Ten ways to give yourself cancer – Dr. David Hepburn

A recent article I wrote recommending the top ten things you could do to acquire a heart attack generated a plethora of mail, and I do enjoy an occasional plethora. For example:

An interesting article, as in the Chinese curse “may your life be interesting.”” Wing Chow

Shing hoa chou bein mein wong shang sweet and sour.”  Sean McElgunn

We are upset that you have given the heart attack prime time as we think people would really prefer to know the best ways to get cancer.” Canadian Cancer Society

You are an idiot!” Rosemary Hepburn   “But you’re still my only son.”

Dr. David Hepburn
Dr. David Hepburn

And so, in order to give cancer equal time, here are my top ten recommended ways to get cancer. I include modifiable risks only as, though genetics plays a significant role in many cancers, it is a little awkward to go to the stork station and request a new set of parents because they usually say “Sorry Dave but this is the 62nd time you’ve asked us this month.” But as more than 30% of all cancers are self-induced, there is plenty you can do by yourself. Cancer is a growth industry, with 8 million deaths each year globally, projected to increase to 12 million by 2030.  If you don’t want miss out on the trend here’s what you can do.

  1. Tobacco: be it ingested by smoking, snorting, the attractive chewing or in an enema, be it 1st, 2nd or even 3rd hand, be it mild, moderate or severe, be it in a pipe, a puff, a paper or a pinch, tobacco is far and away your single best bet for getting a tumour or two or twenty.
  2. Alcohol: Fire back two drinks of alcohol or more per day. Alcohol not only boosts your serum boorish levels, but it can boost your chances for melanoma, stomach, breast, colorectal, liver, mouth and throat and oddly even lung cancer.
  3. HPV: This contagious virus is not only responsible for those sweet genital warts but HPV, particularly when combined with smoking really enhances your cancer chances. The combination of the two not only increases your likelihood of developing cervical cancer by a whopping 15 times, but also causes fatal squamous cell cancers of the head and neck. And if you don’t have a cervix and are currently lacking a head or neck, you can enhance your risk of getting liver and lymphoma cancers by getting the Hepatitis C or even B virus.
  4. Obesity: Yes, that is a lot of a lot of us. So crank that spare tire up to say a spare walrus and increase your chances of getting: breast, colon, kidney, uterine, esophageal and prostate cancers.
  5. Sedentariness: Couch potato-itis not only helps your walrus develop, but if you’re skinny and just can’t get fat, then being a happy slug might help you snag pancreatic, breast, colon or uterine cancers. Exercising not only scares away tumours but it gets your clothes sweaty.
  6. PAHs and HCAs: Do not ignore the effects of burnt barbequed beef giving us those crunchy carcinogenic PAH’s and HCAs. And while you’re sweating over the barbie, light up a cigar. Bulls Eye.
  7. Ditch the D: Indications are that colorectal and breast cancer may be associated with low Vitamin D levels. No more Vitamin Dave.
  8. Diabetes (primarily type 2): is associated with an increased risk of some cancers (liver, pancreas, endometrium, colon/rectum, breast, and bladder). Oddly diabetes is associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer. Sweet!
  9. Quit vegetables:  Stop eating your vegetables and fruit and dig right into those saturated fats. Wrap your hotdog up with salami and bacon. Barbeque them until extra crispy for added potential.
  10. Expose yourself: Get a job that exposes you to difficult to spell chemicals or even radiation. Inhale copious amounts of asbestos, benzene, pesticides or solvents. This can be done alone or with the rest of the band.

And should all of that fail then try these: avoid your pap smears, load up on the sun, practice unsafe sex, demand X-rays and CT scans for every sniffle. And if you need more ideas, heck, I have a plethora.

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Erectile Diss-function by Dr. Dave Hepburn

I am not a big curling fan. Not that I don’t like it, I just don’t spend many hours in front of the Toshiba hanging on every “Hurry hard!” But when the Olympics come and Canada is curling, get out of my way. “Sorry Bloggins but we’ll resume those cardiac compressions after this end because we are all tied up with Slovenia.” Yes, every four years I become a hog line hog.

