The Good News About Cancer
Lung cancer and smoking- got it. But did you know cervical cancer is linked to smoking?
Ninety percent (90%!) of cancers have preventable causes.
Here's a quick "What are my chances of getting cancer" quiz. Count up your points for these health factors. Do you:
More than 2 a day=2
Get checked for STIs?
Yes I have=0
No or "What is that?" =1
Eat fast food?
Have exposure to any of these known carcinogens (means cancer-causers).
One point for each: radiation exposure (occupational or many, many X-rays), polluted water, chemical or industrial toxin exposure (such as from your occupation or living nearby a chemical plant) and a history of bad (blistering) sunburns.
Now, if you didn't notice the pattern above, this is not the SATs. More points is not better- it's worse off for your cancer risk. And since 95-98% of all cancers are not genetic (inherited and perhaps inevitable), then that means there's ample time and resources for cancer prevention. Take a look at this engaging infographic from Rock Your Cause and see your nearest preventive medicine doc and cultivate your health for now and decades to come. Contact me for more, or feel free to email me day or night at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be healthy, well and happy. And remember, "prevention is the best cure."
Chronic pain is a wide-spread issue. Addressing pain management issues are complex and often ongoing and many times fraught with continued patient discomfort and dissatisfaction. For example, Vicodin is the #1 most prescribed medication in our country, but this doesn't do anything to treat or help heal the reasons for one's pain. So the more therapies available to treat chronic pain, the better!
Chronic pain is defined as pain experienced three months after the original injury is considered healed. Here are the top therapies for chronic pain (both in terms of amount accessed and evidence-based effectiveness):
* Anodyne pharmaceuticals (painkillers): Vicodin, Oxycontin, muscle relaxers, etc.
* Biofeedback: by observing a bodily rhythm or signaling via computer imaging, the patient impacts their experience. A simple type of this is breathing patterns adjusted by looking at a monitor displaying one's blood pressure.
* Meditation: Mindfulness meditation has in particular been shown to decrease one's perception of pain.
* Hypnosis: Many methods and styles are available to change one's psychological responses.
* Tai chi: Chinese meditative energy movement styles which are often found to help with many chronic disease concerns (such as its effect on patients living with heart failure) .
* Awareness, concentration and expectation: patients perceived less pain if told the pain would end soon, were concentrating on a mental task or while concentrating on a picture of a loved one.
There are many therapies to address the acute pain one feels after a trauma or surgery. And they work quite well to dull your brain's perception of that pain. But when dealing with chronic, debilitating pain lasting months or years and affecting one's quality of life, there just isn't one "magic bullet" for everyone. The best approach will most likely comprise one or more of the above treatment options, while incorporating one or more healthcare practitioners who deal with pain management and find efficacy in dealing with underlying causes (a few examples might be massage therapy, Chiropractic care, acupuncture, Naturopathy, physical therapy or orthopedics).
Thank you for reading, please email me any time!
Glucometer measuring a diabetic level of glucose in the blood.
The International Diabetes Federation met two weeks ago to document current cases of diabetes and what unified proposals they agreed upon to recommend to last week's UN meeting. This federation represents associations from 160 countries, all of whom are finding ever more increasing and concerning numbers of diabetics in their healthcare systems (information from their symposium may be found here).
So what's the current picture? There are now an estimated 366 million people with diabetes (data combines types 1 and 2). Their total estimated yearly financial impact on healthcare systems is $465 billion. Annually. That's a huge number of people and a huge financial impact- both on larger systems and on a personal level.
To put this number into perspective, there are 54 million more diabetics in the world than the entire U.S. population combined. Although this is far from an American problem, many chronic non-communicable diseases rise in countries in proportion to their adoption of industrialized (American) culture and food (diabetes, heart disease and cancer are a few).
Type 2 diabetes has been around for some time but has been rapidly growing from the 174 million diabetics estimated worldwide 30 years ago. What was at one time termed "Adult Onset Diabetes" can now be found affecting grade-school children. Type 1 or "Juvenile Onset Diabetes" was a rare disease to my knowledge as a child, and I knew of no children with Type 2. I'm thinking that this is not the case with today's children.
So where does this all end? Personal choices, government choices and companies' influence impacts all our lives. Whether it's diabetes, cancer, lung disease, an autoimmune disease or some other chronic non-communicable disease, it's a long and difficult path towards continual improvement of one's health. Our modern medical establishment it not set up to optimally serve people in a preventative and health-supporting manner, so check out what the Naturopathic profession can do for you if you have one of these or a similar concern.
Watch, wait, hydrate- key points of fever management.
Fevers- a bane for busy parents rushing to get the kids off to school, and themselves to work. Worry-making in their speed and intensity, many turn to the medicine cabinet to see what can take the fever away fastest. Fevers are also a conundrum for those parents wanting to take a more natural approach to their family's medical care: to Asprin or not to Asprin?Well, I'm just a bit behind the times, but earlier in January (1/11/2011), there appeared in NY Times titled, "Lifting a Veil of Fear to See a Few Benefits of Fever." While much of the article was relegated to describing the quagmire of antipyretics (anti-fever meds), figuring out effective doses with what has on hand for the immediate situation of a sick child, there was also a pleasing amount of updated information dispelling the fever-as-boogey-man perspective that is so pervasive.
