Understanding Cushing Syndrome: Beyond Amy Schumer’s Diagnosis

In the world of entertainment, celebrities often find themselves under the microscope, subjected to scrutiny about their appearances. Recently, comedian Amy Schumer made headlines not for her jokes but for her health condition: Cushing Syndrome. While her diagnosis has sparked conversations, it’s important to delve deeper into the syndrome itself, shedding light on its complexities and implications beyond the spotlight. As primary care concierge doctors and MD2.0 professionals based in Jupiter, Florida, we aim to provide a comprehensive understanding of Cushing Syndrome.

What is Cushing Syndrome?

Cushing Syndrome is a rare disorder characterized by prolonged exposure to high cortisol levels, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands. Typically, cortisol helps regulate various bodily functions, including metabolism, immune response, and stress management. However, excessive cortisol production can lead to a myriad of health issues.

Symptoms and Causes

The symptoms of Cushing Syndrome can vary widely, making diagnosis challenging. Common signs include weight gain, particularly in the abdomen, face, and neck (referred to as “moon face” and “buffalo hump”), thinning skin that bruises easily, muscle weakness, fatigue, and mood disturbances. These symptoms can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life, both physically and emotionally.

The syndrome can stem from various causes, including:

  1. Excessive Cortisol Production: This can result from overactive adrenal glands (primary Cushing Syndrome), often due to tumors or nodules in the adrenal glands themselves.
  2. ACTH Production: In some cases, the pituitary gland produces an excess of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which stimulates the adrenal glands to produce more cortisol (secondary Cushing Syndrome). This can be due to pituitary tumors or, rarely, tumors elsewhere in the body that produce ACTH.
  3. Exogenous Corticosteroid Use: Prolonged use of corticosteroid medications, such as prednisone, can also cause Cushing Syndrome.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosing Cushing Syndrome typically involves a combination of clinical evaluation, hormone tests, imaging studies (such as CT scans and MRI), and sometimes, specialized tests like the dexamethasone suppression test. Once diagnosed, treatment depends on the underlying cause. This may involve surgery to remove tumors, radiation therapy, medications to suppress cortisol production, or managing the use of corticosteroid medications.

Beyond the Headlines: Compassionate Care

While Amy Schumer’s diagnosis has brought attention to Cushing Syndrome, it’s essential to recognize that individuals battling this condition deserve compassion and support. As primary care concierge doctors and MD2.0 professionals, we prioritize personalized, patient-centered care, emphasizing empathy, and comprehensive management.

Our approach involves treating the physical manifestations of Cushing Syndrome and addressing the emotional toll it can take. We work closely with patients to develop tailored treatment plans, focusing on symptom management, lifestyle modifications, and mental health support.

Raising Awareness and Empowering Patients

Awareness is key to early detection and effective management of Cushing Syndrome. By raising awareness and providing education, we empower individuals to recognize symptoms, seek timely medical attention, and advocate for their health.

Moreover, destigmatizing discussions surrounding health conditions like Cushing’s Syndrome is vital. Everyone deserves to feel supported and understood, free from judgment or criticism based on their appearance.

In conclusion, while Amy Schumer’s diagnosis has thrust Cushing Syndrome into the spotlight, our focus remains on providing comprehensive care and support to individuals facing this challenging condition. Through education, empathy, and personalized treatment, we strive to improve the lives of our patients, one step at a time.

If you have concerns about your health or have experienced symptoms like those associated with Cushing Syndrome, we encourage you to reach out to our practice for compassionate, expert care. Your well-being is our priority.

Understanding Prostate Cancer: A Primary Care Perspective

Prostate cancer is a topic that often sparks concern and uncertainty among men, and recent news about Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s battle with the disease brings attention to the importance of early detection and comprehensive care. As primary care physicians, we must provide accurate information and support to our patients regarding this prevalent form of cancer.

Prostate cancer, affecting the walnut-sized gland located just below the bladder in men, is one of the most common types of cancer found in males. While it predominantly affects older men, it can also occur in younger individuals. Understanding the risk factors, symptoms, and available treatments is essential for effective management and prevention.

