Alzheimer’s, Dementia and Sex (part 2)

June 30, 2008 by  
Filed under ALZHEIMER'S

Okay, so let’s finish this conversation.

Like I said the other day, if you want to see anyone on the caregiving spectrum from a teenager to an adult child blush-talk about their loved one’s sex life.

I mean, I am grown, have children of my own and have literally written the book on teen sexuality (Straight Talk, How Teens Make Wise decisions About Love and Sex, Review and Herald, 2000). Yet, I just can’t imagine my mom and dad uh……….. well, you know…having (whisper) sex. And furthermore, I really wouldn’t want to have to make decisions about their sex lives, especially when they were in their golden years and one of them had already died – because that would mean that one of my parents was having sex with someone other than my other parent.

However, putting your head in the sand, and ignoring the issue isn’t going to make it go away. I’ll never have to consider such things, as both of my parents are now deceased. But YOU may and again, like other care concerns, it’s better to give the issue consideration now, before it becomes a major problem.

Honestly, when I first read the story of Dorothy and Bob in Slate, I was amused. However, as I read and considered the depth of Dorothy and Bob’s relationship and the obvious furor of Bob’s son, I realized that this is no laughing matter. Most importantly, when I read of Dorothy’s depression and despondency after the relationship was abruptly forced to an end by Bob’s son, It made me realize that this issue of seniors, dementia and sexuality is an area that must be given serious consideration.

Here are some questions to consider:

  1. Can someone with dementia give consent?
  2. What if the current behavior violates grandma’s long standing moral principles?
  3. What if the relationship violates the primary caregiver’s morals or principals?
  4. Do facility employees have a right to get involved?

In this situation, there may be more questions than answers. Personally, I’d want my family to make decisions for me based upon my life’s principles, morals and values up to that point. The problem is that if I had dementia, I wouldn’t be logical enough to understand my family’s possible “restrictions” on my desires.

It’s something to think about and seriously consider. My advice. Think about it now. Consider it before it becomes an emergency. Talk about it with potential long term care providers and be prepared. As baby boomers age and the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia increases as well. This won’t be interesting or amusing. It will just be another issue that caregivers consider as they battle, the monster, Alzheimer’s disease.

What do you think? Have you been forced to think about and consider your loved one’s sex life?

The Chromium Connection

June 30, 2008 by  
Filed under DIABETES

What do diabetics need to know about chromium?

Chromium is a trace element that assists in the normal metabolism and storage of fat, proteins and carbohydrates. It is also considered an insulin enhancer as it is involved in the production of insulin and the release of glucose on the cellular level.

Types of chromium include inorganic chromium, high-chromium yeast, chromium picolinate, and chromium polynicotinate. Chromium picolinate is most commonly recommended as it is the most easily absorbed.

Recommended Daily Allowance:

There is no RDA for chromium, but a daily intake of
between 50 and 200 micrograms (µg) is recommended by many physicians and
nutrition experts.

Amount of chromium in over-the-counter vitamin supplements:

Centrum: 35 mcg

One-A-Day Essential: 65 mcg

Viactive Multi Vitamin FLAVOR Glides: 12 mcg

Dietary Sources of Chromium:

  • Broccoli
  • Whole Wheat English Muffins
  • Garlic
  • Grape Juice
  • Beef
  • Whole Grain Cereals
  • Eggs
  • Chicken
  • Oysters
  • Wheat germ
  • Green peppers
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Spinach
  • Molasses
  • Symptoms of Chromium Deficiet:

    Chromium deficiencies are not common. A healthy diet will provide an intake of chromium that exceeds recommended dosages; however diets high in simple sugars, or high in processed foods can lead to deficiencies. Extreme exercise, pregnancy, infection, and stress can deplete chromium.

    Symptoms of Chromium Toxicity:

    • GI Upset

    • Hypoglycemia

    • Nausea

    Chromium and Diabetes:

    There have been no clinical studies to support claims that chromium is effective in weight loss or that it increases insulin production. It is also important to note that there are currently no government regulations to specify the purity, dosage or effectiveness of chromium supplements.

    From the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center site:

    “The FDA has recently issued a letter stating that chromium picolinate does not reduce the risk of insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes. Chromium requires transferrin to be absorbed and is renally eliminated therefore patients with renal and hepatic dysfunction should not be routinely supplemented. To date there are no known drug interactions. Optimal dosage remains undetermined.”

    In response to a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial the American Diabetes Association states:

    “Supplemental dietary chromium appears to have no beneficial effect in people with type 2 diabetes who are treated with oral anti-diabetes drugs.”

    For more information on the study visit the ADA site.

    An additional ADA statement about chromium states: “It is still controversial whether chromium supplements should be recommended for glycemic control among diabetic patients. Growing evidence suggests that chromium supplementation, particularly at higher doses and in the form of CrP, may improve insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism in patients with glucose intolerance and type 1, type 2, gestational, and steroid-induced diabetes and in some individuals without diabetes. However, it must be recognized that most clinical studies have major limitations including small size, short term, nonrandomized design, and different doses of chromium supplementation, which may explain the high variability of the findings across studies. Therefore, more clinical trials are needed in the U.S. population to examine the robustness of the results observed in other populations and appropriate doses.”


    As always it is important for diabetics to consult with their Diabetes Management Team before adding any supplement to their regime.


    Cancer Immunity?

