Get Hip to Hip Health Women’s Health Expert Shares Tips on L

December 25, 2010 by  
Filed under Video: Health Tips for Women

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

youtube.com/watch?v=sEx2cbq8MTw%3Ff%3Dvideos%26app%3Dyoutube_gdata

Get Hip to Hip Health Women’s Health Expert Shares Tips on Lowering the Risk for Hip Fracture to Lead an Active and Healthy Lifestyle it’s the perfect time to talk about one of the leading – yet often overlooked – health risks associated with falls: hip fracture. Although one-in-three women will suffer a hip fracture by the age of 90, awareness and concern of the risks remains low and not enough women take the necessary steps to protect their hips. Most women have a love-hate relationship with their hips, but keeping them healthy is vital for a full, active life. Highly regarded women’s health expert, Donnica Moore, MD (“Dr. Donnica”), shares tips on how to keep hips healthy and how to reduce the chances of suffering a devastating hip fracture. She talks about the importance of a balanced diet and calcium and vitamin D supplements in keeping bones strong – as well as the role of physical activities and body strengthening exercises for preventing falls. Weight-bearing exercise – like walking, jogging, dancing or even gardening – can improve balance, coordination and muscle strength. Talent/Guest: Donnica L. Moore, MD Dr. Donnica is a physician, educator and media commentator – as well as a highly regarded women’s health expert and advocate. As the founder and president of DrDonnica.com, a popular women’s health information website, she is well-known for her engaging and entertaining style – which she refers to as “Medicine Lite.” Dr. Donnica is the “Doctor on Call

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

Family Health History Part I: Why is it important?

December 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, HEALTHCARE, HEART AND STROKE

Many health problems have a genetic component to it. Yet, many of us never look back at our past for lessons for the future. Until health history repeats itself. Take me, for example. I was quite ill in 2001 and it took many different tests before I was diagnosed with Grave’s disease. My doctor then asked afterwards “Why didn’t you tell me you have a family history of thyroid problems?” I completely forgot that my mom had her thyroids taken when I was little girl. However, because of my diagnosis, it wasn’t a complete surprise when 5 years later, my niece and then 2 years later one of my nephews had similar problems.

Eight years ago, from out of the blue, without prior health problems, my father-in-law had to undergo an emergency triple heart bypass. That was when my husband learned that his grandmother and his uncle both died of heart attack.

Knowing our genealogy is important. But the family tree should also include data on health and medical. In other words, a family tree should also be a family health tree.

Last Thanksgiving, the US Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin urged Americans to take the opportunity of family get-togethers to share the family health history with each family member

“While family health histories may seem old-fashioned, the truth is, the family health history is key to understanding your family’s unique genetic make-up and your individual disease risks.

Knowing your family health history can help you actually prevent disease, or detect diseases, such as many forms of cancer, for early treatment. The information your family health history contains can help you and your doctor determine your personal risk.  This means two things:  you can tailor your lifestyle to reduce your health risks; and you can be more carefully screened for diseases where your risk is high.

To make documentation of health history easier, the Surgeon General’s office has developed an online tool called My Family Health Portrait. The tool can help you record your health history electronically, making it easier to pass on the information to subsequent generations.

The Surgeon General believes that the older generations are an invaluable source of information when constructing a family health tree.

Says Dr. Benjamin:

“Older adults are more likely to know about the health conditions of previous generations. I like to think of the family health history as an heirloom that can help current and future generations live longer, healthier lives.”

Well, Christmas is another opportunity to start your family health tree or perhaps bring to completion what has been already started. The MD Anderson Cancer Center calls in creating a “health ances-tree”.

But why is a family health tree important?

Well, taking my family as example, my husband and I learned about some of our family’s health history when the same health problems occurred a generation later. His family history and my family history are now merged to become our children’s history. From what we have learned, we know what are the diseases our kids our genetically predisposed to. We cannot change our genes but we can change our lifestyle. By changing our lifestyle, we can reduce our risks and those of our children.

This holiday season, make a family health history your holiday project.

Coming next: how to build a family medical history.

Get Hip to Hip Health Women’s Health Expert Shares Tips on L

December 18, 2010 by  
Filed under Video: Health Tips for Women

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

youtube.com/watch?v=iTg8O1N5Dhw%3Ff%3Dvideos%26app%3Dyoutube_gdata

Get Hip to Hip Health Women’s Health Expert Shares Tips on Lowering the Risk for Hip Fracture to Lead an Active and Healthy Lifestyle it’s the perfect time to talk about one of the leading – yet often overlooked – health risks associated with falls: hip fracture. Although one-in-three women will suffer a hip fracture by the age of 90, awareness and concern of the risks remains low and not enough women take the necessary steps to protect their hips. Most women have a love-hate relationship with their hips, but keeping them healthy is vital for a full, active life. Highly regarded women’s health expert, Donnica Moore, MD (“Dr. Donnica”), shares tips on how to keep hips healthy and how to reduce the chances of suffering a devastating hip fracture. She talks about the importance of a balanced diet and calcium and vitamin D supplements in keeping bones strong – as well as the role of physical activities and body strengthening exercises for preventing falls. Weight-bearing exercise – like walking, jogging, dancing or even gardening – can improve balance, coordination and muscle strength. Talent/Guest: Donnica L. Moore, MD Dr. Donnica is a physician, educator and media commentator – as well as a highly regarded women’s health expert and advocate. As the founder and president of DrDonnica.com, a popular women’s health information website, she is well-known for her engaging and entertaining style – which she refers to as “Medicine Lite.” Dr. Donnica is the “Doctor on Call

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

Male breast cancer: risks and perceptions of family members

October 21, 2010 by  
Filed under CANCER

In another tribute to Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we tackle a type of breast cancer that is rare but equally dangerous – male breast cancer.

