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Ask Dr. Gott 6/28

Doctor's diagnosis up in smoke

    DEAR DR. GOTT: A 68-year-old man I knew recently passed away from lung cancer after smoking for most of his life. He had quit smoking and was diagnosed with lung cancer about a year after quitting.
    His doctor told him that if he had not quit smoking, the cancer would not have grown as quickly because the smoke would have depleted the lungs of oxygen. The doctor said that cancer cells thrive in oxygen and by quitting cigarettes, he actually hastened the cancer's growth.
    The doctor's advice seems counter to everything I've heard about smoking cessation. What is your take on this theory?
    DEAR READER: My take? That advice is not only counter to good medical care, it makes no sense at all.
    Some recent studies have shown that the tars in tobacco smoke actually cause cancer by neutralizing anticancer cells in lung tissue. This has nothing to do with oxygen. Authorities still have not discovered a proven cause for cancer. But, unquestionably, cigarette smoking is associated with a much higher incidence of lung malignancies than is any other factor.
    My conclusion? Don't smoke.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Viruses and Cancer." Other readers would like a copy should send a long, self-addressed, stamped envelope and $2 to Newsletter, PO Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092. Be sure to mention the title.

    DEAR DR. GOTT: I am an 88-year-old man in better condition than many of my contemporaries. I quite smoking in 1966, my blood pressure and other vital signs are within normal range, and I am neither alcoholic, obese, indolent, diabetic nor delusional.
    How old do I have to get before I can eat whatever I like, including moderate amounts of bacon and occasional doughnuts, without guilt or fear of surviving adverse consequences? My physician tells me I am almost there.
    DEAR READER: You are there. I encourage you to relax your diet, continue to be prudent and look forward to reaching 100.
    DEAR DR. GOTT: Two years ago, I began having heart palpitations on my right side. When I would turn over, they stopped. I am 73 and female, and now nothing stops them. They occur only at night when I first lie down. Lately, I've felt extremely weak at times, first my legs, then my arms, followed by palpitations. I awaken at night by a jolt, sometimes by taking a huge breath or hearing my name mentioned. What do you make of this?
    DEAR READER: Recurring palpitations (awareness of the heartbeat) can occur in many forms. Some, such as atrial beats, are harmless and can be ignored. In contrast, ventricular palpitations, which feel the same, can be ominous.
    The cause of your palpitations needs to be diagnosed with a Holter monitor, a recording device you can wear for 24 hours that will monitor the type of electrical activity in your heart. If the Holter study is inconclusive, you will have to focus your attention on other possibilities. You doctor can advise you and refer you to a cardiologist, if appropriate.

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