    June 30, 2008 by  
    Filed under CANCER

    mouse.jpgThe FDA has given approval for a clinical trial that is all about cancer immunity. Wake Forest University School of Medicine, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina is the site of this amazing cancer research. Dr. Zheng Cui, an associate professor at the university, who teaches biochemistry, molecular biology, lipid biochemistry, cancer biology, and cancer immunology and his team will lead the trial.

    The trial began with the accidental discovery of a mouse that was resistant to cancer. Repeated injection of cancer cells yielded zero tumor growth. Breeding the cancer immune mouse resulted in three of the seven grandchildren of the immune mouse also having the same immune characteristics.

    The key to the mystery apparently lies in the white blood cells of the immune resistant mice.

    The follow-up phase involved transfusing tumor ridden mice with white blood cells from the immune resistant mice. The amazing result was a cure of cancer in the tumored mice.

    The next postulate: are there cancer immune humans? What about families where generations show zero cancer? The researchers will begin searching for these “cancer immune” humans. After testing, the white blood cells will be transfused into cancer patients. This process is obviously not new and is similar to a blood transfusion. The result is a bolstered immune system that is immune to cancer.

    In the recent issue of the New Scientist, Dr. Cui states that “nearly 97 percent of the cancer cells exposed to certain donor immune cells were killed, while in other cases the kill ratio dropped to as low as two percent. Immune cells from patients over the age of 50 were weaker than others while stress and the time of year also appeared to factor into the efficacy rate. One potential threat to his experiment will be graft-vs-host disease. ”

    Dr. Cui says, “We’ve minimized all the risk, especially for these first few rounds of trials,” he said. “We don’t know what will happen, but we hope this will cure several types of cancer and help a few people in the next months. This could be another arrow in the cancer treatment quiver.”

    Check out this YouTube video on the story.

    Read the full story at the News Observer or the UK Telegraph.
    You can also check out this interview with Dr. Cui at the Speculist.

    Know your heart(y) advocacy groups and information sources

    June 30, 2008 by  
    Filed under HEART AND STROKE

    A recent survey by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) showed 46% of Americans have basic or below basic level of health literacy. I am sure that many countries in the world have the same health literacy problems.

    When in doubt, where do you turn to for health information? To your health care provider, of course.

    However, for those who would like to do some home study and read more, I have prepared a list of website resources by medical professionals and advocacy groups. These sites provide invaluable information for medical professionals, patients, and consumers.

    In the US:

    American Heart Association (AHA)

    The AHA is probably the oldest and most well-known heart health advocacy group in the world. It has its headquarters in Dallas, Texas and has nine affiliate offices in the US and its territories.

    It all started with a group of doctors and social workers who formed the Association for the Prevention and Relief of Heart Disease in 1915 in New York City. That was a time when there was limited information about heart diseases. Similar groups were formed all over the US. Several people saw a need for national platform through which medical professionals can exchange knowledge and research findings.

    The AHA was formally founded by 6 cardiologists in 1924.

    Their goal was to improve public and medical awareness during a time of “almost unbelievable ignorance about heart disease.”

    The association has since grown in size, supported by medical and non-medical members and volunteers. It has continued to be an advocate for the American public, especially children.

    The main driving force of AHA is to provide “credible heart disease and stroke information for effective prevention and treatment.”

    AHA regularly organizes health awareness programs and fund raising drives. In addition, it uses the Internet and all the tools it can offer to disseminate information, increase awareness, and step up on prevention of cardiovascular disease. Check out some of their programs:

    HeartHub for Patients

    Go Red for Women Heart Style Guide

    FIT Kids Photo Petition

    Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association (SCAA)

    The SCAA is a non-profit organization founded in 2005 and is singularly focused on sudden cardiac arrest.

    SCAA’s mission is “to prevent loss of life from Sudden Cardiac Arrest.” Its vision is to eliminate preventable deaths from Sudden Cardiac Arrest by 2020.

    One of SCAA’s major projects is broadening the deployment of automated external defibrillators (AEDs), when it affiliated the Iowa advocacy group AED Access for All.

    Heart Rhythm Society (HRS) and Heart Rhythm Foundation (HRF)

    Founded in 1979, HRS is a society of over 4800 medical professionals with the main focus on cardiac arrhythmia or heart rhythm disorders. Its motto is “restoring the rhythm of life.” It works closely with the Heart Rhythm Foundation (HRF). HRF’s mission is

    “to enhance the prevention and treatment of cardiac rhythm disorders by supporting the research, education and advocacy efforts of the Heart Rhythm Society.”

    Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation (SCAF)

    SCAF’s mission is to prevent death and disability from sudden cardiac arrest and increase awareness. Its specific aims are:

    In order to reach these goals, the foundation offers the following training as part of their education program:

    American Stroke Association (ASA)

    ASA is a division of the AHA and is focusing primarily on stroke awareness and prevention. Its specific goal is “to reduce stroke and risk by 25 percent by 2010.”

    Together with AHA, ASA regularly organizes events and educational programs locally. You can check what’s happening near you at One of ASA’s stroke awareness programs is Power To End Stroke, a campaign directed at African Americans, the ethnic group in the US with the highest risk for stroke.

    Outside the US:

    Heart and Stroke Foundation (HSF) of Canada

    HSF Canada is a volunteer-based health charity organization consisting of 10 provincial foundations. It works towards

    “eliminating heart disease and stroke and reducing their impact through the advancement of research and its application, the promotion of healthy living and advocacy.”

    British Heart Foundation (BHF)

    BHF aims for “a world in which people do not die prematurely of heart disease.” And they want to achieve this by research, prevention drives, and fighting for quality health care and support for heart patients.

