Posted in Entertainment, Health, news

Val Kilmer Admits to Battling Cancer

The 57 year old actor, well known for his successful roles in Batman and Top Gun, had repeatedly denied claims of cancer after friend and colleague, Michael Douglas, spilled the beans in an interview last year.  However, this week, in a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) Val Kilmer answered a fan’s question about Michael Douglas’s statement saying, “He was probably trying to help me cause press probably asked where I was these days, and I did have a healing of cancer, but my tongue is still swollen altho healing all the time.”

In early 2015, Val Kilmer was allegedly hospitalized for a “bleeding of his throat”.  His rep released a statement saying the actor was being evaluated for a “possible tumor”, but later that month Val Kilmer denied the rep’s statement and told fans on Facebook he had a complication for which he was being treated.


In late 2015 the actor was seen with a tracheostomy tube. These tubes are placed after a tracheotomy, an opening of the windpipe to allow air to get through the lungs, bypassing the throat.  The tube was removed and a month later Val Kilmer posted a picture on Facebook, smiling and looking well.  Again he denied having cancer.


Although not common, The National Cancer Institute estimates 1.1 percent of adults will be diagnosed with pharyngeal cancer within their lifetime.  Erin Moran, the Happy Days actress, recently died from stage 4 throat cancer.  Multiple famous people have battled throat cancer including

Sammy Davis Jr., age 64

Michael Crichton, suspected throat cancer, age 66

President Ulysses S. Grant, suspected throat vs. esophageal cancer, age 63

Bob Denver (Gilligan’s Island), age 70

Carl Perkins, age 75

Throat cancer can involve the base of the tongue, the nasopharyx (connecting to the back of the nose), the oropharynx (throat), the tonsils, and/or the hypopharyx behind the  larynx (voice box).  It is often diagnosed in its later stages since early symptoms mimic common medical complaints such as sore throat, hoarseness or a continual need to clear one’s throat.  These symptoms, if not resolving, should be evaluated for throat cancer as well as any weight loss, swollen lymph nodes, inability to swallow, and/or a change in voice.

Smoking, alcohol, and HPV infection have been linked to causing throat cancer. The earlier its diagnosed, the better the prognosis. It can be treated with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.  Michael Douglas states he was treated with chemo and radiation and by 2011 was in remission.  He was very fortunate and early intervention is key.

For more information on throat cancer, read here:


spanish book

Learning Medical Spanish is Easy!!!

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network and Board Certified Family Physician

Posted in Health, news

Your daily medications and DUI’s – are you at risk?

Image above from

We commonly think of DUI’s, or Driving Under the Influence, a result of drinking alcohol and driving while intoxicated.  However what many people fail to realize is drugs, including prescriptions, could decrease your ability to drive safely, hence putting you at risk for a DUI when alcohol wasn’t even ingested.

A report from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility found that more fatal crashes were the result of drug use as opposed to alcohol use.

These findings showed that although alcohol was involved in 37% of fatal crashes, prescriptions and illegal drugs were responsible for 43% of driver- related deaths.

Looking deeper into data available from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), they found 36.5 % of drug related fatal car crashes were the result of marijuana use.

Now what about prescription drugs?  California Vehicle Code 23152(e) states, “It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle.”

So what prescription drugs could impair one’s driving?

The obvious ones include the following:

Narcotics such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, codeine…to name a few

Muscle relaxants such as carisprodol, cyclobenzaprine, methocarbamol……

Sleep aids such as zolpidem, eszopiclone….

Anti-anxiety medications such as diazepam, lorazepam, alprazolam, clonazepam…..

However surprisingly, these next groups of medications can also cause sedation:

Cholesterol medications such as statins:  lovastatin, atorvastatin, etc. may cause fatigue and recent studies have found them to cause “excessive tiredness”.

Stomach acid suppressants such as proton pump inhibitors:  omeprazole, lansoprazole have been reported to cause vitamin deficiencies such as B12 and magnesium which in turn can cause fatigue.

