Friday, May 27, 2011

Fascinating Stats on Cancer

If there was a killer out there on the loose, hiding in your own neighborhood and killing more people than almost anyone or anything else out there, then you would want to know about him. You would want to know where he likes to attack his victims, and how he attacks. You would do everything in your power to avoid him and stay safe. Well, there is such a killer out on the loose, and his name is Cancer. Read this, so you can stay safe.

WARNING: Is this a long post? Yes it is. Am I going to apologize? No. Cancer is a group of extremely complex diseases characterized by uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells. I have gone to a lot of trouble to provide you with the most important things for you to know about how you can prevent cancer for yourself, so PLEASE read the entire article. It might just end up saving your or a loved ones life. Please pass this info along to everyone you care about.

There are so many sources out in the world telling us about cancer. You hear and read different statistics on the news almost daily. You hear your family or friends talking about it, and many people don't have all the facts on cancer straight. I decided that you need to know the facts. I am taking these facts on cancer out of my nursing textbook that was published in 2011. You can be certain that these facts are all accurate. Prepare yourself to learn some very interesting and scary facts about cancer...

  • In the united States, cancer is the second most common cause of death.
  • About 1,529,560 new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed this year.
  • One in every four deaths in the United States is caused by cancer
  • More than 1500 people die of dancer each day
  • Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer deaths in both men and women (28% of all cancer deaths)
  • Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women (207,090 new cases in 2010)
  • Although breast cancer occurs more commonly in Caucasian women than in African american women, the survival rate is 90% for Caucasian women compared to only 77% of African Americans
  • Prostate cancer is the most frequently occurring cancer in men (217,730 new cases during 2010)
  • Melanoma (the most common type of skin cancer) occurs mainly among Whites (the incidence rate is more than 10 times higher than African Americans)
  • African Americans have the highest mortality rate for all cancers and major cancers among all ethnic groups
  • It is estimated that 5% of all cancers have a strong hereditary component
  • A patient with a family history of lung cancer should be counseled to avoid smoking, to avoid areas where smoking is allowed, and to avoid working in an occupation that may expose the patient to inhaled carcinogens
  • Cancer is a disease associated with aging; about 78% of cancer diagnoses occur after age 55
  • The incidence of bladder cancer is about 4 times higher in men than in women
  • Thyroid cancer occurs more commonly among females
  • The poor are at higher risk for cancer than the population in general. Lack of health insurance and inadequate access to health care, especially preventive screening and counseling, may be major factors
  • Dietary factors appear to be one of the most important factors for cancer risk. A diet that is high in red meat and saturated fat appears to increase risk. Vegetables, fruits, fiber, folate, and calcium may be protective
  • Overweight and obesity contribute to 14% to 20% of all cancer related mortality in the United States
  • Sun-related skin cancers are now considered to be a problem for all people, regardless of skin color, but people of northern European extraction with very fair skin, blue or green eyes, and light-colored hair are most vulnerable. elderly people with decreased pigment are also more at risk, even those with darker skin
I hope those facts set your mind at ease in certain areas, and also raise awareness in areas that are applicable to you.

MAKE SURE TO FOLLOW THESE RECOMMENDATIONS!!! (again, also taken out of my nursing text just barely published this year!!!)
  • Yearly mammograms are recommended starting at age 40. Every 3 years for women in their 20's and 30's. Women should know how their breasts normally feel and report any breast changes promptly to their healthcare providers.
  • Regarding the Cervix/Uterus: screening should begin approximately three years after a woman begins having vaginal intercourse, but no later than 21 years of age. Screening should be done every year with regular Pap tests or every two years using liquid-based tests.
  • At or after age 30, women who have had three normal test results in a row may get screened every 2 to 3 years (unless your doctor recommends otherwsise due to certain risk factors)
  • Beginning at age 50, men and women should follow these examination schedules:
  • A guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (to check for blood in the feces) every year
  • A colonoscopy every 10 years
  • Men should have a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test and the digital rectal examination (DRE) annually, beginning at age 50, to men who have a life expectancy of at least 10 years. Men with a higher risk (hereditary, African American) should begin testing at age 45.

