A chat with Dr. Mike

Cancer screening recs from 2015's Sexiest Doctor Alive
Wellness Wire
IN a nutshell
Happy Friday, friends. As you may know, 1 in 3 people will have cancer in their lifetime. That's a heck of a lot of people. And why today's guest is on a quest to spread awareness about the importance of getting regular screenings.
Dr. Mike Varshavski — known professionally as Dr. Mike — is a board certified family medicine practitioner who's passionate about empowering people to take control of their health. Below, we talk with Dr. Mike about why he wants you to put cancer screenings at the top of your list this year.
We'll also be talking about:
how this blender can help you get your daily fruit and veggie requirements
how dogs sniff out cancer
the physical side effects of daylight savings time
more health stories you need
Stay sharp,
Ginger Wojcik
Newsletter Editor, Healthline
  Written by Ginger Wojcik
March 17, 2023 • 6 min read
With over 23 million followers across his social channels, Dr. Mike is just a tad more popular than your average MD. But don't let his Sexiest Doctor Alive title fool you: he's much more than a pretty face. As a fierce advocate for owning your own health, he's adamant about the importance of staying up to date on cancer screenings.
In December, Dr. Mike teamed up with CancerScreenWeek to help make cancer screenings more accessible. Below, read our Q&A with the popular doctor.
*This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Q: There are so many urgent health issues to tackle these days. What motivated you to focus on raising awareness for cancer screenings, specifically?
A: Cancer hits close to home as I lost my mother to leukemia and know how devastating it is to lose a loved one to the disease. While her cancer was not one we have adequate screenings for, I'm hopeful that by raising awareness, we can improve our screenings, thereby potentially saving lives.
My goal has always been to make medical knowledge accessible to anyone and everyone and to tackle misinformation. Cancer touches just about everyone, but it doesn't impact everyone equally, and I want to show how cancer screening can be accessible and change the way we see the screening process.
Q: The COVID-19 pandemic affected health outcomes across the board. How did it impact cancer screenings?
A: During the height of the pandemic, a backlog of missed cancer screenings continued to build up, delaying detection and increasing wait times for those in treatment. We see this in colorectal screening rates, which decreased 17.7% following the pandemic, along with cervical, breast, and lung cancer, which decreased by 6.8%, 1.8%, and 1.2%, respectively.
Greg Grunberg
Q: You're a big advocate for getting patients to be involved in their healthcare decisions. How has this affected the way you approach spreading cancer awareness?
A: In general, patients are usually unaware of specific screenings they need or have fallen behind on. They may be aware of the fact that they missed their annual appointments but are unsure of what is due to be checked. I view this as an opportunity for education as to what tests are due, why they're due, and why certain tests aren't ordered as screenings. If we can engage patients to be active in their healthcare decisions, we will undoubtedly yield better results.
Q: What would you say to someone who's nervous to get screened after putting it off for a few years?
A: I can absolutely empathize with the scary process of getting back into the swing of things and scheduling your next screening appointment. It can be so hard to pick up something that you have put off for so long. Luckily for 2023, finding where to book a screening appointment doesn't have to be [difficult].
For more information on how to find a cancer screening appointment near you, check out CancerScreenWeek.com.
great finds
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A heckin' good nose: How dogs sniff out cancer
Weird Science
A heckin' good nose: How dogs sniff out cancer
Imagine having such good eyesight you could find a specific grain of sand at the beach just by looking. This can give you an idea of how well a dog can smell. Between 10–100 thousand times stronger than that of a human, a dog's nose can detect a colossal array of chemical compounds, including the odors emitted by cancer cells.
Cancer cells (and healthy cells affected by cancer) produce volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which can be detected in your skin, breath, sweat, urine, and feces. In the early stages of cancer, VOCs may be undetectable by the human nose. But not so for dogs, whose supersonic snouts can sniff out substances at very low concentrations.
Indeed, there have been numerous studies that show dogs can pick up on these cancer-specific VOCs. One impressive example includes a study where a trained labrador detected breast cancer from 200 urine samples with 100% accuracy!
As an easy, noninvasive method for detecting cancer, it's easy to get excited about the potential of the canine nose in a clinical setting. But more research is needed before that can become a reality. Researchers are investigating other ways to use olfaction to detect cancer, including new technologies that harness the scent-detecting abilities of our canine companions. To that, we say treats all around.
health stories you need
What we're reading next
🕰 ️Why daylight saving time makes you feel terrible. A neurologist explains why you may feel so "blah" after the clocks spring forward.
🍄 Prince Harry is singing the praises of psychedelics for mental health. In a recent interview, the royal talks about how he uses these therapeutic chemicals to benefit his health.
🧘 Box breathing can help you relax in a pinch. Learn how to practice this evidence-based relaxation technique.
🧑‍🍼 A rare bacteria was found in a breast pump and infant formula. The contamination has led to infections in two infants. Here's what parents need to know.
Thanks for reading everyone! We hope you have a restful weekend. We'll be back in your inboxes on Monday.
Did you enjoy this interview?
Until next time,
Take care of yourself, and we'll see
you again soon!
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