Gastrointestinal Tnm Cancer Staging by Endosonography

March 31, 2010 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

Gastrointestinal Tnm Cancer Staging by Endosonography

Diabetes epidemic spreads to China

March 31, 2010 by  
Filed under DIABETES

Economic development comes with a price – health problems. And nowhere is this more evident than in China. The economy is booming, lifestyles are rapidly changing and the health care system cannot keep up with the health problems that come with these.

The diabetes epidemic is not only restricted to the West. China is quickly catching up. According to the latest reports, 1in 10 Chinese adults (10%9 have type 2 diabetes, and another 16% of the population are in danger of developing the disease. This rate has surpassed Germany and Canada and is close to the US rate of 11%. But Chinas has a population of 1.3 billion and a staggering 92 million of these people are diabetic.

According to David Whiting, an epidemiologist at the International Diabetes Federation, who was not involved in the study

“The change is happening very rapidly both in terms of their economy and in terms of their health effects. The rate of increase is much faster than we’ve seen in Europe and in the U.S.”

And it doesn’t just stop there. Chronic diseases such as hypertension and other cardiovascular disorders are also on the rise. This phenomenon is nothing new and has been observed in populations and ethnic groups who were previously healthy and have very little genetic  predisposition to these disease. And the reason lies in the lifestyle change that comes with economic development. Some of these changes are:

Diet. The traditional Chinese diet was very healthy. The present generation prefers processed food to natural produce, food which are full of salt, sugar, and fat. Tea, the traditional drink, has been replaced by soda and other sweetened drinks.

According to Dr.  Huang Jun, a cardiovascular professor at the Jiangsu People’s Hospital in Nanjing:

As people eat more high-calorie and processed foods combined with less exercise, we see an increase of diabetes patients.”

Sedentary living. Able-bodied Chinese are leaving the farms and rural areas to seek a “better” life in the city. City life, however, means less physical exercise.

Air pollution. Big Chinese cities are among the most polluted in the world and air pollution has been closely linked to cardiovascular disease.

Stress. Life in China has become more fast-paced and more stressful.

Dr. Huang Jun continues:

Whereas 20 years ago, people took naps during the work week, people are now faced with the stress of making more money to support a family and a buy a house.”

The situation is not unique to China and similar health problems are becoming widespread in the Asia-Pacific region, underscoring a need for effective preventive measures in countries of emerging economies.

New at Battling for Health: SmartPhone Health Apps Series

March 31, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, HEALTHCARE

How is the new multimedia technology changing our lives? In lots of ways.

Recently, Apple announced that more than 2 billion phone applications (apps for short) have been downloaded. And that’s just for iPhone & Co. There are operating systems (OS) out there, from Androids to BlackBerry. The current estimate is 140,000 different iPhone apps are available with new ones sprouting up every day. I can’t find any figures but many of these apps (10% is my estimate) have something to do with health and medicine. Health apps will range from tracking your weight and calorie gain to tracking to blood pressure and glucose levels to tracking your pregnancy. All in your so-called mobile smart phone.

No wonder that developers are scrambling to come up with newer and more innovative and more user friendly apps for mobile phone users. And pharmaceutical companies and other health care industry players are realizing the potential for these apps and they, too, are developing industry-sponsored health apps.

The mobile phone is for many people, the doctor in the pocket. The site iPhone Medical Apps: news, reviews, and trends said it rather aptly:

“Smartphones will soon be diagnosing illness as well as advising on cures. Will we all become iPho-chondriacs?”

Lena Bryce’s mobile phone got her pregnant. Dan Woolley’s kept him alive for days under a collapsed building. Fran Neri’s saved her from a life-threatening infection. A fast-growing array of downloadable applications for smartphones is turning the mobile phone into a doctor in your pocket, on constant call to diagnose ills and propose cures. Soon mobile apps could even provide lifesaving home treatment for millions. That’s the upside. Experts warn, though, that apps may turn us into a neurotic nation of phone-hugging iPho-chondriacs.”

Phone apps are not only for patients. More and more doctors rely on their smart phone as a data storage, research and even diagnostic tool. In doing medical literature search using PubMed (U.S. National Library of Medicine), the keyword “iPhone”, a term we generally do not associated with medical journals, came up with 14 results. A paper published in the journal Health Informatics in August 2009 said:

Beyond phones. With the proper infrastructure, smartphones can help improve clinician satisfaction and increase EMR use.

Smartphone use is gaining traction among clinicians, with products like the iPhone and the BlackBerry supporting the display of drug references, medical calculators, decision support and EMR access. It is critical that a sound wireless infrastructure is in place to support smartphones and ensure connectivity. By tying in smartphones to the electronic record, CIOs can help to improve clinician workflow and maximize EMR use. Some clinicians will resist smartphone use; therefore, CIOs should continue to offer a variety of devices including COWs, tablets, laptops and wired PCs.

In April and the coming months, I will be starting a new series here on Battling for Health called SmartPhone Health Apps. Having recently upgraded from a first generation phone to a 3G iPhone, I am having fun trying out these apps. And I would be sharing with you what I’ll find out. Stay tuned!

