Friday, 11 May 2007

Job stress might contribute to diabetes

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I might have come up with the perfect excuse to get more sick days from work. A recent study published in Psychosomatic Medicine found that job-related stress may boost the risk of Type 2 diabetes as much as the well-known risk factors of high body-mass index, smoking, and poor exercise regimens.

We have been hearing for years that job stress can be a cause of, or contributing factor toward, a variety of illnesses, and this is just one more thing to add to the list. Researchers speculated that people who do not cope well with job stress might also not be coping well with other stressors in life, and might have bad compensating habits such as smoking and overeating.

Techniques for reducing stress might, then, be a life-saving tool. It will make you feel better overall, and reduce your risk of developing a number of illnesses. Here are some tips that I find helpful for relieving stress:1. A daily "stillness" practice. Some might call it spiritual practice, but it need not be religious to have the desired effect. Meditation, prayer, reading an inspirational book, or listening to music can all quiet your mind.

2. Listening to music. Different types of music evoke different feelings. Use music to create the mood that you desire. Be open to trying different kinds of music; my husband is educating me on the joys of classical music, and while I still can't listen to it for hours, a little here and there can be calming.

3. Take mini-breaks at work. A minute or two alone in the staff room, going to the bathroom on a different floor, getting a breath of fresh air, or even having a glass of water can all re-energize you.

4. Stretching, yoga, or tai chi. I know, I know, everybody preaches about the benefits of these gentle, yet challenging exercises, but they really do work to revitalize the body and the mind.

Come up with your own list of stress-reduction techniques; it will make you calmer, happier, and healthier.

Sex Survey - Answers from Women

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Diabetes Health surveyed women about the effects of diabetes on your sex life and how you overcome the hurdles. Be forewarned, some parts are R-rated, but that's what you came for, right?

Half of the people surveyed say they have difficulty relaxing during sex. Only 19% say that plain awkwardness due to diabetes is more distracting than any physical changes. Dr.Grace Beltran (Amazing Grace) describes the Anatomy of a Female Orgasm quite clearly. She says: sensorial impulses shoot up your spinal cord to special parts of your brain called the sensory cortex and the limbic system (the emotional brain), which is when you experience the euphoria of reaching Mt. Orgasmus. Many diabetes drugs can cause B vitamin insufficiencies and malabsorption (look for "malaise" on the side effects).

56% take no special steps before sex due to diabetes, although 57% of you feel that sex is harder because of diabetes, and 24% of you say that sex is just too difficult because of diabetes. (See Amazing Grace's roadmap to the Anatomy of a Female Orgasm, above).

Durable goods: About 20% of you who wear a pump say it's interfered with sex and gotten tangled up during sex (true), but 27% of you detach your pump before sex. I can see how an insulin pump might get a little cumbersome when gravity and inertia come into play - but that's when your partner really shines.

The Eros-CDT is an appliance for increasing blood flow to the clitoris. 33% of ladies surveyed would ask their doctor about it, but 27% would not use it no matter what. 27% use a vibrator during sex with your partner. Wouldn't an Eros-CDT and a vibrator be one in the same? Let Nationwide Insurance pickup the tab for your Jack Rabbit. A friend told me they are happy to pay for any claim as long as you can prove you own it with the Owners Manual.

About 20% of you have tried Viagra, and it's helped about half of the women who have tried it. 27% of you have noticed numbness in the clitoral area that you attribute to neuropathy. Forget the pills, ladies. Get on the horn with your insurance company and demand the right to clitoral stimulation!!

Finally, it's apparently worse to be old than to be diabetic: 39% of you have found menopause to be a bigger issue than diabetes when it comes to sex. And 80% of you want more articles about how to deal with diabetes-caused sexual problems.

So now we know. Diabetes Health will be running more articles about sex and diabetes, so keep your curiosity piqued and your eyes open - this is the first survey result but it will certainly NOT be the last.

Your Story at "Six Until Me"

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Blogs are everywhere these days. Hell, there seem to be about a hundred that run along the right side of this page; with topics ranging from Cinema to Wireless Technology. Oh yeah, and don't forget about us here at the Life Science blogs, covering news and info dealing with cancer, cardiovascular health, and diabetes. But, these are OUR stories. Well, maybe not directly -- but we are the people that are passing along the information here on these blogs. What about YOUR story? Well, now there's a chance for you to talk about your experience with diabetes, and the forum to do so is based off of a very well known and respected diabetes blog called Six Until Me (www.sixuntilme.com).

Separate from the main page blog, the new Your Story page allows readers to email their contributions and have them published on the site, thereby fostering an even greater sense of community and support among readers. And "stories" appears to be a pretty loose term, as it is made clear on the site that you can contribute anything diabetes related that you feel the world would benefit from knowing. Pictures, videos, poems, antecdotes, and of course, actual stories can be emailed to: story@sixuntilme.com

I encourage you to vist Six Until Me and spend some time navagating the site. Unlike much of what I write on TheDiabetesBlog, the content on Six Until Me is less diabetes medical/research-based and more centered on daily living with diabetes. The highs, the lows (both figuratively and literally), the good, the bad, and even the ugly -- it's all covered by the site's author with humor and elequence. Now, with the addition of the Your Story section of Six Until Me, your own stories, musings, rants, and tales of personal triumph can also be told.

Michael Moore will take HMOs to task in 'Sicko'

Say what you will about Michael Moore, there's little debate that the guy knows how to make a documentary. Being a filmmaker myself (though I have only worked with narrative projects, not documentaries), I can only imagine the amount of pre-production effort he must go through to eventually pull-off his theater of involuntary candor. Talk around his soon-to-be-released new documentary Sicko, which focuses on the ills of the health care system in the U.S., has already turned, well, Michael Moore-ish; to the point where threats from the U.S. Government have been made for violations of the trade embargo with Cuba.

