The “broken heart“ syndrome

February 28, 2011 by  
Filed under HEART AND STROKE

Yes, it is for real and there is real science behind it. It is called “Takotsubo cardiomyopathy” (TTC) named after a Japanese octopus trap basket by the Japanese scientists who first described it. The trap resembles closely the abnormal shape of the ventricle in TTC patients. Other terms applied to this condition are left ventricular apical ballooning syndrome or stress-induced cardiomyopathy or neurogenic myocardial stunning. TCC is thought to be rare because in many cases, Takotsubo is mistakenly diagnosed as an acute coronary syndrome as the main symptom is chest pain or angina. Other signs are changes in ECG readings, mildly elevated cardiac enzymes and wall motion abnormalities.

What cause a heart to break?

An intensely emotional or stressful event can trigger TCC. Mayo Clinic cites the following examples:

Are women more likely to have a broken heart?

The answer is “yes.” The broken heart syndrome is more common in women that in men. Several cases have been reported in women right after C-section delivery, possibly in connection with severe postpartum depression. It has also been reported in postmenopausal women. Cases were also reported among the elderly who suffered from abuse. In a nutshell, those who are at high risk for a broken heart are women who are 50 or older and may suffer from domestic abuse.

How can you detect a broken heart?

The electrocardiogram (ECG) can detect abnormalities that can indicate TCC. However, an imaging tool may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis based on the abnormal structure of the ventricle. This can be through echocardiogram or cardiac CT.

How can you mend a broken heart?

The same drugs that are prescribed for angina and acute coronary syndrome (angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, beta blockers or diuretics) may be prescribed for TCC. The good thing about TCC or broken heart syndrome is that it is transient (not permanent) and the recovery rate is high. Plus, you are most likely to get it only once, according to Singaporean researchers. Could it be that a heart cannot be broken twice?

Check out these resources:


Friends can help prevent cancer…

February 28, 2011 by  
Filed under CANCER, HEART AND STROKE

I am not the type to forward chain emails. But this one cuaght my attention and touched my heart. It was sent by one of my very good friends who is fighting cancer – for the second time.

Every month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month…….

Give this heart to everyone you don’t want to
lose in ‘2011 including me if you care.

‘Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.’

A sharp tongue can cut your own throat.

If you want your dreams to come true, you mustn’t oversleep.

Of all the things you wear, your expression is the most important.

The best vitamin for making friends…… B1.

The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts.

the heaviest thing you can carry is a grudge..

One thing you can give and still keep…is your word.

You lie the loudest when you lie to yourself.

If you lack the courage to start, you have already finished.

One thing you can’t recycle is wasted time.

Ideas won’t work unless ‘ You’ do.

Your mind is like a parachute…it functions only when open.

The 10 commandments are not a multiple choice.

The pursuit of happiness is the chase of a lifetime!

It is never too late to become what you might have been.

Life is too short to wake up with regrets.. So love
the people who treat you right.. Forget about the
ones who don’t. Believe everything happens for a reason.
If you get a second chance, grab it with both hands. If
it changes your life, let it. Nobody said life
would be easy, they just promised it would be
worth it.

Friends are like balloons;
once you let them go, you might not get them
back. Sometimes we get so busy with our own
lives and problems that we may not even notice
that we’ve let them fly away. Sometimes we are so
caught up in who’s right and who’s wrong that we
forget what’s right and wrong.. Sometimes we just
don’t realize what real friendship means until it
is too late. I don’t want to let that happen so
I’m going to tie you to my heart so I never lose
you.

Send
this to all your friends including me and see
how many you get back. Even send it to your
balloons that you think have flown away forever.
You may be surprised to see it return. 


 

Thank you for being in my life!!!


Is non-stick cookware carcinogenic?

February 25, 2011 by  
Filed under CANCER

We all love our non-stick cooking ware. Who wouldn’t? Such convenience for the cooking housewives! Unfortunately, recent research evidence show that that favorite Teflon pan or pot may actually be toxic!

According to a study commissioned by the watchdog Environmental Working Group (EWG):

“…cookware coated with Teflon and other non-stick surfaces can exceed temperatures at which the coating breaks apart and emits toxic particles and gases linked to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of pet bird deaths and an unknown number of human illnesses each year.