The male infertility-cancer link

March 30, 2010 by  
Filed under CANCER

Talk about hitting a man when he is already down. A recent research studyreports that male infertility in younger years may be an indication for increased likelihood of having aggressive prostate cancer later in life. The study looked at 22,562 male patients checked for infertility from 1967 to 1998. The data, which were include in 15 California infertility clinics were crosslinked to data in the California Cancer Registry.  Statistical analysis of the data showed that those who had been diagnosed to have the male factor infertility have the highest risk for high-grade prostate cancer, with a 2.6 times higher likelihood compared to those without the factor.

The authors concluded:

Men with male factor infertility were found to have an increased risk of subsequently developing high-grade prostate cancer. Male infertility may be an early and identifiable risk factor for the development of clinically significant prostate cancer.

The results were published in the journal Cancer. The study was conducted by American researchers from different research institutes, led by a team at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF).

This is not the first study to link male infertility to male-specific cancer. Previous studies have reported that infertile males have higher risk for testicular cancer than those who have normal fertility. And many experts believe there is a strong genetic factor involve.

According to study author and fertility specialist Dr. Paul Turek, who founded the Turek Clinic in San Francisco:

“Over all, this leads me to think that a common genetic defect, or a defect in an important genetic pathway, may underlie all three and possibly even more conditions in life. The infertility is just the first ’sign’ of the problem. Maybe, infertility is the ‘ultimate’ medical disease of a species and reflects larger issues down the line that are serious enough to have God or Darwin say ‘no more reproduction’ to that individual.”

The infertility-cancer link has some consequences on in vitro fertilization (IVF). Are infertile fathers going through the IVF procedure passing on the infertility and cancer factor to their offsprings? Are there any other health risks related to infertility? Would this line of research eventually lead to the popular use of preimplantation genetic screening?

The MS Cure Part III: vascular stenting and potential side effects

March 30, 2010 by  

This is our final leg in our journey through the CCSVI (chronic cerebro-spinal venous insufficiency) topic, a fitting close to the National MS Education & Awareness Month.

This post will take a look at the procedure used to correct CCSVI as developed by Dr. Paolo Zamboni of Italy.

How the treatment works (source: Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada):

Researchers involved with CCSVI have used “balloons” to open up narrowed veins or inserted stents into veins to help keep them open. This requires passing a catheter (wire) through the veins to the area of venous narrowing so that it can be widened. This work has only been done in a few places, on a few people and has yet to be evaluated in a controlled clinical trial.

The potential complications:

Endovascular intervention for CCSVI is an invasive procedure and as such, does carry a risk for significant complication. Two cases have been described in the January Issue of the Annals of Neurology. In August of 2009, a 51 year old woman died from a cerebral hemorrhage attributed to the blood thinner she was taking to minimize the risk of clot formation post endovascular intervention for CCSVI. In November a second event was documented when a stent, inserted in the jugular vein to maintain vein flow, dislodged itself and travelled to the heart. Open heart surgery was needed to retrieve the stent. Other possible complications of this endovascular intervention may include, but are not limited to:

How has it worked so far?

Several patients had the treatment including Dr. Zamboni’s wife, with successful outcomes. Read some testimonials here. Stanford University researchers started a collaborative project to investigate the so-called multiple sclerosis vascular shunting procedure last year. However, they halted the treatments after 2 patients experienced serious adverse effects associated with the stenting procedure to treat CCSVI. One patient suffered from a brain hemorrhage and died and another required emergency open heart surgery after the stent got dislodged and landed in the heart’s right ventricle. The cases were reported in the journal Annals of Neurology and summarized at MS Society UK site. Although such adverse events are expected to happen in rare cases, 2 out of 35 patients amount to about 8.5%, which is unacceptably high.

This doesn’t mean that the treatment does not work. Current data available are still inconclusive. But the high rate of serious adverse effects needs to be looked into to protect MS patients. It is also disheartening to note that many unscrupulous individuals are taking advantage of MS patients’ hopes. Many clinics in many countries are offering CCSVI screening and treatment even though the procedures haven’t been fully tested and standardized. For those who are waiting for the MS cure, prudence and patience, although understandably difficult, are recommended.

 Please let the researchers do their jobs and chakc things out…

Photo credit: stock.xchng

Healthy food for religious holidays

March 29, 2010 by  

Certain holidays  are associated in certain types of food that we usually eat to celebrate these special occasions. However, there are also foods which are forbidden on certain holodays, at least for certain religions. I was brought up a catholic (though I have been an agnostic for years now), and during the Lenten season, my mom would strictly impose the no- meat policy on Fridays and the whole of the so-called Holy Week. Meat would only then be served on Easter Sunday, in celebration of the end of the fasting season.

The other day, one of my sons brought home the topic about the holy days and about why some of their friends wouldn’t eat meat on Fridays. During the discussion, his brother remained quiet, then eventually blurted out worriedly: “But I can’t imagine surviving a Friday without eating even just a slice of salami!”

This, of course, will become a family joke for years to come. However, I got to recall my mom’s no meat policy, which although unpopular, was nevertheless healthy. We were lucky to live close to the seacoast where fish and seafood are  easily avaialble. Fish as protein source is much healthier than meat – especially for our heart health.

