Wednesday, 14 February 2007

Durham's African American churches recruited in diabetes fight

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African American churches are "the central hub in the social fabric of the African American community." So says Brian Letourneau, director of the Durham County Health Department in North Carolina. It's hoped that understanding this fact - and working with and through local churches (not around them) - will help the medical community to improve the lot of the area's black residents, many of whom suffer from Type 2 diabetes.

Letourneau's agency and the Department of Community and Family Medicine has begun working with expert s from Duke School of Medicine and local black churches to reach out to African Americans, many of whom suffer from poor health and have limited access to health care services. The initiative, funded primarily by the National Institutes of Health, is called the African-American Health Improvement Partnership (AAHIP). The collaboration makes a lot of sense because, as Duke's campus paper The Chronicle reports, black churches are no strangers to dealing with difficult social problems.

The program will have Duke faculty members brought out to talk about healthy lifestyles: what constitutes a healthy lifestyle, why it's important for preventing or controlling diseases like Type 2 diabetes, and about the kind of medical care required to mana ge diabetes. Duke professor Sherman James (pictured) told The Chronicle, "Diabetes in on the rise across the country, driven largely by increasing obesity and sedentary lifestyles. Poor people of color are among the most severely affected groups, and of course that includes many African Americans. Our to develop a project that is not only scientifically sound, but culturally appropriate and sustainable."

Early stage oral cancer and advanced screening processes

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Patients diagnosed with early stage oral cancer are usually examined by their doctor for suspicious areas in the mouth and throat area. A study was conducted that tested two diagnostic aids in evaluating lesions in the oral cavity.

Chemiluminescent light, or brand name Vizilite and toluidine blue, pharmaceutical grade dye, were used in addition to the conventional, visual and manual observations of the patient.

"By combining conventional techniques with more modern techniques, we were able to better diagnose and determine the best options for patients with oral cancer," said J.B. Epstein, lead author of the study and Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Valentine's Day diagnosis didn't slow her down

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Beloit, Wisconsin, resident Vonnie Adams threw a big party recently. The occasion? To celebrate living and thriving despite being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes fifty years ago. Adams is now seventy-two years old and decided, hey, after living with the disease for all these years she deserved to celebrate. Hence the party, which she planned herself and which was attended on Saturday by a happy crowd of family and friends numbering about 140. Now this is cute: Adams didn't tell invitees what the occasion was on the invitations, only saying it was a 50th anniversary celebration. Upon turning up at the shindig they discovered it was a chance for Adams to celeb rate her having triumphed over the difficulties that diabetes have caused her, and also a chance to acknowledge all the people who have assisted her on her journey. Adams is pictured at right holding a framed photo of one of those special helpers: Ken Gold, her doctor of twenty-five years, who was unable to make it to the event. Gold, she says, not only helped her stay in shape over the years but also became one of her best friends. Amazing - we could all use a doctor like that, huh?

The diagnosis came on Valentine's Day, 1957, Adams recalled in an interview with the Beloit Daily News. At the time she was a senior in college and twenty-two years of age. Symptoms like thirst and fatigue she put down to the flu. By the time she saw a doctor she was very ill - barely conscious, in fact. But it didn't get her down: "I made up my mind right away that my lifestyle would be greatly altered. Things I did, eating, exercise. I knew right at the get-go that I wasn't going to let it control my life. I was going to control the diabetes, the diabetes wasn't going to control me." Now that's what you call an attitude worth envying. Despite now having lost her sight to diabetes-related complications, Adams retains her incredible positive attitude. To read more, visit the Beloit Daily News.

Mapping Diabetes

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Scientists have mapped the genes responsible for causing type 2 diabetes. This new research is giving hope to new tests that can predict an individuals risk for developing the disease and future treatments.

The study compared the genetic make-up of 700 people with type 2 diabetes and a family history of the condition, with 700 diabetes-free people. Four points on the gene map linked to a person's diabetes risk and were confirmed with another group of 5,000 type 2 diabetics. The findings of this research could explain up to 70% of the genetics related to developing diabetes. A particular zinc transporter, known as SLC30A8, which regulates insulin secretion, was shown to have a mutation. Researchers feel they may be able to treat some cases of diabetes by correcting this mutation.

These findings will allow for the creation of a genetic test to predict people's risk of developing type 2 diabetes, as well as better treatments for the presiding cause of their diabetes. Nary a day passes that I am not motivated for the future of all diabetics. This is the type of research that strengthens my faith in the coming of a cure. Identify the nature of the problem and nip it in the bud.

Protein Coat might Cure Diabetes

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Researchers found a protein that coats the liver is directly correlated with visceral-fat induced diabetes, or type 2 diabetes.

When visceral fat accumulates, the amount of a hormone called adiponectin, decreases. Adiponectin is found in fat cells, and plays a role in glucose regulation and fatty acid metabolism. Researchers found two types of protein on the surface of mouse liver cells. When the proteins and adiponectin interact, blood sugar and neutral fat levels fall, boosting fat-burning functions. However, obese mice with accumulated visceral fat have fewer of these proteins on the surface of their liver cells. When these proteins increased in number, blood sugar levels would decline. The study hypothesizes that if the quantity of adiponectin decreases in obese people, a potential cure for type 2 diabetes may be found by increasing the proteins found on the surface of the liver.

Talk about the power of protein! We've all heard about the leaders in the pack when it comes to dropping pounds - eggs, fish, chicken, soy and whey protein. But this discovery reveals a new way to combat the bulge and reduce your chances of developing type 2 diabetes. Although these new proteins won't find accommodations in your local grocery store - perhaps Big Pharma will have a designer label to sport in the near future. You'd buy it, wouldn't you?

Have a sweet Valentine's Day!

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Valentine's Day. Sure is a tough day to be diabetic if you have to fight a yearning for sugary treats that are nutritional no-nos. Is is possible to have a sweet Valentine's Day without sugar? Well, maybe. For starters, check out the DLife website. The folks over there have posted some handy hints on how to get by on the big, red, heart-shaped day without giving in to a candy craving. Their advice inc ludes trying low-carb candies and (for couples in lurve) focusing on romance, flowers and the like.

As for helping diabetic kids to deal with the sugar deluge associated with V-Day, here are a couple of good suggestions: have them distribute non-foodie gifts with Valentine cards at school. Think along the lines of little, inexpensive items like stickers. They also advise stashing any candy your diabetic child may receive as a gift and keeping it to be distributed a little at a time.

