Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Neighborhoods with more light have higher breast cancer risk, study says

A new study from Harvard has found greater risk of breast cancer in women who live in neighborhoods that have higher levels of outdoor light during the night.

The findings are based on the Nurses' Health Study (NHS), which has for decades been advancing our understanding of risks to women's health. For this study, epidemiologist Peter James and colleagues followed nurses in the NHS for breast cancer occurrence from 1989 to 2013. The home of each of 109,672 nurses was geocoded, and the average light level in the immediate neighborhood at night was estimated from satellite images taken by the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program. These estimates were updated over the 15-year follow-up period. By 2013, a total of 3,549 new cases of breast cancer had been diagnosed, about what's expected among this number of women.

The study found a direct relationship between a woman's neighborhood nighttime light level before diagnosis and her later risk of developing breast cancer: The higher the light level, the higher the risk. These findings held even when taking into account many other factors that may also affect risk such as age, number of children, weight, use of hormone medications and a long list of additional potential confounders. Of importance if confirmed in more studies, the relationship was strongest in young women diagnosed before menopause.

The study is significant because it adds a strong piece of evidence to the growing body of studies supporting the idea that excessive electric light exposure at night increases a woman's risk of breast cancer.

The idea that electric light at night (LAN) might explain a portion of the breast cancer pandemic dates back to 1987. It was pretty far-fetched at the time because light doesn't seem toxic in any way that could cause cancer. It can't break chemical bonds and damage DNA, and it's not a hormone like estrogen, which, in excess, can cause changes in the breast that can lead to cancer. Light is, by definition, the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum, and so it does not include X-rays or even ultraviolet radiation, which can burn skin.

Light is an exposure that challenges the conventional definition of a toxic substance. If a little asbestos is bad for you, more is certainly worse. The same holds for ionizing radiation (like X-rays), dioxin and lead. The difference is that the effects of exposure to light on human health depend crucially on timing. Over millions of years, we have evolved with a daily cycle of about 12 hours of bright light (the sun) and about 12 hours of dark. So during the day, our body expects light, whereas during the night it expects dark. There is a deep biology to this, and electric light is throwing it out of kilter. One perplexing possible consequence of this light exposure is an increased risk of breast cancer in women. Researchers, including me, have been exploring this possible link in part because breast cancer has no single known major cause. This is unlike many of the other common cancers such as lung, liver, cervix and stomach, for which a major cause has been identified for each; these major causes are, respectively, smoking, hepatitis viruses, human papilloma virus and the bacterium Helicobacter pylori.

But how could the nighttime light level outside a woman's home in her neighborhood affect her risk of breast cancer? The rationale for studying the outside light level is the assumption that communities that shine brightly to a satellite at night are composed of people who in general are bathed in LAN: They have greater exposure in their home, outside on the street, and for evening entertainment in the city. So, the satellite data are thought to be a surrogate, or a proxy, for this actual LAN exposure to each woman, particularly in the evening before sleep.

My colleagues and I did a similar analysis using satellite data in the state of Connecticut. We also found a stronger effect in younger women, as did another study from 2014 conducted among teachers in California. The studies from Harvard and from California are superior to ours because they both had individual-level data on many more potential confounders than just age, which we did not. Yet all three studies do point in the same direction.

The Harvard study comes closely on the heels of a very public warning from the American Medical Association on potential health problems from "white" LED street lights. It is important to note that the nighttime light levels used in this new study were recorded before any widespread use of "white" LED street lighting.

If the results from Harvard are real, and too much light at night from any and all sources does increase a woman's risk of breast cancer, then retrofitting street lighting all across America should be done in a way that does not further contribute to the problem. It would be best to select luminaires that are as dim as possible, and weak in the short wavelengths (e.g., blue), yet still consistent with accomplishing their intended purpose. Electric light is one of the signature inventions of an inventive species. But its overuse has caused an obliteration of night in much of the modern world. The loss of night has consequences for all forms of life, including us. And the mounting evidence for a connection to breast cancer is alarming.

Friday, August 18, 2017

10 nutrients that will prevent hair loss during MENOPAUSE

All your life, you have taken pride in your hair. It’s a symbol of your beauty and fertility. But come menopause and few things start going awry in your body. By this time, your body undergoes a series of hormonal changes and one of the commonest problems you will face is that of hair loss. Menopausal women often complain about their waning mane, when they find clumps of hair in the hair brush and on the pillow. Typically, women achieve menopause by the age of 50.Almost 20-60% women face this condition, which also causes low-self esteem among women who are already coming to terms with their menopause. A good diet comprising of hair-growth nutrients will ensure that you don’t lose your precious hair after menopause. Here are the 10 top nutrients you will need include in your diet to prevent menopausal hair loss.


The most important set of macronutrients you will need is proteins, which should make up at least 10-15% of your diet. If your diet is insufficient in proteins, you face problems like hair fragility and brittleness. Ensure your diet is rich in cystine and L-lysin, without which, hair will become limp and brittle. Good sources of these important amino acids include paneer, yoghurt, fish, meat, turkey, chicken, legumes, sunflower seeds, pistachios, peanuts and beans. Grains like buckwheat (kuttu), barley groats and brown rice should be had. Having at least 2-3 eggs per week is recommended for good hair growth.


Irrespective of where you stand in the fat versus anti-fat debate, include a good amount of healthy fats in your diet. Fats supply your body with linoleic acids and long-chain polysaturated fatty acids which are important for hair structure. Deficiencies of these nutrients will make your hair look limp and dehydrates. So fill up on good fat sources like fish oil, flax seeds, walnuts, poultry, eggs, olive oil and rapeseed oil.


A lot of women go off on carbs and embrace a more protein rich diet for maintaining body weight. While loading up on simple carbs in processed foods can damage your hair from within, deficiency of complex carbohydrates can also trigger hair loss. It’s important that you eat a complex-carb-rich diet with a low glycemic index. Carbs should comprise 50-70 percent of your diet from sources like grain bread, brown-red rice, whole meal pasta and low glycemic fruits.

Vitamin C
Vitamin C deficiency can have an impact on the development of the hair shaft. It is important for the body since the micronutrient helps in absorbing iron from iron-rich foods like spinach. Hence it is important that your diet contains a vitamin C-rich diet such as parsley, peppers, sprouts, broccoli, spinach and fruits like strawberries, kiwi fruit and citrus fruits.

Folate is a type of B-vitamin that occurs naturally in certain foods; it helps in the production of red blood cells and haemoglobin, which transports oxygen to your hair cells. Folic acid, a type of folate, plays a crucial role in helping hair tissues grow by stimulating hair rebuilding mechanism of the follicle cells. Additionally, it also helps prevent greys! To should prevent hair loss, eat green peas, white beans, kohlrabi and beets. Non-vegetarians can also eat eggs, cod fish and poultry livers to supplement folic acid production.

Pantothenic acid (B5 vitamin)
This important vitamin prevents premature greying of hair and restores the original hair colour. Among its many virtues include, promoting cell division in hair follicles, hydrating hair, protecting from inflammation, regulating sebaceous glands and accelerating melanin creation. Women who have crossed 50 should eat a diet full of B5 rich foods like cauliflower, mushrooms, soya beans, eggs, whole grains, milk, beans and green leafy vegetables.

