"Honey, the IRS is on the line"...
Longtime readers are already familiar with phone scams. But unfortunately, the number of robocalls and scammer calls is on the rise. Among the worst callers are those who claim to be from the IRS.
Here's one thing to remember... the IRS will NOT call you.
The IRS will never notify you by phone... You will receive a letter instead. So never, ever give out your information to anyone on the phone saying he or she is from the IRS. Even if you get a call from someone who claims to be from the IRS and threatens you with jail time, hang up immediately.
Get ahead of hackers by getting a jumpstart on your taxes. January 31 was the deadline for employers to mail W-2 and 1099 forms. Start collecting your tax forms as they come in and don't wait until the last minute to file your taxes.
If you do receive a letter stating you filed multiple returns, this means someone filed a fraudulent return in your name to get the refund. Immediately contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490.
Now let's get into this week's Q&A...
Q: My husband is on a no-carb diet kick. I've read that this kind of diet isn't actually helpful. I'd love to hear your opinion, Doc. Thanks! – M.S.
A: Your husband's diet could be doing more harm than good...
A study published in the Lancet showed some unsettling results. Folks who cut carbohydrates from their diet – which means getting less than 30% of their calories from carbs – had a higher risk of dying earlier. They effectively cut about four years off their lives compared with those who got about 50% of their calories from carbs.
Before you get too worried, an underlying factor is at work here. Those with higher death rates also filled their low-carbohydrate diets out with animal-fat products and processed foods. However, the low-carb dieters who avoided those foods and turned to plant-based proteins and fats had no increased risk.
This makes sense. Trans fat and some saturated fats trigger inflammation. That leads to heart disease, cancer, and a host of other chronic diseases. If you want to go low-carb, just remember to add healthy, natural foods to your diet. Don't reach for the low-fat or processed foods packed with artificial sugars and trans fats.
Q: I was sitting down to work on my taxes and realized our file cabinet is packed with old returns and tax info... some of it going back 20 years! I'm not sure what we should keep and what's safe to shred. – W.C.
A: The IRS generally has a three-year window after your filing date to initiate an audit, so you want to keep documents at least that long. That includes W-2s, 1099s for capital gains, receipts for gifts to charity, 1098s for mortgage interest, and any records for contributions to plans like 529s or traditional IRAs.
But some records you do need to keep longer. For any investment purchases, keep the transaction records for at least three years after you sell the investment. Similarly, keep the receipts and records for three years after you sell your home. And finally, keep records for any contributions you made to a nondeductible IRA (like a Roth) for the life of the account plus three years. The reason is to prove you paid taxes before making withdrawals so you aren't double-taxed.
Q: First, thank you for all that you do for your subscribers. I read every publication you write or edit. I have learned a great deal from you the past nine years or so. I know you have written about prostate health a couple of times in your publications and I have researched to find and reread them. I have a problem with an enlarged prostate. According to my doctor it is probably due to inflammation. Other than Tamsulosin, he didn't offer any other recourse to stop or shrink my problem. I would like to find a supplement, vitamin or something to help with this. You did write about broccoli in one of your articles and I will try that. However, is there anything else that will help?
I have done some research but trying to get past the articles, written by the supplement companies telling you how great they are, is next to impossible. Most MDs will not tell you if a vitamin or supplement will help. Can you offer any advice? – S.F.
A: I'm really in the camp of "most MDs" here because I strongly discourage taking pills when there are whole food options available. And it's really the best course for this condition: Docs now prescribe nutrition as a part of the treatment plan.
Enlarged prostates that aren't cancerous are a condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia ("BPH"). BPH is common as men age, with inflammation as a factor. But you can manage BPH with some dietary changes. Cutting back on diuretics like coffee and alcohol will help.
A few studies, including an Italian study from 2006, showed that the more vegetables consumed, the lower the risk of an enlarged prostate. Animal products, though, did increase it. So remember my basic rules about balancing your diet: load up on fruits and vegetables and cut back on meat. You don't have to give up bacon for good, but making sure you get plenty of antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies is the best course of action. (Remember, these also lower inflammation.) The best food for prostate health is the tomato. It's backed with lycopene, which directly benefits prostate cells. Lycopene is also fat-soluble, so adding a healthy fat helps your body better absorb the compound. So do what I do, and enjoy a nice salad with an olive oil dressing.
Finally, exercise is not only good for lowering inflammation, but for managing BPH symptoms. In fact, a study from the Archives of Internal Medicine found that walking two to three hours a week led to a 25% lower risk of worsening BPH.
My advice then is to forget the supplements and focus on diet and movement. If you want to cut down on inflammation, go for walks after meals, enjoy your leafy greens and tomatoes, and cut back on the caffeine.
Please keep sending your questions, comments, and suggestions to us... [email protected].
Doc's note: Next week, I'll be at the Stansberry Research Immersion Week at the Canyon Ranch wellness retreat in Tucson, Arizona. I'll be there with my friend and colleague Dr. Steve Sjuggerud, Johns Hopkins-trained physician and Director of Sleep Medicine at Canyon Ranch Dr. Param Dedhia, and others.
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Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,
Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
February 21, 2020