You have to wonder if parents with diabetic kids have a particularly difficult time on holidays like this, which are so tied up with sticky treats. Must be hard to talk the little ones into going without. Seems to me the best solution for kids and adults is to refocus onto "safe" foods that are still fun and Valentine's Day-themed. Okay, you'll have to use your imagination a little, but life is full of challenges! For example, I liked the website Pioneer Thinking's suggestion: whipping up a big hot potful of spicy Gazpacho soup. It's healthy, affordable, red-hot and can be enjoyed by all. There's just no candy in it. Nor is it heart-shaped. (As I said, you need to use your imagination for this to work...) But what a great idea! I can see it now: in a future, alternate-universe America, people spurning red boxes of candy in exchange for hot and spicy cuisine. A bowl of chili and a bunch of roses for your True Love? Stranger things have happened in this world...

The Psychology of Diabetes vs. Cutting

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Please excuse the editorial nature of this piece. I often post about the scientific studies about diabetes. Today I'd like to discuss a bizarre thought I've had about the management of diabetes and how eerily similar I feel it is to a phenomenon known as cutting. I preface this blog with a sincere apology for anyone that is offended by the comparison. I know all too much about diabetes and very little about cutting, but my curiosity led me to read a little more about it and I remain stymied by the similarities.

Diabetes is controlled by repeated checks of blood glucose. The most effective way of measuring blood glucose is to prick your finger, draw blood, and drop it into a machine to read the results. This must be done anywhere between 2 and 12 or more times a day. Once the results are given - a diabetic should a) take insulin by injection or an insulin pump or an oral medication b) eat something or c) do nothing. The objective of drawing blood is to know your numbers. Ultimately this will ensure you are in range. That's right - test, treat and repeat. This routine, if followed religiously throughout your life, will best divert any long-term complications associated with diabetes. No guarantees.

A cutter is someone who practices self-injury (also known as self-harm and self-mutilation) by scratching or cutting his or her skin with a sharp object. Cutting is usually a symptom of mental illness and most often is used as a coping mechanism. By no means is this a symptom to ignore. It is serious and often implies a more serious underlying condition that warrants serious medical attention.

The necessary roughness of drawing blood serves a purpose for both diabetics and cutters. Of course one is medically supervised to care for the well-being of an individual and the other is self-inflicted and harmful for the individual. The end result of incessantly checking blood sugars will result in better control of a life-threatening disease. The end result of cutting is a scar reminding the cutter of a deeper pain. Both causes of the behavior are nonetheless tragic. As a type I diabetic, I do everything I can to avoid having to be reminded of diabetes - even if that requires me taking breaks from my life to test, treat, and repeat. I appreciate the perspective of anyone who wishes to share about the control regimen of their diabetes, or the psychology of a cutter.

Diabetes on the rise in Native American population

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Which ethnic group is at the greatest risk for developing diabetes? If you answered Native American Indians, you are correct.

Over the past fifteen years, the number of cases of diabetes in American Indian and Alaskan Native teens aged 15 to 19 has risen by 128 percent. On top of that, the disease increased by 77 percent in American Indians and Alaskan Natives who were younger than fifteen during the same time frames. As for adults -- the current rate of diabetes in this population is at 60 percent. Feel free to read that again. That's a rise by 128 percent in 15 to 19-year-olds, 77 percent in kids under 15, and a current rate of 60 perecent of adults living with diabetes. In a word: Staggering. In two words: Freakin' Staggering. In seventeen words: So freakin' staggering that I had to make sure that the data was correct -- and it was.

A program that has established diabetes treatment and prevention programs is slated to expire some time next year. Given these statistics, this does not bode well for the members of this minority group. Meeting before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee this past Thursday, Indian Health Service head Charles Grim spoke of the importance of renewing this program.

For more information, follow this link:

Sugar-Free Gang cheers on UAlbany player

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Capital News 9 of Albany, New York, reports on a bunch of good-hearted people who have teamed up to lend support to diabetics, including University of Albany basketball player Brian Connelly. The Sugar-Free Gang is their name. Their purpose? Encouraging people, especially young people, with diabetes to get out and live life as fun, healthily and normally as possible. The Capital News 9 article quotes a member of the Sugar-Free Gang, Patti Norris, who has a diabetic son: "Diabetes is not an obstacle in life. They can do something with it. You can live a normal life."

About fifty children and their families are in the Gang and they all turned up at a recent game to cheer on Connelly, who has been diagnosed with diabetes. Said one young fan, "I know how it feels to have diabetes and you need to have a lot of support."

Connelly is doing well, says Coach Will Brown, and is playing every day. Still, it must be very cool to have your own special cheering squad in the crowd, right? Yes, says Connelly: "Just that I can be looked up to like that, I mean it feels great. Hopefully, I can set a good example."

But reading this article, it's clear that this is no one-way street when it comes to encouragement for young diabetics. Talk about a fun and super-bonding time for the kids involved in this: to get out, enjoy a game and cheer on a young up-and-coming player. No, they're not buddies with him. But the common link of having diabetes brings them all together. What a great idea! Kudos to the parents of the Sugar-Free Gang kids for making this ha ppen.

Check out Capital News 9's website for a video clip of the game.

Daily Pill Restores Natural Blood Sugar Balance

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The FDA has approved sitagliptin phosphate tablets to improve blood glucose levels in patients with type 2 diabetes. The drug, named Januvia, is proudly presented to the diabetic community by Merck and Co.

JANUVIA, a once-daily pill, enhances your body's natural ability to balance blood sugar levels. Your body sends important messages to your pancreas to try to balance high blood sugar. In response, your pancreas makes more insulin and signals the liver to make less sugar. But a substance in your body called DPP-4 blocks some of these important messages. JANUVIA works by blocking DPP-4, so more of the important messages get through. It also helps your pancreas make more insulin and signal your liver to make less sugar. Another feature of this new drug is the ability to prevent your sugar from going too low. JANUVIA works only when your blood sugar levels are high, or out of balance. When your blood sugar levels are at a healthy balance, JANUVIA doesn't have an effect. Because JANUVIA stops working before your blood sugar gets too low, it is not likely to lower your blood sugar to a potentially dangerous level (hypoglycemia). One more bonus to JANUVIA is the fact that this dr ug did not show weight gain in most patients during clinical trials.