Women who want to grow their hair out often take biotin supplements. Vitamin H or B7, as it is otherwise known, takes part in metabolising fat. Having a biotin deficiency means hair loss, skin inflammation, brittle nails and greasy scalp. Eating a diet rich in meat, livers, egg yolks, nuts, vegetables and milk will take care of your biotin deficiency and take care of hair loss during your menopausal phase.

Niacin or Vitamin PP is responsible for keeping your hair in ship shape. Some of the richest sources of the crucial vitamin include meat, whole wheat grains, legumes, vegetables, seeds, milk, green leafy vegetables, fish, peanuts, shellfish and yeast.

Cobalamin or Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin which helps in the production of red blood cells, responsible for carrying oxygen to your tissues and maintaining the colour of your hair. Vegetarians and vegans who shun animal products are the ones who are often deficient in this crucial vitamin. Women should eat a diet rich in meats, fish, eggs and dairy products to ensure they get enough B12 to prevent any episodes of hair loss.

Vitamin A
Vitamin A deficiency can decrease the speed of cell regeneration and synthesis. It is responsible for moisturising and protecting hair from being brittle. The best source for Vitamin A would be through plant sources like spinach, carrots and sweet potato. Excess of the vitamin through animal sources could cause build-up in the liver, which could trigger hair fall.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

How the 'Instagram diet' works

At 37 years old, Lisa Pessah-Bloom, a mother of three, was pre-diabetic, struggling with losing postpartum pounds and concerned about her health. "I had gestational diabetes for all three of my pregnancies. After my third, my A1C (blood sugar measurement) kept rising, and the doctor told me for the first time to be careful, because I was on track for diabetes." Pessah-Bloom knew that she had to shed her pregnancy pounds and get her blood sugar under control. She did a Google search on diets for diabetes and stumbled upon the Paleo diet, which includes protein-rich foods like meat, fish, eggs and nuts, as well as vegetables and fruit, but excludes grains, dairy, legumes, sugars and salt. "People said that their diabetes was reversed," she said.

She started eating more vegetables and unprocessed foods. But while following Paleo helped Pessah-Bloom eat a clean, lean diet, it wasn't enough to get her to her goal. She needed something else -- a support system of sorts -- and so she opened an account on Instagram under the handle @paleoworkingmama. "I started my Paleo page for motivation, really for myself," Pessah-Bloom said. But it wasn't long before she found people with health issues like herself who were also using the photo-driven app. "I started following others who reversed Crohn's and IBS too, which I also had," she said. "The more I followed people, the more I felt empowered. And then something unexpected happened. After some time, people who followed me told me that I -- me! -- empowered them. It was a chain of support," she said. "I got it from others, and I gave it to others. People asked me to come to their house to perform refrigerator cleansing! They are inspired by the pictures I post of the food I make and what I keep in my kitchen, like my spices."

The community support that Instagram provides may be its most valuable asset for those hoping to achieve their health goals. "The first picture I posted was a mason jar of water with lemons," Pessah-Bloom said. "I had just learned about my high blood sugar, and I wrote, 'Making lemonade out of lemons.' " The post marked the start of Pessah-Bloom's new diet and exercise journey, and in her post, she encouraged others to follow and support her.

"One person posted my post on her page -- she had over 15,000 followers, and she said, 'Let's give @thepalemoworkingmama our support' -- and then all of a sudden I had 100 followers. This was someone I didn't even know ... someone who has plenty of her own followers, but she really wanted me to succeed on my journey." There's also the benefit of being part of a more intimate community. "With Instagram, you can have a separate part of your profile dedicated to food journaling, and you don't have to be worried that your family member or neighbor who just wants to see pictures of your dogs or vacations will be turned off," said Christina Chung, a doctoral student at the University of Washington and lead author of a study that analyzed women who consistently use Instagram to record and share what they eat, in order to learn about the benefits and challenges of using the platform to achieve one's health goals. "Instagram is just pictures. There are no posts about politics. It's easy to navigate, with no chaos or clutter," Pessah-Bloom added. "If you follow someone, you're following them for a specific reason ... and often someone with a similar goal." Pessah-Bloom also appreciates the convenience that Instagram provides. "People are so busy, and sometimes you can't go in person to a Weight Watchers meeting. With Instagram, it's in your face. You're seeing it all the time. When I eat something bad ... and I see someone preparing something wonderful, I say, 'Why did I do that?!' It keeps you inspired!" Food pictures that create cravings for tasty, healthy food help, too. "When you see something so mouthwatering and appetizing, you're more likely to try it, and then you get hooked on eating well," Pessah-Bloom said.

For those who use Instagram to track what they eat, the ease of snapping a picture is particularly helpful during a jam-packed day. "The benefit of photos is that it's more fun to do than taking out a booklet or typing hundreds of words of description in an app," Chung said. "Plus, it's more socially appropriate for people who are trying to track their diets to snap a photo of their plate when they're out with friends: Everyone's doing it, and it doesn't look weird." As one of the study participants noted, "if I was out with friends or something, then a quick snapshot of the food would be easier than saying, 'Hold on, guys, I need to pull up MyFitnessPal and put everything down and the right serving size.' "

But just how accurate is Instagram as a tracker for weight loss? Can you really know the portion sizes, fat grams and calorie counts of what you ate -- or should eat -- when you swipe through photos? "When it comes to losing weight, food pics may or may not help," said Angela Lemond, a registered dietitian nutritionist and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "The food could be great quality, but even an excessive amount of 'good' food will cause weight gain." If, for example, someone spots a picture of healthy chicken parmigiana as food inspiration for weight loss, it may be difficult to figure out the correct portion size, unless it is listed. "It's not very accurate if you are looking for tracking information such as detailed nutrients, portion size and calories, since it might be difficult to assess this information from photos," Chung said.

f you're looking for a 200-calorie meal, you might search using the hashtag #200calories and find some options. But in Chung's study, participants used the platform in conjunction with other apps if they were seeking more detailed nutrition data. Calories aside, for those who use Instagram, the visual cues that the app provides -- actual pictures of food -- may be just enough motivation to continue eating on plan, or in some cases to eat less. "Before (when using MyFitnessPal), I would have a small snack pack that was a bag of chips and be like, 'Oh, that doesn't really count because it's just a little tiny bag.' But I think with Instagram, it helped me because I was taking a picture of it: It's real, and it exists, and it does count towards what I was eating. And then putting a visual image of it up really helped me stay honest," one study participant said. Tensions between tracking honestly and posting something perceived as more desirable were also observed in the study. That could present a dilemma, leading some to spend time on making photos look better, explained Chung. But the thought of posting something "off-plan" may also help people stay on track, she added.

Monday, August 14, 2017

A Cancer Conundrum: Too Many Drug Trials, Too Few Patients

With the arrival of two revolutionary treatment strategies, immunotherapy and personalized medicine, cancer researchers have found new hope — and a problem that is perhaps unprecedented in medical research. There are too many experimental cancer drugs in too many clinical trials, and not enough patients to test them on.

The logjam is caused partly by companies hoping to rush profitable new cancer drugs to market, and partly by the nature of these therapies, which can be spectacularly effective but only in select patients. In July, an expert panel of the Food and Drug Administration recommended approval of a groundbreaking new leukemia treatment, a type of immunotherapy. Companies are scrambling to develop other drugs based on using the immune system itself to attack cancers. Many of these experimental candidates in trials are quite similar. Yet each drug company wants to have its own proprietary version, seeing a potential windfall if it receives F.D.A. approval.