The problem lies in compounds called perfluorochemicals (PFCs) which are used in the manufacture of Teflon and other household products. It seems that these chemicals are released when the non-stick pan becomes overheated.

A Teflon pan reached 721°F in just five minutes… At 680°F Teflon pans release at least six toxic gases, including two carcinogens, two global pollutants, and MFA, a chemical lethal to humans at low doses. At temperatures that DuPont scientists claim are reached on stovetop drip pans (1000°F), non-stick coatings break down to a chemical warfare agent known as PFIB, and a chemical analog of the WWII nerve gas phosgene.”

Some of the chronic health effects of PFCs are:

Cancer. The PFC perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) which is used in the manufacture of Teflon and other household products was declared in 2006 as a likely human carcinogen by the Science Advisory Board of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA requested manufacturers to reduce the presence of PFOA in these products by 95% in 2010 and eventually phase out the compounds from the manufacturing process. It is not clear whether the target has been net.

Cardiovascular disease. PFCs are found in food packaging and leaches out into the food. PFOA for example leaches out of popcorn bags into the popcorn that we eat. How this food contamination affect our health is not well-understood.

However, there is indication that exposure to PFOA can have an effect on cholesterol levels. Researchers at the West Virginia University report abnormally high levels of high LDL or “bad” cholesterol in the blood samples of more than 12,000 children who were exposed to PFOA after an industrial accident.

Children and babies

PFCs may actually act as endocrine disruptors and cause an imbalance in the body’s hormones, according to Norwegian researchers who observed these in animals. Ewes which were exposed to PFCs passed on the chemical to the unborn fetus and later also via breast milk. In humans, PFCs especially PFOA have been linked to lower birth weights and smaller head circumference in newborn infants whose umbilical blood cord tested positive for high levels of PFCs.

Acute toxicity

Finally, there is direct evidence that severe exposure to Teflon fumes can cause polymer fume fever or Teflon toxicosis. This condition was reported by people who inhaled fumes from overheated non-stick pans and PFC-contaminated cigarettes. People who were exposed reported flu-like symptoms especially respiratory problems. House pets, especially birds have been reported to die from exposure.


Gear up for Charity Runs This Spring

February 24, 2011 by  
Filed under CANCER, HEART AND STROKE

I am getting kind of impatient with this heart problem of mine. The sooner my heart rhythm is back to normal, the sooner I can train. There are several local charity runs I am interested in but can’t register until I am sure I’d be fit enough to run.

Here are a couple for charity runs in your area you might want to join in.

Fresh Air Fund seeks racers for the NYC Half-Marathon

Here is an appeal from one of my favorite not-for-profit organizations. The Fresh Air Fund still has some spots available for runners on our Fresh Air Fund-Racers team for the NYC Half-Marathon this coming March 20th.

Ready to be a part of one of the world’s best road races? Join The Fresh Air Fund-Racers on March 20th, 2011! The amazing 13.1-mile course takes you through beautiful Central Park, action-packed Times Square and ends with breathtaking finish-line views of the New York City harbor. More than 11,000 runners, of all ages and abilities, finished the NYC Half-Marathon last year, and we are so proud of our very own 2010 Fresh Air Fund-Racers who ran and raised $100,000 for us!

We are calling all runners and Fresh Air Fund supporters to come out and either challenge themselves to run the race or join our cheering squad. The Fresh Air Fund provides runners with guaranteed entry in exchange for fundraising before race day. Entries are limited – please get in touch soon! Please email kbrinkerhoff@freshair.org or call (212) 897-8890.

March for Babies

The March of Dimes is a non-profit organization advocating for pre-term babies and their families. It organizes several charity walks (March for Babies) each year. You can join as an individual, as a team (family, company, group of friends, etc.).

“When you walk in March for Babies, you give hope to the more than half a million babies born too soon each year. The money you raise supports programs in your community that help moms have healthy, full-term pregnancies. And it funds research to find answers to the problems that threaten our babies. We’ve been walking since 1970 and have raised an incredible $2 billion to benefit all babies.”

Here are some for my friends in Britain:

Walk the Walk

The 2011 26.2 Moonwalk for Breast Cancer in London is scheduled for 14 May, followed by another one in Edinburg on 11 June. Then there is the London Sun Walk on 24 July.

Race for Life for Cancer Research

Race for Life is UK’s largest female-only event. You can do 5k or 10k and race money for Cancer Research UK.


Dressing for the winter outdoors

February 23, 2011 by  
Filed under HEART AND STROKE

We are in the mountains once again to enjoy the snow, the sun and the fresh air. Every year, European families spend at least a week in some winter get away to do winter sports and enjoy nature. I moved in Europe almost 20 years ago but I never went on winter holidays until I had a family of my own. In many parts of North America, winter holidays are kind of a luxury despite the many beautiful ski resorts in the US and Canada. Here is Switzerland, almost everybody does it. You can go to the high-end resorts like St. Moritz or Gstaadt or you can go to simpler, down-to-earth places. You can get there by helicopter, by car or by train or by bus, depending on your budget. You can check-in in a five-star hotel or rent a 1-room apartment. Or you can commute up every morning and come down again every evening. In other words, winter sports and holidays are for everyone, not only the well-off. It is part of the culture of this country to be active, summer or winter.

So here we are, a family of 4 squeezed in a 4-bed hotel room without TV or phone. But the ski lift is just a stone’s throw away and we get free entry to the local indoor pool. The local bus is for free and the apfel strudel is just scrumptious! The kids can ski the whole day and I can go snow shoe walking. What more can I ask?

When I first ventured out into the winter cold, I did not know a thing about winter gear and how to protect myself from the elements. Nowadays I know better how to dress myself and my little boys. Here are the recommendations from the American Heart Association Start! Walking This Winter brochure:

Layer your clothing. Layering provides the best insulation for a workout.

Cover your head, hands and feet. You can lose a lot of body heat if your head is exposed.

Cover your head and ears or use a face mask to protect yourself from cold and wind. Your hands and feet are the farthest points from your heart and are the least insulated. Gloves or mittens and wool socks insulate and wick moisture away.

In addition, sturdy walking shoes are of utmost importance:

These recommendations, by the way, are not only for the mountains in winter time. It applies for winter outdoors in general.


The health hazards of head banging

February 22, 2011 by  
Filed under BRAIN

Head banging is mainstay feature of rock concerts. Performers and spectators alike can do head banging which come in many different styles. Seems like harmless fun. Or is it?

Head banging supposedly started in 1968 at a Led Zepellin concert. Since then it has “developed into a collection of distinctive styles including the up-down, the circular swing, the full body and the side-to-side.”

However, there have been reports in recent years that linked head banging to health hazards that include brain trauma, hearing loss, stroke and trauma to the neck.

So researchers head over to rock concerts and see what it’s all about. Here is what they found.

  • The up-down style was the most common head banging technique, the style one encounters in hard rock and heavy metal concerts of the likes of Motörhead, Ozzy Osbourne and Skid Row.
  • The average head banging song has a tempo of about 146 beats per minute.

They then constructed a head model that simulated the head banging and found that injury risk is also increased at tempos of 130 beats per minute with a certain range of motion. When the range of movement of the head and neck is more than 75º, headaches and dizziness could occur. Increasing the tempo and the ranges of motion increases the risk for neck injury.

Of course extreme head banging such as done in the original Led Zepellin concert – fans banging their heads against the stage – even increases the injury risk to the head even more. And hitting against other solid objects, including heads of other fans – well, that should well be avoided.

And what of two of the most famous head bangers, Beavis and Butt-head? When head banging at a tempo of 164 beats per minute to “I Wanna be Sedated” the range of motion of Beavis’ head and neck is about 45º, say the authors, so he would be unlikely to sustain any injury. But the news for Butt-head may not be so rosy. Preferring to head bang at a range of motion of 75º, he may well experience symptoms of headaches and dizziness.

Fortunately, there are sensible musicians out there who include warning against head banging on their album covers and packaging. But if you are really into head banging and can’t do without it, try wearing a helmet and neck braces to the concert!


Male Menopause Symptoms & Treatments : Nutrition Tips for Male Menopause

February 18, 2011 by  
Filed under VIDEO

I just found this health related video on YouTube … and thought you might enjoy it!

youtube.com/watch?v=wX7P3N_SeXU%3Ff%3Dvideos%26app%3Dyoutube_gdata

Learn nutrition and diet tips and what foods to eat to help prevent and treat male menopause, including tomatoes and other colorful vegetables with expert medical advice from a trained doctor and scientist in this free online health care video clip. Expert: Dr. Susan Jewell Bio: Dr. Susan Jewell is a British born educated bilingual Asian with a British accent and can speak Cantonese. Filmmaker: Nili Nathan

Tell us what you think about this video in the comments below, or in the Battling For Health Community Forum!


When it comes to drunkenness, caffeine does not help

February 17, 2011 by  
Filed under ADDICTION

A strong cup of black coffee is not an antidote to alcohol intoxication. Neither are 2 cups. Or even three. Of a caffeine-rich energy drink for that matter.

Caffeine is known as a stimulant that can keep you awake and boost performance. The popular use of caffeinated energy drinks among young people during exams week attest to this.

However, the notion that caffeine is an effective antidote to the sedating effect of alcohol is completely wrong.

The appearance of caffeinated alcoholic beverages (CAB) in the market is causing concerns among health experts. Several manufacturers recalled their CAB products following FDA warnings last year but the practice of mixing caffeine with alcohol has not abated. It is as easy as simply mixing their own cocktail.

According to researcher Dr. Jonathan Howland of the Department of Community Health Sciences and Department of Emergency Medicine, Boston University:

“Although several manufacturers of caffeinated beer have withdrawn their products from the market, there is no sign that young people have decreased the practice of combining alcohol and energy drinks. Critically, CABs may increase alcohol-related risks in a number of different domains, but have been subject to very little systematic research.”

Risky behavior has been attributed to this dangerous mixture including intoxicated driving (either as driver or passenger), committing and being a victim of sexual assault and having an alcohol related injury or accident.

In order to clarify once and for all the belief that caffeine blunts the effect of alcohol, thus allowing one to drink and drive, the researchers tested 129 people ages 21 to 30 drink alcohol with or without caffeine. After 30 minutes, they were tested on a driving simulator. The results showed that all drinkers were not fit enough to drive – regardless whether they had taken caffeine or not. The take home message, according to Dr. Howland, is:

“If you’re intoxicated – whether you have caffeine or not – you shouldn’t be driving. Your performance really falls apart.”

Let us hope we can get the message across!


Womans Fitness Tips | Womans Fitness Guide

February 17, 2011 by  
Filed under VIDEO

I just found this health related video on YouTube … and thought you might enjoy it!

youtube.com/watch?v=gwOYuuQJ0wI%3Ff%3Dvideos%26app%3Dyoutube_gdata

www.HealthFitnessExercise.net – Womans Fitness Tips | Womans Fitness Guide The Fit Way to a Womans Health Fitness, muscle-building and gym work-outs have gone beyond the traditional all-male club. With the hype over fitness and health and a healthy lifestyle, women have joined the club as well. However, men and women have different fitness needs. Womens fitness and exercise needs are focused on the muscles of the upper back. Most of their exercise work-outs are also designed for the stomach muscles, especially those who have just given birth. At the same time, exercises for women are usually designed for weight loss. And while men tend to focus on muscle building whereas women work on toning their muscles, strength training is important for both. Work your muscles on the front of your thighs. Stretch your shoulder muscles by standing straight and rolling the shoulders backward in a circular motion. Womens fitness is the key to your beauty! To learn more about woman fitness exercise please visit www.HealthFitnessExercise.net

Tell us what you think about this video in the comments below, or in the Battling For Health Community Forum!


Rheumatoid arthritis triggers: they’re all around you

February 17, 2011 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

What triggers that arthritis attack that leaves you pain and immobile? It may be the air you breathe, the food you ate or the lipstick you just applied.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease and these conditions and their causes are poorly understood. The genetic factors involved are pretty strong but other triggers are difficult to pinpoint. Researchers have been trying to identify the environmental factors that trigger these diseases. Scientists at Tel Aviv University report that

  • People living close to airports have a higher likelihood of developing rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
  • Certain food additives can also trigger autoimmune diseases.
  • Even chemicals in our body care products such as hairspray and lipstick or ingredients in our medications may serve as triggers.

According to rheumatologist Prof. Michael Ehrenfeld of Tel Aviv University’s Sackler School of Medicine:

“The onset of autoimmune diseases is a mixture of genetics, which you can’t change, and environmental factors, which in some cases you can, there are some environmental factors harder to avoid. For example, reactive arthritis is caused by a severe gastro-intestinal, urinary or sexual infection in some people.”