    Children’s Heart Association (CHA)

    CHA was formerly called The Association for Children with Heart Disorders and advocates for the welfare of children with congenital heart disease. It runs support groups for family and friends of these young cardiac patients.

    Other advocacy groups for children are Children’s Heart Federation, and HeartLine.

    There are many more advocacy groups out there and I am sorry that I cannot cover all of them. All with the common aim of helping heart patients, promoting awareness and stepping up prevention. They are an invaluable source of information for health professionals as well as for patients. Most of these groups are dependent on volunteers and donations to go on with their work.

    If you have the time and the money to share, this is the way to go – volunteer or donate (or both) to a heart(y) group of your choice and help save lives.

    Diabetes News, Friday June 27, 2008

    June 27, 2008 by  
    Filed under DIABETES

    latest-news.jpg Diabetes Events Across the Globe:  <b><a mce_thref=Diabetes Events:

    Diabetes Australia will unveil their new website on July 13, 2008 in conjunction with the start of Australia’s National Diabetes Week. Diabetes Australia is committed to turning diabetes around through awareness, prevention, detection, management and a cure.


    Check out Team Diabetes Canada: Since its inception, Team Diabetes Canada participants have raised vital funds on behalf of the Canadian Diabetes Association and the 2 million Canadians with diabetes that the Association serves. Team Diabetes participants not only increase public awareness of the disease, they inspire their communities to get active and involved. They create lifestyle changes that reduce the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes, while raising funds in support of the research, education, advocacy, and programming that the Canadian Diabetes Association delivers in communities across Canada. Team Diabetes participants are local heroes working to prevent diabetes at home and abroad. Team Diabetes programs allow you to walk or run in world-class marathon events in fascinating cities both nationally and throughout the World. Read more

    Cancer News Friday, June 27, 2008

    June 27, 2008 by  
    Filed under CANCER

    news1.jpgHappy Friday.

    Battling Cancer readers…this is your last day to post for a chance to win free books.

    The rules are simple. Let me know you are out there by posting a hello by 8 pm, MST. Tonight!!

    Then if your name is drawn and I email, drop me a note back with your mailing address and real world name.

    Two readers will be able to choose the book of their choice from the books up for grabs at Bibliophile Is Back!

    Shopping For Cancer??


    CharityMall. is an online shopping system that showcases hundreds of popular merchants that have agreed to donate to cancer research every time an individual purchases something from their online store. Every merchant has committed to a different donation amount; each amount is posted on the website Merchants are making these donations… individual shoppers do not spend an extra dime.

    Every dime earned through goes directly to the Cancer Research Foundation. The Cancer Research Foundation is a tax-exempt, US public charity created exclusively to raise funds to further and support cancer research. Their 2006 recipients include: Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and UCSF Comprehensive Cancer Center.

    Per The Cancer Research Foundation site: “In 2006, we were able to grant 90% of all donations received to cancer research and we are projected to have even better donation success in 2007.

    Headline News:

    U.S. News & World Report, June 26, 2008. Breast Cancer Vaccines Look Promising:But Research Still To Really Pan Out, Expert Warns. “Women with metastatic breast cancer who developed an immune response to an investigational vaccine lived twice as long as those who didn’t have an immune response, new research shows.”

    ScienceDaily, June 26, 2008. Multiple Regions Of Chromosome 8 Found To Be Associated With Different Cancers. “A recently discovered, but not yet understood, section of chromosome 8, called 8q24, may contain at least five distinct regions that are associated with different cancers, according to a study in the June 24 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.”

    Reuters, June 25, 2008. Merck’s Gardasil Not Cleared For Older Women. “U.S. regulators have told Merck & Co they cannot yet approve Merck’s application to expand marketing of its cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil to an older group of women, the drugmaker said on Wednesday.”

    Endocrine Today, June 25, 2008. Bariatric Surgery May Improve Cancer in the Morbidly Obese. “Morbidly obese patients who had bariatric surgery had a greater chance of improving or preventing certain cancers, according to new study results presented at the 25th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery in Washington.”

    Reuters, June 24, 2008. Study Suggests Colon Cancer Vaccine Possible. “A protein found only in the intestines may help lead the way to a vaccine that can treat colon cancers and perhaps other tumors too, U.S. researchers reported on Tuesday.

    Washington Post. com, June 23, 2008. Symptoms Plus Blood Test Boost Ovarian Cancer Detection. “U.S. researchers boosted the level of early-stage ovarian cancer detection by 20 percent through use of a blood test to detect a tumor marker as well as a woman’s report of new-onset symptoms.”

    Blueberries and your cholesterol

    June 27, 2008 by  
    Filed under HEART AND STROKE

    Hey, blueberry lovers. Your favorite fruit may just be the way to lower your cholesterol and save your heart.

    The wild blueberry Vaccinium angustifolium is a rich source of concentrated non-nutritive antioxidants. And these antioxidants seem to be able to lower cholesterol levels.

    Researchers in Canada studied the effects of blueberry supplements on plasma cholesterol levels. They conducted two feeding trials with pigs

    to determine the effects of blueberry supplementation on plasma lipid levels and other indices of cardiovascular benefit.”

    In the first feeding trial, the test animals were given a diet of 70% plant-based (soya, barley and oats). In the second feeding trial, the diet was 20% plant-based. The two types of diet were then added 1 %, 2 % and 4 % blueberries. The results of both feeding trials show a decrease in total cholesterol as well as LDL- and HDL-cholesterol levels.

