HealthSmart Q & A-9

Dear HealthSmart,

I have a strong family history of breast cancer. I’m considering having a bilateral mastectomy as a preventative measure. After seeing my family members suffer I don’t want to risk developing the disease. Is this a guaranteed form of protection?

HealthSmart asked Dr. Joseph Sparano, M.D., Oncology Professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Here’s his response:

Performing a bilateral mastectomy is an effective measure for preventing breast cancer occurrence. However, it’s impossible to remove all of the breast tissue and there is still a chance that cancer will develop in that remaining tissue. Tissue that cannot be removed is commonly found in the armpit, above the collar bone, on the chest wall.


Dear HealthSmart,

Are there any ways to effectively prevent stroke?

HealthSmart asked Dr. Erol Veznedaroglu, M.D., Director of Neurosciences Institute at Drexel University. Here’s his response:

We’re preventing many more strokes than we have in the past – technically 80% of strokes are preventable. Diet, exercise, visiting your doctors, smoking cessation, are great first steps towards improving your chances of preventing stroke. I recommend my patients take a baby aspirin daily to keep blood thin, help prevent clogging of arteries, and can assist in stroke prevention. It’s pretty common sense that trying to combat any of the risk factors you possess will better your chances of prevention: lowering blood pressure, losing weight, exercising more, drinking in moderation, treating atrial fibrillation, and treating diabetes.


Dear HealthSmart,

I want to protect my feet from future problems including bunions and a damaged arch. Does it matter what kind of shoes I wear?

HealthSmart asked Dr. Ryan Rushton, D.P.M., Podiatric Surgeon at University of Utah Health Care. Here’s his response:

One golden rule is to buy your shoes at the end of the day when your feet are somewhat larger due to normal swelling. That way you don’t run the risk of buying shoes that are too small. Look for shoes that feel comfortable, have good support and plenty of room for your toes. Lots of people wear their shoes until they fall apart but that’s a bad idea. High heels are not recommended because they throw your weight forward onto the balls of your feet, causing imbalances in support and walking and leading to tight Achilles’ heels. I recommend athletic shoes–such as cross trainers that are roomy enough for the feet and provide support.


Do you have questions on health or wellness you’d like answered by the nation’s leading medical researchers? If so, you can send to HealthSmart is a national newspaper column from the Washington News Service in DC. Due to demand, we are unable to reply to all inquiries. Responses through the column are no substitute for care from physicians or other medical professionals.

Copyright Ellen James Martin 2021


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