Mr. Austin’s journey with prostate cancer sheds light on the multifaceted nature of this disease. At 70, he underwent surgery in December, which marked the beginning of his battle. However, complications arose, leading to subsequent hospitalizations, including his recent stay at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Complications such as those experienced by Mr. Austin underscore the importance of ongoing monitoring and comprehensive care in prostate cancer management. While surgery is a common treatment option, it’s crucial to recognize that each patient’s journey is unique, and complications can arise even after successful procedures.

In Mr. Austin’s case, his recent hospitalization was due to a bladder issue unrelated to his cancer diagnosis. It’s a reminder that individuals battling prostate cancer may face additional health challenges along the way. As primary care physicians, we must remain vigilant in monitoring our patients’ overall health, addressing any emerging issues promptly and effectively.

Moreover, Mr. Austin’s determination to resume his duties despite his health challenges serves as an inspiration. It highlights the importance of maintaining a positive outlook and actively engaging in one’s healthcare journey. Encouraging patients to stay informed, adhere to treatment plans, and maintain a healthy lifestyle can significantly impact their overall well-being and prognosis.

Routine screenings for prostate cancer, including digital rectal exams and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests, play a pivotal role in early detection and treatment. Engaging in open and honest conversations with our patients about the importance of screenings, as well as potential risks and benefits, empowers them to make informed decisions regarding their health.

As primary care physicians, our role extends beyond diagnosis and treatment; we serve as advocates for our patients’ well-being, providing support, guidance, and reassurance throughout their healthcare journey. In the case of prostate cancer, our goal is not only to address the disease itself but also to enhance our patient’s overall quality of life.

In conclusion, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s battle with prostate cancer highlights the significance of proactive healthcare management and comprehensive support for individuals facing this disease. As primary care physicians, let us continue to educate, empower, and advocate for our patients, ensuring they receive the care and support they need to navigate their prostate cancer journey with confidence and resilience.

Post-Super Bowl Detox

The Super Bowl is a time for celebration, camaraderie, and of course, indulgent snacks. Whether you spent the day cheering for your favorite team or simply enjoying the commercials, chances are you may have indulged in more than a few game-day treats. Now that the excitement has passed, it’s natural to feel the need to reset and cleanse your body after a day of indulgence. In this blog post, we’ll explore effective ways to detoxify your system and get back on track with your health goals.

Reflecting on Game Day Indulgences: Before diving into the post-Super Bowl detox strategies, take a moment to reflect on your game day indulgences. Did you find yourself reaching for salty snacks, sugary treats, or perhaps one too many servings of your favorite beverage? Understanding your indulgence patterns can help you make more mindful choices moving forward.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate: One of the simplest and most effective ways to detoxify your body after a day of indulgence is to prioritize hydration. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to flush out toxins and rehydrate your body. You can also incorporate hydrating foods such as cucumbers, watermelon, and leafy greens into your meals to boost your water intake.

Focus on Whole Foods: After indulging in processed snacks and sugary treats, your body will thank you for nourishing it with whole, nutrient-dense foods. Incorporate plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains into your meals to provide your body with the essential nutrients it needs to thrive. Opt for homemade meals prepared with fresh, wholesome ingredients to support your post-Super Bowl detox.

Embrace Detoxifying Foods: Certain foods can help support your body’s natural detoxification processes and aid in eliminating toxins. Include detoxifying foods such as lemon, ginger, garlic, cruciferous vegetables, and herbs like cilantro and parsley in your meals to support liver function and promote detoxification.

Sweat It Out: Exercise is another powerful tool for detoxifying your body and boosting your overall health. Engage in activities that get your heart rate up and make you sweat, such as brisk walking, jogging, cycling, or a high-intensity workout. Sweating helps rid the body of toxins and promotes circulation, leaving you feeling refreshed and revitalized.

