Tag Archives: Frederick Jaccarino

Childhood Obesity Starts at Home

by Frederick Jaccarino, MD

Frederick Jaccarino, M.D.

Frederick Jaccarino, M.D.

America’s leaders set national priorities, assign elected and appointed officials to solve specific problems, and work on solutions in order to secure the future of our nation.   The current administration is working on dozens of important issues, and one more which is being spearheaded by the First Lady, Michelle Obama: childhood obesity.

The causes of the childhood obesity epidemic in America today are well known. Diets include “essential nutrients” like chips, tacos, pizzas, burgers, and a rare green item like mint ice cream or avocado dip. Add all these mostly empty calories to an increasingly sedentary lifestyle, and the unsurprising result is obesity and an accelerated aging process in our youth, who often enter their twenties already seriously overweight.

What isn’t visible – but looms as the actual consequence of this trend – is the premature artery clogging, hypertension, and diabetes that is leading to an ever  rising demand for medical treatments and will be a costly burden for society.

Just as when the government joined the medical establishment in the war on tobacco, so too the government has a big stake in the battle against childhood obesity.  And, as with tobacco, the battle is being waged via information and education.

The first lady’s voice reaches beyond America’s shores. However, she will need the aid of other members of government,  like Congress, to levy taxes and fines that will prod us to offer better nutrition for our children.

New York’s Mayor Bloomberg, for one, has taken aim at the obesity problem by making laws discouraging large portions, and other laws to inform customers how many calories are in that bacon-cheeseburger.  Standards defining acceptable limits on fat or sugar content seem to be just what our National Institutes of Health scientists have been working on for years, and the taxes will be “virtuous” since they promote better health and primarily punish only those who choose to ignore the warnings of Michelle Obama and others.

Is it fair or democratic for our government to use fines and taxes to encourage one food choice over another?  The answer is yes, it is fair because society as a whole absorbs the costs of caring for the ill and ailing.  Statistically speaking, the overweight children (not unlike smokers) will use healthcare earlier and more often than their healthier counterparts.

Moustaches and Prostates: A Team

Frederick Jaccarino, M.D.

When considering issues affecting the health of men, the second most vexatious foe, after cardiovascular diseases, is the all-too-common prostate cancer.  Not only does it strike often; it is also the second most frequent cause of cancer death in men. Despite its prominence, and despite millions of dollars spent on prostate research, there remains a lot of controversy about how to screen for the illness, how to diagnose it, and when and how to treat prostate cancer.

September is prostate cancer awareness, for when the lay press reported  some of the new perspectives we now entertain on the subject.  The prehospital professionals serving the Westerly/Stonington region are currently raising donations for prostate research thru their Movember @ Sons moustache campaign. Consider supporting both worthy causes; the ambulance teams and prostate cancer research.

Why would a man NOT want or need to know if he has prostate cancer? A generation ago the answer was simple; early detection and early intervention seemed to make sense. Most prostate cancers grow and spread so slowly that if you did nothing about them they would never result in symptoms or affect longevity.  So a 50-year-old with a typical prostate cancer would be better off worrying about his blood pressure and other cardiovascular risk factors than his cancer; the cancer won’t hurt him. He probably would be better off not even knowing he was carrying this cancer.  Less worry and stress; sign me up!

Consequently, current trends consider the possibility that a man’s life journey may be measurably better if he is unburdened by the awareness he is letting cancer coexist with him, unchallenged.

Radiation, surgery, or hormone therapy each carry risk of complications such as incontinence, impotence, or worse.
The reality is there are different types of prostate cancer (called grades). High grade cancers are aggressive and nasty, so early detection of these ones might save lives.  Unfortunately, to tell if you have a slow lazy tumor or a terrifying killer
requires a piece of the tumor under a microscope.

The experts have decided to recommend screening to begin at an age dictated by the age and genetic risk of the individual patient. Of course, each of us may decide for ourselves when to be screened (a needle and a digit).  Do not count on symptoms to guide you, as most symptoms develop late, so they become the albatross heralding a lost gamble.

So, if you’re an adult male, go discuss the issue with your doctor.