For everyone in general, here are 7 warning signs of cancer given by the American Cancer Society that everyone should be on the lookout for:


Change in bowel or bladder habits
A sore that does not heal
Unusual bleeding or discharge
Thickening or lump in breast or elsewhere
Indigestion or difficulty swallowing
Obvious change in wart or mole
Nagging cough or hoarseness

*If you have a warning signal, see your doctor!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Is Chocolate Really Good For You?

Why does chocolate make us so happy? The most likely reason for its role in elevating mood and the chocolate craving phenomenon is that it stimulates the release of endorphins. Basically, eating chocolate unlocks our bodies ability to drug itself with happy chemicals.

There is a whole lot of quackery going on out in the world regarding chocolate. Is it good for you? Is it bad for you? I've done some research, so let's look beyond the quackery and see what chocolate is all about.

Are there health benefits to eating chocolate? "Did God really make it that easy for us?" you may ask. Here are some facts:

There is something special in chocolate called flavanols. Flavanols are an antioxidant found in cocoa beans that can increase blood flow to the brain.

Ian MacDonald of England’s University of Nottingham reported on tests given to young women who were asked to do a complex task while their brains were being studied with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Among the women given drinks of cocoa high in flavanols, there was a significant increase in blood flow to the brain compared with subjects who did not drink the cocoa, he said.

This raises the prospect of using flavanols in the treatment of dementia, marked by decreased blood flow in the brain, and in maintaining overall cardiovascular health, he said.

These are two members of the Kuna Indian tribe in Panama. They have been found to have similar health benefits. They drink Cocoa exclusively. That has got to be a pretty bitter drink. The cocoa typically sold in markets is low in flavanols, which usually are removed because they impart the bitter taste.

The Kuna and others who live on native islands do not have high blood pressure. When tribe members move to cities, their blood pressure rises. A major difference is the consumption of their own prepared cocoa, which is high in flavanols. In native areas, that is all they drink; in cities they adopt the local diet. Here's the amazing thing: In addition to having low blood pressure, there are no reports of dementia among the native Kuna.

Can we indulge in chocolate then?

Unfortunately no. Chocolate can never be a health food because of the calorie problem. The amount of sugar in most chocolate is another reason. If we all indulge, then half the country that experiences obesity would be in good company, and we would all have another host of health problems to worry about.

More good news:

Mars Inc. last year announced plans to market a line of products under the name CocoaVia which is high in flavanols. Other major chocolate companies, including Hershey’s, have started promoting the flavanol content of their dark chocolates.

My favorite chocolate is the symphony bar, I think I want one now...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Breast-feeding May Influence Long-term Health of Baby

I know that in some circumstances breast-feeding is not an option, but here is a summarization of recent findings about breast-fed infants.

Infants who aren't breast-fed may experience long-term health consequences, a new study suggests.

French researchers compared growth, body composition (fat mass vs. lean body mass) and blood pressure in three groups of newborns. One group was breast-fed for the first four months of life, while infants in the two other groups received one of two types of formula: a lower-protein formula with 1.8 grams (g) of protein per 100 kilocalories (kcal) or a higher-protein formula with 2.7 g/100 kcal.

By age 3, diastolic and average blood pressure for babies fed the higher-protein formulas was higher than for breast-fed kids, though the blood pressure was still within the normal range.

Children who were breast-fed also showed a different pattern of growth and metabolic profile than formula-fed infants. The breast-fed infants had lower blood insulin levels when they were 15 days and 4 months old, but not when they were 9 months old.

Though what these differences mean over a lifespan is unclear, researchers said it may be evidence of a "metabolic programming effect," or the concept that nutritional experiences at critical points early in life can influence a person's future metabolism and health.

To sum it up:

"It appears that formula feeding induces differences in some hormonal profiles as well as in patterns of growth compared with breast-feeding," study co-author Dr. Guy Putet said in an American Academy of Pediatrics news release. "The long-term consequences of such changes are not well-understood in humans and may play a role in later health. Well-designed studies with long-term follow-up are needed."

The study was to be presented this May at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Denver. The data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until confirmed in large long-term studies.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What They Aren't Telling You About Soda Pop

Are you the kind of person that has to have a can of soda every day, or even more frequently than once per month? This article is for you. Apparently it's not only your waistline that's at stake.