Men do get breast cancer, too. Male breast cancer may be rare but having a male relative diagnosed with breast cancer may present similaror even higher chances of developing the disease than having a female relative with breast cancer. Yet, perceptions and behavior of family member of cancer patients based on the gender of the diagnosed family member vary a lot. This is a according to a study by researchers at Multidisciplinary Breast Care Program at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center.

Typically, people with male relatives with breast cancer perceive their risk to be higher than those whose familial history of breast cancer is restricted to females. This is in most cases right. Yet, despite this perception, these people are less likely to take action to find out more about their genetic predisposition such as seek genetic counseling or undergo genetic testing.

The study results were based on data from “2,429 individuals with a first-degree relative – a parent, sibling or child – with breast cancer. The data were separated into two groups – those with a first-degree male relative with breast cancer, and those with a first-degree female relative with breast cancer. Data about perceived risk of inheriting genetic disease, genetic counseling and genetic testing were collected and compared between the two groups.”

The actual figures found by the study comparing the 2 groups (male relative vs. female relative) are as follows:

  • Perception of risk of developing breast cancer:  more than 60% vs. 46%
  • Awareness of genetic testing for breast cancer gene mutations: 38.4% vs. more than 50%
  • Discussion about genetic risk with health care provider: none vs. 13%

This discrepancy between risk perception and actual action may be due to many factors, such as:

  • Breast cancer in males is rather rare, accounting for only about 1% of all cases of breast cancer.
  • People are not well-informed about breast cancer genetic testing.
  • Doctors may fail to ask the right questions that would make patients reveal significant information.

The study authors wrote:

“Our findings speak to a real communication issue in health care. Patients need to be made aware of the risk posed by having one or more first-degree relatives who have had breast cancer, and physicians need to be meticulous in taking family histories and discussing risk with the patients they see.”
Patients need to be educated about their risks and what to look for, and on the flip side, doctors need to be sure they are taking complete family histories and referring patients for genetic evaluation if any red flags are raised.”

Family history of breast cancer? There’s something you can do to reduce your risk!

October 18, 2010 by  
Filed under CANCER

It is Pink October, a month dedicated to Breast Cancer Awareness. In the next 2 weeks, Battling Cancer will focus on the latest news on breast cancer.

There is no denying the genetic component of breast cancer. But having a family history of the disease need not be a death sentence. Studies have shown that through healthy lifestyle and behavioral strategies, breast cancer can be slowed down, even stopped in its tracks.

Familial predisposition to breast cancer is for real and the risk should be taken seriously. However, women should not live in hopelessness because there are ways and means of reducing the risk.

According to Dr. Robert E. Gramling, associate professor of Family Medicine, and Community and Preventive Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center:

“It’s important to note that a family history of breast cancer can arise in part due to shared unhealthy behaviors that have been passed down for generations. Untangling the degree to which genes, environments, and behaviors contribute to the disease is difficult. But our study shows that engaging in a healthy lifestyle can help women, even when familial predisposition is involved.”

Dr. Gramling and colleagues looked at data from the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study which enrolled more than 85,000 postmenopausal women aged 50 to 79, One group of participants had a family history of later-onset breast cancer (after age 45) and another group did not. The women were followed up for an average of 5.4 years.

Data analysis showed that three health behaviours were strongly associated with reduction in risk for breast cancer and the risk reduction was the same for women with and without a family history. These lifestyle factors were regular physical activity, a healthy weight, and less alcohol consumption.

Indeed, this is good news for women with family history of breast cancer. The study results show that even our grandmothers and mothers may have succumbed to the disease, we have great chances of beating it and so do our daughters and their daughters by reducing the risk through a healthy lifestyle.

Dr. Gramling continues:

“Given the strong awareness of breast cancer and distress about inheritable risk, it is essential that scientists understand the actions women can take to reduce their risk”.

And here is another strategy to reduce breast cancer risk regardless of genetic disposition – breast feeding! I will tell you more about breast feeding and breast cancer in an upcoming post.

Diabetes updates: what ups or lowers your risk

December 3, 2009 by  
Filed under DIABETES

blood_glucose_measure_diabetes_check2Today, I am bring some diabetes updates on what increases or decreases our chances to develop diabetes.

Heading off diabetes
Researcher David Nathan of Massachusetts General Hospital Believes people can prevent getting diabetes even if they are at high risk. And he has 10 years’ worth of data to prove it at the Diabetes Prevention Program Outcomes Study. Here are Dr. Nathan’s trips to head off diabetes:

  • A brisk 30-minute walk once a day or equivalent
  • Proper eating,
  • Kept off a crucial 5 pounds over those 10 years

The results: lower your risk by a third!

