Friday, 14 September 2007

The specials tonight are fulminant and non- fulminant

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A type 1 diabetic mystery is why do some Type 1s get complications and others seem to never get them? A massive Japanese study of Type 1 diabetics found that those with fulminant diabetes developed complications much faster and more severely than those with non-fulminant diabetes.

The difference between fulminant and non-fulminant is the speed and intensity at which the disease develops. Fulminant Type 1 diabetes typically develops suddenly with near total loss of beta cell function. This type of diabetes is confirmed with testing c-peptide levels. Non-fulminant type 1 diabetes has residual c-peptide levels that eventually taper to undetectable. Sometimes this is seen through many years of the Honeymoon Period.

This study may be the antithesis of conventional wisdom for preventing complications. Staking all hopes on blood sugar control is heavily optimistic. Yes controlling blood sugar does lessen the workload for existing beta cells, and thus extends the lifespan of each beta cell. Research suggests that c-peptide offers protection to beta cells, both from apoptosis (cell death) and encourages new cell growth. This new cell growth applies to beta cells and other cells of the body that endure long-term Type 1 diabetes complications.

Diabetics are instructed that maintaining normal blood sugars is the Holy Grail of preventing long-term complications. Yes and no. The truth is controlling your blood sugar will not allow complications of Type 1 diabetes to develop as quickly, presuming you still had some level of beta cell function upon diagnosis (i.e., c-peptide). That doesn't sound like a reward as much as it does a delayed punishment. I'd like c-peptide with my insulin, please. It's off the à la carte menu? That's fine - serve it up! I want to thank Klausen for bringing this study to my attention.

What's your diabetes mystery?

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Why is diabetes an imperfect science? The last 22 years of my life with diabetes have disproved as much (or more) than it has confirmed in conventional diabetes wisdom. The facts were in the studies - but researchers didn't know what to do with them, at the time. Here's where the mysteries will unfold..

The last year blogging with The Diabetes Blog has been an in your face demonstration of the imperfect science of diabetes. Many undisclosed details of studies from days gone by have proven to be a reason why diabetes has been an imperfect science. Since when has science been imperfect? When you don't complete your homework. Don't get wrong - science has done the homework, but you - the diabetic - have not been privy to every fact found in these studies. Nowadays, there's no excuse. The dog doesn't eat my homework.

It's time these facts made it to the light of day. I am taking my investigative curiosity and hanging a shingle over LoveDiabetes.com - because that's who I am: Allison Love Beatty! Let's buddy-up with the researchers and their homework. It's about time we solved the universal mysteries of diabetes. The facts are available. With combined knowledge, existential and pathological, we can make more of these studies from yesteryear and the days to come.

Someday soon we will see the trend of diabetes reverse - less diagnosis, less complications, and reduced costs. I've got Internet access, unlimited long-distance, and plenty of time. The fun is just getting started! This is my invitation to you - what's your diabetes mystery? Leave me a comment on LoveDiabetes.com so I know what's on your mind. Together we will prove there is no such a thing as an imperfect science.

Love always,
Allie B

Getting up early is bad for your heart?

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As a general rule getting up early is thought to be a healthy habit, but new research says that may not necessarily be the case -- at least not when it comes to your heart anyway. A recent study that followed over 3,000 adults ranging in age from 23 to 90 yrs old found that those who got up early had a higher risk for cardiovascular conditions like high blood pressure and stroke.

It's important to realize also, though, that early risers are generally older, so it's possible that also has something to do with the increase in cardiovascular problems. Also, sleep deprivation is a proven heart risk factor, and obviously getting up early often means not getting enough sleep.

So the key may be that early to rise is fine, as long as it's early to bed also?

Obesity is the leading cause of school absences

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When I was in school, it was pretty rare for my classmates to miss a day of school. If they did, they has either come down with the flu, broken a limb or were really good at faking it for their moms. Has much changed? I didn't think so, until I read this article. Apparently, obesity is now the leading cause for school absences. It's also the #1 predictor of absenteeism.

Why do you think this is? Those who did the original study aren't saying, but it's my feeling is that it's a mixture of things. First off, kids who have the unhealthy lifestyles that may lead to obesity are more likely to get sick. Secondly, kids who are obese are more like to get teased, and more likely to try to find a way to skip school.

Still, I think it's a problem that needs to be addressed, since education, like good nutrition, is so important for growing kids.

Verapamil: The headache pill that leads to heart troubles

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Cluster headaches are an especially painful form of headache that were hard to treat until a drug called Verapamil came on the market. But Verapamil isn't the wonder drug it seems -- it's been linked to cardiac irregularity, and according to studies, one in five patients recieving high doses of Verapamil will develop cardiac irregularities -- very frightening indeed!

Verapamil is fairly new, as is this bit of news, so it hasn't been removed from the market. Therefore, it's important to weigh the risks and talk to your doctor before going on any new drug.

Keep your heart health a priority!

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So The Cardio Blog is going into retirement, and since is this is my last post I wanted to take the opportunity to thank you all for reading! It's been a blast writing and reading and learning about the importance of taking care of ourselves and our heart health specifically, and of course I encourage you all to continue doing so. There are countless great resources online (even though we were voted #1!) and I thought I'd share a few that I personally like and plan to stay in touch with:

A Hearty Life

The Heart Scan Blog

Mark's Daily Apple

That's Fit

So keep your heart health a priority! If you don't have your health, what do you have?

Too much exercise can be bad for you too!

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Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. But in individuals with heart troubles, too much exercise can be a bad thing too -- it can speed up heart failure ... in rats, at least. These findings are in direct opposition to what researchers thought they would find -- that the more they exercised, the healthier rats are.

But don't use these findings as an excuse to skip the gym for the next few decades -- it's still thought that a reasonable amount of exercise is better than a sedentary lifestyle. Excessive exercise might be a problem, but a daily walk will not kill you.

Women: Common vitamins won't help your hearts

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Now that many of us are under pressure to make our lifestyles healthier, many will opt for what they believe quick-fixes to their unhealthy habits, rather than making the effort to completely overhaul their lives. I think the increased use to vitamins is evidence of this -- rather than trade in french fries for 5-10 servings of fruits and veggies a day, people seem to instead opt to get their nutrients in pill form.

Vitamins can be beneficial in people who already have a healthy lifestyle but it's not a substitute for healthy habits. Take these findings for instance -- new studies show that taking common vitamins does little to promote heart health in women, whereas eating fruits and veggies high in vitamin C, E and Beta Carotene on a daily basis can help your ticker.

There are no quick fixes. Take control of your health today -- it's worth it!

Taking care of women's hearts

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As you may know, The Cardio Blog is being retired today. It's been an honor to write for this blog, and I hope that the information we brought to you was useful and informative. Since this will be my last post for The Cardio Blog, I thought I'd write about a topic that is near and dear to my heart (pun, lamely, intended): women's heart health.

We've seen it in the headlines again and again -- women, and often their doctors, don't always prioritize their health, and this seems to be especially an issue when it comes to heart health. But the fact is that heart disease is public enemy number one for women, and we all need to better understand and deal with our risk factors.

So I'll leave you with this post from Her Daily News. In it, they talk about Heart Truth, the National Institute of Health's campaign to bring heart education to women. They also include a checklist of questions to take to your doctor, as well as a list to help you understand your own risk. Do yourself -- and your heart -- a favor today and read through the questions to determine if you need to do more to protect your health.

Thanks for reading The Cardio Blog, and don't forget to come visit us at That's Fit for all of the latest news in health and fitness!

Two or more drinks a day in postmenopausal women doubles risk of endometrial cancer

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Postmenopausal women who consume two or more alcoholic drinks a day may double their risk of endometrial cancer, according to a new study published by Veronica Wendy Setiawan and colleagues at the University of Southern California.

Endometrial cancer is the most common cancer of the female reproductive system and accounts for six percent of all cancers in women, according to the NCI.

According to Setiawan, previous studies have shown that alcohol consumption has been associated with higher estrogen levels in postmenopausal women, which could be the mechanism that increases the risk of endometrial cancer.

Routine lung cancer screening gets thumbs down

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Lung cancer screening by using CT scans may not be the best thing to do, according to a recent report by the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP).

That group stated that, outside of research studies, studying lung cancer using CT technology is not worth the risk since it rarely (if at all) leads to reduced lung cancer deaths.

The reason? Sounds to easy, but with CT tests only looking at lung cancer detection, actual survival rates were not looked at in many cases (and weren't affected anyway).

Heart failure rare in leukemia patients on Gleevec

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According to researchers at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, congestive heart failure rarely occurs among leukemia patients who take Gleevec (imatinib).

The study was led by Dr. Jorge Cortes who said that there is no need for routine cardio-specific monitoring of all patients taking imatinib, although those with cardiac history should be close monitored. In a separate paper lasat year, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania reported that imatinib may be cardio-toxic in humans.

