The Link Between Obesity And Cancer

In a world where processed foods, sugar-laden desserts, and the high-fat fast food is easily and readily available, it’s no wonder that obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the U.S., as in some other countries. Obesity is a struggle for many people, and now there is, even more, reason for alarm as the scientific community has discovered a link between obesity and certain types of cancers. According to the World Cancer Research Fund, about 20% of cancers diagnosed in the United States are in some way related to obesity, poor nutrition or physical inactivity, meaning that they are largely preventable.


Being overweight has been clearly linked to an increased risk for the following types of cancers:

  • Kidney cancer.
  • Breast cancer.
  • Colon and rectal cancer.
  • Pancreatic cancer.
  • Esophageal cancer.
  • Endometrial cancer.

Studies are still being conducted to see if there is a direct link between obesity and an increased risk for other cancers such as liver, cervical, prostate, and other types of cancer. Science has also shown that having an excess amount of belly fat increases the risk of getting colon or rectal cancer, in addition to other types of cancer. Although the connection between excess body weight and increased cancer risks are quite complex and not entirely understood yet, it is believed that excess weight on a person’s body can affect cancer risk by:

  • Hindering the immune system function and increasing inflammation.
  • Increasing certain levels of hormones.
  • Affecting factors that affect cell growth.
  • Affecting how the body uses certain hormones.


So what can you do to decrease your cancer risk? Although the research on weight loss and its effect on cancer risks is still in its infancy, overall health risks associated with obesity are certainly well-documented, so it’s beneficial from multiple standpoints to try to eliminate obesity. Here are some things that might help aid in weight loss:


  • Exercise at least 30 minutes a day at a moderate pace.
  • Increase consumption of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
  • Cut down on foods that are high in sugar and fat.
  • Consume healthy oils like olive oil instead of animal-based oils.
  • Work with a trained diet or nutritionist who can help create a diet and exercise plan that might work best for your lifestyle and body type.

To learn more about how Houston Concierge Medicine & Wellness Center can develop personalized diagnostic and treatment plans using integrative medical care, call 713-333-6464 or schedule an appointment online.

Six Superfoods That Might Help Boost Your Brain Power

In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy for your brain to get overstimulated, overwhelmed and overworked. If you need a bit of a brain boost, finding help may be as easy as making a trip to the supermarket. Recent studies have shown that eating certain superfoods have brain benefits like helping with memory, energy, and concentration. Here is a closer look at six superfoods that may help boost your brain power.

  1. Walnuts: Lots of nuts are healthy, but walnuts pack a special punch of energy thanks to the omega-3 fatty acids that they contain. In fact, they contain more of these fatty acids than any other nut. These essential fatty acids protect brain cells and help neurotransmitters function more effectively which can help with impaired cognition and memory. They also contain healing B6 vitamins and magnesium and fight inflammation and improve blood flow in the brain.
  2. Dark Chocolate: This sweet treat is more than an absolutely delicious dessert or snack. Dark chocolate is jam-packed with antioxidants which help with mental acuity and other functions that help protect the systems in your body. Dark chocolate also helps improve concentration and blood flow, so add a little of this sweet stuff to your daily dessert menu.
  3. Coffee: One of the mornings best companions and one of the most popular caffeinated drinks, coffee has been shown to improve mental clarity and its rich antioxidants help maintain good brain health. Some research even suggests that it may help treat depression, but the science is still not solid on this point yet. 
  4. Avocados: This creamy and delicious green fruit (that many mistake for a vegetable) is one of the healthiest fruits on the planet thanks to its high level of monounsaturated fats. With monounsaturated fat levels similar to those found in the olive, avocadoes help improve blood flow not only to the brain but to all of the vessels in the body while also helping to lower bad cholesterol levels.
  5. Lentils: These tasty seeds can be added to a soup, salad, or chili to make for a delicious, healthy addition to your meal. This legume is loaded with folate, a particular B vitamin that helps improve brain power. They also lower levels of amino acids that can impair brain functioning, so load up on some healthy lentils.
  6. Olive oil: Healthy not only for dietary purposes, olive oil is also a superfood that can give you super brain power. It’s a great source of monounsaturated fats, like the avocado, and has been proven to actually slow brain aging. It’s anti-inflammatory properties can help combat brain fog, memory loss, and other conditions that are a result of chronic inflammation. Olive oil is also part of the Mediterranean diet which is widely considered one of the most healthy diets in the world.