A New York Times article recently featured star Chef Marshall Goldstein, of Toledo, Ohio who is the president of the Maumee Valley Chefs American Culinary Federation chapter, and executive chef/director of food services at The Heritage who talked about cooking during special occasions such as Easter and Passover – e.g “how to mix food and faith in a more health way.” The Chef a lot of questions from glazed hams to matzas, from leg of lamb to nut meringue. For me, the best part is the recipe for Pan Roasted Salmon which I will surely try this coming Good Friday. Here is Chef Goldstein’s recipe:

“How about something great and unusual…..Pan Roasted Salmon, with a citrus Balsamic vinegarette. Here is a great recipe:

Ingredients: 1/2 c balsamic vinegar, 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, 2 tbsp. finely minced onion, 2 tsp. coarsed chopped parsely, 2 tbsp. orange zest, 1/8 tsp salt, fresh ground black pepper(healthiest for you) 3/4 cup orange juice.

Put all the ingredients into a closable container, and shake, shake, shake!! Sear the Salmon in a skillet with a little olive oil, transfer the pan to a 350 degree oven and roast 10-15 minutes, you do not want over cooked salmon. Using the skillet, wipe clean and heat the sauce, spoon over the salmon. I like to serve redskin potatoes and a nice side salad with different types of dried fruits as a nice accompaniment.”

Hmmm… yummy! Any special holiday recipe you might want to share?

13 amazing uses for cucumber

March 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, HEALTHCARE

My kids love cucumber. They would devour them day and night as part of a salad, as filling to their sandwiches, or simply raw veggie cuts with or without dips. Cucumbers are easy to transport, can stay fresh without refrigeration, and almost always eaten raw, thus the perfect vegetable to bring when you are on the go.

But I often wonder whether cucumber (Cucumis sativus) brings some health benefits. After all, anybody can see it is 95% water. And spinach and broccoli are touted to be the ultimate healthy veggies, nobody says much about cucumbers.

Recently, a friend sent me an email about a certain article in the New York Times on the many difference uses of cucumber as vegetable as a natural home remedy and cleaning agent. Unfortunately, although I cannot find the original link to NYT times although several sites have reprinted the article. Anyway, I cannot guarantee the source but I’d like to give the article in its fullness at the end of this post.

However, doing my own research revealed the following:

A 100-gram cucumber can contain the following (source: Hubpages):

  • Vitamin A 180 I.U.
  • Niacin Trace
  • Vitamin C 9 mg.
  • Calcium 32 mg.
  • Iron 1.8 mg.
  • Phosphorus 27 mg.
  • Potassium 80 mg.
  • Carbohydrates 17 gm.
  • Calories 70

Cucumber is a natural diuretic which helps regulate urine flow and may be beneficial for those with kidney and urinary bladder disorders.

The skin is rich in fibers so that cucumber is best eaten with skin on (except when the cucumber has been exposed to high amounts of pesticides).

Finally, here are the 13 amazing uses of cucumber:

This information was in The New York Times several weeks ago as part of their “Spotlight on the Home” series that highlighted creative and fanciful ways to solve common problems.

1. Cucumbers contain most of the vitamins you need every day, just one cucumber contains Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Zinc.

2. Feeling tired in the afternoon, put down the caffeinated soda and pick up a cucumber. Cucumbers are a good source of B Vitamins and Carbohydrates that can provide that quick pick-me-up that can last for hours.

3. Tired of your bathroom mirror fogging up after a shower? Try rubbing a cucumber slice along the mirror, it will eliminate the fog and provide a soothing, spa-like fragrance..

4. Are grubs and slugs ruining your planting beds? Place a few slices in a small pie tin and your garden will be free of pests all season long. The chemicals in the cucumber react with the aluminum to give off a scent undetectable to humans but drive garden pests crazy and make them flee the area.

5. Looking for a fast and easy way to remove cellulite before going out or to the pool? Try rubbing a slice or two of cucumbers along your problem area for a few minutes, the phytochemicals in the cucumber cause the collagen in your skin to tighten, firming up the outer layer and reducing the visibility of cellulite. Works great on wrinkles too!!!

6. Want to avoid a hangover or terrible headache? Eat a few cucumber slices before going to bed and wake up refreshed and headache free. Cucumbers contain enough sugar, B vitamins and electrolytes to replenish essential nutrients the body lost, keeping everything in equilibrium, avoiding both a hangover and headache!!

7. Looking to fight off that afternoon or evening snacking binge? Cucumbers have been used for centuries and often used by European trappers, traders and explores for quick meals to thwart off starvation.

8. Have an important meeting or job interview and you realize that you don’t have enough time to polish your shoes? Rub a freshly cut cucumber over the shoe, its chemicals will provide a quick and durable shine that not only looks great but also repels water.

9. Out of WD 40 and need to fix a squeaky hinge? Take a cucumber slice and rub it along the problematic hinge, and voila, the squeak is gone!

10. Stressed out and don’t have time for massage, facial or visit to the spa? Cut up an entire cucumber and place it in a boiling pot of water, the chemicals and nutrients from the cucumber with react with the boiling water and be released in the steam, creating a soothing, relaxing aroma that has been shown the reduce stress in new mothers and college students during final exams.

11. Just finish a business lunch and realize you don’t have gum or mints?  Take a slice of cucumber and press it to the roof of your mouth with your tongue for 30 seconds to eliminate bad breath, the phytochemcials will kill the bacteria in your mouth responsible for causing bad breath.

12. Looking for a ‘green’ way to clean your faucets, sinks or stainless steel? Take a slice of cucumber and rub it on the surface you want to clean, not only will it remove years of tarnish and bring back the shine, but is won’t leave streaks and won’t harm you fingers or fingernails while

you clean.

13. Using a pen and made a mistake? Take the outside of the cucumber and slowly use it to erase the pen writing, also works great on crayons and markers that the kids have used to decorate the walls!!

I must admit that I am a bit skeptical about some of the claims but you know what? It doesn’t really matter. I will try them all out, believe me. But even if some of these uses do not work, I don’t care. The only thing that matters is that cucumber is a healthy food for my kids.

Photo credit: stock.xchng

Staged Diabetes Management: A Systematic Approach

March 28, 2010 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

Staged Diabetes Management continues the four-decade tradition of the International Diabetes Center by providing clinical pathways that improve care practices. SDM uses evidence-based medicine to address the prominent issues of primary care diabetes management. It supplies practical solutions to the detection and treatment of diabetes, its complications and such new areas as the metabolic syndrome, pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes in children.Completely revised and updated, the text reviews the fundamental basis of diabetes management and then addresses treatment of each type of diabetes and the major micro- and macrovascular complications. Written for primary care, it is organised in such a manner as to allow the clinician to learn about each distinctive type of diabetes as well as to see the areas of overlap. Issues range from classification, screening and detection to starting a therapy and long-term management of hypertension complicated by diabetes. Educational, nutritional and behavioural issues are also covered. Using DecisionPaths as a way to organise clinical decision-making, each chapter can stand alone, yet they are integrated (as is clinical practice). Each DecisionPath is structured so that therapies can be started, adjusted and maintained. Each decision point is clarified in the text along with the scientific basis for the decision.About the Authors.Acknowledgements.PART ONE: STAGED DIABETES MANAGEMENT IN PRACTICE.Chapter 1. Introduction to Staged Diabetes Management.Chapter 2. The Implementation of Staged Diabetes Management.Chapter 3. Therapeutic Principles for the Treatment of Diabetes.PART TWO: THE TREATMENT OF DIABETES.Chapter 4. Type 2 Diabetes.Chapter 5. Type 2 Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome in Children and Adolescents.Chapter 6. Type 1 Diabetes.Chapter 7. Pregestatio@9¸Që… ¾Û€

Health care updates, March 26

March 26, 2010 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

Enjoy the spring weather!

President Obama Signs Historic Health System Reform Bill for Health of Our Nation
The American Medical Association (AMA) applauded the passing of the health care reform. This is the first time that AMA backed a government-initiated health care plan. This is a historic move, considering that the organization have even opposed the establishment of Medicare and Medicaid.

According to a statement by AMA President Dr. J. James Rohack:

“The president’s signature on historic health reform legislation today is a monumental moment in the health of our nation. While more still needs to be done, this bill makes real progress toward providing coverage to all Americans and improving our nation’s health care system.

Physicians see firsthand the pain and heartbreak that being uninsured causes in the lives of America’s patients. Today, we move forward to start to ease that pain.

By extending health coverage to tens of millions of uninsured, improving competition and choice in the insurance marketplace, promoting prevention and wellness, reducing administrative burdens, and promoting clinical comparative effectiveness research, this bill will help patients and the physicians who care for them. There are increased payments for primary care physicians caring for Medicaid patients and bonus payments for physicians in underserved areas. Those who have insurance will see improvements right away: lifetime caps on coverage end; children can stay on parents’ policies until age 26; and insurance companies can’t cancel coverage except in the case of fraud.”

ID physicians call for 10 new antibiotics by 2020
Doctors at the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) is calling on the community to commit to the develop 10 new antibiotics by 2020, known as the 10 x ’20 initiative. The initiative aims to address the public health crisis of increasing prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection, which according to the World Health Organization (WHO), is “one of the three greatest threats to human health.”

FDA Approves New Use of Xifaxan for Patients with Liver Disease
The U.S. FDA has approved the use of Xifaxan (rifaximin) for reduction in the risk of the recurrence of overt hepatic encephalopathy (HE) in patients with advanced liver disease. Xifaxan is already approved for the treatment of traveler’s diarrhea. Hepatic encephalopathy (HE) is a worsening of brain function that can occur in patients whose liver can no longer remove toxins from the blood. Increased levels of ammonia in the blood are thought to play a role in the development of HE, and Xifaxan works by reducing these levels.

Doctors subpoenaed in Haim death
Several doctors have reportedly been subpoenaed in connection with the death of 38-year old actor Corey Haim, who collapsed in his LA home earlier this month. The Canadian actor had been battling drug addiction.

Monshin–Hearing/faith =: [monshin No Kokoro]

March 26, 2010 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

Monshin–Hearing/faith =: monshin No Kokoro]

Heart(y) news, March 26

March 26, 2010 by  

Heart groups applaud passing of US health reform bill but say: Real work now begins
major medical groups in the US are applauding the passing of the health reform bill. The groups which included the American Medical Association (AMA), the American Heart Association (AHA), the American College of Physicians (ACP), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

According to AHA President, Dr Clyde Yancy (Baylor Heart and Vascular Institute, Dallas, Texas):

“…although not a perfect package, the proposed legislation is a true start to address the principles of the AHA and to achieve a goal of a healthier country with reduced suffering from heart diseases and strokes. The current system, if left unchanged, would have only deepened the divide between those with and those without access and would have led to even more suffering. But the real work of healthcare reform has just begun. The commitment of the AHA is to champion better health, promote more research, and drive best practices.”

However, experts believe that although this is a good start, the real work in refining the bill and it implementation is only beginning.

Mount Sinai researchers are the first to identify heart abnormalities in World Trade Center workers
Mount Sinai researchers recently announced the first results of the study “First Documentation of Cardiac Dysfunction Following Exposure to the World Trade Center Disaster.” The study identified heart problems among 9/11 responders. More about this in next week’s post.

FDA Warns about Increased Risk of Muscle Injury with Zocor
Earlier this week, the U.S. FDA issued a warning about a possible side effect of the statin Zocor (simvastatin) at high doses. Patients and healthcare providers are warned that the risk for muscle injury is increased among those who take 80 mg Zocor to lower cholesterol levels. Muscle injury includes rhabdomyolysis which is the most serious form of myopathy and can lead to severe kidney damage, kidney failure, and sometimes death.

New guidelines aim to prevent unnecessary death from thoracic aortic disease
Thoracic aorta disease is a rare but deadly condition that kills approximately 10,000 Americans each year. The American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA) have recently issued new guidelines in the diagnosis and management of this rare disease to prevent unnecessary death.

Kansas Takes Step to Enact Indoor Smoking Restrictions
Starting July 1, the state of Kansas goes smoke-free indoors. A bill was signed by Kansas governor Mark Parkinson that will impose restrictions on smoking in restaurants, offices, and other public places. Kansas will be the 25th state to impose such restrictions.

The Battling For Health Ballad (our new jingle)

March 25, 2010 by  

Here is our new jingle, courtesy of

This is a great story .. if you want your own jingle! There’s this guy named “Love” (.. really!) who makes online jingles (.. really!) for individuals or brands. He also makes sure your video jingles get passed around in social media circles (twitter, facebook, etc). If you are a blog, or a business, or want to impress your boy/girlfriend on his/her birthday (if available) .. check out Love’s Booking Calendar and the video archives to see if this is something you might want.

We booked ours back on January 2, 2010 for the earliest open date of March 24, 2010 when I first saw a summary post title pass by in my Facebook account, from Jim Krukal (who does not suck) and decided right then that it would be fun to have one for this blog! We also have another one scheduled to be created on April 2, 2010 for the PetLvr Blog for Pet Lovers.

There are two prices for “LoveJingles” … the LIVE RECORDING price (which starts at $1 on January 1, 2010 and end at $365 on December 31, 2010) or the STUDIO RECORDING price (which starts at $10 on January 1, 2010 and ends at $3,650 on December 31, 2010). Ours is the Live Recording option … and here it is!

Our NEW Love Jingle – March 24, 2010

As seen Originally on the Love Jingle Blog

* Brand/name: Battling for Health blog
* Info: “Battling For Health” blog seeks to bring you the latest in all of the health news, opinion, resources, and off-beat stories. If you want to know about it – we do too. Our mission is to provide an outlet for stories about people whose lives have been touched by other people “Battling The Monster” diseases
“Battling For Health” blog seeks to bring you the latest in all of the health news, opinion, resources, and off-beat stories. If you want to know about it – we do too. Our mission is to provide an outlet for stories about people whose lives have been touched by other people “Battling The Monster” disease
* Check them out online: Battling for Health
* Jingle type: new jingle (written by Lovejingles)
* Recording type: live recording


Here’s to life
Here’s to love
Here’s to never letting them get the best of us
Here’s to strength
Our precious health
We join the battle and we stand up for ourselves
And no matter what diseases might cross our path along the way
We will rise up undefeated
And we’ll never stop
No we’ll never stop battling for health

Our OLD Animoto Video – March 20, 2009

It’s almost a year to the date that we created our first ‘promo video’ from Animoto, who makes killer videos from your images automatically. We put together, at that time, images published in our blog and let Animoto mesh it together with the song “Worn (and of Plastic)” by Dannel Vonn Dillon … and here it is.

Facial aging is not just about the skin

March 25, 2010 by  
Filed under AGING

Botox and facelift patients, this is something you should read. Keeping your youthful look is not just about tightening the skin and smoothing out the wrinkles. Because aging goes deeper than just the skin – literally. A new study by researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center revealed that the aging process involves the facial bones as much as the skin, bones which basically support the soft tissues of the face.

The researchers reviewed 120 CT scans of male and female faces taken for a variety of medical reasons. The structural in the faces were analyzed in three age groups: young (ages 20-36), middle (41 to 64), and old (65 and older). The study findings showed that:

  • The angle of the jaw is much bigger in older people than in younger people.
  • Loss of jawbone volume was observed in older faces.
  • Jaw length and height decline with age.

