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Ask Dr. Gott 10/16
Breast pain common and often harmless
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    DEAR DR. GOTT: Your practical approach to treatment has been very attractive and helpful. Keep up the good work.
    I've worked as a mammography technician since before it became a specialty, so I've had numerous opportunities to address issues and concerns. Recently, a reader wrote concerning pain behind the breast. This is a common complaint — so common that we no longer discuss it at conferences. One theory is that arthritis develops in the intercostal spaces, and the pain radiates into the breast.
    Many women seem to take comfort in this possibility and enjoy the peace of mind the knowledge brings when other possibilities have been ruled out.
    DEAR READER: Breast pain is common and affects as many as seven in 10 women at some point in their lives. Symptoms are most common in premenopausal rather than in postmenopausal women. Alone, pain rarely signifies breast cancer, but the fear is always first and foremost on a woman's mind.
    Initial discomfort might be treated with a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory over-the-counter drug, 1,000-milligram capsules of evening primrose three times a day, 400 IU of vitamin E up to three times a day, or hot or cold compresses. Any discomfort or unusual symptoms should always be brought to the attention of a physician or gynecologist, who can perform an exam, schedule a mammogram, ultrasound or biopsy and rule out abnormalities. While not to be taken lightly, the fact that the discomfort could be arthritis is extremely reassuring to most women.
    Keep up the good work, and thank you for your articulate letter and the information it contained.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Breast Cancer and Disorders."

    DEAR DR. GOTT: I am a 43-year-old male who has suffered from heartburn or acid reflux for years. Each day, I would require multiple doses of over-the-counter heartburn relief medicines. I also did two courses of Prilosec OTC.
    I changed my diet to avoid foods containing high acids, to no avail. I was on a regular regimen of prescription medications that made me unhappy, so I explored another therapy for this ailment. A friend told me about apple cider vinegar, so I tried 3 tablespoons in a 6-ounce glass of water three times a day for five days. I dealt with the nasty taste of the vinegar and had some initial heartburn discomfort, but I didn't take any OTC meds. I've been heartburn-free for over a month and have not taken an acid reducer since I began this therapy. The total cost has been about $2 for the vinegar.
    Please pass this remedy along to your readers and patients.
    DEAR READER: I just did! Sometimes we find success in the places we least expect. If you remain symptom-free, you just struck gold. Stick with the regimen and thank your friend.
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