Antibiotics that treat many common infections:  Amoxicillin, azithromycin, ciprofloxacin have been known to cause fatigue.

Diuretics for blood pressure and water retention:  hydrochlorothiazide, furosemide cause potassium loss in the urine which may contribute to fatigue

Antihistamines:  anti-allergy medications such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) are very sedating, which is why they are used in some over the counter sleep aids.  There are some reports that the younger generation of medications such as Zyrtec can cause drowsiness as well.

Blood pressure medications:  these can include the ACE inhibitors such as captopril, enalapril;  calcium channel blockers such as amlodipine; beta blockers such as metoprolol as well as the diuretic family mentioned previously.

Antidepressants: many antidepressants additionally help with anxiety through their sedating effects such as trazadone, paroxitine, and escitalopram to name a few.

Mood stabilizers, anti-seizure medications, and antipsychotics can cause fatigue as well.

Despite the rarity of these types of cases, the potential is still there for one to not only receive a DUI but injure himself or others if the prescription makes him less alert, i.e. decreases his “sobriety”.  Discuss with your medical provider if you feel drowsy after you take your medication and if there are less sedating options.


                                                                                                                                                                                                      Medical Spanish made easy

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, iHeart Radio and Board Certified Family Physician

Posted in Entertainment, Health, news

A huge rise in the use of the name “Daliah” – My apology to those affected

According to use of the name “Daliah” rose exponentially in the latter 2000’s.  Some blame me.  Now hold on.  “Daliah” means bough or tree branch.  It also represents a flower.  That sounds kind of lovely.  Maybe the parents were interested in horticulture.

Yet, in 2016 alone, the name “Daliah” was used over 4,364 times.  Why? Was the radio on when the mother had to pull over to the side of the road to give birth?  Did she have indigestion and worse gas with this pregnancy as opposed to the others?  I have a few of my own theories…..


baby d.jpg


  1. The child grew out of her training BRA by the third grade
  2. The child was born with frazzled, overly processed, BLONDE hair
  3. The child doesn’t stop GIGGLING
  4. As an infant she began TALKING before she learned how soil a diaper
  5. Both the mother and child have a crush on Michael Fassbender
  6. The child likes to eat with her hands
  7. The child can’t spell
  8. The child LOVES red meat
  9. The child adds chocolate to EVERYTHING
  10.  The mother while pregnant suffered from severe constipation, hemorrhoids and irritable bowel syndrome.

Any of the above could have ignited the chain of events that caused one’s parents to choose “Daliah” as a baby name.  For any of you whom have been negatively affected by this, let me wholeheartedly apologize and suggest you consider getting your name changed as soon as possible (before the teeth stain and the upper lip hair surfaces……..)


                                                                                                                                                                                                      Medical Spanish made easy

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, iHeart Radio and Board Certified Family Physician



Posted in Health, news

Did the Utah man who was refused a lung transplant die from an infection that came from weed?

The tragic case of a 20 year old Utah man who was denied a life saving lung transplant due to marijuana in his system might have become ill from the marijuana he was smoking.

Riley Hancey, 20, had smoked marijuana with his friends on Thanksgiving and the next day fell ill with pneumonia.  Three weeks later he was in the Intensive Care Unit on life support unsuccessfully battling a “rare lung infection”. A physician at the hospital, the University of Utah, allegedly refused to give Hancey the lung transplant due to his drug test showing positive for THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.

The family found “angels” at the University of Pennsylvania who offered to help their son and Hancey received a double lung transplant March 29th.  Unfortunately, he died earlier this week from complications from the transplant.

The family stated their son rarely smoked pot and had been drug free for up to year before then.

This tragic case reignited the controversy of hopeful transplant recipients being denied organs due to recreational marijuana use.  Marijuana has been found to many times contain contaminants including mold.  One reason for organ denial is the risk of fungal infection that could occur in an a immunosuppressed patient who is being treated to prevent organ rejection.

However, did Riley come down with the “rare lung infection” because of the marijuana he smoked the day before?

