DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I want to add to your response to a 13-year-old boy who said he had “not much athletic skills.” I agree with the response you gave, but I wish you had given him sports in which he could participate without having great athletic skills.

Track and cross-country running are sports that do not demand a lot of innate natural athletic ability from the start. They just take endurance and some practice.

Too often, people think only of the primary sports (football, basketball, baseball and soccer) as the only sport activities. If one goes through the events during the Olympics, especially ones not televised, one sees there are a lot of sporting opportunities for people not born with much athletic skill. – A.W.

You make good points. But I believe I’ll hear from runners, who will be offended by the implication that their sport doesn’t take skill. And I had to edit out your reference to golf, or I would have to face so many angry letters that even my thick skin couldn’t endure the attack.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Is it necessary to wait a full hour after eating before going swimming? Since I was a child, I was told that going swimming after a meal gives people stomach cramps, and those cramps can cause swimmers to drown. Is this really so? – R.W.

I was told the same thing. It’s not true.

It’s not good to exercise on a full stomach regardless of the kind of exercise done. Active muscles divert blood from the digestive tract, so digestion is impaired. Swimming after eating, however, doesn’t cause stomach cramps. As far as I know, there isn’t any case of drowning that has occurred because the swimmer went into the water after eating.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Does training in hot weather cause you to sweat more or less? I think it causes more sweating. I have found that to be the case with me. I began running in July. By August, I was sweating much more than I did in July, and the temperatures were just about the same. I kept a record. – C.H.

It takes about two weeks to become acclimatized to heat. Acclimatized athletes or workers sweat earlier and more profusely than do the unacclimatized. Their bodies have learned how to keep cool when temperatures rise.

You didn’t ask, but many others have: Salt tablets are not needed in hot weather. In the first few days of training in the heat, it’s a good idea to salt food a bit more than usual, and in very hot weather, when people lose lots of sweat, they should add some salt to water to replenish sodium losses, or they should drink commercial beverages that contain sodium and potassium. They don’t have to drink such beverages exclusively, but they ought to ensure they are getting some electrolytes (sodium and potassium) and not drinking plain water exclusively.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Will you explain something for me? I play high-school football. Since the end of football season last year, I have really bulked up. I gained 45 pounds, and it’s all muscle. I went on a weightlifting program, and it was done under supervision.

We have started practicing. Occasionally, I am toppled over by someone 50 pounds lighter than I am. How can that happen? I know I am stronger. – P.T.

Believe it or not, this is a frequently asked question.

There’s a difference between strength and power. Undoubtedly you are stronger than your teammate, who is 50 pounds lighter. You can lift heavier weights than that boy. That’s evidence of strength.

Power entails more than strength. It is strength multiplied by speed. The leaner player ran at you at a much faster clip than you were running. Perhaps you weren’t running at all. That player generated lots of power, and that’s what toppled you.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Both my husband and his brother died from colon cancer when they were in their 50s. I have a 53-year-old son who has never seen a doctor. I worry about him having colon cancer, what with the family history. What are his chances of developing it? Is this cancer ever curable? – M.J.

Twenty-five percent or more of people with colon cancer, if they search through their family tree, will find a relative who had it. There is a genetic effect at work in its genesis. That doesn’t mean that every child of every parent who had colon cancer is doomed to get it too.

All the same, everyone should have a colonoscopy exam at age 50 to detect colon cancer in its earliest stages. Your son should listen to that advice carefully since his father and paternal uncle both had this cancer.

Colon cancer is curable when it’s caught and treated soon after it arises. In its first stages, cure can be expected 90 percent of the time.

The colon cancer booklet provides details on the detection and treatment of this very common cancer. Readers can obtain a copy by writing: Dr. Donohue – No. 505, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6.75 Can. with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.

Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Readers may also order health newsletters from

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