According to Dr. Howard N. Langstein, professor and chief of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the University of Rochester Medical Center:

“The jaw is the foundation of the lower face, and changes to it affect facial aesthetics. These measurements indicate a significant decline in the jaw’s volume as a person ages, and therefore less support of soft tissue of the lower face and neck.”

It has been widely assumed that facial aging is due to loss of skin elasticity and soft tissue sagging. The role of the facial bones in the aging process has been thoroughly explored before.

The loss of the bony volume of the jaw has the following consequences:

  • Decreased chin projection
  • Loss of jaw line definition
  • Less support for soft tissues of the lower face, resulting in a softer, oval lower face
  • Sagging skin in the face and the neck

These findings may have some consequences in the future of plastic surgery, as plastic surgeons start to rethink their concept of facial aging. As they get to understand the mechanisms of aging, they can also predict the structural changes that come with time and can then act accordingly.

According to co-author Robert Shaw

“The future of facial cosmetic procedures to restore a youthful look may include methods to suspend soft tissue – such as chin and cheek implants – to rebuild the structure that time has worn away, in addition to lifting and reducing excess skin.”

Workplace stress linked to obesity

March 25, 2010 by  
Filed under STRESS

The typical American employee is overstressed, sedentary and overweight. This is according to a study by researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center. And even a healthy diet of fruit and vegetables cannot undo the damaged.

The researchers looked at 2,782 employees of a large manufacturing company in upstate New York, whose working conditions are supposedly representative of any job situation where lay offs are of major concern. The employees were typically middle-aged, white, married, highly educated (college degree or more), relatively well-paid (earning more than $60,000 a year), with an average of almost 22 years at the company.

The study results indicate the following:

  • Most of the employees are chronically stressed.
  • 72 to 75% of the employees were overweight or obese. The body mass index (BMI) of the employees surveyed was similar to that observed in the general American population, i.e. obesity rates of 32% in men and 35% in women.
  • Workers seldom take time to take a proper lunch or go for a walk for fear of their jobs.
  • When pink slips are circulating, fat- and calorie-rich snacks from the vending machines become very popular.
  • At the end of a working day, employees would eventually “vege out” in front of the TV. 55% of employees watched at least 2 hours of TV each day.
  • Employees engaged in jobs of high stress levels have higher BMs compared to those engaged in low-stress, more passive jobs.


A healthy diet doesn’t seem to help much. The lack of physical exercise at the workplace as well as at home seems to be highly responsible for the weigh problems.

This is not the first study to link stress at the workplace to weight problems and the links can be direct as well as indirect.

Directly: stress can affect the neuroendocrine system, resulting in abdominal fat, for example, or it may cause a decrease in sex hormones, which often leads to weight gain.

Indirectly: stress is linked to the consumptions of too many fatty or sugary foods and inactivity.

The study results emphasize the importance of improving corporate polices to protect the health of employees.

According to lead researcher Dr. Diana Fernandez:

“In a poor economy, companies should take care of the people who survive layoffs and end up staying in stressful jobs. It is important to focus on strengthening wellness programs to provide good nutrition, ways to deal with job demands, and more opportunities for physical activity that are built into the regular workday without penalty.”

Aside from weight gain, pressure and stress in the workplace has been linked to cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, depression, exhaustion, anxiety and weight gain.

The gender-bending compounds in the water

March 24, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, INFERTILITY

Environmental research shows that certain compounds in the water are causing reproductive problems in aquatic animals, such as fish and frogs. There is increasing evidence that these compounds are also affecting fertility in humans. What are these compounds and what do they do?

An Environmental Working Group (EWG) survey of waste water in the San Francisco area identified three so-called hormone-disrupting compounds: Bisphenol A (BPA), triclosan, and phthalates

Hormone-disrupting compounds are substances that mimic naturally-occurring hormones. They are found in almost all of the household products we use, from shampoo to liquid detergent to cosmetics.

Let us take a look at the 3 most widespread compounds that the EWG has identified.

Bisphenol A

BPA is an industrial chemical used in the manufacture of plastics. We have dealt with the BPA in detail in previous posts which you can find here.


Phthalates, also called plasticizers in the manufacturing of polyvinylchloride (PVC) products. Eight phthalates (dibutyl phthalate (DBP), diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP), butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP), di-n-pentyl phthalate (DnPP), di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), di-n-octyl phthalate (DnOP), diisononyl phthalate (DINP), and diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP)) have been listed by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as part of the Phthalates Action Plan. The EPA is “concerned about phthalates because of their toxicity and the evidence of pervasive human and environmental exposure to these chemicals.” The EPA is expected to initiate more rigid phthalates regulation this year. Safer and less toxic alternatives to phthalates are being explored


Triclosan is a bacteriostatic agent found in most soaps, detergents, and antiseptics. It is also sued as an antimicrobial pesticide. Many uses of triclosan are registered at the US FDA. Unlike phthalates, triclosan is not yet on the blacklisted chemicals but health experts are also getting concerned about its presence in natural waters and accumulating human exposure. According to the EPA, triclosan was found in approximately 36 U.S. streams where effluent from activated sludge waste water treatment plants, trickle-down filtration, and sewage overflow appear to contribute to the occurrence of triclosan in open water.

