Tag: health

3 Treatment Options For Breast Cancer Patients

Millions of women worldwide are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. Such a diagnosis is never welcome, but women should know that survival rates have improved dramatically in recent decades. In fact, the World Health Organization reports that, by the end of 2020, nearly eight million women were living despite having been diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in the previous half decade.

One of the reasons for the improved survival rates is the efficacy of various treatments. The National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.® notes that doctors have various options to treat breast cancer, and they often devise treatment plans that include some combination of treatments. Though no one wants to imagine receiving a breast cancer diagnosis, understanding the potential treatments for the disease can help women and their families be more prepared should that day ever arrive. The following are three treatment options physicians may discuss with women as they begin devising ways to overcome the disease.

1. Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is used to treat various cancers, including breast cancer. Chemotherapy employs various drugs to destroy cancer cells or slow their growth. The drugs administered during chemotherapy are known as cytotoxic drugs and may be administered orally or intravenously. The NBCF notes that chemotherapy is offered to most patients, though doctors will consider a host of variables before deciding if chemotherapy is right for a given patient. Those variables include the type of tumor, its grade and its size.

2. Radiation therapy

During radiation treatments, high energy rays are used to kill cancer cells. Only cells in the part of the body that is being treated with radiation are affected, so patients needn’t worry that other parts of their body will be hit with radiation. The NBCF reports that patients diagnosed with Stage 0 (DCIS) and most diagnosed with Stage 1 invasive cancer or higher can expect doctors to prescribe radiation therapy. Women who have had a lumpectomy also are likely to be prescribed radiation. Two main kinds of radiation are generally considered for breast cancer patients. External beam breast cancer radiation treatment delivers cancer-killing rays through a large machine. Internal breast cancer radiation is a newer treatment that injects radioactive cancer-killing treatments into the affected area.

3. Targeted therapy

The NBCF reports that targeted therapy is commonly used in combination with traditional chemotherapy. Targeted therapy attacks specific breast cancer cells without harming normal cells, which is why it tends to produce less severe side effects than chemotherapy treatments. Targeted therapy employs drugs to block the growth of cancer cells in very specific ways. One example cited by the NBCF is the drug Trastuzumab, or Herceptin®, which is given to women whose breast tumors have too much of the abnormal protein HER2. Though the side effects of targeted therapies tend to be less severe, women may still experience issues like fever and chills, nausea, headaches, and other symptoms after drugs have been administered.

Expanding breast cancer treatments have done much to improve survival rates for patients. Women diagnosed with the disease are urged to play an active role in their treatments and ask any questions they might have before, during and after being treated.

10 Doctor-Recommended Health Tips for the New Year

Four in 10 adults in the U.S. have two or more chronic diseases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While certain conditions and risk factors are beyond one’s control, the new year is the perfect time to consider the many lifestyle choices you can make for improved health.

“With too many holiday sweets and not enough exercise likely in the rearview mirror, now is the perfect time to consider your personal goals and how you can make positive health choices in the coming year,” says American Medical Association (AMA) President Patrice A. Harris, M.D. “The good news is that there are a few easy steps you can take that will set you on the right track for a healthier 2020.”

To get you started, the AMA is offering 10 wellness tips for the new year:

1. Steps you take now can help prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes. Learn your risk by taking the self-screening test at DoIHavePrediabetes.org.

2. Be more physically active. Adults should do at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity.

3. Visit LowerYourHBP.org to better understand blood pressure numbers and take necessary steps to get high blood pressure – also known as hypertension — under control. Doing so will reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke.

4. Reduce your intake of processed foods, especially those with added sodium and sugar. Eat less red meat and processed meats, and add more plant-based foods, such as olive oil, nuts and seeds to your diet. Also reduce your consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and drink more water instead. Drinking sugary beverages — even 100% fruit juices — is associated with a higher all-cause mortality risk, a new study published in JAMA Network Open suggests.

5. If your health care professional determines that you need antibiotics, take them exactly as prescribed. Antibiotic resistance is a serious public health problem and antibiotics will not make you feel better if you have a virus, such as a cold or flu.

6. If consuming alcohol, do so in moderation as defined by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans — up to one drink daily for women and two drinks daily for men, and only by adults of legal drinking age.

7. Talk with your doctor about tobacco and e-cigarette use (or vaping) and how to quit. Declare your home and car smoke- and aerosol-free to eliminate secondhand exposure.

8. Pain medication is personal. If you’re taking prescription opioids or other medications, follow your doctor’s instructions. Store them safely to prevent misuse and properly dispose of any leftover medication.