Um....What? My response was just that after taking a cursory look at an article on Yahoo. But, upon further examination, I found that Moore flew 10 workers, all of whom had worked in the post-9/11 cleanup effort, to Cuba to receive medical treatment. Evidently, the point of doing so was to demonstrate the benefits of a socialized health care system, and how these workers have been neglected by HMO systems here in the U.S. The new documentary, Sicko, was born out of Moore's earlier presentation of a mock funeral he staged in front of a health maintenance organization for his TV show "Awful Truth." In this mock funeral, he took the HMO to task for declining to perform a pancreas transplantation for a man with diabetes.

Moore has been assailed by critics from both sides of the political spectrum, mostly for his alleged penchant for distorting facts in favor of entertainment and shock value. Whether or not this will be the case with Sicko remains to be seen. Be that all is it may, though, I am a firm believer that where there is smoke there is fire,; and in the case of the health care system, there's a blazing inferno -- something that Michael Moore couldn't have possibly started or exacerbated by himself, despite what his critics might claim.

What Came First...The Diabetes or the Depression?

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Self-report studies are known for sometimes being inaccurate, chiefly because too much responsibility is placed on the respondents. Oftentimes people forget, overestimate, underestimate or do a host of other things that result in partially or wholly inaccurate reporting. There's also something known as The Testing Effect; a situation wherein people answer a question a particular way because they feel it is the answer the test-giver is looking for. So, in sum, self-report studies aren't really the best source for data collection. I mention all of this because it was a self-report study that researchers recently used to link symptoms of depression with the development of diabetes in older adults.

Researchers from Northwestern University studied a group of over 4,600 participants who were at least 65 years of age or older and did not have diabetes at the outset of the experiment in 1989. Each year for ten years, the participants were evaluated for symptoms of depression, based on the participants' response to survey questions. Also recorded each year were clinical measures that would indicate the development of diabetes.

The researchers found that as the participants reported feelings of depression as the years went on, an increase in participants who developed diabetes occurred.

Now, aside from the problems related to the self-report study, I also wonder how the researchers can be so sure that the depression lead to the diabetes. In fact, it seems to make more sense (at least to me) that the diabetes led to the depression. A person contracting a life-altering disease such as diabetes certainly wouldn't add joy to their life, so it stands to reason that it would instead make them a bit -- if not very -- depressed. I'm no scientist, but this correlation seems to make much more sense to me.

Glaucoma risk in type 2 diabetes

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A study has found that there is a link between Type 2 diabetes and glaucoma that is not related to lifestyle behaviors.

The loss of one's sight can be a devastating consequence of diabetes, but I think that even more devastating for some people could be the feeling that they have done something wrong, something to cause their illness. Studies like these are invaluable in letting us know the risk factors but also that there are things we can change and some things we have to be aware of, but that we cannot change by lifestyle alteration alone.

The 20-year study of women in the Nurses' Health Study has shown that Type 2 diabetes is associated with primary open angle glaucoma (POAG), the most common form of glaucoma. POAG accounts for about 60 - 70% of all glaucoma. The study took into consideration the lifestyle factors that leads to both glaucoma and diabetes (such as hypertension, body mass index, physical activity, alcohol intake, smoking and family history of glaucoma) and showed that type 2 diabetes was positively associated with POAG. The study was done on women who did not have POAG at the start of the study and who were at least forty years old.

It is very important for diabetics to have regular eye exams and, according to this study, to also be screened for glaucoma.

How Sweet it Is

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Not to the be purveyor of bad news, but every thirty seconds someone somewhere in the world undergoes amputation for a diabetic foot ulcer. Because people with diabetes often have poor circulation and a diminished ability to battle against infection, diabetic ulcers typically form in areas with open sores -- ending in many cases with the need to amputate.

But, this may all be changed in the future, thanks in large part to researchers at the University of Wisconsin Health Eau Clair Family Medical clinic, and to a very natural cure: Honey.

The first randomized, double-blind controlled trial examining the efficacy of treating diabetic ulcers with honey is soon to take place at the UW clinic. The researchers are hopeful that their results will prove favorable, as honey was used by one of the UW doctors to successfully treat a patient years ago who was facing amputation after all other medical options had proved unsuccessful.

Currently, diabetic ulcers are treated with antibiotics. But, the problem is, after a while the ulcers become colonized with drug-resistant organisms, thereby rendering the antibiotics ineffectual. Honey, however, is essentially immune to resistance, making it a powerful agent against infection.

Doctors hope that the use of honey may help prevent the exacerbation of diabetic ulcers, but also stress that successful care also involves avoiding walking and putting weight on the sore, and also the sterile removal of dead skin and bacteria from the wound.

$120 Million to Stop the Spread

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Diabetes is making a name for itself and it's spreading like wildfire. Politicians are uniting to build a $120 million campaign to educate diabetics to prevent the spread of the disease and its complications.

Senator Clinton criticizes the reaction to the problem, rather than taking measures to prevent it from occurring. She questions why current money is unquestionably $pent on treating complications from diabetes -- such as amputations and dialysis. Good point, Senator. Ask Bush if he's got any friends up at Eli Lilly. A good answer can always be found in a temporary restraining order. She and fellow politicians propose more money be spent on programs for weight-loss, nutrition education and other preventive efforts to best curtail the growing number of diabetics in the United States.

The legislation proposed would provide $90 million to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of Diabetes Translation for diabetes surveillance, research and educational activities. It would also allot $30 million for three four-year projects that would examine how best to translate diet and exercise interventions into effective clinical practice.

Easy ways to control your salt intake

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Sodium is everywhere these days ... don't you agree? Reading the food labels while perusing the grocery store, I'm usually shocked to see massive amounts of sodium in so-called "healthy" foods like soup. Those on a diet seem to be particularly susceptible -- the flavour lost by taking out fat is usually made up for with salt. Check the labels on some "healthy" frozen entrees if you don't believe me. The recommended salt intake for adults is 1,000 mg a day and no more than 3,000 mg -- some frozen entrees have upwards of 800 mg!

So whether you're on a diet, a medically-imposed eating plan or just want to make the healthiest choices for you and your family, check out this article from the Canadian Heart and Stroke foundation ... it has a number of tips for watching your salt intake.

My favourite way to add flavour without adding sodium is by using fresh herbs like garlic and dill. What's yours?

Stroke Triggers Brain Recovery Process

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During a stroke, it is common for a primary function area of the brain to be disrupted. In efforts to compensate for this disruption, the brain sort of kicks into high gear to help reorganize motor and cognitive ability. In some cases, this is the beginning of the recovery process.

Researchers from the University of Oxford took a good, hard look into this "backup" brain region, and how it comes to the aid of the brain during a stroke. Focusing on the region of the brain known as the dorsal premotor cortex (which is known to govern the selection of an action), the researchers used magnetic pulses to stimulate and briefly disrupt one hemisphere of the brain and observed how the other hemisphere reacted. They found that during this disruption, the opposite hemisphere dorsal premotor cortex increased activity to compensate.

A better understanding of this compensatory process may assist doctors in treating stroke patients. For further information, visit www.neuron.org and look for an article titled "Functionally Specific Reorganization in Human Premotor Cortex."

No more fat-free dieting?!?

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Scientists have found a way for mice to eat whatever kind and however much fat in their diets and still not run any risk of getting heart disease. They deleted the gene that produces the enzyme ACAT2, which usually works in the body by converting cholesterol and other fats into forms that stick more easily and sometimes end up causing blocked vessels.

Of course, like all studies based on mice, there's no word yet if the same principles will hold true in people. The hope is obviously that it does, and that a drug can be developed to inhibit the enzyme in humans, therefore reducing or maybe even eliminating a person's risk for developing heart disease.

Here's to hoping! That would big.

Coping with cravings

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In so many diet articles, it says not to limit any foods, or you will crave them and binge on them later on. Who writes these things - skinny people who can eat just one cookie? I would love to include potato chips in my diet, but I have to eat the whole bag. No, really, I HAVE to eat the whole bag.

In the sane and healthy part of my brain, I think that not restricting any foods is probably a very good idea. It appeals to that part of me that wants to be balanced in all things. The trouble is, I tend to fall over when I balance too much. The problem lies in the whole issue of cravings. Our bodies are designed to send out signals that let us know when we are deficient in something, but we've probably lost the ability to recognize it. What could our bodies possibly need, that they would crave fast-food burgers? Cravings are psychological. Sight and smell play a big part in our cravings, as does our inner two-year-old. We want to parent and soothe our inner child, instead of kicking its whiny butt. Is not the whole point of growing older to get rid of childish behaviors?

I believe the route to go is to say, "I am addicted to ____, and even one will make me fall off the wagon," and then never eat it again. It may seem harsh, but we are probably not hard enough on ourselves. We believe that if we cannot have the thing we crave, then we will die, explode, waste away, or not get enough love.

But we will not. We will grow, be disciplined, and be healthier.
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Dr. Dean Ornish on genes and health

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While I was surfing the 'net the other day, I followed a link to A Fat Rant. It's basically a monologue by a woman who's overweight and tired of feeling bad about it. While I applaud her sentiment that we should feel good about the skin we're in and cheer her refusal to go on a "diet," there was something she said that I didn't agree with:

"The secret to staying thin? Choose two thin parents. Ideally, choose four thin grandparents, as well."

There's been a lot of talk lately about the connection between genetics and good health. Heart disease, diabetes, and obesity have all been found to have a family connection. A recent study found that 20% of Caucasians carry a gene variation that puts them at greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease and another study found that 50% of white Europeans carried a gene defect that put them at risk for obesity.I'm no scientist, so I'm not about to refute scientific evidence. But I think there's a danger in putting all of our eggs in the DNA basket. While it's true that we can't all be leggy models or have perfect six pack abs, having obesity or heart disease or anything else written in our genetic code should not become an excuse to give up altogether. Joy, from A Fat Rant, weights 224. She also exercises and claims to eat sensibly, and understands she may not ever see a size that isn't found in the plus department. But if you weigh 224 because your favorite food group is junk food and your sneakers never leave your shoe rack, then blaming your weight on your genes may be pointing your finger in the wrong direction.

That's why I loved this column by Dr. Dean Ornish. He actually is a scientist, and very eloquently writes about why genes are only a part of the story. My favorite quote is this one, from Dr. David Heber of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition:

"Genes load the gun, but environment pulls the trigger. The idea that it's all in your genes is nonsense. The human genome changes only one half of one percent every million years. The obesity epidemic is only about 30 years old, so changes in genes do not explain the recent dramatic rise in obesity, not only in this country but also worldwide."

Dr. Ornish says that what genes do actually do is dictate whether you need to make little changes or very large changes in your lifestyle to prevent developing problems, but whether it's an "ounce of prevention" or a "pound of cure," most people can control their risk factors to protect their health.

Doctors Prescribe Exercise

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Keeping your heart healthy...that's the goal. The ticker needs to keep ticking, and it's really up to no one but you to make sure that happens. Fortunately, there are a myriad of resources out there for you to tap; from websites like www.fitday.com to such books as Bill Phillips' Body for Life. Diet, exercise, stress management -- there's info. out there about all of it. It's just up to you to look. Fortunately, doctors are really starting to take a more proactive approach to keeping their patients healthy, so you may not have to go at the whole getting healthy thing completely alone. In fact, two family physicians from the University of Michigan Health System have published a practical guide for primary care clinicians to use in helping their sedentary patients become more active.

As one of the authors stated, "Sitting still is making people sick. We know that a sedentary lifestyle contributes to chronic disease and conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, major depression, and some types of cancer." The amount of inactivity in the U.S., coupled with increasingly poor diets, has resulted in drastic spike in conditions that the author spoke of, as well as a score of others. This is why it is so very important that we implement some form of exercise into our daily lives. It doesn't have to be an hour at the gym or bunch of laps around a track. It could be something far more basic, yet still provide the health benefits needed to help stave off illness and overall physical deterioration.

