Dr. Mehmet Oz, two-time Emmy Award-winner, is kicking off his 3rd season of "The Dr. Oz Show" on Monday, Sept. 12.
In a media phone interview Thursday, Oz talked about his medical philosophy and gave a glimpse of what's coming up in his filled-to-the-brim hourly medical information show.
(The Harvard-educated Oz is the vice-chair of the Department of Surgery and professor of surgery at Columbia University. He directs the Cardiovascular Institute and Complementary Medicine Program at New York Presbyterian Hospital and performs 250 heart operations annually.)
Here's a Q and A excerpt from the interview:
Q: What are the most important health tests for women?
Oz: Young women, by their early 30s, should have their thyroid tested. Later in life, they should get their progesterone levels tested. Perhaps the most important is to have basic gynecological support with PAP smears every 3 years; essentially it's their primary care doctor, to have someone to talk to.
Q: What health issues should young women know about?
Oz: Osteoporosis starts in the 20s. Alcohol consumption - women can't drink as much as men. They should have no more than one alcoholic drink a day. They should be aware of vitamin D deficiency and the effects of cigarette smoking. (With medical support, success in quitting the addiction goes up from 5 percent to 50 percent.) As 50 percent of pregnancies are unplanned, if you are fertile you should be taking prenatal vitamins.
Q. What are the biggest health concerns for women over 50?
Oz: Ovarian cancer. When I was training it was "the silent killer" but now it's a "whispering killer" -- there are simple symptoms. Recently in a free ultrasound screening of 200 women we found one tumor -- we saved a life. If you have a little bloating, changes in appetite, you should have transvaginal ultrasound test. Squeeze your doctor for it. It's noninvasive and inexpensive. The youngest diagnosed was 13.
For menopause symptoms, bioidentical hormones make sense for some women. Daily VIGOROUS physical activity makes you strong which helps you overcome diseases -- heart, cancer -- when they occur. Being strong helps you weather the storm.
Q: What's happening on the show this season?
Oz: We had the people on from the movie "Contagion." We had the director and people reacting to it, including Thomas Friedman and a real-life virus hunter. It's about a pandemic. I'm very convinced that we'll see a pandemic like this that will break through the thin veneer of civility. They got it right with this movie.
Q: How did Oprah find you?
Oz: Speaking of Oprah, we're going to give away $1 million this season. To qualify you have to participate in a 7-step program that involves telling your friends, losing weight, learning to sleep better, deal with stress, exercise, etc. At the end you'll feel like a million bucks -- and one person will get $1 million.
Q: Are you seeing a lot of problems with prescription drugs and addiction?
Oz: Yes. I'm seeing it a lot. Life is full of pressures. Depression is probably the most abused. Depression forces you to change, forces different choices when things aren't working. Anti-depressants aren't that effective for moderate to mild depression -- certainly not as effective as talk therapy. They numb you and stop you from making the changes. ... You should not be taking more than 6 pills a day. If you are you have a 50 percent chance of a bad interaction. Often one pill is for the effects of another. If the doctor offers you another, squeeze them to get off a different pill.
You're overweight, have diabetes or high cholesterol, that's a battle in the home. People are LONELY, they lack community and social fabric. You can't rely on better living through medications.
Q: Are people healthier today?
Oz: The answer to the high-tech question is we're doing much better: Fewer are dying from heart disease and certain cancers -- breast and leukemia. Low-tech and they're not. Obesity rates are off the charts; there are more heart attacks but less are dying. There are more cancer survivors.
There are known things we can do with discernible health benefits: avoid the 'white' foods -- processed white flour, sugar, etc. We need vitamin D, whether from sunshine or a pill; we need Omega3, the fat from fish or a pill.
Q: What do you think of the concierge concept?
Oz: Then you get health care for the rich and for the poor. Access to health care should be a right that all Americans have.
Q: How has the medical field changed?
Oz: The people who go into medicine have changed. Bright people today may be attracted to investment banking but it's still a calling. ... Doctors may be bored with dealing with diabetes every day. The burden for prevention can be carried more and more by nurses and smart nurse-practitioners who manage chronic illnesses. Let those with a less expensive education specialize, give the problem to people who have a passion for it.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun