DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Both my left and right breasts have many lumps. They scared me, so I saw an OB/GYN doctor. She spent a long time examining my breasts and told me I had fibrocystic breast disease and that it was nothing to worry about. I had a mammogram, and no cancer was seen. I still worry. Does this turn into cancer? — V.B.
ANSWER: Fibrocystic breast disease shouldn’t be called a disease. It has been renamed “fibrocystic changes.”
“Disease” is not a word that can be used when 60 percent of premenopausal women have the condition.
“Fibro” refers to strands of scar tissue. Cysts are fluid-filled sacs. With fibrocystic breast changes, both breasts are usually involved, something that rarely happens in cancer. The cysts are soft and feel like they’re made of rubber. They can be painful, especially in the days before a menstrual period. Cancers are solitary, hard masses that cannot be pushed around, like a cyst can.
Fibrocystic breast changes are not cancer and don’t become cancer. If they do become painful, take Tylenol or one of the anti-inflammatory medicines like Aleve or Advil. Some women find that eliminating caffeine eliminates the pain of fibrocystic breasts. Others have gotten relief by adopting a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet.
You can put this issue to rest.
Breast cancer is on every woman’s mind. The booklet on it describes it, its detection and treatment in detail. Readers can obtain a copy by writing: Dr. Donohue — No. 1101W, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order for $4.75 U.S./$6 Canada with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My wife has been going through menopause for the past eight years. We have not been intimate through these years. When I bring up the subject of intimacy, she quickly states that she doesn’t want to talk about it. She won’t even hug me.
My wife is only 53 years old. It seems like she will be going through menopause for the rest of her life. I have been patient, but I would like to have my wife back. If you could give me some advice, it would be greatly appreciated. — J.T.
ANSWER: Menopause can lessen sexual drive, but it shouldn’t completely eliminate it, and menopause doesn’t usually drag on for eight years.
Sexual desire is a complex process that involves hormones, nerves, blood vessels, general health and the brain. The brain is, perhaps, the most important element. Your wife needs professional help. Her total lack of sexual desire at a young age and for so long could be a physical problem, so the family doctor is the place to start. If, as is more likely the case, it is a psychological problem, the doctor can start treatment for that, or can refer her to a specialist.
You have been more than patient.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Does regular running cancel the danger of smoking cigarettes? My boyfriend says it does. — K.H.
ANSWER: Your boyfriend is delusional.
Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.
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