The U-M authors suggest at least doing the following:

~ Take a 10 minute walk during your lunch break.

~ Organize a walking group with friend or family members and take strolls together.

~ Walk on a treadmill while tuning into your favorite TV shows.

~ Walk to work, or if possible, park as far away from the entrance to your building as you can.

~ Walk inside a local mall, many of which open early for this very purpose.

~ Take the stairs instead of the elevator.

Even these low and moderate-intensity exercises will benefit your heart and overall health. As important as things like your car, your house, your big-screen TV, your boat, and whatever else you consider valuable may be to you, the single-most important thing should be your health. Without it, you unfortunately will not get to enjoy these other things for the amount of time you probably want to.

Cured meats not only bad for your heart

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Our awareness of what foods are "bad" for us grow every day. We realize that processed foods are not a good choice and most of us avoid these, thinking of our cardiovascular health. A recently completed study gives us even more incentive to stay away from cured meats in particular.

The eating habits of 7,352 individuals with an average age of 64.5 were studied by the US researchers investigating diet and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). All those involved participated in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a major US health investigation conducted between 1988 and 1994.

These researchers found that eating cured meats such as bacon, sausage and cured hams increased the study participants risk of developing COPD by fifty percent. The participants ate cured meats an average of 14 times a month and was compared to a control group who ate none.




COPD can not be cured and is one of the most common lung conditions in the developing world. The study surmises that it is the nitrites that are used in curing the meats that cause structural changes that resemble emphysema.

These findings show an association between eating cured meats and COPD and more research will be done to show a direct causal link. Smoking is still the number one cause of COPD, but this gives a possible explanation for those cases of COPD not caused by smoking.

A vegetarian I will never be, but I am certainly going to cut down even more on my cured meat consumption!

You May Not Be Getting the Whole Story

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Just a quick tidbit of information to help you out during your next trip to the supermarket...

You're just about done with your shopping; you've picked up your healthy fruits and vegetables, did your best to stay in the parameter of the store (because you've learned that most of the healthy food is located there, whereas much of the junk food can be found shelved in the middle area of the store), and now you're looking for some healthy, whole wheat bread.

"Oh, look at that one," you say to yourself. "It's a nice, rich, brown color. That must be very healthy." Is it? Maybe, but maybe not. The trick that many food manufacturers are playing these days when it comes to bread is that they will label their product as being Whole Wheat, when in fact it only contains a small amount of whole wheat flour. Instead, it is made from enriched flour (the same kind found in white bread) and is colored with a caramelized dye -- hence the rich, brown color.

The key to finding healthy bread is to scrutinize the nutritional label. Under the ingredients, Whole Wheat should be the first thing that is listed. As you probably already know, these nutritional items are listed in order of abundance -- so, if whole wheat is the fifth or sixth thing listed, be advised that the bread your holding isn't whole wheat. Using that same approach, if Whole Wheat is the first item listed in the ingredients, then you have found yourself some honest-to-goodness whole wheat bread.

You can also look for packaging that lists their bread as being "100% Whole Wheat" or "100% Whole Grain," which also signifies that the product is legit. But, I would still err on the side of caution and check the ingredients.

Oh yeah, and on a separate note -- there unfortunately is no such thing as a "Healthier Twinkie," regardless of what the label may say.

Meet a new TCB blogger: Brian White

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Greetings to regular (and new!) readers of The Cancer Blog. I'm Brian and I've been writing in the natural health and green living industries for a few years now, along with other health and wellness arenas. One of my passions in living life to the fullest and with the best fuel (nutrition) you can give you body is examining the causes of several diseases -- with the top one being cancer.

I've helped relatives and a other close friends deal with cancer for a while now and have seen unbelievable strength of spirit and human resilience from those people. Cancer sufferers and survivors are some of the strongest people I've ever known, which makes it an honor and a privilege to be writing here soon.

While I'm big on raw and natural nutrition as a way to help prevent cancer, the variables that bring it into our lives are much more complex than that. With that said, I have no doubt I'll learn way more from you than I can humbly state in my upcoming posts here. I hope to be as capable in my efforts as I know many of the readers of The Cancer Blog already are (and have been).

Best,

Brian White
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A fountain of youth for your heart?

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Ischemic heart disease (reduced blood flow to the heart) is the world's leading cause of death. And it's getting to be an even greater concern as the Baby Boomer population ages and it's numbers steadily increase.

Experts already knew that as a heart gets older it becomes less and less resistant to damage from a heart attack, but now they have identified some promising reasons why. With this new information they are working on ways to make older hearts healthier, more resilient, and more like younger hearts. If heart disease can be managed more effectively then heart attacks will be less serious, and then of course people can live longer healthier lives!

High school student finds iPods interfere with pacemakers

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Though the average iPod user likely isn't also using a pacemaker, a recent study found that the portable music device may interfere with a pacemaker's function, which could lead to physicians misdiagnosing heart function.

Interestingly, the question was originally asked by a 17-year-old high school student from Michigan, whose physician parents eventually set him up with researcher friend of the family who conducted the study at Michigan State University. What they found was that when an iPod was held 2 inches from the chest for 5 to 10 seconds, it interfered with the pacemaker's functioning about 50% of the time. In one instance, it made the pacemaker quit working altogether.

No other kind of music player was used in the study and the issue obviously needs more study, especially to see if iPods or other music players interfere with other kinds of equipment.

Doll helps kids understand breast cancer

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Kim Goebel was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999, at the age of 43. Her sister Kris noticed a lot of moms saying "How am I going to tell my kids?"

Partners for a Cure Foundation was founded by the sisters and they began planning a doll and a book to familiarize children with the physical and emotional effects of cancer treatment. The dolls are soft and lovable but depict the hard truth in a special way so that the kids will be less scared of what is happening with their mom's treatment process.

Each doll's hair comes off to reveal a bald head. Each has a scarf, which many women use to cover their head during cancer treatments, and a short-haired wig to show how Mommy's hair will look when it begins to grow back. This doll depicted is the Caucasian doll but also available is an an African American, Asian, Hispanic and American Indian doll.

There is also available a 36-page illustrated book, Mommy and Me...Taking Care of Each Other.

Sadly, Kim lost her battle with breast cancer in May 2004, happily though she got to see the first prototype for the dolls.

Visit Kimmiecares.com to find out more about the dolls and books.

I really think this is a great idea!

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Thought for the Day: Sending bras of hope

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My husband came up with this idea he thought I should pursue. Why not contact the makers of bras, he suggested, and encourage them to sew some kind of pink ribbon or inspirational message inside these undergarments so women are reminded of the importance of breast health every time they get dressed? Because I don't have enough time right now, I told him, thinking maybe one day when my two little boys are all grown up and I have time for myself I will focus my energy on some worthwhile cause.

A few days after my husband shared his brainstorm with me, I read about a woman who has spearheaded a project very similar to the one he was dreaming of. Great minds think alike.

Think about this:

Fatima Karriem is using her own breast cancer experience to educate women in her homeland: South Africa.

Diagnosed with the disease in 2005 and now a veteran of a radical mastectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation, Karriem, now an Ohio resident, is asking for people to donate bras -- they are very expensive in her country -- in all sizes and colors. On the tags, she is asking donors to add messages of hope, encouragement, and breast cancer education. Each package will then be shipped to Africa with information women need to know about the disease.

If you're like me and want to make a worldy difference but just can't offer bunches of time, you can still help. Just send a bra with tags and messages attached to:

Bras for Africa
10900 Euclid Ave.
Crawford Hall 304
Cleveland, OH 44106
attention: Fatima Karriem

Tammy Faye leaves cancer fate to higher power

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Former televangelist Tammy Faye Messner -- formerly Tammy Faye Bakker -- posted Tuesday on her website (service is currently unavailable) a message about her health.

Messner, 65, reports that doctors have stopped treating her cancer -- she was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1996 and announced in 2004 the disease had spread to her lungs.

"I am down weight-wise to 65 pounds, and look like a scarecrow," the Charlotte resident shared on her site. "I need God's miracle to swallow. I look at young people and wish with all my heart for just one day of 'feeling great.'"

Messner, whose daughter and daughter's friends are taking care of her while her husband, Roe Messner, is off building churches, went on to write, "the doctors have stopped trying to treat the cancer and so now it's up to God and my faith. And that's enough!"

Divorced from Jim Bakker in 1992 while he was serving a sentence for financial fraud, Messner is half of the famous Bakker pair that founded a Christian retreat in Fort Mill, S.C., and built a multimillion-dollar evangelism empire. She also starred on the VH1 reality show Surreal Life and is the author of several books, among them her recent I Will Survive . . .and You Will Too!

Isunlin sensitivity drug could be used in conjunction with chemotherapy

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Situated almost right next to each other in Boston, helping the lives of so many who need it, are the Joslin Diabetes Center and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Patients from around the globe visit this particular area of Beantown, receiving some of the best treatment available for their respective illness. Now, scientists have found that there is much more of a connection between diabetes and cancer than the zip code of these research centers.

Plans are already being drawn up for initial human trials for the use of a diabetes drug that has been shown to dramatically increase the effectiveness of platinum-based chemotherapy. Researchers from Dana-Farber found that when the diabetes drug Rosizitaglone (more popularly known by its brand name of Avandia) was administered in conjunction with a platinum chemotherapy agent, the synergistic was three times as effective at shrank tumors (in mice) than the platinum chemotherapy agent alone.

Researchers hope that the use of this treatment could improve control of ovarian, lung and other cancers that are typically treated with platinum chemotherapy, particularly since these types of cancer can become resistant to the chemotherapy alone over time. In addition, they are examining whether the use of Rosizitaglone - which itself was designed to enhance the sensitivity of insulin receptors in people with type 2 diabetes - could also be used for treating types of cancer that platinum chemotherapy alone had not previously been shown to be effective.

Prostate cancer slowed by green tea?

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A component of green tea combined with a low dose (200mg) of a Cox -2 inhibitor (sold as Celebrex) may act in concert to slow the spread of prostate cancer.

Why am I interested in prostate cancer? My father has recently learned that his Prostate - Specific Antigen (PSA) results are very high and are getting higher. He does not know whether this is prostate cancer and might choose to not know (maybe more on that in some other blogs). This has certainly made me more aware of prostate cancer and other prostate-related illnesses .

The journal, Clinical Cancer Research, reports that low doses of the Cox-2 inhibitor given along with a green tea polyphenol slowed the growth of prostate cancer in cell cultures and in a mouse model of the disease. It was found that the green tea and Celebrex have a synergistic effect that combined, are more powerful than either agent alone.We have all heard about the controversy with drugs like Celebrex that have been shown to have adverse effects on the heart when taken at high dose for long periods of time. It is therefore worth noting that the doses of Celebrex used in the studies are much lower than in some other studies where doses of up to 800mg per day were used.

Hopefully the results of studies like this one leads to better treatments sooner. I have told my dad to drink lots of green tea in the meantime. There certainly are health benefits to green tea alone, and this can do him some good even if it is not in conjunction with the Celebrex.

Cancer portrayed in Funky Winkerbean comic

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Lisa MooreFunky Winkerbean creator Tom Batiuk has used his own experiences with prostate cancer to write cancer in to one of his characters' storylines. Lisa Moore, who was introduced to the more than thirty-year-old strip in the 1980's as a teen mother, has been battling breast cancer for more than seven years. In the strip's latest installment, her cancer has returned and is worsening.