Other factors that can trigger rheumatoid arthritis are

  • Extreme stress
  • Environmental and industrial pollutants
  • Second-hand smoke
  • Food additives
  • UV radiation exposure

The high level of jet fuel fumes in airports predisposes nearby residents to autoimmune diseases.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease afflicting more than 2 million Americans. Women are 3 times more susceptible than men. The disease occurs when the body’s own immune system to attack the joints, leading to pain, deformities and disability. Unlike osteoarthritis which is age-related, rheumatoid arthritis affects people of all ages.

Prof. Ehrenfeld explains:

“Most people think arthritis has to do with old age. This is false. There is only one major type of arthritis in older people: osteoarthritis, which is brought on by degenerative changes in the body. What you see in older adults is usually a non-inflammatory and non-autoimmune type of arthritis.

Most of the other kinds of arthritis we see in the clinic, the debilitating and inflammatory types, usually occur in young women between the ages of 20 and 40. We hope that our research will lessen the occurrence and onset of these painful disorders.”


The teenage brain and how it works

February 16, 2011 by  
Filed under DEPRESSION, STRESS

Just as nutrition in the early childhood years is crucial to a schoolchild’s IQ, the experiences of the adolescent brain can affect behavior as adult.

It was always assumed the brain is fully mature in adolescence. Recent research evidence however shows this is not so. According to Harvard neuroscientist Dr. Frances Jensen, “adolescent brains “are only about 80 percent of the way to maturity.” Full maturity is reached in the mid-20s or even later.

The adolescent brain (according to a report in Newsweek):

These properties of the adolescent brain explain risky behavior, insensitive remarks and other signs of thoughtlessness.

In the same period, the impressionable adolescent brain is high susceptible to environmental influences, especially peer pressure. It is during this period that strong relationships and social connections help navigates the so-called growing pains.

According to Dr. Mitch Prinstein, professor and director of clinical psychology, at the University of North Carolina in  Chapel Hill:

“The most potent predictors of why adolescents engage in all kinds of health-risk behaviors—substance use, sexual behavior, even recently, self-cutting—is very much related to how much they perceive that their close friends are doing the same thing, or someone that they consider very cool and popular is doing the same thing.”

Unfortunately, risk behavior in adolescence can have consequences in adult life. Those exposed early to high levels of alcohol will have the risk of having alcohol problems later in life.

A Harvard study found that kids who smoked pot before age 16 had more lifelong cognitive problems than those who started smoking after 16.

Other types of stressors, including bullying and abuse can reflect as posttraumatic stress in adult life and can even be passed on to the next generation. Peer rejection as teenager, for example, may translate into depressive symptoms.

Fortunately, strong relationships and coping skills can counterbalance the negative stressors: Examples of such coping skills are anticonformism and dabbling with delinquency without crossing the boundaries.

And the good news is that, despite our most susceptible brains at adolescence,  most of us – more than 90% in fact – turn out fine and outgrow the delinquency.


Airport scanners are safe but you have the right to say no!

February 16, 2011 by  
Filed under CANCER

While travelling last December – January from the northern to the southern hemisphere, I and my family must have gone through at least 10 different security check points. I don’t think we ever went through the so-called full body scanners but I guess it won’t be long till most airports will be equipped with these machines. So what do we know about these machines?

According to the American College of Radiology (ACR), there are 2 types of systems that are being used in US airports these days

Many people are concerned about the health effects of these systems. After all, these machines give off radiation! During the last few years, there have been concerns about the effects of medical radiation, especially its carcinogenic effects. Well, let’s see what the experts have to say.

YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REFUSE and opt for a pat down instead!

CBS interviewed Dr. Francis Marre, former director of radiation safety at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who declared that “there is no known risk” from being scanned.

This is because the radiation emitted by these machines are very, very small.

One scan from a typical “backscatter” security scanner might deliver 0.005 to 0.01 millirem – far, far below the 10,000 millirem that is considered the danger threshold.

But if you really do not feel comfortable about going through these scanners for whatever reason, there is something you can do about it. I know of people who have the right to be concerned about the effects of radiation on their health- pregnant women and very young children, for example. What you should know but not well-publicized:

YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REFUSE and opt for a pat down instead!


