Q. My husband and I have read questions in your column about a personal lubricant. Many years ago, my gynecologist told me to use Albolene.
It is a mascara remover, but has nothing harmful in it. It melts on contact and leaves no residue or odor. A small dab lasts a very long time. (We have been using the same jar for ten years.) It is available in most drug stores at a reasonable price.
A. You’re not the first reader to praise Albolene as a personal lubricant. Designed as a moisturizing cleanser, Albolene contains mineral oil, petrolatum, paraffin, ceresin and beta carotene. It is distributed by Numark (800) 331-0221.
People who prefer to avoid petroleum products may wish to investigate Sylk, a natural personal lubricant made in New Zealand from an extract of kiwi fruit vine. It is available from New Zealand Pure at 602-957-7955.
Q. I walk three miles five days a week and play 18 holes of golf on the other days. Despite this exercise, my cholesterol has gone up in the past few years.
I was prescribed Zocor and since then I have had nothing but trouble. The stomach cramps subsided after a few months, but I have been suffering from depression. This is completely unlike my usual attitude. My doctor said he would prescribe an antidepressant, but instead I discontinued the Zocor and now feel much better.
The doctor says it is not the Zocor, and that I need to stick with this drug. But I would rather feel like my old self again. What should I do?
A. We urge you to discuss this issue with your doctor again. Depression has been reported as a possible side effect of drugs like Zocor. But you should not ignore the need to control your cholesterol. Your doctor may be able to prescribe a different medication that does not affect your mood.
We are sending you our Guides to Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs and Heart Health for a more detailed discussion of statin side effects and other options. Anyone who would like copies, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (no. 10) stamped (60 cents), self-addressed envelope: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. CL-75, P. O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.
Q. When readers ask you about heartburn you should tell them to get medical attention. This could be a symptom of a much more serious disease such as Barrett’s esophagus.
My son had only minimal symptoms but testing revealed he has this condition that could lead to cancer. He now takes Prevacid daily and must be scoped every year.
A. People often take heartburn for granted, but your caution should be heeded. When acid splashes up into the esophagus from the stomach it can cause a chronic irritation that leads to cellular changes. Untreated, these may become a precursor to cancer of the esophagus. Acid-suppressing drugs such as Prevacid, Prilosec or Nexium can protect this delicate tissue from acid damage.
Q. When I take aspirin for a headache the pain relief only lasts four or five hours. How long does aspirin remain in the body and why do you have to stop taking it several days before surgery?
A. Pain relief that last four or five hours is standard for aspirin. Although aspirin is quickly eliminated from the body, it produces long-lasting anti-clotting effects. This is why your surgeon may advise you to stop aspirin a week before surgery to prevent excessive bleeding.