Imatinib targets two members of the tyrosine kinase class of enzymes and a hybrid tyrosine kinase known to cause chronic myologenous leukemia (CML) and Ph-postive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Before imatinib, only about half of CML patients survived five years. Now the five year survival rate is 95 percent.

More men need prostate cancer testing

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In Canada, health officials are wanting more men in the high-risk group (most likely, middle aged) to get screened for prostate cancer. Why? Well, only two in every five men in that country from within that group apparently have tested for prostate cancer in the past year. That's just too low.

An astounding 39 percent (only) of men over the age of 45 have taken blood tests to measure the prostate specific antigen levels, with only 33 percent having undergone a digital rectal exam.

In other words, there could be a lot more undiagnosed prostate problems under development with such a low amount of high-risk men being tested.

Oncologists critical in managing psychiatric disorders

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According to an article in CANCER, mental illness and emotional distress in patients with advanced cancer is often overlooked by oncologists, but proper management can improve a patient's quality of life.

The review article was written by Dr. Michael Miovic and Dr. Susan Block from the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

Miovic and Block found that 50 percent or more of patients with advanced or terminal cancer suffer from at least one of three major disorders: adjustment disorders, anxiety disorders and depressive disorders. Medical management of cancer has improved in the last decade, but management of mental health issues has lagged, according to the authors. Studies show that depressive symptoms can even impact patients' lives even more than pain.

The authors recommend listening as the most important screening tool in the oncologist's toolkit.

Celeb charm necklaces in support of cancer

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Popular celebrities like Kate Moss and Scarlett Johansson have lent their signature style to the fight against cancer by designing charms that reflect their own character, which will be sold with the profits going to a prominent UK cancer charity. The charms are appearing on a necklace that is being sold at Wallis for about $51USD each. Moss' charm is a petite swallow, while Johansson's is a vibrant yellow and orange lilly. Other contributors include designer Christian Louboutin and comedian Catherin Tate.

I think it's great to see celebrities and designers offering their time and their good taste towards a good cause. Don't you agree?

Testicular cancer linked to birth weight

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There might be some bad news out there for men with above or below normal birth weights -- new studies are showing that they might be at a high risk for testicular cancer than those who were born a more normal size. To be more precise, men with low birth weights were 18% more likely to develop testicular cancer than their normal-sized counterparts, and high birth weight men were 12% more likely to be diagnosed with the disease. It should be noted, however, that the findings are only try to seminoma testicular cancer, which is the most prevalent type.

Researchers are not indicating whether they believe there might be a reason to these findings. I wonder if some unhealthy habits of mothers that may have lead to low or high birth weights could be playing a role in the health of their sons later in life? What do you think?

Fentora cancer-related drug deaths confirmed by Cephalon

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It's never a good thing when a drugmaker sends letters to doctors saying that a drug they are prescribing has resulted in confirmed deaths.

But that is what Cephalon did this week, as it admitted its cancer drug -- Fentora - has been linked to some patient deaths. Fentora, used to treat acute cancer pain, are sometimes prescribed for other pain-related ailments.

Cephalon took issue with the apparent claim that it markets Fentora for uses other than cancer pain, even though some doctors use it "off label" in normal practice.

Fat Bastard supports cancer

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I'm a big fan of Fat Bastard wine, which I picked up a bottle of a few years back simply because of the odd name. If you enjoy their wine too be sure to pick some up during the months of September and October because the makers will be donating $0.25 from every bottle sold to breast cancer charities.

It might seem to be a bit of a contradiction to sell alcohol in support of cancer, but actually wine (in moderation) can help reduce to your risk of several types of cancer, not to mention heart disease. Just make sure you stick to one glass a night and enjoy the benefits of a good vintage.

I'm curious to know that you think though. Is it wrong to sell wine to raise money for breast cancer?

Millions around the world die in pain due to morphine bans

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Millions of people around the world die in severe pain due to bans of morphine, reports The New York Times. While poverty plays a role, doctors also fear law enforcement of morphine bans.

The World Health Organization estimates that 4.8 million people around the world suffer with moderate to severe cancer pain in addition to millions who suffer needless from late-state AIDS pain. At pain conferences, doctors from Africa describe patients whose pain is so bad that they throw themselves in front of trucks.

In another related article, the newspaper examines the slow movement of the Japanese culture away from the fear of painkillers.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Why don't insurance companies insure diabetic kids?

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Ed Hinerman, a life insurance specialist with the Hinerman Group, was posed an interesting challenge recently. For years he has successfully found affordable life insurance for many adults with type 1 diabetes, but he had never been asked about life insurance for children with Type 1 diabetes until now.

After speaking with underwriters in the top 40 or so companies, he found a discernible lack of interest due to lack of data. Companies would say that they couldn't consider someone with type 1 diabetes until they were either age 15 or age 20. A peer in the industry told Ed the knee jerk reaction was because insurance companies haven't done mortality studies on children. They simply don't have any data upon which to base the pricing for products. Uh oh!! That coupled with the fact that there really isn't any financial incentive for them to study and create products for a relatively small market that would produce relatively low premium, kind of sets the tone. Well, now the war has been defined and the battles are becoming clearer.

When Ed contacted the ADA for assistance in this matter - hold your breath (it's a shocker!) - they turned a cold shoulder on a diabetic's need. What if the diabetic's parents were doing what so many families do - and trying to buy a whole life policy to help pay for their kids college someday? It's really not fair! Here's where fair begins -- Ed asked me to gather some facts it will take to get the insurance companies attention. Does anybody have any idea of the mortality rate of children after being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes?

Bottom line. Life insurance companies make big money and for them to cut and run from children just because it might not make them more big bucks, or because they really haven't done their homework and aren't interested in doing it, isn't acceptable. Game on! I hope we can make a good showing, at the very least - hit one out of the park for the fans. Thanks for inviting me to play, Ed!

Exercise of the Week: the Bench Press

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If there's any one exercise that everyone seems to use as a show of pure strength and power, it is certainly the bench press. "How much ya' bench?" is a popular question thrown around weight rooms, and the answers are almost always inflated so as to match the ego of the responder. But, throwing around as much weight as possible may not exactly be the best way to see and feel results from this exercise. That's why I am highlighting the proper form, execution and target muscles of this gym workout staple.

The bench press targets the development of the pectoral muscles (aka the chest muscles), but also calls upon help from your triceps (located on the back of your arms) and deltoids (aka shoulders). To properly do this exercise, you first have to lie flat on your back on a bench (or sturdy alternative -- remember my makeshift bench idea with milk crates and a long, thick plank of wood?). You will then place an equidistant grip on the bar with your hands, lifting it off the support rack. Once you have the bar securely above your sternum and with your arms fully extended, you can now begin. Slowly lower the bar until it touches the chest or stops only an inch from the chest (this is up to you), but be sure to not let the weight "bounce" off of you. Once you've reached the bottom of the movement, hold for one second and then press the weight back up to the starting position. Tip: when you raise the bar, be sure to exhale the air you took in while you were lowering it. Also, when you press the weight upward, try to avoid completely locking your elbows to full extension. This will ensure that there is constant pressure and also help avoid elbow injury). Continue this motion for the desired number of repetitions and sets.

There are several variations to the bench press, including the incline bench press, the decline bench press, the dumbell bench press, etc. Also, you can try mixing up the amount of reps you do from one set to the other, or even the amount of weight you place on the bar. Bear in mind that if your goal is size and strength, fewer reps/longer rest in between sets/fewer sets/heavier weight is the combination you want to go with. If muscle tone and a bit of cardiovascular effect are your desired results, I would stick with a combination of more reps/shorter rest in between sets/more sets/lighter weight.

For a good video demonstration of the bench press, click HERE.

Note: The content presented in this post is for informational purposes only. Please consult your doctor or fitness professional before starting a physical fitness program.

Should you seek a dietician over a doctor?

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Thomas Smith began reviewing scientific literature after conventional medicine failed him in controlling diabetes. Smith found research that shows dietary toxins impair cell membrane function. These toxins include trans fatty acids and refined sugars. Cells begin to have trouble absorbing nutrients, and the blood sugar rises. Over time, this results in chronic elevated blood and urine sugar levels. Sounds like a growing epidemic, doesn't it?

This damage to cell membranes, caused by a poor diet, can be repaired. The diabetic syndrome can be cured by eliminating all processed fats and oils. The protocol calls for supplementing high-dose Omega-3 fatty acids. This protocol normalizes blood sugars because the body is continuously repairing cell membranes by using the fats and oils available in the diet. One caution: the speed of recovery is related to the length of the illness. Some Type 2 diabetics may require up to one year for dramatic reductions in blood sugar.

A gaping hole exists between conventional medicine and diet. Conventional medicine claims that the cause of Type 2 diabetes is unknown. Medical doctors, as practitioners of conventional medicine, are not trained to explain how it happened. They treat symptoms with medicine. The business of medicine is medicine. The business of diabetes would be devasted if the cure was as simple as diet. The explanation Thomas Smith provides in his empirical studies is fascinating and I encourage anybody with competing or supporting evidence to open the debate.