Practice Mindful Eating: As you return to your regular eating routine after the Super Bowl, practice mindful eating to tune into your body’s hunger and fullness cues. Pay attention to portion sizes, chew your food slowly, and savor each bite. Mindful eating can help prevent overeating and promote better digestion, supporting your body’s natural detoxification processes.

The Super Bowl may have been a day of indulgence, but it’s never too late to hit the reset button and prioritize your health. By incorporating these post-Super Bowl detox strategies into your routine, you can cleanse your body, boost your energy levels, and get back on track with your health goals. Remember, small, sustainable changes can significantly improve your overall well-being. Here’s to a refreshed and revitalized post-Super Bowl detox!

Choosing Between Pills and Push-Ups: The New Weight-Loss Dilemma in America

In recent times, we’ve observed a significant trend in healthcare, especially concerning weight management. Millions of Americans are now opting for weight-loss drugs as their primary strategy for losing weight, rather than traditional methods like gym memberships. This shift raises several critical points worth discussing from our primary care doctors’ perspective.

Understanding the Trend

First, it’s essential to understand why this trend is occurring. Weight-loss medications have become more accessible and are perceived as a quick fix compared to the time and effort required for regular exercise. Furthermore, the pandemic has undoubtedly played a role, with many people finding it challenging to maintain a regular gym routine due to restrictions and personal safety concerns.

The Role of Weight-Loss Drugs

As healthcare providers, we acknowledge the potential benefits of weight-loss drugs. They can be particularly effective for patients with certain health conditions, such as obesity-related comorbidities, where losing weight is crucial for improving overall health. When used correctly and under medical supervision, these medications can offer significant benefits.

The Importance of Holistic Health

However, it’s crucial to emphasize the importance of holistic health. Weight-loss drugs can aid in reducing body weight, but they do not necessarily improve all aspects of health. Physical exercise, on the other hand, not only aids in weight management but also improves cardiovascular health, mental health, and overall physical fitness.

The Role of Primary Care

In our practice, we advocate for a balanced approach. When a patient expresses interest in weight-loss drugs, we ensure a thorough evaluation. This evaluation includes understanding their medical history, current health status, and lifestyle. We also emphasize the importance of incorporating healthy eating habits and regular physical activity into their routine.

Educating Patients

Education plays a vital role. We inform our patients about the potential side effects of weight-loss drugs and the importance of using them as part of a broader lifestyle change. It’s not just about the medication; it’s about developing a sustainable, healthy lifestyle.

Collaborative Healthcare

We also collaborate with other healthcare professionals, such as dietitians and fitness experts, to provide a comprehensive weight management plan. This team approach ensures that our patients receive the best possible care tailored to their individual needs.


The preference for weight-loss drugs over gym memberships is a complex issue. As primary care providers, we strive to guide our patients toward making informed decisions that best suit their health goals. It’s about finding the right balance and ensuring that the journey towards weight loss is healthy, sustainable, and beneficial in the long term.

New Year, New Health Goals: Top Wellness Tips for 2024

Welcome to 2024! A New Year Brings New Opportunities for Health and Wellness

As we step into 2024, it’s the perfect time to reset our health and wellness goals. Living in sunny Florida offers unique opportunities and challenges for maintaining our health. Whether you’re a long-time resident or new to the Sunshine State, our primary care doctors in Jupiter explore some practical and achievable health goals for this year.

1. Embrace Outdoor Activities

Florida’s climate is ideal for outdoor activities year-round. Consider incorporating more walks, bike rides, or beach activities into your routine. These activities not only improve physical health but also boost mental well-being by connecting you with nature and your community.

2. Stay Hydrated

Florida’s warmth requires us to pay extra attention to hydration. Aim to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily, more if you’re active or spend a lot of time outdoors. Staying hydrated keeps your body functioning optimally and can improve skin health, cognitive function, and overall energy levels.

3. Sun Protection is Key

With Florida’s abundant sunshine, skin care becomes crucial. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 every day, even when it’s cloudy. Don’t forget to reapply every two hours when outdoors. Sun protection helps prevent skin cancer and delays signs of aging.