“We can actually push back, delay or prevent the development of diabetes in a substantial fraction of people over a long period of time. That means almost certainly that they will be healthier”, say Dr. Nathan.

Statin Drugs Might Slightly Boost Diabetes Risk
Statins do not lower diabetes risk. In fact, it can actually elevate the risks, albeit modestly. This is the result of a latest study by researchers at the Einstein College of Medicine, New York. Statins are cholesterol-lowering drugs that are commonly used in patients with cardiovascular conditions. However, its role in diabetes prevention has always been an issue of controversy. According to lead study investigator Dr. Swapnil

“Contrary to our expectation, we did not find any benefit of statins on diabetes risk. In fact, there is a suggestion that statins may be associated with increased risk — which needs to be explored further.”

Fish vs Shell fish in diabetes risk study
There is fish and there is fish. Some types can lower your risk for type 2 diabetes; some have the opposite effect. A British study reports that incorporating more white and oily fish in the diet lowers type 2 diabetes risk by 25%. However, one should take care about eating shellfish – e.g. mussels, oysters, crabs, and prawn. These seafoods actually elevate your diabetes risk by a whopping 36%! But is it really the shellfish? The researchers do not rule out that cooking and preparation methods can play a role in making these seafoods unhealthy. In the UK, for example, shellfish is usually fried in oil and served with sauces which are high in cholesterol. Fish that is good for the health should be eaten steamed, baked, of broiled with low fat sauces. Example of these fishes are:

  • White fish: cod, haddock, sole, and halibut
  • Oily fish: mackerel, kippers, tuna, and salmon,

Your barbecue and pancreatic cancer

April 27, 2009 by  
Filed under CANCER

bbq_spare_ribs1

How do you like your meat? Rare or well-done?

The barbecue season has opened in many parts of the world. And meat is the staple of most barbecues. Meat that is well-done, sometimes even slightly burnt. Researchers from the University of Minnesota is warning us that regular consumption of meat, especially when well-done and charred, can increase our risk for pancreatic cancer by 60%. How does this happen?

According to the American Cancer Society

Cooking meats at very high temperatures creates chemicals (heterocyclic amines, or HAs) that might increase cancer risk. Heterocyclic amines (HAs) are created by the burning of amino acids and other substances in meats cooked at particularly high temperatures and that are particularly well-done. HAs turn up in grilled and barbecued meat as well as broiled and pan-fried meat.

The study surveyed more than 62,000 people and their eating habits, e.g. meat consumption, preference in meat preparation and “doneness”. The study participants were followed up for about 9 years as part of the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian (PLO) screening trial.

Choose lean cuts of meat and trim any excess fat. Fat dripping onto hot coals causes smoke that contains potential carcinogens. Less fat means less smoke.

Line the grill with foil and poke small holes in it so the fat can still drip off, but the amount of smoke coming back onto the meat is lower.

Avoid charring meat or eating parts that are especially burned and black – they have the highest concentrations of HAs.

Add colorful vegetables and fruit to the grill. Many of the chemicals that are created when meat is grilled are not formed during the grilling of vegetables or fruits, so you can enjoy grilled flavor worry-free. Red, yellow, and green peppers, yellow squash, mushrooms, red onions, and pineapple all grill well and make healthy additions to your plate.

This is not the first study to indicate that meat consumption can have some detrimental effects on our health, regardless of food preparation. According to the National Institutes of Health, four ounces of red meat per day is the limit for the average adult. However, most Americans consume more than that. Or any barbecue loving people for that matter.

Red meat, be it as steak, burger, or sausage, not only increases your risk for cancer, but for cardiovascular disease as well. It is rich in saturated fat and cholesterol. You can also check out some tips on how to make your barbecue more heart-friendly at Battling Heart Disease and Stroke.

Photo credit: stock.xchng

Cancer disparity: your ethnicity and your risk

April 15, 2009 by  
Filed under CANCER

ethnicityNext week is US National Minority Cancer Awareness Week. You may be wondering why should there be a week specially dedicated to cancer among ethnic minorities. This special week has been observed since April 1987 when the US Congress declared every 3rd week of April to focus on “an unfortunate, but extremely important fact about cancer. While cancer affects men and women of every age, race, ethnic background, and economic class, the disease has a disproportionately severe impact on minorities and the economically disadvantaged.”

Some statistics about cancer and ethnic disparities are:

  • African Americans are more likely to die of cancer than any other ethnic group.
  • New cancer cases and cancer mortality rates for men are highest among African Americans.
  • Among men, the number of new cases of lung cancer is more than 2 times higher among African Americans than among Asian/Pacific Islanders.
  • Twice as many African American men die of prostate cancer than white men.
  • Among women, the number of new cases of lung cancer is more than 2 times higher among whites than among Asian/Pacific Islanders.
  • Cancer mortality rates for women are highest among African Americans, followed by whites, Hispanics, and Asian/Pacific Islanders.
  • African-American women have a lower risk to develop breast cancer than white women but when they do, they have a much higher likelihood to die from it.
  • Aside from African Americans, other minority groups that face higher risk of developing and dying from cancer compared to the rest of the population are women immigrants from Vietnam and Mexicano women living near the border.