I have also been a Maple Leafs fan forever even though I don’t live in Toronto, never have, don’t want to, dislike the town. But my dad used to sit me on his knee when he wasn’t bending me over it, and we would cheer on Norm Ullman, Dave Keon and Red Kelly. He would yell things like “Shoot it Armstrong!” or “Get up Bower” or “Get off my knee David, you’re 17 years old!”

Toronto, Maple Leafs - Dr. David Hepburn
Toronto, Maple Leafs – Dr. David Hepburn

There are plenty of us jingoistic curling fans and plenty of us wallowing in Leaf Nation. Believe it or not this is actually good for our health. Scientists have shown that fans who feel personally invested in a team or, better yet, who attend games and cheer along with like-minded fans, reap the mental health benefits that come from a feeling of social connectedness. This phenomena is known as “reflected glory.” In the case of the Leafs this phenomena is known amongst scientists as “friggin’ misery loves company.”

Sharing a common allegiance with others, be it the Cubs, Conservatives or Catholics, bonds people together in a special way. We can relate to others who share fanship or churchship and feel a camaraderie with these fellow hooligans. Friends pick a bar or a chapel to meet up in, have a beer and celebrate friendships made because of the sport or doctrine itself.

And being a fanatic fan feels even better when the team wins. Now we’re really reveling in reflected glory. Whether your Canucks lay a licking on the Coyotes or your Methodists lay a licking on the Moonies, your reward system is flooded.

The ‘basking in reflected glory’ notion states that people can elevate their self-esteem in the eyes of themselves and others by their association with successful others. Because the team’s success reflects positively on its fans, sports fans feel better about themselves when their team does well.

In one study ardent fans of Indiana University’s basketball team were shown pictures of attractive members of the opposite sex and asked them to rate their ability to get a date with them. After their team won, both men and women who were devoted fans, even if they looked like Larry Bird, were more optimistic about their likelihood of scoring a date. They also had a higher opinion of their ability to do well at tasks such as throwing darts, shooting free throws, solving word games and even rolling dice.

Another study found testosterone levels in men rise after a victory and fall after a defeat. Researchers took saliva samples from Italian and Brazilian fans in sports bars before and after the two teams played one another in the 1994 World Cup. After the Brazilians won, the testosterone levels of their fans rose more than 20 percent, while the Italian fans’ levels dropped more than 20 percent and their mustaches thinned right out. Same was true of the men. Fans have a strong sense of personal investment in teams they’re following. Sometimes that investment is rewarded and other times it acts like my stock portfolio.

Soccer Fans- Dr. David Hepburn
Fans in a soccer match – Dr. David Hepburn

After a big loss, don’t approach your man looking for a little lovin’ as not only may his libido drop but so too can his manhood. Defeat may lead to ED. (If he yells “Hurry hard!” only every four years, please have him see a doctor.) Though reflected glory explains why the stands are full for winning teams, it doesn’t explain diehard fanship, or people who stick by their team even after lengthy losing streaks aka “The Leaf Experience.” Fans take a pride in their loyalty, and see suffering through failure as a badge of honor. Doing so makes the euphoria of a win even more dopamine rewarding. For many fans, whether it is of the Penguins or the Presbyterians, being a fan is also part of a family’s identity, a tradition passed down from generation to generation. Your great great grandparents may in fact choose your church, foster your fandom and even brainwash your ballot.

So root root root for the home team and flood flood flood your synapses with dopamine, your blood stream with testosterone and your skin with goosebumps. Live and relive those reflected glory days, even if it was a half century ago… Leaf Nation.

Bites from these buggers By Dr. David Hepburn

“What a beauty!” rejoiced the exterminator as he lifted up the fibreglass batting to reveal a steroid soaked spider the size of Saskatoon “We love these guys. A few more of these sweethearts and you’ll have no more problems with carpenter ants in this house!” As thrilled as Mr. Pestilence was to discover that I was breeding Godzillaspiders, I was not particularly placated by the phylum of insect that now dominated my real estate and my frontal lobe. I laid my head on the pillow that night, no longer concerned about my house disintegrating into sawdust but rather plagued with visions of herds of hungry tarantulas burrowing under my silk sheets in search of something tastier than antchops.

