Patient Advocates Here to Help You and Your Family Navigate the HealthCare System


RN Patient Advocates, PLC, opened the door to independent, nurse-based patient advocacy in 2002. We are a national community of specially prepared, qualified and experience clinical RNs. Our Mission is to Empower People in Their Healthcare through Advocacy, Education, and Guidance Through the Healthcare System.

Have you or any of your family or friends ever experienced problems in the healthcare system? 12 million patients are misdiagnosed each year (Institute of Medicine, 2015) indicating that it might be true for many of us. RN Patient Advocates help you be safe in the system and also, how to do this for yourself!




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Importance of Observation

Melanoma – what do we really need to know? Is it curable? Is it always caused by overexposure to the sun?


abcd_melanomaMartha Grout, MD, reports that: “Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. If recognized and treated early, it is nearly 100 percent curable. When not caught early, a melanoma spot the size of a dime can spread to other parts of the body where it becomes hard to treat.”  Melanoma arises from a type of cell called melanocyte, present in the deep in the epidermis, the top layer of the skin.

Who is most vulnerable?  Half of all cases of melanoma occur under the age of 57 – in men more than women. Risk factors include family history of melanoma, history of multiple sunburns, age, light hair color, total number of moles present on the body, and location of the melanoma itself. 

What about indoor tanning? In 2009, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organization, reclassified tanning devices into the highest cancer risk category as "carcinogenic to humans." 

So, do we blame it all on the sun – the UVA and UVB rays?

Let’s consider the following:

  • In 1900, about 75% of the U.S. population worked outdoors. Melanoma was rare. Since then, the incidence of melanoma has been steadily rising and sun exposure is decreasing. Vitamin D deficiencies are becoming epidemic. 
  • Melanoma is more common in indoor workers than outdoor workers.
  • Diet plays a part.  Dr. John Cannell of the Vitamin D Council: 

 "Diets rich in vegetables, fruits, and omega-3 fats –protects your skin from burning. The people who get sunburned live and work indoors, go to the beach (or pools) two or three times in the summer to roast themselves.   Frequent sunburns, especially in childhood, are but one factor in melanoma – genetics and diet are more important.”

  • Can it being the thinning ozone layer – more sun rays getting through?  Research from the U CA – San Diego – reports that the thicker the ozone layer, the higher the rates of melanoma. Australia and New Zealand, for example, have a very thick ozone layer, and they have very high rates of melanoma.  The atmospheric condition acts as a sunscreen, blocking the body's ability to make vitamin D. No UVB reaching ground level means no protective vitamin D
  • The UCSD researchers also make a compelling argument that when sunscreens use rose, the rates of melanoma and other cancers went up. The ability to tan is a highly protective factor, and sunscreens inhibit this natural protection. “One thing we do know – there are no studies showing that sunscreens prevent melanoma.

How to protect ourselves?  Eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruits and omega-3 fats (fish oil) and avoid getting sunburned (stay in the shade).  

protect_from_sunArthur Rhodes, MD, MPH, Dermatologist, counsels avoiding sun exposure during peak intensity times, cover up with clothing, use high SPF sunscreen (pick a safe one; see article on Sunscreen on this site).  “Sun protection during the first 15 years of life has been estimated to reduce the risk of epithelial skin cancer by 80%.

Maintain a good level of Vitamin D (cancer protective).  Ask your physician to test your level.  You may need to supplement.

Want to learn more?

Low magnesium level elevates risk of strokes and depression. Really? How are they connected?


BrainMary Ackerley, MD, explains that “studies have suggested that magnesium is inversely related to hypertension, which is a risk factor for stroke." Research has demonstrated that “for every increase in magnesium intake of 100 mg per day total stroke risk was reduced by 8 percent.  In addition American’s with levels below the RDA are more likely to have an elevated C Reactive Protein (CRP), which also contributes to cardiovascular risk.  Studies have shown a clear correlation between magnesium intake and depression and anxiety”. 