4. Incorporate Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables

Florida’s agricultural bounty means we have access to a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Aim to include these in your diet to boost your intake of essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Seasonal produce like citrus fruits, tomatoes, and leafy greens can be particularly beneficial.

5. Prioritize Mental Health

The New Year is a great time to focus on mental health. Whether it’s through meditation, yoga, or simply taking time for yourself, mental well-being is a crucial part of overall health. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or struggling, remember that our concierge service offers personalized care, including mental health support.

6. Regular Health Check-Ups

Staying on top of your health means regular check-ups with your primary care provider. As a concierge healthcare office, we offer personalized and attentive care to help monitor and manage your health throughout the year.

7. Set Realistic Fitness Goals

Whether it’s improving endurance, strength, or flexibility, set achievable fitness goals. Remember, small, consistent efforts often lead to significant long-term benefits. Our team can help tailor a fitness plan that’s right for you.

8. Sleep Well

Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. Good sleep is essential for health, affecting everything from mood to immune function. Create a relaxing bedtime routine and ensure your bedroom environment promotes restful sleep.


As we embrace 2024, let’s focus on these achievable health goals to make the most of the year ahead. Remember, your journey to health and wellness is unique, and our concierge healthcare team is here to support you every step of the way. Here’s to a healthy, happy, and vibrant New Year!

Ketamine: Understanding Its Medical Use and Risks in Light of Matthew Perry’s Tragic Death

The recent passing of Matthew Perry, a beloved actor, due to the “acute effects of ketamine” has brought this drug into the public eye. Our primary care physicians in Jupiter want to educate our patients about ketamine – its medical uses, potential risks, and the circumstances surrounding Perry’s death.

What is Ketamine?

Ketamine, initially developed as an anesthetic for medical and veterinary use, is a dissociative drug. This means it can cause a feeling of detachment from one’s body and environment. It may lead to hallucinations and profound changes in thoughts and emotions. However, its medical utility, especially in mental health, is notable.

Ketamine’s Therapeutic Use

In recent years, ketamine has gained attention for its off-label use in treating severe depression and certain pain conditions. The FDA-approved nasal spray form, Spravato (S-ketamine), is specifically for treatment-resistant depression and suicidal ideation. It is strictly regulated, used only under medical supervision in a healthcare setting. This ensures its safety and effectiveness when combined with other antidepressants.

The Case of Matthew Perry

Matthew Perry’s death highlights the potential risks associated with ketamine. According to the autopsy report, Perry had “acute effects of ketamine” in his system, alongside other conditions like coronary artery disease and buprenorphine. This tragic event underscores the importance of understanding ketamine’s impact, especially in individuals with preexisting health conditions.

Risks and Dangers of Ketamine

While beneficial in controlled medical settings, ketamine poses significant risks if misused. High doses can lead to cardiovascular, respiratory, and neurological complications, potentially fatal. Users may experience elevated blood pressure, breathing difficulties, amnesia, seizures, addiction, and urinary tract problems. Perry’s case demonstrated how ketamine could exacerbate underlying health issues, leading to severe consequences.

Educating Patients on Ketamine Use

As healthcare providers, our role extends beyond treating illnesses. We must educate our patients about the medications they use or may encounter. For ketamine, this means discussing:

  1. Controlled Medical Use: Emphasize that ketamine treatment for depression is a regulated process, requiring close medical supervision.
  2. Potential Risks: Inform patients about the dangers of misuse or combining ketamine with other substances, especially for those with existing health conditions.
  3. Recognizing Misuse: Encourage patients to seek help if they or someone they know may be misusing ketamine or other substances.
  4. Understanding Mental Health Treatment: Discuss alternative treatments for depression and chronic pain, highlighting that ketamine is one of many options.


The loss of Matthew Perry to ketamine-related complications is a somber reminder of the delicate balance in drug therapy. As primary care providers, our responsibility is to ensure patients are well-informed about their treatments, understanding both the benefits and risks. By doing so, we can help prevent tragedies like Perry’s and provide safe, effective care to our community.

