September is the month to fight childhood cancer

September 16, 2010 by  
Filed under CANCER

September is an important month in our battle against cancer. Several cancer awareness campaigns are observed this month.

Childhood Cancer Month

September is also a month dedicated to increase awareness of childhood cancer which kills more than 10,000 American children under the age of 15 each year. September 13 was designated as “National Childhood Cancer Awareness Day.” One of the major advocates for childhood cancer awareness is none other than Hillary Rodham Clinton, former first lady and senator, mother and current US Secretary of State. She says:

“We have made tremendous strides in the fight against childhood cancer, but far too many children still suffer and lose their lives to this illness. The more we know as a nation the better able we will be to prevent and treat the disease and help those who are battling and surviving pediatric cancers.  National Childhood Cancer Awareness Day is an opportunity to reach out to all Americans with the facts about childhood cancer, and this day will be an important symbol of our commitment on all days to find a cure.”

The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute presents in its website stories of victims and survivors of childhood cancer.

The National Cancer Institute cites the following as the most common childhood cancers:

  • Leukemias, especially acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
  • Common solid tumors, such as brain tumors (e.g., gliomas and medulloblastomas),
  • Less common solid tumors such as neuroblastomas, Wilms tumors, and sarcomas such as rhabdomyosarcoma and osteosarcoma)

Leukemias and brain cancer as well as cancers of the nervous system account for more than half of all childhood cancers. The causes of childhood cancers are still unknown.

The Association of Cancer Online Resources (ACOR) gives a list of early signs of childhood cancer:

Continued, unexplained weight loss
Headaches, often with early morning vomiting
Increased swelling or persistent pain in bones, joints, back, or legs
Lump or mass, especially in the abdomen, neck, chest, pelvis, or armpits
Development of excessive bruising, bleeding, or rash
Constant infections
whitish color behind the pupil
Nausea which persists or vomiting without nausea
Constant tiredness or noticeable paleness
Eye or vision changes which occur suddenly and persist
Recurrent or persistent fevers of unknown origin

Other cancer awareness observances this month are:

  • Leukemia & Lymphoma Awareness Month, sponsored by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS). LLS is currently campaigning for more sponsors to support the National Blood Cancer Awareness Month Resolution to be submitted to the US Congress. Check out how you can help. Leukemia and lymphoma fall under the category of blood cancers and are also common childhood cancers.
  • Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, sponsored by the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC)
  • Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, sponsored by Zero, the project to end prostate cancer.

Other infos on childhood cancer are available at 

Health events in September

September 1, 2009 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

world_stet2September is a busy month in terms of health events and observances. Check out what’s interesting for you!

Worldwide observances

United States observances and events

Resource post for September: National Cholesterol Awareness Month

September 11, 2008 by  

September is National Cholesterol Awareness Month (American Heart Association [AHA]) or National Cholesterol Education Month (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute [NHLBI]). It is therefore appropriate that our resource posts for this month will be on cholesterol.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a fatty substance belonging to the sterol group. It is found in all animal tissues. When we eat meat, cholesterol is absorbed into our body and transported in the blood.

Cholesterols are classified depending on their molecular size. For our health, the important ones are the low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.

Why is cholesterol important for our health?

The levels of cholesterol in the blood are strong risk factors for heart disease. The higher the LDL cholesterol concentration in your blood, the bigger is your risk to develop cardiovascular disease. HDL cholesterol on the other hand, is considered good for the heart

Heart disease is the primary cause of mortality, not only in the US but on a global scale. About a million heart attacks occur in the US each year and half of these cases result in death.

How does cholesterol damage the heart?

When too much cholesterol is in the blood, it will accumulate on the walls of the arteries, especially the coronary arteries – the main blood vessels supplying blood to the heart. Because of the fatty deposits on the arterial walls, the arteries become narrow, and the walls hardened and less flexible. This constriction of the coronary artery can interfere with the blood supply to the heart. Insufficient blood going to the heart can cause chest pains (angina pectoris). When the artery becomes blocked so that blood supply to the heart is completely cut off, a heart attack (myocardial infarction) occurs.

What does your cholesterol test tell you?

Experts recommend that everybody aged 20 and older should have a lipid profile test at least every 5 years to check their blood cholesterol. Cholesterol levels are measured as milligrams of cholesterol per deciliter of blood, or mg/dL.

To give us an idea of what our cholesterol levels mean, check out the table below provided by NHLBI:


Total Cholesterol Level


Less than 200 mg/dL


200-239 mg/dL

Borderline high

240 mg/dL and above


LDL Cholesterol Level

LDL Cholesterol Category

Less than 100 mg/dL


100-129 mg/dL

Near optimal/above optimal

130-159 mg/dL

Borderline high

160-189 mg/dL


190 mg/dL and above

Very high

HDL cholesterol protects us against heart disease so higher values of HDL are actually positive. An HDL level less than 40 mg/dL is low and increases our risk for developing heart disease. An HDL level of 60 mg/dL or more, on the other hand, can help to lower our risk for heart disease.

What are the things that influence our cholesterol levels?