(Sources of above statistics: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Michigan Cancer Consortium, American Cancer Society).

All people are created equal. But apparently, their susceptibility to certain diseases, especially cancer is not the same. Indeed it is true that cancer burden varies between ethnic groups. But why is this so?

Besides the genetics behind cancer, there is another significant factor: poor access of minorities to health care. This is of course followed by the question “why do this people do not have full access to health care?”

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS) special report on cancer disparities

“….members of racial and ethnic minority groups are more likely to be poor, to have lower education levels, and not to have health care coverage or a source of primary care.”

The goal of the National Minority Cancer Awareness Week is to promote “increased awareness of prevention and treatment among those segments of the populations that are at greater risk of developing cancer. The week’s emphasis gives social workers, physicians, nurses, health care professionals and researchers an opportunity to focus on high-risk populations and to develop creative approaches to battling cancer problems unique to these communities.

This campaign, however, shouldn’t stop after the week is over. Because cancer is a year-round problem that needs to be looked into. And, as the ACS rightly declares, “cancer is a burden, finding help shouldn’t be.

Photo credit: stock.xchng

Traffic exposure can trigger a heart attack

April 15, 2009 by  
Filed under HEART AND STROKE

traffic-jam2We are exposed to traffic everyday, whether as a commuter or as a driver. Some of us are even exposed as part of our jobs, e.g. as traffic policemen, bus drivers, tec. This post explores the link between traffic exposure and cardiovascular health.

Previous studies have shown that heart attacks may be triggered by strenuous activities. This recent study by German researchers suggest that exposure to traffic can have some serious consequences on people’s heart health. The researchers looked at time spent on any form of traffic exposure by using some form of transport, be it by car, by public transport, or by bicycle and its triggering effect on heart attacks. However, driving a car was the most common source of traffic exposure among the 1,454 study participants. The results of the study indicate that people exposed to any form traffic exposure have a 3.2 times higher risk of having a heart attack than those without exposure. For those exposed, there is a small but significant increase in the likelihood that a heart attack can occur with 6 hours of exposure. Those who were especially at risk were

  • women
  • elderly men
  • people who are unemployed
  • people who have a history of angina pectoris (chest pains)

According to lead author Dr. Annette Peters

Driving or riding in heavy traffic poses an additional risk of eliciting a heart attack in persons already at elevated risk. In this study, underlying vulnerable coronary artery disease increased the risk of having a heart attack after driving in traffic… one potential factor could be the exhaust and air pollution coming from other cars. But we can’t exclude the synergy between stress and air pollution that could tip the balance.”

This isn’t the first study to find a link between cardiovascular disorder and air pollution. British and Swedish researchers found that diesel exhaust increased the rate of blood clot formation as well as blood platelet activity even in healthy people – leading to increased risk of having heart attack and stroke. The increased cardiac event risk due to traffic pollution is evident even when fine particulate matter concentrations are considered low or safe.

In a previous resource post, I have reviewed the most recent medical evidence that linked air pollution to cardiac events. In one study, it was shown that fine particulate matter can interfere with the heart’s electrical functioning.

In the same way, stress can be a triggering factor towards a cardiac event. In a previous post, I discussed about the effect of stress on driving and vice versa.

We all need some form of transport to get somewhere and many of us are on the move to get to our jobs 5 days a week. What would be interesting to find out is a risk comparison between drivers and public transport commuters, e.g. which form of traffic exposure has the least adverse effect on our cardiovascular health.

Phot credit: stock.xchng

How anger and hostility affect your heart health

March 16, 2009 by  
Filed under HEART AND STROKE

heart-burningNegative feelings can have adverse effects on your cardiovascular health. We know that depression and stress are not good for the health. But what about anger and hostility? In many films we see, anger is classically featured as an emotion that triggers heart attacks. However, research studies over the years have actually failed to provide conclusive evidence to support this. Until now.

Researchers from the University College London, UK performed a meta-analysis of studies that looked at the link between heart disease and the mind states anger and hostility. The studies covered almost 80,000 participants both healthy as well as those with pre-existing coronary heart disease (CHD) in Australasia, Europe, and America.

The results of the meta-analysis show that

anger and hostility were associated with a 19% increase in coronary heart disease (CHD) events in healthy individuals and a 24% increase in risk among those with preexisting CHD.”

The results of the analysis have been published in the most recent issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Other notable findings are:

The findings indicate that symptoms of anger and hostility should be taken serious when diagnosing and treating cardiovascular disease. However, suppression of these negative emotions does not actually lead to prevention but actually to the worsening of the problem.

To reduce the problem, the authors recommend the following:

The authors add that anger is not necessarily bad for the heart because it is a natural emotion that may have some evolutionary significance (e.g. warning signal, self-preservation, protection of the young, etc.). Instead the emotion should be “regulated and used in a socially meaningful and adaptive way.”

The birth size – breast cancer link

November 4, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER

Do you know that your size at birth may actually tell you whether you are susceptible to breast cancer later in life? Yes, new findings showed that birth size, particularly birth length, may be related to risk of breast cancer in adulthood and this information can be used as an indicator for susceptibility to this type of cancer for women.

This is based on the association study led by Isabel dos Santos, a professor of Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. In this study, the researchers reviewed 32 published and unpublished studies, comprising of 22,058 cases of breast cancer among 600,000 women from developed countries. They re-analysed the data to determine the relationship between birth size and risk of breast cancer in adult women. The information on birth size was based on birth records of all participants. The three birth size measures that were examined were birth weight, birth length and head circumference.

The researchers found that women with higher birth weight tended to have higher risk for breast cancer. The analysed data showed that 0.5 kg increase in birth weight may increase the risk of breast cancer by 7%. Birth length and head circumference are also found to be indicators of breast cancer risk. Birth length was especially found to be the strongest predictor for breast cancer.

According to dos Santos Silva,

‘Our study indicates that birth size is a marker of susceptibility to breast cancer in adulthood, at least in developed countries. The birth size – breast cancer association appeared to be largely independent of known risk factors. Little is known on how the pre-natal environment may affect breast cancer risk later in life. Further research is needed to unravel the biological mechanisms underlying the birth size – breast cancer association’.

Specifically, the women who were found to be at higher risk were:

  • those with birth length of 51 cm or more.
  • those whose head circumference was 35 cm or more.
  • those who weighed more than 4 kg at birth.

The results are especially relevant considering the trend of many babies being overweight at birth due to maternal health factors.

According to experts at the Harvard University School of Public Health who were not part of the research, the new study provides “the strongest evidence yet that birth size is a critical determinant of breast cancer risk in adult life.”

Unfortunately, the study cannot explain the reason behind this birth size – breast cancer association. Let us hope that future research will bring some clarifications.

Photo credit: bimsan at stock.xchng

Does your waistline predict your risk for heart disease?

October 8, 2008 by  
Filed under HEART AND STROKE

If you are female and have a waistline circumference measuring 35 inches (about 89 cm), then you are advised to have a detailed risk assessment of your cardiovascular health. This is according to Dr. Erin Michos, a cardiologist of Johns Hopkins Medicine.

This statement was based on a US-wide study which screened 8,936 women aged 35 to 63 years old for risk factors of heart disease. For the risk assessment, the women from 14 cities underwent physical check-ups and filled out a health questionnaire. The results of the screening were as follows:

  • 39% of the study participants were overweight (body mass index is between 25 and 30).
  • 35% were considered obese (body mass index is over 30).
  • 55% of these women, taking into account waistlines of 35 inches or more, have increased risk for heart disease.

Dr. Michos laments the fact that traditional risk factor assessment for heart disease do not take into account weight, body mass index and waistline size. Based on the Framingham Risk Assessment, this risk factor scoring system for heart disease only assesses the 10-year risk of heart disease and includes:

  • age
  • blood pressure
  • blood cholesterol levels
  • smoking
  • diabetes

Based on this system, 85% of the women had low risk profiles. Taken into account the study findings on weight and waistline, 59% of the low-risk participants had 1 or 2 more risk factors not previously considered. 41% of those with intermediate risk profiles had 3 or more risk factors overlooked.

“These women have a high lifetime risk of cardiovascular disease even though their 10-year risk may be predicted as low… Our results really emphasize the growing epidemic of obesity in America and showcase its potential for misreading or masking future harm to women’s heart health, “

according to Dr Michos. Therefore, even if no health problems are evident now, early screening is important.

The cardiologist goes on to say that awareness of the problem should be increased so that preventive measures can then be taken as early as possible. Losing weight early enough can drastically lower the risks.

However, the screening study also found out that many women are not aware of the health risks that even slightly overweight people are facing. Doctors in the US are so used “well-built” people that excess weight is often overseen during health assessments.

The author goes on to say that although the study was specific to women, it “also bear significance for men, for whom a waistline greater than 40 inches is considered obese.”

Carcinoid Cancer

July 15, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER


Carcinoid Cancer as defined by the American Cancer Society:carcinoid tumors or carcinoids: tumors that develop from neuroendocrine cells, usually in the digestive tract, lung, or ovary. The cancer cells from these tumors release certain hormones into the bloodstream. In about 10% of people, the hormone levels are high enough to cause facial flushing, wheezing, diarrhea, a fast heartbeat, and other symptoms throughout the body.” These symptoms are referred to as Carcinoid Syndrome.

The causes of carcinoid cancer are unclear. This type of cancer is very slow growing and has no early signs or symptoms. It is often detected while evaluating other unrelated symptoms.

Risk Factors per the Mayo Clinic:

  • Sex: Affect women more often than men.
  • Family history: Children who have a parent with carcinoid tumors or a family history of multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN 1) syndrome.
  • Smoking: Linked to some atypical lung carcinoids.
  • Other medical conditions. Those that affect the stomach’s ability to produce acid may be linked to some gastrointestinal carcinoids.
  • Diagnosis can be difficult and is usually done through:

    • A blood test evaluating for high levels of the protein chromogranin A.
    • A urine test for the presence of 5-HIAA.
    • A CT scan
    • A fine needle biopsy

    Treatment is truly individualized depending on the location and staging. If the tumor has not metastasized, surgery may be the treatment option.

    Other treatment options:

    • Chemotherapy
    • Radiofrequency Ablation
    • Injections of Sandostatin to slow tumor growth
    • Hepatic Artery Embolization-cutting off the blood supply to the tumor

    Resources:

    The Carcinoid Cancer Foundation offers not only information on carcinoid cancer but online discussion groups and seek to increase awareness.

