DEAR DR. ROACH: I am a 24-year-old woman. My mother had ductal carcinoma in situ in her mid-40s, successfully treated with surgery and radiation. One of my paternal aunts survived a malignant breast cancer. Am I considered high risk for breast cancer? I know my mom's cancer increases my risk, but does DCIS increase the risk level as much as a ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I have a question in terms of people who are addicted to smoking cigarettes. How come there aren't any rehabs for people addicted to cigarettes? I heard trying to quit smoking is much harder and more difficult than quitting heroin. Any ideas? -- C.A.M.
ANSWER: Tobacco smoking is incredibly difficult to quit. Many tobacco users ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I've been taking levothyroxine for 30 years. I take my daily dosage at about 4 a.m. and eat breakfast at 6:30, more or less. I usually have the same breakfast: rolled oats with some flax meal, blueberries, pea milk and half a banana. I just read an article in the newspaper that says I should wait four hours before eating any ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: Is COVID-19 infection a cause of heart block? I recently had a complete heart block, tested positive in the ER for COVID-19 (symptomless and post-vaccine), and was fitted with a permanent pacemaker. I'm 63, female, in good health except for a luckily nonsevere, 10-year diagnosis of Sjogren's syndrome.
My cardiologist doesn't ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I am a healthy 79-year-old female who recently underwent a right total knee arthroplasty. In a routine post-operative X-ray there was indication of early osteopenia in my long bones. I live in Montana and walk regularly during the summer months, but during winter it is more difficult. I have an exercise bike and can change the ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I am a healthy 63-year-old woman. My 29-year-old niece was just diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. She discovered that she carries a mutation of her CHEK2 gene. Her father, who is my brother, also has the gene. Should I get tested for the gene and should my children be tested? What can you tell me about the CHEK2 gene? -- D...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I am an active 72-year-old male in good health. I do, however, suffer from arthritis in my left ankle, the result of a broken bone while playing football in high school. When the pain flares, I take an Aleve, and it provides quick and nearly total relief. I have read that the excessive use of Aleve can result in kidney damage. My...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I suffer from frequent allergic sneezing and coughing. Every day I seem to sneeze and sniffle. A daily Zyrtec controls the symptoms, but I am reluctant to take it daily as I understand it is an anticholinergic and continual use can have cognitive effects and cause other issues. I also have friends who use ipratropium every day ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I have had slightly elevated glucose levels (104-109) for several years. I found a dietary supplement of cinnamon, vitamin D and chromium. I took the directed amount for a period of time and had a glucose test of 61. I don't know if it was a fluke or not. A recent A1C test came in at 5.9%. I backed off that dosage and now take ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I have been prediabetic for around 13 years and had been able to keep it that way though diet and exercise -- no medications for it. But the real issue now is that I have developed congestive heart failure, which probably sounds worse than it really is. However, the medications I have been given for it (Lasix, spironolactone, ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: My 86-year-old mother has swollen ankles. Usually, her ankles will swell only in the summertime, but this year they have not deflated. A blood test this year indicated that she had low sodium, so her cardiologist told her to reduce her water/fluid intake and increase her salt intake (by drinking V-8 juice). She is on three blood ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: Since I suffer from age-associated cognitive impairment, I read with interest an advertisement that claims that this condition may be caused by fish oil, which I have been taking regularly for many years. That ad says that "a highly-acclaimed MD" states that today's low-grade supermarket fish oil is causing the surge in America's...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I switched from drinking caffeinated coffee to Swiss water process decaffeinated coffee about two years ago. The reason I switched to decaf is that I was experiencing dizziness when I would get out of bed at night to use the restroom. The dizziness lasted for only a few seconds, but it was unsettling. My doctor suggested ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I am an 85-year-old male. I walk a mile every day, have a pacemaker and hearing aids, and use a CPAP machine. All in all, I feel pretty good, but there is something that bothers me and my doctor has no answer. Several times a day, or at night in bed, with no consistency, I get hot flashes and a cold sweat, starting at my head and...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I have high blood pressure, and I hope that you can advise me. For 10 years, I have suffered with terrible leg cramps in one or both calves. I visited numerous doctors in order to learn what the cause was. Not one practitioner questioned the blood pressure medicine that I had been taking: amlodipine. My research showed that in ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I am 77 years old and have a quite enlarged prostate, according to my doctor. Often, an hour or so after I drink a cup of coffee, I'll feel like I have to urinate. If I'm in the middle of doing something trivial and try to put it off, it will become more and more urgent to the point where I will start to leak. Once I start to ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: Would it be reasonable for me to ask the tech to aspirate the plunger when I go for a vaccine? I understand that the veins in the shoulder are rarely accessible to an IM needle, but still, I would not mind the extra 5 to 10 seconds of discomfort while the tech looks to see if blood has appeared because the needle is in a vein. ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: Recently, I've noted within the medical community a dramatic increase in resistance to prescribing opioids and benzodiazepines at the same time. I have been taking one 0.5 mg clonazepam at night for insomnia and one, or at the most two, 5 mg Percocet per day for pain as needed. Since the Percocet is "as needed," I've probably ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: When should a person have cataract surgery, and can you ever have them removed? I am concerned, as I am a 65-year-old male with cataracts. Can glasses be prescribed so I never need surgery? I ask because I know people who had surgery and had a special lens put in (may I add, not covered by insurance) and did well at first then ...Read more
DEAR DR. ROACH: I am a 65-year-old man in good health. In March 2021 I received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. I understand I am eligible to receive a booster. I also understand that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says I may receive any of the three vaccines, but that they do not recommend one over the other.
I am torn on which ...Read more