Could this be the answer for your diabetes dilemma? Next time you swing by your doctor's office, mention that new drug Merck released. I'm sure your doctor will be as thrilled to see your numbers controlled as you'll be to see your natural ability to control them restored. Best of luck to those who find their diabetic solution in JANUVIA!

School aide refuses insulin training, gets the sack

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Get a load of this GREAT news quote: "We had Korn, then Harry Potter, now Laurie Jordan." Er, who the heck is Laurie Jordan?! She is, or should I say was, a teaching aide in Michigan, apparently. And the quote comes courtesy of the parent of a kid who attends Roosevelt Elementary School in Michigan. The bosses of the school, the Zeeland school district , have a reputation for toughness. First they banned Korn t-shirts. Then they banned Harry Potter readings in the classroom. And now? An employee, Laurie Jordan, was fired because she refused to learn to give insulin shots.

Jordan's excuse: a fear of needles. School administrators decided all school employees should acquire the know-how to give emergency care to diabetic students, which of course includes learning how to administer insulin shots. Jordan said no, thanks. On Monday, a big crowd turned up to a public meeting in support of Jordan. The general consensus seems to be that firing her was a tad on the excessive side. Present at the meeting were school board members, school employees and community members. "A show of support like that is overwhelming," said Jordan after the meeting.

Needle phobia is fairly common. This woman is not a nurse, she has no medical training, and she does not want to undergo this kind of training. Parents want their k ids to be protected. Giving an insulin shot is a pretty straightforward procedure. On the other hand, should employers be allowed to force employees to take on this responsibility? It's tricky.

To read more, check out this article in the Grand Rapids Press.

Milk Fund makes a difference for diabetic mom

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Hypothetical exercise: imagine you're the mother of a young family. You're struggling financially. You're diabetic. What do you need the most? What would help you get by? Um, how about medical supplies? Tuition breaks? Canned goods? No. Okay, cash? No. Well, then, I would have to guess...MILK. Yes, correct!

The Daily Iberian of Louisiana and the local Social Service Center is sponsoring a fund to provide needy families with milk. They collected $912 this month, which includes a donation of over $300 from a local elementary school fundraising club. Says a representative from the Social Service Center, "The Milk Fund is doing ve ry well. People have been very generous, but there's still a great need." This month, part of the money will provide a month's worth of milk to a diabetic woman who is taking care of her mom in addition to her three kids.

Now, I'm not knocking the idea of milk-gifting. It's very generous on the part of the fundraisers. But, milk? Never heard of that one before. But, hey, if you're in a position to make a donation, here's where to send your check: The Daily Iberian, P.O. Box 9290, New Iberia, LA 70563.

Pine Tree Extract Delays Glucose Absorption

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A new study reveals that French maritime pine tree extract (known as Pycnogenol) delays the uptake of glucose from a meal 190 times more than prescription medications, preventing the typical high-glucose peak in the blood stream after a meal.

The study revealed the pine bark is more potent for suppressing carbohydrate absorption in diabetes than synthetic prescription alpha-glucosidase inhibitors such as Precose. Researchers reviewed the interaction of Pycnogenol with alpha-glucosidase, an enzyme responsible for the breaks down of carbohydrates in a meal. Results revealed Pycnogenol is 190 times more potent for inhibition of alpha-glucosidase than the synthetic inhibitor acarbose, a common prescription medication for treatment of type 2 diabetes. These drugs are sold in Europe under the name Glucobay and the United States under the name Precose. The bark contains a unique combination of procyanidins, bioflavonoids and organic acids. The alpha-glucosidase breaks down carbohydrates into glucose molecules which are then absorbed into the blood stream.

In two separate studies Pycnogenol was found to significantly lower blood sugar in type 2 diabetes patients. One study showed that patients who supplemented with Pycnogenol experienced lower blood sugar after meals and lower fasting blood sugar. Another study revealed a significantly lowered blood glucose level in patients who supplemented with Pycnogenol while continuing their anti-diabetic medication with acarbose and metformin. This study opens new avenues for product development of Pycnogenol in the field of diabetes, metabolic syndrome and obesity.

Fat, depressed, diabetic: Australian men fare poorly in new study

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And now for the best headline of the week, courtesy of The Australian: STATE OF MAN: FAT AND DEPRESSED. Ouch. I see the the stereotypical image of Australian men starting to crumble. In the 80s we had Mel Gibson in his heyday. In the 90s we got Russell Crowe. And now, this??

Yes, according to a new study, the "disease burden" in Australia is behind the decline of the Australian man. The study found that half of Aussie men aged between thirty-five and eighty years of age have officially tipped the scales into that dreaded category called Overweight. A further thirty percent are even worse off - in the Obese category. That leaves just a minority, twenty percent, of a normal weight. Yikes, that is bad!

The culprit, as is so often the case here in the US, is the unhealthy lifestyle led by so many. Lack of exercise and poor eating habits lead to weight gain and further inactivity. Not to mention diabetes. Sixteen percent of the Australian men in this study have Type 2 diabetes. Other big problems are depression, anxiety, and asthma. All evidence of a trend that researcher Gary Wittert characterizes as "ala rming" and links to social causes like lack of social standing, low earning potential and relationship dissatisfaction.

Mel, you're having problems, that's true. But take heart! Looks like you have plenty of company...or would if you would only return to your homeland. (Just a suggestion...)

dLife founder speaks with Nancy Pelosi about stem cell research

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If you want a job done right, you do it yourself. That's apparently the way dLife founder and CEO Howard Steinberg went about bringing stem cell research to the fore, and did so by personally heading straight to Capitol Hill. Meeting with the new Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Steinberg discussed the importance of the DeGette-Cast le stem cell research bill's passage.

But, what about the Big Guy? No, not God -- although He factored into the discussion, as well. I'm talking about President Bush. While he has promised to veto any stem cell related bill, Pelosi hopes that he will ultimately opt against doing so. In furtherance of prior legislation, this new Stem Cell Enhancement Act of 2007 will increase the amount of lines from which stem cells can be sourced for research purposes. So, fingers crossed on that one, folks.

Stem cell research continues to be a widely debated topic, one that may also play a crucial role in the upcoming 2008 elections. And, as Madam Speaker explained to Steinberg in their recent interview, embryonic stem cell research is now receiving bi-partisan support, thereby making it far less politically divisive than it once was. The hope (well, I can at least say my hope) is that the new Congress, the new President, and the new year will hasten change in favor of supporting stem cell research. Again, fingers crossed. Maybe a toe or two as well, providing you are that dexterous. Whatever the case, and whatever the crossed extremity, the key word here is Change. And, thanks to the dedicated efforts of people like Nancy Pelosi and Howard Steinberg, it seems to be well underway.