    Together We Make a Difference

    Carcinoid. com is the Novartis website which offers information on carcinoid cancer and managment of the symptoms of Carcinoid Syndrome.

    Carcinoid Cancer Awareness Network: CCAN.: A non-profit organization whose mission is to intensify awareness of carcinoid cancer and to assist support groups around the world in providing patients and caregivers access to important information about carcinoid disease.

    Battling Books:

    Carcinoid Cancer, Zebras and Stardust: My Sister’s Cancer Battle by Mary Girsch-Bock

    (May 2008)

    Stroke rates: Europe wins over US

    June 19, 2008 by  
    Filed under HEART AND STROKE

    When it comes to stroke rates, Europeans are way better off than Americans, according to a Dutch study.

    The researchers looked at data from 2004 on 13,667 Americans and 30,120 Europeans from 11 countries. Their analysis shows that American men have 61% higher likelihood of suffering from stroke than their European counterparts. Also, American women were almost twice more likely to suffer from stroke than European women. This difference in stroke rates in the two sides of the Atlantic is most evident among the poor segment of the two regions’ population but less visible among the rich.

    “….Poor Americans …were much more likely to have a stroke than poor Europeans, whereas the gap in stroke prevalence is less marked between rich Americans and rich Europeans.”

    according study author Mauricio Avendano, of the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. This is the same group who reported the research results showing that rich Americans are less likely to suffer from stroke at an early age than Americans in the low income group.

    Higher stroke rate was associated with lower socioeconomic status as measured by wealth, income and education in both the US and Europe. However, the link between socioeconomic status and stroke prevalence is much more evident in the US than in most European countries.

    The researchers speculate that the big difference between stroke rates in the US and Europe may be due to the following:

    • Europe offers universal health care which is accessible to every one. In the US, over 40 million people have no health insurance, according to the CDC.

    “Some European health systems emphasize tackling stroke risk factors, as opposed to the US health-care system, which focuses more on treatment and may actually be more successful in keeping stroke cases alive.”

    “a higher rate of risk factors and more barriers to health care may be among the reasons why stroke is more common in the United States than in Europe.”

     

    Photo credit

    The Ovarian Cancer Battle

    May 8, 2008 by  
    Filed under CANCER

    ovary.jpg

    Ovaries are the small almond shaped glands that attach to the uterus via the fallopian tubes. They produce eggs and hormones.

    According to the American Cancer Society, a woman’s risk of getting ovarian cancer in her lifetime is 1 in 71. The National Cancer Institute estimates that in 2008 there will be 21,250 new cases diagnosed and 15,520 deaths.

    Most Ovarian Cancer develops from:

    Epithelial Cells: surface cells covering the ovary, the most commonly diagnosed ovarian cancer
    Germ Cells: the egg producing cells

    While the cause of ovarian cancer is unknown, it is known what may reduce or increase your risk.

    Ovarian Cancer Risk Factors:

    • Your risk of getting ovarian cancer is reduced if you have had a hysterectomy or a tubal ligation (fallopian tubes are ‘tied’)
    • Your risk is lower if you have had children, and lower with each pregnancy
    • Women who have breast fed have a lower risk
    • Women who take birth control pills have a lower risk
    • The use of male hormones to treat endometriosis may increase your risk
    • Obesity may increase your risk
    • A family history of ovarian cancer, breast cancer or colorectal cancer increases your risk
    • A personal history of breast cancer increases your risk
    • Use of estrogen therapy alone may increase your risk
    • Most ovarian cancers occur in women who are in menopause.

    Please visit the American Cancer Society site for a complete discussion of these risk factors.
    Ovarian cancer may be detected with a pelvic exam. By that time it may be advanced. Women with high risk factors and a family history should be extra diligent to maintain routine gynecologic exams and be very observant for possible symptoms.

    Symptoms May Include:

    Simple acronyms shared by the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance are:

    B for Bloating
    P for Pelvic or abdominal Pain
    D for Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
    U for Urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency)

    It’s obvious these symptoms may be indicative of other diseases. Per the American Cancer Society, “If you have symptoms that you can’t explain nearly every day for more than a few weeks, talk to your doctor right away. “

    The BRCA1 and BRCA2 (or Breast Cancer 1 and 2) genes are responsible for many cases of familial ovarian cancer and familial breast cancer. Women with a familial link to ovarian cancer should consult their physicians about this test. Source: The Gilda Radner Familial Ovarian Cancer Registry at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y.

    As part of diagnosis, your physician may order a blood test. A CA-125 will show higher levels in women who have ovarian cancer. Other tests may include various radiographic imaging exams and possibly a biopsy, colonoscopy and or laparoscopy.

    Treatment:

    Currently a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation are the modalities for ovarian cancer treatment. Early diagnosis is the key.

