Showing posts with label cancer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cancer. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Can Low Income Mean Low Health?

It has been said that money does not bring happiness, “but it does bring you a more pleasant form of misery,” quipped writer-comedian Spike Mulligan. Recent research shows he may be right:
  • One recent study showed that rates of child maltreatment worsened as the recent Great Recession deepened and wallets deflated.
  • Researchers say that the less income your family had when you were growing up, the more likely you are to have health problems as an adult.
A 2013 research study, performed at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), showed an apparent connection between the length of the human cell’s telomeres (the protective cap-like protein complexes at the end of our chromosomes) and the socioeconomic condition of children and teens – that being raised in a lower socioeconomic state can result in shorter telomeres as adults, which, in turn, can eventually increase susceptibility to colds and other illnesses in middle-aged adults.

You can read more about telomeres and their effect on health and longevity here. The short story is this; telomere length is a “biomarker” of aging. That is, they shorten as we get older. And as they shorten, they lose their ability to function well.

Having shorter telomeres is connected to the early onset of many illnesses, including heart disease and cancer in older adults. As this 2013 study shows, the shortening of your telomeres also increases your susceptibility to acute infectious disease in young to midlife adults.

In other words, the common cold is more common to those who grew up in a lower socioeconomic state.

In the study, researchers measured the telomere lengths of white blood cells from 152 healthy volunteers between the ages of 18 and 55.

To gauge childhood and current socioeconomic status, the participants were asked to report whether they currently owned their home and whether their parents owned the family home when they were between the ages of 1 and 18.

The participants were then exposed to a rhinovirus, which causes the common cold. They were then quarantined for five days to see if they actually developed an upper respiratory infection.  Some did, and some didn’t.

The results showed that those participants who reported growing up with a lower socioeconomic status — indicated by fewer years that their parents were homeowners — had shorter-than-average telomere length, and were more likely to get sick.

  • Telomere length decreased by 5 percent for each year the participants' parents did not own a home.
  • Parental homeownership in both early childhood and adolescence were both associated with adult telomere length.
  • Participants with lower childhood socioeconomic status were more likely to become infected by the cold virus. Specifically, for each year their parents did not own a home during their childhood years up to age 18, the participants' odds of developing a cold increased by 9 percent.
The collective results of the study provide a compelling case to suggests a biological connection between our childhood experiences and our adult health.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Monday, October 1, 2012

Think Pink – Breast Cancer Awareness Month

breast ultrasound
Breast Cancer walk (

Dubbed Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October is the time of year for us to stay on top of our health, especially in terms of screening and preventive care.  Cancer statistics from Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, show that 226,870 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in 2012. Catching cancer early can improve the prognosis, so it helps to be vigilant about breast cancer screening and prevention.

While on vacation a couple of years ago, I noticed an unusual breast lump while showering.  Of course, the lump was on my mind until we got home, so I made an appointment right away to have a breast ultrasound as soon as possible.

Like many women, I am wary of various cancers and like to check with my doctor if I notice anything unusual. But, how do we know if something is serious? Does breast cancer have any symptoms?

The American Cancer Society tells us that certain unusual changes in the breast can be a symptom:

  • Swelling of all or part of the breast
  • Skin irritation or dimpling
  • Pain in breast
  • Nipple pain or the nipple turning inward
  • Redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
  • Nipple discharge other than breast milk
  • Lump in the underarm area

These changes also can be signs of less serious conditions that are not cancerous, such as an infection or a cyst. If you notice any changes in your breasts, you should contact your doctor and schedule an examination.  The first sign of breast cancer can be a new lump or mass in the breast that you or your doctor can feel. These lumps may be hard, have uneven edges and may be painless. However, cancers can also be soft and rounded, without uneven edges. This is why it is vital to have any unusual changes checked by a doctor.

The American Cancer Society recommends screening to detect breast cancer early.
  • Doing monthly self breast exams (BSE) can reveal changes before a doctor's appointment. Women know how their breasts normally look and feel, and can notice changes during a BSE.
  • At the age of 40, an annual mammogram is recommended.  Research shows early detection of breast cancer is the key to successful treatment and a better prognosis.
Check with your local hospital or health professional if you are in need of a free mammogram.  You can also type in your location and the words free mammograms (Ex. Doylestown free mammograms) to find this service in your area.

Local Pink Ribbon Events

There are many ways to support breast cancer research and prevention this month. Many companies host “pink days” encouraging employees to wear pink clothing or accessories to work and make a donation to breast cancer research. Donations often benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, the National Cancer Institute and other foundations.

Here are some other suggestions for ways you can THINK PINK and do your part to support breast cancer awareness and the fight for a cure.