What do hormone-disrupting chemicals do?

Hormone-disrupting chemicals (HDCs) mimic the action of hormones, especially reproductive hormones, thus can creative havoc with the reproductive system. Media reports have dubbed them as “gender bending chemicals.

According to reports, there is evidence that HDCs have been linked to the following in humans:

  • Reduced sperm concentration and motility in male adults,
  • Decreased sperm quality and possible DNA damage in the gametes
  • Abnormal breast development in very young girls and even boys
  • High risk for miscarriage
  • Polycystic ovarian disorder

So how do we minimize exposure to HDC? The EWG gives us the following tips:

Does your vacation make you happy?

March 24, 2010 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

In the coming days, it’s Easter school holidays in most European countries, which can last from 1 to 3 weeks. Most people, especially those with school children will take off from work to take care of the kids, and perhaps travel a bit.

When it comes to number of vacation days per year, European employees get much more than their counterparts in North America and Asia. Almost all European countries require employers to give their employees at least 20 days of paid leave. Most people get more. In contrast, US law does not provide for paid leaves. Paid vacation is based on the generosity of the employer. See more details of the number of paid vacation days here.

Vacation means not going to work and for many Europeans, it also means travelling. Almost everybody goes on a vacation trip in Europe. But does vacation really make us happy? Are Europeans happier than Americans because they get more vacation?

This Dutch study looked at the effect of vacation on people’s overall happiness. 1,520 Dutch adults, of whom 974 went on a vacation during the last 32 weeks participated in the study. The researchers assessed the participants’ level of happiness before, during, and after vacation. The results can be summarized as

  • Highest level of happiness was measured before the actual vacation during the planning stage.
  • Happiness immediately drops back to the original levels after coming back from vacation. At this point, there is no difference in happiness between those who went on holidays and those who didn’t.
  • The actual vacation itself made many people happy although some reported it to be stressful due to illness or conflicts with fellow travellers.
  • The amount of stress or relaxation during the actual vacation influence postvacation levels of happiness. Moderate relaxation doesn’t seem to increase happiness after vacation. Only a very relaxing holiday trip can boost postvacation happiness.
  • Postvacation stress can actually increase as many people find it difficult to get back to work after a vacation. Work also tends to pile up during those days of absence.

The study results suggest that the joy of vacation lies in the anticipation, not in the vacation itself. The authors’ take home message: take many short holidays during the year rather than one long one.

“The practical lesson for an individual is that you derive most of your happiness from anticipating the holiday trip. What you can do is try to increase that by taking more trips per year. If you have a two week holiday you can split it up and have two one week holidays. You could try to increase the anticipation effect by talking about it more and maybe discussing it online.”

Acute Medical Illness in Old Age

March 23, 2010 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

Acute Medical Illness in Old Age

Coffee and your heart rhyhtm

March 23, 2010 by  

Over the years, a lot of research studies have been conducted to assess the effect of caffeine on heart health. This is a highly relevant topic considering that

  • Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world, hot or cold.
  • Energy drink consumption which contains high amounts of caffeine has become a very popular soft drink among the young and even used as performance enhancer.

Many of those studies report inconclusive or contradictory results about the effect of caffeine on heart health.

A latest research study at Kaiser Permanente Division of Research, Oakland, CA explored the common belief that coffee causes palpitations, e.g. irregularity in the heartbeat when the heart literally “skips a beat.”

According to Dr Arthur Klatsky, who is leading the study:

“A lot of people think they have palpitations from coffee, and doctors commonly tell people not to drink it, but there are very few actual data, and the data that are available suggest no relationship. We went into this study thinking there would be no association, but to our surprise, there was actually an inverse relationship. It could be protective, although one observational study doesn’t prove anything yet.”

The researchers looked at 130,054 members of the Kaisers Permanente health plan and asked them to complete questionnaires on coffee drinking habits and other lifestyle factors.

The study results indicate that coffee consumption is associated with a lower risk for hospitalizations for arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat). In addition, the effect seems to be additive, e.g. the more coffee you drink, the lesser is the risk. As an example, those who drink more than 4 cups of coffee per day have an 18% less likelihood to have arrhythmia-induced hospitalization. The effect of caffeine consumption did not vary regardless of gender, ethnicity and smoking habits.

Is it really the caffeine?

Well, those who drank only decaf coffee did not have this protective effect so the evidence points to caffeine as the protective substance. However, the authors are quick to point out that coffee” is a complex substance and that it includes other ingredients that might be at work, including antioxidants, in reducing the risk of arrhythmias” which might have been drastically reduced during the decaffeinating process.

So what does caffeine do?

Dr. Klatsky and colleagues say the mechanisms behind the cardioprotective properties of caffeine are not fully understood but it may have something to do with caffeine competing with the compound adenosine in the brain. They speculate that the same competition might occur in the heart where adenosine is involved in the conduction and recovery of heart muscle cells after depolarization. However, more studies are needed to confirm these findings, including studies that will look into incidence of less sever arrhythmias that do not result in hospitalization.

However, the authors think it might be tricky to find subjects willing to cooperate with such studies.

It might be a little tricky to get people to give up their coffee, and for those who aren’t coffee drinkers, it might be tough to get them to start drinking four cups per day.”

