Selected Podcast

Ask Dr. Mike: Alternatives to Mammograms, Branched-Chain Amino Acids, and Ebola Treatment

Here you'll find the answers to a wealth of health and wellness questions posed by Healthy Talk fans.

Listen in because what you come to learn and know helps ensure healthy choices you can actually live with!

Today on Healthy Talk, you wanted to know:

What are my alternatives to mammograms?

A mammogram is a diagnostic x-ray doctors use to check for breast cancer. Statistics on these tests show that they are 85-90 percent accurate. However, if you're concerned with the amount of radiation used, you might feel uneasy to get one.

One alternative test you can have done is an MRI, which has the same sensitivity and specificity as a mammogram without the ionized radiation. Unfortunately, MRI's can be very costly and most insurances don't cover them. Since it would be used as a test for breast cancer detection, it may be an out-of-pocket cost.

Another alternative would be an ultrasound, an imaging device that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of inside your body. However, there are some limitations. Ultrasounds aren't as sensitive or specific as a mammogram or MRI.

Finally, you could choose thermography. Thermography utilizes thermal imaging and video to pick up the heat and blood flow changes around a mass that could be cancer or an infection.

What are branched-chain amino acids?

Branched-chain amino acids are nutrients your body obtains from the protein you ingest from food. These particular amino acids aren't linear and they form three branches: valine, leucine, and isoleucine. If used in a supplement form, BCAAs can help improve your muscle mass and definition, increase your immune response, reduce blood pressure, and increase longevity.

Is there anything new coming out on treating Ebola?

Lately, it seems like there has been a lot of coverage and concern surround this serious virus. The Ebola outbreak happened in Western Africa back in early 2014 and has been spreading rampant ever since. Now, cases in the United States have been appearing.

Recently, human testing in Canada began on an experimental vaccine with the hopes of it being shipped to West Africa within four to six months, if it is proven to be successful.

Since Ebola causes organ failure and sepsis, researchers are looking at other preventative medications such as melatonin. Melatonin has been used to treat sepsis by reversing the vascular breakdown that happens with sepsis.

If you have a health question or concern, Dr. Mike encourages you to write him so he can help give you support and helpful advice.