    However, the plasma lipid lowering effect of the blueberries was more evident in the feeding trial of mostly plant-based diet. According to lead researcher Wilhelmina Kalt, the soy, oats and barley contained in plant-based diets may have worked synergistically with blueberry antioxidants, resulting in a beneficial effect on cholesterol levels.

    Another Canadian study studied the effect of blueberries in humans.

    A single-blinded crossover study was performed in a group of eight middle-aged male subjects (38-54 years). Subjects consumed a high-fat meal and a control supplement followed 1 week later by the same high-fat meal supplemented with 100 0 g freeze-dried wild blueberry powder.

    In a previous post, I have described how a high-fat meal results in post-prandial dysmetabolism and oxidative stress. Results of the second study show that blueberry concentrate supplement increased the total antioxidant status in serum levels. It seems that the antioxidants in blueberries can counteract the oxidative stress brought about by post-prandial dysmetabolism. Increased antioxidant serum status also reduces the risk of many chronic degenerative diseases.

    Blueberry is a low bush that grows in wooded and open areas in the US and Canada. Check out your neighborhood to see whether there are wild blueberries for the picking!

    For more information about wild blueberries, their nutritional facts, and recipes, check out this site.


    Kalt W et al. Effect of blueberry feeding on plasma lipids in pigs. British Journal of Nutrition (2008), 100:70-78

    Kay CD & Holub BJ. The effect of wild blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) consumption on postprandial serum antioxidant status in human subjects. British Journal of Nutrition (2002), 88:389-397

    Photo credit

    Diet Pills – Pros and Cons

    June 26, 2008 by  
    Filed under OBESITY

    Wouldn’t everyone love to stop worrying about dieting? Just take a pill once a day and forget about it. The pounds just melt off. Well, nutritional science isn’t quite there, yet. But it is making strides. However, anyone considering their use should be aware of both the risks and the potential benefits.

    Pharmaceutical companies have taken two basic approaches to weight loss pills: those that stimulate and those that block. Stimulate what? Block what?

    Appetite Suppression

    In the first category are diet pills that work on the centers of the brain to stimulate the central nervous system. Several years ago these were variants of amphetamine, popularly known as ‘speed’. The basic idea was to stimulate the dieter, which had the ‘side effect’ of suppressing appetite.

    The idea is sound. Eat less and your odds of losing weight are higher. The basic equation of dieting, no matter what method is chosen, remains the same: more calories consumed than used leads to weight gain. Consume fewer calories than you burn and the body will naturally shed pounds.

    But, as with any drug, there are real side effects. Speed can produce heart palpitations, insomnia, diarrhea and lowered sexual function. In extreme cases, it may produce psychotic episodes. Over time, even the ability to depress appetite generally fades. Once the effects of amphetamine became more widely recognized, its use was discontinued.

    A more contemporary prescription diet pill in this category is phentermine. It works by stimulating the hypothalamus, a gland that controls certain neurotransmitters associated with appetite. But it also plays a role in the sleep cycle, so sleeplessness can result. Still it is generally safe for short term use and the side effects are much less severe. Over a few weeks time, the desired appetite suppression is likely to fade.

    Fat Blockage

    The second category of weight loss pill uses an entirely different approach to eating and digestion. Here, there’s no attempt to regulate how much food is consumed, only how many calories are retained. Since every digested fat gram yields 9 calories, it is ‘energy dense’. So, removing fat from the system can help reduce the number of available calories.

    Orlistat (marketed under the brand name Xenical) is a prescription diet pill that does just that. It operates by altering the body’s efficiency for absorbing fat, causing more of it to be eliminated in feces. The popular non-prescription drug, Alli, is the same drug at a lower dosage.

    But, these too have side effects. Stools tend to be oily (a result of the added fat) and defecation is more likely to be spontaneous. That means it’s possible to lose control of the bowels and eliminate at undesired moments.


    For many, the side effects of diet pills are well worth the benefits they give. Many users have tried a number of diet plans and find they don’t work well enough or require too much willpower. Others simply prefer to spend less time thinking about meal plans, carb to fat ratios or total calories consumed. A pill helps them diet with greater ease.

    As with any approach to dieting, it’s wise to consult with your physician first before selecting a weight loss pill.

    In Praise of Naps

    June 26, 2008 by  
    Filed under CANCER

    naps.jpgI knew it all along, but now the Boston Globe has verified it. Naps are good for you.

    And it seems with our recent article here on Battling Cancer about sleep that tells us insomnia is considered one of the most serious side effects of cancer–

    45% to 50% of all cancer patients deal with disturbances of sleep–that naps are a great idea for cancer patients.

    A study released by the Harvard School of Public Health and in Athens reported that Greeks who took regular 30-minute siestas were 37 percent less likely to die of heart disease over a six-year period than those who never napped. The scientists tracked more than 23,000 adults, finding that the benefits of napping were most pronounced for working men. Source: Boston Globe

    The National Sleep Foundation lists three types of naps:

    • Planned napping-preparatory napping-taking a nap before an event or when you know you must stay up late
    • Emergency napping-when you are suddenly very tired and cannot keep your eyes open
    • Habitual napping-occurs at the same time every day (my cat or your toddler)

    How To Nap?

    Check out this graphic by Josua Schwimmer MD:

    The chart explains how to nap for the napping challenged.


    Since Da Vinci, Einstein and Edison all were known nappers it might be a good idea to take this seriously.