This month an investigation of marijuana dispensaries in California found 90 percent of marijuana samples to contain traces of bacteria and/or fungus that shouldn’t be harmful to those with healthy immune systems, but could be dangerous to those who are immunocompromised.  As a result the state’s Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation is working to finalize rules and regulations regarding the newly legalized marijuana industry.  Other states are following suit.


Image from Green CulturED

The investigation occurred after a man in northern California died from a rare fungal infection related to his medicinal marijuana.  Dr. Joseph Tuscano of the University of California, Davis Cancer Center observed with two of his young cancer patients, fungal superinfections that occurred after the men used medicinal marijuana for their chemotherapy-induced nausea.  After combining forces with Steep Hill Laboratories in Berkeley, he found “The cannabis was contaminated with many bacteria and fungi, some of which was compatible with the infections that I saw in my patients.”

His colleague, Dr. George Thompson, a fungal expert at UC Davis, said, “Klebsiella, E.coli, Pseudomonas, Acinetobacter, these are all very serious infections for anybody in the hospital. But particularly in that population, the cancer population. ”

Now, Hancey was in good health prior to his devastating lung infection, playing sports, travelling and working at a ski resort.  So it raises the question of whether his lungs were exposed to a contaminant his body couldn’t fight.   The type of infection that caused his “rare pneumonia” has not been disclosed but the above pathogens listed by Dr. Thompson can all cause “rare pneumonia” unlike streptococcal bacteria and those that commonly cause community acquired pneumonia.

Some researchers suggest users should ingest the marijuana rather than smoking it, as the heat from baking marijuana treats could potentially kill off the microorganisms, that otherwise could have direct contact with the lungs during inhalation.

This is a developing story.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Medical Spanish made easy

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, iHeart Radio and Board Certified Family Physician



Posted in Entertainment, Health, news

Erin Moran Had Been Battling Stage 4 Throat Cancer – Your Questions Answered

Image above from Disease Pictures

The 56 year old actress was receiving chemotherapy and radiation treatment for throat cancer.

A statement released by her husband, Steve Fleischmann, revealed she had back in 2016 woke up noticing a small amount of blood on her pillow case thinking she had bitten her tongue.  A biopsy later revealed she had squamous cell carcinoma on her left tonsil. The cancer eventually spread not allowing her to eat or drink and she required a feeding tube.  This week she died peacefully at home in bed next to her husband and the coroner revealed the cancer had spread to her spleen and brain.

According to Erin Moran’s costar, Anson Williams who played Potsie, “She kept very quiet”……”We all kept quiet too, out of respect for Erin. She couldn’t speak, but her texts were very [positive].”


What is “Throat Cancer”?

The throat, pharynx, is divided into three parts.

Nasopharynx – above the soft palate, the upper part of the throat behind the nose

Oropharynx – between the soft palate and the epiglottis, the middle part of the throat including the back wall, sides, tonsils and posterior 1/3 (back) of the tongue.

Hypopharynx – the lowest part that leads to the esophagus and larynx (voice box)

Cancer in any of these anatomical sections can be considered “throat cancer”.  Cancer of the larynx (voice box) is called laryngeal cancer and is considered separate from hypopharyngeal cancer.

Esophageal cancer is cancer of the esophagus (gullet) and is considered separate from “throat cancer” as well.

What are the symptoms of throat cancer?

Symptoms of throat cancer include:

Chronic sore throat


Voice changes

Chronic cough

Difficulty swallowing

Painless lump in the neck

Neck Pain

Ear Pain

Weight loss

to name a few.

What are the risk factors?

Risk factors for throat cancer include:

HPV (Human Papillomavirus) – causing rising rates of especially oropharyngeal cancer

Epstein Barr Virus – related to increase risk of nasopharyngeal cancer

Tobacco Use

Alcohol use

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (heartburn)

Poor diet, especially lack of fruits and vegetables

How is throat cancer treated?

As one can see by the list of symptoms, throat cancer often gets mistaken for common cold symptoms.  Unfortunately, by the time throat cancer is diagnosed, it has reached a more advanced stage.  Depending on where the cancer is located, various treatments can be instituted including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and targeted drug therapy.