Towards the end of the article,I was pleased to see a quote by Dr. Janet Serwint, professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins, who said, “I personally think there should be much more education about this at well visits,” going on to say that she believes parents should learn about “the helpfulness of fever — how fever actually is a well-orchestrated healthy response of our body.”
Finally, some vindication for our doctors since time immoral who have praised and made use of the fever response in acute illnesses! These ideas are anything but new. These concepts were known all the way back in Hippocrates' time, who proclaimed, "Give me a fever, and I can cure the child." The fever was a necessary part of the process, not a negative side effect to be stamped out as quickly as possible.
The fever process is carefully regulated by an important, central part of the brain (hypothalamus), which is told via our immune system that there are pathogens on board. This causes our brain to re-set our temperature, first causing the sensation of chills (brain says, "we're too cold"), then as the immune system deals with the illness, the hypothalamus eases up and a fever develops then breaks ("we need more heat," then "ok, enough heat; we're done with the fever thing, time to sweat it all out").
Without the fever process, our immune defense is crippled in dealing with otherwise relatively benign illnesses. Without proper and complete immune responses, our body is less able to respond quickly and efficiently to the next round of similar bug going around later that year, or the next since it was never able to properly learn how to deal with the illness the first time around.
On the cautionary side (we are, after all, dealing with people here, particularly children), there is the concern about high fevers (over 104-105 degrees fahrenheit) inducing seizures. These cases should soon find themselves in urgent care, although epilepsy and subsequent brain damage has been dispelled as possible effects from high fevers. Again, the hypothalamus which tells the body to heat up has its own internal system that puts the breaks on the fever process before we enter danger zone.
So, the next time you come down with a fever, consider all the sides and potential self-treatments (contact your local Naturopathic Doctor for more information!), and for many benign acute illnesses (those things going around every year), rest and chicken soup may be just what the doctor (who has the most up-to-date and comprehensive knowledge on treatments) ordered!
Thank you for reading. I appreciate all those comments and suggestions I have received thus far. I always welcome your responses.
Take time to stop & smell the flowers.
Most people have more inflammation (what we may call "pro-inflammation reactions") happening than their body really needs. Too much inflammation increases the severity of all those diseases and medical conditions we discussed in Part 1 (few diseases are really free from inflammation's influence), as well as leading some seemingly minor health complaint (such as occasional achy joints or a mild skin rash) into more severe disease categories all together (developing Rheumatoid Arthritis or Ezcema).
High levels of inflammation also lead to other diseases or conditions hopping on for the ride and serve to worsen your overall health (high blood pressure, then coronary artery disease then heart attack). To combat this, one must identify what actions and circumstances lead to more vs. less inflammation.
Inflammatory causes are a lot farther reaching than simple traumas. Most of your body's inflammation actually comes from all those factors in your day to day life that stress you out and make you less healthy overall. These include dietary and exercise choices, as well as pretty much any thing you surround yourself with that exhausts you and makes you irritable and on edge (work? relationships? daily commute?).
And anti-inflammatory helpers include a much larger list than just that Aspirin or Aleve in your medicine cabinet. Every choice you make to lessen stress and strengthen your health are working on your side to decrease inflammation in your body. Calm, nutritious, leisurely dinner with loved ones? Put that in the anti-inflammatory column. Cramming down a burger and cola while fuming about the rush hour traffic you're trapped in? That is upping the inflammatory responses in your body.
So continue to make choices to support your health and lessen your stress.
Lastly, feel free to contact me any time to continue this discussion further. I'm also open to topic suggestions, particularly related to health in the news. Send me an article link, or other topics that have come to your attention, and I look into writing a piece about them here.
Thanks for reading!
Inflammation- you've all heard of it, but few understand what's really going on. It's a lot more than just the swelling that happens after you twist your ankle or slam your finger in the car door. It's a very complex and dynamic interplay of many immunologic compounds interacting with each other in your body- on an almost constant basis.
It all starts with some type of trauma- an injury like listed above, or something a lot more subtle like blood vessels getting stressed out by too much tension (high blood pressure), or areas of the body becoming hypersensitive to invisible particles in the air (allergic reactions like hay fever). What happens then is a directed cascade of immune reactions where some guard molecules alert others to make reaction, and the message keeps getting passed along to more and more immune cells until you start the visible signs of inflammation like swelling or getting itchy eyes.
So is it all bad? Not really. There's a certain low amount of inflammation that is helpful when you really do injure yourself, to prevent overuse or strain of the recently injured area. But as for the rest of the inflammatory reactions we experience day in and day out, it's really better to decrease these as much as possible.
So how do you know if you have more inflammation than your body needs? Well, there's some well established medical conditions that will always be associated with high levels of inflammation. Some listed above are allergies (hay fever, allergic skin reactions/ ezcema, etc), high blood pressure (or having a strong family history of high blood pressure) and all other forms of Coronary Artery Disease signal high levels of inflammation as well as some other common conditions like asthma, migraines/ tension headaches, rheumatoid arthritis, PMS, problems with proper bowel function such as colitis and Irritable Bowel Syndrome- the list goes on and on.
In Part 2, we will talk more about inflammation, what it leads to and what can increase and decrease your body's amounts.
Please leave any comments or questions below, or see the Contact section to write me a note.