    The National Sleep Foundation recommends napping at:

    • The right length: A short nap is usually recommended (20-30 minutes) for short-term alertness. This type of nap provides significant benefit for improved alertness and performance without leaving you feeling groggy or interfering with nighttime sleep.
    • The right environment: Your surroundings can greatly impact your ability to fall asleep. Make sure that you have a restful place to lie down and that the temperature in the room is comfortable. Try to limit the amount of noise heard and the extent of the light filtering in. While some studies have shown that just spending time in bed can be beneficial, it is better to try to catch some zzz’s.
    • The right time: If you take a nap too late in the day, it might affect your nighttime sleep patterns and make it difficult to fall asleep at your regular bedtime. If you try to take it too early in the day, your body may not be ready for more sleep.”

    So what are we waiting for? Got your blanket? Ipod?

    Let’s zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

    Cooking, Recipes, Grocery Shopping and More…

    June 26, 2008 by  
    Filed under DIABETES

    shopping-cart.jpgBeing diabetic doesn’t mean boring meals or uninspiring shopping experiences. Turn a challenge into an adventure. Here’s some ideas.

    Have you seen the American Diabetes Association Virtual Grocery Store yet?

    Create a profile and sign in first. Then explore all there is to offer on this great site.

    • Virtual Grocery Store Tour: lets you see your ordinary grocery store through the eyes of a diabetic trying to make smart choice.
    • A Recipe File with recipes and a place to store your favorites. It also includes tips to modify recipes.
    • Meal Planning help with exchange lists, the food pyramid and information on how to read labels.
    • Express Lane, ideas and recipes on how to eat fast food that is healthy.
    • Shopping list lets you import ingredients from the site’s recipes or just add your own grocery needs. It is printable to take with you to the store. Read more

    Dance your heart back to health

    June 26, 2008 by  
    Filed under HEART AND STROKE

    Those rehab exercises can be a bore sometimes. Treadmill, cycles, weights, sit-ups…I’m sure many cardiac patients on rehab get sick of these exercises and are simply tempted to stop. Well, this Mexican doctor may just have found a better alternative…What about dancing?

    Dr Paula Quiroga of the National Institute of Cardiology Ignacio Chavez of Mexico City went for dancing steps instead of the usual rehab routine and got better results.

    In a two-year observational study, a formal rehab regimen that substituted dance routines based on familiar ballroom and night-club dances for more conventional exercises allowed participants to safely achieve comparable exercise levels and muscle-training effects and left them wanting to come back for more.

    reports Heartwire.

    Dr Quiroga’s patients consisted of 560 people in their 40s, 50s, and 60s with ischemic or valvular heart disease, chronic heart failure, or congenital heart disease. The patients were taught special dance steps corresponding to different levels of exertion. Dance routines to the blues served as warm-ups. For low intensity exercise, dance steps to rock and roll music were performed. For intermediate intensity exercises, steps following the Cuban danzón rhythms worked well, while vigorous salsa steps served best for the highest levels of exertion. The patients were fitted with monitors which transmitted the readings of blood pressure and heart rates to a physical therapist at a central control station.

    Over two years, the participants developed no serious arrhythmias, angina, or other important complications while dancing, and some showed only occasional runs of ventricular ectopia. Overall, the group experienced few complications, even with 70% of them considered at high clinical risk,

    reports Dr Quiroga.

     She’s not the only one who swears to this rather unconventional but effective rehab programs. Other Latin American doctors report more compliance from their patients when using dance routines rather than normal rehab programs. Of course Latin Americans are known for their love of dancing so I think the programs’s success is a cultural thing. The dancing rehab program hasn’t been tested in another cultural setting.

    If you were to choose, which type of rehab would you go for? I am not fond of dancing myself so think I’d go for the more conventional type of rehab program. I would feel more at home in a treadmill than on a dance floor.

    I think it doesn’t matter which rehab program you go for, it isometric exercises, dancing or aerobics. The key is that it should be something which is fun and enjoyable so that the patients will come back for more.


    Quiroga PV, Ruis-Suarez MD, Ilarraza-Lomell H, et al. Dance-hall dancing in patients with cardiovascular disease: Experience of 2 years. Presented at the World Congress of Cardiology 2008; May 20, 2008; Buenos Aires, Argentina.

    Photo credit 

    Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

    June 25, 2008 by  
    Filed under DIABETES

    Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is an endocrine disorder affecting one in ten women in the United States. Many Type 2 Diabetics have PCOS.

    What is PCOS? In normal ovaries, a single egg matures and is released each month. In PCOS the follicles that develop and release eggs do not release due to hormonal imbalances causing cysts on the ovaries.

    What causes PCOS? It is not known what causes PCOS. It is also not clear whether weight gain causes PCOS or PCOS causes weight gain. Many researchers correlate excess insulin levels in PCOS patients with excess androgen production.

    Per the Mayo Clinic: “Doctors don’t know the cause of polycystic ovary syndrome, but research suggests a link to excess insulin, the hormone produced in the pancreas that allows cells to use sugar (glucose), your body’s primary energy supply. By several mechanisms, excess insulin is thought to boost androgen production by your ovaries. Studies also indicate that genetic factors may play a role in PCOS.”

    Symptoms: It is important to note that not all women have all symptoms. Some symptoms improve with menopause and some get worse.

    • Infrequent or absent menstrual cycles
    • High blood pressure
    • Acne
    • Obesity
    • Skin tags
    • Pre diabetes or Type 2 Diabetes
    • Cystic ovaries
    • Hirsutism (excessive body hair)
    • Infertility
    • Thinning of scalp hair
    • Dark patches of skin on armpits, neck, inner thighs, vulva or under breasts.