9. Make sure your family is up-to-date on vaccines, including the annual influenza vaccine for everyone age six months or older. If you’re pregnant, you can receive the flu vaccine during any trimester, but should receive the Tdap vaccine early in the third trimester to protect yourself against flu and whooping cough.

10. Manage stress. A good diet, sufficient sleep (at least 7.5 hours per night), daily exercise and wellness activities, like yoga and meditation, are key ingredients to maintaining and improving your mental health, but don’t hesitate to ask for help from a mental health professional when you need it.

How Aging Adults Can Maintain Their Mental Acuity

Aging is associated with or linked to a host of mental and physical side effects. For example, many adults expect their vision to deteriorate as they grow older. Such a side effect can be combatted with routine eye examinations that may indicate a need for a stronger eyeglass prescription, a relatively simple solution that won’t impact adults’ daily lives much at all. While physical side effects like diminished vision might not strike much fear in the hearts of aging men and women, those same people may be concerned and/or frightened by the notion of age-related cognitive decline. Some immediately associate such decline with Alzheimer’s disease, an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that gradually destroys memory and cognitive skills, ultimately compromising a person’s ability to perform even the simplest of tasks. But age-related cognitive decline is not always symptomatic of Alzheimer’s disease. Learning about Alzheimer’s and how to maintain mental acuity can help aging men and women better understand the changes their brains might be undergoing as they near or pass retirement age.

Is Alzheimer’s disease hereditary?

The National Institute on Aging notes that only a very rare form of Alzheimer’s disease is inherited. Early-onset familial Alzheimer’s disease, or FAD, is caused by mutations in certain genes. If these genes are passed down from parent to child, then the child is likely, but not certain, to get FAD. So while many adults may be concerned about Alzheimer’s because one of their parents had the disease, the NIA notes that the majority of Alzheimer’s cases are late-onset, which has no obvious family pattern.

Can Alzheimer’s disease be prevented?

Studies of Alzheimer’s disease are ongoing, but to date there is no definitive way to prevent the onset of the disease.

How can I maintain mental acuity as I age?

Researchers have not yet determined a way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, but adults can take certain steps to maintain their mental acuity into retirement.

• Exercise regularly. Routine exercise may be most associated with physical benefits, but the NIA notes that such activity has been linked to benefits for the brain as well. For example, a 2011 study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America found that aerobic exercise training increases the size of the hippocampus, leading to improvements in spatial memory. The NIA also notes that one study indicated exercise stimulated the brain’s ability to maintain old network connections and make new ones vital to cognitive health.

• Read more. Avid readers may be happy to learn that one of their favorite pastimes can improve the efficiency of their cognitive systems while delaying such systems’ decline. A 2013 study published in the journal Neurology by researchers at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center found that mentally active lifestyles may not prevent the formations of plaques and tangles associated with Alzheimer’s disease, but such lifestyles decreases the likelihood that the presence of plaques or tangles will impair cognitive function.

• Stay socially connected. Maintaining social connections with family, friends and community members also can help women prevent cognitive decline. Epidemiologist Bryan James of the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center studied how social activity affected cognitive decline, ultimately noting that the rate of cognitive decline was considerably lower among men and women who maintained social contact than it was among those with low levels of social activity.

The idea of age-related cognitive decline strikes fear in the hearts of many men and women, but there are ways for adults to maintain their mental acuity well into their golden years.

Finding Balance With Extracurricular Activities

Many high schools, colleges and universities emphasize their goals of producing well-rounded students. Extracurricular activities teach students important life lessons, provide them opportunities to socialize and often stimulate their minds and bodies in ways that differ from the stimulation provided in the classroom.

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau states that, in 2014, 57 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 17 participate in at least one after-school extracurricular activity. Children are more likely to participate in sports than clubs or lessons, such as music, dance and language, but each of these activities can be beneficial to students’ development.

Students who participate in extracurricular activities may want to limit their participation to 20 hours per week. This is according to a group of professors from Stanford University and Villanova University who have been collecting data on the issue since 2007.

In their report “Extracurricular Activity in High-Performing School Contexts: Stress Buster, Booster or Buffer?”, Jerusha Conner and Sarah Miles found that 87 percent of kids who would be considered to have packed schedules were perfectly happy unless they were doing more than four hours a day.

The “over-scheduling hypothesis” may be overhyped. This is the concern that too much organized activity participation leads to poor developmental outcomes. This hypothesis also suggests that hectic schedules also undermine family functioning, detract from schoolwork and possibly increase the risk of copycat behaviors and excessive competitiveness.

