Vital medical tips

B wise, B safe

Vitamin B is one of the most essential vitamins our body needs, but excess of this vitamin is unhealthy. Many food items in the market are fortified with Vitamin B, and some people who take a one-a-day multivitamin/minerals pill which already contains vitamin B and take added vitamin B supplements are overdosing on B. This could lead to obesity or difficulty in losing weight for those who are overweight, skin blemishes, nerve damage, kidney issues, etc.

The B-complex (8 of them) include B-1 to B-12 (there are no B-4, B-8, B-10 and B-11).  Their names are thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, biotin, folic acid and cobalamin.

The kidneys normally filter out excess vitamins, but they could only do this to a certain level, and kidneys of individuals vary in efficiency. The best is to B careful and B well-informed, not only about B vitamin but about all other vitamins, including minerals.

The formulation of most one-a-day multivitamins/mineral pills meets the daily requirements for most people. Read the label or Google them, or check with your healthcare provider. For those diagnosed with specific deficiencies or extra needs, the attending physician would prescribe accordingly.

Liquid candy: a toxic drink

            All varieties of soft drinks, cola or uncola, regular or diet, caffeine-free or not, are all toxic to our body. Phosphoric acid is a major component of cola drinks, and citric acid, of the uncolas. Carbonated water provides the carbonic acid in soft drinks. Phosphoric acid is used to flush out car engines and for cleaning toilet bowls. It dissolves calcium, as it does in our body as we consume soft drinks adversely affecting our bones and teeth. The caramel coloring for coke is a contaminant from 4-methylimidazole, a carcinogen to humans, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer. And so with the artificial sweeteners in diet drinks. All soft drinks are unhealthy for everyone, especially for children. They increase the risk for dental carries, osteoporosis, arthritis, metabolic syndrome, obesity, heart attack, and stroke in the long run.

Unlike cyanide poison, which kills instantly, soft drinks do it softly and slowly, the reason people don’t care…until the disaster hits.

Obesity kills

                This is another subtle killer. Obesity (mostly from eating too much, exercising too little or not at all….some due to genetic defect). The following health problems are more common among those who are overweight or obese: High blood pressure, diabetes T2, heart disease, sleep apnea, stroke, osteoporosis, increased blood pressure and Caesarian rate (toxic pregnancy) among obese mothers, kidney disease, fatty liver, and some cancers. Those who are overweight or obese also have higher mortality risk for surgeries and, in general, less healthier and have shorter longevity. Besides whatever strategy one is using to maintain normal weight, there is one simple common sense technique my wife, Farida, and I learned from our famous professor in medical school, the internationally renowned Filipina Pediatrician, the late Dr. Fe Primitiva del Mundo, which is safest, most effective, and cheapest: “Push yourself away from the table less than full.” As far as I can remember, she always appeared to be no more than 110 pounds.

To digress a bit: This amazing icon was treating patient up to age 94 on her wheelchair, and died August 6, 2011, two months shy of 100. She was the first woman admitted to Harvard Medical School in 1936, founder of the first pediatric hospital in the Philippines, and the inventor of the Bamboo Baby Incubator for rural areas without electricity. She was honored with the Lakandula Award and the Ramon Magsaysay Award (Philippine equivalent of the Nobel Prize).

The basic principle in weight maintenance is caloric intake must be equal to caloric output via exercise, etc. If food intake is more than exercise, the result is obvious. So, I strongly recommend we all push ourselves away from the table less than full. A bit hungry is healthier. And drinking water can fill in the gap, making the kidneys happy too.

Hot multi grain cereals

I have been eating old-fashioned Quaker Oats since I was a kid and just switched to Bob’s Red Mill 5-grain rolled hot cereals (whole grain oats, barley, rye, wheat, triticale, and flaxseed) last year. Having multigrain cereal with berries and nuts for breakfast and snacks, instead of rice or bread and bacon, ham, or sausages, is healthier. The rice flake and corn flake cereals contain too much sugar which is not good for us, especially for children. For cold cereals, those made of barley, oats, millet, quinoa, are best. Also, watch out for unhealthy fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, and additives. Always read the food labels. For me, nothing beats hot multi-grain cereals. They also maintain a healthier gastrointestinal microbiome for better metabolism, boosting our immune system, and lowering our risk for cardiovascular illnesses and cancer.

Red meat and pancreatic cancer

            Worldwide, there were 460,000 cases of pancreatic cancer, highest in Hungary. In the United States, 55,440 adults have been diagnosed to have this malignancy. Incidence appears to be 25 percent higher among black than white. Because of its anatomical location, pancreatic is hard to diagnose. Among those diagnosed early (10 percent of them) where the pancreatic cancer is removable, the 5-year survival rate is 32 percent, 12 percent if it has spread to the surrounding tissues, and 3 percent after it has already metastasized to distant parts of the body.

A New study reveals that eating processed meats like bacon and sausage (or red meat in general) increases the risk for the development of cancer of the pancreas by 29 percent, compared to those who do not eat them. Nitrosamines as food additives and N-nitroso compounds in cigarettes catapults the risk for pancreatic cancer, while diets free of red meat and high in vegetables and fruits lower the risk.

Cooking meats on a grill, pan, or broiler at high temperature produces heterocyclic amines (HAs), which are carcinogens (cancer-causing substances). Even frying meats at over 300 F increases cancer risk. Barbeque fumes resulting from oil drips from the meat down to the coal fire below produces polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which is also a toxic chemical. Using charcoal is worse than propane. The black burned parts of the meat are also suspected to be carcinogenic. It is best to scrape or cut off those burned parts. The use of the new copper-color grill liners could help prevent oil from dripping onto the fire below. Better still is to limit or avoid eating red meats. Life is precious.

Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, a Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus based in Northwest Indiana and Las Vegas, Nevada, is an international medical lecturer/author, and Chairman of the Filipino United Network-USA, a 501(c)3 humanitarian foundation in the United States. Websites: and   Email: [email protected]