    Could you have PCOS? Take the quiz.

    Treatment can prevent the risk factors of PCOS, including diabetes, cancer of the uterus and heart disease, and will address the symptoms of PCOS.

    Per, recent studies have found that

    • More than 50 percent of women with PCOS will have diabetes or pre-diabetes (impaired glucose tolerance) before the age of 40.
    • Women with PCOS have a four to seven times higher risk of heart attack than women of the same age without PCOS.
    • Women with PCOS are at greater risk of having high blood pressure.
    • Women with PCOS have high levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and low levels of HDL (good) cholesterol.

    Diagnosis of PCOS is made through blood tests and ultrasound.

    PCOS does not go away. Treatment modalities for PCOS involve managing symptoms and is dependent upon where a woman is in her reproductive life and her personal choices. Many medications should not be taken if a woman is trying to get pregnant.

    Pharmacological treatments may include:

    • Metformin for managing glucose and insulin resistance
    • Spirolactone for acne and hair growth
    • Propecia for hair loss
    • Low dose oral contraceptives to regulate menstrual cycles
    • Clomid for infertility issues

    Ovarian drilling may be an option to stimulate ovulation. This is a surgical procedure involving a small laproscopic abdominal incision. A surgeon uses electrical or laser energy to burn holes in enlarged follicles on the surface of the ovaries.

    Read more

    Chocolate For Cancer?

    June 25, 2008 by  
    Filed under CANCER

    chocolate.jpgThat’s right. Chocolate for cancer.

    This story certainly perked up my ears.

    A recent study from Georgetown University has shown that the same cocoa beans used to make chocolate have a chemical which kills tumors in the laboratory setting. Specifically they are using synthetic procyanidins, a class of flavanols. We have discussed the anti-oxidant property of flavanols on Battling Cancer .

    Flavonoids: Found in brewed tea. Flavonoids are also found in dark chocolate. An interesting clinical trial on dark chocolate is found on WebMD. Studies are now showing the impact on flavonoids in various types of cancer, such as prostrate and ovarian cancer as noted at ScienceDaily.

    The synthetic flavanols known as GECGC, are patented by the Mars Company. Yes, the same company that makes Mars bars.

    The testing utilized amounts of flavanols that a person might eat or use.

    The study’s lead author, Min Kim said” “Overall, GECGC showed the most effect in treating cancer cells that are normally fast growing. And in fact it demonstrated the most killing power in colon cancer that suggests the chemical could serve as a promising therapeutic for colon cancer.”

    Source: The Times of India

    The link between dementia and “ministrokes”

    June 25, 2008 by  
    Filed under HEART AND STROKE

    Is there a link between dementia and ministrokes? This seems very likely, according to researchers who conducted studies on several people with dementia or cognitive impairment.

    What is dementia?

    Dementias are a group of neurological disorders characterized by progressive decline of cognitive and brain functions. Dementias take different forms. The most well-known and most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. Other types include Lewy Body dementia, Creutzfeldt-Jakob and Parkinson’s disease. Some of these types can co-occur together resulting in a condition called mixed dementia.

    Our mental capabilities decline as we grow older. However, in case of dementia, this mental decline can occur even in younger people and goes abnormally fast. In its later stages, the disease renders its victims incapacitated and incapable of carrying out normal daily activities.

    What are “ministrokes?”

    Ministrokes are also called transient ischemic attacks or silent strokes. The symptoms of transient strokes are temporary and often go away. Silent or asymptomatic strokes happen without the patients being aware of their occurrence and are associated with brain abnormalities are aneurysms. Hypertension and diabetes may also cause ministrokes

    Because of their transitory or asymptomatic nature, ministrokes are more common than initially thought. Though they do not manifest in serious symptoms, multiple ministrokes present a real danger because “the cumulative effect reaches critical mass” and brain damage occurs.

    Where is the link?

    In one study, Dutch and American researchers discovered aneurysms, benign brain tumors and asymptomatic strokes using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in 2000 older adults. Their results indicate links between silent strokes, symptomatic strokes and dementia.

    In another study, researchers of the University of Washington autopsied brains of patients with dementia and found evidence of damage to the small vessels in the brain which is indicative of injuries probably brought about by multiple small strokes.

    Unlike previous studies on dementia, this recent study included patients from different ethnic groups and from a large range of educational and professional levels. It ran for over ten years, from 1994 to 2006. The study followed up 3400 participants with or without dementia or cognitive impairment. About a third of the patients died during this period and 221 autopsies were performed.

    The study concludes that

    small blood vessel damage caused by hypertension and diabetes may be among the leading causes of dementia.”

    These recent developments indicate a need for people to be more aware of the dangers of ministrokes. Most often, “silent” strokes may not be necessary silent. We need to recognize the symptoms, no matter how mild.

    According to the American Stroke Association, signs of a potential stroke include:

    Taking Your Arthritis Medicines

    June 24, 2008 by  
    Filed under ARTHRITIS

    There’s an interesting report about the survey on arthritis patients in Canada. According to the new survey, most arthritis patients in Canada do not take their arthritis medications even though they are in pain and know that their medications work.

    It is quite insightful because the reasons why they don’t take medication is I guess the concern of any other arthritis patient in the world.

    I for one can say that I got afraid of the side effects. I haven’t had any pain medication for months now even when i was in pain months back. The good news only is that the lifestyle changes has really been beneficial.