Regular Cardiac Health Checks: Even Without Apparent Heart Issues

The heart is the symbolic and biological epicenter of our existence, powering life as we know it. With each beat, this robust muscle keeps blood coursing through our veins, supplying vital oxygen and nutrients to all of our organs.

Whether you’re an exercise enthusiast or a confessed couch potato, whether you’ve been diagnosed with a heart condition or not, it’s crucial to regularly check your cardiac health. But why is it so important, particularly if you’re not exhibiting any obvious signs of heart disease? This blog aims to answer that question, highlighting the reasons why routine cardiac health checks are indispensable, regardless of your heart disease status.

  • Prevention is Better Than Cure

One of the primary reasons to conduct regular cardiac health checks is to spot potential problems before they escalate. Even in the absence of symptoms, certain risk factors—like high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, diabetes, or being overweight—can silently affect your heart health. These conditions can gradually lead to serious heart problems, often without presenting any noticeable symptoms until the damage is significant.

  • Early Detection Saves Lives

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death globally. What’s particularly troubling is that many who succumb to heart-related conditions showed little to no prior symptoms. Regular cardiac health checks facilitate early detection, increasing the likelihood of successful intervention and treatment. The sooner a potential issue is identified, the more options there are for treatment, and the better the outcomes generally are.

  • Heart Disease can be Stealthy

Symptoms of heart disease aren’t always as dramatic as what we see in movies. In reality, heart disease often sneaks up silently, and its symptoms are sometimes mistaken for less serious conditions like indigestion or stress. Regular check-ups can help uncover these stealthy conditions, ensuring that any issues are treated promptly and effectively.

  • Lifestyle Impact

Modern lifestyles are increasingly sedentary and stressful, which can negatively impact our cardiac health. Regular monitoring provides a reality check and an opportunity to modify these lifestyle factors. Simple adjustments, like regular exercise, a balanced diet, stress management, and quitting smoking, can significantly improve cardiac health.

  • Genetic Predisposition

Even if you’re currently heart-healthy, you may be genetically predisposed to heart disease. If a close family member has experienced heart disease, particularly at a young age, your risk is higher. Regular cardiac health checks help track any changes over time and help you manage your risk effectively.

  • Aging and Heart Health

As we age, the risk of heart disease increases due to the natural wear and tear of the heart and blood vessels. Regular check-ups can help monitor the aging heart and implement necessary precautions and treatments to keep it healthy.

In conclusion, maintaining regular cardiac health checks, even if you have no existing heart issues, plays an essential role in overall health maintenance. Your heart may be silently shouldering the burden of lifestyle, genetic factors, or hidden conditions. Our concierge doctors in Jupiter often encourage our patients to check with various specialists even if they have no symptoms for these exact reasons. Uncovering these potential issues before they become problematic can add healthy, quality years to your life.

It’s time we started prioritizing our heart health the same way we do our professional growth or personal development. Remember, it’s never too early or too late to start taking care of your heart. After all, a healthy heart is a happy heart.

Staying Safe In Flooding Events

In light of last month’s flood disaster in Fort Lauderdale, and the fact that such events are happening more often, our primary care concierge doctors in Jupiter want to review what you should know to stay safe in similar situations.

Not only are extreme flooding events more likely these days, but here on the east coast of Florida we also regularly deal with the threat of hurricanes. And with hurricane season arriving in just a few weeks, it pays to be prepared.

More to Come

In the aftermath of the Fort Lauderdale flooding, Kevin Guthrie, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, said, “This is the second most-catastrophic flooding event that I’ve seen in my tenure as emergency manager . . . over the last 33 years,” with Hurricane Ian being the worst.

Unfortunately, with the changing climate, such events are becoming more common, both in Florida and across the country. Warmer air holds more water vapor than cooler air, thus intensifying rainfall amounts.

The National Weather Service (NWS) reports that flooding kills more people than almost any other weather-related hazard. That’s why it’s important to know what to do in storm emergencies.