    For up-to-date treatment options for ovarian cancer see the National Cancer Institute pages which includes information on antiogenisis, the process of reducing the blood supply to tumors.

    teal-ribbon.jpgOvarian Cancer Initiatives and Resources:

    One of the strongest voices in the battle against ovarian cancer is the The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance. Their National Agenda has three initiatives:

    1. Advance Ovarian Cancer Research
    2. Improve Health Care Practice for Ovarian Cancer, and
    3. Expand the National Advocacy Movement for Ovarian Cancer

    February 13, 2008, a Yale University Phase II clinical trial released the following information: ” Researchers at Yale School of Medicine have developed a blood test with enough sensitivity and specificity to detect early stage ovarian cancer with 99 percent accuracy. ”

    For more information on clinical trials for ovarian cancer see the American Cancer Society Clinical Trials Matching Service, the National Cancer Institute or The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance Clinicial Trials Matching Service.

    The Gynecologic Cancer Foundation (GCF) offers support and advocacy. Upcoming classes include: 2008 Ovarian Cancer Survivors Course.

    Ovarian Cancer Canada, and the Winners Walk of Hope: ” Join thousands of people in 14 cities across Canada on Sunday, September 7th to help commemorate September as Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.”

    Conversations! The International Newsletter for those Fighting Ovarian Cancer.

    SHARE: Self-help for Women with Breast or Ovarian Cancer: hotlines, support groups, education and advocacy.

    Battling Books:


    100 Questions & Answers About Ovarian Cancer, Second Edition by Don S. Dizon (2006)

    A Guide to Survivorship for Women With Ovarian Cancer by F. J. Montz, Robert E. Bristow, and Paula J. Anastasia (2005)

    It’s My Ovaries, Stupid! by Elizabeth Lee Vliet (2003)

    Tomorrow is your last day–comment on any blog post through Friday May 9th, for a chance to win a free pound of Bald Lady coffee.

    Cervical Cancer

    May 1, 2008 by  
    Filed under CANCER

    Cervical cancer will be diagnosed in more than 11,000 women in the U.S. in 2008 and more than 3,000 women will die of the disease this year.

    Worldwide it is third leading cause of cancer death in women.

    What is the cervix?

    The cervix is the lower portion of the uterus. It connects the uterus to the birth canal (vagina) and is the area of the uterus where a fetus will grow and develop.

    There are two types of cervical cancer:

    • squamous cell carcinoma
    • adenocarcinoma

    Per the American Cancer Society, 80 to 90 percent of all diagnosed cases of cervical cancer are squamous cell carcinoma.
    A diagnosis of cervical ‘pre-cancerous tissue’ is treated the same as cancer, though these abnormal cells do not always become cancerous. This is because often the symptoms of cervical cancer are silent until the cancer is at advanced stages.

    The HPV and Cervical Cancer Connection:

    Human Pappillomavirus is connected to 90% of all diagnosed cervical cancer cases. Many people have this common virus which is passed to another person during sex. A healthy immune system generally protects the HPV virus from doing any harm. However in some women it can cause pre-cancerous cellular changes that may continue to slowly change the cells to cancerous tissue.

    The HPV vaccine will protect women from 4 types of human papillomavirus. Per the CDC: “If you are 11–26 years old, you can help prevent cervical cancer by getting the HPV vaccine. It protects against the types of HPV that most often cause cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers, and is given in a series of three shots.”

    For detailed information on the HPV virus see the Mayo Clinic site.

    Risk Factors:

    • HPV infection (early sex, unprotected sex)
    • Smoking
    • Multiple full-term pregnancies
    • Immune suppression diseases
    • Birth control pills
    • Other sexually transmitted diseases
    • Family history
    • Diets low in fruits and vegetables
    • Socio-economic (no access to health care and regular PAP screenings)
    • Age-most often occurs in women over the age of 40

    These risk factors are discussed in more detail at the American Cancer Institute site.

    Symptoms:

    Cervical cancer begins on the cellular level which causes silent symptoms. Symptoms such as pelvic pain, bloody discharge or pain during intercourse may not appear until the cancer is no longer in the early stages.

    Prevention:

    • Reduce risk factors as appropriate
    • Ask your physician if the HPV vaccine is right for you
    • Schedule regular PAP tests

    What is a PAP test?

    The name PAP comes from one of the inventors George Papanikolaou.

    A PAP test is done during your routine gynecological pelvic exam. Cell scrapings of the cervix are put on slides which are then examined for cellular changes or abnormalities.

    Detailed information on PAP screenings can be found in the National Cancer Institute fact sheet.

    Diagnosis and Treatment:

    Diagnosis begins with a physical exam and history. The level of diagnostic testing will be determined by the stage of your disease. 78% of all cervical cancer cases are diagnosed in the early stage.

    If it is suspected that the cancer is not in the early stage, your physician may order detailed testing to check the lymph nodes, urinary system, rectal and vaginal areas for spread of the disease. Detailed testing information can be found at the The M.D. Anderson Cancer Center site.

    Treatment may include, surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Per The M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, treatment options also include the following:

    • The stage of the cancer
    • The size of the tumor
    • The patient’s desire to have children
    • The patient’s overall health and age


    Terminology for diagnosis and/or treatment:

    Cone biopsy: a surgical procedure where a cone shaped piece of tissue is removed from the cervix.

    Cryosurgery: a surgical procedure that uses an instrument to freeze and destroy precancerous tissue.