**Be sure to check out the full dLife interview of Nancy Pelosi here:

Fabulous makeovers courtesy of DIVABETIC

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Big pharma giant Novo Nordisk wants to remind you of its involvement in a social outreach program for diabetics. Entitled "Divabetic - Makeover Your Diabetes," the program is being touted as a series of fun community outreach events designed to support, educate and motivate women with Type 2 diabetes and those who are at-risk for it. It's also open to those who do not have diabetes themselves, but who have been adversely affected through the diagnosis of a loved one. The "Divabetic" part of the title refers to the outreach organization DIVABETIC, which is collaborating with Novo Nordisk in this project.

Divabetic offers women makeovers at the hands of a team of fashion and beauty gurus. It's all about having fun with fashion, beauty and the like. All that GIRL-STUFF. Hmm. Nice, but not really related to diabetes education, is it? Well, no. But the idea is to use that as a means to an end, say the organizers. You know, self-esteem and all that jazz. The idea is to get away from the very un-fun and un-sexy clinical learning environment, which tends to alienate those who are most in need of help.

The goal is to motivate attendees to get control of their diabetes by making lifestyle changes. You know what I mean - The Biggies: eat healthy, exercise, take your meds. Alan Moses, associate vice president of medical affairs for Novo, says the company acknowledges the role that overall lifestyle changes can play in turning around a diabetic's health status, but that they also have come to understand how hard it is for most people to make that change. That's where motivation comes into the form of makeovers. Yes, says DIVABETIC founder Max Szadek. When women look great, they feel great, and you have to feel great about yourself before you can get motivated to take care of your health, he enthuses.

Divabetic events are free. They will be taking place around the country (big cities, only, folks), starting with New York at Gotham Hall on February 22. Want to read more? Read Novo's press release, visit the ChangingDiabetes website or call 1-800-634-8888. Or check out DIVABETIC's sassy and fun site.

No Benefit Found for Post-Stroke Tight Glucose Control

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British researchers have found that tight glucose control during hospitalization for a stroke may not improve survival.

The study involved 933 patients enrolled within 24 hours of a stroke who had glucose in the range of 6.0 to 17 mmol/l. Participants received saline solution or continuous glucose, potassium, insulin infusions to reduce their blood glucose. Patients were monitored every two hours with glucose adjusted if needed every eight hours. The researchers found that both treatment and placebo groups had improvement in glucose levels. The treatment group had an overall mean 0.57 mmol/l reduction in glucose over 24 hours while glucose levels also fell spontaneously with simple saline hydration. There was also no difference in the secondary outcome of disability. There was a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure in the treatment group. A researcher noted, "In the majority of patients, treatment with a simple saline infusion will correct mild to moderate hyperglycemia."

The saline and glucose relationship is similar to the way the noninvasive glucose monitors measure blood sugar (aka Glucowatch)., This relationship between sodium and glucose in the blood moves inverse. When your sugar levels are elevated, your sodium is down. When you force sodium into your blood, your sugar is suppressed. Doctors must proceed with caution in light of this study. When it comes to aggressively lowering glucose, especially after a trauma, it could be more harmful than helpful.

Regular napping may reduce risk of heart disease

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I feel like garbage right now. My nose is running, my throat is sore, and a general malaise has taken control of my body like it has a point to prove. Cold season is here, and I have officially fallen victim. The remedy? Who knows, really. Chicken soup, echinacea, vitamin C, rest. Wait, what was that last one? Rest. Yes, now that one, that one seems to actually work. Well, it turns out that getting adequate rest, particularly taking regular naps, can do far more than just expedite the duration of your cold. In fact, researchers from Greece have found that taking a regular "siesta" may help markedly reduce one's chances o f developing cardiovascular disease.

In a six-year study of over 24,000 Greek adults, researchers from the University of Athens Medical School found that those who took regular, mid-day naps lowered their chances of heart disease by more than a third. Unlike previous studies on the benefits of napping, this study was the first to control for outside variables (i.e. smoking, diet, exercise). All subjects studied entered into the research process with a clean bill of health, thereby ruling out the chances that their development -- of lack of development -- of heart disease was or was not caused to factors outside of napping.

The researchers believe that by taking regular naps, adults are able to reduce much of their workday stress. This belief is supported by the supplementary discovery that employed men seem to benefit more from naps than do unemployed men -- suggesting a link between workplace stress and sleep-induced stress reduction.

Whatever. I feel like crap. I'm going back to bed. Let the healing begin.

A study in mouthwash

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A lab in Oklahoma is studying genes for combinations that predict breast cancer risk. A look into the 100 genes gathered from each woman -- via mouthwash -- allows researchers to categorize women with standard, moderate, or high risks of developing the disease.

The study begins with a lengthy questionnaire about medical history and leads to the collection of a DNA sample. Women simply rinse their mouths with a standard mouthwash and wait for results.

Geneticist Dr. Kara Casas says she hopes that regardless of results, women will choose a he althy lifestyle with a diet low in fat and alcohol consumption and with lots of exercise too. But those in the moderate and high-risk groupings will be advised to make other lifestyle changes to help decrease their chances of getting breast cancer. They may be asked to regulate estrogen levels, for example, and to report regularly for mammograms at an earlier age.

Casas says all women have some risk of developing breast cancer. But knowing what these risks are can help them better protect themselves -- which makes tests like this so important.

A total of 12,000 samples will collected for an FDA trial. For more information about this study in mouthwash, call 903-510-1173.

Exotic dancer donations rejected by cancer organization

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I guess I've just assumed that breast cancer organizations happily accept every donation they receive and joyfully funnel all charitable gifts into their noble endeavors. I mean, without money and research and programs and services and education, where would we be? We'd be uninformed and lagging behind the force of this disease instead of gaining momentum on its trail. That's where we'd be.

Now, I've never assumed these organizations accept money obtai ned through illegal measures. But I've also never assumed they'd turn away money just because it came from a group of women whose profession and means of fundraising might be considered unacceptable. I suppose I shouldn't make assumptions. Because I seem to be wrong on all accounts.