Before the Storm

  • Be sure you have a 30-day supply of your medications—both prescription and non-prescription—on hand before the storm hits. See us if you need refills of any drugs you may be taking.
  • If your medications need to be refrigerated, talk to us about how to keep them properly stored if your power goes out.
  • If you are on dialysis, talk to the doctors or staff at the dialysis center about where to go after the storm.
  • If you use medical devices such as ventilators or oxygen concentrators, be sure the batteries are fully charged, and know where to go if the battery doesn’t work.
  • If you are on a special diet, be sure to have enough food available to last at least a week. And have enough bottled water available for everyone in the household to prevent dehydration. The rule of thumb is one gallon per person per day.
  • If you have service animals or pets, ensure they have enough water, food, and any medications to last at least 10 days after the storm.
  • Be sure to have plenty of hand sanitizers and hand wipes available.
  • Make sure to take all your medical paperwork with you if you evacuate: a list of current medications, a list of drug allergies, insurance cards, and contact numbers for your physicians.
  • If you haven’t had a tetanus vaccine in the past 10 years, see us now to be inoculated. During after-storm cleanup, tetanus bacteria can infect you from even a minor cut or scratch.

Driving Safely

Flash floods are caused by slow-moving thunderstorms, or storms that move over the same area one right after the other, known as “training,” because they follow each other like train cars. The NWS says that most deaths associated with floods occur at night or when people become trapped in cars that stall while driving in flooded areas. 

In April’s flooding, CNN reported that a month’s worth of rain fell on Fort Lauderdale in just one hour. Many of the city’s streets turned into lakes as two feet of rain left over 1,000 people calling for help.

If you encounter flooding, remember: Turn around, don’t drown. It takes just a foot of water to float a car; two feet will float most vehicles, including pick-up trucks.

One final tip from the man who helped create the “turn around, don’t drown” slogan: Hector Guerrero, formerly with the NWS, tells NPR that floodwaters can make it challenging to open car doors or windows. That’s why he keeps a safety hammer in his car in case he gets stuck in rising waters.

“You hit the corner of that windshield,” he says. “You can break it out if it has to come to that.”

Then head to higher ground: a nearby hill, a building, or even a tree.

After the Storm

Many deaths and injuries occur after a disaster. So here’s what you need to know to stay safe.

  • Avoid floodwaters if at all possible. They are filled with such contaminants as oil and gas, infectious diseases, household chemicals, and sewage, not to mention displaced animals. Water may also cover potholes and sinkholes.
  • If you’re using a generator to maintain power, be sure it’s far enough away from the house to prevent carbon monoxide from seeping into the home.
  • Do not eat any food or water that may have come into contact with floodwater. If in doubt, throw it out.
  • If lifesaving drugs have been exposed to floodwaters, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that if the container is contaminated but the contents appear unaffected (i.e., the pills are dry), they may be used until replacements are available. Other types of drugs or drug products such as inhalers, oral liquids, drugs for injections, and so forth, should be discarded if they have come in contact with contaminated water.
  • Insulin loses its potency according to the temperature it is exposed to and the length of the exposure. Under emergency conditions, you might still need to use insulin that has been stored above 86 degrees Fahrenheit. When a fresh supply becomes available, discard any questionable insulin remaining.
  • Take care during cleanup. Be aware of downed power lines, the hazards of power tools like chainsaws, and the dangers of overexertion and heat.

Is Exercise Better Than Drugs for Mental Health?

If our primary care concierge doctors in Jupiter could prescribe a single treatment for a host of different health concerns, it would be exercise.

For example, one study published in the journal BMJ compared exercise alone versus drug therapy alone and found that for heart disease, diabetes control or prevention, stroke rehabilitation, and treatment of heart failure, regular physical exercise was just as effective as prescription medications in treating many of these conditions.