    LEEP : Loop Electrical Excision Procedure- treatment done under local anesthesia, an electrical current passed through a thin wire hook to remove abnormal tissue.

    Laser surgery: a surgical procedure that uses a laser beam to remove surface lesions.

    Resources:

    For more detailed information on cervical cancer, the CDC (Center for Disease Control) offers a downloadable pdf fact sheet and a cervical cancer podcast.

    Eyes on the Prize.org offers support and information for gynecological cancer.

    Women’s Health Cancer Centres (Canada) is a huge network of resources.

    Battling Books:

    100 Questions & Answers About Cervical Cancer by Don S., M.D. Dizon (2008).

    Women at risk: The HPV epidemic and Your Cervical Health by Gregory Henderson M.D. Ph.D and Batya Swift Yasgur (2002).

    Testicular Cancer Awareness Week

    April 1, 2008 by  
    Filed under CANCER

    Testicular Cancer Awareness Week

    April 1-7, 2008

    “There will be about 8,090 new cases of testicular cancer in the United States in 2008. About 380 men will die of the disease in 2008. A man’s lifetime chance of having testicular cancer is about 1 in 300. Because treatment is so successful, the risk of dying from this cancer is very low: about 1 in 5,000. Testicular cancer is one of the most curable forms of cancer. There are nearly 140,000 men who have survived testicular cancer in the United States.”

    –Source: The American Cancer Society

    The “Get a Grip” Campaign at the National Men’s Resource Center promotes the importance of young men and boys doing monthly self exams for early detection.

    Testicular cancer forms in the testicles, the egg shaped glands located in the scrotum, that produce sperm and testosterone. According the American Cancer Society nine out of ten cases are diagnosed in men between age 20 and 54, however; it the disease can occur in infants or the elderly.

    Symptoms include pain, swelling or unusual lumps in the testes or groin. Many times when lumps are discovered they are painless. Other symptoms may include breast enlargement or tenderness, a general malaise, a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum or an ache in the abdomen or groin.

    The connection between risk factors and diagnosis is being studied but a cause for testicular cancer has not been determined.

    Testicular Cancer risk factors:

    • Undescended testicles or cryptorchidism. 10% of all cases occur in men with a history of cryptorchidism.
    • Family history
    • HIV infection may increase risk
    • Race-white American men have a higher risk
    • Age as mentioned

    More detailed information on testicular cancer risk factors can be found at the American Cancer Society site.

    Diagnosis:

    Following a physical exam your physician may order blood tests (there are currently three tumor marker tests which screen for testicular cancer) and an ultrasound for a complete diagnosis.

    Treatment Options:

    • Surgery to remove the affected testicle. This may include lymph node removal.
    • Radiation therapy, according to the type of cancer you have. Radiation is done after surgery.
    • Chemotherapy in coordination with surgery

    More Resources:

    M.D. Anderson

    NCI-Testicular Cancer Home Page

    CancerBackUp-A U.K. site

    Support:Male-Care: Men Fighting Cancer Together

    TC-Care: Testicular Cancer Information and Support

    The Genitourinary Cancer Message Boards at M.D. Anderson

    LiveStrong: The Lance Armstrong Foundation

    Events:

    CancerBackUp 10K Fun Run-London, Sunday June 18, 2008. To raise awareness of male cancer.

    Books:

    Frequently asked Questions About Testicular Cancer by Paula Johnson (2007, Nonfiction)

    It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back Into Life by Lance Armstrong (2001, Memoir)

    Playing the Numbers

    March 4, 2008 by  
    Filed under CANCER

    Battling Cancer isn’t just about the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. It’s also about education and prevention for everyone.

    Why?

    Because according to statistics provided by the American Cancer Society:

    1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in her life.

    Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in men and women in the United States.

    1 man in 6 will get prostate cancer in his life.

    Need more evidence?

    The Cancer Facts and Figures 2008 report was released February 28, 2008, by the American Cancer Society.

    Per the report “prostate, lung and colorectal cancers account for about half of all cancers diagnoses among men; in women, breast, lung and colorectal cancer make up 50%. Cancer incident rates have more or less steadied since the late 1990’s, but certain cancers do appear to be on the decline. Lung cancer incident rates are down in men and appear to be leveling off in women. There were fewer cases of colorectal cancer in both men and women from 1998 to 2004; female breast cancer incidence rates decreased 3.5% per year from 2001 to 2004.”

    See the entire report in pdf format on the ACS webpage.

    What’s your cancer risk?

    Check out the following assessment tools.

    The Harvard Center for Cancer Prevention, Disease Risk Assessment for the following cancers: bladder, breast, cervical, colon, kidney, lung, melanoma, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate, stomach and uterine.

    The National Cancer Institute, Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool. The tool has recently been updated for African American women based on the results of the CARE study.

     Sloan Kettering Lung Cancer Risk Assessment.

    The Women’ Cancer Network provides a confidential risk assessment of the following cancers: breast cancer, ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer, cervical cancer, vulvar cancer and vaginal cancer.

    It’s easy to become immune to the numbers. But do yourself a favor this week. Look them over and then take a risk assessment, which by the way, also provides not only your personal results, but tips based on those results for reducing your risk factor.

    Because Battling Cancer isn’t just about preaching to the choir.

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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.