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Thursday, Jul 24, 2014
Dr. OZ

Surprising body checks can protect your health


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In hockey, a body check happens when one player attempts to separate another player from the hockey puck. This usually involves high-speed shoulder-to-chest contact. But off the ice, a body check can help you skate through life with a lot less bruising. Here are three that can deliver big news about your health.

♦ Check your tongue. A bright-red, inflamed tongue could indicate a vitamin B-12 deficiency. Lesions (white, blue and smooth) can signal oral cancer. A white coating could mean you’re breeding nasty bacteria. Ulcers (viral or bacterial) may pop up from chronic stress.

Smart moves: Get a blood test to check your vitamin B-12 level. Have your dentist check for signs of oral cancer at your twice a year (or more) cleaning. Brush your tongue whenever you brush your teeth, and say “Om”!

♦ Check your nails. Split nails could mean deficiencies in biotin, B-12 and vitamin C. Yellowing can indicate fungal infection. Rippled nails may signal inflammatory arthritis or psoriasis. Brittle nails can signal hypo- or hyperthyroid conditions. Changes in nail shape can be triggered by fungus or may indicate heart problems.

Smart moves: Don’t ignore nail changes; go to your doc for a checkup.

♦ Check your ears. Do you hear ringing? You may have a neurological condition called tinnitus or simply need your ear wax cleaned out. Ringing ears with dizziness? That could signal Meniere’s disease, associated with fluid retention in the inner ear.

Smart moves: Don’t postpone diagnosis; there are treatments that can ease and even eradicate symptoms.

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When Angelina Jolie discovered she had the genetic mutation BRCA-1, she was told she had an 87 percent chance of developing breast cancer. She then decided to have a double mastectomy. But her genetic red flag — along with BRCA-2 — isn’t just a marker for increased breast cancer risk; it’s also a risk factor for hard-to-spot ovarian cancer. Around 39 percent of women with BRCA-1 and 11 percent to 17 percent of those with BRCA-2 will develop ovarian cancer by age 70.

Now, a new study reveals that if you’re BRCA-positive and have your ovaries removed before age 35, you slash your risk of ovarian cancer by 80 percent. So, if you’re a young woman planning on having children and have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, discuss genetic testing with your doc. And if you’re BRCA positive, you may want to step up your childbearing timetable.

If you have your ovaries removed before age 35, you’ll experience premature menopause. But you can control or avoid menopause symptoms.

♦ Cool hot flashes and sweats with physical activity. We love walking (aim for 10,000 steps daily) or enjoy cycling, swimming and jogging (one minute of these activities equals 100 steps).

♦ If you’re overweight, to ease hot flashes and sleep disruption, lose 10 percent of your weight. How? Eat nine servings of fruits and veggies daily; avoid red meat; and eat skinless poultry and omega-3-rich fish, such as salmon and sea trout.

♦ Ask your doc about taking two low-dose aspirins a day and, if symptoms become unbearable, ask about hormone therapy.

Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.

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