To learn more about how Houston Concierge Medicine & Wellness Center can develop personalized diagnostic and treatment plans using integrative medical care, call 713-333-6464 or schedule an appointment online.

Struggle with Sleep Apnea: Three Exercises to Try

Sleep disorders are common in the modern age, and many struggle with sleep apnea, a condition where breathing stops and starts repeatedly as people sleep. People with sleep apnea are commonly recognized by a loud snoring and daytime fatigue. Luckily, there are a few exercises people can try to ease the symptoms of sleep apnea:

Throat exercises

One great exercise for sleep apnea victims is to chew gum (or practice chewing gum) for a few minutes. While performing this exercise, people should pay keen attention to make sure they are doing the exercise correctly:

  • Make sure molars touch. The molars should touch slightly and move apart a little on both sides.
  • Keep mouth closed. Lips should be touching throughout the whole exercise.
  • Make humming sounds. The throat opens better when making humming sounds while chewing.

Although an easy exercise, it can make the jaw a little sore. Slowly adding time to the fake chewing can make the transition less exhausting. People can also ease their mild to moderate sleep apnea by learning how to play the didgeridoo or practicing singing.

Tongue exercises

Most of the time when people with sleep apnea snore, the tongue collapses and blocks the airway. One way to remedy this is by sticking out the tongue and holding it place for a few moments. They should do this repeatedly shortly before bedtime.

People should also try to slide the tongue from the back of the teeth to the back of the mouth and hold it in place about ten times before bed. This will help strengthen the tongue and prevent its collapse while reducing the symptoms of sleep apnea.

Yoga exercises

The breathing techniques associated with yoga are great ways to reduce stress and, in turn, improve sleep quality. A subgenre of yoga, Yoga Nidra, promotes sleep.

These breathing exercises help to increase lung capacity (which increases oxygen capacity) while helping the body to relax. Sleep apnea victims should perform these exercises in the evening before sleep.


Sleep apnea is a difficult sleep disorder to overcome. However, there are many exercises to make sleeping through the night more comfortable. Those who suffer from sleep apnea could also benefit from making some lifestyle changes. They should aim to exercise regularly, quit smoking, avoid drinking alcohol, and (possibly) lose weight. They should also stay on a regular sleep schedule and avoid ingesting caffeine around bedtime.

Sleep deprivation: Some unexpected consequences and how to avoid them

I talked in my previous blog about the importance of sleep and how to ensure you’re maximizing the utility of the time you spend sleep by setting regular bedtimes for yourself, reducing your blue-light intake close to bedtime, exercising regularly, and some other activities that will make certain you’re well rested. However, what are the consequences of not getting enough sleep? If all you risk is having to drink a little extra coffee, no worries, right?

As it turns out, there are some serious medical issues that could arise as a result of not getting enough sleep. Not only will your body suffer, but your cognitive capabilities and interpersonal skills will take a hit when you skimp on quality sleep. Here are some maladies you can avoid easily by sleeping regularly.

