Posts Tagged ‘Cancer’

Afternoon D-lite

July 29, 2010

Being summer and all, I’m sure you’re lathering on the sunscreen everytime you know you’re going to be spending an extended amount of time outside.   But the fact is, while that sunscreen is helping to preven skin cancer it’s also blocking our bodies from getting the amount of Vitamin D it needs.

Just how essential is Vitamin D?  Almost every tissue in your body (we’re talking skin, heart, brain, muscles and immune system) has receptors for it.  And a lack of Vitamin D affects bone growth and can lead to a loss in bone density, not to mention there are new studies that suggest it results in an elevated risk of certain cancers, heart disease and high blood pressure and various auto-immune disorders.

More and more people suffer from a lack of Vitamin D and a lot of it has to do with how well we protect ourselves from the sun.  That’s because our main source of it comes from the sun’s ultra-violet B rays.  Vitamin D can also be absorbed through food sources (like fortified milk and orange juice), but you’d have to consume massive amounts to get the amount the body needs.  There are also supplements you can take, but they can be dangerous because if you take too much, your body is unable to get rid of it.

So the best way to make sure you’re getting Vitamin D is to spend some unprotected time in the sun during these hot summer months.  In fact, one doctor tells the New York Times that if we get enough summer sun exposure, our bodies should be able to produce enough Vitamin D to get through the entire year! 

Now, I’m not condoning spending an entire day at the beach without sunscreen.  That would just be stupid.  Here’s what that same doctor mentioned above recommends:  wear minimal clothing from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. two or three times a week for 5 to 10 minutes.  That means no sunscreen, except on your face, where you should always wear it.

So the next time someone tells you you should always wear sunscreen, don’t feel guilty and then share the info you just learned!

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How to know when it’s time to reapply sunscreen

June 3, 2010

Using sunscreen is a seemingly simple idea. 

The UVSunSense Wristband

You slather it on before heading out and then reapply when needed.  But what if it’s hot and you’re sweating.  How soon do you need to reapply?  Are you safe after spending some time in the water if you’re wearing waterproof sunscreen?  What about if it’s a cloudy day…does your sunscreen last longer since you aren’t being exposed to as many direct rays?  Not so simple anymore, is it?

Enter the sunscreen wristband.

Created by a nuclear physicist, the UVSunSense wristband claims to detect and measure the strength of dangerous UV rays and changes color to let you know when it’s time to reapply suntan lotion.

Here’s how it works.  You apply sunscreen to yourself and the bracelet (SPF 15 or higher).  It’ll turn bright purple as soon as you expose it to sunlight.  Wear it while you’re out in the sun and when it turns light pink, it means it’s time for another round of sunscreen. 

But beware if the bracelet turns a pale yellow.  That color is an indicator that you’ve reached your maximum daily limit of UV radiation and should spend the rest of the day in the shade.

You can purchase the bracelets at Amazon.com as well as Kmart, Costco and Walgreens.

If it does work the way it says it does, I think the funky bracelet tan line is a decent tradeoff for preventing skin cancer.

Allergy Sufferers Rejoice!

May 25, 2010

Sneezing?  Coughing?  Itchy and watery eyes?  Yup, we’re in the middle of a brutal allergy season (one of the worst in recent years), but it turns out all that suffering could actually be good for you.  Sounds impossible, I know, but get this: According to a stack of recent research, allergies may help protect against cancer. 

It has to do with how allergies activate our immune systems.  During an allergy attack, our bodies’ defenses kick into high gear in an effort to drive out whatever is irritating us.  (That’s way we sneeze and cough.)  Researchers think that as we’re ridding ourselves of allergens, we could also be flushing out cancer-causing toxins.  The concept is still fairly new (read: not widely accepted), but here’s a round-up (courtesy of the New York Post) of what some studies have found so far.

~Cornell University: reduced rates of lung, skin, throat and intestinal cancers in allergy sufferers

~Brigham Young University: lower risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and stomach cancer

~Harvard University: “a stong inverse relationship” between brain cancer and asthma, eczema, hay fever or allergy

If this theory proves true, it should be interesting to see how it’ll shape how we treat both allergies and cancer.  I should note, however, that there are a lot of other factors (smoking, obesity) that contribute to cancer risk. 

