DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My weight is totally over the top. I am 5 feet 7 inches tall and weigh close to 300 pounds. I was average weight in high school. I am now 34. I got to this point by eating way too much and doing way too little. I firmly believe that the only way I’m going to approach normal weight is with some serious fasting. I’m going to take in only water and no-calorie drinks – no solid foods. How do you feel about this? – L.B.

It’s a terrible idea. Starvation brings many health hazards. If it’s attempted at all, it should be attempted only under close medical supervision.

Too rapid a weight loss often gives rise to kidney stones, gallbladder stones, gout attacks and dangerous heart rhythms. It can kill. I recall the story of 10 young Irish Republican soldiers who rejected all food unless their demands for reforms were met. All 10 men died, and they did so from day 45 to day 73 of their fast.

Even diets in the 1,000-calorie-a-day range make it difficult to meet daily protein, vitamin and mineral requirements.

Get to a dietitian for diet advice that provides for essential nutrients while paring down calorie intake sensibly. Your local hospital should be able to put you on the track of one. Combine this with an increasing amount of daily exercise, and you should see the pounds come off.

If they don’t in spite of faithful adherence to a program, then find out if there might be a physical reason why you can’t lose weight. If there is none, speak with your doctor about a surgical remedy. Hold that in reserve, however, until you’ve tried every other way to get yourself to a more normal weight.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am an 80-year-old man with urinary frequency and what my urologist calls hypogonadism.

A younger female relative of mine died, and her death certificate said she died of “hypopituitarism along with hypogonadism, a deficient development of secondary sexual characteristics due to a deficiency within her ovaries.” Is there a hereditary connection here? – G.D.

The “hypos” here refer to a deficiency of, an underproduction of. Hypogonadism is a deficient production of male and female hormones that affect only those body parts sensitive to those hormones.

Your relative had hypopituitarism, a deficient production of pituitary gland hormones. Those hormones stimulate the production of all other body hormones. The pituitary gland is located on the underside of the brain. This relative’s hypogonadism was due to her pituitary problem. Her ovaries were not stimulated by pituitary hormones to produce estrogen. She lacked normal stimulating hormone production for other glands too – the adrenal and thyroid, for example.

Your hypogonadism comes solely from an underproduction of testosterone, the male hormone. It has nothing to do with your pituitary gland. It has everything to do with your age. Male hypogonadism is common in older men. All your other hormone-making glands are still working. There is no hereditary connection here.

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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