However, in the study “The Over-Scheduling Hypothesis Revisited: Intensity of Organized Activity Participation During Adolescence and Young Adult Outcomes,” researchers J.L. Mahoney and Andrea Vest determined that, controlling for demographic factors and baseline adjustment, extracurricular intensity was a significant predictor of positive outcomes and unrelated to indicators of problematic adjustment (e.g., psychological distress, substance use, antisocial behavior) at young adulthood.

Even though extracurricular activities are largely positive — even when schedules are packed — parents need to be aware of the diminishing returns of too many activities. This is something called the “threshold effect.” Benefits from extracurriculars can level off when too many activities are being juggled.

If a child is experiencing anxiety, sleeplessness or depression, or seems overly stressed, it could be time to reduce students’ time spent doing structured activities. It’s essential that families use the cues given by kids to assess what students can handle. And children should be encouraged to be honest with their parents about their extracurricular activities as well.

Local Dining Spots Foster Community

Dining out is a great way to celebrate life’s milestones or simply reconnect with friends and loved ones.

Research firm NPD Group found that, by the end of 2015, restaurant visits by consumers increased by 700 million compared to just five years prior. While chain restaurants invest heavily in advertising, independently owned restaurants do not have those same resources. Multi-unit chains also have more pull with suppliers and might be able to negotiate better deals, or can spread operational costs across various locations.

Too often diners are not aware of the vast array of tasty, well-priced and artisanal foods awaiting them just down the street. But dining out at local eateries can be beneficial in various ways.

• High-quality food: Many local establishments have complete control over their suppliers and menus. As a result, they can be picky with regard to the vendors they use and the produce, meats, dairy, and other ingredients that they select. Many small, independently owned restaurants team up with local organic farmers and distributors to supply a farm-to-table experience that many diners now enjoy.

• Freedom of experimentation: Although chain restaurants may have to meet approval from administrative boards and marketing departments before they can introduce new fare, independently owned restaurants can let their diners decide which foods remain on the menu and even adapt to community trends. Local restaurants may take pride in serving cultural or regional foods.

• Ability to customize: Independently owned restaurants may be more amenable to adapting recipes or making substitutions to meet diners’ requests. Skilled local chefs can think on the fly and modify recipes, which may not always be possible in chain establishments.

• Crowd control: Local restaurants tend to be smaller and more intimate than many chain restaurants. This can translate into a calm dining experience. When crowds are small, the noise level inside the restaurant may be muted and service may be fast because there aren’t as many tables to serve. Furthermore, local establishments, although concerned about making a profit, may be less worried about table turnover rate, preferring to let diners linger if it means repeat business.

• Familiar faces: Some diners enjoy being a “regular” at their favorite local restaurants. Local dining spots also become gathering locations for residents in the know, instead of passing-through tourists or commuters.

Much can be said about the advantages of patronizing local eateries. Men and women who want unique dining experiences can give local, independently owned establishments a try.

Heart-Healthy Lifestyles Begin in the Kitchen

Weight-loss initiatives and dieting often go hand-in-hand, but healthy diets can do more than help women shed pounds. Heart disease is the primary killer of females, but embracing heart-healthy diets can help women reduce their risk of develop cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association reports that heart disease causes one in three female deaths each year in the United States. The AHA also notes that 90 percent of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease. Heart valve problems, congestive heart failure, abnormal rhythm of the heart, and plaque buildup in the walls of the arteries can contribute to heart disease.

Fortunately, healthy choices, including the right diet, can help reduce women’s risk for heart disease risk. Here are a few easy ways to modify eating habits to be more heart-healthy.

• Avoid consuming too many calories. The Mayo Clinic says to control portion sizes so that you are not overloading on extra calories. Eat larger portions of nutrient-rich foods and go sparingly on high-calorie, high-sodium and/or refined foods. Being overweight can contribute to heart problems.

• Increase produce consumption. A variety of low-calorie fruits and vegetables can provide ample nutrition and plenty of healthy antioxidants. Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables so that you get as many vitamins and minerals as possible. Make fruits and vegetables your largest portions when eating.

• Reduce sodium intake. Harvard Health points out that too much sodium consumption can increase blood pressure and cause the body to hold onto fluid. Hypertension is a major risk factor for heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular problems.

• Add more whole grains to your diet. Dietary fiber from whole grains may improve blood cholesterol levels, thereby lowering your risk for heart disease. Dietary fiber also can lower risk of stroke, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

• Choose healthy fats. Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon, olive oil and flax seed reduce a person’s risk of developing arrhythmia and atherosclerosis. The American Heart Association recommends eating fatty fish at least twice a week as a way to boost omega-3 fatty acid levels.

