Ask the Doctor: Chantix safety, fatty livers, chest pain

Published: Dec. 6, 2022 at 1:12 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Dr. Bob Cassady from the South Bend Clinic joins us every Tuesday on 16 News Now at Noon to answer your medical questions.

Question #1 (from Connie): “Is Chantix safe to take now to quit smoking? I was told they recalled it a few years ago because an ingredient in it could cause cancer?”

DR. BOB: The generic name of Chantix is varenicline. This medicine is effective in helping patients quit smoking.

One manufacturer of varenicline recalled their product last year because of unacceptable levels of impurities in the production process. It is important to understand that the medicine itself is not the risk for cancer, it is an impurity from the production process.

According to the FDA website, as of May 2022, all new production of varenicline is expected to meet impurity requirements.

So, at this point, you should be able to get varenicline to help with quitting smoking and not worry about impurities from production.

Question #2 (from Harmony): “How long does it take to reverse a non-alcoholic fatty liver? And what foods are best for a fatty liver?”

DR. BOB: This is a complicated question about liver disease.

The process we are talking about is where the body deposits extra fat in the liver. This is usually due to obesity and can cause very significant problems in the liver.

However, the process has a very wide spectrum from simple fat deposition to inflammation to scarring to liver failure. The ability of the liver to heal itself is going to depend on at what stage in this process the problem is discovered. Later stages may not be curable.

One of the main parts of treatment of this condition is weight loss, which can improve the disease. It isn’t easy to say when it would be cured, but the weight loss process is one that will likely take months.

Question #3 (from Jean): “Is it normal for COVID to cause chest pain when I cough?”

DR. BOB: Coughing is a forceful expulsion of the air in our lungs. The muscles in our chest are responsible for creating that force.

After a couple days of a heavy cough, it is possible to have muscle aches in your chest. This is very common.

Of course, anytime someone brings up chest pain, we always stop to assess if anything more serious could be going on. Chest pain that occurs when you aren’t coughing, that radiates to the arms or neck, or hurts when you breathe could be a sign of a more serious problem.

It is generally a good idea to check in with your doctor if you are having chest pain.