It’s skiing season – helmets on, please

February 15, 2011 by  
Filed under BRAIN

It is that time of the year gain. All over Switzerland as well as in other parts of Europe, families are heading to the mountains. It is the annual 2-week winter sports holidays school break. Of course the skiing season started long before – late November/early December. But for sure, in the next 2 weeks, the slopes will be crowded with young skiers and snowboarders and sledgers. And for sure, the number of accidents will spike up.

The question comes up every year and no definite answer in sight. Should helmets be mandatory on the snow slopes? I mean, in most countries, motorcycle helmets are mandatory for everyone and bicycle helmets for kids. So why not when skiing or snowboarding?

The well-publicized 2009 fatal accident of actress Natasha Richardson added fuel to the debate in US. In Europe, a fatal accident involving a young mother and a German politician in the same year also attracted a lot of publicity. Some statistics to ponder on:

Almost 1.5 million Americans suffer from brain trauma each year. 50,000 of these cases are fatal. Studies have shown that on the slopes the following account for head injuries (from BBC):

  • 74% – skiers hit their head on the snow
  • 10% – collision with other skiers
  • 13% – collision with fixed objects such as a tree

Can helmets lower the mortality figures?

Here are what the scientists have to say (source: BBC):

In a more report in the British Medical journal:

Ski helmets reduce head injuries by 35% in adults and 59% in children under 13.

According to an Austrian study:

Between 9 and 19% of all skiing injuries reported by Austrian ski patrols and emergency departments are head injuries – and severe head injuries, including traumatic brain injury, are a leading cause of death in winter sports.

Yet another study found that:

Adults and children, of all ages, wearing a helmet while skiing were significantly less likely than those without a helmet to have a head injury.

A lot of people are actually wearing helmets voluntarily. According to the US National Ski Areas Association, 43% of skiers and snowboarders wear helmets. Helmet use is actually popular among well-skilled skiers and obligatory in Austria for skiers under 16.

So what do you think? Should helmets be obligatory?


The heart, the thyroid, and medications: it’s not yet over

February 15, 2011 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE, HEART AND STROKE

My heart problems are still not over… Sad to feel bad on this day of hearts.

To backtrack, I presented with symptoms of hyperthyroidism starting last week, which is most probably due to wrong dosage of my thyroid replacement hormones. The most common symptoms (source: Endocrineweb.com) are:

Palpitations

Heat intolerance

Nervousness

Insomnia

Breathlessness

Increased bowel movements

Light or absent menstrual periods

Fatigue

Fast heart rate

Trembling hands

Weight loss

Muscle weakness

Warm moist skin

Hair loss

Staring gaze

For me, the heart problems are the worst. Because of these, I have to temporarily give up my jogging runs, my morning coffee, and my occasional glass of red wine.

But well, I learned my lessons that I shouldn’t easily forget, namely:

  • Graves’ disease, a disease which is characterized by symptoms of hyperthyroidism, is a lifetime condition. It is easily manageable but there is no cure.
  • Hyperthyroidism does not stop with complete removals of the thyroid. Overdose of the replacement hormones (I am taking levothyroxine) can trigger hyperthyroidism.
  • The symptoms build up gradually over weeks. I simply overlooked or ignore them. Now I know the early signs. Hopefully there is no “next time” but if there is, I know what to watch for.
  • The same medicine of different brands are not 100% the same. I should know this because I write about drugs and I know what bioequivalence and biosimilarity are.

As drugs.com rightly tells us:

Different brands of levothyroxine may not work the same… It may take several weeks before your body starts to respond to this medication. Do not stop taking levothyroxine suddenly. Even if you feel well, you may still need to take this medicine every day for the rest of your life to replace the thyroid hormone your body cannot produce.

The overdose came from changing brands. Now my dosage has been adjusted down. I now have to be careful and make sure that the dose isn’t too low. I have to be patient yet vigilant in the coming weeks…

Photo credit: wikicommons media


Love as painkiller?

February 14, 2011 by  
Filed under ADDICTION, BRAIN

Happy Valentines’ Day, everyone!

Love eases all pain. Sounds like a really cliché even on this day of hearts. But surprise, surprise. There is actually science behind this. No less than researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine who tell us – love can be a strong painkiller. Even as strong cocaine!

