Doctor’s Tip: Random health tips |

Doctor’s Tip: Random health tips

Dr. Greg Feinsinger
Doctor's Tip

Every now and then, it’s useful to present several short health tips that don’t warrant a whole column of their own:

DIABETES: Nutrition Action is published monthly by the Center For Science in the Public Interest. According to an article in the December issue, slightly more than half of U.S. adults now have either diabetes (15%) or prediabetes (38%). Unfortunately, eight out of 10 people with prediabetes don’t know they have it, which is problematic because prediabetes can cause the same eye, kidney, cardiovascular and nerve problems that often afflict people with full-blown diabetes. The good news is that both diabetes and prediabetes can be prevented and can often be reversed with lifestyle changes. The diabetes drug metformin can be helpful as well.

UTERINE CANCER AND HAIR STRAIGHTENERS: The same issue of Nutrition Action discusses a recent study linking hair straighteners to higher risk of cancer of the endometrium — the lining of the uterus. Earlier studies suggested a link between hair straighteners and a higher risk of ovarian and breast cancer.

COLDS, COVID, AND VITAMIN D: Vitamin D has been touted for many things, including boosting immunity. However, a large study discussed in the same publication showed that Vitamin D did not protect against colds and other viral infections, such as COVID.

ONE MORE REASON TO EXERCISE, KIDNEY HEALTH: Chronic kidney disease can lead to dialysis and  kidney transplant. According to the October issue of the Berkeley Wellness Letter, a recent study showed that exercise helps prevent decrease in kidney function as people age. This is not surprising because kidneys are very vascular organs, and it’s well known that exercise is good for our arteries.

PNEUMONIA SHOT: The pneumococcus bacteria is a common cause of ear infections, pneumonia, meningitis, and serious blood infections in children. In adults, it is the most common cause of bacterial pneumonia, which adults — even young, healthy ones — can still die from. It can also cause meningitis and serious blood infections in adults, both of which can be life-threatening. Pneumococcal infections in both adults and children can prevented by the “pneumonia shot,” which was first developed in the 1980s. The older shots included the PCV 13 (Prevnar 13) and the PPSV23 (Pneumovax 23).

This year, the CDC approved two new, improved “pneumonia shots” — the PVC 15 (Vaxneuvance) and the PVC20 (Prevnar 20). Pneumococcal vaccinations are one of the recommended routine immunizations in early childhood. In adults, everyone age 65 and older is advised to receive “pneumonia shots,” as are younger adults with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma, emphysema, liver disease, cigarette smoking, absence of a spleen, alcoholism, and immuno-compromising conditions. According to the September issue of the Harvard Health Letter, current CDC recommendations are rather complicated, so, if you might be a candidate for the “pneumonia shot,” check the CDC website or your primary care provider, local pharmacy, or Garfield County Public Health office.

SHINGLES VACCINE: Shingles is caused by the chickenpox virus, which can lie dormant in the nervous system and re-appear as a painful rash along a nerve root on one side of the face or body. After the rash goes away, some sufferers end up with chronic pain in the area where the rash was. Facial shingles can cause serious eye damage. The same issue of the Harvard Health Letter notes that people 50 or older should get two doses of the shingles vaccine (Shingrix), two to six months apart. The shots offer 90% protection for at least seven years. Temporary side effects consisting of flu-like symptoms are common for two-three days following the injections but are better than chronic pain or eye damage from shingles. Shingrix vaccine is still recommended if you can’t remember having chicken pox, if you have had shingles or if you had the older version of the shingles shot called Zostavax.

Dr. Feinsinger is a retired family physician with special interest in disease prevention and reversal through nutrition. Free services through Center For Prevention and The People’s Clinic include: one-hour consultations, shop-with-a-doc at Carbondale City Market and cooking classes. Call 970-379-5718 for appointment, or email

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.