Which famous people battled throat cancer?

Celebrities who succumbed to throat cancer include:

Sammy Davis Jr., age 64

Michael Crichton, suspected throat cancer, age 66

President Ulysses S. Grant, suspected throat vs. esophageal cancer, age 63

Bob Denver (Gilligan’s Island), age 70

Carl Perkins, age 75

to name a few.

In 2010, Actor Michael Douglas successfully battled “throat cancer” that originated from a tumor at the base of his tongue.




                                                                                                                                                                                                      Medical Spanish made easy

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, iHeart Radio and Board Certified Family Physician

Posted in Health, news

“Stealthing” – a Cool Name for Such a Disgusting Act

Image above from Women’s Health


The new disturbing trend of “stealthing” is making medical, criminal and civil experts nervous.

“Stealthing” occurs when men remove their condom in the middle of sex without their partner’s consent.

A study published in the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, found men will “stealth” to “promote their seed”.  Alexandra Brodsky, a Legal Fellow at the National Women’s Law Center, investigated this practice and found multiple online communities of gay and straight men openly discussing this practice, swapping tips for how to remove a condom during sex unbeknownst to the partner/victim.

This type of assault traumatizes the victims and puts them at risk of unwanted pregnancy and/or dangerous sexually transmitted illnesses.  It violates multiple civil and criminal laws and in Switzerland a man was convicted of rape for “stealthing” during sex.

Julian Assange, Wikileaks founder, had been accused of “stealthing” during a sexual encounter in 2010.  To date, no cases have been tried in the United States.

This is a developing story.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Medical Spanish made easy

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, iHeart Radio and Board Certified Family Physician

Posted in Entertainment, Health, news

Happy Day’s Sweetheart, Erin Moran, dies at age 56 of stage 4 cancer

Saturday late afternoon, first responders answered a 911 call of an “unresponsive” Erin Moran.  When they arrived to her home she was deceased.   Originally her cause of death had been speculated as a heroin overdose, but no illegal substances were found on the premises.  Today Harrison County Coroner’s Office reveals the cause of death was from succumbing “to complications of stage 4 cancer”.

The actress, well known for her role as Joanie Cunningham on Happy Days and Joanie Loves Chachi, was 56.

The results of an autopsy are pending but the initial statement reads below:C-MDXttUAAIkeX-


Scott Baio and Erin Moran in ‘Joanie Loves Chachi’ ABC Photo Archives/Getty Images

Despite her early years of TV success, her later years were riddled with financial struggles, reports of homelessness as well as depression.

This is a developing story.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Medical Spanish made easy

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, iHeart Radio and Board Certified Family Physician

Posted in Health, news

Italian Court Recognizes Cell Phone Link to Brain Tumor

Image above from Yale Scientific

An Italian court has ruled in a favor of a 57 year old employee who alleged his work related cell phone use was linked to his brain tumor.  Roberto Romero worked for Telecom Italia, whom he did not name in the suit, and used his work-issued cell phone for 3-4 hours a day for 15 years.  He developed a benign tumor that affected his hearing, which could have been an acoustic neuroma. Romero sued the Italian Workers’ Compensation Authority for disability payments and won based on his 23% impairment, totaling roughly $7000 a year.

This is not the first time a link between cell phone radiation and brain tumors has been recognized in a legal system.  In 2012 the Supreme Court in Italy recognized the link in a similar case that involved a sales manager who was on a cell phone 5-6 hours a day.

Last updated 4/21/17

What do cell phones emit?

Cell phones emit radio waves. These are a form of non-ionizing radiation that provides an energy source through radio frequency.  Ionizing radiation is emitted by xrays, cosmic rays, and radon, and have been linked to cancer as it s a high frequency, high energy form of electromagnetic radiation.  Non-ionizing radiation include radio waves, microwaves, visible light, UV light, infrared, and lasers.  Although UV radiation may cause skin cancer, the other sources are deemed less dangerous than their ionizing radiation counterparts.