As a result, there are more than 1,000 immunotherapy trials underway, and the number keeps growing. “It’s hard to imagine we can support more than 1,000 studies,” said Dr. Daniel Chen, a vice president at Genentech, a biotechnology company. In a commentary in the journal Nature, he and Ira Mellman, also a vice president at the company, wrote that the proliferating trials “have outstripped our progress in understanding the basic underlying science.”

“I think there is a lot of exuberant rush to market,” said Dr. Peter Bach, director of the Center for Health Policy and Outcomes at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. “And we are squandering our most precious resource — patients.” Take melanoma: There are more than 85,000 cases a year in the United States, according to Dr. Norman Sharpless, director of the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of North Carolina, who was recently named director of the National Cancer Institute.

Most melanomas are cured by surgery, leaving about 10,000 patients who have had relapses and could be candidates for an experimental treatment. But nearly all will be treated by doctors outside of academic medical centers, who are not part of the clinical trials network and so do not offer patients experimental treatments. Companies therefore must compete for the few patients with relapsed melanoma who are at centers offering clinical trials.

Many end up struggling to find enough subjects to determine whether a treatment actually works — and if so, for whom. And these drugs often are not so different from one another. Immunotherapy drugs that attack a protein known as PD-1 are approved for treatment of lung cancer, renal cell cancer, bladder cancer and Hodgkin’s disease, noted Dr. Richard Pazdur, director of the F.D.A.’s Oncology Center of Excellence. Yet many pharmaceutical companies want their own anti-PD-1. Companies are hoping to combine immunotherapy drugs with other cancer drugs for added effect, and many do not want to have to rely on a competitor’s anti-PD-1 drug along with their own secondary drugs. So in new trials, additional anti-PD-1 drugs are being tested all over again against the same cancers — a me-too business strategy taken to multibillion-dollar extremes. “How many PD-1 antibodies does Planet Earth need?” wondered Dr. Roy Baynes, a senior vice president at Merck, which received approval for its first such drug in 2014.

Immunotherapy trials have proliferated so quickly that major medical centers are declining to furnish patients to them. The Yale Cancer Center participates in fewer than 10 percent of the immunotherapy trials it is asked to join. The problem is that many of the trials are uninteresting from a scientific view, said Dr. Roy Herbst, the center’s chief of medical oncology. The companies sponsoring these trials are not addressing new research questions, he said; they are trying to get proprietary drugs approved. If the struggle to find patients for immunotherapy trials is challenging, finding patients for another new type of cancer treatment can be next to impossible.

Friday, August 11, 2017

From Cancer to Career Changes, Kathy Bates Talks Life's Challenges

Kathy Bates knows how to roll with the punches. In the last 14 years, she has beaten both ovarian cancer and breast cancer. And, after a long and lauded career in film, the 69-year-old actress has shifted her focus to TV, starring in four seasons of FX’s American Horror Story and playing actress Joan Blondell in FX’s Feud. Next, she’ll star as Ruth, the owner of a California cannabis dispensary, in Netflix’s comedy Disjointed, out August 25.

An ongoing challenge for Bates is lymphedema, a blockage in the lymphatic system often triggered by removing lymph nodes during breast cancer surgery. The chronic condition causes excessive swelling in the arms and legs and affects 10 million Americans, “yet nobody really knows what it is,” says Bates. She’s now a spokesperson for the Lymphatic Education & Research Network (LE&RN). We caught up with Bates to talk about lymphedema, her newfound niche in TV and ditching the prosthetics after a double mastectomy.

Cancer and its aftermath changed my outlook in a profound way. I’ve become less of a hermit and I travel more. I really enjoy every moment of my life now. It’s not that every moment is terrific—we all go through tough times— but I try to be more present and grateful for the good times that I have. I realized that I had to get back in shape. I started walking more. I’ve lost around 55 pounds. Just being physically free of that extra weight has been liberating and has helped keep the [lymphedema] swelling down. I avoid salt and alcohol, too, because of lymphedema.

I’ve recently decided to “go flat.” I read that more and more women are doing that, and finally I came to the conclusion, “I don’t have breasts anymore, why do I have to pretend like I do?” I have prosthetics and I can put them on for a character, but in my own life I wear Spanx tanks under my shirts and I feel much more comfortable with that than having to strap on a bra with these fake boobs in them. That has given me a lot of freedom and confidence and I just feel better. TV has rejuvenated my career.

I’ve gotten to really push my envelope. Oftentimes, I’m cast as the sort of dumpy dishrag mother or best friend part, so to be able to play someone like [the twisted New Orleans socialite in American Horror Story] Madame Delphine LaLaurie, it’s a panoply of opportunities for an actor. And now I’m getting to do a sitcom with Disjointed. People will see a side of me they haven’t seen before. My two Yorkies are at the very center of my well-being and happiness. My favorite part of every day is when I get to come home and cuddle with them. Their philosophy is: it’s always a good time to take a nap. Wise creatures. I recently bought an electric guitar. I used to play guitar years ago. It brought me a lot of pleasure when I was a teenager growing up and was having tough times. Now that I’m navigating the waters of being older and going through some tough times adjusting to that, I decided I’d like to get back to what gave me joy.

My inner strength comes from my friends. I have a very close group of friends and family and we all help each other through our dark times. That love and support has really flourished in the last few years of being sick. I have really focused on mindfulness. That helps me make better choices both physically, psychologically, and emotionally. If something bad happens, rather than flying off the handle, I try to breathe and focus and wait till the anger/fear subsides so that I can really think through something and realize a) it isn’t about me or b) this is what I can do to change it. The things that I can’t do anything about, I have to learn to let go of.

I think I’ve been living my bucket list for the last few years. I’ve done and experienced so many wonderful things. If I went tomorrow, I wouldn’t be disappointed. I might want to go out and buy a Bentley or a sports car or something like that but then I’d think, “I don’t need all of that stuff.” But cars are always in my fantasy bucket list.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Why Inflammation in Your Mouth May Raise Your Risk of Cancer

Women with gum disease are 14% more likely to develop cancer than those with healthy teeth and gums, according to a study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. The link appears to be strongest for esophageal cancer, but associations were also found between poor oral health and lung, gallbladder, breast, and skin cancer.

The study looked at data from nearly 66,000 postmenopausal women, ages 54 to 86, who were followed for about eight years. At the start of the study, they completed a health survey and reported whether they had ever been diagnosed with periodontal disease, an inflammation off the gums that can lead to tooth loss. Gum disease is caused by sticky, bacteria-laden plaque that forms on teeth. In the early stages, known as gingivitis, the gums can be swollen and bleed easily. Daily flossing and brushing can usually reverse gingivitis. If plaque is left on teeth, it can progress to periodontal disease, which is inflammation around the teeth that causes gums to pull away and form pockets, which can trap more food and bacteria.

With time, the bacteria, inflammation, and body's immune reaction can damage teeth and supporting bone structures, which can lead to tooth loss. During the study’s follow-up period, about 7,100 of those women developed cancer. Overall, those with a history of periodontal disease were more than three times as likely to develop esophageal cancer—and nearly twice as likely to develop gallbladder cancer—than women without. Their risk for lung cancer, skin melanomas, and breast cancer was also increased by 31%, 23%, and 13%, respectively.

Periodontal disease is more common in people who smoke and drink, which are also risk factors for several types of cancer. And in the new study, women with periodontal disease were more likely to report a history of smoking, exposure to secondhand smoke, and alcohol consumption. But even among non-smokers, gum disease was still associated with a 12% increased risk of developing cancer overall. For some types of cancer, the link to gum disease did disappear when the researchers factored out smoking habits. For other types—like melanoma and cancers of the gastrointestinal tract—the connection remained.

This isn’t the first study to suggest that gum disease is associated with certain cancers, but few studies—and none on older women—have calculated an overall increased risk. The researchers focused on this population because risks for gum disease and cancer both increase with age, and because a link had already been established in men. Researchers don’t know for sure why gum disease and cancer are linked, says senior author Jean Wactawski-Wende, dean of the School of Public Health and Health Professions at the State University of New York at Buffalo. But she and other researchers believe that bacterial pathogens in the oral cavity may play a role.

“These pathogens can travel to different parts of the body through your saliva, and they come in contact with your stomach and esophagus when you swallow, or end up in your lungs through aspiration,” says Wactawski-Wende. When gums become inflamed and infected, pathogens—or disease-causing toxins—can also permeate the tissue and enter the blood stream, and travel to other parts of the body as well. Previous studies have shown that these pathogens may play a direct role in the formation of cancer tumors and other inflammatory health issues throughout the body. Gum disease has also been tied to obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, but it’s not clear whether gum disease contributes to these conditions or vice versa.

The study authors point out that they were only able to find an association, not a cause-and-effect relationship, between gum disease and cancer risk. And it’s possible that gum disease in the study was under-reported, they add, since they relied on survey responses rather than a doctor's or dentist's exam. But the large study size and the strength of their findings make a good argument for more research, they say. In fact, they’re currently studying the oral microbiome—the type and variety of mouth bacteria—of women with gum disease, and they plan to see if there are any patterns or links to the cancers the women may develop n the future.

The study also makes a good argument for taking care of those pearly whites, says Wactawski-Wende—and the gums that keep them in place.“Between this and other studies, we’ve seen a link between periodontal disease and heart disease, diabetes, and now cancer, so it seem to me that it would be prudent to recommend maintaining good oral health,” says Wactawski-Wende. “That involves brushing and flossing, but also seeing a dental professional who can monitor and clean your teeth, and who can prevent periodontal disease or treat any cases that do arise.”

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Little evidence for supplements to treat thinning hair, dry skin and brittle nails

There’s no shortage of products on the market that are claimed to help stave off thinning hair, fine lines on the skin and dry, brittle nails. Among these are a slew of dietary supplements, some topping $100.

These 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 and flaxseed oils.

Deficiencies of the nutrients above, although uncommon, can 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 can a pill restore your locks, nails and skin? This is what we know right now.

For healthy people, 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, 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 they haven’t been replicated, Cohen says. “It’s nothing that would ever lead me to recommend it to any of my patients,” he adds.

Most people get enough of the nutrients in these supplements, but in rare cases a medical problem may cause deficiency or affect your hair, nails or skin. The few who take antibiotics long term or who use anti-seizure drugs, for instance, are more likely to be biotin-deficient. An overactive 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, Consumer Reports’ chief medical adviser. “Since it can interfere with thyroid testing, make your doctor aware.”

But remember that dietary supplements are not well regulated 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.

Manage the damage 

Eat enough protein. It’s important to maintain a healthy diet for overall health. But getting 30 percent of your daily calories from protein (preferably lean) can help keep your hair in shape.

Treat your body well. Be cautious with hair dye (semipermanent is less damaging than permanent), blow-dryers, flatirons and styles such as tight ponytails. If you bite your nails, keep them trimmed or consider using a clear, bitter-tasting polish to help you stop. Wear cotton-lined gloves when washing dishes, moisturize hands and nails daily, and use moisturizing soap. Moisturize skin frequently and take short, tepid showers. Run a humidifier in your bedroom or office to keep the air between 30 and 50 percent humidity. If you smoke, work at quitting.

Protect yourself from the sun. Exposure to its UV rays can cause premature wrinkling, sagging, spots and skin coarsening. Limit sun time and use a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30 daily.

Consider Rx help. Prescription topicals such as tazarotene and tretinoin creams have been shown to reduce fine-line wrinkles, skin roughness and sun and age spots. Over-the-counter formulations with retinol, retinaldehyde, retinyl esters and oxoretinoids are also available, though less evidence supports their effectiveness.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

How Exercise Fights Inflammation

From jogging to weightlifting, physical activity is good for you, in part because it helps your body fight inflammation.

Now, a new review explains exactly how exercise works to lower inflammation. Inflammation is the body's way of healing itself after an injury and protecting itself from infection; but chronic inflammation is linked with all kinds of diseases, from diabetes to heart disease. When you start exercising and moving your muscles, your muscle cells release a small protein called Interleukin 6, or IL-6, which appears to play an important role in fighting inflammation.

IL-6 has several anti-inflammatory effects, including: Lowering levels of a protein called TNF alpha, which itself triggers inflammation in the body. Inhibiting the signaling effects of a protein called interleukin 1 beta, which triggers inflammation that can damage the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. The biggest factor in determining how much IL-6 your muscles release is the length of your workout — the longer your workout, the more IL-6 is released, according to the review of relevant research.

For example, after a 30-minute workout, IL-6 levels may increase fivefold, but after a marathon, the levels may increase by a factor of 100, according to the review. IL-6 levels peak around the time you finish a workout, and then rapidly decrease back to pre-exercise levels.

A study published in 2003, and part of the new review, explored the role of IL-6 in reducing inflammation. In that study, the researchers injected participants with a molecule from E. coli bacteria that is known to activate the body's inflammatory response. The researchers found that, indeed, when they injected this molecule, there was a two- to threefold increase in levels of the inflammation-triggering protein TNF alpha. But if participants engaged in 3 hours of stationary cycling before the injection, they experienced an increase in their IL-6 levels, and they did not see a similar rise in TNF alpha. This study and others show that a single bout of exercise induces a strong anti-inflammatory effect that appears partly due to IL-6, the review said.

Still, the review acknowledges that IL-6 is likely not the only factor involved in exercise's anti-inflammatory effects. For example, studies have found that regular exercise increases levels of another protein, called Interleukin-15 (IL-15), in muscle cells. IL-15 appears to help regulate the accumulation of abdominal fat, with higher levels of IL-15 providing protection against abdominal fat buildup in mice, the review said. Since abdominal fat itself is thought to promote inflammation, reducing abdominal fat levels may be another way exercise fights inflammation, the review said. The review concludes that exercise should be used as part of the treatment for chronic diseases involving inflammation.

"Physical activity represents a natural, strong anti-inflammatory and metabolism-improving strategy with minor side effects, and should be integrated in the management of patients with chronic diseases," such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, the review said.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

A Popular Hair Loss Drug Costs 40% More for Women Than Men

Dr. Jules Lipoff was browsing the pharmacy shelves of his local Target when he stumbled across an interesting finding: Ounce for ounce, the women’s version of Rogaine foam—an over-the-counter treatment for hair loss—cost significantly more than the men’s.

Men’s and women’s Rogaine are marketed differently but contain the same ingredients. “I thought, maybe this is just a fluke,” says Lipoff, assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. “But I went to a couple different stores and saw it was pretty consistent.” Lipoff and his colleagues then compared prices for Rogaine and its generic version, minoxidil, at 21 pharmacies in four states. Their findings, published in JAMA Dermatology, show that the drug is routinely priced higher when marketed for women. Although they only looked at a specific selection of products, the authors say their paper “may reflect the larger issue of gender-based pricing” for many types of health care. The researchers included Target in their analysis, along with five of the country’s other largest chain pharmacies: CVS, Kroger, Rite Aid, Walgreens and Walmart. From July to November 2016, they recorded the prices, sizes and ingredients of 41 unique minoxidil products at stores in Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and Indiana.

