Thursday, June 22, 2017

Exercise Cure: Working Out Cuts Cancer Risk in Half, Study Shows

A landmark new research project, analyzing the medical records of about 70,000 cancer patients, provides the strongest evidence yet that exercise slashes the risk of dying from the deadly disease. In fact, cancer patients who exercise regularly are almost half as likely as non-exercising peers to die from the life-threatening illness, the study reveals.

“Based on what scientific research tells us, if cancer patients exercise regularly they will significantly improve their health and well-being, potentially improving their longevity,” lead researcher Dr. Prue Cormie tells Newsmax Health. Cormie, a principal research fellow at the Australian Catholic University’s Institute for Health and Aging in Melbourne, Australia, conducted the study with Dr. Kathryn H. the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. She says she hopes the findings, published in the journal Epidemiologic Reviews, “will help inspire people with cancer to start exercising” and encourage doctors to “prescribe” physical fitness the way they would medication to treat cancer. “The real novelty and impact of this work comes from the fact that it is the most comprehensive analysis of the available data,” she explains.

“This research has established exercise as an effective medicine that can be prescribed to counteract the adverse effects caused by cancer treatments and reduce the relative risk of cancer death or cancer recurrence.” Cormie adds that the research suggests it doesn’t matter what type of exercise people do. Walking and lifting weights have been shown to be particularly beneficial, but other forms of exercise are also beneficial. To reach their conclusions, Cormie’s medical scientists analysed 100 studies worldwide to confirm key findings showing death rates among cancer patients who exercise regularly plunged by almost half — up to 44 percent — compared with those who didn’t.

The researchers excluded studies that didn’t differentiate between deaths from cancer and other causes. They also took into account other factors that might contribute to the differences. In addition to cutting cancer deaths, exercise was linked with a lower risk — up to 35 percent — of cancers recurring. Physical activity also reduced the impacts of side effects from chemotherapy and other treatments. Cancer death risks were also “significantly lower” for those who engaged in the highest levels of exercise, compared to those who did were not as physically active.

“The findings of this review support the view that exercise is an important adjunct therapy in the management of cancer,” the researchers concluded. “Compared with patients who performed no exercise, patients who exercised following a diagnosis of cancer were observed to have a lower relative risk of cancer mortality and recurrence and experienced fewer adverse effects. Dr. Kathy Chapman, chairwoman of Cancer Council Australia’s nutrition and physical activity committee, suggests the landmark study should change the way doctors care for cancer patients. "This study confirms the importance of recommending exercise to people with cancer,” she says. "The evidence has been building over the past 10 years that exercise should be an adjunct to regular cancer treatment — especially for people with bowel, breast and prostate cancer.

People with cancer who incorporate exercise into their lifestyle have better overall survival rates and also experience better quality of life. Exercise has been shown to be beneficial in alleviating fatigue, a common side effect of cancer treatment.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Eating fried potatoes linked to higher risk of death, study says

How your spuds are cooked is key to your health. People who eat fried potatoes two or more times a week double their risk of an early death compared to those who avoid them, a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found. Eating potatoes that have not been fried was not linked to a similar early mortality risk, the researchers noted. "Fried potatoes consumption is increasing worldwide," warned Dr. Nicola Veronese, lead author of the study and a scientist at the National Research Council in Padova, Italy.

In 2014, Americans consumed 112.1 pounds of potatoes per person, according to the National Potato Council. Of that total, 33.5 pounds were fresh potatoes, the remaining 78.5 pounds were processed. According to the US Department of Agriculture, the majority of processed potatoes Americans eat are French fries. Veronese and his colleagues have been tracking 4,440 people aged 45 to 79 over a period of eight years to study osteoarthritis. This research team decided to momentarily set aside the main issue of osteoarthritis and look at participants' consumption of potatoes. Even though most of us may have assumed that fried potatoes could be unhealthy for us, there is "very limited" scientific data on this issue, Veronese explained in an email. So the researchers divided study participants into subgroups based on how frequently they ate potatoes each week.

Over the eight years, a total of 236 of the participants died. Analyzing the data for each group, Veronese and his team found that those who ate fried potatoes two to three times each week doubled their chance of dying early compared to those who ate no fried potatoes. French fries, potato chips, hash browns -- and any other preparation requiring a fryer -- are all included under the umbrella of "fried potatoes," Veronese explained. Age or sex of participants did not influence the result, but the data showed men were more likely than women and younger participants were more likely than older participants to enjoy the fried food. The study is observational, meaning the researchers simply tracked the behavior of a group of people and found an association between one behavior -- eating fried potatoes -- and another factor -- early death.

Because it is an observational study, Veronese and his co-authors note it cannot be said that eating fried potatoes directly causes an early mortality -- it would require more research to draw such a firm conclusion. "Even if it is an observational study, we believe that the cooking oil, rich in trans-fat, is an important factor in explaining mortality in those eating more potatoes," said Veronese. Trans fat has been shown to raise the "bad," or LDL, cholesterol in the blood, which can lead to cardiovascular disease. Yet, he also added that "other important factors," including obesity, a sedentary lifestyle and use of high quantities of salt might also play a role in the early death of those eating two or more portions of fried potatoes each week. National Potato Council CEO John Keeling said the "study isn't relevant to the general population" since the data was collected for an osteoarthritis study and includes only patients with arthritis.

"Potatoes are inherently a very healthy vegetable," said Keeling in an email. He said a medium-sized potato is 110 calories, has no fat, no sodium, no cholesterol, and provides nearly a third of the daily vitamin C requirement with more potassium than a banana. "How the potato is prepared will impact the calorie, fat and sodium content," said Keeling, however the basic nutrients remain "no matter how it is prepared." Based on the data in the study, Keeling said, "it is very much a stretch to brand fried potatoes, or any other form of potato, as unhealthy." Susanna Larsson, an associate professor at the Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, noted that the new study provides "no evidence" that potato consumption in and of itself may increase the risk of an early death. Larsson was not involved in the new study.

Instead, it may be the "other factors" suggested by Veronese himself. "Fried potato consumption may be an indicator of a less healthy (Western) dietary pattern which is associated with increased mortality," said Larsson, who also conducted a study of potato consumption. Her study did not find an increased risk of cardiovascular disease linked to eating potatoes. The potential danger when eating fried starchy foods, such as French fries, is acrylamide, said Stephanie Schiff, a registered dietitian at Northwell Health's Huntington Hospital in Huntington, New York. Schiff was not involved in the study. Acrylamide is "a chemical produced when starchy foods such as potatoes are fried, roasted or baked at a high temperature," explained Schiff in an email.

The browning process is actually a reaction that produces this chemical one shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals and considered toxic to humans, said Schiff. Acrylamide is also a potential cause of cancer, she said. "You can reduce your intake of acrylamide by boiling or steaming starchy foods, rather than frying them," said Schiff. "If you do fry foods, do it quickly." She also suggested you "go lighter" since "the darker the food, the more acrylamide it may contain." Finally, Schiff said that potatoes should not be stored in the refrigerator because this could lead to producing more acrylamide when the potatoes are later cooked. "Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables for a healthier alternative," said Schiff. Veronese said he hopes his new study will suggest to everyone that consuming fried potatoes "could be an important risk factor for mortality. Thus, their consumption should be strongly limited."

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

5 common causes for hair loss in teenage girls

If you’re an aging adult, you've probably come to terms with and have started to accept that you’re slowly losing your hair. On the other hand, what if you are a teenage girl, losing her precious hair at the prime of her life? Hair loss in teenage girls can cause emotional trauma at a critical time in their lives. However, this hair loss can happen for several reasons, and you can often treat and prevent it successfully. 

1. Hormones

As young girls turn into growing teenagers, they go through many bodily changes, including changes in their hormones. These hormones then fluctuate their emotions, eating habits, and their hair growth. Because the root cause of hair loss lies in one special hormone, present in both men and women, you can understand how hormonal changes and imbalances create such a problem. The hormone responsible for hair loss in anyone is dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. This hormone usually manifests in men; however, women and girls have low levels of testosterone as well. Unfortunately, with the help of an enzyme that rests in the hair’s oil glands, testosterone changes to DHT. Then, DHT literally shrinks the hair follicles, causing hair to fall out. Teenage girls may experience this hair loss until the hormones balance out in their bodies.

2. Medicine

Certain medications can cause hair loss in both teens and adults, especially ones which alter the hormones. In particular, some teenage girls may take birth control pills to relieve PCOS or control acne. However, the pill is also known for thinning out the hair. In fact, some doctors actually prescribe it to help teens who have excessive hair growth on their bodies. Other medications can cause hair loss as well, including anticoagulants, beta blockers, and even high doses of vitamin A.

3. Poor nutrition

Most people don’t think about the role of nutrition in healthy, supple hair and skin, but it does play a vital role. American teens often eat a diet high in starch and fats rather than a nourishing variety of fruits and vegetables. As a result, these teens can have deficiencies in important vitamins and nutrients. Their bodies then try to conserve what few healthful nutrients it has for its life-sustaining functions, diminishing the amount of nutrients to the hair. In addition, some teens may have poor nutrition due to eating disorders, and parents should watch carefully for this cause of hair loss.