  • Bone health: In a 2016 study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research, Xu et al discovered that rats subjected to sleep deprivation suffered a significant loss in bone density and an impaired ability to rebuild damaged bones. In order to prevent potentially irreversible osteoporosis or other bone conditions, get plenty of rest to let your body handle much-needed maintenance.
  • Leadership abilities: A 2016 study out of the University of Washington indicates that business dynamics suffer when participants lack sleep. Leaders lack charisma when they haven’t rested enough, and those following the leader fail to exhibit enthusiasm when they haven’t had enough sleep. For the sake of office dynamics and effective teamwork, all parties need to be well-rested.
  • Reduced empathy: The University of Calgary studied the effects of sleep deprivation on people’s capacity for emotional empathy. As was their hypothesis, sleep-deprived brains did not react nearly as strongly to stimuli that elicited an empathetic response from well-rested brains.
  • Snacking and weight-gain: While you’re asleep, your body secretes hormones that tell your brain that you’re full and don’t need to keep eating, but when you don’t sleep enough, the production of that hormone decreases, while the hormone that tells your brain that you’re hungry is produced more rapidly. This imbalance may make you feel “snacky” and lead to weight gain.
  • “Microsleeps” throughout the day: According to a study from the University of Pennsylvania, your body makes up for a lack of sleep by taking tiny “microsleeps” throughout the day. These can last for up to 30 seconds at a time, and though your eyes may remain open, most of your other senses, particularly sight and hearing, are severely impaired if not completely turned off. Especially if you’re driving while sleep deprived, this can be extremely dangerous.

Six Ways for Better Sleep

We live in a busy world with untold numbers of stressors that fly at us from every angle. Work, technology, relationships, finances, responsibilities—it can all pile up on you and create major anxiety and stress, causing you to have low-quality sleep. And the last thing that you need on top of all of this is to feel tired, groggy, and cranky all day while you’re trying to manage your life.

Getting good sleep at night can be a remedy for many problems ranging from memory and cognition issues to behavioral issues like how you relate to your co-workers and important people in your life. To help you make the most of your night and get the best sleep possible, here are some tips for practicing good ‘sleep hygiene’:

  • Get a sleep study. According to the Cleveland Clinic, 9 percent of women and 24 percent of men suffer from a condition called Sleep Apnea. Sleep Apnea is a sometimes life-threatening condition that causes breathing to stop while sleeping, can mask itself as other conditions like depression, among others. What’s more shocking is that more than 80 percent of people go undiagnosed. This condition can lead to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease a host of other issues. The answer? Get a sleep study. If people have complained about your snoring or you feel exhausted during the day, it may be time for you to consult a sleep specialist and get a sleep study.
  •  Keep a ‘baby’ bedtime. When you were a baby, it’s likely that your parents put you to bed at the same time every night— and it was probably pretty early. Babies need good sleep to help their brains and bodies develop, but adults need this too. If you find yourself tired during the day, power down your life and crawl into bed by nine at night to get some good quality, ‘baby’ sleep.
  •  Manage your stress. Easier said than done, right? It’s true that stress management may seem daunting to some, but if you make it part of your daily routine, like brushing your teeth or eating breakfast, stress management can easily become part of your daily life. From meditating to playing calming music or folding laundry, finding coping mechanisms to make stress management a part of your nighttime ‘wind down’ routine can really help you catch some zzz’s.
  • Exercise helps. Science has proven that physical activity during the daytime can really help you sleep better at night, so making sure that you make time for exercise during the day is important. Even mild exercise like walking or yoga can help you sleep more soundly at night.
  •  Stop snacking and drinking before bed. If you tend to be a late night snacker or drinker, stop doing that now. Late night snacking can lead to weight gain, but it can also just make you uncomfortable. Drinking late at night can cause you to repeatedly get out of bed to make trips to the bathroom. It’s also important to cut out caffeine late in the day if you have trouble sleeping.
  •  Get rid of the blue light, and create a sleep sanctuary. Recent studies indicate that the blue light emitted from items like laptops and blu-ray players can interrupt sleep significantly. So, power down those electronics early and cover those lights so you can sleep better. Not only that but ‘unplugging’ before bed will help calm your mind and help you relax. Try keeping your bedroom cool (68 degrees or less), dark and quiet during sleep.  Simulate dusk by dimming your lights for a couple of hours before bed.