The Breast Cancer Society of Canada has officially rejected a donation from a group of Vancouver strippers because of the controversial nature of their fundraisers. Exotic Dancers For Cancer these women call themselves, and for four years they have been raising money in honor of another dancer who lost her battle with terminal cancer.

Trina Ricketts, founder of the exotic dancer website and recipient of the letter rejecting the donation, is shocked that people consider this contribution dirty money. And she is so bothered by this unfair judgment that she has been contacting th e media and outting the Breast Cancer Society of Canada's discrimination practices. Her protests are working.

In a supportive turn of events, Ricketts has been met with an overwhelmingly positive response -- and she now has several organizations willing to accept all donations she wishes to offer.

This story is not nearly as simple as presented here. It's so much more detailed and touching and moving when told by Ricketts herself -- who happens to share her inspiring journey right here.

CORRECTION: Trina Ricketts reports that she did not seek out the media to out the Breast Cancer Society of Canada.

"The decision to go public was not in the interests of outing the Breast Cancer Society of Canada, but rather to seek out charities that would be willing to accept our donations," she said.

Can patients in remission from CML stop taking Gleevec?

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In the January issue of Blood, a study shows that in rare cases of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), treatment with Gleevec can be discontinued.

The researchers think that some patients treated with Gleevec (imatinib mesylate) that go into extended remissions can stop the drug. They add that patients continue strict monitoring for relapse.

Twelve patients were put into remission with Gleevec for over two years. Six of these patients experienced a relapse within five months after being taken off the drug. When Gleevec was restarted, residual disease again declined.

The other six patients remain in remission after nine to twenty four months follow up.

Despite these results the researchers say 'we do not widely recommend imatinib discontinuation at the present time".

I do have a few questions myself that the article did not address:

Does Gleevec have severe side effects that warrants stopping it at all?

Do they think that Gleevec can potentially cure the patient and some might be able to stop treatment all together?

Preparing to pack the place pink

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I told my six-year-old son today that on Friday, we will attend a University of Florida gymnastics meet. Not such a big deal in and of itself but the fact that the entire meet is dedicated to the battle against breast cancer is what makes my announcement to Joey so important. You see, Joey has been my faithful companion ever since I was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago. He has been my link to all things simple. He has been my rock, my inspiration, my motivation to fight for my life.

I told Joey this sports event is a celebration of people with breast cancer, like me. And I told him everyone must wear pink, a color he knows well when it's twisted in ribbon formation. I eagerly awaited Joey's reaction to the whole pink thing, not because he has an aversion to pink but because his absolute favorite color is orange and he tends to choose this fabric selection whenever possible. But without hesitation, Joey was completely accepting of making a pink fashion statement.

I told Joey we would make shirts so we could be as pink as possible on Friday. So we bought white t-shirts and two shades of pink dye, and we will soon tie-dye our shirts for the festive occasion where both University of Florida and University of Kentucky gymnasts will wear pink leotards -- in different shades -- and where the fans will make donations to the local American Cancer Society.

Joey asked me while we shopped for our t-shirt supplies if lots of people have cancer.

"Yes," I told him, recalling a fact I had just learned -- 8.9 million Americans alive today have a history of cancer. "Lots of people have cancer."

I am not sure what this means to Joey. But I suspect his comprehension of the disease is limited to pink ribbons, bald heads, and periodic celebrations. If only cancer were that simple.

Cancer is not simple. But Joey helps me face each day with simplicity. And I can't wait to simply make a few t-shirts with him and then pack the place pink in honor of all the women who every day face the complexities of a fierce opponent.
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Consider baby steps when making lifestyle changes

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Blogger Kristina Collins wrote on February 11 about three great steps for reducing the risk of cancer. Her suggestions -- eat well, get fit, and stop smoking -- are such good tips and could certainly account for major health changes in those who heed this advice.

Each one of these recommended lifestyle altera tions is a major undertaking. And if you're like me and find big, swift, sweeping changes a sure recipe for defeat, then this short to-do list may seem a bit intimidating. So I'd like to offer a bit of my own advice for accomplishing these health feats -- take baby steps.

Kristina has taken baby steps. She first quit smoking -- I'm not sure there's anything small about this success, however -- and now she's taking on membership at a gym. Cutting down on red wine comes next, she says, as she pursues a life driven by health.

I have just recently taken a baby step myself. I stopped drinking soda -- or pop as I called it before relocating from Ohio to Florida. I'd known for some time I wanted to rid myself of the sugar that comes packaged in my favorite drinks -- Dr. Pepper and root beer -- but for some reason, I was dragging my feet when it came to giving up this vice. Yet I did it. I stopped drinking soda, replaced it with water, and now have no desire for sugary drinks of any kind.

I am a creature of habit. I know this because I spent years drinking only water. But when cancer struck, I turned to the carbonation of soft drinks to settle my upset stomach. With time, my stomach stopped bothering me. But I didn't stop drinking soda. I kept drinking it for no other reason than pure habit. And when I convinced myself this practice was not necessary in my life, I cut it out.

Perhaps I'll tackle chocolate next. Or exercising more. Who knows. I'm just happy I accomplished one small task. And I hope you'll consider taking baby steps in your pursuits for better health. Just remember, we didn't hop up one day and start sprinting in infancy. It took years to fine-tune our ability to run on our own. And it may take years to carve out a healthful way of living.
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Radiation: Tips for dealing with dry mouth

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Dry mouth (xerostomia), is most commonly caused by radiation therapy directed at the head and neck region of the body. Radiation may irreversibly affect the production and quality of saliva in the salivary glands. A number of medications can also induce xerostomia. Dry mouth may affect the pat ients speech, taste sensation and ability to swallow.

Many patients complain of a sore or burning sensation, cracked lips, and fissures in the corners of the mouth. There is also an increased risk of cavities and mouth disease due to less saliva to cleanse the teeth and gums.

There are now some means of preventing xerostomia that were not available a few years ago. Amifostine, a radiation protector of normal tissues, has been shown to protect the salivary glands when given daily with radiation therapy. Also, a treatment known as Proton therapy may allow the radiation oncologist to spare the salivary glands from getting significant radiation doses. This may prevent dry mouth in the future. If you are getting radiation therapy to the head and neck region, you should discuss these options with your radiation oncologist. If you have developed xerostomia, there are management strategies that can effectively deal with your dry mouth and prevent cavities and periodontal disease.