It didn’t help when I recalled the fact that the average North American will ingest, while sleeping, three spiders in their lifetime. Since learning of this nocturnal snacking habit, I sleep with one eye open knowing some daredevil spider might pop down my gullet into my stomach where it will spend the night dancing the eight legged cha cha while feasting on jujubes and Denny’s Grand Slam. I’d much prefer that spiders just took a few nibbles at my hide and be done with me.

Black Widow Spider-David-Hepburn
Black Widow Spider -Dr. David Hepburn

SPIDER BITES

Imagine Bernie the Brown Recluse just hanging around the woodpile maybe working on his website or leering over at Black Widow Wanda who has just finished off a nice meal of a beetle or a botfly or a husband. Suddenly a pair of massive human hands reaches in, disturbing this happy arachnid scene and…

“Doc, I think I have a bite of some sort.”

“Looks like a fresh spider bite Bloggins. In fact so fresh that the beast could be on you right now.” At this point a horrified Bloggins usually begins the dance of spider evasion, frantically patting his clothes and hair as he undresses as if his shorts were on fire.

“Will I die?” he pants.

“Yes, one day. But nobody has died of a spider bite in 10 years in North America. So relax. If you were a child and were covered in Black Widow bites then you might have some serious problems requiring antivenim, otherwise just wash the wound well and slap some meat tenderizer on that bite to neutralize the protein.”

Hornet- Dr Dave Hepburn
Hornet- Dr Dave Hepburn

BEES WASPS, HORNETS, YELLOW JACKETS

When Betty Bee is disturbed while cross pollinating her daisies she might get upset and set her stinger deep into your skin. But she that she has a barb attached to her stinger that prevents her from pulling it out of her victim. When she attempts to fly away, the barbed stinger is anchored so solidly to the stingee that it tears Betty Bee’s belly, eviscerating and mortally wounding her. This is why if you listen closely while being stung you will hear “BzzzzOHCRAPbzzz.” Too bad bee, or not to bee.

Wasps on the other hand have no barbs and enjoy stinging you several times. If stung by a bee, carefully scrape off the stinger with a knife or credit card (cost of stingerless sting: priceless). Throw some meat tenderizer and some ice on it. You might also use baking soda and even an aluminum-based deodorant (for perspiration-free bites). A localized swelling at the site of a sting does not mean allergy. But if each sting leads to more intense local reactions, allergies may develop. If a serious allergic reaction occurs it will likely do so within 20 minutes. Eyes and skin will itch, vomiting and labored breathing usually follows. If allergic then carry a dual injection emergency allergy kit at all times or you might be providing the bees with… more daisies.

Do not read this while eating- Dr. David Hepburn

WARNING! You might want to place this article in your “I-Wished-I’d-Dropped-My-iPad-Into-the-Hole-of-One-of-Those-Porta- Potti-Things” file.

I am forever paying attention to the word “transplants.” But this is one time, like accidentally opening Brett Favre’s text message, that I wish I hadn’t paid attention. It isn’t easy to revolt a doctor but this is so utterly repugnant that I really would like you all to share in my nausea, which, frankly, would be a far site better than sharing this particular transplant……feces. Yes, you heard correctly should your wife be reading this to you. She did not misread fleeces or fees please or fleas tease or freeze these or Jersey Shore.

Stool transplant. Not talking about a barstool, though that is probably where your keyster should be drooped over about now having availed yourself of the bar portion at least in order to continue reading about the stool portion.

Clostridium difficile is a bug that we doctors aren’t overly fond of, as opposed to ones we’re more partial to like ladybugs, butterflies and Latoya Jackson. Had we liked this bug we would have named it Clostridium facile or Clostridium Heidi Klum but no, we gave it a name like difficile to reflect the ease of which it is to deal with. A not uncommon colon infection, it has the potential to be diarrhea deadly in those who haven’t got a Prime A immune system. It is an opportunistic bug. Should a prolonged course of antibiotics happen to kill off the “friendly bowel flora” (which btw is a very cool name for a band or a child should you be raised in the wilds of Gabriola), then C. diff can overwhelm the colon kingdom.