Rogaine’s foam formulas are the company’s newest, most popular products, and at 5% strength, they are FDA-approved for both men and women. But despite having identical formulations, the researchers found a 40% average increase in the price of the women’s foam version ($11.27 per ounce) compared to the men’s ($8.05 per ounce) when sold at these stores. Lower-cost generic versions of minoxidil foam are available. But these products are branded for men only, because Rogaine still owns a patent on the women’s foam formula. A spokesperson for Rogaine told Health that Rogaine foam for men and women are the same price per ounce when purchased directly from the company’s website, and when sold wholesale to pharmacies. “I can’t speak for pricing by individual retailers,” he said in an email. A spokesperson for Target said the company was not able to respond by press time. The researchers also looked at topical (liquid) minoxidil, which is available for men and women as Rogaine or a generic.

It’s an older version of the medicine and is sold for men at 5% strength and for women at 2%. In this case, even though the men’s formula has more active ingredient, the two versions cost about the same: $7.61 on average for women’s and $7.63 for men’s. “On one hand, we see that women are paying more than men for essentially an identical product,” says Lipoff. “And on the other, we see that they’re paying the same as men for something that’s not as effective.” Lipoff points out that women’s and men’s versions of these products are sometimes sold in different sizes and quantities, so women may not even realize they’re paying more. To add to the confusion, Rogaine foam is approved for women as a once-daily treatment and for men as a twice-daily treatment—so the same size container is labeled as a two-month supply for women and a one-month supply for men. But doctors may tell women to use the medicine twice a day for better effectiveness. They may also tell women to buy the men’s 5% topical formula instead of the women’s 2%.

Lipoff tells his female patients to buy men’s Rogaine because it’s cheaper. “I would also encourage them to seek out generic versions, whatever is least expensive, because the active ingredients are going to be the same,” he adds. Gender-based price differences are not new; one 2015 report found that women pay more for personal care products 56% of the time. But since few medications are marketed differently to men and women, it isn’t often that researchers can compare drug costs in this way. Lipoff says the purpose of his study wasn’t to accuse stores of intentional discrimination, but simply to document and make people aware of the real difference in cost.“I also hope we can bring forth a larger issue,” he says, “that we should consider how many of our costs in health care—not just medications but things like insurance and medical procedures—could be affected simply by gender.”

Monday, July 31, 2017

Socialization with Cancer Survivors Matters During Chemotherapy

A new study published by Network Science suggests that social interaction may be crucial for the success of chemotherapy in patients with cancer. The authors found that patients were more likely to achieve 5-year survival if they interacted with other patients during chemotherapy who also survived for 5 or more years.

On the other hand, patients had a slightly increased risk of mortality if they interacted with patients who died in less than 5 years, according to the study. “People model behavior based on what’s around them,” said lead author Jeff Lienert. “For example, you will often eat more when you’re dining with friends, even if you can’t see what they’re eating. When you’re bicycling, you will often perform better when you’re cycling with others, regardless of their performance.” The authors aimed to determine how social interaction affects patients undergoing chemotherapy.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Is it safe to exercise when having chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy can be notoriously difficult, not only emotionally but mentally and physically as well. Being diagnosed with cancer can come as a real blow to patients and their families. However, while rest and recuperation is needed, don't feel that you need to give up your former active lifestyle. Engaging in regular exercise can improve your strength and help your body build up its defenses against further infection.

People with certain types of cancer or having particular treatments may need to avoid some types of exercise and there are some situations where you need to take extra care. For example, people with stomach or other digestive system cancers or cancer that has spread to the bone should not do heavy weight training. If movement causes pain, rapid heart rate, and an increased shortness of breath avoiding or reducing physical activity is advised. However, exercise is not only safe and possible during cancer treatment, but it can improve how well you function physically and your quality of life, with some studies showing that it can help speed up recovery after treatment. Mr Jonathan Krell, consultant oncologist at Leaders in Oncology Care and one of London Medical Concierge's network of doctors gives advice on how best to stay active when going through chemotherapy.

1. Exercise can help Partaking in regular exercise increases muscle strength, joint flexibility, and general conditioning, all of which may be impaired by surgery and some therapies. Exercise is known to improve cardiovascular function and elevates your mood, offering a drug-free relief for feelings of depression when going through chemotherapy. Exercise also helps to control weight, and gaining weight during and after treatment can increase the risk of the cancer reoccurring.

2. Finding your own level is important Too much exercise can make you tired but so can too little. Therefore, finding your own level is important but you shouldn't push too hard. Research shows that exercise can help with the side effects of cancer treatment such as pain, tiredness and sickness and can also improve your mood, reduce anxiety and improve quality of life. More importantly, research into some cancers such as breast cancer shows that exercise and a healthy lifestyle can help reduce the risk of a person's cancer coming back after potentially curative treatment. 

3. Build up gradually "If you are having treatment or have recently finished, it is fine to start exercising if you feel like it. How much you do really depends on how fit you are generally. If you've never done much exercise, you'll have to build up your level gradually. If you do too much one day, you may feel very tired and sore the next day. Something important to remember is that you don't need to feel that you always have to do more exercise than yesterday; little and often is more effective than lengthy workouts every day and some days you will have more energy than others.

4. Enjoy it "Each patient's exercise programme should be based on what is safe, effective and enjoyable. You should take into account the type of cancer you have, your cancer treatment, your stamina, strength and fitness level. What may seem like a small amount of exercise for a healthy person may be a lot for someone going through cancer.

6. Try half an hour "Try to do about 30 minutes of physical activity throughout the day, this can include walking, gardening and other general household chores, such as vacuuming, do these regular activities at a higher level of intensity in order for your fitness level to improve.

7. Mix it up As your fitness improves you'll be able to up the level of exercise and activities you do. You could try long walks, cycling, yoga or light gym work. Listen to your body and work at your own pace, and if you experience sickness, dizziness or pain stop exercising immediately. If your treatment is making you feel especially tired, try exercising for a shorter amount of time and at a lower intensity, or leave exercising until the following day instead.

8. But listen to your body Your fitness and energy levels will fluctuate throughout the different stages of your treatment cycle. For example, immediately after treatment you are likely to feel tired and unwell and it's advisable to stick to light exercising or leaving it until the next day. Studies have shown that exercising can improve your energy levels and help you feel less tired, but listen to your body, don't put pressure on yourself to exercise and do what you feel comfortable with."

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) Can Cause Baldness, But What Is It?

When you start losing your hair, you have questions. First and foremost: What's making this happen? While modern medicine has given us many ways to fight balding, our understanding of what causes male pattern baldness is still a little, well, patchy. That's not good news for any of us, considering that by age 35, around two thirds of American men will be dealing with some degree of hair loss, according to the American Hair Loss Association. By age 50, it's up to 85%. Here's what we do know: your chances of keeping your hair hinge on how sensitive you are to something called Dihydrotestosterone (DHT). If you've Googled male pattern baldness, you've probably seen those three letters. But unless you're a doctor, you were probably as confused as we were at first. So let's break it down: Here's what we know about DHT, and what it's doing in your body—and to your scalp.

One of the popular myths about balding is that it’s a sign you have more testosterone than other guys. Strictly speaking, that’s not correct. You can have as much testosterone as ‘80s Arnold Schwarzenegger, but what really matters is how much of it converts to DHT. “DHT is a modified, more active form of testosterone,” explains Joshua Zeichner Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC. “In your body, testosterone is transformed into DHT, which exerts stronger effects than testosterone itself.” In fact, DHT is estimated to be five times more potent than the regular stuff. So even if you’re a low-testosterone kind of guy, if your body is converting it heavily, you’re in trouble.

Let’s get one thing clear: DHT isn’t all bad. In fact, without it we wouldn’t be men in the first place. DHT helps develop our genitals in utero—meaning it makes us boys in the first place. It’s a “sex steroid,” so it also does the heavy work during puberty, lowering our voices and putting hair on our chests. How do we know DHT is linked to balding? First, hairs plucked from the scalps of balding men test higher for levels of DHT. Second, when we decrease levels of DHT in the body, we see hair loss slow or even reverse—more on that in a minute. Here’s what we think DHT is doing. As hair on the scalp goes through its normal cycle of growing and shedding, DHT makes the follicles miniaturize. That means they get thinner—and shorter, because the growing cycle doesn’t last as long. In some cases, the growing cycle becomes so brief that new hairs don’t even poke through the skin. Plus, the thinning of the hairs makes them easier to shed. The result is classic “male pattern” baldness, the kind of balding that produces what the American Hair Loss Association calls a “horseshoe” shape, with hair growing from the temples and around the back of the head. So if we know DHT is to blame for male pattern baldness, why haven’t we fixed this problem? Well, in some of our bodies, head hair and DHT co-exist in peace.

But others of us are born with a genetic sensitivity to this particular sex steroid. A 2017 study from the University of Edinburgh identified 287 genetic regions that contribute to male pattern baldness. It was the largest genetic analysis of bald men to date, and could provide targets for drug development. But there's still much more work to be done to link which genes are interacting with DHT in what ways. Until we’re able to pinpoint or modify the “baldness gene,” what’s a man to do? “Medications such as finasteride target the enzyme that converts testosterone into DHT,” says Zeichner. “By lowering the levels of DHT, the drug helps maintain or enhance regrowth of hair on the scalp.” You know finasteride as Propecia. It’s also sold under the brand name Proscar. Rather than working on the hair follicles themselves, it inhibits the 5-AR enzyme, the one responsible for DHT conversion. A single milligram dose of finasteride can lower DHT levels by 60%, and the American Hair Loss Association says it stops the progression of hair loss in 86% of men taking it in clinical trials. 65% of them experienced increased hair growth. 85% of us will suffer by age 50, but 86% of us can stop balding—at least for as long as we take the drug. Until we can reprogram our genes, those might be odds you want to take.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Is Yoga Helpful for Breast Cancer?

One of the most important things you can do to help yourself as a breast cancer patient or survivor is to exercise. But when you’re dealing with nasty side effects like severe nausea, fatigue, sleep disturbances and joint pain, exercising can seem like the most difficult thing to get yourself motivated to do. Nevertheless, virtually any kind of physical activity will help, and many doctors are now recommending that breast cancer patients take up yoga as their primary source of physical activity.

From helping ease the shock of your initial diagnosis to getting you stronger post-treatment, yoga offers a gentle form of physical activity, breath work and meditation exercises that can be tailored to your specific needs without taxing your body more than it can handle. Dr. Janice Kiecolt-Glazer, a researcher at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute who completed a study evaluating yoga’s impact on breast cancer survivors in 2014, says “yoga is an excellent option for patients. Part of what it’s helpful for is that in addition to the physical benefits, it appears to reduce fatigue and improve mood. And those are really important, because when women are going through a very stressful time in their lives, an intervention that helps with mood as well as fatigue and inflammation is really a good thing.”

The study included 200 women, some of whom performed hatha yoga, a style of gentle, restorative yoga, for 12 weeks, while the others were assigned to a control group that did not practice yoga. Participants were between two months and three years post-treatment, and three months after completing the classes, patients in the yoga group reported 57 percent less fatigue than their non-yoga counterparts. Inflammation in the body also dropped by 20 percent among those who practiced yoga. One of the most interesting findings, Kiecolt-Glazer says, is that a “dose-response relationship” seems to exist for breast cancer survivors who are using yoga to exercise and relax. This means that the more yoga the women in the study did, the bigger the improvements they saw. “That was partly a proof of concept because it would make sense that if something is good for you, doing it more within reasonable limits should show greater benefits. And that’s what we were able to show,” she says. Why exactly yoga is able to do this is still a “million-dollar question, ” Kiecolt-Glazer says. “We don’t know the particular mechanisms for it, but there’s certainly data from other studies that meditation by itself is useful, that breathing by itself is useful and there’s some mouse data showing that stretching may reduce local inflammation, so our best guess is that all of it probably matters.” Before you start a yoga practice, it’s best to consult your doctor to make sure you’re healthy enough for it. You should also take some time to find a high-quality instructor who has experience working with breast cancer patients.

If you’re dealing with certain side effects, you'll need to take extra care. Neuropathy – a condition in which nerve damage caused by chemotherapy or radiation treatments can cause pain, numbness or tingling in the extremities – can affect your balance. Osteoporosis, a side effect of some treatments, and bone metastasis, when cancer has spread to the bones, can both make your bones brittle, so you need to be careful not to hurt yourself further when doing yoga. An experienced instructor can help you navigate these additional concerns. Breastcancer.org reports that certain types of more strenuous yoga can put you at higher risk for developing lymphedema, swelling of the arm or trunk that results from a build-up of fluid after lymph nodes have been removed, so some yoga instructors tell patients to wear a compression garment when practicing. Still, a restorative yoga practice is usually a very safe option for most patients, especially when it’s led by an experienced instructor. Carol Krucoff, a yoga therapist with Duke Integrative Medicine and co-author of “Relax into Yoga for Seniors: A Six-Week Program for Strength, Balance, Flexibility, and Pain Relief,” says which poses and breathing techniques you begin with will likely be dictated by “where you are on your cancer journey. If you’re having active treatment, then energy level is going to factor into what would be most useful. And if you have a port,” a device that allows the doctor to infuse chemotherapy or draw blood without having to stick a needle in your arm every time, “that’s going to affect what you can do.”

You’ll need to communicate with your yoga instructor to find ways to work around these obstacles and limitations. That said, Krucoff says “breathing, meditation and relaxation are useful anywhere along the journey, including when people are actually sitting there having their chemo.” She says a teacher of hers encouraged cancer patients to “meditate on the actual chemo substance, not thinking of it as a poison, but thinking of it as a nectar that’s going to help the body reestablish health.” The findings of a 2012 study in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine seem to corroborate the use of this approach; study participants who used a program of pranayama, or yogic breathing, alongside their chemotherapy treatments experienced an increase in quality of life, a decrease in depression and anxiety, and a reduction in sleep disturbance and fatigue. When you’re ready to move, Krucoff says yoga can offer just the right amount of gentle physical activity. “If you’ve been cleared for activity, there are many exercises – stretching and opening the chest, supported back bend poses – that can be very helpful.” Gently stretching the arms up along a wall and moving slowly until you feel a gentle stretch may be helpful for regaining limb functionality after surgery where scar tissue may develop and limit your range of motion. She also recommends using props or working with a physical therapist or oncologic surgeon to make sure your form is safe with regard to where your incisions were and how they’ve healed. No matter how you approach it, Krucoff says the dividends that yoga practice can pay during treatment for breast cancer are many. “Cancer is a very interesting predicament, because many people feel like they’re fighting themselves and say, ‘I’m going to beat this thing!’ But this thing is also themselves, so there can be this sense of betrayal, so there we go to some of the principles of yoga.

