10 Health Tips for Women Age 65 and Older

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

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This video provides 10 health tips for women age 65 and older. These recommendations are based on expert clinical opinion presented in UpToDate online version 18.3. This video was produced by Dr. Nicholas Cohen, MD. The content of this video is not intended nor recommended as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your own physician or other qualified health care professional regarding any medical questions or conditions.

Tell us what you think about this video in the comments below, or in the Battling For Health Community Forum!
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Aspirin: good for the heart, bad for the tummy

February 4, 2010 by  
Filed under HEART AND STROKE

Aspirin or acetyl salicylic acid has been around for more than 100 years. It has gone from a simple headache and fever remedy to the wonder drug that it is today, used in the treatment and prevention of more serious conditions such as heart disease and even cancer. You can get aspirin everywhere, as an over-the-counter (OTC) drug from your pharmacy or as less than a dollar a bottle from your supermarket.

Yet, despite its wonderful healing powers, aspirin can have some serious side effects just like every drug. Unfortunately, not many of us are aware of these side effects.

A recent New York Times report tackled the issue of “an aspiring a day…” with the expertise of Dr. Neena S. Abraham, a gastroenterologist at the Michael E. DeBakey V.A. Medical Center and associate professor of medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

Dr Abraham warns us of the following:

  • Aspirin can cause damage in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract from mouth to anus. The most common of these side effects are ulcers and bleeding.
  • The risk for GI bleeding is two- to four-fold higher in aspirin users than in non-aspirin users.
  • Aspirin can bring on side effects even at “baby doses” of 81 mg a day.
  • Special formulations such as buffered or enteric coated aspirin do not eliminate the risks.
  • Use of OTC aspirin results in 5 extra cases of ulcer bleeding per 1,000 patients per year.

In addition, we should be aware of the risk factors that make us more susceptible to aspirin-induced GI bleeding:

Dr. Abraham gives the following recommendations to patients:

  • Aspirin, even it is an OTC medication should only be taken after a thorough cardiovascular risk assessment by a qualified health professional.
  • The risks and benefits of aspirin use should be thoroughly assessed. If the benefits exceed the risk of GI bleeding, then aspirin should only be sued at the minimum dose of 81 mg a day.
  • For patients who have high-risk profiles for ulcers and GI bleeding, other alternatives should be looked into. Using stomach-protecting medications such as proton pump inhibitors might minimize the risks.

Photo credit: stock.xchng

The latest updates in colorectal cancer

December 15, 2009 by  
Filed under CANCER

internal organsColon and rectal cancer kill an estimated 50,000 Americans each year, according to the American Cancer Society. In this post, I bring you the latest update on research that aims to find the cure to colorectal cancer.

Colon Cancer Stopped in Its Tracks in Swiss Study
Swiss researchers report that they may have identified a way to stop colon cancer. The technique entails blocking a communications pathway known as Hedgehog-GLI (HH-GLI). By blocking this genetic pathway that allows cells to communicate with each other, the tumors can be blocked. This has the potential to prevent the cancer from progressing to advanced stages, from metastasizing, as well as from recurring.

According to  lead researcher Professor Ariel Ruiz i Altaba of Geneva University

“Previous works hinted at the possible role of HH-GLI in colon cancer, but this was denied by other studies, so its involvement was never entirely clear… In this study we have proven that HH-GLI is essential for the development and growth of colon cancers.”

The blockade of the pathway is done using cyclopamine, a plant-derived compound that has been tested in mice and found to be effective.

New Target Eyed for Colon Cancer Drugs
A new targeted therapy for colon cancer is in the making and is showing promise. The drugs being tested are targeting ERBB3, a molecule found on the cell surface. There are already drugs that work similarly by targeting epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and are effective against some types of cancer but not against colon cancer. ERBB3 is closely related to EGFR and blocking ERBB3 seems to be effective in stopping colon cancer cells.

According to lead author David Threadgill, adjunct professor in the department of genetics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a professor in the genetics department at North Carolina State University

“If you genetically remove ERBB3, as you would if you were pharmacologically targeting it, then the mice rarely develop colon cancer…If we can use an inhibitor to block ERBB3, then it should be a very potent anti-cancer therapy.”

Aspirin May Stem Deaths From Colorectal Cancer
While new therapies against colorectal are being developed, old drugs are also being rediscovered for their efficacy. Take, for example, good old aspirin. It’s not only effective against headaches, fever, and lately against cardiovascular disease, it can also work against colorectal cancer. A recent study showed that colorectal cancer who took aspirin regularly had a 29% lower risk of dying from the disease. The overall 5-year survival rate among aspirin users was 88% vs 83% among non-aspirin users. The 10-year survival rate was 74% and 69%, respectively.

According to the study’s lead author, Dr. Andrew Chan, a gastroenterologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School:

“It’s a pretty significant benefit and does suggest aspirin may have a role in treatment of patients with established colorectal cancer as well as for the prevention of developing initial tumors.”

Aspirin to treat cancer?

August 18, 2009 by  
Filed under CANCER

pills-whiteAspirin, a.k.a  acetylsalicid acid, is clearly the wonder drug of all times. Initially developed as an analgesic (pain reliever) and anti-pyretic (anti-fever) more than a hundred years ago, these little tablets have since been discovered to have other pharmacologic use such as blood-thinning and prophylactic treatment of cardiovascular diseases.

Recent studies indicate that aspirin may also have some anti-cancer properties. Researchers from Massachusetts General and Harvard Medical School looked at the effect of aspirin therapy on patients with colorectal cancer. The studies were part of the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS), involving 1279 patients and 12 years of follow up. The results showed that cancer patients who took aspirin regularly have a 29% lower risk of dying from the cancer and 21% less overall mortality risk compared to patients who didn’t.

The anti-cancer properties of aspirin are not clearly understood but researchers believe that the drug inhibits the behaviour of the COX-2 enzyme which is associated with cell growth and inflammation. Overexpression of COX-2 leads to tumor development and 85% of colorectal cancer cases exhibit elevated COX-2 levels.

The beneficial effects of aspirin are especially evident in patients who did not take aspirin before cancer diagnosis and those with colorectal cancer associated with COX-2 overexpression.

According to Dr. Durado Brooks, director of colon and prostate cancer prevention programs for the American Cancer Society (ACS)

“This study found aspirin may be helpful as a treatment for some colorectal cancer patients. While the findings are encouraging, this is just one study and it wasn’t randomized. We’re awaiting confirmation from other studies before we change our recommendations to the public.”

The result, though not conclusive, is an exciting development as current cancer therapies are very expensive and come with serious side effects.

Aspirin may potentially be a cheaper and better tolerated alternative for the treatment of colorectal cancer.

Not that aspirin is completely safe. It does come with side effects, especially major gastrointestinal irritation and bleeding. Patients are therefore advised to consult their doctor before taking aspirin.

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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.