Can cell phone use cause cancer?

One of the more recent studies unveiled in May of 2016 reported cell phone radiation caused brain tumors in mice.  Rats exposed to the radiofrequency radiation for 7-9 hours a day, seven days a week, were more prone to develop the malignant gliomas as well has tumors in the heart.  This study was not intended to be translated to human risk, but of course it made headlines and scared us silly.

Prior to this, in 2011, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified cell phone use and other radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”.

However, multiple studies have been done, as descriptively outlined by the National Cancer Institute, and are assuring us that there is no imminent danger by our daily use of cell phones.  The NCI also provides recommendations from the CDC, FDA, and FCC stating not enough evidence exists to establish a link between cell phones and cancer.

Can cell phone radiation injure our body’s cells?

Although arguments continue over cell phone radiation causing cancer, it has been proven that heat is given off.  Many people complain their ear gets hot after lengthy cell phone use and studies have yet to determine if cell  phone heat can cause oncogenic changes in cells.  They’ve studied if the radiation affects metabolic activity, and a team led by Dr. Nora Volkow, head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, found visible brain activity changes on the side the cell phone was being used.  They recommended after this study keeping the cell phone away from the body and using a lower radiation emitting phone.

So now what?

We wait and see.  My suggestion is to not overdo it with our phones.  Use the speaker setting when practical so as to not consistently hug the phone to your skull.  Take breaks in between lengthy calls.  Text when appropriate to minimize exposure as well.

Or do what I do when I talk to my mother, hold the phone 3 feet away from my head.  I can still hear her…..just fine……


                                                                                                                                                                                                      Medical Spanish made easy

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, iHeart Radio and Board Certified Family Physician

Posted in Health, news

Diet Sodas linked to Stroke and Dementia

Image above from BBC


A new study published in the American Heart Association’s journal, Stroke, suggests artificially sweetened beverages were linked to a higher risk of stroke and dementia.

One can or more a day was linked to a three times increase risk of stroke and dementia compared to those who avoided the low calorie beverage.

According to Dr. Matthew Pase from Boston University School of Medicine, “We can’t show cause and effect in this study as it is observational in design, but given the popularity of diet drinks we desperately need more research on this question.”

What’s interesting, however, is sugar-infused drinks were not associated with the increase risk of dementia and stroke in this one particular study.

The researchers looked at 2888 middle age to older individuals and found between 1991-2001, 97 people had a stroke, the majority of which suffered from the ischemic kind.  Researchers, using the same time period, reviewed cases of 1484 people and found 81 cases of dementia, the majority of which were Alzheimer’s-related.  They all had been given questionnaires asking about their dietary habits and those who drank at least one diet drink a day were three times more likely to suffer from an ischemic stroke or develop dementia.

Ischemic strokes are the most common type of stroke where blood flow is compromised from reaching parts of the brain, many times by a clot.  Dementia occurs when one loses their memory or ability to perform daily tasks.  One with dementia can also elicit personality changes.

Last year a study looking at 60,000 women found heart disease such as coronary artery disease, heart failure, and heart attack as well as stroke were increased by 7% in those who drank up to 4 drinks a week.

When it comes to artificial sweeteners, much of the research has focused on cancer risk.  Although the definitive evidence is lacking, some studies have suggested blood cancer risk to be increased when they studied rats ingesting high doses of aspartame.

Why would diet drinks be associated with stroke and dementia?  It could be the chemicals are toxic to brain tissue.  It could also be a secondary effect from the caffeine in the drink as some diet drinks have caffeine that can raise blood pressure, hence increasing risk of stroke and dementia.  More needs to be studied in this regard, and people should be cognizant of the food products they’re ingesting. When in doubt, a clean glass of water is always a nice substitute.