Try to follow these simple guidelines:

  • Perform oral hygiene at least four times a day. (After each meal and before bedtime)
  • The oral cavity should be rinsed and wiped immediately after meals
  • Dentures need to be brushed and rinsed after meals
  • Only use toothpaste with fluoride when brushing
  • Keep water handy to keep the mouth moist at all times
  • Apply prescription strength fluoride gel at bedtime
  • Rinse with salt and baking soda solution 4-6 times a day
  • Avoid liquids and foods with high sugar content
  • Avoid rinses containing alcohol
  • Use moisturizer regularly on lips
  • Oral pilocarpine (Salagen) is the only drug approved by the FDA to stimulate saliva secretion from the remaining salivary glands.

Rep. Charles Norwood dies from cancer, lung disease

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United States Representative Charles Norwood, who left Washington last week to enter into the care of hospice, died yesterday at his home after battling cancer and lung disease. He was 65.

Norwood, whose passing prompted the House to observe a moment of silence Tuesday in his honor, suffered since 1998 from chronic lung disease and later metastatic cancer that spread from his lungs to his liver. Last week, he announced he would no longer accept treatment, that he would allow hospice to care for him for the remainder of his days.

A dentist from Augusta, Georgia, Norwood was the first Republican to represent northeastern Georgia since the Civil War. A conservative passionately opposed to government bureaucracy and adamantly supportive of patients' rights, he hoped to one day become Georgia's first Republican Governor.

Norwood's medical decline began when his lung condition -- idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis -- began restricting his ability to breathe and necessitated a lung transplant in 2004.

Known for zipping around the Capitol with a motorized cart and oxygen tank, Norwood developed cancer on his non-transplanted lung reportedly due to the immune suppression drugs he took after his transplant. And although hi s cancer was surgically removed and his health did improve, doctors learned this past November his cancer had spread.

The vacancy left by Norwood's death will not be filled immediately due to governmental process. In Georgia, within 10 days of the seat being vacated, the governor must request a special election to the secretary of state. And the election must be held no fewer than 30 days later.

Norwood is survived by his wife, Gloria; two sons, Charles and Carlton; and four grandchildren.

A film, a haircut, and one lovely Valentine's Day benefit

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On February 4, Jennifer Ireland, a young wife and mother of two small daughters, took her last breath after a courageous battle with colon cancer. And today, February 14 -- a day reserved for all things love inspired -- you are invited to take part in a live Kansas City, Missouri benefit in honor of this lovely woman.

Join the live webcast of Film Clips -- a cele bration of Mairtin de Cogain's soon-to-be-released American film The Wind That Shakes The Barley. Not only a celebration of film, this event will also feature the clipping of every strand of Mairtin de Cogain's hair -- and beard too. Attendees can claim a lock with a donation of $10 that will head straight to the Jennifer Ireland Fund. It all happens between the hours of 11:00 and 2:00 PM on this St. Valentine's Day.

There is so much more to say about Jennifer -- and she and her husband powerfully say it all on the blog they authored throughout their harrowing yet moving journey.

End of life pain management with opioids

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There is a general belief that opioid use to control pain around the time of death causes the patients to die sooner. "Hospice providers, families, and patients should not be afraid of opioid drugs because of the belief that their use to control pain shortens life" says, Dr. Russell K. Portenoy, of the Beth Israel Medical Center, New York.

Dr. Portenoy and his colleagues examined the relationship between opioid use and survival using data from the National Hospice Outcomes Project (NHOP).

After analysis of all the factors, opioid use accounted for very little in differences of times of death. He believes that opioid therapy by itself contributes very little to the time before death occurs in hospice programs.

"Opioid drugs," Portenoy concludes "can be used aggressively at the end of life to relieve pain and suffering, and this use should not be constrained by inappropriate fear of serious consequences like earlier death".

Sunday, 11 February 2007

Do You Prefer Healthful Foods Over Medicines?

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A new survey reveals that most people prefer to treat diabetes by changing their diets, rather than using medicines.

According to a survey of 1,022 adults (515 women and 507 men), 69% of Americans would prefer to try a dietary approach, whereas only 21% preferred treating diabetes with medicines. The survey reinforces results from clinical research on diabetes, which has consistently found that people with diabetes adapt well to low-fat vegetarian diets and gain important health benefits. A dietary approach to diabetes based on scientific research shows that a low-fat vegan diet can lower high blood sugar levels three times more effectively than oral medications.

Among the results: women are even more likely than men to prefer food changes over pills. People with more education and higher incomes were especially likely to favor a diet approach. For the financially savvy - this makes a lot of sense. You MUST buy food. You might as well buy healthier foods and curtail your Rx costs. Furthermore, Americans aged 45 to 64 were more enthusiastic about diet changes, compared with older Americans. I'll bet it's the convenience factor. A little less medication, a little more supper, please. The most pill-happy generation was the 18- to 24-year-olds. Don't look at me like that - I'm 28 and favor the flavor over medication, any day. Bon appetit!

What does the Vagas Nerve have to do with Diabetes?

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According to scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, interrupting nerve signals to the liver can prevent diabetes and hypertension in mice.

Mice were treated to become diabetic with glucocorticoids, a class of steroid hormones characterized by an ability to bind with the cortisol receptor. Once diabetes was established, the researchers surgically removed the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is the only nerve that starts in the brainstem and extends all the way down to the abdomen. More impressive is the fact that once the nerve was removed from the diabetic mice, insulin resistance and high blood pressure was prevented or reversed. This is an interesting discovery because people with asthma, arthritis, and organ transplants often rely on steroid treatments. It just so happens that many of them go on to develop insulin resistance.

Don't go ripping your vagus nerve out just yet. A fun fact about the vagus nerve is that it's name is taken from the Latin word meaning "wanderer". The vagal nerve pathway can influence seizures, depression and other disorders. Although the research is thoroughly enlightening, it is still very green. Hang on to your vagus nerve while the research continues.

Vagus nerve inerference may prevent diabetes and hypertension

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Who knew that all it took was removing the vagus nerve to prevent or reverse the development of insulin resistance. Wait -- what the hell is the vagus nerve? Turns out that it is a rather important nerve communicates with with just about everything in your body. It's truly no wonder that the terms 'vagus' itself is derived from the Latin word meaning "wanderer." And, thanks to researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, it has been found to play a very important role in preventing both diabetes and hypertension.