And according to the Mayo Clinic, some of the disorders that benefit from regular exercise include:

  • Heart disease – In addition to strengthening the heart muscle and lowering blood pressure, exercise can help you be more active without experiencing chest pain or other symptoms.
  • Diabetes – Regular exercise can not only help insulin more effectively lower your blood sugar level, but also help control weight and boost energy.
  • Asthma – Exercise has been shown to control the frequency and severity of asthma attacks.
  • Back pain – Regular low-impact aerobic exercise can help increase the strength of your back muscles and improve endurance and muscle function.
  • Arthritis – Exercise is the primary approach to reduce pain, help maintain muscle strength in affected joints and reduce joint stiffness.

What About the Brain?

It makes sense, then, that the benefits of exercise would also impact the brain.

And that’s just what a new study, published in February in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, revealed. Researchers from the University of South Australia correlated data from 1,039 studies involving more than 128,000 volunteers.

They found that physical activity was 1.5 times more effective for managing depression than either counseling or the leading medications typically prescribed for the disease.

The review showed that exercise interventions that were 12 weeks or shorter were the most effective at reducing mental health symptoms, showing how quickly physical activity can make a difference, Science Daily reported.

“Our review shows that physical activity interventions can significantly reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety in all clinical populations,” lead researcher Dr. Ben Singh said in a statement.

“We also found that all types of physical activity and exercise were beneficial, including aerobic exercises such as walking, resistance, training, Pilates, and yoga,” he said. 

“Importantly, the research shows that it doesn’t take much for exercise to make a positive change to your mental health.”

Even a Little Bit Helps

This last finding is important because one of the hallmarks of depression is a lack of energy. So asking them to engage in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate physical activity every week is akin to asking them to climb a mountain with a broken leg.

Another study, published this month in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, offers similar reassurance that any regular movement can make a difference.

For this study, the researchers looked at 15 studies involving more than 190,000 subjects.

They found that people who engaged in brisk walking for a total of 2.5 hours a week had a lower risk of depression than those who didn’t exercise at all. 

“Most benefits are realized when moving from no activity to at least some,” the study authors wrote. 

“Our findings, therefore, have important new implications for health practitioners making lifestyle recommendations, especially to inactive individuals who may perceive the currently recommended target [of 2.5 hours a week] as unrealistic,” they added.

How Does it Work?

There are several reasons exercise has such a positive effect on depression and anxiety, according to Dr. Antonia Baum, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at George Washington University, who was not involved in these studies.

It can improve blood circulation to the brain and have a positive impact on inflammation and the body’s immune response, she told U.S. News, noting the connection between heart health and depression. There may also be intangible benefits such as getting stronger or feeling empowered or gaining a sense of well-being.

Yet another recent meta-review of 41 studies involving 2,265 people with depression found that almost any type of exercise substantially reduces symptoms of depression, The Washington Post reported.

“We found large, significant results,” said study leader Andreas Heissel, an exercise scientist at the University of Potsdam in Germany.

Although more exercise produced greater results, “Something is better than nothing,” Heissel noted.

Small Moves

Jennifer Heisz, a neuroscientist and an associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, who was not involved in these studies, was even more encouraging.

“Any movement, every movement, every step counts,” she told U.S. News.

“It doesn’t have to be as much as you need for physical health,” she added. “You can get by with half of that, and this is very consistent with the literature.”

Heisz suggested that people try to move a little every day, even if it’s just a five- or 10-minute walk, or a two-minute movement break every half hour for those who sit all day.

“That’s how simple we need to get, especially for people who are not moving at all, and to acknowledge that there is this additional barrier of motivation for people who are suffering from depression,” she said.

One final word: It’s important not to try to treat depression yourself. We can help guide you through different approaches or even recommend other professionals that can help.

If you have thoughts of harming yourself, dial or text the new national suicide hotline number 988 for immediate help.

Progestin-Only Birth Control Slightly Increases Breast Cancer Risk

Our family practice concierge doctors in Jupiter have heard from some of our patients that they’re concerned about a new study regarding the safety of certain contraceptives.

In fact, many observers think this study’s findings are reassuring, and should not unduly alarm women.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), among women ages 15 to 49 in the U.S., about 14 percent of those using contraception use oral contraception, and around 10 percent use long-acting devices like IUDs.

