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Advocates: Hot Pate

Advocates: Hot Pate


Preventing Melanomas, Alcohol Consumption Linked to Breast Cancer, STD Screenings

Summertime means sunshine, but what price a tan? Wrinkles -- and melanomas.

Now that summer -- and warmer weather -- are thankfully approaching, I was particularly interested in a recent study out of the University of North Carolina that found that people with melanomas on the scalp and neck were twice as likely to die of the cancer as those with melanomas on the face or anywhere else on the body. What this means for you and me is that it's critical that we cover our heads when we're out in the sun -- and this is especially true for anybody with a short haircut (men or women) or a shaved head. Apply sun block and wear a wide-brim hat or baseball cap. If you notice any new moles or older ones that have changed in appearance (size or color), consult your dermatologist.

Curse of the Drinking LassAlcohol consumption linked to breast cancer in womenHere's something to think about before you celebrate that next softball win: A recent study of more than 1 million women found that alcohol consumption increases the risk of breast cancer. Researchers at the University of Oxford compared women who had one to two drinks per week with women who drank more. The women were then followed for seven years. The study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, reported that each extra drink per day increased the risk for breast cancer. This evidence is particularly relevant to lesbians when compared to previous reports showing that lesbians under the age of 50 were more likely than heterosexual women to smoke and drink heavily.

Q&A Q : After an extramarital fling I guiltily read that many STDs produce minor or no telltale signs. If I'm trying to be honest with my doctor but also want to be sure I'm keeping my sexual partners safe, what tests should I ask for? Only blood tests, or are there others?

A : comprehensive STD screening should include tests for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, HIV, and HPV. Chlamydia and gonorrhea can be identified through urine samples -- a relief to many who recall the uncomfortable alternative method of urethral swabbing. HIV and syphilis are diagnosed through blood samples, and herpes is diagnosed through blood or culture samples. You should be tested every three to six months, especially if you're meeting partners online. Since you've opened your relationship, it would be prudent to always use a barrier method for protection, including with your partner. I have seen many cases where an individual contracts an STD and then brings it home to his or her partner. It's smart for you to want to be honest with your doctor, but I urge you to be honest with your partner. It's your obligation to protect him or her from disease.

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Dr. Frank Spinelli