Immigration Medical Exams

Immigration medical examinations conducted inside the United States must be performed by a certified civil surgeon who has been designated by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In order to apply for a U.S. green card, you must undergo a medical examination. The purpose of the examination is to ensure that you are not inadmissible to the U.S. on public health grounds.immigration-flag-rv-420x199

However, you cannot simply undergo a medical examination with your regular doctor. Instead, a civil surgeon who has been specially designated by the relevant immigration authorities must perform the required medical examination. The civil surgeons who are qualified to perform green card medical examinations receive special, ongoing training about immigration issues.

How to find a civil surgeon or an authorized physician  

If you are applying for your green card from within the United States, otherwise known as “adjusting status,” you can use the list of qualified civil surgeons from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The easiest way is probably by checking the “USCIS Civil Surgeons Locator” page of the USCIS website.

If you’re adjusting status, you can alternately call the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 800-375-5283 or make an INFOPASS appointment to pick up the list at your local USCIS office.

What the doctor will examine?

During your examination, the doctor will speak with you, review your medical and vaccination history, and perform a physical examination, as well as necessary immunizations and blood work.

Current screenings include tuberculosis, syphilis, gonorrhea, other communicable diseases, drug abuse, addiction, physical or mental disorders and other medical conditions.

Required vaccinations are aged based and may include:

  • Hepatitis A and B
  • Influenza
  • Haemophilus Influenzae type B
  • Measles, mumps,rubella
  • Meningococcal
  • Pneumococcal
  • Polio
  • Tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis
  • Varicella



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Know The Risks: Opioid Prevention Is Possible

For the past two decades drug addiction in the United States has climbed steadily until now, in 2017, it is at a record high. It has become a problem of epidemic proportions, taking lives and wreaking havoc in the form of overdoses by the dozens every day. Opioid addiction crosses all cultural and financial boundaries, affecting the poorest neighborhoods and ghettos and the wealthiest of communities alike, as well as all points in between.

In this day and age of the information superhighway where knowledge and warnings of such dangers are shared worldwide in mere seconds, how is this possible? How is it that the caveats of those who have fallen victim to this deadly epidemic are not being heard and heeded?

The answer is because most people are unaware that there are certain risk factors that significantly increase a person’s chances of becoming addicted to opioids in particular. Many don’t realize that addiction begins with a seemingly safe and innocent prescription from their trusted family doctor. Even when used exactly as directed, prolonged use of any opioid will decrease it’s effect on pain as the body builds up an immunity, or “tolerance” to it. When the medication no longer works to kill the pain, it isn’t uncommon for the patient to begin taking more of the prescription than instructed. When the medicine no longer has any effect at all on their suffering, they will often turn to a stronger form of drug – whether it is legal or not – in order to find relief. This can also happen when a person loses their insurance or their medical coverage and/or is no longer able to afford the expensive prescription medication. The illicit street drugs are far less costly.

There are a number of other factors which can also have a heavy influence on a predisposition to addiction. They include:

1. FAMILY HISTORY- The number of members of the same family who often fall victim to addiction points to a genetic predisposition. The closer the blood relation, the higher the risk of addiction.

2. DEPRESSION/ANXIETY- For those who suffer from depression or anxiety disorders, opioids provide relief from the tormenting psychological effects that often accompany these conditions.

3. MEN ARE AT GREATER RISK THAN WOMEN- Studies have indicated that males are more inclined than females to become addicts, although sadly those numbers have begun to even out in recent years.

4. ABANDONMENT BY FAMILY- Lack of healthy, nurturing family relationships and bonds with parents, siblings, etc, can greatly increase the chances of developing an addiction as individuals seek comfort from their feelings of loneliness and rejection.

5. PEER PRESSURE- Though nearly archaic-sounding in modern times, the number one cause of drug experimentation which can so easily lead to addiction is the influence on young people by their peer group and friends.