C. diff - Dr. Dave Hepburn
C. diff – Dr. Dave Hepburn

Affecting primarily the elderly, this deadly beast is most often caught in hospitals or nursing homes. In fact, the longer your stay in hospital, the higher the risk of developing C. diff.  Cramping diarrhea with recent use of antibiotics (like Cipro), fever, and foul smelling stool (as opposed to the more common lilac/petunia fragrance), is an indication that C. diff has set up shop. Too much of this overgrowth and the body can go into shock. The bowel can even rupture, an event that has been known to ruin lunch at Zellers. Anti-diarrhea drugs can actually make it worse! Currently we treat C diff. with antibiotics, different ones than caused the problem in the first place. But this is not always terribly effective and can be very expensive.

So along comes fecal bacteriotherapy, known in some circles as… kindergarden. It involves infusion of fresh feces from a healthy donor into the hurtin’ bowel in order to reverse the bacterial imbalance responsible for the infection. The best choice for donor is a close relative who has been tested for a wide array of bacterial and parasitic agents and who is excellent at keeping secrets and avoids overindulgence in Lima beans.

Donor stool is collected in the AM and liquefied in your basic orange juice blender. (How about that for a slap chop commercial at a trade show. “ Folks, over here we have umm…well… a blender for your….well…your….poop. Umm…Ok on to the Sham Wow!”) The transplant is done via enemas and/or via an NG tube through the nose, and no… I am not kidding.

A modified form of fecal bacteriotherapy is being developed  which is more effective and easier to administer. A fecal sample, provided by the patient/victim before prolonged antibiotic treatment or hospitalization, is stored in a refrigerator, just behind the Limburger cheese. Should the patient subsequently develop C. difficile the sample is extracted, filtered, freeze dried and then formed into a capsule that can be taken orally with your Fred Flintstones. And just think of how proud if not vindicated the dog will feel as he watches you gulp down a poop pill, the ultimate probiotic.

stool transplant -Dr Dave Hepburn
stool transplant -Dr Dave Hepburn

Now there’s little doubt this treatment has a bit of an image problem, sort of the Kanye West of medicine. But this “transpoosition” may be something that saves your life because even though it is not being done everywhere just yet, it works and it works very well.

And most fascinatingly, some scientists feel that a disturbed gut flora might well be responsible for conditions like Parkinson’s, ulcerative colitis and even obesity. Furthermore, fecal transplant treatment apparently has shown a dramatic improvement in patients with so-called autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis. Very exciting stuff but it’s 2 AM and I’m poop…er…exhausted. So, before your husband or the dog reads this article….head to the Porta Potti.

Game for Life by Dr. David Hepburn

Got lost once in Boys ‘R Pus toystore. Wandered about until I found myself in the board games section and it occurred to me how much the game names resembled my medical practice. CLUE as in you don’t seem to have one, therefore I am going to smack you with this candlestick holder until you quit inserting the birth control pill and take it by mouth. (Yup, this actually happened.)

RISK (aka “We Used to be Friends”) was a favorite of my sons and I back in the days when we were speaking. Health risk assessments are With the help of Framingham or apps calculating Your 10 year risk of a heart attack or stroke can now be calculated by your doctor along with your risk of being stranded in Kamchatka.

MONOPOLY. This game often begins with “Doctor I know you’re extremely busy and I promise I won’t be long but…” whereupon “the list” is pulled out while the wailing room continues to pile up, overflowing into the neighborhood pub where specialists practice. “Oh and since you’re here can you see George too, his prostate has a rattle and….”

Monolopy game- Dr. David Hepburn
Monolopy game- Dr. David Hepburn

CRANIUM. As in those who should go to the store and purchase this gift because they are obviously in need of one. “Give your cranium a shake Bloggings. What were you thinking when you saw the skull and crossbones on that cigarette package and decided it must be something you ingest deeply into your lungs.”

HUNGRY HIPPOS leads to hurtin’ hips, hefty hams and heart hell.

BACKGAMMON. “OK Bloggins, time for that prostate check.” De test men detest is fast

TRIVIAL PURSUIT. Doc I was reading on the internet about the symptoms of the rare Eastern Moldavian Portobello ovarian cysts and I think I might have them.” “Well, frankly Burt I’d be more concerned about your prostate. Lets play Backgammon.”

PICTIONARY. “Let me draw it for you Bloggins. The pizza goes into this here gastric area and then little boats like these transport cholesterol and other fats directly to your buttocks which now looks like this, ohh… I need a blackboard.”

DARTS. Not really a board game but seeing it reminded me of my mother suggesting a game of darts if I played goalie.

HEADBANDS. “My headache is like a band squeezing around my head,” means you have a muscle contraction headache from stress, neck strain or playing goalie at the family dart tournament.

BATTLESHIPS: “No doctor, I’m not taking that medicine and that’s that.” “But your blood pressure is 190 and you’ll stroke if you…” “My mother never took any medication and she was dancing the can can at 93 and..whoa… I can’t…move my arm.” “Whoops, I think you sunk your ship.”

OPERATION: whereby improperly extracting an organ makes the board buzz and the game goes dead. In my OR improperly extracting an organ makes the lawyers buzz and the game goes dead.

TWISTER: “It started out as an innocent game doc but now I have these, well… lesions.” Scrumpox (seen in rugby players) is one of several transmissible skin on skin diseases contracted when men rub their upper cheeks against the lower cheeks of other men.

Twister - Dr David Hepburn
Twister – Dr David Hepburn

DOMINOES: Pizza paunch leads to metabolic syndrome. Once one thing hits the tipping point the cascade begins and the rest fall soon after. Starts with abdominal fat, then sugars, then blood pressure, then cholesterol… then you.

BALLOON LAGOON: Plastic Surgery reminds you to take care of your sweaters.

SNAKES AND BLADDERS: Urology reminds you to take care of your wetters.

CHECKERS: This in fact is what we as doctors do all freakin’ day. “Doc I think my hornswaggles are affecting my crockinoles. Could you check ‘er out?”

CHINESE CHECKERS: Hen gao xing ren shi ni hornswaggles.

Sorry Sir but you’re going to have leave the store now. And could you please close up all those ….boxes.

Nit picking – Dr. David Hepburn

Whilst strolling about on the Kenya coast just south of Mombasa, my wife and I found ourselves having to constantly negotiate by, if not negotiate with, a large troop of baboons squatting just outside our lodge. Knowing that these boons could get nasty at any moment should we ridicule them or discuss the colour of their keysters, we decided to get to know these boons and, in fact, sort of adopted them, given their uncanny resemblance to my non-adopted sons.

Like all good boon parents we gave them proper Christian names: Debbie Boon, Daniel Boon, Pat Boon and even Barbara “Babs” Boon or just Snooki. Prior to passing the troop I had to jettison any bananas I kept in my pocket (do not extrapolate this) to hand feed the eager Vervets or Sykes monkeys we happened upon. Hand feeding a baboon would likely have meant just that, the banana simply an appetizer. But between demonstrating their fangly fangs and strutting about with their boon butts high in the air, they sat and most patiently and lovingly picked lice and nits off of each other.

Baboons- Dr. Dave Hepburn
Baboons- Dr. Dave Hepburn

This social grooming seemed so genteel that soon my wife was combing through my chest hair looking for something to chew, where, other than remnants of Coco Puffs and an occasional bratwurst, she found very few lice…. and so ordered out. But to many, having lice are a way of life, particularly if you are a louse.

And so, fellow primates, here are the facts of lice.

  • Manual nit picking is a necessary part of any lice treatment program. Pediculocides are not 100% effective so you MUST nit pick with a fine tooth comb or perhaps simply get married where you will be readily nit picked bald as a mole rat embryo.
  • A hatched nit needs a human blood meal within 45 minutes to survive. So should you hear a celebration in the nape of your neck, meaning all the lady lice are enjoying a baby shower, I suggest that you cut off the blood supply to your head, much like the cast of Jersey Shore does.
  • Many schools have a no nit policy meaning that if you have nits you don’t come to school. One of my sons would get little grains of rice and glue them to his hair and so missed Grade 6 entirely and, like the cast of Jersey Shore, most of Grades 7 thru 12 which is why he’s now running in the upcoming election.
  • The pubic or crab louse is a parasitic insect which spends its entire life on human genitals, sort of like the cast of Jersey Shore. They can also be found in hair, on the abdomen and under the armpits as well as on the beard and mustache. Men too can get lice. In children they are usually found in eye-lashes or eyebrows.
  • A pubic louse resembles a miniature crab when viewed through a strong magnifying glass. They look quite a bit different than head lice which look more like Wayne Newton.
Head Infested With Louse- Dr. Dave Hepburn
Head Infested With Louse- Dr. Dave Hepburn
  • A common misbelief is that infestation can be spread by sitting on a toilet seat. This isn’t likely, since lice cannot live long away from a warm human body. Also, lice do not have feet designed to walk or hold onto smooth surfaces such as toilet seats so if they get left on a toilet seat they often fall into the toilet, sort of like Aunt Florence in the middle of the night.
  • You don’t need a doctor to detect crabs. Genital crabs cause intense itching and are very visible to the naked eye so if you notice the nether regions appear to be humming with activity and you just spent a weekend within the vicinity of Charlie Sheen ….
  • Crabs and head lice are not transmissible to or from pets. Fleas and scabies are. So should your dog come to you and say “Hey pal, I got crabs from you” just ignore him unless of course you realize you have a talking dog. No doubt owning $uch a pet would certainly be a boon to your troop.

Acuna matata

Spank bank by Dr. David Hepburn

I hated the wooden spoon. To this day should I be walking benignly through the kitchen section of a department store (in other words when the moon turns into pizza and Paris Hilton enters a convent) and I happen to see a large wooden spoon I break out into horrific sweating, acne and some evasive 70’s dance moves. While many mothers would use a wooden spoon to stir up chocolate chip cookie dough, others would use the wooden spoon to stir up the circulation in the keysters of naughty children. My mother was in this latter category, bless her heart. Simply rattling the kitchen drawer with the wooden spoon would rattle my kneecaps, like the (Pavlovian) dog I was and am. “Don’t make me get the wooden spoon” would echo through our house like it was the Waltons saying good night.

Wooden spoon-Dr. David Hepburn
Wooden spoon-Dr. David Hepburn

“Good night Maggie”

“Good night Liz”

“Good night David

“Good night Mom”

“Don’t make me get the wooden spoon!”

 

 

 

 

But I developed pretty zippy reflexes thanks to the feared spoon o’ discipline. As it would come hurtling down upon my outstretched hand I would jerk my hand away at the last second leaving the spoon to come crashing into the table and snap at the spoon head. The head would skitter rapidly across the floor past the dog, broken beyond repair. Better it than most my of my metacarpals. Little did I realize that by avoiding that spoon I was increasing my own IQ. Because of my quick reflexes my IQ shot up several points to where it now rests, somewhere between 77 and 77, I’m proud to say. Spanking is not good for a child’s IQ or for stupid wooden spoons.

A study of 17,000 university students in 32 countries indicated that “the higher the percentage of parents who used corporal punishment, the lower the national average IQ.

You are now thinking:

  1. They must beat the heck out of the kids in Crawford, Texas,
  2. Did these university kids realize that the questionnaire referred to childhood spanking
  3. Wooden spoon? Hell, I got the 8 foot sandpaper belt with 8 inch hooks on it.

Young children who were not spanked had IQ’s on average five points higher than kids with smarting keysters. Was this lower IQ a result of genes, a spanking parent not necessarily being the crispiest chip in the bag? It turns out that the lowering of IQ was also a function of how young the child was and the frequency of spanking. Thus kids who were spanked at an earlier age had the lowest IQ as did kids like me who were spanked each time the cuckoo came out of the clock.

It is known that our brains are constantly being sculpted by our experiences, even into old age. This neural scaffolding is influenced by negative stressors which can impair certain neural processes. To children spanking is just hitting, hence children who were spanked at age one were more aggressive children by age two.

Spanked Child - Dr. David Hepburn
Spanked Child – Dr. David Hepburn

A study of low income families showed that about one-third of mothers of 1-year-olds reported that they or someone in their household had spanked their child in the last week, while about half of the mothers of two and three-year-olds reported that their child had been spanked. The average number of spankings for these 1-year-olds was 2.6 per week, while the average for 2-year-olds was nearly three. By age 3 these children performed worse on tests of thinking ability.

Time to start making more cookie dough.