• Load up on berries. When choosing fruits, go heavy on berries. Health magazine reports that according to a 2013 study by the Harvard School of Public Health in the United States and the University of East Anglia, United Kingdom, women between the ages of 25 and 42 who ate more than three servings of blueberries and strawberries a week had a 32 percent lower risk of heart attack compared with those who ate less. The authors of the study attributed the benefit to compounds known as anthocyanins and flavonoids,which are antioxidants, that may decrease blood pressure and dilate blood vessels.

• Indulge in smart ways. When eating sweets, choose dark chocolate. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids called polyphenols, which may help lower blood pressure and reduce clotting and inflammation. Select varieties that contain at least 60 to 70 percent cocoa.

In addition to a cardiac-friendly diet, women concerned about heart health should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. Also, pay attention to food labels to make smarter choices.

Flu-Fighting Tips to Keep You Healthy

Sniffles, sore throat, fever, and aches and pains may accompany a number of illnesses, but during the wintertime such symptoms are typically indicative of influenza. Throughout much of North America, flu season peaks between December and February. But flu season can occur anywhere from October to March, advises the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The flu is contagious and can sideline people for extended periods of time. The CDC says that each year one in five Americans gets the flu. Taking steps to fend off the flu can help men and women and the people they routinely come in contact with.

Foods

Food can be used to fend of the flu. Common foods that many people already have in their pantries can be powerful flu-fighters. Garlic, for example, contains compounds that have direct antiviral effects and may help destroy the flu before it affects the body. Raw garlic is best. In addition to garlic, citrus fruits, ginger, yogurt, and dark leafy greens can boost immunity and fight the flu, according to Mother Nature’s Network. The British Journal of Nutrition notes that dark chocolate supports T-helper cells, which increase the immune system’s ability to defend against infection. A study published in the American Journal of Therapeutics showed that carnosine, a compound found in chicken soup, can help strengthen the body’s immune system and help fight off the flu in its early stages.

Flu shot and medications

Annual flu shots administered in advance of flu season can help protect people and their families from getting the flu. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says that, in select situations, antiviral medications — which are usually prescribed to treat the flu and lessen symptoms — can reduce the chance of illness in people exposed to influenza. Many over-the-counter medicines can alleviate symptoms of the flu, but cannot fend it off.

Stop germ proliferation

Germs can be spread easily between persons through direct contact and indirect contact with surfaces sick individuals have touched. Doctors recommend staying home for at least 24 hours after a flu-induced fever has dissipated. Well individuals should avoid contact with sick people. Frequent hand-washing with soap and water can stop germs from spreading. When soap and water is not available, alcohol-based hand sanitizers can help. People also should avoid touching their eyes, noses and mouths after being in public places or around someone who is ill.

Rest and restore

Those who feel symptoms coming on should begin drinking more liquids to keep the respiratory system hydrated and make mucus less viscous. Remember to get adequate sleep, as a tired body cannot effectively fight the flu virus.

People of all ages should take steps to protect themselves from the flu.
 
Healthcare Receivable Chambersburg Hospital

How to Find Time for Fitness

Many adults admit to having little or no time to exercise, and statistics support the notion that men and women simply aren’t exercising enough. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, only 21 percent of adults ages 18 and older met the physical activity guidelines for aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity (Note: The World Health Organization recommends that healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or do at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week, while also performing muscle-strengthening activities involving the major muscle groups at least two days per week.)

Commitments to work and family can make it hard to find time to visit the gym or exercise at home. But the benefits of regular exercise are so substantial that even the busiest adults should make concerted efforts to find time to exercise. The following are a handful of ways to do just that.

· Embrace multitasking. Many professionals are adept at multi-tasking in the office, and those same skills can be applied when trying to find time for exercise. Instead of plopping down on the couch to watch television, bring a tablet to the gym or the basement and stream a favorite show while on the treadmill or the elliptical. When running errands around town, ride a bicycle or walk instead of driving.

· Cut down on screen time. A 2016 report from The Nielsen Company revealed that the average adult in the United States spent more than 10 hours each day consuming media. That includes time spent using smartphones, tablets, personal computers, and other devices. By reducing that screen time by just one hour per day, adults can create enough free time to meet the WHO-recommended exercise requirements.

· Make it a group effort. Involving others can make it easier for adults to find time to exercise. Instead of hosting work meetings in a conference room, take the meeting outside, walking around the office complex while discussing projects rather than sitting stationary around a conference table. At home, take the family along to the gym or go for nightly post-dinner walks around the neighborhood instead of retiring to the living room to watch television.

· Redefine date night. Adults who can’t find time for exercise during the week can redefine date night with their significant others. Instead of patronizing a local restaurant on Friday or Saturday night, enroll in a fitness class together. Parents can still hire babysitters to look after their youngsters while they go burn calories instead of packing them on at local eateries.

