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Why hunger brings on stinky breath

Updated: February 19, 2012 8:02AM

Q. When I’m really hungry, my breath gets really bad. How can I stop that from happening?

A. “Hunger breath” can leave you — and those around you — hungry for a way to avoid the fumes you’re exhaling. It’s usually caused by regularly skipping meals. Not eating reduces the amount of saliva in your mouth, and a dry mouth is like a Playboy mansion for randy bacteria that are looking to go forth and multiply. When they do, they let fly a sulfuric stench.

You can get a variation on hunger breath if you’re eating a low-carb diet and your body is burning fat instead of carbs for fuel. That can trigger ketosis, a chemical reaction that leaves your breath with either an odd fruits-and-nuts odor (not unlike perfume worn by your least-favorite aunt) or smelling like nail polish remover, never a come-hither scent.

Whatever the trigger, your breath can smell sweet again if you simply don’t skip meals. It invites bad breath and it’s a diet disaster — your body starts hoarding calories, blood sugar plummets and the next thing you know, you’re eating whatever isn’t moving.

Q. My husband has been diagnosed with early stage prostate cancer (confined to the prostate gland), and his doctors recommend a “watch and wait” approach. I say get it out of there. What’s the smart move?

A. To answer this question really well, we’d need to know your husband’s age and how healthy he is overall. Still, this should help you two.

What’s called watch and wait (or active surveillance) often is smart, because early-stage prostate cancer usually is small and slow-growing. For men over 70 or who have high-risk medical problems, the cancer often won’t progress fast enough to shorten their life.

If your husband’s younger than 70, it still may be smart to put off treatment. Surgery and radiation are no picnic; neither are their possible side effects, including sexual problems and leaking urine (up to 25 percent of guys do). This doesn’t mean your spouse will be sitting around staring at his prostate. His doctors will want to see him often, usually for:

† A PSA test every six months and a digital rectal exam every 12 months.

† A biopsy of the prostate in six to 18 months and as needed thereafter.

† It’s also vital for him to exercise regularly, de-stress with at least 10 minutes a day of meditation or yoga, and clean up his diet by: Adding lots more fruits and vegetables; making sure all grains are 100 percent whole grains; nixing foods with added sugars or syrups; saying no (and we mean NO) to foods with saturated fat (red meat, poultry skin, all dairy that isn’t fat-free, anything with palm or coconut oils), and no trans fats, of course!

Our bottom line: Get a second opinion. It changes treatment (and even diagnosis) about a third of the time. If another doc confirms this approach, go with it. If not, get a third. And keep your eye on your hubby with a bit of active surveillance yourself.

King Features

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