4. Over-Styling

In an effort to keep up with current trends and styles, teenage girls often use heat products and tight hairstyles. If they use straighteners, blow dryers, and curling rods daily, they’ll eventually be dealing with dry, brittle hair. In addition, tight hairstyles like high ponytails and braids tug at the hair. If used often enough, they can pull out clumps, leading to embarrassing bald patches and shortened strands.

5. Deeper Medical Condition

Sometimes, excessive hair loss can signal a deeper medical condition. For example, people can suffer hair loss if they have a scalp infection, unregulated diabetes, an overactive or underactive thyroid, skin disorders, or trichotillomania (compulsive hair-pulling). In most cases, these underlying medical conditions will have accompanying symptoms, such as scaly or inflamed skin, losing hair in big patches, and fatigue. Parents should take note of any other changes accompanying the hair loss in teenage girls and talk over any concerns with a doctor.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Want to Lose Weight? Weigh Your Food for a Week

Journalism professor Michael Easter is weighing new eating habits. The 6’1" tall Las Vegas resident was hardly overweight at 185 lbs. But Easter, who spends his mornings running the canyon trails outside the city, was suffering from knee pain, and thought losing a few pounds would make running less stressful. After getting advice from a nutritionist, Easter began weighing his food to get an accurate idea of how many calories he was eating.

He was surprised to discover it was a lot more than he realized. “I had the same lunch every day and it was a protein shake with an apple and peanut butter and it’s like, ‘Oh that’s totally a healthy lunch — this is a great lunch.' But when I weighed peanut butter for the first time I was taking like three servings and I thought it was only one,” Easter told NBC News Better. “So here I was thinking I’m eating 200 calories, but I’m really eating 600,” he said.

Using a small kitchen scale he purchased for $14, Easter weighed all his food, from the cream in his morning coffee to the chicken he ate at dinner. He input the weight into the MyFitnessPal app on his phone, which calculated the exact number of calories in the food. Easter realized he previously didn’t have an accurate understanding of the portion sizes he was eating, especially when it came to calorie-dense foods. “I thought I was eating like 2,600 or 2,700 calories [a day], and it was a lot more than that,” he explains. “It was definitely above 3,000.” “A lot of times we make assumptions. For example, if I were to just put banana — generic banana — in a calorie counting app, [the results] could have been more than I actually ate, it could have been less than I actually ate,” says Easter.

“Same with nuts. If I took a handful of nuts and I throw them in the shake I could potentially be off by more than 100 calories depending on how many I thought that was.” He said weighing his food helped him see that the snacks he ate between meals were adding unnecessary calories too. “When you have to weigh everything, you realize that all adds up, and some days it was as much as 500 calories for me,” he says. “That’s enough to really move a dial in terms of weight gain or weight loss.” To lose weight, Easter cut his calories to 2,500 a day. He developed easy go-to meals for breakfast and lunch that made the process easier.

“There were definitely days where I resented that scale and I wanted to throw it on the ground, but to make things easier I would tend to fall into patterns and eat the same thing every day,” he says. The 30-year-old found that sticking to meats, vegetables, potatoes and nuts helped him feel full throughout the day. He said potatoes in particular helped him stay satisfied. “Most nights when I’m home weeknights I’ll usually do potatoes with chicken and some vegetables and then I’ll put sour cream on the potatoes and stuff like that, but now I just know don’t take too much [sour cream] because those kinds of fats are calorie dense,” he says.

Easter dropped 10 pounds in about 3 months. He said that weighing all of his meals is no longer necessary. But he has a much better understanding of what and how much he can eat to prevent the weight from coming back. “I found a sweet spot for how much I should eat,” he said. “So at the end I was eating about 2,950 calories, which is a lot, but I was staying at 175 pounds. My weight wasn’t fluctuating at all, which sort of told [my nutritionist] that’s an ideal amount of food for [me] to be eating at 175 pounds.” Easter feels better after shedding the extra weight. “I don’t have aches and pains that come along with running just because it’s a lot less force going to your joints when you lose 10 lbs,” he says. The professor believes everyone can benefit from weighing their food. “I think there is a lot you can learn about how much you eat and some of your eating patterns by just tracking it for a week and the scale lets you really track it,” he says.


  • Purchase a kitchen scale. 
  • Weigh all your food and input the results into a calorie tracking app like MyFitnessPal app. This will tell you the real number of calories you are consuming. 
  • Unhealthy foods will cost you calories. Healthier foods like meats, poultry, fish, nuts, vegetables, fruits and especially potatoes will help you feel full throughout the day. 
  • Creating go-to meals will establish a healthy eating pattern and save you time.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Hope for first drug against lymphedema

Many cancer patients, especially those who've undergone breast cancer treatment, experience painful, swollen limbs, a condition called lymphedema. Now researchers say they've found an underlying mechanism that could eventually lead to the first drug therapy for the debilitating condition. The findings come from research in mice and human cells. However, there's already a clinical trial underway to see whether these lab discoveries will translate into a new lymphedema treatment. It's estimated that 10 million Americans have lymphedema, said Dr. Stanley Rockson, one of the senior researchers on the study.

"Even though many people might not recognize the term, it's a very common condition," said Rockson, a professor at Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, Calif. People with lymphedema have excess fluid buildup in parts of the body, usually the arms or legs. Most often, the condition arises after certain cancer treatments damage the lymphatic system, preventing lymph fluids from draining properly. Right now, there is no cure or drug therapy for lymphedema, Rockson said. Instead, it's typically managed with measures such as massage, compression garments and pneumatic compression devices. Lymphedema is not just a cosmetic issue: It can be uncomfortable, hinder range of motion, and make people vulnerable to infections, according to the American Cancer Society. "It can severely limit physical and social functioning," Rockson said. In the new study, he and his colleagues aimed to get a clearer understanding of the molecular mechanisms that drive lymphedema. So they turned to a drug called ketoprofen.

The drug, a painkiller, has actually been studied as a lymphedema treatment. The problem, according to Rockson, is that ketoprofen can have side effects for the heart, gastrointestinal tract and kidneys. Safer alternatives are needed, he said. To zero in on ketoprofen's good side — its action against lymphedema — the researchers used lab mice induced to have a lymphedema-like condition. The scientists found that the drug prevented tissue injury and fluid buildup by blocking a protein called leukotriene B4 (LTB4). It turned out that the same protein was elevated in cell samples from lymphedema patients. And not only ketoprofen battled lymphedema in mice. Another drug called bestatin worked just as well. Bestatin is not approved in the United States, but it has been used for years in Japan as a cancer treatment. The advantage of the drug, according to Rockson, is that it has more "selective" action against LTB4 — and fewer side effects — than ketoprofen. Based on the lab findings, a clinical trial testing bestatin against lymphedema is already underway, Rockson said. Eiger BioPharmaceuticals, based in Palo Alto, Calif., is funding that trial (and acquiring the drug from its Japanese manufacturer). Rockson and a colleague on the study are consultants to the company. "I think patients should feel very encouraged that work is being done," said Dr. Theresa Gillis, chief of the rehabilitation service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

Still, the role of bestatin — if any — won't be clear until the clinical trial results are in, according to Gillis, who wasn't involved in the research. The "mouse model" of lymphedema, she noted, doesn't exactly replicate what happens in cancer patients who undergo radiation therapy or surgical removal of the lymph nodes. And, treatments that work well in animals don't always pan out in people. Gillis agreed that new lymphedema treatments are badly needed. "Millions of dollars are spent each year in the U.S. on treatment of lymphedema," she said. "And those millions are often costs carried by the patients themselves." Beyond costs, Gillis added, the current therapies are burdensome. "Patients with severe lymphedema wear specialty compression garments daily, and may need to use compression bandaging every night — or a second specialty night garment," she said. "Even with optimal efforts by the patient, edema can become progressively worse over time."

The new findings offer a clearer understanding of the underlying process in lymphedema, according to Gillis. Hopefully, the new understanding will "lead us toward eventually preventing the condition altogether," she said. The bestatin trial results are a few years away. But Rockson said he thinks patients can take heart in the fact that the work is happening. "Historically," he said, "lymphedema patients have been largely ignored, and that's led to a certain sense of hopelessness. But now I think we can say answers are on the horizon."

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

9 prostate cancer myths, debunked

After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in men. In 2017, the American Cancer Society estimates about 161,360 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed and about 26,730 men will die from it. The good news is that survival rates for prostate cancer are high, but experts say there are several myths out there about how it’s diagnosed and treated, and how it may affect men’s health and sex lives.

1. It’s an old man’s disease. According to the American Cancer Society, six in 10 cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed in men ages 65 and older. Although many men think prostate cancer is something they need to start thinking about in their 60s, men as young as 40 are diagnosed with prostate cancer too. What’s more, screening all men between ages 45 and 49 for prostate cancer can predict almost half of all deaths several decades later, a 2013 study in the journal BMJ found.