According to Dr. Sean Mackey, chief of the Division of Pain Management:

“When people are in this passionate, all-consuming phase of love, there are significant alterations in their mood that are impacting their experience of pain. We’re beginning to tease apart some of these reward systems in the brain and how they influence pain. These are very deep, old systems in our brain that involve dopamine — a primary neurotransmitter that influences mood, reward and motivation.”

The research was actually a collaboration between 2 scientists with seemingly contrasting fields of study. One specializes in pain, the other one.

The researchers had the perfect place for conducting their research. The university setting is full of undergraduates who are “in that first phase of intense love”. In other words, there was no shortage of willing and eligible volunteers. The prerequisite: the subject must be in the first 9 months of a romance.

“It was clearly the easiest study the pain center at Stanford has ever recruited for” said Dr. Mackey.”When you’re in love you want to tell everybody about it.”

The study entailed that each subject should take photos of their beloved person as well as photos of attractive acquaintances. The subjects were shown the photos while attached to a thermal stimulator that simulated mild pain. At the same time, an MRI took a photo of the brains of the subjects.

The results indicate that feelings of love when looking at photos of a loved one significantly reduces pain. The part of the brain in question was the “nucleus accumbens, a key reward addiction center for opioids, cocaine and other drugs of abuse. The region tells the brain that you really need to keep doing this.”

Which relates to another cliché – that love is like an addiction. Indeed, the areas of the brain activated by passionate love are the same areas targeted by analgesic drugs to reduce pain and feel good.

“When thinking about your beloved, there is intense activation in the reward area of the brain — the same area that lights up when you take cocaine, the same area that lights up when you win a lot of money.”


Surrogacy: the new trend in reproductive tourism

February 14, 2011 by  
Filed under INFERTILITY

Surrogacy, something which was quite taboo just a few years ago, has become quite acceptable, even mainstream. This may be partly due to the publicity that celebrities like Rick Martin to Elton John, Sarah Jessica Parker and Nicole Kidman generated.

But for each surrogacy case, there are 2 sides to the coin: the “gestational carrier” (a term out of Kidman’s mouth) and the would-be parents. Although these roles are rather easy to define, the terms “biological parents”, “genetic parents” and “adoptive parents” are sometimes needed to clarify the issues. However, confusion remains so that there is need for us to look at the terminologies.

According to surrogacy.org. uk:

Traditional (straight) surrogacy – “the surrogate uses her own egg fertilised with the intended father’s sperm. This is done by artificial insemination…”

Gestation (Host IVF) surrogacy – “the surrogate carries the intended parent’s genetic child conceived through IVF…”

In many countries, surrogacy is legal. In some, it is not. It is a well-known fact that surrogacy is a big business in India and some countries in eastern Europe and South America where surrogacy laws are very lax if at all existent.

During the recent economic crisis, there was a recent surge in the number of women in the US who were willing to sell their eggs or serve as surrogates in return for a fee. Although the money involved is not well-publicized, it can range from as little as $3000 in India to $20,000 in the US. In many cases, the women had a valid reason for going into surrogacy – money for a loved one’s treatment, children’s education, etc.

Recently, Guatemala hit the headlines as a strong completion to India when it comes to “reproductive tourism.” Unfortunately, the laws in Guatemala are not ready for this rapidly increasing market. According to Karen Smith Rotabi, Assistant Professor of Social Work at Virginia Commonwealth University:

“Those developing surrogacy services in this desperately poor nation should take caution as they pioneer in this area of global fertility practice. As a business model, they are stepping into a grey area of human rights which will challenge us all to consider what is right and wrong and how far to take the privilege of purchasing power. Developing an expanded or more precise definition of human trafficking and a new area of regulatory control will become important considerations in this next wave of the global baby business.”

This and the highly publicized surrogacy cases of celebrities triggered heated debates on the ethics and legalities of surrogacy.

Here are some issues to ponder on:

  • Is surrogacy about renting wombs or helping infertile couples?
  • If surrogacy, which is illegal in many western European countries, is done in a country where it is legal, tantamount to a crime when the parents bring the baby home?
  • Does the baby have the right for its parent’s nationality even though it has been conceived and delivered through surrogacy, which may have been legal in its country of birth but not in its home country?
  • How do countries define the difference between surrogacy and intercountry adoption?