Boost glycemic control with Vitamin C

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Insulin not only moves glucose into the cells, but it also escorts Vitamin C. Blood sugar hogs the seats on the bus in most diabetics, therefore reducing the amount of Vitamin C we can absorb. This is the premise of The GAA Theory: high glucose levels hinder vitamin C entry into cells.

Vitamin C is vitally important for many functions throughout the body - a big one being metabolism. Glucose and Vitamin C are similar in the way they enter the cells. Both molecules require help from insulin. The name for the process that brings glucose and Vitamin C through cell membranes is insulin-mediated uptake. The insulin-mediated uptake of glucose and vitamin C uses white blood cells. White blood cells have more insulin pumps and they may contain 20 times the amount of vitamin C as ordinary cells.

So does increasing your Vitamin C help boost your glycemic control? Diabetes Health cited a study that confirms daily doses of 2,000 mg of absorbic acid improved both fasting blood glucose and HbA1c readings in patients with type 2 diabetes. Next time you swing by the store - see if some Emergen-C can help you achieve better glycemic control. With 1,000 mg of Vitamin C per packet - their homepage says: Feel The Good. Little did they know how good it could be for Type 2 diabetics!

Prevention zeroes in on families of heart disease sufferers

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Earlier this year, my great-aunt passed away suddenly from an unknown heart condition. Her doctor recommended that all of her siblings, children, and nieces and nephews be screened for heart problems as well, flagging them at a higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease. Thankfully, no problems were uncovered, but they are now aware of the higher risk associated with having heart disease in our family.

Scottish researchers believe that if family members of those with known heart disease were singled out as high-risk and their risk factors gotten under control, up to 40% of early deaths from cardiac events could be prevented. Even so, this type of flagging system is rarely used, even though it is common procedure among families with genetic cancers.

So if someone in your family has had some form of heart disease or heart attack, be sure that you know your risks. Talk to your doctor and tackle any problems that increase your chances of developing cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure, and protect your heart for the long haul.

Exercise of the Week: the Bench Press

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If there's any one exercise that everyone seems to use as a show of pure strength and power, it is certainly the bench press. "How much ya' bench?" is a popular question thrown around weight rooms, and the answers are almost always inflated so as to match the ego of the responder. But, throwing around as much weight as possible may not exactly be the best way to see and feel results from this exercise. That's why I am highlighting the proper form, execution and target muscles of this gym workout staple.

The bench press targets the development of the pectoral muscles (aka the chest muscles), but also calls upon help from your triceps (located on the back of your arms) and deltoids (aka shoulders). To properly do this exercise, you first have to lie flat on your back on a bench (or sturdy alternative -- remember my makeshift bench idea with milk crates and a long, thick plank of wood?). You will then place an equidistant grip on the bar with your hands, lifting it off the support rack. Once you have the bar securely above your sternum and with your arms fully extended, you can now begin. Slowly lower the bar until it touches the chest or stops only an inch from the chest (this is up to you), but be sure to not let the weight "bounce" off of you. Once you've reached the bottom of the movement, hold for one second and then press the weight back up to the starting position. Tip: when you raise the bar, be sure to exhale the air you took in while you were lowering it. Also, when you press the weight upward, try to avoid completely locking your elbows to full extension. This will ensure that there is constant pressure and also help avoid elbow injury). Continue this motion for the desired number of repetitions and sets.

There are several variations to the bench press, including the incline bench press, the decline bench press, the dumbell bench press, etc. Also, you can try mixing up the amount of reps you do from one set to the other, or even the amount of weight you place on the bar. Bear in mind that if your goal is size and strength, fewer reps/longer rest in between sets/fewer sets/heavier weight is the combination you want to go with. If muscle tone and a bit of cardiovascular effect are your desired results, I would stick with a combination of more reps/shorter rest in between sets/more sets/lighter weight.

For a good video demonstration of the bench press, click HERE.

Note: The content presented in this post is for informational purposes only. Please consult your doctor or fitness professional before starting a physical fitness program.

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Don't avoid the flavonoid

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It turns out that there's some truth to the old adage that An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away. According to a study published in a recent issue of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, women who eat apples regularly have a decreased risk of dying from coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease.

What if you don't like apples? Try pears -- or even red wine. This same study revealed that consuming either of these will have the same preventative effects as eating apples. The researchers attribute these heart-healthy benefits to compounds known as flavonoids, which help reduce bad (LDL) cholesterol (Note: Flavanoids are not to be confused with the Noid -- who in the 80s was known to ruin the occasional pizza).