2. There are no symptoms. It’s true that many men with prostate cancer may not have any symptoms, even for those who have metastatic disease. Many symptoms of prostate cancer can also mimic other benign conditions like prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or an enlarged prostate, a urinary tract infection (UTI) or another type of cancer. Nevertheless, if you notice urinary frequency, urgency, a slow or weak flow or an obstruction of the flow, blood in your urine or ejaculate, bone pain, or unexpected weight loss, you should see your doctor to be evaluated, Dr. Chung-Han Lee, a medical oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Westchester in West Harrison, New York, told Fox News.

3. Blood PSA levels are only one way to make a diagnosis. High blood prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels usually indicate prostate cancer, but the only definitive way to diagnose it is with a prostate biopsy, Lee said.

4. You must start treatment right away. If you’re diagnosed with prostate cancer, your doctor will first determine the stage and your risk group — low, intermediate or high-risk — before deciding on a treatment plan. He’ll also take into account other conditions you may have, like obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes, as well as your smoking history, before deciding on the course of treatment. If you have other medical problems but a low-grade prostate cancer, for example, your doctor may hold off on treatment. Yet if you’re otherwise healthy and have an aggressive form of prostate cancer, treatment may be done earlier.

5. Natural remedies can help. Selenium, alkaline water, high-dose vitamin C, and even a combination of maple syrup and baking soda have been cited as ways to prevent and treat prostate cancer. The thinking behind them is, “If you alkalize your blood then cancer has a hard time surviving because cancer cells love an acidic environment,” Dr. Geo Espinosa, a naturopathic and functional medicine doctor in New York City, and author of, “Thrive, Don’t Only Survive,” told Fox News. Yet experts agree there’s no evidence any of these can help.

6. Surgery will end your sex life. Surgery will likely cause impotence at least initially, but most men will regain the ability to become erect with treatments such as Kegel exercises. How the surgery will impact your sex life depends on whether or not your doctor has to remove the nerve bundles that run on either side of the prostate. “If they can save at least one of them, then they can still have erections, sometimes with assistance,” Lee said. Medications like Viagra or injections, or a a penile implant or pump can help.

7. Diet and lifestyle don’t matter. You might think there’s no way to reduce your risk for prostate cancer, but diet and lifestyle actually play a significant role. Diets low in carbohydrates and sugar like the Mediterranean diet, and moderate to vigorous exercise three to four hours a week have been shown to help prevent the disease. It’s also a good idea to get 15 to 30 minutes of sun exposure sans sunscreen on 40 percent of your body, or talk to your doctor about a supplement, as low levels of vitamin D may predict aggressive prostate cancer, a 2016 study out of Northwestern Medicine found. Also, herbs like curcumin and boswellia lower inflammation and reduce biological markers that contribute to cancer, Espinosa said.

8. Treatment is a cure. Within 10 years of prostate cancer treatment, 40 percent of the time PSA levels will start to rise again, Espinosa said. It’s also not uncommon to be diagnosed and treated for low-grade prostate cancer and years later be diagnosed again with metastatic prostate cancer. If you’ve have prostate cancer, it’s important to be monitored roughly every three to six months within the first one to two years of treatment, After two years, you should get checked out every six to 12 months. If the PSA is undetectable after five years, you should be monitored every 12 months.

9. It’s fatal. The risk that prostate cancer will be fatal depends on how aggressive it is and the other medical conditions you may have. The good news is that for all stages of prostate cancer, the survival rates are high: The five-year survival rate is nearly 100 percent; the 10-year survival rate is 98 percent; and the 15-year survival rate is 95 percent.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Texans' David Quessenberry returns to practice after completing cancer treatment

Lineman David Quessenberry joined the Houston Texans for practice on Tuesday after spending nearly three years away from the game of football while undergoing treatment for non-Hodgkins T lymphoblastic lymphoma.

“When I finished my intensive treatment I felt like the furthest thing from a football player – no hair, skinny – but your body is an amazing thing,” Quessenberry, 26, told The Houston Chronicle. “We just took it slowly. We just did one workout at a time, one treatment at a time and eventually here we are.” In April, Quessenberry shared a video of his ceremonial ringing of the “chemo bell” to signify the end of his treatment. More than 33,000 people watched him ring the bell so hard that it actually broke off the wall. “Cancer did NOT make me strong.

Cancer did NOT make my family strong. Cancer did NOT galvanize my community. Cancer did NOT bring rival team Head Coaches and players together to support me,” Quessenberry posted in part alongside the moving video. “Cancer did NOT bring people together. Cancer did NOT make people travel hundreds of miles to help me and my family in our time of need. Cancer did NOT make people pray for me. Cancer did NOT bring me my Angel. Cancer did NOT make me thankful for my life. Cancer did NOT make me a believer that there is more to this world than just our eyes can see. Cancer did NOT shape me in the man I am today. Love did.”

Quessenberry was waived by the Texas after the 2015 season but was put on the non-football illness list and remained on the team’s roster. He said Texans coach Bill O’Brien and the entire organization have supported him since the day he was diagnosed. O’Brien, he said, offered him wisdom throughout his treatments, which he said have made him mentally and physically stronger than ever.

He’s now focused on regaining the weight and strength so he can compete for a spot on the roster. “We’re in uncharted territory,” Quessenberry told The Houston Chronicle. “But I feel great and it will be very soon where I can play.” The Texans shared a photo of Quessenberry in his practice gear on Twitter Tuesday, which he retweeted with the caption, “It’s so much more to me than just OTAs. THANK YOU!!!!!” Quessenberry was drafted by the Texas in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL draft.

Friday, June 2, 2017

One cancer is linked to highest suicide risk

Suicide is more common among cancer patients, but a new study suggests people suffering from lung cancer are at a higher risk than those who struggle with other forms of the disease.

For the study, researchers from Weill Cornell Medical College/New York Presbyterian Hospital analyzed information from a large patient database of 3,640,229 people, looking at suicide deaths for lung, prostate, breast and colorectal cancers individually. They found that over four decades, there were 6,661 suicides among cancer patients. When they compared suicides among cancer patients to the general population, the rate in patients with any kind of cancer was 60 percent higher.

"Cancer patients are under a lot of duress and stress when they're under treatment," said study author Dr. Jeffrey Port, a thoracic and cardiac surgeon at Weill Cornell Medical Center, told CBS News. When the scientists broke down the data on suicide by cancer type, they found dramatic differences. The suicide rate among lung cancer patients stood out: it was more than four times higher than the general population. They also found suicide rates were 40 percent higher than average among colorectal cancer patients, and 20 percent higher among those diagnosed with breast cancer or prostate cancer. Despite this, many doctors don't consider suicide risk in cancer patients, Port said. Patients may feel anxiety, depression or hopelessness after hearing stories from family members or friends who knew someone with the disease.

Port said doctors need to reassure their patients that every case is unique and that there are good treatments for early stage patients. "As lung cancer surgeons, we know the lung cancer diagnosis is a very serious diagnosis, but what's not out there is that patients with early stage disease are highly curable," said Port. What was most striking about the findings, Port said, is that 50 percent of suicides in lung cancer patients occurred in people who had what specialists consider highly treatable disease. "There's a disconnect about patients understanding their particular outcomes," he said. Suicide rates were also higher among Asians, men, older patients, those who were widowed, those who refused surgical treatment, and those with metastatic lung cancer , according to the study, which was presented at the American Thoracic Society 2017 International Conference, in Washington, D.C. Lung cancer (small cell and non-small cell types) is the second most common type among both men and women in the U.S. (not counting skin cancer, which was not included in the study).

The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2017, there will be about 222,500 new cases of lung cancer diagnosed and approximately 155,870 deaths from the disease. Lung cancer specialists don't tend to be well trained on the mental health side of patient care, said Port. "For us as a group it's striking that we're trained in medical school – we learn about the physical aspects of exam, but especially surgeons, we don't do a deeper dive into the psychosocial exams. It's pretty eye-opening that we should have to learn to ask patients, 'Are you sleeping, are you eating, how are your feeling about your diagnosis?' Doctors need to include these questions as part of the exam," said Port, adding that their care should be integrated with nurses and others who provide health care during cancer treatment.

One factor that may weigh heavily on the shoulders of patients: the consequences of lifelong health choices. "Eighty-five percent of our patients have traditionally been smokers and may have guilt about smoking all their life," Port said. But he also noted, "There's reason to be hopeful." "Each person's tumor is different genetically and we now have unique targeted therapies —immunotherapy — for early stage disease regardless of tumor type," he said. Dr. Joseph Weiner, an psychiatrist at Zucker Hillside Hospital, in Glen Oaks, New York, told CBS News that while the new study shows a correlation between lung cancer and suicide, other issues may come into play. "There may be other variables contributing that may be related to chemotherapies. And some people with lung cancer have changes in hormone secretions that may affect mood. A decrease in oxygen going to the brain may affect judgment and impulsivity, too," said Weiner.