A study released today in the journal Diabetes Carefound that people with a daily habit of just one or two sugar-sweetened beverages—anything from sodas and energy drinks to sweetened teas and vitamin water—were more than 25 percent likelier to develop type 2 diabetes than were similar individuals who had no more than one sugary drink per month.

If you don't drink this kind of soda pop, then your risk of developing type 2 diabetes is 1 in 10. An increase of 25 percent raises the risk to about 1 in 8. One-a-day guzzlers in the study also had a 20 percent higher rate of metabolic syndrome, a collection of indicators such as high triglyceride levels suggesting that diabetes is not far off.

What is going on physiologically to cause this?

The main reason is spikes in blood glucose and insulin. Sweetened drinks are often consumed quickly and in large quantities and their sugar content is rapidly absorbed. Frequent spiking can lead to insulin resistance, inflammation, and hypertension—often precursors to diabetes.

Oh, and this just in:

High fructose corn syrup, the sugar in many sweetened drinks, is emerging as possibly riskier than other sugars because it seems to produce more belly fat. And belly fat is tied very closely to high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems.

And Finally...

Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome aren't the only risks of a one or twice a day habit. Those who guzzled two or more sugary drinks a day had a risk of coronary artery disease 35 percent higher than non-guzzlers, even after adjusting for other unhealthy lifestyle factors.


This study and many others have found that you receive no benefits out of drinking these beverages. This needs to be a wake-up call for the American public.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

TV Watching Is Bad for your Babies Brain

For some time, the American Academy of Pediatrics have recommended that babies under age 2 watch no TV at all. A recent study following 259 lower-income families in New York has added fuel to this recommendation. They found that babies who watch TV are more likely to have delayed cognitive development and language at 14 months, especially if they're watching programs intended for adults and older children.

Many people find it surprising that TV-watching made a difference at such a tender age. Babies who watched 60 minutes of TV daily had developmental scores one-third lower at 14 months than babies who weren't watching that much TV. The developmental scores are still considered to be in the normal range, but a third lower than babies not watching that much TV.

What the electronic babysitter doesn't offer:

When kids and parents are watching TV, they're missing out on talking, playing, and interactions that are essential to learning and development. Researchers at New York University School of Medicine-Bellevue Hospital Center, has found that parents whose children watch non-educational TV programs like Spongebob SquarePants spend less time reading to their children or teaching them. It's missing out on activities like these that are causing the developmental scores of babies to go down.

But what about "good" TV, like Sesame Street?

The researchers didn't find any pluses or minuses when compared to non-educational programs designed for small children, like SpongeBob SquarePants. Most parents reading this are probably saying D'oh! TV is so often your good friend, keeping kids happily occupied so you can cook dinner, answer the phone, or take a shower. But the results are conclusive. Clearly the TV is not an educational aid.

So if the TV is currently entertaining your 2 year old or younger, go turn it off and read them a book because TV watching not only isn't educational, but it seems to stunt babies' development.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Newspapers are saying Tylenol increases risk of cancer

A bottle of Tylenol, which contains the ingredient acetaminophen, appears with its box wrapper, in Walpole, Mass., Tuesday, June 30, 2009. (Associated Press)

Several papers are running this story so I thought I would research it and give you the facts.

The study by University of Washington researchers just published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology looked at 64,839 people ages 50 to 76 years who were recruited from 2000 to 2002.

It is well known in the medical community that Tylenol contains acetaminophen. Acetaminophen is a pain reliever and a fever reducer. Using too much of it has been associated with liver damage and even death. Why is it that so many people have had liver damage by using acetaminophen frequently? "Because acetaminophen is frequently one of the ingredients in other over-the-counter products, so someone taking Tylenol, for instance, who also is using a cold medication might experience an overdose and organ damage. It's important to read labels to see which ingredients a product contains."

Here's what is still not clear:

Whether the painkiller, best known as Tylenol, is responsible for the increased risk or if those who use it are also more likely to have medical issues that might be associated with the cancers.

What has the increased risk been found to be?:

For the past 10 years, people over the age of 50 that use Tylenol "four or more times a week for four or more years" the risk has been at 1% to be more likely to develop such blood cancers as myeloid neoplasms, non-Hodgkins lymphomas and plasma cell disorders.