Flavonoids are also known for their antioxidant activity, meaning that they protect against free radical damage. For a more comprehensive look at how flavonoids, found in such foods as apples and pears, can better your health, click HERE. As for how they measure up against this guy on the right, however, I think there is still much research to be done.

FDA considers clearer food label symbols

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The FDA is currently taking public comment on the possibility of creating a symbol system that would put nutritional information -- loud and clear -- on the front of food packages, instead of the current system of a smaller print food labeling on the side or back of a package. Though some companies currently do some version of this, the FDA system would presumably be more regulated and consistent. The hope is that when people see one of their favorite foods contains too much salt, fat, or sugar that they make a healthier choice.

I think there are arguments for both sides of this issue. On the one hand, most of us are perfectly capable of turning a box around to read the ingredients -- if we choose to do so. But a clearer system would help those who can't read small print, who are illiterate, or who aren't educated in basic nutrition. Would it stop you from grabbing that super-sized bag of potato chips, though? I don't know...I mean, after all, when I buy junk food, I usually already know it's junk. What do you think?

Racial differences in kidney cancer outcome

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According to a new study, older black people with renal cell cancer have significantly lower survival rates than older white patients. The study found that this disparity can be attributed to the lower rates of surgical removal of the kidney and higher rates of comorbid illnesses.

This study was conducted by Dr. Sonja I. Berndt from the NCI and was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Even among black patients who had surgery, the survival rates were lower when compared to whites who had their kidney removed. In contrast, black patients who did not have surgery had better survival rates than white patients who did not have surgery.

Today, I am Grateful

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The following post is one of a series of posts appearing Monday through Friday on The Cancer Blog. This feature -- Today, I am grateful -- allows me to share with readers my appreciation for all the treasures in my life, both big and small. In my post-cancer world, I find It healing for my soul to be mindful of the good in my life. It is my pleasure to share my gratitude with you.

I'm sick of talking about this sickness of mine. But there's one more thing I need to say in regards to how it's disrupted my life -- and how one person has helped me pick up the pieces I've left scattered around as a result.

The one more thing: Sickness always throws me for a loop. I'm an organized, planned, on-the-ball sort of person and I don't like how sickness takes me out of the game. I'm not good at sitting around, resting, putting my feet up for extended periods of time. I hate how life passes me by and my responsibilities begin to stack up. I try my best to stay on top of everything but all it really does is keep me sick. It seems the more I try to do, the longer it takes for my body to heal.

The one person: My husband. As Labor Day weekend approached and it was clear I was in bad shape, he took our boys to the beach for three days. When I'd been up coughing all night and there was no way I could get out of bed and take our kids to school in the morning, he did it. He also took the day off work, did chores around the house, and picked the boys up from school. He entertained them, cooked dinner, cleaned, and made sure I was in bed by 7:30 PM. He checked on me, made medicine runs, made sure I was properly dosed, and so much more. He made it easier for me to be sick.

Today, I am grateful for my helpful husband.

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A large majority of physicians in training do not understand statistics, says Yale study

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A new study from Yale shows that 75 percent of physicians in training surveyed do not understand the statistics used in medical literature. The study surveyed internal medicine residents at 11 programs across the country.

The residents scored an average of 41% correct on the test and the senior residents scored worse than the junior residents, possibly reflecting a loss of knowledge over time.

Practically all of the residents surveyed agreed that it is necessary to know something about statistics in order to be able to read medical literature and 77 percent expressed an interest in learning more about the field.

According to the corresponding author, Dr. Donna M. Windish, "If physicians cannot detect appropriate statistical analyses and accurately understand their results, the risk of incorrect interpretation may lead to erroneous applications of clinical research."

Brides Against Breast Cancer: Event in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania

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The Making Memories Breast Cancer Foundation's mission is to grant wishes, including memory-making events, for metastatic breast cancer patients, while continuing to support, educate and increase resource awareness.

One of the Making Memories fundraisers is Brides Against Breast Cancer. It can give brides-to-be, an opportunity to find the wedding gown of their dreams (at an incredible savings) while making wishes and dreams come true. Click here if you wish to donate your gown.

The Drexelbrook Wedding and Banquet Facility is hosting Nationwide Tour of Gowns on October 10th and 11th. If you live near Drexel Hill, PA you can attend this event and browse over 40 racks of exquisite, named brand and designer wedding gowns costing from $89 to $799.

Event Details:

Drexelbrook Wedding & Banquet Facility. Drexelbrook Drive & Valley road

Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania 19026

Wednesday, October 10th, 10am - 8pm

Thursday, October 11th, 10am - 8pm

Contact: mminfo@makingmemories.org

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Aspartame is safe, says new study

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A new study which involved a review of more than 500 reports by an international panel from 10 universities and medical schools states that aspartame is safe. According to the study, there is no evidence that the sweetener causes cancer, neurological damage or other health problems in humans. Aspartame is sold under various brand names including Equal and NutraSweet and has few calories.

The panel used data from NHANES to determine the most current levels of aspartame consumption and found that at those levels, aspartame is safe for consumption, is not cancer-causing or capable of causing neurological damage.

I don't consume any aspartame because I don't like the taste, but this is good news for people who do use aspartame for various reasons.

Expert tips on preventing lung cancer

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Want to prevent lung cancer? That's great -- just don't rely on vitamins and supplements to get the job done, and lessen those CT scans as well. Those do, after all, use radiation.

Members of the American College of Chest Physicians made both statements in the latest edition of the "Guide to Lung Cancer Prevention" -- and the suggestions go towards smokers and non-smokers alike.

The kicker is the knockout stat mentioned here: lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., with more dying from it that from colon, breast, prostate and pancreatic cancer combined. Wow.

But the biggest lung cancer prevention tip? Don't smoke, be near smokers and watch that smog intake if at all possible.

RFID implants under the skin may cause cancer

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See those little blips on the picture to the right -- the ones between the thumb and index finger? Those are RFID (radio frequency identification) chips, some of which are being used as implants into humans for several kinds of tracking purposes.

If you have one, though, watch out -- those chips may cause skin cancer according to some reports this week that cited medical studies stating as much.

RFID was to become the savior of having full medical records available in many patients by a simple read of the chip using a wireless radio scanner, as those tiny chips contain a vast amount of data for their size. But then, a growing amount of tumors were found in mice which had been implanted with RFID chips. Would you trust one, regardless of the personal security implications?

Rise to Action, a conference for young adult survivors of childhood cancer, coming to NYC in October

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Rise to Action, a conference series that aims to help young adult survivors of childhood cancer explore topics relevant to their long-term health care and survivorship, is coming to New York City on October 6 - 7. The conference series is hosted by the Children's Cause for Cancer Advocacy (CCCA).

The Rise to Action conference will be held at the Harvard Club is is free for young adult survivors, age 18-25, and their families. The conference will feature sessions on issues such as health insurance, fertility concerns, employment challenges and education transitions, in addition to other topics.

For more information and to register see the Children's Cause website or email RTA-NY@childrenscause.org.

Thought for the Day: Giving kids with cancer a little help with school

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I recently read this article, which states that children undergoing leukemia treatment generally have lower than average marks in school, particularly those who underwent cranial radiation. This was not because they missed school from being in a hospital -- they were provided with education whether at home or in the hospital. Still, the results are a relief to researchers because the majority of children who had undergone treatment did complete their basic education, albeit with a bit more difficulty than their healthy peers.

What do you think about this? I'm no education expert, but I think it's important that kids with leukemia should have some sort of extra educational help available to them -- maybe a tutoring program that can help them in the learning process. Afterall, they've gone through enough with their illness -- they shouldn't have to suffer through the humiliation of falling behind in class too.

September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

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September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness month. Advocates and researchers at the University of Michigan hope that increased awareness about ovarian cancer can save lives.

Here is what they want you to know.

1. Symptoms do exist. Bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, difficulty eating, feeling full quickly, and frequent or urgent urinating are have been shown to be related to a possible case of ovarian cancer and if they persist you should see your doctor.
2. There is no early detection screening test currently.
3. All women should get yearly pelvic exams.
4. Ovarian cancer is difficult to treat because it's often resistant to current treatments.
5. Survival rates are better at the early stage.
6. Most common in older white women.
7. A small number of ovarian cancers are hereditary
, linked to the same genes that are linked to breast cancer, BRCA1 and BRCA2.
8. The best person to treat ovarian cancer is a gynecologic oncologist.

Monday, 10 September 2007

Meg Wolff blogs about a life in balance

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Meg Wolff survived cancer -- twice. First she had bone cancer and lost her leg to the disease. Then she had breast cancer and was given little hope from doctors who thought traditional treatment could not save her. Maybe it couldn't. But Wolff found something that did save her -- a macrobiotic diet.

Life is all about balance, says Wolff who authors a website rich in content about the connection between diet and a healthy lifestyle. She offers up-to-date information on her blog, links to recipes and resources, a calendar of events, and a look at her very own book, titled, Becoming Whole, The Story of My Complete Recovery from Breast Cancer.