    Anyways, I’m copying here, the findings of the above survey:

    • although 70 per cent of arthritis patients find medicine alleviates their symptoms, nearly nine in 10, or 87 per cent, do not always take it.
    • 24 per cent of Canadians with arthritis suffer from frequent pain
    • Four in 10 of them say their pain is getting worse
    • 37 per cent of patients take less medication than they should because they are concerned about taking too much and 13 per cent never take medication.
    • 67 per cent of patients take their medication only when they are in pain and are therefore not using it as a preventative measure.

    However, I admit that I should go back to my doctor for a follow up check-up and discuss my treatment options. I haven’t been back for some 6 months I guess — which is reply bad of me I agree. I really have to go as soon as possible.

    Well anyway, Dr. Carter Thorne, a rheumatologist at South Lake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket, Ontario said:

    A few important things that an arthritis patient can do to best manage their disease:

    • Know what form of arthritis you have and how it is best treated.
    • Learn about any medications you have been prescribed and how to take them properly.
    • Talk to your family doctor, rheumatologist or physiotherapist and use resources such as The Arthritis Society.

    Other ways for arthritis patients to manage their symptoms include:

    • Exercise, such as swimming, walking and cycling, to strengthen muscles and improve range of motion in the joints.
    • Losing weight to reduce the stress on joints.
    • Hot and cold compresses to relieve pain and inflammation.

    What about you? What keeps you from taking your arthritis medicine?

    What is the Gestational Diabetes Act?

    June 24, 2008 by  
    Filed under DIABETES

    According to the American Diabetes Association, gestational diabetes affects 4% to 8% of all pregnant women, and about 135, 000 women in the United States each year. Gestational diabetes only occurs during pregnancy and glucose levels typically return to normal after pregnancy. The risk for the mother includes preeclampsia during pregnancy, while the developing fetus may be born jaundiced and hypoglycemic. There is also an associated risk that gestational diabetics and their babies will develop Type 2 diabetes in their lifetime.

    The symptoms of gestational diabetes often go undetected as increased urination may be associated with pregnancy. Increased thirst is also a silent symptom. Women should be routinely tested in their 24th to 28th week of pregnancy with a glucose tolerance test. This should be done earlier if there is a history of gestational diabetes.

    While any woman can have gestational diabetes there are known risk factors per the Mayo Clinic:

    • Age. Women older than age 25 are at higher risk.
    • Family or personal history. Your chance of developing gestational diabetes increases if a close family member, such as a parent or sibling, has type 2 diabetes, or you had gestational diabetes in a prior pregnancy.
    • Weight. Being overweight before pregnancy makes it more likely that you’ll develop gestational diabetes, though weight during your pregnancy doesn’t cause gestational diabetes.
    • Race. While it is unknown why, you’re at increased risk if you’re black, Hispanic or American Indian.
    • Previous complicated pregnancy. If you’ve had an unexplained stillbirth or a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds, you should be monitored more closely for gestational diabetes the next time you become pregnant.

    For more information o see the Mayo Clinic site.

    Read more

    Being Sun Smart Across the Globe

    June 24, 2008 by  
    Filed under CANCER


    Sun Smart Campaigns are taking place from Australia to the U.S.

    Take a peek at a few videos from all over the world:

    Did you know that Australia has the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world? According the Cancer Council of Victoria, over 1,600 Australians die from skin cancer each year.

    Summer began in February for this country and the Cancer Council of Australia kicked off summer with marie claire magazine’s launch of the SunSmart campaign together with 17 Aussie designers as part of their 150th issue to raise awareness of sun safety. All profits from the sale go to the Cancer Council. “17 designers created limited edition items like sunnies, hats, beach towels and even Swarovski-studded wedges for Australians to get the message: stay in the shade, slop on some sunscreen, and slap on a hat.”

    Back in the U.S., Major League Baseball, the Major League Baseball Players Association and the American Academy of Dermatology are kicking off the Play Sun Smart Campaign to Strike Out Skin Cancer by raising awareness about skin cancer and offer detection and prevention tips for baseball player, team staff and fans.

    Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States according to the Center for Disease Control, (CDC) who gives risk factors for skin cancer:

    • Lighter natural skin color.
    • Family history of skin cancer.
    • Personal history of skin cancer.
    • Exposure to the sun through work and play.
    • A history of sunburns early in life.
    • Skin that burns, freckles, reddens easily, or becomes painful in the sun.
    • Blue or green eyes.
    • Blond or red hair.
    • Certain types and a large number of moles.

    Read more

    Sleepless nights are hard on women’s hearts

    June 24, 2008 by  
    Filed under HEART AND STROKE

    Poor sleep is associated with increased risk for having type 2 diabetes and heart disease. And when it comes to lack of sleep, women’s cardiovascular health suffer the most. A recent study by researchers at Duke University Medical Center shows that women’s hearts and vascular systems are more sensitive to sleep deprivation than men’s.

    The results of the study were based on data gathered from 210 healthy middle-aged women and men. All participants had no history of diagnosed sleep disorders. They were all non-smokers, and were not on daily medications.

    The participants were categorized as good sleepers and poor sleepers. Poor sleepers are those having problems falling asleep and having frequent disruptions in sleep. 40% of the participants were poor sleepers and these have a much higher risk for cardiovascular disease than the good sleepers. However, poor sleepers who are females exhibited higher levels of C-reactive protein and interleukin-6 and higher levels of insulin then male poor sleepers. C-reactive protein and interleukin-6 are biomarkers for inflammation which are linked to increased risk of heart disease. Insulin levels are biomarkers for type 2 diabetes.