With this recent study, the risk has jumped up to 2% for those over the age of 50.

What does this mean?

It means the incidence is still very small and that you still need to continue checking all the medications you take for acetaminophen because it has always been one of the most common accidental overdoses. Remember, your liver can only handle metabolizing a certain amount of acetaminophen at a time, if you try to make your liver do more than it can, your liver is eventually going to fail and kill you.

In my opinion these articles have just a bit of fear-mongering by the news media, because just breathing the polluted outside air could be responsible for a 2% increase in cancer risk.

Check your meds for acetaminophen, and don't accidentally overdose!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Free Giveaway!!!

I am giving away a free brand new pedometer!!! It is an awesome one, here's why:

  • Counts steps 0-99,999
  • Distance (Preset Stride)
  • Counts calories burned
  • Available in Multiple Colors

To be eligible for the drawing just click the follow button over on the right!!!

*This giveaway will last until May 22 at midnight!
*The pedometer will be shipped directly to your house if you win!

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Problem of Pain

An estimated 50 million Americans live with chronic pain; low back pain is one of the most common types of chronic pain, along with migraine or severe headache and joint pain. Another 25 million experience acute pain related to surgery or trauma. That means 25% of the people in this country are in some type of pain.

I have found that pain is really a fascinating subject to study. Your body is filled with an elaborate network of nerve receptors called nociceptors that transmit pain signals to your your spinal chord, then on to your brain. As soon as that message reaches your brain, you feel pain. These free nerve endings are woven throughout all the tissues of the body except the brain (they are especially numerous in the skin and muscles. Pain occurs when the tissue containing nociceptors is subject to a noxious insult.

SO WHAT!!!??? "What does that mean to me?" you ask. Well, if you can keep the message of pain from ever reaching your brain, guess what? You won't feel it! This principle has great application to women who experience painful menstrual cycles. I've mentioned this in one of my past posts, but it's worth repeating.

Upon feeling your very first sign or symptom of cramping, take 800 mg of ibuprofen as fast as you can. This will do many people wonders! Here's what's happening: upon menstruation, a surge of oxytocin is released which causes the uterus to contract, and it can be VERY painful for some women. The reason why it's painful are because of these little pain messengers called prostaglandins. They "deliver" the message of pain to your nervous system, and that is when you perceive the pain. Here's a parable: if you could take out the mail man before he delivers the dear john to you, you would never feel the pain of reading a dear john! That's what the ibuprofen is doing, it's taking out the messenger of pain before it gets to the nervous system. It does it by inhibiting prostaglandin synthesis. Just a little magic trick you need to try if you think you would benefit.

Here's another interesting things about pain: our brains can only handle so much input at a given time. If a child is getting a shot at the doctors office, and you talk to the child on the opposite side of them that the shot is going to be given in, you might hear them say, "I hardly felt that!" That's because half or more of their attention was pulled away from the shot and given to the converser. This theory can be used for all sorts of situations, just use your brain to think of some (and don't let anyone distract you :)


  • Age influences a person's perception and expression of pain
  • Pain tolerance decreases with aging
  • Women have a lower pain threshold and experience higher intensity of pain than men
  • Approximately 15% of adults (most between age 18 and 44) experience recurrent migraine or severe headaches.
  • Pain is common among older adults, with 20% reporting pain lasting more than 24 hours within the past month

Thursday, May 5, 2011

How Could You Be So Heartless?

In my opinion, the heart is the most incredible machine on earth. I remember back in my anatomy class, I had a few students in the class who did not believe in God. My professor was a very intense hockey coach and liked to swear a lot (picture Kurt Russell in Miracle). Nothing bothered my professor more than having students in HIS anatomy class that still denied the existence of God. He got passionate several times throughout the semester about how incredible the human body is in this respect or that (singling out our fellow atheist classmates).

On one occasion, he was talking about how amazing the heart is. He told us that when the electrical impulse travels down through the atria and into the ventricles, there is a very slight delay (in the hundreds or thousands of a second) as it travels down which allows just enough time for all of the blood in the atria to fill their respective ventricles before the ventricles contract and send blood to the rest of the body. He then got choked up and looked several students in the eye and said, "you tell me how that was an accident! You tell me how this thousandth of a second that allows the human heart to function in the narrowest margin imaginable was an accident that without happening, would cause us to cease to exist as a species!" It was awesome, I loved this professor.

