DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I come from a family of six girls, and I am the youngest. My five sisters all have had gallstones and have had their gallbladders removed. Am I doomed to the same fate?
My sisters are large-bodied. I’m not. Could their weight have influenced gallstone formation? — E.H.
ANSWER: Family history of gallstones is a definite factor in the risk of coming down with stones. Your family proves the point. However, it’s not the sole factor, so you’re not doomed to having gallstones.
Obesity is a strong influence on stone formation. On that score, you’re in a safe zone.
A high-calorie, high-fat diet disposes a person to gallstones.
Rapid weight loss is another factor that favors the development of stones. Cholesterol is the main constituent of most gallstones. Rapid weight loss mobilizes cholesterol from body storage depots, and that’s why it can bring on gallstones.
Estrogen is another contributor to stones. It increases the uptake of cholesterol from food, and it increases the amount of cholesterol in bile. Bile is made by the liver. It aids in digesting fat. When bile becomes saturated with cholesterol, stones form.
You’re home clear on most of the things that contribute to stone formation. You’re not destined to be a victim.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Some time ago you had a recipe for a natural laxative. I cut it out and used it, and it worked. I stopped using it, but now I need it again and I can’t find it. Would you please, please repeat it? I am in bad shape now. — R.K.
ANSWER: It’s not my recipe. I got it from someone else.
You mix 2 cups of bran with 2 cups of applesauce and 1 cup of unsweetened prune juice. Bran is the stuff removed from grains during refining. It’s great fiber. Fiber keeps undigested food moist as it moves through the digestive tract. You can buy bran in health-food stores.
Refrigerate the mixture, and take 2 or 3 tablespoons twice a day.
You can add any ingredient you want to this mixture to make it more to your liking — fruits, nuts, raisins, whatever.
Constipation is endemic in countries where refined grains are in vogue. The booklet on this topic is a discussion of how best to deal with it. Readers can order a copy by writing: Dr. Donohue — No. 504W, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853- 6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 Canada with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: What does “essential” in front of “hypertension” mean? My doctor writes it down as my diagnosis on every form I give him. I say I have high blood pressure, and that always does it for me. — J.T.
ANSWER: Essential hypertension is the common kind of hypertension — high blood pressure. It means there is no other process going on that’s raising blood pressure. “Secondary” hypertension indicates that blood pressure has risen because of some other illness, like an adrenal gland tumor.
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.
©2008 North America Synd.