Over much of Weiner's career he's worked with people who have had medical illnesses, including cancer. "I've gotten to see people suffer tremendously, emotionally. Some are unable to cope with a serious diagnosis and fall into depression, while others transcend their suffering and find hope even in the face of death," Weiner said. The way a doctor speaks to a cancer patient can have a big impact on that person's mental health and how he or she copes with the disease, said Weiner, whose wife died of lung cancer in 2015 almost a year after her diagnosis. He said she was a very strong person, but had some physicians who were better than others when it came to communication and compassion. "My wife asked her oncologist, 'Will I live long enough to watch my daughter graduate?' and the oncologist said, 'Now you're pushing it,'" said Weiner.

He said his wife was a strong person and didn't let it get in her way of focusing on her dream. But Weiner said a better alternative would have been to say, "I can't promise, but I can promise we'll try as hard as we can." For patients struggling with depression and suicide risk, words can have a powerful affect, he noted. Support can make a difference. "One of the destructive things a clinician can say is that there's nothing more we can do for you. There's always something we can do for you, whether it's pain management, symptom control, holding a hand, giving a hug, connecting with a chaplain or mental health provider, or discussing medication for depression and anxiety. It's not just the application of chemotherapy.

It's about the provision of humanity," he said. Most of all, he said doctors treating lung cancer and other cancer patients can provide hope. "Hope is broad. None of us live forever. What are we hoping for? Are we hoping to be loved? Are we hoping to leave a legacy for our lives? To see someone get married? Are we hoping to demonstrate to our loved ones that we can approach a life circumstance with great dignity? Are we looking to thank people? Are we looking to ask for forgiveness? I'm talking about hope as a process of how you want to live your life. Focusing on the day rather than the medical outcome."

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Truth About Hair, Skin and Nails Supplements

There’s no shortage of products on the market that are claimed to thicken hair, remove wrinkles, and fix dry, brittle nails. Among these are a slew of dietary supplements, some topping $100. But can a pill restore your hair, skin, and nails?

Here's what the research shows:

What the Science Says

Hair, skin, and nail supplements commonly contain antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, and E, or Coenzyme Q10, as well as biotin, a B-­complex vitamin. The minerals manganese and selenium are often found in supplements marketed for healthy hair, along with fatty acids such as fish oil and flaxseed oil. Deficiencies of these nutrients, ­although uncommon, may cause a litany of hair—and, sometimes, skin and nail—changes. Over time, for instance, insufficient intake of vitamins A and E can cause rough, scaly skin patches.

A deficiency of biotin may cause eczema and hair loss. But for those with no clear deficiencies, experts say there's no good evidence that supplements can make a difference. “I’m not aware of any robust data suggesting that any supplements can treat natural, aging-related hair loss or nail damage, or give you healthier skin,” says Pieter Cohen, M.D., an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and an expert on dietary supplements. Two 1990s studies did find that biotin supplements may help strengthen soft, easily breakable nails. But the studies were small and not rigorously conducted, and haven’t been replicated, Cohen says. “It’s nothing that would ever lead me to recommend it to any of my patients,” he adds.

What If You're Deficient?

Most people get enough of the nutrients mentioned above through diet, but in rare cases, a medical problem may cause a deficiency or affect your hair, nails, or skin. People who take antibiotics long-term or use antiseizure drugs, for instance, are more likely to be biotin-deficient. An over- or underactive thyroid may cause hair loss and dry strands. Iron-deficiency anemia can lead to brittle, oddly shaped nails. If you’re experiencing chronic hair, nail, and skin problems for no clear reason, talk with your doctor. “If nothing shows up after appropriate testing, because we don’t have a good blood test to detect biotin deficiency, it might be worthwhile to try a supplement for three months,” says Marvin M. Lipman, M.D., Consumer Reports’ chief medical adviser. “Since biotin supplements can interfere with thyroid testing, make your doctor aware.”

But remember that dietary supplements are not tightly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and might contain substances not listed on the label or have much less or more of an ingredient than promised. For example, in 2008, one brand of multivitamin was found to have 200 times the labeled concentration of selenium—after it had caused hair loss and discolored, brittle nails in about 200 people across 10 states. If you choose to take supplements, can you ensure that they are safe? Some carry one of four seals that might have some merit (U.S. Pharmacopeia, NSF International,, and UL). Here, more about what these seals really mean.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Happy Memorial Day

Join us in thanking all of our veterans for their service to our country! Wishing everyone a safe Memorial Day #veterans

Friday, May 26, 2017

How Can I Lose Weight? Best Diets Evaluated!

U.S. News evaluated 38 of the most popular diets and identified the best. Find which top-rated diet is best for your health and fitness goals.

Best Diets Overall
#1 DASH Diet
#2 Mediterranean Diet
#3 MIND Diet

Best Weight-Loss Diets
#1 Weight Watchers Diet
#2 Jenny Craig Diet (tie)
#2 Volumetrics Diet (tie)

Best Commercial Diet Plans
#1 Acid Alkaline Diet
#2 Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet
#3 The Fast Diet

Best Diabetes Diets
#1 DASH Diet
#2 Mediterranean Diet (tie)
#2 Vegan Diet (tie)

Best Diets for Healthy Eating
#1 DASH Diet
#2 Mediterranean Diet
#3 MIND Diet

See the complete list

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

4 Styling Mistakes That Could Actually Make Your Hair Fall Out

We've all had those days where it feels like there's more hair on the floor of the shower than on our heads. And while some shedding is normal—the American Academy of Dermatology says we shed about 50 to 100 strands of hair daily—anything more than that constitutes actual hair loss. And while age, stress, and hormones can all contribute to hair loss, have you ever considered the fact that your favorite 'do might be affecting your shedding, breaking strands? So where exactly are we going wrong? Thankfully, it’s how a hairstyle is executed—rather than the style itself—that can hurt your hair, says Larry Sims, the hairstylist behind Victoria Beckham’s famous bob. We asked experts to share their insight, and how we can prevent our favorite looks from breaking up our tresses.

Choosing Heavy Extensions And Weaves

Add-ons to your hair, like extensions and weaves, add extra weight to your hair. Choose styles that are too heavy, and your hair will come out, says Sims. That’s because the weight of extensions and braids can cause major stress and tensions to your hair, leading to breakage. “If you’re wearing a weave and it’s too tight, or you leave it in for longer than the recommended four to six weeks, that can potentially cause damage and take your hair out as well,” Sims adds. Your hair needs time to breathe freely in between these heavy, product-heavy styles. If not, it can potentially grow weak and break off.

Blow Drying Wet Hair

Even something as simple as a blowout can mess with your hair if done incorrectly. “Hair just isn’t that strong, especially if it’s highlighted and or color treated," says Peter Butler, hairstylist to Emma Stone and Claire Danes. “Trying to blow dry very wet hair with a brush is a form of hair torture, since your hair is only so elastic. If it is pulled and pulled with any kind of brush from wet to dry, you have the strongest chance of snapping the hair from heat and exertion,” he says. A great way to prevent breakage here is to make sure you remove excess water before styling. “Towel dry your hair first and then take the dryer and hand dry your hair, removing the most moisture first,” says Butler. “This frees up the natural texture and makes it easier to section and blow out with the brush.” This method actually helps you blow-dry your hair faster, says Butler—a win-win, in our book!

Using The Wrong Hair Ties Ponytails

Specifically the elastic that you use—can also lead to breakage, says Butler. “Using tight elastics that aren’t cloth covered or rubber bands to tie up your ponytail and then pulling them out will definitely tear out hair,” he says. “Repeat this and you get more breakage." Avoid rubber bands and go for hair ties like invisbobble ($8, or fabric-covered hair ties so that the hair easily slides off and doesn’t get stuck in the elastic. “I like Blaxx ($7 for 8, snag- free elastics” says Butler. “They slide off the ponytail.”

Using Heat Styling Tools All The Time

“Repeated use of heat-styling tools over time can destabilize the structure of hair, causing it to weaken and slip and eventually break off,” says Butler. This applies to any style that requires flat irons, curling irons, hot combs, and of course blow dryers. Womp womp. Thankfully, you don’t have to throw out your tools to protect your tresses. Instead, take preventative measures to strengthen your hair against heat damage. Butler recommends using a hair treatment with keratin, such as Schwartzkopf GLISS Hair Repair Ultimate Repair Anti-Damage Mask ($6, You can also try keeping things natural with your styling to give your hair a break from the heat, says Sims. “A twist up – or sleeping in braids overnight and unraveling them—is really beautiful too,” says Sims.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Hospital Heroes: Knitters make thousands of hats for chemo patients

Dr. Edda Fields-Black worked at Carnegie Mellon University until she was diagnosed with breast cancer. “As it is for many women, it was quite a surprise,” she told Fox News. Fields-Black has since taken a leave of absence to battle her illness, which she said has also been a tough journey for her two kids.

