Subscribe to Dr. Mirkin's free FITNESS & HEALTH NEWSLETTER      

Pepper Cream for Pain Control

Pain messages are passed along nerves by a neurotransmitter called "substance P." Capsaicin, the component of chili peppers that makes them hot, blocks substance P and the resultant pain. A cream containing .025 percent capsaicin has been shown to block pain in joints, nerves and skin

FDA Proposes New Sunscreen Rules

At last, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is proposing new rules on sunscreen safety. Finalizing these rules and actually making changes on the regulation or labeling of sunscreens will take time, so I advise you to follow their recommendations now by reading the labels and avoiding those products with ingredients that are unlikely to be safe or may be found unsafe. Here are the proposed rules.

Itching with no visible cause

Itching can be caused by nerve damage associated with diabetes or lack of vitamin B12, skin diseases, an allergy to something touching the skin or inside your body or a hidden tumor or infection. See my report on neuropathy. Often doctors cannot find the cause. When more than one person in a family itches, the usual cause is scabies

Ankle Sprain

An ankle sprain is a common walking and sporting injury. It occurs when the ankle twists, causing damage to the soft tissues and ligaments. A ligament consists of several strands of tissue, all compacted together to form a strong structure, similar to a rope, which stabilizes the ankle joint.

Risk for Dementia Goes Down with Steps to Prevent Heart Attacks

You can reduce your risk for suffering from dementia by up to 70 percent when you follow the same healthful habits that help to prevent heart attacks. A study of 6,600 people over 65, followed for 8.5 years, found that each lifestyle risk factor for heart attacks is also a risk factor for dementia, and that correcting each heart attack risk factor reduces risk for dementia.

Sunlight May Help to Prevent Auto-Immune Diseases by Altering Gut Bacteria

Lack of vitamin D may change the colon bacteria to an overabundance of harmful bacteria to cause inflammation that increases risk for autoimmune diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, lupus and some types of arthritis.

FDA Warns Not to Use Sunscreen Pills

There are no pills or capsules that you can take to prevent the sun from damaging your skin. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has sent warning letters to several companies illegally marketing and selling pills claiming to prevent skin damage from sunlight.

Antioxidant Pills Can Cause Cancer to Spread

A study from China shows that antioxidant pills caused mice with liver cancer or colon cancer to have their cancers spread rapidly though their bodies. The authors then tested antioxidant pills on cells taken from patients with malignant cancers and grown in test tubes. The antioxidants caused the human cancer cells to grow faster and spread through the cultures. Overall, the conclusion from this and several other cancer studies is that antioxidants can help healthy cells to be protected from free radicals in the body, but they can cause already-developed cancer cells to grow and spread.

Bunions (Hallux Valgus)

A bunion is a bony prominence on the side of the foot, at the base of the big toe joint. This enlargement of the joint, spurring, bump or lump can be aggravated by sports or tight shoes. There is progressive movement of the big toe toward the other toes.

Gut Bacteria and Auto-Immune Diseases

New studies show that two auto-immune diseases, chronic fatigue syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis, may be caused by having pro-inflammatory bacteria in your gut. These bacteria are likely to punch holes in your intestines, which allows bacteria to slip into your bloodstream to cause inflammation.

Avoid Ultra Violet Lamps for COVID-19

Don't put your faith in the many advertisements for ultraviolet light machines making claims that they destroy SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. They have not been shown to be effective, and UV rays strong enough to kill a virus may also damage your skin and eyes.

Colon Cancer, Gut Bacteria and Diet

A diet that is high in either red meat or sugar, or both, increases the growth in the colon of bacteria called Fusobacterium nucleatum that appears to suppress a person's immunity to increase the growth of cancer cells in the colon.

Frostbite

You should never suffer from frostbite: painful freezing that can cause permanent loss of skin, and can be followed by loss of fingers, ears, toes, or even arms and legs. You get plenty of warning before your skin starts to freeze. First your fingers feel cold and then your skin starts to burn or itch.

PPIs May Increase Heart Attack Risk

Researchers at Stanford reviewed the medical records of nearly three million people and found that those who took a type of ulcer medication called Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) were almost 20 percent more likely to suffer heart attacks than those not taking these drugs (PLoS ONE. June 10, 2015). PPIs reduce excess stomach acidity...

Tinea Versicolor

If you notice dark brown or whitish circles on your skin, particularly on your chest or back, you probably have a fungus infection called tinea versicolor. Tinea versicolor is especially noticeable as white spots on your skin when you try to get a suntan. You don't have to treat it as it usually causes no harm...