Batiuk, who had surgery for prostate cancer last summer, realized that when he first introduced cancer in his strip he didn't have the depth of empathy that he has had this last time. He used Presidential candidate John Edwards' wife Elizabeth Edwards, her courage, and her refusal to let the cancer defeat her, as his model.

He said the strip was very hard to write, but he considers it his best work. I haven't followed the funnies for years, but this is the first instance that I can recall in which cancer has been portrayed as an ongoing storyline. It seems that breast cancer receives the most press these days (which, I believe, leads to more awareness of cancer in general), and I do wonder why he didn't address prostate cancer. But I can understand wanting to focus on one of the strip's main characters, and also, wanting to distance himself a bit from his own experience.

Has anybody been following this strip?

Alese has sadly lost her fight with Hodgkins disease

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I did a post about Alese back in March titled Survival Spotlight: Alese Coco is fighting 2 win. I read on her website today that she passed away on Monday May 7, 2007.

This is what I read on her website.

It is with shattered hearts we announce that Alese died Monday May 7th at 1:20 p.m.

Mentally and emotionally, Alese's attitude to the end remained Fight 2 Win. However, her body could no longer carry on the fight and she succumbed due to respiratory complications. She will be greatly missed and there is a collective ache and void left in the hearts of the many people who loved her and were encouraged by her.

What a beautiful young girl she will be forever.


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Melanoma doesn't have to look one certain way

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I received a comment about my post titled Do you know what skin cancer looks like?. I thought this was a good message to post for the readers since I only added one specific picture of melanoma on my post.
Commenter said --The melanoma image is misleading. Melanoma can look like a fleshy colored pimple. All the images the dermatologists show in their offices are black and are odd shaped. This is incorrect, my husband has melanoma and had a spot removed that was flesh colored and perfectly round, looked like a pimple. The data needs to be updated in the dermatologist office. Even the doctor's thought worst case scenario my husband had basal cell, not melanoma until the path came back different. Anything new get it checked right away. Don't assume and ignore the pictures they are wrong.

Click here to get some additional photos of what melanoma could look like. This of course is not what they all might look like and its always best to get your moles or skin bumps checked out by a dermatologist.
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Macrobiotic diet cancer prevention explored

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Many cancer patients and survivors I've talked to are know a bit about nutrition if they've successfully battled cancer (from lymph node cancer to skin cancer). I like these discussions, and I use them as fuel to speak about the benefits of a good diet to those who may be undergoing (or about to undergo) chemotherapy.

One of the more exotic diet choices for those just starting to study cancer diets is the "macrobiotic" diet. This diet includes items like organic whole grains, fruits and vegetables, soups made with vegetables, seaweed, grains, beans, and miso. Occasional servings of fresh whitefish, nuts, seeds and pickles. Some cancer specialists and naturopaths even suggest that this diet can exist with traditional cancer treatment or be a separate alternative treatment.

The foods above sound like a great diet for anyone alive if you ask me, but I can especially see the cancer patient benefiting from these dietary suggestions. What's your take on those foods? Are they in your diet at this time, and if so, why did you choose them?

Thought for the Day: Cancer risk measured by strand of hair

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We're not even 11 days into Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and already my awareness about the disease has been raised several times.

Today, I learned that measuring the amount of melanin in a strand of hair can predict a person's risk for melanoma. It's all detailed in the May 15 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology. And the study leading to this new conclusion -- that the amount of melanin in hair indicates an individual's skin type -- is quite interesting.

Think about this:

Researchers involved in a large skin cancer trial measured 2,3,5-pyrroletricarboxylic acid (PTCA) levels of 98 subjects with melanoma and 98 subjects without melanoma. They found the subjects with a PTCA concentration below 85ng/mg had more than four times the risk of developing melanoma.


Assessing melanin levels to determine a person's skin cancer risk could be used to advise patients about how often they should be screened for the disease, says Dr. Stefano Rosso from the Piedmont Cancer Registry in Italy who shares that concentrations of melanin can be measured by various means -- all of which may eventually lead to the possibility of studying the direct role melanin plays in the causes of skin tumors.

Melanin is a natural substance that gives color to the hair, skin, and iris of the eye. It also protects the skin from the damaging rays of the sun.

Survivor Spotlight: Spunky Katie

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Katie is a member of the Young Survival Coalition. She agreed to do an interview about her breast cancer journey. She blogs here, when I just checked her blog she had a funny post to share about how her cleaning lady likes to party.

"i left an ativan on the bookcase last week.
she put it in the candy bowl."

How did you find out you had breast cancer?
In November 2006, I had an excisional biopsy to remove what I had been told was a fibroadenoma. A few days after the surgery I went back to the surgeon to have some stitches removed. At the time I was so convinced it was benign that I didn't think to be nervous about getting the results of the pathology report. When my surgeon told me it was cancer, I didn't get upset. I just really had no idea what "cancer" meant, as it was nothing I had ever thought about happening to me. I spent the rest of the day in shock - I didn't even cry. Incidentally, it was the same day as my nine-year anniversary with my husband. We ate a very expensive dinner in complete silence.

What types of breast cancer treatments were recommended?
Because the tumor was Her2 positive and nuclear grade 3, my treatment plan was pretty self-evident. I met with three different oncologists who all recommended the exact same chemotherapy plan - four rounds dose dense AC, four rounds dose dense Taxol, and a year of Herceptin. I didn't have any positive lymph nodes so I don't have to do radiation. Instead, I'm having a bilateral mastectomy in a few weeks. I met with five different specialists to make that decision, and all of them said that the mastectomy is simply a personal choice. It was much easier to be instructed on my chemotherapy plan than to make a medical decision on my own.

How did you research breast cancer and breast cancer treatments?
I have my Masters in Public Health, so I'm used to reading medical literature. I did most of my research on PubMed. Whenever I see a news story about new study findings about breast cancer, I always find the original journal article. Some studies are more robust than others, but they're always presented as equally valid in the media. I prefer to reach my own conclusions about the relevance of hyped-up new breast cancer findings.

