Insider Tips From Medical Specialists
What your doctor doesn’t have time to tell you in an all-too-brief appointment.
The Oncologist Says
Edward T. Creagan, a professor of medical oncology at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, in Rochester, Minnesota
- Turn down the grill. When meat is charred at a high temperature, amino acids in the meat break down and form carcinogens. “Lower the flame or move the rack up higher,” says Creagan. Cooking may take longer, but you’ll avoid the risks.
- Adopt a furry friend. Spending time with an animal produces endorphins (which can enhance immunity) and the hormone oxytocin (which fosters a sense of well-being) and decreases the stress hormone cortisol, says Creagan.
- Have a European lunch. You know how Italians linger over meals? It may not be their intention, but that leisurely repast keeps them out of the sun during the peak times for sun damage, which can lead to skin cancer. At the very least, try to limit outdoor activities when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
The Gynecologist Says
Mary Jane Minkin, a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Yale University School of Medicine
- Don’t play doctor. If you think you have a yeast infection, there’s little harm in doing one round of a drugstore treatment (like Monistat), but if the symptoms don’t clear up, consult your doctor. “Two-thirds of the time, it’s a simple irritation or a bacterial infection, not a yeast infection,” says Minkin.
- Reconsider the Pill. “The benefits often outweigh the downsides,” says Minkin. Birth-control pills have been shown to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer by about 35 to 50 percent (and early-warning symptoms for this deadly disease are hard to spot).
- Take a bathroom break. Urinating after intercourse will help flush out bacteria before they have a chance to cause a urinary-tract infection. Also, a glass of cranberry juice every day can help keep bacteria from binding to the bladder walls.
The Dentist Says
Jennifer Jablow, a cosmetic dentist in New York City
- Eat your antioxidants. The teeth and gums are made up of collagen, and foods containing antioxidants, like blueberries and broccoli, help protect them from inflammation.
- Limit lemons. It’s fine to sip some lemon-spiked water on occasion, but don’t overdo it, and never suck on lemons. The high acid content of lemon juice can wear away tooth enamel.
- Soften up. “Hard-bristle brushes can abrade tooth enamel and cause gum recession,” says Jablow. Consider the newer soft-bristle electric ones, which alert you when you brush too hard.