The scientists published their findings in the February issue of the journal Cell Metabolism, first pointing to a nuclear receptor they had previously highlighted called PPAR-Alpha (Ppara). This receptor had been shown to be necessary for the induction of both hypertension and diabetes when lab mice were treated with steroids. Considering that steroids are commonly prescribed for people who ave asthma, arthritis, and organ transplants, it has been suggested that this treatment has lead to insulin resistance and, in some cases, result in diabetes.

However, in the research team's most recent study, they found that both the Ppara and the vagus nerve play a significant role in the development of diabetes and hypertension. It appears as though by removing the vagus nerve, the risk of developing these disorders in response to steroid treatment, even if they have Ppara.

While the research on the interruption of nerve signals to the liver has only been performed on mice thus far, scientists are hopeful that their results will also hold true for humans.

Mid-air crash involving radio host had diabetes link, contend US lawyers

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Vehicle crashes happen all the time. Crashes involving diabetic drivers who lose control at the wheel are just a small minority of those crashes, but they also seem to happen with alarming frequency. Just sifting through recent news this morning I found two examples, one in Wisconsin and one in the UK. But here's a less-common scenario: a diabetic losing control at the wheel of a plane. US lawyers blame pilot and radio host Bob Collins (pictured) for the mid-air collision that occurred near Waukegan seven years ago. The crash killed Collins as well as his passengers and the pilot of the other plane.

It's sad that now, years later, the government and the victims' families are still wrangling over who is to blame for the tragedy. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the families blame the Federal Aviation Administration, saying the safety equipment at Waukegan Regional Airport was inadequate. They are suing the government. Government lawyers, however, contend that Collins is to blame: that he was in poor health due to his diabetes and that he should not have been flying. The Sun-Times describes the testimony at trial of Collins' widow, Christine. According to her, Bob's diabetes was under control. She maintains he was < em>not having problems with shortness of breath or vision - the kinds of diabetes-related complaints that could possibly have caused the crash. Bob Collins was the host of a show on the radio station WGN. Stay tuned to see how this case pans out.

Fishing for Drugs

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A Harvard Medical School scientist's experiments with fish discarded along the coast near Boston have led to a new class of diabetes drugs. The latest, from Novartis, may get U.S. approval this week.

In the late 1970s, Habener, a doctor specializing in diabetes care, began buying discarded fish to learn about the ways animals controlled blood sugar. By 1987 Habener discovered a protein in the pancreas of anglerfish that tells the pancreas to produce insulin. He called it glucagon-like peptide-1, or GLP-1. In 1995, researchers uncovered another use for Habener's discovery to treat diabetes. The scientists found an enzyme that digests GLP. By blocking the enzyme, they could increase the body's reserves of GLP, thereby raising insulin levels. Twenty years later, we will soon have the pleasure of meeting Novartis' concept for this chronology of discoveries in the form of liraglutide.

In clinical trials, patients taking liraglutide attained normal blood sugars without the common side effect of weight gain. In fact, liraglutide was more likely to make the patients slightly leaner. Depending on dosage and length of treatment, it may help patients to lose weight. The drug does not cause a change in appetite. Furthermore, none of the liraglutide patients experienced episodes of low blood sugar levels throughout the trials.

I'm no fisherman, but if all the seagulls of Big Pharma are swarming overhead - there's bound to be a school of fish below. However, this school is quite competitive. At last count, the five largest diabetic drug makers are using Habener's findings to create new medicines.

Is Congress listening? Experts urge funding for Native American kids

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An issue in dire need of attention - climbing rates of Type 2 diabetes amongst Native Americans - has made it to Washington. Experts on diabetes and its impact on Native Americans went to Washington Thursday to basically beg for money to continue with the treatment and prevention programs currently in place.

Charles Grim, head of the Indian Health Service, testified yesterday to the Senate In dian Affairs Committee (SIAC) about the disastrous impact diabetes is having in Native American (aka American Indian) and Alaska Native communities. "In some communities, the prevalence rate is as high as 60 percent among adults," said Grim. But the scariest thing is how fast diabetes is spreading amongst younger people. According to the Indian Health Service, diabetes grew by 128 percent amongst teenagers between 1990 and 2004. It also affected many more younger children, but not as badly: the rate of increase for the same period was 77 percent for kids younger than fifteen.

In addition to the testimony of Grim, two North Dakota physicians also spoke at the hearing, urging the SIAC to renew funding for prevention and treatment programs that are currently due to expire next year. Said one of the docs, "We don't want history to repeat itself." The other, Dr. Biron Baker of Bismark, ND, was openly critical of ongoing efforts to stem the spread of diabetes, saying " Administrative ineptitude within the Indian Health Service is a glaring problem."

I guess the answer to the question "Is Congress listening?" is yes. Problem is, those in government who want to help have to come up with money for these programs. Then there are those who take a more cautious approach before they'll approve treatment and prevention programs. People like Wyoming Republican Craig Thomas, who was quoted as saying he wants to see evidence that current programs are effective before throwing his weight behind proposals to improve services. Funny how the money is always available for other pet projects and disastrous wars, but not for stuff like public health programs...

Warning - the following story is Horrendous!

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Warning: the following blog deserves a strong caveat. I am utterly disgusted by the event leading to the story but nonetheless, I will convey the gist of it as tactfully as possible. A drunken diabetic who brutally raped a woman while in a hypoglycaemic state has been jailed indefinitely.

Steven Graham, a 20 year old from the UK, met his victim as she walked home one evening. Graham admitted to drinking 15 beers and skipping his evening injection. He reportedly suffers from a "Jekyll and Hyde" personality disorder. He had the audacity to pleas his behavior was due to the fact he was suffering a hypoglycaemic attack.

Prosecutors obtained a report which described hypoglycemia as causing mild mannered people to behave violent and abusive. They also may seem to have superhuman strength. Graham's attorney told the court: "Hypoglycaemia is one of those conditions capable of transforming honest and decent people into violent and aggressive people." Excuse me, but hypoglycemia can transform honest and decent people into disoriented honest and decent people. It does not transform them into superhuman strength rapists. Call me stupid -- but wouldn't those conditions to which he referred be psychological?

The Judge ruled the facts of this case clearly demonstrate Graham is capable of extreme violence and he is a danger to women. Justice is served.

Got fifteen minutes?