Men’s Health Q&A: Bonding with your baby

February 11, 2011 by  
Filed under VIDEO

I just found this health related video on YouTube … and thought you might enjoy it!

youtube.com/watch?v=AO5UEAcuEGs%3Ff%3Dvideos%26app%3Dyoutube_gdata

Dr. Jonty Heaversedge explains how to connect with your new-born baby.

Tell us what you think about this video in the comments below, or in the Battling For Health Community Forum!


Prenatal Yoga Exercises and Kegel Exercises for Pregnant Women: Opening Hips & Easier Childbirth

February 11, 2011 by  
Filed under VIDEO

I just found this health related video on YouTube … and thought you might enjoy it!

youtube.com/watch?v=wlVw-TTU7lQ%3Ff%3Dvideos%26app%3Dyoutube_gdata

excise for you and your family. To know more healthy tips and to buy best health products visit www.healthtipsforlife.com

Tell us what you think about this video in the comments below, or in the Battling For Health Community Forum!


Let’s Move! turns 1

February 11, 2011 by  
Filed under OBESITY

Let’s Move! Celebrates First Anniversary

First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative against childhood obesity celebrated its first birthday on February 7. All over the US, events to commemorate this anniversary were or are being organized as part of the Let’s Move! Cities and Towns campaign.

The initiative was well received by many organizations including the Girl Scouts of USA.

According to Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius:

“First Lady Michelle Obama and her Let’s Move! campaign seek to put children on the path to a healthy future starting with their earliest months and years by giving parents the information they need to make healthy choices for their families. I am proud to be her partner in this effort. By eating right and getting the right amount of exercise, young girls can be an example to their friends, siblings, and even their parents to live healthier lives. With great partners like the Girl Scouts of the USA and Kraft Foods I know that we can ensure a bright and healthy future for our children.”

New York City Celebrates Let’s Move! One Year Anniversary

The City of New York is another Let’s Move! supporter. Hence, the big celebration at Times Square on February 8 which included aerobic dancing workshops, and other physical activities.

Here are some of the key accomplishments of Let’s Move! during the last 12 months:


Cancer prevention in the headlines, 11 February

February 11, 2011 by  
Filed under CANCER

February is National Heart Month in the US. What is not well known is that it is also the Cancer Prevention Month. Hence, we are bringing you some news on this topic…

Analysis: New Mammography Guidelines Will Cost Lives

In November 2009, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) released recommendations for breast cancer for women to begin routine screening biennially, beginning at age 50 and ending at age 74 years. Prior to that time, the USPSTF – and other organizations – recommended screening mammography every 1-2 years for women beginning at age 40. The ACS recommends annual screening mammography starting at age 40.

Americna experts belived that the new guidelines raising the age for routine mammograms will cost lives. This is according to an analysis conducted by Edward Hendrick and Mark A. Helvie based on an average of six CISNET (Cancer Intervention and Surveillance Modeling Network) models of benefit. The authors report:

“These analyses also show that the individual harms from the additional screening, including the risks of recall for additional testing, biopsy, and radiation-induced breast cancers, are minimal compared with the life-saving benefit of early detection for women electing screening.”

Actively living

… can help reduce mortality due to prostate cancer. This is according to a study by researcerhs at the Harvard School of Public Health. The study looked at 2700 men with prostate cancer and their lifestyle.

“Only vigorous exercise, such as biking, playing tennis, jogging and running, reduced prostate cancer-specific mortality, and this occurred at levels of 3 or more hours per week.”

Cancer breakthrough to prevent heart failure and increase survival rates

Chemotherapy may stop cancer in its tracks but it can cause damage to the heart that can lead to heart failure. Scientists at Queen’s University Centre for Vision and Vascular Science may have a found a way to prevent heart failure in cancer patients by blocking the enzyme NADPH oxidase. According to the researchers:

“Although we have known about the NADPH oxidase enzyme for many years, until now, we were not aware of its crucial role in causing heart damage associated with chemotherapy. Our research findings hold clear potential for the creation of new drugs to block the action of the enzyme, which could significantly reduce heart damage in cancer patients.
Ultimately, this could allow for the safer use of higher doses of chemotherapy drugs and make the treatment more effective against tumours. Despite improved treatments, cancer is currently responsible for 25 per cent of all mortality in the western world. By reducing the risk of heart failure associated with chemotherapy, patient survival rates could be significantly increased.”

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.