HERE are some of the questions we have received from you, our readers, and my reply to them.

These answers are informational only and not intended to make any diagnosis or recommendation.

Your physician is the best ally you have when it comes to health and medical advice.

Is it good to take a nap?

Yes, if possible and practical, a short mid-afternoon nap is good to give the body a brief rest and allow it to “mini-recharge its battery.”

It has been shown, though, that a 10-15 minute nap is much better than a 30-minute or longer naps.

The body and brain get sluggish when a nap is longer than 15 minutes.

If my stress test is normal, can I forget about exercise?

No, unless you want your apparent good health to deteriorate.

Even if your cholesterol and other blood tests are normal, your weight just right, and you pass a stress test, it does not mean you can forget about exercise, proper diet (low-cholesterol, high-fiber), and abstinence from tobacco.

All these recommended life-style changes are for prevention of cardiovascular and other debilitating diseases.

If not maintained properly and consistently, these normal blood and stress test results will worsen as months and years go by, and eventually, illnesses, like stroke, heart attack and cancer will develop.

Are Bangkok Pills safe?

Bangkok Pills have been marketed and being sold by unscrupulous, money-hungry, manufacturers and dealers “for weight control.”

The ingredients include bisacodyl, furosemide, phenteramine and fenfluramine (a drug illegal in the Philippines, Thailand and in the United States).

As we have reported in this column two years ago, the U.S. FDA had banned this on Sept. 15, 1997 because of adverse side effects, some of them fatal.

Death was noted to occur four years after the initial use in 45 percent of patients.

Very obviously, Bangkok Pills, or other similar drugs, are not safe.

To lose excess weight and maintain a healthier weight, it is wiser, cheaper and safer to follow the obvious intelligent and basic strategy: burn more calories than what you take in.

In other words, exercise more and eat less until you achieve your goal.

Yes, it is easier said than done, we agree.

It takes a great determination, a disciplined character, and a lot of sacrifices to be healthy and stay healthy.

But it is worth it.

Therefore, it does not make any sense at all for you who want to be healthy to use potentially deadly drugs trying to lose the many extra pounds you may have and ending up losing your health and the only — the one and only — life you have.

Is it really better to eat early supper?

Yes, especially for those who are trying to lose weight.

Eating early supper somehow appears to have a positive effect on our metabolism and aids in keeping our body slim.

Obviously, the amount and quality of the food we ingest are important determinant factors also.

Eating our dinner early (5 p.m. or 6 p.m.) serves our body better than eating at 9 p.m. or 10 p.m., evidently closer to bed time.

To obtain the maximum benefit of early dinner schedule, one must eat sensibly and also not indulge in late night or midnight snacks.

Drinking a tall glass of water instead is a healthier strategy to “fill and fool” the stomach, if needed.

Why are money bills dirty?

One of the dirtiest objects we all handle day in and day out is paper money.

Each bill goes from one person to another, circulating at least dozens of times a day.

If one of the money handlers came out from a bathroom without washing his/her hands properly, or has dirty hands for other reasons, the dirt or germs contaminate the paper money or whatever he touches.

This is a continuation of a vicious cycle within a community of people, spreading from one town, city and state, to another, all touching the same money bill which, at this time around, is dirtier than what it was from the hundreds or thousands of people who had handled it before.

This is why it is a good practice to wash our hands after handling money, and before eating, and to take a shower/bath daily, because our hands can easily get contaminated with germs from many sources in our daily environment, and cause us illnesses.

Do overweight people have a higher risk for cancer?

Yes, being obese or overweight increases the risk for the development of cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea (prolonged breath holding while asleep), and other illnesses.

Maintaining an acceptable weight is not easy but we have to do it to reduce the chances of getting ill and to stay healthy.

Taking diet pills and diet food items being marketed for weight loss is not the answer.

Eating less and exercising more is the safer, more effective, and healthier strategy to follow as we have stated many times before in this column.

The FTC and FDA in the United States are currently going after false and fraudulent marketing claims made by manufacturers of the hundreds of so-called “weight loss drugs, diet foods and weight-control supplements,” which have been found to be ineffective, useless, many of them outright dangerous and expensive.

Could date-rape drugs kill?

Known as GHB, the infamous date-rape drug is illegal in the United States and some other countries as well.

And so with its cousin drug derivatives.

On Sept. 19, 2002, Associated Press reported the arrest of 115 street and Internet dealers and manufacturers of date-rape drug in 84 cities in the United States and Canada.

The DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency, USA) documented 72 deaths from this drug among the numberless victims of date-rape.

This drug was usually ordered by teenagers and young adults through the Internet.

Ladies, be careful in choosing your date and know exactly what you are drinking.

If in doubt about your beverage, abstain, save a sample, and bring it to a toxicology laboratory for analysis.

Does reading poetry aloud reduce stress?

Amazingly, yes, reading rhythmic poetry aloud for 30 minutes has been found to reduce stress, evidenced by lower blood pressure and heart rate among hypertensives (people with high blood pressure) or among those under severe stress.

The study has shown that talking for the same amount of time did not confer the same benefit.

But don’t make it too loud so your housemates and neighbors do not develop rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, and severe stress themselves.

Singing (even among those who can’t really sing) and dancing have likewise been found to reduce stress of daily living.

Taking good care of our mental and emotional health and well-being makes us look and feel younger, and adds years, healthier years, to our life.


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