Just learning to love yourself as you are, and make peace with all parts of yourself,” is part and parcel of a yoga practice and a powerful aspect of using it during your cancer journey. Krucoff says establishing a regular breathing practice and using guided imagery can help you come to a more peaceful place. And even if it’s very gentle, yoga is still considered a form of physical activity. For cancer patients here in the Western world who may only think of exercise as striving and sweating and achieving big goals, Krucoff says yoga is the opposite of this and a good way for breast cancer patients to develop a new relationship with a changed body. “The idea in yoga is we move to a point of challenge, where we feel like we’re being challenged, but we do not strain. So we find that balance between effort and surrender. That balance between courage and caution. That balance between doing and undoing.”

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Tips For Packing & Traveling With Your Wig

Pack Wigs Inside Out — Keep the delicate strands of your wig safe from friction (which can cause frizz), as well as dust and debris, by turning it inside out before placing it in your luggage. You can also pack it in a zippered plastic bag to keep it free of moisture, or if you have extra room, a shoe box, which will help prevent it from being crushed.

Pick Up A Plastic Wig Stand — One of the best ways to keep a wig looking beautiful is to store it on a wig stand, however, plastic stands are usually too large to pack in your luggage. Instead, pick up a portable wig stand for use in your hotel room to help reduce the amount of daily maintenance your hair piece needs away from home.

Bring The Right Products – Even under daily care, wigs require special hair care products. These often aren’t available in the average store. Fill travel sized containers with your current daily maintenance products.

Be Prepared For Any Weather – To save yourself from running around last minute looking for a quick fix, carry everything you may need so you never find yourself with out. Bring along your wig comb, brush, and spray, as you should never borrow someone else’s. And check the weather before you leave, especially for locales where there might be high wind or bright sun. You’ll need a wide-brimmed hat, scarves or wig clips to keep your hair piece in place.

Pack An Extra Cap – Wig caps work wonders to keep your hair in place but they snag easily, especially when you are on the go. If possible, carry one or two extra, and keep a small, travel-sized bottle of baby powder on hand to keep your scalp cool and dry, especially in hot weather.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Woman develops cancer treatment that offers hope to ailing dogs

Millions of cats and dogs get diagnosed with cancer each year, and a new treatment is helping to change their prognosis. The revolutionary veterinary cancer treatment is called VetiVax and it uses the animals tumor cells to create a personalized treatment to help fight the disease. The treatment helps trigger the immune system of the pet to help it recognize the tumor as foreign. It's being used to help dogs, cats and horses combat cancer.

The company behind the treatment, Torigen Pharmaceuticals, was founded by UConn alumna Ashley Kalinauskas four years ago. "This is my passion, this is my drive," she said. "Were changing how pets are treated and this is a modality that can be considered when a pet is diagnosed with cancer." Kalinauskas said her graduate professor at Notre Dame, Mark Suckow began research on tissue vaccines in 2004. When his dog Sadie was diagnosed with cancer in 2010, she said he came up with this method to try and fight the disease. "She had tumors growing almost all over her body and the veterinarian's prognosis was take her home, enjoy her over Christmas and right after the holidays we're gonna have to put her down," Kalinauskas said.

"He took a portion of Sadie's tumor, created it into the personalized treatment, gave it back over a series of three weeks and he noticed the tumors started to recede." In two and a half years, Kalinauskas said 150 animals have been treated with VetiVax. "We have unproven safety and unproven efficacy at the moment; however, what we do know is the animals have a favorable outcome after being diagnosed," she said.

One of those animals is a Yorkshire Terrier named Chloe whose owner Linda Levy told FOX61 since she's been given the treatment, she's had no signs of cancer. "Unfortunately, we all know that the terrible thing of having a dog is that you know you're going to see them go before you," Levy said. "You just want them to have the best possible life and treatment if they get sick and I feel like I've been able to find that for her." Kalinauskas works at a dedicated laboratory space in Farmington through the UConn Technology Incubation Program.

Her team members are also located in Minnesota and Arkansas. The company works with veterinarians to treat animals around the country. The cost of VetiVax is $1200. VetiVax can work for solid tumors including Melanoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma, Fibrosarcoma, Soft Tissue Sarcoma, Hemangiosarcoma, Hepatocellular Carcinoma, Nasal Carcinoma, Osteosarcoma, Mast Cell Tumors, Basal Cell Carcinoma and Transitional Cell Carcinoma. "It's our belief that 10 years from now us as humans will start as our first line of defense with immunotherapies followed by the heavy hitters if it doesn't work with chemotherapy and radiation," she said.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy 4th of July!

Wishing you all a Safe and Happy Independence Day! Thank you to all those who serve to protect our freedom!

Friday, June 30, 2017

How to Know If You Will Go Bald

There’s a rumor we’d like to end, here and now: Your odds of hair loss are not dependent on the genes inherited from your mother’s father. Like anything else, genes from mom can play a role. But she’s only half the pie. You can also inherit these genes from your father, says Dr. Alan J. Bauman, Hair Restoration Physician and founder of Bauman Medical. “Hair-loss genes can be inherited from either your mother's or father's side of the family, or a combination of the two,” he says. He adds that there are roughly 200 different genes that regulate your hair growth, so the combination of these genes—from both parents—can be unique and won’t always pattern itself from one sibling to the next.

Decades ago, this would have been the most accurate way of determining your odds—looking at old photos of your ancestors—but now there are more scientific means of predicting hair loss. These days, your doctor can take a swab of DNA from the saliva inside your cheek, and it will show how sensitive you are to dihydrotestosterone (known as DHT, which is the hormone created by the body’s testosterone). This swab will also tell you your odds for balding (and how quickly), and can predict how you might react to hair-loss medications like Propecia or Finasteride treatment.

What Specifically Causes Hair Loss?

Hair loss can start as soon as puberty ends, depending on your hereditary sensitivity to DHT. That phrasing is key: Bauman stresses that it is not DHT production that causes hair loss, it's the inherited sensitivity to DHT that causes the loss. Those with high sensitivity will be the first to experience a weakening in their follicles. This results in thinning around the crown and hairline, and lighter pigment in the hair. Behaviors that increase DHT production will magnify the loss depending on sensitivity. These behaviors include smoking, creatine supplements, resistance and weight training exercise, stress, and taking anabolic steroids or testosterone hormone replacement.

How Hair Loss Progresses

One-fifth of men will experience significant hair loss by age of 20(!), and that percentage grows proportional to age. Bauman says that significant loss increases steadily with age: 30 percent will experience it in their 30s, 40 percent in 40s, and so on. “This math proves true for men into their 90s,” he says. “If you go unchecked but have maintained most of your hair by middle age, then your sensitivity to DHT is probably on the low side, meaning you have a slower rate of male pattern hair loss going on.” Symptoms of gradual hair loss are sometimes hard to notice until nearly half the hair is gone. The most obvious signs are a thinning of the temples and hairline recession. Otherwise, the hair loss can be more widespread and balanced. This steady shedding is called “invisible baldness”, since the hair becomes gradually less dense until suddenly it is perceptible to the naked eye. “In general, hair loss is a chronic, progressive condition that gets worse over time without treatment,” Bauman says. However, there are also ways to measure this “invisible baldness”. Bauman utilizes two procedures—HairCheck and HairCam—to track the hair-loss progression over time,. This periodic audit can soon paint your long-term hair-loss outlook by offering in-depth looks at density, recession, and more. Also, you may have noticed that men, when they bald, never lose the hair around the sides and back of the head. Bauman says it is unknown why these follicles are immune to DHT, but this does explain why they’re the follicles used for transplants to increase coverage up top.