And if you’re curious about how your city stacks up against others when it comes to whose residents are more allergy prone, check out this Forbes article.

Do cell phones cause cancer?

May 18, 2010

This past weekend the long-awaited results of a study on the link between cancer and cell phones were released.  The news wasn’t what most people expected, namely, the international study proved inconclusive.

The 10 year survey of almost 13,000 participants who made 30 or more calls a day found cell phone use didn’t increase the risk of developing two types of brain cancer… meningioma and glioma.  But researchers aren’t totally ruling out a link between cell phones and cancer, saying more investigation is needed.  So what does that mean? 

Basically, scientists have no idea if the radiation emitted from your cell phone is harmful.  If you’re convinced it is, continue to limit your use of your phone.  If this study is proof enough for you that it isn’t, call away.  I should note, though, that the study was largely funded by the cell phone industry.

Alzheimer’s disease and your diet

April 13, 2010

There’s more research showing eating a Mediterranean style diet is good for your health. 

This time, according to a report appearing in the “Archives of Neurology,” people who eat more salad dressing, nuts, fish, poultry, fruits and vegetables are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of mental decline, affecting more than 4.5 million Americans.

In addition to recommending eating the above foods, the study also suggests avoiding high fat dairy products, red meat and organ meats.  (See the chart below)

Naturally, loading up on nuts doesn’t mean you won’t develop Alzheimer’s.  There are other factors at play like whether you smoke and drink and family history.  

Nevertheless, tweaking your diet to include those “good” foods is a good idea as other research has shown this type of diet can play a role in preventing many other illnesses, including heart disease, many forms of cancer, and stroke.

Soda and Cancer — Should you worry?

February 9, 2010

There’s a lot of noise being made about a new study out of Singapore that found drinking regular soda increases your risk of cancer.  Before you totally swear off the fizzy stuff, there are a few more things you need to know.

First, we’re talking about pancreatic cancer.  While it has a high mortality rate, the average person’s risk of developing this type of cancer is actually very low.  So if drinking two or more sodas a day increases a low risk, we’re still not talking about many people. 

Second, this study also took into account other dietary choices and lifestyle.  If you’re drinking 2 or more glasses of soda a day, you’re probably not making the healthiest eating/living choices and we all know the benefits of a healthy diet (i.e. low fat, fewer processed foods).  More on nutrition and pancreatic cancer can be found here.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not dismissing pancreatic cancer or its possible causes.  In fact, this may be another piece in the puzzle that is finding a cure.  I just think we need to condition ourselves to read beyond the scary headlines and not just take whatever comes out of the scientific community as sacred.

By the way…not word on whether diet soda has the same effect.

Holding Your Breath for Two Years

January 21, 2010

Whenever someone gets the hiccups, we tell them to hold their breath.  26 year old Chris Sands has been getting that advice for the last two and a half years.  Sands first got a persistent case of the hiccups back in 2006.  They went away only to return for good in early 2007.  And as you can imagine, they caused quite a problem for the aspiring British musician.  He bluntly tells the BBC: “It has ruined my life pretty much.”  Luckily for Sands, though, he’s now hiccup-free, but you’ll never believe what caused them and what he went through to find a cure.

Living Strong

December 8, 2009

If you’re the type of person who sets lots of personal goals and then gets discouraged when progress is slow, livestrong.com is for you.

Yes, it’s the same Live Strong associated with Lance Armstrong, but the wesbite isn’t just about supporting people in their battles with cancer.  If you’re looking to lose weight, quit smoking or even eliminate your debt, this is the place to find people daring themselves to do the same thing.  (It’s called the Dare to Change Your Life.) 

Not only will you find a support group, the website has tons of tips and skills to get you to your end goal.  I have a couple of friends who use the site and they love it!  I suggest giving it a try if you need a little more prodding, after all, you’re not the only one struggling to _____(fill in your goal)!