Either you are a coffee drinker or you are not. I’m partial to lattes and mochas myself. Which one are you?

The MS Cure Part II: proponents and opponents of CCSVI

March 23, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS

Last week, I discussed about CCSVI, short for chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency, the new theory of Italian doctor Paolo Zamboni that many people say is the revolutionary MS cure we have been waiting for. But before we get caught up in the hype, let us see and hear what health experts have to say.

The hopefuls

Bianca Weinstock-Guttman, an associate professor of neurology at the State University of New York at Buffalo

“If this is proven correct, it will be a very, very big discovery because we’ll completely change the way we think about MS, and how we’ll treat it.”

According to Yves Savoie, MS Society of Canada

“As President and CEO of the MS Society, I am aware of the tremendous interest across Canada and around the world caused by the recent news coverage of the CCSVI study. Indeed I share your excitement and hope in the preliminary findings of this study. I also celebrate and respect the integrity of our research funding programs which will continue to ensure that the very best projects are selected and supported.”

Dr Robert Zivadinov, stuy leader of the CCSVI study at Buffalo University in New York:

“If we can prove the hypothesis that CCSVI is the underlying cause of MS, then it is going to change the face of how we understand the disease.”

MRI expert Dr. Mark Haacke co-organized a workshop on CCSVI in February. He is encouraging patients to send him neck and head images for research.

Patients need to speak up and say they want something like this investigated … to see if there’s credence to the theory.”

The skeptics

The major MS societies are of course skeptical

Initially, the MS Society of Canada was quoted as saying

“Many questions remain about how and when this phenomenon might play a role in nervous system damage seen in MS, and at the present time there is insufficient evidence to suggest that this phenomenon is the cause of MS.”

Dr Susan Kohlhaas of the UK MS Society stated

“Several medical advisers to the MS Society have read through the papers published by Dr Zamboni, and have heard him lecture on the subject. They are not convinced by the evidence that blockages to draining veins  from the brain are specific to people with MS, or that this explains the cause of MS at any stage of the condition.”

Dr. Doug Brown, biomedical researcher working with the MS Society UK stated in a TV interview:

“…an intriguing, interesting avenue of research…[but]…at the moment there is a current lack of evidence to back up the claims being made…a lot of more research is needed.”

Dr. Paul O’Connor, a neurologist at Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital is openly critical.

“There is not a shred of real evidence anywhere that messing around with these veins does anything to help MS patients. If there is no treatment for this condition, there is no need to detect it.”

The next part of this series will tackle the treatment itself.

The MS Society of Canada is organizing a webcast on CCSVI on April 7. Speakers include Yves Savoie, President & CEO, MS Society, Dr. Jock Murray, Founding Director Dalhousie MS Clinic, and Karen Torrie-Racine, person with MS. Register now!

Cancer media coverage: realistic or overly optimistic?

March 22, 2010 by  
Filed under CANCER

Are we viewing cancer through rose-colored glasses? Is the media giving us a rather overly optimistic picture of cancer?

Cancer is a hot topic nowadays. Statistics indicate that 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime. Everybody knows at least 1 person diagnose with cancer. Strange and sad as it may sound, cancer has become so widespread that it has almost become a household word. Cancer, therefore, is a very timely topic to write about that would interest a lot of readers.

A group of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia looked at media coverage of cancer between 2005 and 2007by 8 major American newspapers. A total of 2,228 articles were retrieved and from these, a random subsample of 436 articles was analyzed based on the topics covered.

The analysis revealed that certain types of cancer get more attention than others

  • 35. 1% of articles focused on breast cancer
  • 14.9% focused on prostate cancer
  • 20% focused on cancer in general.

In terms of survival and death, the articles tended to focus more on the former than the latter.

  • 32.1% focused on survivorship
  • 7.6% focused on cancer victims who died
  • 2.3% focused on both survival and death.

The authors wrote:

“It is surprising that few articles discuss death and dying considering that half of all patients diagnosed as having cancer will not survive. The findings are also surprising given that scientists, media critics and the lay public repeatedly criticize the news for focusing on death.”

Articles dealing with treatments also tended to focus on the positive side.

  • 13.1% of articles reported about incurable cancers as well as aggressive cancer treatments that fail to extend life or cure the disease
  • 30% mentioned about the side effects associated with cancer treatments, such as nausea, pain or hair loss.
  • 57.1 % discussed aggressive treatments exclusively
  • 0.5 % looked at end-of-life care for the terminally ill
  • 2.5 percent% discussed both aggressive treatments and end-of-life care

The authors believe that there is a knowledge gap among the public in terms of palliative care and hospice facilities which the media need to cater to. Such information can help can help patients “make decisions that realistically reflect their prognosis and the risks and potential benefits of treatment.”

The authors concluded:

“How often should the news media discuss treatment failure, adverse events, end-of-life care and death and dying? Although there is no quantifiable answer, the same educational goals that ideally drive news coverage of cancer treatment and survival should also compel news organizations to address these topics. The media routinely report about aggressive treatment and survival presumably because cancer news coverage is relevant to a large portion of the population, and, for the same reason, similar attention should be devoted to the alternatives.”

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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.