Let’s answer some questions from readers:
What’s the word on coffee and aspirin? Yes or no?
Dave From Cleveland Heights
Dr. Roizen: Yes and Yes. Eighty-two percent to 88% of Americans are fast metabolizers of coffee. The remainder get headaches and gastric upset if they have more than one cup in an hour. Caffeine lasts in the system too long for these people and stimulates badness. No for them.
But yes for the other 82% to 88%. The caffeine in coffee is good for preventing cancer and good for preventing and/or managing Type 2 diabetes and low energy. We think the polyphenols in the color provides half the benefits, so if you don’t tolerate coffee, drink black tea.
Aspirin has side effects, but if you take it reliably, one 81 milligram in the morning and one in the evening, and with half a glass of warm water before and after, do not do extreme sports, it has a strong benefit. In the recent trials, those who took it decreased cardiovascular events by 47% and decreased breast cancer and nine other cancer rates including colon cancer by more than 18%, and decreased dementia and Parkinson’s disease rates by more than 20%.
My grandmother passed away from breast cancer, but I have not been tested for the BRCA gene. I have two young children. Should I be tested for BRCA or other cancer genes?
Maria from Beachwood
Dr. Roizen: Maybe, but I really can’t tell from the information you provided. Gene testing for breast cancer risk is thought appropriate if you are or have a family history of: known immediate family history of BRCA mutation or a breast cancer gene; an immediate family history of breast cancer before age 50; an immediate family history of ovarian cancer; two or more close relatives with breast and/or ovarian or breast cancer; close relative with breast, ovarian, pancreatic, or prostate cancer and you are of Ashkenazi descent; personal history of premenopausal breast cancer and Ashkenazi descent, or breast cancer in a close male relative.
If you have any of these, make an appointment with a genetic counselor at one of Cleveland’s medical centers. And yes, no matter what the test results, there are choices you can make to decrease the risk of cancer.
If you have a question, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Michael Roizen writes about wellness for the Cleveland Jewish News. He is chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic.