Medical pearls


Strategy to sleep better

To a significant number of people, the COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected their sleep, aggravating what is already an impaired activity for many. Sleep, “recharging our low-bat” is vital to health and longevity.

Statistics reveal that over 100 million people in the United States do not regularly get a good night’s sleep, and that about another 33 million have occasional sleepless nights. Sleep is very important for a healthy body and mind. Lack of restful sleep also increases the risk for accidents, poor job performance, cardiovascular illnesses and even cancer. Adults need 8 full hours of sleep and teenagers about 9-10 hours. Some helpful tips from the Mayo Clinic Sleep Disorder Center: (1) Stick to a schedule; don’t sleep late on weekends; (2) Don’t eat or dink a lot before bedtime; (3) Avoid caffeine and nicotine; (4) Exercise in the afternoon; (5) Slightly cool room is ideal for sleep; (6) Sleep only at night; don’t take afternoon naps; (7) Keep the bedroom dark and quiet, since darkness and silence is more conducive to sleep; (8) Make your bed comfortable; (9) Take a hot shower or bath before going to bed; and, (10) Do NOT rely on sleeping pills.

If all these do not provide a restful sleep, a Sleep Study may be needed to rule in or out Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), which is amazingly treatable with CPAP therapy, practically 100 percent effective.

Breast cancer risks

Some of the important risk factors include: smoking; having a mother, sister or daughter with history of having breast cancer; having a first birth at age 30 or older; having had previous breast cancer; having breast diseases that predispose to breast cancer; laboratory evidence of a specific genetic mutation or change that increases the susceptibility to breast cancer. In the USA, about 180,000 new cases of breast cancer was diagnosed in 1997. The risk increases with age. About 80% of breast cancer occur in women 50 and older.  It is uncommon under 40 but the risk is especially high among women who are over the age 60.  Regular medical breast examination and mammography (yearly or every two years depending on your physician’s advice) will help a lot in early detection and cure.

Jogging not better than walking

In the 60s and 70s, jogging was considered the best form of exercise  to attain physical fitness. We have enough medical information today to show that jogging has many attendants injuries, to the hip joints, ankle joints, back, etc. from the constant jarring.  From regular ambulation to brisk walking, depending on the ability and tolerance of the individual, is now preferred form of physical exercise for cardiovascular fitness. Walking confers the same benefits, minus the injuries seen among joggers.  Check with your physician before embarking on an exercise regimen.

Harmful herbal products

Most herbal products have not been scientifically investigated the same way all western drugs on the market have been studied and tested.  Not all herbal medicines are dangerous but a few have been shown to cause kidney failure, liver failure, cancer, clot blockages in the kidney veins, seizures, etc. Some of them have caused deaths. Not too long ago a Chinese herb known as Aristolochia fangchi or A. fangchi was linked to kidney failure and urinary cancer. This herb is used in Chinese medicine to treat asthma. A. fangchi is also an ingredient in a Belgian weight-loss formulation, where the linkage was discovered. This was not the first time where herbal medicines have caused severe, if not fatal, complications. The problem is that these herbal products are marketed as food supplements, thereby escaping the strict scientific scrutiny and testing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration routinely subject all drugs submitted for FDA approval before they are sold to the public. Hundreds of herbal preparations flood the market with medically unfounded and ridiculous claims (with money-back guarantee) as effective agents for practically all diseases known to man, weight reduction, sexual potency, anti-aging, enlarging female breasts, or penis, etc. Unfortunately, there are enough victims out there who are willing to part with their money, falling prey to the unscrupulous entrepreneurs of this multi-billion dollar industry.

Vegan diet

Vegans (pronounced VEE-guns) are vegetarians, people who do not eat meat or meat products, poultry or fish. Their diet consists mainly of plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits grains, legumes (peas and beans), nuts and seeds. This might be carrying it a bit too far. For a healthy meatless (no pork, no beef) diet, we suggest the addition of fish, which has Omega-3 oil that is good for the heart, and daily multivitamin-mineral complex.  Those who do not eat red meat (pork and beef, etc.) and eggs, whose diet includes only fish, vegetables and fruits, have been found to have 50% lower death rates from cardiovascular diseases, and 25% to 50% lower death rates from cancer.

M-D-Vax: Life savers!

It is most unfortunate that the medical preventive strategies (masking and distancing) have been transformed into a political football, bouncing around, taking science out of this medical killer, confusing people. The facts: (1) COVID-19 is deadly, killing more than 3.3 million; (2) Masks, distancing, hygiene have been proven to work; (3) vaccines have been proven to be effective, safe, and a lifesaver, with a fraction of one percent deaths in the almost 2 billion administered around the world. The risk/benefit ratio is clear: (COVID-19 is more than 600 percent more deadly than the side-effect (0.0017 percent) of the vaccines. The benefit of vaccination is now becoming very obvious, with the pandemic ebbing, nearly controlled. So, why risk your life? Go get the vaccines soonest, if you have not. Since there is still at least 5 percent risk after the vaccines, continue masking and distancing to help protect you from COVID-19 infection and from the other more severe strains of the virus. Follow science and not fake social media or politics! Freedom Day comes only after we achieve herd immunity. Life, as I always say, is precious. And we’ve got only one, no spare. Don’t gamble it away!

Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, a Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus based in Northwest Indiana and Las Vegas, Nevada, is an international medical lecturer/author, a Health Public Advocate, and Chairman of the Filipino United Network-USA, a 501(c)3 humanitarian and anti-graft foundation in the United States. Visit our websites: and    Email: