Dear Dr. Gott: I love your column. I believe that you have someone write it on the computer, run it by you for corrections, and then transmit it to the various newspapers for them to make hard copy. Sounds like an easy moneymaker to me. What say you?
Dear Reader: I am sorry (OK, not really!) to inform you that your presumption is 100 percent incorrect.
From the selective analysis of my readers’ responses, I read each letter and decide whether or not to answer it. Because I receive about 2,500 letters a week, I do rely on editorial assistance to cull out the overly bizarre or totally wacko questions, as well as the requests for health reports. The remaining letters I try to answer, but this is a formidable task that is limited by space and my commitment to an active medical practice.
I review the remaining letters and, with the help of specialist-colleagues, answer them. I write out each column in longhand. I’m strictly “retro” (old school). The material is not ghostwritten but is edited and, if necessary, discussed before being distributed to the newspapers that are kind enough to carry the column as a regular feature. This, dear reader, is the equivalent of a “mom and pop” operation; every word that is written comes from my failing brain.
Should you wish to obtain more information about health matters, I suggest that you order a copy of my new book, “Live Longer, Live Better,” for the over-50 set. You can order it by phoning Quill Driver Books, (800) 605-7176.
Dear Dr. Gott: I am an overweight, 73-year-old woman with daily abdominal cramps for about three weeks. This is accompanied by gas and a need to defecate. No diarrhea or nausea. I just had my annual physical and everything was OK.
The cramps responded to Pepto Bismol but I am worried about cancer, because my father died at 56 of colon cancer.
Dear Reader: Before giving you explicit advice, I need to know what your “annual physical” involved. I assume that you had a thorough exam, probably followed by blood tests, perhaps a cardiogram, maybe a urinalysis and certainly a mammogram.
If you were not scheduled for a colonoscopy, at 73 you should be. You are at higher risk for colon cancer because your father had it at a relatively young age. Although I am not suggesting that colon cancer is the basis of your abdominal cramps, I believe that “all the bases should be covered.” Most authorities recommend a colon study for all men and women at age 50, with follow-up exams at 5- to 10-year intervals.
If you did, in fact, have a recent colonoscopy, I urge you to be examined by a gastroenterologist.
To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report “Diverticular Disease.” Other readers who would like a copy should send a long, self-addressed, stamped envelope and $2 to Newsletter, P.O. Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092. Mention the title.
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