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You know how those infomercials for exercise machines or workout dvds always say "JUST A FEW MINUTES A DAY IS ALL IT TAKES!!!" Well, who thought it could be true? Not me. Oh, so cynical! Okay, so maybe a few minutes a day won't get you a figure like Jessica Biel or Justin (if that's your cup of tea...). However, it is worthwhile and just fifteen minutes daily could even be enough to help prevent or fight Type 2 diabetes, according to the results of a new study from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Specifically, the study found that even short periods of reasonably vigorous exercise significantly increases insulin sensitivity. The study was conducted on rats, but you get the picture. "Many people can fight type II diabetes through diet and exercise alone," says John Thyfault, lead author of the study (forthcoming, American Journal of Physiology-Cell).

So what's newsworthy about this, you ask? Well, exercise is good. I think we all agree on that. But it's a matter of ongoing debate exactly how much lifestyle change, including exercise, is required to fight diabetes. This study is valuable because it adds to the body of evidence suggesting that it really doesn't take all that much exercise to have a positive effect.

Now for the implications: if the American public can be convinced you don't have to work out like Schwarzenegger to maintain good health, maybe quite a few people out there could avoid diabetes. And that could save a lot of human suffering, not to mention a lotta money otherwise spent on medical care.

Every toenail tells a story

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Diabetes can do a lot of harm to your feet. The worst case scenario is severe nerve or tissue damage necessitating amputation. Early intervention is critical for avoiding this drastic measure, and researchers are looking at various ways in which this can be done. A brand new example of this kind of research comes courtesy of the foot docs at CLEAR - Scholl's Center for Lower Extremity Ambulatory Research at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, which is located in Chicago. CLEAR researchers found that nearly three out of four diabetics who ar e at high risk for amputation have diseased toenails. The finding was announced recently at a conference for the American Academy of Dermatology, being held in Washington, DC.

Says co-author of the study, Stephanie Wu, the study helped confirm what many suspected but was previously unproven. "It appears," said Dr. Wu, "that if you have certain pre-existing risk factors for amputation coupled with a clinically diseased nail, chances are you have a significant fungal infection based on laboratory cultures." It is hoped that this knowledge can help prevent amputations by helping physicians identify those who are at risk more quickly than might have previously been the case.

Overeating Overtime -- Too Much to Handle

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Overeating can shut down a natural brain function that is key to preventing common cardiovascular and diabetic diseases..

Researchers found that chronic overeating can overwhelm the neural pathway that regulates the amount of fats flowing into the bloodstream from the liver. The liver is partly responsible for regulating fats entering the blood stream. It produces triglyceride fats the body can turn into LDL (bad) cholesterol, which can cause arteriosclerosis and blood vessel blockage. Glucose can enter the brain when levels are elevated in the bloodstream. When glucose enters the brain, it is broken down into an acidic substance known as lactate. Lactate signals the liver to stop making fat. It appears that chronic overeating can overwhelm the brain's ability to metabolize glucose into lactate. When lactate is no longer produced -- the signal to stop the liver from releasing fat into the blood stops, too. As small arteries get clogged, they create the circulatory problems common in type 2 diabetes, linked to overeating, obesity, and limb amputations.

Smaller portions, less glucose in the brain, better traffic flow. After all - nobody likes getting mixed signals. Let's do all we can to keep the lines of communimcation (and our arteries) open.

Chiropractors adjusting Diabetes Control

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Researchers are finding evidence that chiropractic adjustments could enhance diabetes control.

The study focused on the positive response chiropractic adjustments contributed in the care of a patient with adult onset diabetes. The chiropractic care was directed toward correcting misalignments in the spine, called vertebral subluxations. Vertebral subluxation is a chiropractic term to describe a myriad of symptoms thought to occur as a result of a misaligned spinal segment. However, specifically for this patient, it was the vertebral relationship governing his nervous system and endocrine organs. After one month of being on the program, the patient's glucose levels had normalized in both the blood and urine. His medical doctor, who monitored his progress, said the patient would not need insulin if the condition remained stable.

The study was one of several projects exploring the impact of vertebral subluxations on human health and well-being. For more than 100 years, chiropractors have maintained that what they do affects organ system function and general health. Case studies like this demonstrate the urgency for more research on chiropractic and its effects beyond neck and back pain.

Sunday Seven: Seven positive thoughts about chemotherapy

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Luanne Austin says chemotherapy is not all it's cracked up to be. She doesn't mean it's cracked up to be something really great but is far from such a thing. She means it's cracked up to be something pretty horrible but is really not all that bad.

Austin says the day her doctor announced she would receive chemotherapy was almost as bad as the day she learned she had breast cancer. That's because she had heard nothing but bad things about the treatment. She expected to be laying in bed with her life in the balance -- nauseated, vomiting, sick -- as the "cure" killed her.

All expectations aside, Austin decided to tackle chemotherapy with a positive attitude. This may seem a daunting task -- turning a dreaded chemotherapy protocol into a not-so-bad experience -- but Austin mastered the task. And here are seven of her positive thoughts about a treatment that is not all it's cracked up to be.
  • Austin talked to people who had traveled journeys similar to hers. What she learned is that many women continued working through treatment. Some suffered very few side effects. One woman even told Austin her experience was super. Austin was inspired by the positive women she tracked down. And now she inspires others.
  • Austin did some reading. She learned that chemotherapy drugs target quickly-dividing cells, like cancer cells, red and white blood cells, blood platelets, and digestive tract cells. Learning about the process helped her realize chemotherapy was intended to make her well, not make her suffer.
  • Austin learned how to support her body through treatment. She came to understand that the best chance of surviving breast cancer comes from conventional medicine -- surgery, chemotherapy, radiation -- but that alternative treatments can complement the traditional approach. She recommends the book Breast Cancer: Beyond Convention and considers her pursuit of a healthy diet, exercise, supplements, and a good night's sleep some of her most helpful chemotherapy add-ons.
  • When Austin felt weak, tired, and just plain zoned out, she retreated to her bed with a good book and a cup of tea. Instead of considering it a setback, she called this downtime a good excuse to spend hours reading.
  • Austin found relief from her nurses. They were terrific, she recalls, and professional and friendly and respectful too. Getting to know her medical crew -- and receiving hugs from them at the end of her treatment -- confirmed chemotherapy has some good points.
  • For Austin, God -- who carried her through her whole journey -- was instrumental in her positive outlook. She felt lifted up and carried, she says.
  • And then there's love -- pure and simple love from her husband and family members -- that allows her to conclude that chemotherapy is not so bad. "I'd have to say chemotherapy hasn't been all that bad," she says. "Not bad at all."