Contraceptive Risks and Benefits

Since their inception, birth control pills have been associated with various risks to the women who take them.

In 1960, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first birth control pill, Enovid. It combined two types of hormones designed to prevent ovulation: estrogen and progestin. According to Planned Parenthood, it contained far more hormones than were needed to prevent pregnancy, which is why it was also responsible for occasional severe side effects and increased the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Later forms of the pill, as it came to be called, used much lower formulations, but they are still implicated in a slightly increased risk of breast cancer, heart attack, strokes, blood clots, and liver tumors.

Many see these risks as being outweighed by the benefit of preventing unwanted pregnancies. In addition, studies have found a decreased risk of ovarian, endometrial, and colorectal cancers in long-term users of the pill, as compared with non-users.

Birth control pills are also prescribed for women with excessive bleeding and/or painful periods, apart from their use in pregnancy prevention.

Another UK study of more than 46,000 women who were followed for up to 39 years showed that their use of the pill not only didn’t increase their risk of mortality but also appeared to have increased longevity.

The New Study

Progestin-only formulations in various forms of birth control were thought to lower the risks of complications because estrogen is known to increase the incidence of the most common side effects.

Progestin-only pills thicken the mucus in the cervix, preventing sperm from reaching an egg. One form of the progestin-only pill can also stop ovulation.

“We’ve known for a while that estrogen and progestin birth control pills, oral contraceptives, have a slightly increased risk of breast cancer,” Dr. Jennifer Ashton, a board-certified OB-GYN, and ABC News chief medical correspondent said on “Good Morning America” when the new study was released.

“What we didn’t know is the newer forms of progestin-only pills, IUDs, injectable implants, what their associated risk, if any, was in comparison,” she explained.

The study that made the news last month was published in the journal PLOS One. Researchers in the U.K. analyzed data on nearly 10,000 women who had been diagnosed with invasive breast cancer between 1996 and 2017.

They then compared these subjects’ profiles with more than 18,000 women who did not have breast cancer.

“On average, 44 percent of women with breast cancer and 39 percent of matched controls had a hormonal contraceptive prescription, with about half the prescriptions being for progestagen-only [i.e., progestin-only] preparations,” the study authors wrote.

Explaining the Results

The findings “suggest that the 15-year absolute excess risk of breast cancer associated with the use of oral contraceptives ranges from eight per 100,000 users (an increase in incidence from 0.084 percent to 0.093 percent) for use from age 16 to 20 to about 265 per 100,000 users (from 2.0 percent to 2.2 percent) for use from age 35 to 39.”

In other words, those who use the progestin-only forms of contraceptives have about the same slight risk of breast cancer as women who use the combination pill.

They also found that the longer a woman is off hormonal birth control, the lower the risk.

Claire Knight, a senior health information manager at Cancer Research UK, which provided core funding for the study, told CNN that hormonal contraception is a personal choice, as “there are lots of possible benefits to using contraception, as well as other risks not related to cancer.

“Women who are most likely to be using contraception are under the age of 50, where the risk of breast cancer is even lower,” she explained.

Reassuring Users

Gill Reeves, a co-author of the study and professor of statistical epidemiology at the University of Oxford, told The Washington Post that “it may be reassuring to know that these newer contraceptives that women are using in increasing numbers do not have any untoward effects that might be unexpected. 

“They do seem to behave pretty much like traditional contraceptives,” she added.

Ashton, who was not involved in the study, stressed that it’s important to recognize how slightly the use of hormonal contraceptives raises the risk of breast cancer.

“It’s about individualizing the risk-benefit and option risk for the woman,” she told GMA.

“If you talk to any OB-GYN, they will say, we have a line: ‘Pregnancy is much higher risk than any associated risk with birth control pills or hormonal contraception.’ ”

“For anyone looking to lower their cancer risk, not smoking, eating a healthy balanced diet, drinking less alcohol, and keeping a healthy weight will have the most impact,” Knight told CNN.

All the experts suggest that women discuss the risks and benefits with their doctors.

1 2