February’s Great Plains Study Club meeting was a success!

We began the evening talking chocolate and learning how to make the perfect truffle with Michelle. Then we engaged in healthy conversations with a panel of local physicians: Dr. John Strickland (Urologist), Dr. Hillary Bownik (Gastroenterologist), Dr. Michael Parra (Family Physician) and Dr. James O’Keefe (Cardiologist). We took notes on some of the interesting points they shared with our group:


  • People who play racquet sports, such as badminton and tennis, have a longer life expectancy (up to 9 years longer!)
  • Exercises such as running on the treadmill or using the elliptical aren’t proven to extend your life at all
  • Cardiologist, Dr. James O’Keefe recommends 150 minutes of exercise a week
  • Fasting for 12 or 14 hours every night (for instance, no food from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.) can significantly improve your health
  • Cut out sugar and processed foods
  • Don’t ignore the symptoms

During the panel discussion of current issues in diagnostic testing for both men and women, our medical panel explained which tests are necessary regardless whether your insurance company or the government tells you they’re not. Here are some the panel of local doctors recommended:

  • Blood pressure from time-to-time
  • Glucose level
  • Vitamin D
  • A1C (tells you what your sugar levels have averaged the past three months)
    • An ideal A1C level is below 5, but can easily be improved with a change in diet
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) at age 50 (or at age 30 with family history)
  • Everyone should be screened for colon cancer at age 50 (or before if you have family history of colon cancer)
    • If a first-degree relative had colon cancer before the age of 60, first-degree family members should be screened 10 years prior to when the relative was diagnosed
  • Upper endoscopy (if you’ve experienced heartburn/acid reflux for more than 8 years)
  • Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C (if you are age 45 or older in 2018)

For more information on which test are right for you and how to improve your health, please consult with your doctor or specialist.