Finding time to exercise can be difficult for busy adults. But those committed to getting healthier can find ways to do so even when their schedules are booked.

Foods that Cats and Dogs Should Never Eat

Nutritious diets are essential to long-term pet health. Many well-intentioned pet owners feed their pets foods they believe are nutritious, only to learn that certain foods, even those deemed healthy for humans, can be quite dangerous to dogs and cats.

Cats and dogs metabolize foods and other substances differently from humans. WebMD reports that each year, there are more than 100,000 cases of pet poisoning in the United States. Many of these instances were caused by household substances that may seem perfectly harmless. Medications, cleaning products and certain foods can poison pets. Dogs tend to be at higher risk for food poisoning, particularly because they are less discriminatory with regard to food.

Before caving into the temptation to share snacks with their pets, pet owners should recognize the common foods the ASPCA and other pet welfare organizations list as the most likely to contribute to pet poisonings worldwide.

· Chocolate: Chocolate is accountable for roughly one-quarter of all toxic exposures. Chocolate contains methylxanthines, which are found in cacao seeds. When ingested by pets, methylxanthines can cause excessive thirst and urination, panting, vomiting, diarrhea, abnormal heart rhythm, and seizures. Serious cases can be fatal. Dark chocolate and baking chocolate are especially dangerous for pets.

· Grapes/raisins: Grapes, raisins, sultanas, and currants, whether raw or cooked, can cause kidney failure in dogs. Not all dogs are affected. However, these fruits should be avoided. Symptoms include lethargy, diarrhea and vomiting within 24 hours of consumption.

· Hops: Commonly used for brewing beer, hops have become a greater risk for pets now that home brewing as a hobby or side business has become popular. When ingested, hops can cause a rapid heart rate, anxiety, vomiting, and other abdominal symptoms. Essential oils and tannins in hops also can cause high fever when pets ingest them.

· Macadamia nuts: These nuts can cause depression, vomiting, tremors, and hyperthermia in dogs.

· Milk and dairy: Do not give dogs and cats milk to lap up, and avoid giving them high amounts of cheese and other dairy foods. Pets do not possess significant amounts of lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk. Therefore, diarrhea and digestive upset is likely to occur when pets consume dairy.

· Onions/garlic: These aromatic ingredients are not a good idea for pets, particularly cats. Onions contain an ingredient called thiosulphate, which is toxic to cats and dogs. The ingestion of onions and onion-related foods can cause a condition called hemolytic anemia. This is damage to red blood cells that causes the cells circulating throughout the pet’s body to burst.

· Xylitol: Keep pets away from sugarless gums and candies that contain Xylitol, which also may be used in toothpaste. The substance causes insulin to release in most species, which can lead to liver failure.

Pet owners should be aware that the foods they eat regularly may not be safe for their pets. Always consult with a veterinarian before giving pets foods commonly eaten by humans.

Immune Boosting Tips for a Healthy Holiday Season

The hectic holidays and chill in the air can take a toll on the immune system making one more susceptible to cold weather challenges. Stay healthy and vital all season by taking the following steps.

Be Balanced

From eggnog and cookies to champagne toasts, you may be more likely to over indulge during the holiday season than at other times of the year. Be mindful of what you are eating and drinking at parties, and then balance out these extravagances with plenty of rest, regular exercise, healthy hydration and an otherwise nutrition-filled diet.

Get Some Support

“We are learning more each day about what weakens the immune system and how we can strengthen it for better health,” says Larry Robinson, PhD, vice president of scientific affairs at Embria Health Sciences, a manufacturer of natural, science-based ingredients that support wellness and vitality. “Good immune health requires more than just getting enough vitamin C.”

For some extra support this season and beyond, consider taking an immune-supporting supplement that goes further than a standard vitamin C tablet.  For example, NOW EpiCor Plus Immunity contains Zinc, Selenium, and vitamins D-3 and C, and can give you the nutrition you need to help you make it through the holidays healthfully. To learn more, visit nowfoods.com.

While all these statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and this supplement is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease, many experts believe they can help maintain your daily health.

Relax

The holiday season is meant to be joyful. Unfortunately, it can also be stressful. From navigating a shopping mall parking lot on the busiest day of the year to dealing with the extended family, stress can compromise your immune response. Use at least some of that time you may have off from work to truly relax, scheduling some down time for yourself — whether it’s curling up with a glass of green tea and a paperback, taking a bubble bath or doing yoga.

For a happy holiday season, take steps to treat your body right and to prioritize health and wellness. (StatePoint)
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