                                                                                                                                                                                                      Medical Spanish made easy

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, iHeart Radio and Board Certified Family Physician



Posted in Health, news

Hawaii Brain Parasite epidemic: Homemade Kava Brew found as source

last updated 4/19/17

This year, eleven confirmed cases of rat lungworm disease have surfaced in Hawaii (Maui and the Big Island).  Six additional cases have been suspected since the start of the year and fortunately no deaths have been reported.

Hawaii health officials stated two adults came down with rat lungworm after they consumed a homemade kava kava drink.  It had been left out the night before and slugs were found nearby after they consumed it the next day.  Its a popular drink made from the extract of the piper methysticum plant, and is used to “calm nerves” and induce relaxation.



Four other suspected cases of rat lungworm have been reported to health officials. They drank a similar brew of kava.

The Hawaii Department of Health confirmed 11 cases in 2016, and between 2007 and 2015, 42 cases were reported.  Here are your questions answered.

What is Rat Lungworm?

Rat lungworm is in the family of roundworms (nematodes), named Angiostrongylus.   Angiostrongylus cantonensis is a parasite that can cause neurological infections such as meningitis, and its sister species, Angiostrongylus costaricensis, can cause severe gastrointestinal illness.  The specific meningitis, or inflammation of the brain, caused by A. catonensis is an eosinophilic meningitis, where the main blood cell involved is an eosinophil, prevalent in parasitic infections as opposed to a bacterial or viral meningitis.

Its found primarily in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Basin but up until recently its been extremely rare in the United States.  In 2015 a study published in the Journal of Parasitology cited cases had been reported in Florida, Alabama, California, Louisiana, and Hawaii.


Image from Wikipedia

It primarily lives in rodents but the larvae can be passed to other species through rat feces.  Adult nematodes live in the pulmonary arteries of rats.  The females lay eggs and these, once they hatch and become first stage larvae, may migrate to the rat’s throat and then enter the GI system, eventually exiting through feces.

What are the symptoms of Rat Lungworm?

Symptoms include severe headache, fever, neck stiffness, visual disturbances, difficulty looking at light (photophobia), nausea, vomiting, numbness, temporary paralysis of the face and possibly coma and death.

The incubation period, on average, can be anywhere from a week to three weeks and symptoms could start within that time and possibly last for months.  Neurological sequelae of the survivors can last for extended periods of time.

How does one contract Rat Lungworm?

An individual could become exposed to A. catonensis when one eats undercooked slugs, snails, frogs, shrimp, mollusks and contaminated fruits and vegetables.  Slime from slugs may also be a source of contamination of the deadly parasite.


How do we know Rat Lungworm is the cause of one’s symptoms?

If a person presents with symptoms of meningitis, the cerebral spinal fluid, or fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord is able to be sampled during a lumbar puncture. The needle entering through the back could aspirate enough of a sample for laboratory technicians to determine if the meningitis is caused by bacteria, virus or parasites, the latter of which causing a higher concentration of eosinophils to be demonstrated in the CSF fluid as well as the blood.

What is the treatment for Rat Lungworm?

Currently there is no official treatment of the parasite.  The parasite will die on its own but can do so in a relatively short amount of time such as days, or become latent for months.  Dead worms could also cause severe neurological symptoms.

Symptomatic measures of the patient are instituted to help with pain, although some have been treated with steroids and antiparasitic medications.

How do we avoid Rat Lungworm?

Make sure all raw vegetables are washed thoroughly,  Handle slugs and snails with gloves and wash hands diligently.  The University of Hawaii recommends boiling snails for at least 3-5 minutes prior to preparing for consumption.  With the latest cases involving open containers, we recommend storing food in closed containers and carefully inspecting food and its surroundings before consumption.

Moreover, keep rodents, snails and slugs away from your food and kitchen counters.

For more on prevention of Rat Lungworm infections, read here:

Life Line Screening offers screenings for stroke, heart disease, lung disease, liver and kidney disease, testosterone deficiency, and so much more that can be done in a private setting at the work place for groups of employees.  For more information call 1-888-815-LIFE.

life line


                                                                                                                                                                                                      Medical Spanish made easy

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, iHeart Radio and Board Certified Family Physician