Could YOU be low in magnesium? Up to 80% of Americans are.  Why?  Well, certain medications block absorption of magnesium – such as stomach acid blockers called proton pump inhibitors (Prilosec, Prevacid, Nexium), steroids, birth control pills, insulin, Digitalis, antibiotics and diuretics (water pills).  

Also, soils have become depleted in mineral content. Actually, vegetables, nuts and seeds grown organically in enriched soil have about twice the level of magnesium that inorganically grown produce does.

low_magnesium_levelsWhat does low magnesium look like healthwise?  Magnesium is critical for cardiovascular health.  Also, low magnesium symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Constipation
  • Twitches
  • Headaches
  • Migraines
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Restless Legs

Increasing fatigue, poor memory and insomnia can also indicate low magnesium.  Low magnesium can also be a contributing factor to postmenopausal osteoporosis.

What to do?  Ask your physician to check your magnesium level (a test most insurance covers) if you suspect you might be low.  The proper test is called the RBC Magnesium test.  If you are low, it is simple to supplement with 150 mg to 300mg magnesium citrate or glyccinate or dimagnesium malate until RBC magnesium  levels return to health.

food-sources-of-magnesiumAlso, why not try increasing your dietary intake? How about salads and nuts?  A healthy plant based organic diet typically supplies about 150 mg magnesium, while the standard American diet (which includes processed foods, processed grains, high sugar and saturated fats) provides about 75 mg. The best solution is to eat more leafy green vegetables and nuts!

Want to learn more?


Metabolic syndrome is the leading cause of heart disease, diabetes, and a variety of other chronic illnesses in this country. What is it?


metabolic syndromeThe Cleveland Clinic teaches us that “Metabolic syndrome is a collection of heart disease risk factors that increase your chance of developing heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.”

Also known as Syndrome X, this condition affects more than one in five Americans.  This number increases with age.  

What does it look like?

  • A waistline of 40 inches or more for men and 35 inches or more for women (measured across the belly)
  • A blood pressure of 130/85 mm Hg or higher or are taking blood pressure medications
  • A triglyceride level above 150 mg/dl
  • A fasting blood glucose (sugar) level greater than 100 mg/dl or are taking glucose-lowering medications
  • A high density lipoprotein level (HDL) less than 40 mg/dl (men) or under 50 mg/dl (women)
  • High fasting insulin and blood sugar levels
  • Men may also have low testosterone levels – losing muscle to fat

What causes it? The exact cause of metabolic syndrome is not known. Many features of the metabolic syndrome are associated with “insulin resistance.” Insulin resistance means that the body does not use insulin efficiently to lower glucose and triglyceride levels. Insulin resistance is a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors. Lifestyle factors include diet, activity, stress, and perhaps interrupted sleep patterns (such as sleep apnea).

What we eat, how much we move, how we face stress, how connected we are to our communities, and toxic chemicals and metals in our environment are all critical factors.

What problems can occur due to metabolic syndrome?

  • Damage to the lining of coronary and other arteries, a key step toward the development of heart disease or stroke
  • Changes in the kidneys' ability to remove salt, leading to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke
  • An increase in triglyceride levels, resulting in an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease
  • An increased risk of blood clot formation, which can block arteries and cause heart attacks and strokes
  • A slowing of insulin production, which can signal the start of type 2 diabetes, a disease that is associated with an increased risk for a heart attack or stroke. Uncontrolled diabetes is also associated with complications of the eyes, nerves, and kidneys.

circle of healthWhat can we do?   Do you fit any of the profile above?  Concerned about heart disease as you age?  Ask your physician about being tested for fasting insulin levels (to check for insulin resistance) and fasting blood sugar. 

Lose weight       Change your diet to reduce processed foods and sugar   Eat more vegetables and less red meat       Exercise more      Drink less alcohol     Enjoy a good night’s sleep    Connect with friends who may also be facing this issue



And, as always, learn more. . .

Contact us!

RN Patient Advocates, PLC

3400 West Goret Road
Tucson, AZ 85745
Phone: 520-743-7008

Copyright © 2017 Karen Mercereau, RN Patient Advocates, PLC. All rights reserved.