    The time it takes to fall asleep seems to be a big factor. Female participants who take a half hour or more to fall asleep had the highest risk.

    In a survey by the National Sleep Foundation, 60 % of the female respondents report that they only get a good night’s sleep a few nights a week. 43 % report sleepiness during daytime and this can interfere with their normal daily activities.

    There are many reasons why people have sleep shortage. For many women, having children is the main reason for sleep deprivation. As mom of twins, I knew how sleep deprivation sapped me of energy and pushed me into a prolonged postpartum depression. Although that was 5 years ago and my sleeping patterns have since improved, I still suffer from sleep disruptions each time my children awake at night to go to the bathroom. I guess it’s one of the hazards of motherhood.

    “We found that for women, poor sleep is strongly associated with high levels of psychological distress, and greater feelings of hostility, depression and anger. In contrast, these feelings were not associated with the same degree of sleep disruption in men.”

    according to head researcher Edward Suarez.

    Other causes of sleeplessness in women may be also biological and mainly hormonal in nature. They may include menstrual cramps, hot flashes and irregular menstrual cycles.

    In another post, I will be tackling the topic of “sleep hygiene habits.” So if you can’t sleep, stay tuned!

    Photo credit

    Alzheimer’s, Dementia and Sex

    June 23, 2008 by  
    Filed under ALZHEIMER'S

    If you want to make a teenager or young adult blush, mention their parents having sex.

    Let’s face it, there aren’t very many “children” be they teens, young adults, baby boomers or elderly who want to talk about their parents (aunts, uncles, grandparents) um….er……uh sex life.

    Now, toss in dementia affecting one or both of the parties, and now you’ve really got something to talk about or not talk about.

    I mean, first of all, what caregiver wants to think about, much less talk about their loved ones sex life? And then, who gets to make the decision as to whether the relationship continues? Let’s say John and Mary live independently, and one or both has dementia and they decide that they want to engage in a sexual relationship. Should their children or other family members get involved?  When the spouse is primary caregiver, it’s complicated too.  Can a person with dementia “consent?”

    Another scenario. What if Joe and Martha (one or both have dementia) are in an assisted living facility or even a nursing home and they decide they want to be sexually active. Should the facility or family members have a say or just allow the relationship to go on?

    Over the next two days, we are going to delve into this subject and discuss the pros and cons of dementia, dating and sex.

    According to the CDC, Alzheimer’s disease has surpassed diabetes and is now the sixth leading cause of death. They say that 10million people will suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. So, in essence, what makes a cute kind of tongue in cheek story today could tomorrow necessitate careful thought, planning and possibly even policies regarding the sex lives of people living with Alzheimer’s disease.

    There are many questions to consider, but the hardest part my be getting caregivers to add their loved one’s sex lives to the ever growing list of things to think about and handle as they battle Alzheimer’s disease.

    Should Diabetics Imbibe?

    June 23, 2008 by  
    Filed under DIABETES

    cocktail1.jpgDiabetics and alcohol consumption.

    Most sources agree that if your diabetes is well regulated an alcoholic beverage can be scheduled into your meal plan on occasion. Always consult your physician first to be sure your medication is compatible with alcohol. If you have neuropathies such as a compromised liver it is important to discuss alcohol consumption with your doctor as alcohol is metabolized mainly by the liver.

    Alcohol should always be consumed with food because it is enters the blood stream rapidly and is metabolized rapidly as your body works to eliminate it. This will result in a drop in blood sugar which can be compensated for by food.

    The American Diabetes Association guidelines for alcohol consumption to avoid low blood sugars are:

    • Never drink alcohol on an empty stomach.
    • Limit yourself to 1 drink if you’re a woman or 2 drinks if you are a man.

    Remember that it takes your body two hours to metabolize that drink.

    Wines and mixed drinks are often high in sugar and beer is high in carbs. Besides the drop in blood sugar, they stimulate your appetite which may cause you to eat more. Alcoholic drinks have little nutritional value and play havoc with your weight management. Sure wines have some chemicals that are prevent heart disease but you can get the same chemicals in grapes and not nearly the sugar.

    Do your homework. Check out the stats on your favorite drinks of choice before that next party and save yourself a drop in blood sugar and unwanted calories and still have a good time. Or consider mixing wines with diet seltzer for a spritzer or mixing hard liquor with diet soda.

    • 12-ounce Beer-13 grams of carbs, 150 calories
    • 12-ounce Light Beer-5 grams of carbs, 100 calories
    • 6-ounces White Wine-1.4 grams of carbs and 120 calories
    • 6-ounces Red Wine-3 grams of carbs and 128 calories
    • 6-ounces Dessert Wine-21 grams of carbs and 270 calories
    • Frozen Margarita-27 grams of carbs and 246 calories
    • Gin and Tonic, 21 grams of carbs and 175 calories

    The Effects of Alcohol Excess on Diabetics

    As if the regular complications of diabetes aren’t bad enough, (Source:Mayo Clinic):

    • Liver disorders
    • Neurological complications
    • Cardiovascular complications
    • Bone loss
    • Sexual dysfunction
    • Birth defects
    • Increased risk of cancer

    Add to this a diagnosis of diabetes:

    • The complications of diabetic neuropathies worsen with alcohol abuse.
    • If you over indulge and then go to sleep you risk the ensuing results of a severe drop in blood sugar.
    • A damaged liver caused by alcohol abuse will cause erratic blood sugars that may be impossible to control

    So should diabetics imbibe? Obviously this must be your informed decision based on your health care management plan and your individual lifestyle choices.

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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.