Because we all have these incredibly complex, amazingly efficient, and just plain miraculous machines working 24/7 inside each of us to keep us alive, I thought I would remind us all of some ways that we can increase the hearts ability to function in its prime for as long as possible.

#1) Make exercise a regular part of life (30-60 minutes five or more days a week).

The heart is a muscle. The more you work it, the bigger it gets and the more efficient it works. As you follow the above guideline, your heart will be able to supply your body with the necessary amount of blood, with less, more powerful strokes.

#2) Use sodium in moderation (less than 1500 mg of sodium per day, and 77% of sodium comes from restaurant and processed foods)

Too much sodium floating around in your blood stream acts like a vacuum for water, pulling lots of extra water into your blood vessels, which raises your blood pressure to dangerous levels

#3) Choose foods from all food groups, and eat a variety of foods

Choose a diet that each day includes at least seven servings of fruits and vegetables, and six servings of grains.

#4) Chose a diet low in fat (30% or less of total calories)

-Saturated fat should be less than 10% of calories
-Less than 300 mg of cholesterol daily

The reason why saturated fats (fully saturated with hydrogen atoms) are so much worse for you than mono unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (each double bond between carbons removing 2 hydrogen atoms from the molecule) is because of their actual chemical structure. Notice the saturated fat is linear, which means many of them can stack on top of each other and easily and clog your arteries as shown in the image below. The mono unsaturated fat has a bend in it, making it harder to stack on top of other mono unsaturated fats.
The plaque in this artery is mainly saturated fats that have stacked on top of each other. When enough of them stack up enough, you can see how easy it would be for a blood clot to come along and plug up the tiny hole remaining in the middle of the artery (which would cause a stroke).
So lets all take care of our hearts, for it will only be as good to us as we are to it!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Difficult Decisions

Healthcare is full of difficult decisions to be made. Do you take the Utilitarian perspective and make the choice that brings good to the greater number of people? Do you take the Deontological perspective and base your choice on adherence to a set of rules or duties? There are a multitude of other ethical theories that you can use to assist you in making difficult decisions.

Many times in healthcare, the decision to make is not between good and bad. Many times you have to make a choice between two difficult decisions. Do you pull the plug on the machines that are keeping an individual barely alive? Do you let grandma go in for a surgery knowing that she may never come out of it alive, but also knowing that if she doesn't get the surgery, she will most likely die soon?

At work the other day, I worked with a man who was living a normal life a couple weeks ago. He suffered an accident that caused him to stop breathing, and he was clinically dead for about 15 minutes. Paramedics arrived on the scene and shocked his heart back to life. This man now lays in a hospital bed with a tracheostomy being his only way to breathe. He can't talk, and he has clearly suffered very severe brain damage due to a lack of oxygen to his brain for 15 minutes. He isn't able to clearly communicate what he wants done and is almost constantly choking on his own mucus secretions in his tracheostomy. Would it have been better for the paramedics to not revive this man? If you were in his shoes, would you rather go to the next phase of life not having to suffer for who knows how many years in that awful situation. I can tell you that if I were that man, I would not have wanted paramedics to revive me. The hospital I work at used to be ran by nuns in the Catholic church. Many of them had DNR tattooed to their abdomen, so they would never have to be placed in the awful situation that this man is in.

A professor of mine recently told a story of how she came across a car accident. When she got to side of the individual driving the car, it was clear that they had been dead for some time. The person my professor was with told her she needed to revive the individual. My professor made the decision to let the person stay dead, and not subject him to a vegetative lifestyle if they were able to revive him. She felt she made the right decision afterward, but couldn't sleep for many nights.

The older widow in the nursing home whose husband died several years ago keeps asking you when her husband will be there to see her. Do you tell her that her husband died several years ago and will not be coming and make her relive all the suffering and agony that she went through once when her husband did die? Or do you reassure her that you will let her know when her husband is there to see her. Of course you would do the latter in this case.

Many decisions in healthcare are very difficult to make, and that's why I'm glad I have the gospel and the Lord's spirit to let me know His will and help guide me when those decisions come my way. Stay tuned...