  • Run in a 5K race for breast cancer in your area. The Lehigh Valley sponsors the Women’s 5K Classic, which takes place October 12 and 13 of this year.
  • Enter your location and breast cancer events (Ex. Doylestown breast cancer events) in your browser’s search box. This will give you a list of events in your area.
  • Take care of your own health by getting your mammograms and doing breast self exams. Encourage your daughters, friends, moms and nieces to do the same.
  • If you or someone you know has been diagnosed, consider keeping a breast cancer journal to express your emotions and engage in positive self talk to keep your thoughts positive.
  • Host a neighborhood car wash, or rake leaves to raise donations for a local breast cancer charity.

Shop Pink
breast cancer mammograms
Many products support breast cancer research.

Many products are dedicated for sale so that proceeds go to breast cancer research and support groups. Everything from groceries and gourmet foods to clothing and jewelry can be purchased to support a cure.  Look for the specialty pink packaging. When shopping online, look for the unmistakable pink ribbon.

Stay tuned for more information about breast cancer awareness and support groups!

By Kathryn M. D’Imperio
Contributing Writer

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Ovarian Cancer Month – A Time to Reflect

cancer cancer months
Teal Ribbon represents ovarian cancer awareness
Cancer is something that can touch anyone at any time in different ways. It can strike someone we know, a friend or family member, or even ourselves. September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. It is the perfect time to reflect on our own health and wellness and the health of those we love.

Ovarian cancer diagnosis is difficult because it is often not found until the later stages of the disease. Symptoms can be mistaken for a mild irritation or pain that is not obvious enough to trigger a diagnosis or alert us to go to the doctor in the first place. Part of the problem may be that the symptoms are often common issues that many people have from time to time.

According to the nonprofit group, Teal Ribbon Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation, Inc. (TROCRF), some common symptoms of ovarian cancer include:

•    Feelings of bloating, discomfort or fullness after eating
•    Frequent or urgent need to urinate
•    Backaches
•    Constipation or diarrhea
•    Nausea
•    Shortness of breath

None of these symptoms really screams cancer.  So what should a woman do if she has one or more of them? It's important to talk to your doctor whenever you have unusual or uncomfortable symptoms. If you feel something is out of the ordinary, check with your doctor. Don’t second guess yourself and listen to your body.

Ovarian Cancer Statistics

A silent killer of women, ovarian cancer is one of the most aggressive of the gynecologic cancers. It can be especially devastating to women in their childbearing years that may not have started their families yet.  More than 22,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year. Finding a cure for ovarian cancer and funding cancer research is more important now than ever before.

The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance reports the following statistics on ovarian cancer:
  • Women have a 1 in 71 chance of developing invasive ovarian cancer in their lifetimes.
  • They have a 1 in 95 lifetime risk of dying from an invasive form of this disease.
  • About 15,500 women die from ovarian cancer each year.
Ovarian cancers grasp on the female reproductive system is staggering. “Approximately one out of every ten ovarian cancer cases is hereditary,” says the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance. The statistics have some women even questioning whether they should have their ovaries removed to lower their risk of ovarian cancer. Some consider this life-changing surgery even if the disease just seems to run in the family. The treatment options are very personal for individuals facing this disease. Women should consult their doctors as well as doing their own research about the disease before making a decision.

A Personal View

My own life was touched by ovarian cancer when my friend developed ovarian cancer. It was no easy battle, but her spirit remained strong and she won her battle. Her enthusiasm and joyful personality warms the hearts of those around her. All of us who know her are so thankful that Sandie was blessed with a successful return to good health.

My friend, an author, and some of her fellow writers penned a set of devotionals that are sold so a portion of the proceeds can go to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. This ovarian cancer society continually works to provide funding for research to successfully identify and treat ovarian cancer and to find a cure.

If someone you know is diagnosed with ovarian cancer, it is important to show your support and to keep a positive attitude. According to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, the Journal of Clinical Oncology reported that ovarian cancer patients with a strong network of friends and acquaintances experience successful recoveries and longer lives.

Fighting Back

Showing your support to find a cure and to further research is both noble and admirable. If you don’t have a lot of money or time, don't worry. Anything you can do to help goes a long way.

Here are some ways to get involved this month:
  • Participate in an ovarian cancer walk. Find upcoming walks on the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition’s website.
  • Attend an benefit, such as a 5k race or a concert.
  • Make a donation to your desired ovarian cancer foundation to help fund ovarian cancer research.
  • Volunteer your time with a local ovarian cancer alliance or cancer fundraiser.
  • Display cancer ribbons for the cancers that have affected people you know. Proceeds from purchasing a cancer ribbon often benefit organizations.
Cancer awareness months are a great way to drive support for research and the quest for a cure. Show your support any way you can. If you know someone battling ovarian cancer let them know they are in your thoughts.

If you have other ideas or points you would like to share about ovarian cancer or ovarian cancer month, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Kathryn M. D’Imperio
Contributing Writer