their donating. Extended criteria organs help transplant centers meet the needs of those too sick to
    wait for a kidney;

  • “Kidney swaps” enable two or more patients whose donors are blood-group or antigen incompatible to swap donors
    in order to receive a compatible organ. By agreeing to exchange recipients—giving the kidney to an unknown, but
    compatible individual—the donors provide healthy kidneys where previously no transplant would have been possible;

  • Plasmapheresis, cleaning the recipient’s bloodstream of mismatched antibodies to prevent rejection of the
    transplanted organ.

Recent statistics show that 17,000 Americans undergo a kidney transplant yearly. Our goal is to increase this number every
year by offering the widest range of options to individuals facing end-stage kidney disease.
Quality of Life Interventions from the Columbia University Department of Surgery

Liver Disease and Transplantation

Robert S. Brown, Jr., MD, MPH

Center for Liver Disease and Transplantation

Columbia University Medical Center
In affiliation with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital


Everyone has some risk for liver disease, and it’s easy to get screened by obtaining a simple blood test. Your risk depends on your
history (including exposure to blood, drug or alcohol use).  Unfortunately, chronic liver diseases are frequently asymptomatic in the early
stages, when they are best treated.

About Liver Disease

Hepatitis, a word meaning literally inflammation of the liver, refers to a group of conditions. Most are caused by one of many viruses.
Hepatitis can also be inherited (congenital hepatitis) or brought on by excess alcohol consumption, obesity, diabetes and other factors. Most
cases of liver failure are due to undetected hepatitis C, whose causes include sharing needles, blood transmission, sexual transmission, and
transfusions prior to 1991.

Cirrhosis, scarring of the liver caused by injury over a period of time, is a consequence of chronic hepatitis, excessive alcohol use, and other
less common causes including infections, drug toxins, and inherited diseases. Cirrhosis due to alcoholism is the second most common cause of
chronic liver failure leading to transplantation.

About Liver Transplantation

When the liver stops working efficiently due to advanced liver disease, a transplant may become necessary.  After a liver transplant, in which
a damaged liver is replaced with a healthy one, the patient is able to lead a fairly normal life, although they must take medication for the rest of
their lives to prevent their body from rejecting the transplanted liver. A liver can be transplanted from either a living or a deceased donor.

Living Donor Liver Transplantation

Living donor transplantation enables the patient to obtain a transplant right away and avoid the waiting time required for a deceased donor
liver—during which the patient might become sicker, weaker, or die. In this procedure, a healthy adult donor undergoes an operation to
remove part of his or her liver, which is implanted into the recipient. The donor’s liver regenerates to full size in both people within weeks. A
living donor may be a family member, spouse, or friend.

The Waiting List

Those who are to receive a deceased-donor organ are registered with the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the agency that
maintains the national database of all individuals waiting for a deceased-donor organ. Waiting times vary depending on severity of illness,
blood type, and overall demand. When it is determined that a potential donor cannot survive and his or her family chooses to donate the
organs for transplantation, the liver is made available for transplantation. UNOS matches the donor and recipient and allocates that “gift of
life” to the patient at the top of the waiting list.

If you or a loved one have liver disease, our team recommends making contact with a multidisciplinary liver care center that can meet medical
management needs, provide appropriate counseling, and follow patients through a transplant, should one become necessary.
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