By being aware of the main triggers and pitfalls which can lead down the spiraling path to dangerous, often deadly opioid abuse, there is hope. Addiction can be prevented, treated, overcome. The best way to deal with these issues is prevention. Education, open communication, compassion, professional intervention whenever necessary, all will work together to stop the cycle of addiction. Personal awareness and accountability, a willingness to ask for help when it is needed, honesty, and not allowing feelings of embarrassment, shame, or fear of being judged to overshadow the need for guidance and help – these are the keys to preventing, overcoming, and eliminating this scourge once and for all.

The Easy Choice: Holistic Care Lowers Costs and Pain

Quality medical care is increasingly difficult to find and expensive to obtain. Because of this problem, many people have started to seek out other methods and sources of medical information in order to care for themselves and those they love. Holistic medicine has modern implications, but, though its popularity is on the rise, it’s hardly a new trend. Even as far back as the 1970s and prior, holistic health has been challenging the status quo of the medical field.

Lower Costs

One motivating factor that drives people to seek out alternative or holistic care is the fact that it’s much cheaper than traditional medical services. Holistic health is a business, to be sure, but it’s not regulated by government, legislated to the hilt, and subject to the same standards as many medical procedures are. Furthermore, the profit margin on, say, a prescription for an antibiotic is much higher than the profit margin on a natural antibiotic. With a single ER visit, patients could tally up a bill in the tens of thousands of dollars. It’s no wonder, then, that spending a hundred dollars or so on a holistic practitioner and a few more dollars on a natural remedy is so appealing.

Lower Pain

Holistic care is often mocked by the mainstream medical community. However, many wonder if the reason for that mockery isn’t fear. After all, if holistic medicine works, it poses a great challenge and threat to special interest groups and Big Pharma. Whole body healing is a major focus of holistic ideology, and it’s something the medical community doesn’t always excel at. Holistic medicine is wonderful at reducing pain, inflammation, and stress, and its focus on healing the actual cause of the problem instead of putting a prescription bandage over the symptom makes it effective.

It’s easy to see why so many people are turning to holistic health remedies. Not only is the current economic climate motivating patients to seek out less expensive treatments, the effectiveness of holistic treatments is more widely accepted. Society is becoming more and more tolerant of alternative viewpoints, making holistic treatment options seem less scary and easier to embrace. While Big Pharma and the medical industry inflates prices and legislates their way to high profit margins and overpriced insurance, people are finding that the simple, effective, and inexpensive methods of holistic medicine are more than worth a second look.

Understanding Holistic Care in Relation to Chronic Illness

In my recent blog post “Understanding Approaches for Pain Management and Patient Care”  I speak on the lasting effects of holistic health care and the benefits that it has in terms of managing pain and taking care of the “whole” patient.

Before I get started, it is important to mention that the holistic approach to health does not reject conventional medicine, but is a sensible, complete form of healing that considers your child’s entire picture of health and uses the best and most appropriate options for healing. It is a process of strengthening every system of the mind-body and allowing your child’s natural healing potential to flourish.

Many of the chronic health problems that affect children will respond best when addressed from a holistic point of view.

Conventional v.s Alternative Medicine

Aside from conventional medicine, alternative medicine covers a broad range of healing philosophies, approaches, and therapies that can be used alone, in combination with other alternative therapies, or along with conventional medicine. Most homeopaths, naturopaths, and doctors  of oriental medicine are holistic practitioners, considering all aspects of their patients and assisting them in achieving a vibrant state of health.

But not all alternative practitioners can be considered holistic, nor is a conventional medical doctor necessarily not holistic. Alternative practitioners who believe that all disease is caused by vitamin deficiencies or spinal misalignments are no more holistic than a medical doctor who believes that all illness is caused by germs.

When it comes to medicine, it is beneficial to not have an either/or attitude. Both conventional and alternative have an important place in health care and can make a powerful team in certain situations.

Integrative Medicine

Integrative medicine (another word for holistic medicine) is an emerging system of health care practiced by medical doctors who respect all valid systems of healing, recognizing the value of each one.