"One is a teenager one is in elementary school, and so they have their own takes on mom being sick,” she said. But there’s a silver lining, she said, at Magee-Womens Hospital where she’s getting treatment. Back in 2014, the hospital started taking volunteer knitters who made hats for patients. "We had originally made baby hats and we have switched to chemo caps because unfortunately there’s a great need for them,” Dena Chottiner, founder of the volunteer knitters, said.

Those involved believe the hats are important because of the need it serves. "I think the changes in body image with breast cancer—they’re really significant. You know, it’s hard, it’s hard," Fields-Black said of her treatment. Chottiner said the knitters have volunteered more than 1,000 hours since the initiative first started.

Organizers equated this to more than 3,000 hats made for patients at the hospital. Their efforts haven't gone unnoticed by the patients. “Just the outpouring of love and support that I’ve gotten from so many people--people I know, people I don’t know or didn’t know, people I’ve never met, like the knitters [is welcoming]", Fields-Black told Fox News. And for those who hesitate to take a hat, Chottiner said she knows exactly how to entice them.

“I’d I say ‘You have to take a hat. I have to keep these ladies off the street and out of trouble,’” she joked. And the knitters don’t plan to stop anytime soon, Chottiner said. "I’m just so happy that people, you know, use them, wear them, like them, comment on them, and that’s all part of it,” Chottiner said.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Why the 80/20 Rule Is the Gold Standard of Dietary Balance

What Is the 80/20 Rule for Eating?

The gist: you eat clean, whole foods for about 80 percent of your calories of the day, and you #treatyoself for about 20 percent of the calories for the day. (ICYMI it's recommended by health pros like Jillian Michaelsand many dietitians as a way to teach moderation.) "The 80/20 rule can be a fantastic way to enjoy the foods you love and keep your weight in check," says Sarah Berndt, RD for Complete Nutrition and owner of Fit Fresh Cuisine.

The Good & Bad of the 80/20 Rule It's something you can do forever. "It's a more livable diet style, which allows you to enjoy a few special treats without feeling guilt," says Sharon Palmer, R.D. and author of The Plant-Powered Life. When you feel guilty about eating something that doesn't fit into the "healthy" category, it can lead to binging and disordered attitudes about eating and body image. (After all, it helps you avoid the worst weight loss mistake there is.) It's not great for weight loss. If you are eating large portions of even healthful foods, like whole grains, fruits, nuts, healthy fats, lean proteins, you can exceed your body's energy needs (read: calories) and gain weight. Calories still count, even healthful sources of them. "The 80/20 rule is very loose guidance and could be applied to a diet lifestyle that's already in balance when it comes to calorie needs," says Palmer, meaning it may be best for weight maintenance rather than dropping lbs.

How to Implement the 80/20 Rule the *Right* Way "It’s still important to practice moderation and portion control with the 80/20 rule," says Berndt. "Your indulgences need to be a reasonable portion rather than a free-for-all to gorge." Just because that 20 percent is for "treats" doesn't mean you can go ham with the Oreos or a bag of chips. "Try to consider this more as a general rule of thumb," says Palmer, rather than specific numbers to meet every day. For example, if you're aiming for 2,000 calories a day (here's how to figure out how many calories you need), then the rule indicates you'd have about 400 to "play" with. But just because there's wiggle room for some indulgences (a glass of wine with dinner, a slice of a coworker's birthday cake), doesn't mean those are "throw-away calories" to be wasted on food with zero nutritional value—and you certainly don't need to use all 20 percent. In fact, it's probably best to shoot lower than 20 percent, since "people are really bad at estimating how much food they eat and consistently underestimate calories and portions," say Palmer.

Keep in mind: "Every meal is an opportunity to nourish your body," says Palmer. "For many of us, every bite should count in order to reward us with fiber, protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals (plant compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound)." If you learn to love the 80 percent—to crave peanut butter instead of cake, and roasted Brussels sprouts instead of chips—then you won't be dying for the 20 percent. Instead of thinking of it as a reward, think of it as some wiggle room to just ~live your life.~ (Because #balance is the essence of life—and the most important thing for your health and fitness routine.)

Monday, May 15, 2017

A Shocking Diagnosis: Breast Implants ‘Gave Me Cancer’

Raylene Hollrah was 33, with a young daughter, when she learned she had breast cancer. She made a difficult decision, one she hoped would save her life: She had her breasts removed, underwent grueling chemotherapy and then had reconstructive surgery.

In 2013, six years after her first diagnosis, cancer struck again — not breast cancer, but a rare malignancy of the immune system — caused by the implants used to rebuild her chest. “My whole world came crumbling down again,” said Ms. Hollrah, now 43, who owns an insurance agency in Hermann, Mo. “I had spent the past six years going to the oncologist every three months trying to keep cancer away, and here was something I had put in my body to try to help me feel more like a woman, and it gave me cancer. I thought, ‘I’m not going to see my kids grow up.’”

Her disease — breast implant-associated anaplastic large-cell lymphoma — is a mysterious cancer that has affected a tiny proportion of the more than 10 million women worldwide who have received implants. Nearly all the cases have been linked to implants with a textured or slightly roughened surface, rather than a smooth covering. Texturing may cause inflammation that leads to cancer. If detected early, the lymphoma is often curable.

The Food and Drug Administration first reported a link between implants and the disease in 2011, and information was added to the products’ labeling. But the added warnings are deeply embedded in a dense list of complications, and no implants have been recalled. The F.D.A. advises women only “to follow their doctor’s recommended actions for monitoring their breast implants,” a spokeswoman said in an email this month. Until recently, many doctors had never heard of the disease, and little was known about the women who suddenly received the shocking diagnosis of cancer brought on by implants. An F.D.A. update in March that linked nine deaths to the implants has helped raise awareness. The agency had received 359 reports of implant-associated lymphoma from around the world, although the actual tally of cases is unknown because the F.D.A.’s monitoring system relies on voluntary reports from doctors or patients.

The number is expected to rise as more doctors and pathologists recognize the connection between the implants and the disease. Women who have had the lymphoma say that the attention is long overdue, that too few women have been informed of the risk and that those with symptoms often face delays and mistakes in diagnosis, and difficulties in receiving proper care. Some have become severely ill. Implants have become increasingly popular. From 2000 to 2016, the number of breast augmentations in the United States rose 37 percent, and reconstructions after mastectomy rose 39 percent. Annually, nearly 400,000 women in the United States get breast implants, about 300,000 for cosmetic enlargement and about 100,000 for reconstruction after cancer, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Allergan and Mentor are the major manufacturers. Worldwide, an estimated 1.4 million women got implants in 2015.

Read more from the New York Times here.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

When Cancer Patients Should Ask For Genetic Sequencing

Cancer DNA can provide important clues about the best way to treat the disease, finds a new study published in the journal Nature Medicine. Doctors can genetically profile tumors by sequencing the DNA from a person’s cancer cells, revealing which mutations are responsible for causing the cancer. By comparing the tumor’s DNA to DNA from the same person’s healthy cells, the scientists can pinpoint which genetic changes were unique to the cancer cells.

In the new research, scientists at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) sequenced more than 10,000 tumor biopsies and found that 37% of the people had at least one mutation that could be addressed, either with a prescription for an existing cancer drug or by taking part in a clinical trial testing new therapies. Other patients learned that they could take advantage of some of the newer immune-based therapies that are showing great promise. These findings are especially encouraging, says Michael Berger, associate director of the Center for Molecular Oncology at MSKCC, since the people in the study all had advanced cancer. That means they had tried traditional therapies that hadn’t worked and needed new options.

“What’s unique about our data set is that we collected samples from patients with advanced, metastatic cancer,” says Michael Berger, associate director of the Center for Molecular Oncology at MSKCC. “A lot of the other large-scale genomic databases look at untreated tumors [when patients are first diagnosed], and they provide a different genomic landscape and makeup than advanced cancers which are collected after several rounds of therapy.” Genetic testing is available at many major cancer centers, but it is still not a routine part of care for all cancer patients. And not all genetic tests look at so wide a swath of genes as the one used by MSKCC in the study, which analyzed more than 340 genetic changes. Another barrier is that not all insurance companies cover the cost of tumor sequencing, since they aren't yet convinced that it's a critical part of cancer care.

Berger and his colleagues hope that more data, like the kind provided by this study, will change that. For now, the technology is most useful for people with advanced cancers that have spread and those who have exhausted all of their treatment options. (For many people with early-stage cancers, existing therapies work well in controlling the disease.) Some hospitals offer commercial tests, but these often look at a limited number of cancer-related genes; the current study shows the value of doing a more comprehensive analysis. Doctors at MSKCC offer the test to people who might benefit from the genetic information, and it is either paid for by their insurance or covered by the hospital's philanthropic efforts, in most cases. The main advantage of the database, says Berger, is the fact that it is connected to patients who are currently receiving care at the hospital.