How to Strengthen Your Follicles and Slow Hair Loss

Regardless of your sensitivity to DHT, you will likely experience hair loss over time. It’s part of aging, says Bauman. Look at the odds: 90 percent of 90-year olds have experienced significant loss. However, you can slow down the fall-out rate, and not just with Propecia, Rogaine, and transplants. Start by getting good sleep, consistently. Cut back on smoking and drinking, both of which compromise the hair’s fiber production. Bauman says to avoid certain medications, like antihypertensives (which prevent high blood pressure complications), hormone treatments (such as thyroid or testosterone hormone replacement), statin drugs, mood modulators (like antidepressants and anti-anxiety agents), all of which that can hinder the hair’s growth and strength. And, as mentioned, avoid supplements like creatine, which will increase DHT production and thus accelerate loss. In addition to behavioral changes, Bauman says you can slow hair loss by taking routine nutritional supplements. He recommends a professional-grade Biotin, called Viviscal Professional or Nutrafol Men. “Nutrafol targets several possible triggers for hair loss and hair thinning, including inflammation, the effects of cortisol (stress hormones), free radical damage, and more.” He also suggests using grooming products that contain caffeine like Davines’ Energizing lineup), saw palmetto (Serenoa Repens) such as MiN New York daily shampoo, and green tea extracts (ECGC) like Paul Mitchell’s scalp care assortment. “These can help strengthen the follicles and help prevent shedding,” he says. As soon as you correct detrimental behaviors or seek treatments (both medical and natural), you'll start to improve your hair’s longevity, regardless of your sensitivity to DHT. Yes, you may still lose it, but loyalty to this regimen will buy you time.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

California says key ingredient in Roundup weed killer can cause cancer

One of the most popular herbicides in the world can cause cancer, California health officials say, and they might demand warnings saying so. That herbicide, glyphosate, will be added to California's list of chemicals that can cause cancer, the state's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment said this week. Glyphosate is the key ingredient in weed killers such as Roundup. California keeps a list of carcinogenic chemicals because of a law commonly called Proposition 65, which "requires businesses to provide warnings to Californians about significant exposures to chemicals that cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm."

The decision to add glyphosate to that list stemmed from the International Agency for Research on Cancer's assessment that glyphosate is "probably carcinogenic to humans," said Sam Delson, deputy director of OEHHA. But Monsanto, the maker of Roundup, is fighting back. "Glyphosate is not carcinogenic, and the listing of glyphosate under Prop 65 is unwarranted on the basis of science and the law," said Scott Partridge, Monsanto's vice president of global strategy. The company sued California's OEHHA to stop the listing, but last week the California Supreme Court rejected Monsanto's request for a stay. "That led us to move forward," Delson said Wednesday. As CNN reported last month, more than 800 non-Hodgkin's lymphoma patients are suing Monsanto, claiming Roundup gave them cancer. And an internal Monsanto company email said an EPA official had offered to "kill" a separate investigation into glyphosate.

That official, who was the head of the EPA's Cancer Assessment Review Committee, has since retired. Monsanto has consistently maintained that the herbicide is safe. "California's sole reason for listing glyphosate under Prop 65 is the fatally flawed classification by IARC, which ignored crucial scientific data that undermines its conclusion," Partridge said. Monsanto said more than 800 studies have demonstrated glyphosate's safety, including studies conducted internationally. "In fact, since IARC classified glyphosate, regulatory authorities in the United States, Europe, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and Australia have publicly reaffirmed that glyphosate does not cause cancer," Monsanto spokeswoman Charla Lord said in April. In March, the European Chemicals Agency ruled glyphosate is "not classified as a carcinogen."

But Christine Sheppard, one of the cancer patients suing Monsanto, said she's thrilled by California's decision to list glyphosate as carcinogenic. "I thank all the powers that be that I live in California, a state that actually looks after its citizens," she said Wednesday. "It is a great start, and let's hope that others follow California's wise leadership." Despite California's ruling, it's not certain whether Monsanto will have to issue cancer warnings for its glyphosate products sold in the state. Under California law, "a warning must be given for listed chemicals unless the exposure is low enough to pose no significant risk of cancer or is significantly below levels observed to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm."

That leaves one big question: Is the amount of glyphosate exposure from using Roundup enough to pose a "significant risk"? "As for Roundup itself, we're not sure," Delson said. Delson said his agency is trying to establish a level for how much glyphosate exposure would equal a significant risk. He said the current proposal is 1.1 milligrams a day, though a final answer might not be ready until July 2018. It's unclear how much exposure a user might have, given the wide variation in how glyphosate products are used. And if a certain product is deemed to pose a significant risk, the manufacturer doesn't have to put a warning label on each container, Delson said.

It could instead have a warning sign next to the product in stores. If makers of glyphosate products have to issue cancer warnings in California, they would have a year before that requirement would be enforced. "That year gives them time to either change their labeling or ... hopefully modify their products to make them safer," Delson said. Meanwhile, Monsanto says it will keep appealing California's decision. "This is not the final step in the process, and it has no bearing on the merits of the case," Partridge said. "We will continue to aggressively challenge this improper decision."

New treatment for advanced breast cancer: Ribociclib

This year, 253,000 women will be diagnosed this year with invasive breast cancer, and for women battling advanced forms of the disease, there’s now a new treatment. Doctors are calling it a first line of defense for advanced breast cancer. With a hot pink ride, decked out with lighted wheels, nothing is going to get in the way of mother Sally McGiffin and her daughter Shannon McGiffin.

Not even cancer. “When we first got diagnosis we sat and cried maybe half an hour to an hour, and then she looked at me and said this disease is not going to beat me,” Sally told Ivanhoe.

That attitude and a newly-approved FDA drug called Ribociclib, has kept Shannon McGiffin’s stage four metastic breast cancer under control. “It’s a miracle. It really is a miracle for me to be able to have survived this long.” Shannon said. Oncologist Heather Han, MD, of the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida says when combined with hormonal therapy, Ribociclib stops signals that cancer cells use to grow and divide. “I’m obviously very excited that this drug finally actually quickly got approved, and I’m able to be there to help patients to do better,” Dr. Han explained.

Doctor Han says the Ribociclib combination can be used as the first line of defense. The risk of progression or death has been reduced by 44 percent. Dr. Han continued, “So it’s been in clinical trial for several years, but FDA was able to approve it quickly when it showed dramatic improvement of the patients.” The side effects for her have been high blood sugar levels and fatigue. “I do spend a lot of my time sleeping,” Shannon admitted. For Shannon, it’s not a cure, but it has given her precious time with those who matter most. Candidates for this drug usually can be patients with newly diagnosed advanced breast cancer, hormone receptor positive and HER2 negative. Patients’ EKGs must be monitored in the first few weeks of taking the drug to make sure it doesn’t cause any cardiac issues.

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. Schmitz.at 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.