Our cholesterol levels depend on the following:

  • Age. Our cholesterol levels tend to rise with age.
  • Gender. Premenopausal women generally have lower cholesterol levels than men of the same age. After menopause, women’s cholesterol levels have the tendency to increase.
  • Genetics. Your cholesterol levels might be partly due to your genes. Check out your family history of cholesterol levels.
  • Diet. You are what you eat. And food rich in cholesterol, trans fat and saturated fat are big threats to your cholesterol profile.
  • Weight. Being overweight is another thing that makes your cholesterol levels rise.
  • Physical Activity. A sedentary lifestyle will raise your LDL and lower your HDL.

The first three are things we cannot do anything to change. However, we have the power to change the last three things on the list in order to lower our cholesterol levels and our risk for heart disease

How do we control our cholesterol levels?

Experts at NHLBI recommend 2 main ways to control our cholesterol levels:

This resource post will concentrate on TLC. The topic of cholesterol-lowering drugs will be tackled in another post.

TLC can help us lower our risk for heart disease without drugs and the three things we have to work on are our diet, weight, and exercise as listed above.

Diet. We should lessen our intake of food rich in trans- and saturated fat – French fries, margarine, fried chicken, and other animal products. However, our body needs fat in order to work. What we need are unsaturated fats and they are to be found in vegetable oils, fish, nuts, and olives. If we have to use oil, olive oil is the best option.

Physical Activity. Exercise burns the calories you take in. It is good, not only for the heart, for the muscles, bones, and brains. For newbies to exercise, a slow start is necessary. Beginners’ activities can simple daily tasks like house cleaning and gardening. From there, physical activity can be built up to light-, moderate-, to high-intensity exercises such as walking, jogging, cycling, playing basketball or football.

Weight. Proper diet and exercise are the keys to weight loss and weight control. It’s all in one and the same package. The resources below will give you more detailed ways of lowering and controlling your cholesterol.

Reading resources

Here is some useful information you can download:

For basic information about cholesterol: High Blood Cholesterol – What You Need to Know

A very comprehensive guide with easy-to-follow lifestyle changes tips, heart-friendly recipes, and fun exercises: Your Guide to Lowering Cholesterol with Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC)

Cholesterol resources at the Heart Hub of the American Heart Organization

Sample recipes from Low-Fat, Low-Cholesterol, Fourth Edition


Heart-friendly events in September

August 28, 2008 by  

In this one of the last posts of August, I am summarizing heart-related events worldwide scheduled for September.

Walks and runs

Now, these are events everybody can join in. You can walk, run, or hike – it’s your choice. September is a good month for these outdoor activities. It’s not so hot anymore but still warm enough to have a good time. Plus, there are fundraising events out there where you can help out.

The American Heart Association is sponsoring several Start! Walking movement events across America and several walks and runs are scheduled for September. The complete schedule can be found here.

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) is organizing walks and hikes as part of their Hearts First Walks and Hearts First Hikes. There are lots scheduled for September and you’ll find the schedule here. But there are lots more! BHF is organizing or sponsoring other fun heart-friendly activities from cycling, to swimming, to skipping rope. You can download the BHF events diary here.

The American Stroke Foundation is organizing the 6th Annual Walk on the Wildside – The Stroke Walk at  Shawnee Mission Park, Shawnee, KS, USA


The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada also has lots of things planned for autumn. Check out them out here.

Conferences and symposiums

Let’s see what our heart experts will be doing this September.

August 30 to September 3
European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress
Munich, Germany

September 8 to 10
Atrial Fibrillation Symposium
Murray, UT, USA
Organized by the Heart Rhythm Society

September 11 to 13
Arrhythmias in the Real World, American College of Cardiology Heart House
Washington, DC, USA

September 12 to 13
27th Annual Echocardiography Symposium
The Doral Marriott Hotel
Miami, FL, USA

September 14 to 16
The American College of Cardiology’s (ACC) 2008 Legislative Conference
Fairmont Hotel in Washington, D.C., USA

September 15
16th Annual State-of-the-Art Arrhythmia Symposium
Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA, USA

September 18 to 20
Annual Meeting of the ESC Working Group of Cardiac Cellular Electrophysiology
Madrid, Spain

September 18 to 20
Nuclear Cardiology and Integrated Cardiovascular Imaging Today – 2008
Cesena, Italy

September 18 to 20
CardioMet – 3D Lausanne 2008
Lausanne, Switzerland

September 20 to 23
47th National Congress of Cardiology of the Romanian Society of Cardiology
Sinaia, Romania

September 22 to 24
The 9th International Dead Sea Symposium (IDSS) on Cardiac Arrhythmias and Device Therapy
Dan Panorama Convention Center
Tel Aviv, Israel

September 24 to 27
6th World Stroke Congress
Vienna, Austria
Organized by World Stroke Organization

September 25 to 26
Microcirculation Abnormalities in Vascular Disease: Scientific Principles and Clinical Significance
London, United Kingdom

September 25 to 27
Artery 8
Gent, Belgium

September 25 to 27
12th International Congress of the Polish Cardiac Society
Poznan, Poland

September 25 to 27
5th Global Cardiovascular Clinical Trialists Forum (CVCT)
Cannes, France

September 26
Controversies in Cardiac Arrhythmias
The Cosmos Club
Washington, DC, USA

September 26 to 27

6th Advanced Symposium on Congenital Heart Disease in the Adult


Photo credit: geri-jean at stock.xchng

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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.