That means their tumor profiles are linked to the treatment options they chose and how well they did. This helps other doctors start to identify which treatment options lead to longer survival and better outcomes for people.That’s why the database is also being made available for free to any cancer doctor who is interested in learning from the information. Berger and his colleagues say that the database will only become more helpful for doctors treating patients, since the information will include how well they did on their various therapies.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

How assembling the right cancer team may save your life

Moments after Eve Bender was told that a suspicious spot on her breast was cancerous, she phoned her brother, Lew Bender, who runs a cancer research company. “He said, ‘Don’t worry about it, it’s like an in-grown toenail, you just fix it,’” the sales executive recalls. His blithe response helped Bender sleep that night, but by 7 a.m. the next morning, she was back on the phone. Her doctor friend, Hara Schwartz, advised her not to be emotional, to get a couple of opinions and treat it.

She then called four breast-cancer survivors in her network, and battered them with questions: Where do I start? Who’s the best surgeon? What’s the timeline for surgery? In quick succession, the native New Yorker had assembled her “cancer team”: two top cancer doctors, one at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC), the hospital that diagnosed her, and another at Memorial Sloan Kettering for a second opinion; her boyfriend, Derek Bensen, for emotional support; Amy Cole, a close friend who would attend some appointments with her; Eileen Z. Fuentes, a patient navigator at CUMC; her boss, Jane Seo, who offered her immediate support at work; and, for post-surgery, Luana DeAngelis, a holistic practitioner who helps during treatment and recovery through her You Can Thrive! organization in Manhattan. “I realized that I couldn’t do this alone,” says Bender, 55. “The way to win is to be the quarterback of your own team.”

People diagnosed with cancer often choose to keep a low profile — they don’t want pity, they want their privacy and for their lives to operate “business as usual.” But by creating a team — experts, friends, patient advocates, wellness practitioners and therapy group members — the road to recovery can be less bumpy, and even transformative. “Our job as doctors is to prevent sickness, but it’s not just about getting through the operation and radiation and chemotherapy,” says Sheldon M. Feldman, director of breast cancer services at Montefiore Medical Center. “It’s about offering complete care so a patient can live a long, healthy, normal life for decades to come.” He believes that “having a healing team should be a standard part of any cancer patient’s health plan.” Fuentes, from Bender’s team, knows the value of this firsthand.

At age 34, the patient advocate — a service offered at most cancer centers — was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. Now cancer-free for nearly two years, she feels a special connection to her patients, and says having a strong caregiving team is as important as having a good clinical one. “[Patients] talk more openly to me than to their doctors,” says the integrative cancer care and wellness coach. “I’ll listen to their story and then my job is to say, ‘Bring your daughter, bring your friend, bring a notebook and write down these questions.’” Fuentes helps figure out the people patients need on their teams, and does everything from assigning tasks to scheduling appointments with different doctors on the same day. She’ll even arrange free hotel rooms if needed. “I tell my patients, ‘When all of this gets too confusing, I’ll be there.’” Clinical social worker Tammy Rosenthal, diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer at age 72, assembled a “virtual team.” With local support groups, says the Millington, NJ, resident, she ran “the risk of bumping into my patients.” Instead, she sent a mass e-mail to friends and family, and added the ones with generous responses to an e-mail chain. Within weeks, Rosenthal had around 50 people with whom she kept in touch. Ten people on her team were cancer survivors, including one who “had the same surgeon, the same oncologist, the same radiologist — and she was two years ahead of me, so she would help walk me through her experience without overdramatizing it or making it sound too small,” says Rosenthal, who now shows no evidence of the disease.

Her chemo and radiation teammate was her husband, Dave, and she eventually joined a Livestrong group at the YMCA in Basking Ridge, plus got into spinning and Zumba with eight others in the group. Two years on, Rosenthal is chasing after her 6-month-old grandson and is loving her new pixie cut. “My hairdresser rooted for me all along, too,” she says. “We were making lemonade out of lemons.” Brooklyn-based psychologist Paulette Sherman, 46, also kicked cancer with the help of a team. “I wanted a plan for success so I could keep working and seeing my clients, be there for my two kids and handle a 90-minute train commute to the hospital,” she says, five years after her diagnosis. “I actually had 34 people on my healing team playing different roles.” Her high-school friend (also a doctor) gave Sherman medical advice; a neighbor provided nutritional guidance; and a “cancer friend” whom she met at a cancer yoga class traded tips and tricks for coping with her. In addition, she says, “My spiritual teacher Christopher Dilts, a counselor and ‘angel intuitive’ who is based in California, spoke with me weekly and offered ways to remain centered,” Sherman says. Her “wellness practitioners” also included family: Husband Ian took her on weekly date nights during the course of her chemotherapy; her dad gave her car-service and massage vouchers; and her mother-in-law baby-sat whenever necessary.

Without her cancer team, Sherman says, “I would have gotten through the experience, but it might have felt like a nightmare instead of a healing spiritual journey.” Batya Reckson, an oncology social worker at Mount Sinai, says the spiritual component is crucial. “Everything happens so quickly that often patients don’t prioritize their mental health,” she says. That’s why she always works closely with patients — especially those who seem isolated, such as new immigrants or non-English speakers — to find people in their lives or their community to help them feel cared for. Treating cancer, Reckson says, intrinsically takes a village. “A hospital team, a network of friends and family, and community resources should always be a part of the cure.” Bender is grateful that she had a network of friends, family and even friends of friends to guide her. But even if you don’t have family, says the cancer survivor, “you can reach out to other people with your disease. Trust me: They will stop their lives and help you.”

Thursday, May 4, 2017

10 Ways Women Can Stay Healthy

May is Women’s Health Month. Experts from the UConn Health Women’s Center are urging all women to take action each and every day to maintain their overall health and prevent breast and other cancers by keeping these health tips top of mind:

Exercise 30 Minutes a Day: “The number one thing women can do to maintain their health and keep disease at bay is exercise daily,” says Molly Brewer, chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UConn Health, who recommends all women exercise 30 minutes per day. It will not only improve your cardiovascular health but also help you maintain a healthy weight, body mass index, and lower your risk of developing endometrial (uterine) cancer, breast cancer, and colon cancer, which are all linked with obesity. “With rising rates of obesity in America there has been a parallel increase in cancer diagnoses, especially for uterine cancer,” Brewer says. In addition, exercise can lower excess hormones in the body, which in turn lowers cancer risks, along with stress levels.

Make Time for Your Health: Women generally lead busy lives. In addition to making time to exercise daily, make sure you are maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including seeing your OB/GYN annually. “A simple chat with your doctor is key for maintaining your overall health, whether for cancer prevention, a healthy pregnancy, or managing menopause – make time for you,” says Danielle E. Luciano, a gynecologist and minimally invasive surgeon at UConn Health’s Women’s Center.

Listen to Your Body: Over the course of a woman’s lifetime, a host of conditions can arise. The most common issues can be endometriosis, ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids, breast cancer, or gynecological cancers such as endometrial, cervical, or ovarian. “It is very important to see your OB/GYN annually for preventive screenings, potential early cancer catches, and also to report any warning signs or worrisome health changes,” says Luciano. Warning signs are changes in your menstrual cycle, abnormal bleeding and bloating, fatigue, and any health change leading you to just not feel like yourself. Alerting your doctor right away can help the physician identify the culprit and offer a minimally invasive solution to treat your condition and potentially save your life.

Eat Healthy Every Day: Similarly to preventing heart disease, eating a healthy daily dose of nutritious, colorful fruits and vegetables is key to preventing and lowering your risk of developing breast and other women’s cancers fueled by obesity. “Women should minimize the processed foods they eat from a box,” says Alex Merkulov, a radiologist at the Beekley Imaging Center of the Women’s Center at UConn Health. “Natural, whole, and fresh foods are always the best choices. Also, avoid fried foods, which often contain trans-fats, and reach for foods and snacks low in saturated fats, sugar, and salt.”

Quit Smoking: More than 13 percent of women are still smoking cigarettes in the U.S., even though the evidence is clear that it leads to premature death, heart disease such as hardening of the body’s arteries, heart attack and stroke, and lung and other cancers. In fact, lung cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women. “If women are currently smoking, they need to quit the habit now to lower their future health risks,” says Brewer. “Cancers caused by smoking are preventable if you put the cigarettes down. Seek a smoking-cessation program to help you quit for good.”

Check Your Breasts: One in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. But the good news according to Merkulov is that if breast cancer is caught early, it can be treated effectively. “It is critical that, starting at age 40, women come in for a baseline mammogram so their breast health and any abnormal changes can be monitored annually as they age.” While more than 90 percent of abnormal mammogram findings in the end turn out to be benign, Merkulov stresses than an early mammogram is the only tool available to help reduce a woman’s chance of dying from breast cancer. In between yearly mammograms, women should perform monthly breast self-exams.

Get a Pap Smear: Once a woman becomes sexually active, experts say she should be going to the OB/GYN for regular pelvic exams and pap smear screenings. The pap smear tests for signs of vaginal and cervical cancers, along with sexually transmitted diseases such as human papillomavirus (HPV) or genital warts. “Some HPV strains place a woman at higher risk of cervical cancer,” says Shannon DeGroff, an OB/GYN at UConn Health Canton. “HPV infection is very common in both women and men who are sexually active. However, the virus doesn’t always cause symptoms, which is why screening is so important, especially for high-risk cancer-causing strains.”

Prevent HPV: High HPV prevalence is leading to increased rates of cervical cancer, and also a rise in head and neck cancer from oral sex transmission. In 2006, a vaccine to prevent HPV became available. However, data shows that only 25 percent of eligible young women ages 11-26 are actually getting the vaccine. “The HPV vaccine is only effective in preventing the spread of the disease if male and female youth are vaccinated,” says Brewer. Brewer says studies in Australia, where the HPV vaccine was mandated for school-aged children more than a decade ago, show it is working to prevent the disease’s spread and reduce the country’s cervical cancer rates.

Prenatal Care to Prepare for Pregnancy: A healthy pregnancy and baby starts with a healthy mom-to-be. “The most important focus is on a woman’s overall health and wellness before pregnancy in order to have a healthy pregnancy,” says Christopher Morosky, an OB/GYN at UConn Health. If you’re hoping to become pregnant for the first time or again, make sure to visit your OB/GYN for a pre-conception visit. Early prenatal care – including taking folic acid, getting to a healthier pre-pregnancy weight, practicing a good daily diet, and following an exercise routine are all critical for both fertility and a healthy pregnancy. It is also important to avoid drinking alcohol and ingesting tobacco, and to take a close look to see if your medication list needs to be adjusted for pregnancy. “If you are struggling to become pregnant don’t worry,” says Morosky. “There are OB/GYN and fertility experts and technology available to help you and your significant other find out why and help you succeed.”

Get a Colonoscopy: Colon cancer is the third largest cause of cancer death among women. “At age 50, women need to make sure they start getting their regular colonoscopy screening,” says Brewer. Catching any abnormal colon polyp growths early with colonoscopy can prevent cancer from further developing or spreading. Also, practicing a healthy lifestyle and diet can help prevent the disease.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Powering good nutrition with plant-based foods

Choose plants instead of pills. Such is the nutrition-based health strategy for members of the Eating Real Food Society in Abilene, which started about a year ago. ERFS promotes eating only plant-based foods that are whole and unprocessed. They avoid any foods that are from animals, including dairy and eggs. The food plan is along the lines of vegan, with a stronger “line in the sand” about not eating processed foods. For example, home-cooked dried beans instead of canned and olives instead of olive oil. Why? “Because there is so much in animal foods that is destructive to your health,” said Marsha Carter, an organizer of the group. She is a registered nurse who operates Abilene Nutrition to educate others on how to eat to support optimal health.

“Animals are produced in a way that is stressful to them, and we eat those stress hormones,” she said. She listed cardiac disease, compromised immune system and cancer as some of the consequences of an unhealthy diet. “Medicine is good for emergency care but is a dismal failure in chronic care,” Carter said. Members of ERFS enjoy a diverse diet full of flavor, as indicated by their potluck in March to celebrate the students who completed a five-week class taught by Carter. The class covers the scientific research that shows which foods support good health compared to those that compromise health. A new class starts May 11.

The colorful spread of homemade dishes and store-bought veggie and fruit trays included a kale and quinoa salad, a mango and avocado salad, soup, chili and desserts, such as one featuring oats, almonds, dried cherries and cacao nibs. Many of the members shared their recipes. Karin Richardson, who also helped organize the group, said she always has a bowl of fresh-cut carrots, radishes and other salad fixings in her refrigerator ready for a quick, easy meal. Richardson started following a plant-based diet in earnest about a year ago. “I’ve now gotten to where I don’t eat other things because I don’t feel good when I do. Eating this way, I feel good,” Richardson said. Since switching to a whole-plant diet, member Susan Condry said she has eliminated many of the 65 supplements she was taking daily. And, she has seen her cholesterol and blood pressure numbers improve. Carter is not strident when talking about nutrition. She simply wants to share the science-based information she has gleaned through the years. She cites scientific studies and recommends the book “The China Study” by T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. and his son Thomas M. Campbell, who are featured in the documentary film “PlantPure Nation.” “There are physicians all over the world who teach their patients how to eat this way. And they see them get better,” Carter said. That focus on the science is what drew Condry to the eating plan. “She (Carter) looks at scientific studies and who sponsors them,” Condry said. When people consult with Carter about pursuing a food plan for better health, she often provides transitional strategies.

For example, ideally dried beans should be cooked at home, but canned is better than selecting animal proteins. “Dry beans are cheaper and you know exactly what’s in them,” Carter said. he more food is processed, the more it losses its nutritional value. “To put something in a can and put it on a shelf, you have to take out the nutrients because they will break down. Processed foods have oils and other additives you don’t want," Carter said. "Canned tomatoes are not the same as the tomatoes in the produce department.” Part of Carter’s class involves strategies for making preparation of fresh and minimally processed foods an easy part of a daily routine, such as cooking dry beans in a digital electric pressure cooker or InstaPot. “I recognize that people don’t always eat this way. But when they stray and feel bad, I want them to know why,” Carter said.

Sometimes the journey is an amusing one. “Some people don’t realize that fish is meat. They’ll tell me they are vegetarian, and I’ll ask them, ‘So where do you get your omega-3 fatty acids?’ They’ll tell me fish,” Carter said with a laugh. She instead recommends freshly ground organic golden flaxseed for omega-3 fatty acids, which support brain health, reduce inflammation and lower the risk of heart disease, cancer and arthritis, among other benefits. “I would like them to eat healthy so they can reduce their health problems and their health risks,” Carter said. “My heart is in education.”

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Girl with hair loss condition puts unique twist on 'Crazy Hair Day'

A 7-year-old girl who lost her hair from Alopecia celebrated "Crazy Hair Day" at school-- with bling. In January, Gianessa Wride of Salem, Utah, began to lose her long brown locks. Her mother, Danielle Wride, first noticed a bald spot on the right side of her head.

Extremely concerned, she scheduled an appointment with dermatologists. But before they could see a doctor, almost all of Gianessa's hair had fallen out. Danielle ended up cutting off the remaining bits. So when Crazy Hair Day-- now called Crazy Head Day-- came around at school, Gianessa's mom came up with a creative way to help her daughter celebrate. Gianessa doesn't wear wigs because they make her head itch. She usually rocks beanies, hats, and scarves. But for the spirit day, her mom had something better in mind.

Danielle got fancy with jewel stickers and decorated her head with pretty floral and owl designs. The bling bling was a major hit with her classmates. Danielle tells FOX 5 DC Gianessa even won the award for best look in her class-- which we think was well deserved. Gianessa suffers from an autoimmune disease called Alopecia areata. The disorder causes the immune system to attack hair follicles, which results in hair loss. Danielle told FOX 5 they stopped seeing the dermatologist, mainly because there are not many treatment options and the side effects aren’t something they want to subject their 7-year-old to. "When she gets older, she's welcome to go down that road, and we will support her just like we are now," her mom said. When Gianessa was first diagnosed, she didn't fully understand that all her hair would fall out, but her supportive parents helped her see that she is just like any other kid. "Some people have blonde hair or black hair, some have curly hair, straight hair, short hair, long hair. She just doesn't have any hair. And she is still fabulous!" her mom said.

Bald is beautiful! We admire Gianessa for rocking her confidence so beautifully. For other parents or anyone going through a situation that makes you feel like you're less of yourself, Danielle says to keep going. "You are still amazing. Whatever you want to do put all of your effort into it, have a positive attitude, and you can obtain whatever goal you wish. Don't let it hold you back. Just put your best self forward and everything else will fall into place."

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Understanding Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors

To this day, Katie Koppel, a 23-year-old recent college graduate who lives in Boston, still remembers the exact moment she first pulled out her hair. She was a bored 7-year-old, sitting in front of the television. Mindlessly, her fingers wandered to her face and landed on her eyebrows. "I pulled out half my eyebrow in a couple of hours," Koppel recalls. "I just remember looking into the mirror and seeing what I had done, and not understanding what had just happened. I felt this tremendous sense of fear." Koppel's pediatrician thought her hair loss might be caused by lupus. Her parents were stymied. Nobody thought to ask Koppel – who by then had begun shutting herself in closets for hours at a time, yanking at her face and scalp with swollen fingers – if she was pulling her hair out herself. Eventually, Koppel's mother did a Google search for "unusual forms of hair loss."

She discovered a clinical term for her daughter's condition: trichotillomania. Trichotillomania is a condition in which individuals feel the compulsive urge to tug out their body hair. Leg hair, scalp hair, arm hair and armpit hair are all fair game, as is facial hair, eyelashes, chest and pubic hair. However, Koppel and her mother would soon learn that trichotillomania falls under an even broader umbrella of little-understood disorders called body-focused repetitive behavior, or BFRBs. These are behaviors that involve compulsively damaging one's physical appearance – picking at skin, pulling hair, biting nails and even chewing one's lips or the inside of the cheeks. But wait – doesn't everyone pull their hair or pick their skin from time to time?

According to Dr. Nancy Keuthen, a professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School and co-director of the Trichotillomania Clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital, individuals with BFRBs "have tried repeatedly to decrease or stop. [Their behaviors] cause distress and impairment in functioning," she says. "All of us do some skin picking or hair pulling, whether you're going to admit it or not, but the people who come in for treatment are the people who are seeing significant tissue damage or hair loss." About 1 to 3 percent of the population is thought to have trichotillomania, and about 1 to 5 percent is thought to have a skin picking condition known as excoriation disorder. The people who have this clinical level of the diagnosis, Keuthen says, will often start picking or pulling around puberty – although they can also start earlier or later in life. Both men and women struggle with BFRBs, although women are more likely to seek treatment. Patients with BFRBs might spend an hour or more a day picking, pulling, biting or thinking about it. They'll constantly try to manage their urges – which might negatively affect their relationships, friendships, family functioning and focus at school or work. There are also medical and cosmetic concerns. Those who pick at their skin might experience infections and scarring. Individuals who pull out their hair might find it difficult to grow back. In rare and extreme cases, people can pick down to the muscle or dig away at their nose so much that their septum collapses. And, of course, like many psychological conditions, trichotillomania, excoriation disorder and other related behaviors are accompanied by stigma. BFRBs are "disorders of isolation and of shame," says Koppel, who wears a wig to hide her hair loss. "I think in a lot of ways that's more damaging than any more physical or medical consequences could ever be. Every single person I know with trichotillomania has, at one point, felt like they were the only one who did this.

They didn't know it had a name, they didn't know it was diagnosable. And people were reinforcing that shame by telling them [they] could stop if they wanted to." Men with trichotillomania often escape scrutiny by shaving their heads or beards. With women, who tend to have longer hair, it's a little harder to hide. And those with excoriation disorders will often pick at areas covered by clothing or wear garments to conceal their marks. So why do people pick and pull? Doctors are still trying to figure that out. Trichotillomania and excoriation disorder are both listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders; both are considered obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders, though they're unique from OCD. (Nail biting, lip chewing, nose picking and other behaviors aren't yet listed; they aren't as often reported, nor are they as widely studied.) "OCD is really all anxiety-driven," says Carol Mathews, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Florida. "You feel a sense of relief when you've acted on your compulsion, but you don't feel a reward. With hair pulling, you feel a sense of relief, a sense of reward, if you got the right hair or you got that scab." Mathews adds that OCD is usually accompanied by obsessions – fears of contamination, or a thought that you might harm someone. Compulsions are in direct response to those thoughts. But rather than being triggered by thought, hair pulling and skin picking are driven by urges. "It's a very physical act," Mathews says. "There are mental compulsions that you can have with OCD, but it doesn't have to be a physical compulsion." BFRBs feel different for everyone. Some people feel an increased sense of tension or anxiety before they pick or pull, and a feeling of relief after. Yet others pick or pull – almost in an absent-minded manner – when they're understimulated or bored. And many individuals engage in both hair pulling and picking; Keuthen says that up to half of people with trichotillomania also have excoriation disorder. "They're kind of kissing cousins," she says. Angela Hartlin, a 29-year-old from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, who has excoriation disorder, finds she's more prone to picking while dealing with stress.

Her skin picking "was personally driven by anxiety," Hartlin says, who once picked at her skin for hours a day and has experienced both infections and scarring. "I found it calming. So calming down the anxiety is something I have to do as part of my self-care routine. You have to know your own specific triggers and counter them." Hartlin eventually recognized her triggers. But it took help from a professional therapist, who started working with Hartlin after she appeared on a television show to talk about her experience with excoriation disorder. For years, Hartlin couldn't find help. Both Hartlin and Koppel faced a common problem that many patients with BFRBs experience – a difficulty finding a medical provider who understands their conditions. Many physicians have little clinical understanding of BFRBs and aren't trained to treat them. Or they'll mistakenly diagnose excoriation disorder or trichotillomania as an unrelated skin or psychological disorder. There are experts out there who treat BFRBs. But if you have a BFRB and don't live near a major hospital, your best bet is to seek a therapist who specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy, says Dr. Jon Grant, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Chicago. They should be well versed in these behaviors and can hopefully tailor their approach to fit your needs. Antidepressant medications like SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, are often prescribed for individuals with BFRBs. But although they might help with anxiety and depression – which, in turn, might alleviate skin picking or hair pulling – Grant says they show little efficacy for treating conditions like trichotillomania and excoriation disorder. However, studies have indicated that a pharmaceutical drug and nutritional supplement called N-acetyl cysteine might reduce patients' urges to pull or pick.

 Even then, treatment is highly individualized for each patient. Some people might respond to cognitive behavioral therapy, which teaches patients to recognize their thoughts and behaviors and change them. Yet others might not be motivated enough to fully engage in a series of sessions. N-acetyl cysteine might yield improvements in one individual, but not another. Bottom line? What works for you might not work for someone else – and vice versa. For instance, Koppel has not found much success with cognitive behavioral therapy, but she did once stop pulling for six months after trying hypnotherapy. And Hartlin didn't notice much of a difference with N-acetyl cysteine, but she greatly benefited from therapy. Is remission possible? Experts and patients alike agree it is – although "remission" might not necessarily mean that you'll never pick or pull again. Some people are able to stop completely. But you shouldn't be too hard on yourself if you occasionally find your hand straying toward your face or scalp, Grant says. Hartlin agrees. "Recovery is possible, but you need to accept yourself and where you're at with picking or pulling. Loving who you are will enhance your life," Hartlin says. "I'm in a state of recovery now where I … still have urges, but I can emotionally work through them." Hartlin still occasionally finds herself picking – but after many years, she says she's finally able to wear shorts for the first time.

She also finds it rewarding to spread awareness of BFRBs; she's formed support groups, and her memoir, "Forever Marked: A Dermatillomania Diary," recounts her years of struggle. And Koppel – who recently authored her own memoir – found her greatest source of solace through the Trichotillomania Learning Center, which was founded in 1991 to provide advocacy, awareness and support for individuals with trichotillomania. Since then, it has expanded to include those with other BFRBs. While Koppel isn't in "remission" per se, she is actively seeking treatment. Most importantly, she's no longer ashamed. "What I really attribute my emotional healing to is the Trichotillomania Learning Center's conferences," Koppel says. "I finally realized for the first time that I wasn't alone. It's one thing to read an article on the Internet, but another to be surrounded by people in a room who are going through the same experiences you are. That really drove things home in a way nothing else could."

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Girl with hair loss condition puts unique twist on 'Crazy Hair Day'

A 7-year-old girl who lost her hair from Alopecia celebrated "Crazy Hair Day" at school-- with bling. In January, Gianessa Wride of Salem, Utah, began to lose her long brown locks. Her mother, Danielle Wride, first noticed a bald spot on the right side of her head. Extremely concerned, she scheduled an appointment with dermatologists. But before they could see a doctor, almost all of Gianessa's hair had fallen out. Danielle ended up cutting off the remaining bits.

So when Crazy Hair Day-- now called Crazy Head Day-- came around at school, Gianessa's mom came up with a creative way to help her daughter celebrate. Gianessa doesn't wear wigs because they make her head itch. She usually rocks beanies, hats, and scarves. But for the spirit day, her mom had something better in mind. Danielle got fancy with jewel stickers and decorated her head with pretty floral and owl designs.

The bling bling was a major hit with her classmates. Danielle tells FOX 5 DC Gianessa even won the award for best look in her class-- which we think was well deserved. Gianessa suffers from an autoimmune disease called Alopecia areata. The disorder causes the immune system to attack hair follicles, which results in hair loss. Danielle told FOX 5 they stopped seeing the dermatologist, mainly because there are not many treatment options and the side effects aren’t something they want to subject their 7-year-old to. "When she gets older, she's welcome to go down that road, and we will support her just like we are now," her mom said.

When Gianessa was first diagnosed, she didn't fully understand that all her hair would fall out, but her supportive parents helped her see that she is just like any other kid. "Some people have blonde hair or black hair, some have curly hair, straight hair, short hair, long hair. She just doesn't have any hair. And she is still fabulous!" her mom said. Bald is beautiful! We admire Gianessa for rocking her confidence so beautifully. For other parents or anyone going through a situation that makes you feel like you're less of yourself, Danielle says to keep going. "You are still amazing. Whatever you want to do put all of your effort into it, have a positive attitude, and you can obtain whatever goal you wish. Don't let it hold you back. Just put your best self forward and everything else will fall into place."