How did you tell your family?
I just called them up and said "I have cancer." I never have a problem telling people about it. I go to work every day bald. I've been totally upfront about it since the day I was diagnosed.

Are you involved with any breast cancer support groups, fundraisers or breast cancer organizations?
Not yet. I'm trying to figure out which organization I want to work with and whether or not I want to focus my energy on breast cancer in general or breast cancer in young women. I'm also not sure that I want to focus on breast cancer at all. Cancer in general has been making me really angry lately so I may decide to work with an organization like the American Cancer Society so my money and time can benefit all cancer survivors.

What advice would you give to someone newly diagnosed with breast cancer?
When you're first diagnosed, everyone in your life wants to help you somehow - people send tons of flowers and food and the phone rings off the hook. Don't feel like you have to answer the phone. Don't force yourself to write thank you notes. Don't feel like you have to return someone's lasagna pan right away. This is one time in your life when it's perfectly okay to be rude. Make yourself your number one priority, and don't try to manage anyone else's feelings about what you're going through.

What advice would you give the family members and friends of someone diagnosed with breast cancer?
Don't offer to do "anything" for the person diagnosed with cancer. Offer to do something specific. Offer to take their dog for a walk or to cook dinner or clean their house. When you offer to do "anything" the cancer patient needs, you put the responsibility of the offer on the patient. There are some days when it's hard enough just to get out of bed and take a shower - much less figure out how to use all those non-descript offers of "help."

As a breast cancer survivor, what thoughts do you have on surviving breast cancer and being a breast cancer survivor?
The day you're diagnosed, life changes forever. To have this happen at 27 was a really difficult thing for me to handle. I used to think about how angry I was that I only got 27 years of not constantly worrying about cancer - why did I have to lose my innocence so young? Now that I'm out of treatment and re-entering the world as a "survivor," I realize that getting the cancer wake-up call was also a gift. It sounds trite, but surviving cancer makes you see the world differently - recently I caught myself literally stopping to smell roses.

Name three breast cancer books you would recommend:
Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book
"Cancer Vixen" by Marisa Acocella Marchetto
"Illness as Metaphor" by Susan Sontag. Her explanation of the social construction of cancer helped to demystify it for me. Cancer is an illness - not a personality trait.

Name other breast cancer related resources that you recommend:
www.youngsurvival.org
www.breastcancer.org
www.pubmed.com
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Worthy Wisdom: The truth may be in the vitamin D

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I went to Canyon Ranch a little more than a week ago for several reasons. I went to do some research for a magazine article -- not a bad job assignment -- and I went to pursue guidance about nutrition, fitness, mind-body healing, stress management, pampering -- of course -- and overall post-breast cancer health. I found everything I wished to find, and I ended up with few pearls of wisdom I hadn't ever expected to dig up.

Canyon Ranch has a whole medical facility on their Tucson grounds, and I had the pleasure of spending an hour of my stay talking with a brilliant female doctor who asked all about my history and then made a few suggestions for better living. One suggestion I found very intriguing.

It hasn't hit the whole medical community yet, but testing for levels of vitamin D is a wise pursuit for women concerned about breast cancer risk and recurrence, said this doctor who did her own little research experiment recently. Looking at levels of vitamin D in women at all spectrums of health, this doctor found those with breast cancer had low levels of vitamin D in their bodies. Those without breast cancer tended to have higher levels. She tested herself too and found her levels were right on target -- not surprising since she takes a vitamin supplement and lives in a very sunny climate.

Aha -- the sun. It turned out women who lived in not-so-sunny places had lower levels of vitamin D. It all started coming together for this doctor who now recommends a simple blood test for women who care to chart their levels. If they are identified as low, the women can take preventative steps, like taking supplements, soaking up a few minutes of sun each day, regulating diet and exercise, and more.

There is a thread of research out there on this topic --

Tea time can lower your risk of skin cancer

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Those who drink one or two cups of tea daily may have a lower risk of developing two types of skin cancer by 20 to 30 percent. In a study conducted on nearly 2,200 adults, researchers found that tea drinkers had a lower risk of developing squamous cell and basal cell carcinoma, the two most common forms of skin cancer.

The findings were published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Tea drinking did not show any effect on the worst skin cancer, melanoma. Still, the findings support the theory that tea antioxidants may limit the damage UV radiation inflicts on the skin, according to the study authors, led by Dr. Judy R. Rees of Dartmouth Medical School in Lebanon, New Hampshire.

The researchers do warn that it is not okay to bake in the sun and then have a cup of tea afterwards.

The study did not mention what specific types of teas might be more beneficial than others.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Insulin Skin Gel

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Phosphagenics Limited is developing a skin gel that administers insulin. They are currently testing the effect of long-acting insulin in the patented formula.

Research has demonstrated that a single application of the insulin gel rapidly delivered insulin into the bloodstream without any adverse reactions. Additionally, it significantly lowered blood glucose, insulin and c-peptide levels.

The company has been working on improving drug effectiveness and cost efficiency through a process called phosphorylation. Many enzymes and receptors are switched "on" or "off" by phosphorylation, including the glucose lowering properties of insulin. Once inside the skin -- enzymes activate these properties, impacting the blood sugar. This does not cause irritation to the skin, allows for a sustained release of medication in just one application, begins to take effect within an hour of application, can be used with many forms of prescriptions (small and large molecule medicines), and is economical to produce.

If it significantly reduced c-peptide levels, this might be more appropriate for type 2 diabetics - for a temporary basis. Judging by numbers, majority rules and since 80% of diabetics are type 2...this could be a feather in the capitalists cap for pain-free insulin delivery. However, if blood sugar control becomes as easy as a handi-wipe, how motivated will anyone be to eat right and exercise? Wash your hands for dinner, please.