Colon Cancer May Be Caused by Bacteria

More than 1.3 million North Americans have had colorectal cancer, a disease associated with lifestyle factors that encourage cancer-causing bacteria to thrive in your colon. A new study shows that 992 people who were already diagnosed with colon cancer that had spread beyond the colon, who changed to a healthier diet and exercise program, had a 42 percent lower risk of dying over the next seven years compared to those who did not change their lifestyles.

Foot Odor

Do you know why you should wear socks? It's to keep your feet and shoes from smelling. Foot odor is caused by bacteria or fungi rotting old skin. Your skin turns over every 28 days. A new cell starts on the bottom layer of skin, then another skin cell forms underneath it. The process continues...

Large Doses of Vitamin D Can Be Harmful

Lack of vitamin D can cause weak bones that break easily, bone pain, and muscle weakness, and may increase risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, certain cancers, nerve damage and autoimmune conditions such as multiple sclerosis. However, taking very high doses (>3000 IU/day) of vitamin D can harm you.

Constipation

The most common complaint among older people is constipation. If you have constipation, check with your doctor who often orders thyroid tests and a barium enema to rule out a cancer or other obstruction or diabetic nerve damage. Usually these tests are normal and you need to correct your diet. Eat whole grains and stop eating foods made from white flour.

Body Odor

All people smell when they don't bathe often enough. Sweat doesn't smell when it first reaches your skin. The odor comes only after bacteria or fungi on the skin's surface break down the fat in sweat to form chemicals that smell. Most sweat glands produce sweat that contains no fat, but the sweat glands around the breasts, genitals and armpits produce sweat that contains fat.

Any Amount of Alcohol Increases Cancer Risk

"When it comes to cancer, no amount of alcohol is safe." This is the conclusion of the 2014 World Cancer Report, issued by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer. Alcohol can cause cancers of the esophagus, breast, mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, colon-rectum, liver and pancreas. It is also associated with...

Athlete’s Foot

Athlete's foot is a common fungal infection that causes itching or peeling skin on the feet, especially between the toes. A diagnosis of athlete's foot is made by taking a scraping of skin and looking for fungus under a microscope. If nothing is seen, scrapings of skin are placed in a culture bottle to...

Aging and Risk for Dementia

Dementia means loss of brain function, and your chance of having dementia increases with age. Doctors can now predict increased risk for developing dementia by ordering an MRI which can show decreased volume of grey matter in the brain.

Aspirin to Prevent Colon Cancer?

People who take aspirin are at reduced risk for colon cancer, unless they are among the four percent of North Americans who have a genetic susceptibility for colon cancer (JAMA, March 17, 2015;313(11):1133-1142). Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States (after lung cancer), with 1,162,426 people living...

Flu Shots

It only takes one injection each year to protect you from the flu. The vaccine is very safe and cannot cause disease because it is made from killed virus. The most common side effect is a sore arm from the injection. Some people may suffer a few hours of fever, muscle pain, and chills.

Parkinson’s Disease vs Benign (Essential) Tremors

If you have developed shaking of your hands, you could have Parkinson's disease which is difficult to treat, or Benign Tremors which is usually easy to treat. You are more likely to have the more serious Parkinson's disease if you have the tremor at rest, a slow heart beat, rigid firm muscles, slowness to remember facts, difficulty speaking normally, depression or sleep disturbances.

Exercise Can Help to Treat (and Prevent) Cancer

Exercise is now recommended as part of the treatment for cancer by the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, the American Cancer Society, the Oncology Nursing Society, the Commission on Cancer and the Cancer Foundation for Life.

Lifestyle Changes Do Help to Prevent Cancers and Heart Attacks

In North America, more than 40 percent of cancers and cancer deaths from 26 different cancers are associated with lifestyle factors such as excess weight, a faulty diet or lack of exercise.

What We Have Learned So Far from Eight Months of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Infection with COVID-19 comes primarily from breathing air in indoor spaces where people with the coronavirus have been, and the more virus you breathe in, the more likely you are to become infected.

Nuts Linked to Improved Colon Cancer Outcomes

A 6.5-year-long study followed 826 people who had been diagnosed with colon cancer that had already spread to their lymph nodes and been treated with chemotherapy and radiation. The researchers found that those who ate at least two one-ounce servings of tree nuts per week gained a 42 percent reduced rate of cancer recurrence and and a 57 percent reduced risk for death during the study period.