Alternative and conventional treatments are combined in order to meet the needs of the patient on all levels of healing. The treatments that are the most effective in helping the patient are the ones used. It is not a matter of what type of medicine is better. It is a matter of what works for each patient.



For more on holistic care and ways to find doctors in your area visit

Meditation Offers a Powerful Integrated Treatment Option

Meditation has been a common spiritual and religious practice for thousands of years. More recently, the practice has been making its way into mainstream and secular use as a strategy to improve stress management, mindfulness, and overall quality of life. Researchers are beginning to take note as meditation becomes increasingly popular and shows promise as an integrative treatment option. Currently, 8% of Americans engage in meditation, and 11% spend time practicing deep breathing. Almost 1 out of every 10 Americans do yoga, which is considered by most to be a form of meditation, and 45% of those who don’t say they are interested in trying it.

Mediation’s growing popularity is easy to understand. Anyone can practice, anytime, anywhere. Meditation requires no special equipment or training. Although teachers and classes certainly exist and techniques vary, practicing meditation can be as simple as spending 15 minutes a day quietly focusing on your breath. Practitioners swear by these simple methods, with many reporting that they feel calmer and more relaxed throughout their day, more compassionate, and better equipped to handle difficult interpersonal situations. Many also report benefits in the form of new perspective and mental clarity, increased intuition and creativity, an ability to live in and appreciate each present moment, and an overall increase in happiness and wellbeing.

Meditation water fall

Scientific and medical research on the effects of meditation are still in the early stages, but a growing body of data promises a strong future for the use of meditation as a healthy, available, drug-free integrative medical treatment option.

Americans today face an epidemic of stress, and meditation may offer a powerful source of relief. Stress-related health problems are at the root of up to 80% of doctor appointments and make up the third highest health care expenditures, behind only heart disease and cancer. Given these numbers, it is shocking that only 3% of doctors attempt to address stress reduction techniques with their patients. A recent study suggests meditation goes a long way to address the problem.

People who participated in a meditation based relaxation program found that they required 43% less medical services compared to the previous year, and the newly relaxed patients enjoyed health care savings from $640 to as much as $25,500 per year. Also indicative of the success of such programs is that Aetna, a health insurance provider, offered its own employees a mindfulness program as an experiment of their own. The company itself enjoyed an increase in worker productivity of over an hour each week, or $3,000 yearly – a 1:11 return on their investment. The employees reported 28% less stress, 19% less pain, and 20% better sleep.

In a similar vein, mindfulness meditation is a natural match for treating both garden variety anxiety and patients suffering from Generalized Anxiety disorder. Based on her research, Dr. Elizabeth Hoge, a psychiatrist at the Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders at Massachusetts General Hospital and an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, recommends mediation for anyone “dealing with distracting thoughts that have too much power” and “nagging worry that has no benefit.”

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New research suggests that the positive shifts in subjective emotional states that mindful meditators have been reporting for years may even have an objective, traceable physical basis. Harvard neuroscientist Sara Lazar has been studying the effects of meditation on the brain, and she is reporting some fascinating results. After just an 8 week meditation program, brain scans showed increased grey matter in the frontal cortex, an area of the brain associated with memory and decision making.

They also found thickening in the left hippocampus, which is associated with learning, cognition and emotional regulation, as well as areas which assist with perspective taking, empathy, and compassion. Most notably the amygdala, a brain structure famously called the “fight or flight” center and closely linked to fear, anxiety, and stress, shrank considerably in people who had practiced meditation for 8 weeks. Finally, Lazer found that 50 year old meditators had grey matter density in the prefrontal cortex that rivaled an average 25 year old, instead of the shrunken cortex she would expect to find in someone at that age.

Researchers continue to study and learn about the myriad effects of meditation, but you can start reaping the benefits right now. Even 10-15 minutes a day spent meditating is thought to improve quality of life and reduce stress and anxiety. Meditation certainly can’t cure everything, but it can serve as a powerful tool alongside other therapy and treatment, or simply help to improve your stressful day.



Click here to check out some downloadable guided meditations