Diabusine$$: Too profitable to cure

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After living with diabetes for over 50 years, and witnessing few changes in the treatment of the disease, Brent Hoadley has written Too Profitable to Cure.

Distressed that the cure is no closer now than when he was diagnosed, at the age of 14 -- Hoadley took it upon himself to find answers. He notes the current state of healthcare for those who suffer from chronic diseases, and contends that profit, not humanitarianism, is driving American healthcare. As an entrepreneur and an investor, he is aware, and appreciates the profit motive that drives capitalism. However, he feels the bottom line should not interfere with the pursuit of a cure. With pragmatic drive, he identifies culprits and urges activism as a countermeasure.

Diabetes is only one shining example of the pharmaceutical industry's criminal pursuit of profits. Patients' health, patients' lives, patients' freedom-all are fair game in the quest for limitless wealth and unbridled power.

The question of evening news and print advertisement for pharmaceuticals is posed. Is this marketing speaking to doctor's in lieu of doctor's reading unbiased research? Or does this research derive from the very company making the pill? Hoadley reveals pharmaceutical sales reps now supply more education to physicians than they obtained in medical school. In other words, Big Pharma has climbed to the top of the totem pole; medical professionals stubbornly cling to their subordinate position; and the poor patient (pun intended) supports the entire structure. Do I need to tell you that the support is vulnerable and under attack? Whether it can remain viable is, or should be, a question of great concern.

Too Profitable to Cure is available online through Hoadley's site. Scott Strumello had turned me on to Brent Hoadley after he posted an Open Letter to Eli Lilly and one of the comments left was from Mr. Hoadley, himself. Definitely worth checking out! Thank you to Scott for the great find and to Brent Hoadley for putting it into words for us!

Medical advances cut heart attack deaths

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Here's some good news: deaths from severe heart attacks have been cut nearly in half over the last 6 years due to advances in technology and medical treatments. The results are from an absolutely enormous study that looked at 44,372 heart patients admitted to 113 hospitals in 14 different countries between 1999 and 2006, and they are particularly encouraging because the results suggest that not only are patients being treated more effectively while in the hospital, but also that the chances they have of suffering another heart attack or stroke after discharge is greatly reduced. So our treatments are improving, but so are our preventative measures. That is encouraging.

Cut out salt to cut heart risk

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It's common place for patients with heart disease or high blood pressure to follow a low sodium diet. But recent research suggests that a diet low in salt may help prevent heart disease in the general population, and blame excess salt for up to a quarter of all heart attacks and strokes.

Following patients with borderline hypertension for over a decade, a recently concluded U.S. study found participants who ate a low-salt diet were less likely to develop heart disease -- even a decade later -- and were also 20% less likely to die from cardiovascular issues. As an added benefit to the study, researchers also found that those who ate a low-salt diet were more likely to stick to it years later, and participants said they no longer liked the taste of heavily salted foods.

The Canadian Stroke Network called the findings "absolutely dramatic" and said that encouraging a low-salt diet in the general population could save thousands of lives every year.

J&J admits failure and pulls experimental stent

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Unfortunately, Johnson & Johnson recently announced that an experimental drug-releasing stent it bought last year (for a pretty penny) failed in clinical trials. J&J will pull the stent off the market in the other countries where it has already been selling, and although they're giving up hope on this particular device, they plan to work with the same technology on other stent designs.

The hope of drug-coated stents is to prevent scar tissue from growing on and around the stent over time, which eventually blocks off the artery that it is meant to keep open. Although this is a significant setback, experts are optimistic as there are many other "stent hopefuls" coming up in the developmental stages.

Sibling had a stroke? Your risk may go up

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Could there be a genetic marker for stroke risk? Researchers think it's possible after a recent study found that when a person has a stroke, their siblings risk for suffering one doubles, at least for some. The study, which involved 807 siblings from one county in Texas found that siblings of Mexican-American men were at three times the risk of having a stroke. Interestingly, in non-Hispanic whites, only siblings of women had an increased risk.

Though most of the researchers seemed to think there were genetics at play, they also suggested that shared environmental factors such as smoking and eating habits may be a factor as well. The next step in the research will be studying blood work from study participants to see if a genetic link can be found. Learn how to recognize the symptoms of a stroke here.

5 tips to prevent heart disease

There's so much information these days on what causes what, what prevents what and so on that it's really hard to keep up. So it's really, really refreshing when someone breaks it down for you in common-sense terms. Like this -- it's a list of 5 things you should do to prevent heart disease. You should read it, even if, like me, you're young and not worried about that kind of stuff yet, because it's important to build a healthy foundation for living when you're young. In no particular order, they are:

1:Eat Less Fat
2:Eat less sodium
3:Exercise daily
4:Maintain a healthy weight
5:Reduce stress

These 5 tips aren't easy changes to make, but they're things you should remember every single day and try to live by. Don't you think?

Thought for the Day: Cover up against skin cancer

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Slathering on sunscreen protects us from the dangers of the sun. Right?

Nope, say experts who insist protective clothing and hats are the best way to cover up against UV rays, prevent skin cancer, and minimize the aging effects of the sun.

Think about this:

Most of us rely on sunscreen for skin cancer prevention. But one doctor from Zurich who just finished reviewing sun protection strategies around the world says although the predominant mode of sun protection is sunscreen, this method can be abused in attempts to extend time spent in the sun.

Tightly-woven, thick garmets made of denim, wool, or polyester are most effective at shielding us from harmful rays, this doctor reports. Dry, loose fabrics that shrink after washing are better than wet or stretched clothing. And cotton, linen, acetate clothing and anything that has been bleached are not very effective.

It seems sunscreens are good for preventing less serious forms of skin cancer. But to protect against melanoma, the most serious from of the disease, a good cover-up is your best bet.

I'm in a full sweat -- I live in Florida where temps are already in the 90s -- just thinking about piling on all this clothing.