Scannell: The radiation risk posed when you undergo CT scans

It’s often said, “What you don’t know won’t hurt you.” But I’ve never understood the rationale behind that. In fact, as a doctor, I’d argue otherwise — that what you don’t know can harm you a great deal.

I’m thinking of this in light of recent studies concerning radiation exposure from medical imaging tests like computerized tomography (CT) scans. Many of us don’t know that we’re exposed to ionizing radiation when we undergo a CT scan, that ionizing radiation is a carcinogen or that data links an increased risk of cancer to low-level doses that are commonly used in CT imaging.

And while that increased risk may be small, it’s also cumulative over time — a concern for patients who receive multiple scans.

The benefits of CT scans in diagnosing disease and saving lives are indisputable. But, like any medical test or treatment, CT scans entail potential risks that should be balanced against expected benefits. Unfortunately, we’ve paid little attention to the radiation risks.

Putting the risk in perspective is difficult, considering the various yardsticks by which meaningful radiation exposure and cancer risks are measured. But, in broad terms, we can consider the constant background radiation from natural sources that we’re exposed to every day. While a chest X-ray exposes us to a 10-day dose of background radiation, a chest CT scan delivers about 2 years’ worth. And the average 3-year dose we get from a CT of the abdomen and pelvis more than doubles when the scan is repeated with and without contrast.

It’s important to remember that the increased cancer risk from a single CT scan remains low for most individuals. Still, the risk accumulates with additional scanning, and it constitutes an unnecessary risk if the scan isn’t medically necessary.

That latter point deserves underscoring because about 30 percent of CT scans performed in …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Health


Critter corner: Keeping Spanky safe in the car

Dear Miss Behavin’: Our new dog, Spanky, loves going places with us, and we love taking him. The problem is he’s so excited in the car that he can’t sit still. He hops from seat to seat and tries to lick our faces. How do we contain his excitement on the road?

Reply: You are not alone in enjoying your canine copilot. Fortunately, that means there are lots of options for keeping Spanky safe in the car. If Spanky is crate trained, an easy way to keep him in place in the car is to have him ride in his crate. This works best if he fits into a small crate which can fit on the back seat, or if you have a hatchback that can fit a crate in the back. Make sure that the crate is secure so it can’t slide around as you drive.

If Spanky isn’t one for confinement, try a back seat barrier, which attaches to your two front seats and blocks his access to the driver/passenger area. This leaves him free to move around while keeping him out of your space, which can be a dangerous distraction. Another option is a seatbelt-style harness. There are many styles of this type of harness, which is designed to easily click into the seat belt buckle. Find the most comfortable and secure type for Spanky by taking him to the pet store to try on a few.

Whichever method you choose, pair it with a frozen Kong or other chew to keep Spanky occupied and happy during your next trip.

Sara Werning is an Assistant for the Behavior & Training Department at Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA. For more information, call 650-340-7022 ext. 316 or email

…read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle


Angie’s List: Good home projects to tackle in the winter months

By Paul F. P. Pogue, Angie’s List

With the holidays behind us and the coldest months settling in, you might not be thinking too much about getting professional work done in your home. But whether it’s hiring a handyman to finish a to-do list or putting pen to paper for a big remodel, you can still complete some useful projects.

Winterize your interior

You may be a little late to the party, but it’s not too late to prevent winter chills and save energy. Before committing to this project, you should have your home thoroughly evaluated to determine where energy is lost, how much insulation is needed, and how much you might expect to pay.

You could find you need to add new insulation throughout your home and attic, or you may just need to install energy-efficient windows and doors. You should be able to recoup some of the costs because a well-insulated home typically comes with a lower utility bill.

Another way to add more warmth to your home is to run your fans clockwise. This recycles warm air that has risen to the ceiling, pushing it back down to keep you comfortably warm.

Remodel the basement

Most Bay Area homes don’t have basements, but if you do, remodeling a basement during the winter months has several benefits. Since the basement is underground, all work will be completed indoors — meaning you won’t have to open your home to the rain and cold. Plus, in addition to the lower rates and greater availability of home remodeling contractors, winter also offers less humid air, lowering the chance of mold forming on exposed surfaces.

Clean your gutters

If you haven’t cleaned your gutters recently, now is an excellent time to do so. All the leaves have fallen by now, so there won’t be much new Related Articles

Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle


Inside Look: Why Walnut Creek’s Chicken Pie Shop is a hidden gem

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I love the idea of a warm, savory pot pie in blustery winter weather. But they are hard to find on Bay Area menus, and when I do spot one and order it, I’m often disappointed by the hard, flavorless knobs of crust, as well as the ratio of crust to filling.

So imagine my joy when I stumbled upon a restaurant in Walnut Creek that specializes in pies. Really good pies with exceptional crusts based on an 80-year-old recipe.

The Chicken Pie Shop is located on the short strip of Arroyo Road that connects Broadway to North Main. The restaurant opened last year, so if you typically dine downtown, you might have missed it, just like I did. But you won’t want to miss the food, which is excellent and inexpensive. Here’s our recent experience:

THE VIBE: The capacious dining room is a former sports bar, and managing partner Huy Bui (he owns Mavericks Country Lounge in Pleasanton) is still renovating it to look and feel more like a restaurant, with the recent addition of brick walls and reclaimed wood tables and chairs. Look for more changes in the coming months, including a fireplace and patio. For now, it’s quiet and very roomy. Service was swift and friendly during our mid-week lunch.

THE FOOD: The menu is divided into bar bites and appetizers ($6-$15), like flatbreads and roasted cauliflower; and salads and sandwiches ($5-$16), including burgers and fried chicken, pot pies ($9-$12) and desserts ($5-$7). Given the name of the restaurant and its ties to the San Diego Chicken Pie Shop, we stuck to the pies.

The pie crusts made by executive chef Miguel Mendoza, a former Napa and San Francisco pastry chef, are absolutely delightful: Thin, flaky and buttery, …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle


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