Wolff says that by changing her diet, she has changed her destiny. She is alive and well and thriving. Give her a visit and see for yourself.

People with cancer say what they want from support groups

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A new study finds that many people with cancer, over sixty-five percent according to this particular study, said they would be interested in attending a support group. However, only a small minority actually join one.

Study participants said that they wanted practical medical information promptly after diagnosis and about twice as many wanted medical information over emotional support. Eight-two percent wanted groups to include discussion of spiritual issues, however, Allen Sherman, Ph.D, the lead author from the University of Arkansas, said that this may be influenced by the fact that the participants mostly came from the Bible Belt.

The study also found that people prefer drop-in groups as needed and do not mind if the group contains people with different types of cancer.

Recent studies suggest that support groups do not increase survival time, but they do improve coping skills and mood. As always, with any sort of support or counselling, it is wise to use your gut. If you're getting something out of it, that is great. If not, it's best to move on and find the support you need elsewhere.

Sunday Seven: Seven tips for trusting lab results

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What if the lab results thought to be our own really were not? Hey, mistakes happen in all walks of life. And labs are not immune. But there are a few steps we can take to protect ourselves. Here they are:
  • Ask your doctor about the lab he or she uses. It should be accredited and approved by the College of American Pathologists, a sign the lab meets high standards.

  • If you can see the test tube or slide, make sure your name is on it. If you are in the hospital, make sure your wristband is accurate.

  • If test results surprise you, ask your doctor about them. If the doctor didn't expect the result either, maybe it's worth investigating or at minimum, repeating the test.

  • Get a copy of all lab results and reports. Patients have a right to these.

  • Take your slides to a specialist. If you've had a skin biopsy, for example, you'll improve your odds of a good diagnosis if a dermatologist sees it.

  • Document all lab work done. Include dates, times, what type of test is being run, and an area to record results. If you notice one day you never found out the result of a Pap test, for instance, give your doctor a follow-up call.

  • And finally, don't be afraid to ask questions of the medical professionals in your life. If you don't understand something, ask about it. If you think something is not right, ask about it. It's no fun to be in the dark -- so make sure you're not.
Source: Good Housekeeping, July 2007
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St. Jude finds factors that indicate resistance in acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL)

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Results of a study at St. Jude show why imatinib (Gleevec) is unable to prevent the relapse of an aggressive form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Imatinib has improved the treatment of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) dramatically.

CML and an aggressive form of ALL share the same mutation, the Philadelphia chromosome (Ph). Ph-postiive cells produce a growth-promoting enzyme BCR-ABL. However, in some aggressive cases of ALL, Ph-positive cells lack a tumor suppressor gene called Arf, which is present in CML cells, say the researchers.

The paper's first author, Richard T. Williams, says that doctors might be able to identify those people with ALL who lack Arf.

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Today, I am Grateful

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The following post is one of a series of posts appearing Monday through Friday on The Cancer Blog. This feature -- Today, I am grateful -- allows me to share with readers my appreciation for all the treasures in my life, both big and small. In my post-cancer world, I find It healing for my soul to be mindful of the good in my life. It is my pleasure to share my gratitude with you.

I've been sick for 10 days. Only during the past few days have I started noticing my body is beginning to mend. I judge this by the fact that lately, I am able to sleep.

For days and days, I coughed all night. I might sleep for an hour here and there but mostly, I spent my twilight hours hacking uncontrollably. My cough was so severe at times, it caused me to vomit. My cough was horrible and landed me night after night in a vicious cycle I couldn't control.

I saw a doctor several days ago who armed me with an antibiotic, an inhaler, and a cough syrup laced with codeine. The combination of these three are helping and slowly, although I slide backwards now and then, I am getting better. I'm not coughing as much during the day and when I take my magical cough medicine at night, I rest and sleep and cough only for short bits of time. Things are looking up. Finally.

Today, I am grateful for sleep.

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A lack of insurance does not mean a lack of medical care, says Baltimore Sun opinion piece

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According to Thomas Sowell, in a recent Baltimore Sun opinion piece, the "biggest of the big lies in the health care hype is that a lack of insurance means a lack of medical care." Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, a Stanford think tank. He then mentions how he paid for his own broken arm and jaw when he didn't have insurance when he was young.

Sowell also writes that "few people show the slightest interest in what has happened in countries with government-controlled medical care." He cites waiting lists in such countries while people in America are just "picking up a phone and making an appointment."

Sowell is right. You can just pick up a phone and make a doctor's appointment here in the U.S.

Paying for it, well, that's not quite as easy.