Displaying items by tag: Health

The new silent killer

The silent killer of the 1970s, high blood pressure, is now replaced by Metabolic Syndrome, a cluster of three or more risk factors like abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, abnormal lipids, and insulin resistance (pre-diabetes T2).

The expanding waistlines of Americans (and Filipinos also) the past several decades has been alarming, not only from the cosmetic/physical point of view but, more importantly, from their adverse impact on health, morbidity. and mortality. It is now obvious that “love handle” can be deadly.

The researchers from Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University, in an article posted this year in the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology ad Therapeutics, stated that “being overweight and obesity contribute to metabolic syndrome, which affects 1 in 3 adults and about 40 percent of adults aged 40 and older…that the risk factors are more than just the sum of their parts.”

Obesity is indeed surpassing tobacco as the pre-eminent preventable cause of early morbidity and premature deaths in the United States and globally.

The rule of thumb is that optimizing health requires and includes a waistline of less than 40 in men and less than 35 in women, and a healthy lifestyle: diet, exercise, abstinence from tobacco, disciplined alcohol intake, and stress management.

The authors of the study explain “that the visceral fat component of abdominal obesity leads not only to insulin resistance but also to the release of non-esterified free fatty acids from adipose tissues or body fat…the lipids then accumulate in other sites such as the liver and muscles, further predisposing individuals to insulin resistance and dyslipidemia-abnormal amounts of lipids…and adipose tissue may produce various adipokines that may separately impact insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease risk factors.”

Persons with metabolic syndrome are generally without symptoms and severely underdiagnosed and untreated, but have a 10-year risk of a first heart attack, according to the Framingham Risk score of 16 to 18 percent, which puts them in a higher risk category similar to those who already had a previous heart attack.

Various clinical studies have shown than even with a normal Body Mass Index (BMI), individuals with expanding waistline from visceral fats could still have metabolic syndrome. Those who consume soft drinks of any kind, cola or uncola, diet or regular, caffeinated or not, have a higher risk for the development of metabolic syndrome, especially children. Indeed, soft drinks are toxic to our body, to our DNA

As I have highlighted in the book Let’s Stop “Killing” Our Children, healthy lifestyle and disease prevention, in order to be fully effective, must start in the womb, and dieting and discipline must begin in the crib to protect the children’s DNA. This pre-emptive and proactive strategy at the cellular/molecular level will exempt them from having the so-called “expected and normal diseases of aging,” like arthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes T2, heart diseases, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and even cancer. Indeed, these are preventable.

The pandemic of obesity, which begins in childhood, is increasing the past century, and the current generation of children and adolescents (who eat more calories and unhealthy foods and who exercise less) will reach middle age with higher morbidity and mortality from metabolic, cardiovascular diseases, stroke, and cancer, which may even be worse than their parents’ in spite of the great advances in medical science and technology.
While colon cancer rates have been going down among the elderly (55 and older) since the 1980s, they are increasing among those in their 20s and 30s. This was the recent alarming finding of a US cancer registry, which reviewed nearly half a million color-rectal cancers diagnosed between 1974 and 2013, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute and in the March 1, 2017 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
The research shows that for colon cancers, a rate increase of 2.4 percent annually was noted for those in their 20s and 1.0 percent among those in their 30s. For rectal cancers, the yearly increase was even higher, 3.2 percent. In general, the study also found that there was an increase in the rate among adults in their 40s and early 50s, but not as bad.
This report revealed an alarming retrogression in our battle against colorectal cancers: “that young adults' colorectal cancer risk is now similar to that of adults born around 1890.”
The investigators pointed out that high obesity rates the past several decades “may play a role in this generation. Obesity increases the risk for all types of cancers and cardiovascular diseases, like high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and diabetes.
Our lifestyle, which includes what and how much food we eat, where we exercise or not, and all our self-indulgences/abuses, contribute a lot to our state of health. Metabolic syndrome, especially obesity, and red meat and processed meat consumption, all increase the risk for cancer. Neglecting regular medical/ dental check-up and recommended tests also increase our health risk.

The national Institutes of Health reports “approximately 2/3 of adults between 20 and older are overweight or obese with BMI greater than 25, and nearly 1/3 have BMIs greater than 30…less than 1/3 of them are at a healthy weight with BMI of 18.5 to 24.9.”

The estimated cost of obesity in the United States is around $190.2 billion a year, almost 21 percent of medical spending, not including the personal expenses of the individuals and the toll on human misery and human life.

Shedding off at least 5 pounds of our excess weight thru disciplined caloric counting and walking exercise for about 20 minutes a day will reduce our risk for metabolic syndrome and cancer by more than 33 percent. This is a practical and wise strategy we can painlessly do, for free!

Glaringly obvious are the evidence-based roles and impact of diet, exercise, tobacco, and alcohol on our individual health and longevity. They can’t be any clearer.

To a great extent, our health and our life are in our hands and what to do with them is our choice.

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Breast Implant and cancer

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reported last week that “nine deaths and hundreds of cases of a rare cancer have been linked with breast implants.”

The malignancy here is not breast cancer but an immune system cancer known as anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (ALCL). The cancer nurtures itself in the breast, notably in the scar tissue around the foreign body implant. Fortunately, in most cases this is treatable.

The implant-cancer link was noted in 2011. As of February 2017, the FDA has recorded 359 cases of ALCL linked to breast implant.

The Times reported stated “the disease is most likely to occur with textured implants that have a pebbly surface rather than a smooth surface…and of the 359 reported cases, there was information about the implant surface in 231. Of those, 203 patients had textured implants and 28 had smooth implants….Whether the implants contained silicone gel or saline appeared much less important than surface texture in disease risk.” The number of this ALCL cases worldwide is not known.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons there were about 290,000 women in the United States in 2016 who had implants for breast enlargement and 109,000 received implants for reconstruction after breast cancer surgery.”
Any pain, lumps, fluid accumulation or swelling of the breast after an implant, no matter when surgery was done need to be evaluated by the surgeon.
To prevent blindness
A retrospective study published in the JAMA Ophthalmology found that many children and adolescents with diabetes are not being screened in a timely fashion for diabetic retinopathy, a common cause of blindness among diabetics.
Diabetic retinopathy is a dangerous complication of diabetes which causes blood vessels in the eyes to leak, causing distortion of vision and can eventually lead to blindness. In early stages, this disease of the retina may not have symptoms.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology strongly recommends retinopathy screening be performed five years after a diagnosis of type 1 (Juvenile) diabetes is confirmed to reduce the risk of blindness. For those with type 2 diabetes, common among adults, screening is done at the time diagnosis is made, not later.
Diabetics and parents/guardians of diabetic children are advised to confer with their attending physician about this retinal screening.
Dangers of body art

Body Art is a popular fad especially among adolescents and young adults, which includes tattooing or body part piercing. The tattoos are usually on the chest, arms, belly, butts, ankles, or on just about any area of the body. They come in different shapes, design, color and various objects, like a girl, snake, flag, heart, words of protest or love messages. It is estimated that 10% to 25% of young adults (25 and under) have at least one tattoo.

A survey in one university involving 454 students (236 females and 218 males), which was 14% of the total enrollment, revealed that 23% (106) of them had one to three tattoos. This could well mirror the prevalence in other schools and universities in the country, perhaps higher in big cities, compared to the conservative communities. The most popular sites were the back among women and the arms and hands among men. One hundred twenty nine (51%) of those surveyed had a least one body piercing, 90% of men having had ears pierced, and 54% of the females had pierced navel, 49% ears and 27%, the tongue. Some of both the males and females had pierced nipples, eyebrows and genitalia.

Complications of body art include infection of the tattooed or pierced skin, transmission of hepatitis B and C, and HIV (AIDS). Allergic reaction, besides pain, swelling and bleeding, are potential complications of tattooing or body piercing. Keloid and scar formation is another. Infection is common because the needle and instruments used for tattooing or body piercing are mostly not medically sterile. A significant number of patients with hepatitis subsequently develop hepatoma, cancer of the liver, which is deadly.

Botox

Clostridium botulinum is a bacteria, whose toxin produces muscle paralysis among the victims of botulism food poisoning. Advances in medical technology has made it possible for physicians, usually plastic surgeons, to use the botulinum toxin (botox) as a shot in the face to induce transient and localized paralysis in the facial muscles to smoothen out wrinkles between the eyebrows, for frown lines and furrowed brows. The cosmetic effect has been impressive, but this is temporary. Besides this, botox shot has also been found to stave off migraine headaches among individuals who are resistant to conventional therapy. There are many more uses of this “good” toxin in clinical medicine today.
Colonoscopy saves lives
Colonoscopy is a procedure where a flexible endoscope (malleable tube like a telescope), equipped with fiberoptic lighting and (video CCD) camera, is passed through the anus, to view and examine the inner walls of the colon (large bowels) and distal part of the small bowels for any abnormality, like bleeding, ulcers, or the presence of benign poly(s), or cancer. Thru the colonoscope, excision of polyps, or biopsies may also be performed for a definitive microscopic tissue diagnosis. A sigmoidoscope is another scope that examines the final two feet of the colon, while the colonoscope examines the rest of the entire colon which is about four to five feet long. Many times it is done in conjunction with colonoscopy.

Colorectal cancer is the third-most common cancer in humans, topped only by cancer of the lungs and female breasts. More than 150,000 people in the United States each year discover they have cancer of the colon or rectum, and approximately 46,000 will die from it this year alone. The incidence starts to rise at the age 40 and the peak is between ages 60 to 75. Colon cancer is more common among women and cancer of the rectum among men. About 5% of the patients have both (synchronous cancer).

It appears that meat eaters have higher risk for the development of colorectal cancer. This malignancy is found more prevalent in populations whose diet is low in fiber and high in animal proteins, fats, and refined carbohydrates. The incidence of colorectal cancer is indeed high among those who eat red meat (pork, beef, etc) compared to those who eat high fiber diets (vegetables, fruits, wheat, bran, etc) and fish. The other predisposing factors include chronic ulcerative colitis, ganulomatous colitis, and familial polyposis. The older the person is, the higher the risk. Smoking and alcohol abuse increase the risk for cancer in general.

Everyone 50 years old and older should have an annual fecal occult blood test (FOBT), a rectal digital exam, and a prophylactic colonoscopy every 3 to 5 years. Those with a strong family history of cancer should have the examinations more frequently in accordance with the physician’s determination.

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WHO congratulates PH for 1.1-M decline in number of smokers

  • Published in Health

MANILA -- The World Health Organization (WHO) has lauded the country’s leadership in promoting significant interventions leading to a dramatic decline in the number of smokers from 2009 to 2015.
"The decrease in tobacco use that we've seen herein the Philippines for the last years is truly remarkable, also from a global perspective," WHO country representative, Dr. Gundo Weiler, has said.
Weiler was referring to the 2015 Global Adult TobaccoSurvey (GATS) report, which showed a 1.1 million drop in the number of smokers in the country from 17 million in 2009 to 15.9 million in 2015.
The GATS Survey is used to monitor adult tobacco use and track key tobacco control indicators across countries. In the Philippines,the survey was conducted in collaboration with the Philippine StatisticsAuthority, with technical assistance provided by the US Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention (CDC) and WHO, among others. The analysis and writing of the report was funded by the Department of Health.
Weiler noted that with the nearly 20 percent reduction in the number of smokers, the Philippines has achieved the level of international practices.
"You see such a dramatic change. Change can only be brought about based on a very strong political commitment," the WHO official said in an interview.
Weiler said the current administration’s sound leadership, as demonstrated by President Rodrigo Duterte in Davao City when he was still mayor, and the long-time advocacy of Health Secretary Dr. Paulyn Ubial, has contributed a lot to the reduction.
He also cited the other factors that led to the reduction, among them the implementation of the Tobacco Reform Law in 2012 or the "anti-cancer tax" as stipulated in Republic Act 10351; the implementation of the Graphic Health Warning in cigarette packs; and the creation of anti-smoking ordinances by local governments.
Weiler expressed hope that these interventions would be further strengthened by the much-awaited Executive Order on a smoke-freePhilippines that is expected to be signed by the President soon.
Noting that some 87,000 Filipinos die of smoking-related illnesses every year, he said these interventions are needed to protect the youth and children, from whom would come the next generation of smokers.
"While this is truly a great achievement, we need to redouble our efforts and intensify the interventions that have proven to be effective,” he said.
He assured that the WHO will continue to support thePhilippine government to reduce the morbidity and mortality linked to tobacco use among Filipinos. -- PNA

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