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'prevention' posts

Do self breast exams matter?

Self breast exams: to do or not to do?

Remember when there were monthly emails you could sign up for to remind you and your friends to do your self breast exams at home? Remember seeing the news anchors talking about their monthly self breast exams in an attempt to remind you to do your breast “due diligence?” What happened to self breast exams and are they still important?

Initially, self breast exams were recommended as a screening tool to help early detection of breast cancer. Unfortunately long-term studies have not confirmed that they actually live up to their hype. Two large studies looking at over 200,000 women in both Russia and China didn’t show any difference in breast cancer mortality after 15 years between the women who were performing routine self exams and those who were not. In fact, the women that were practicing self exams found more lumps and underwent more biopsies for benign reasons. Reviews of several other studies failed to show a benefit of regular breast self-examinations including no benefit of early diagnosis, or reductions in deaths or stage at diagnosis. Hence in 2009, the US Preventative Services Task Force advised that clinicians no longer recommend routine self breast examination as a screening tool for breast cancer detection.

Even though you don’t need to be doing a monthly self exam, you should...

Dodging A Bullet (Spike's Ordeal)

This post is reposted with permission from Spike O’Neill – see his original post here.

Some of you may have heard of my recent health scare. For those of you who heard and sent along your well wishes, I thank you. For anyone who hasn't, please allow me to share a scary story of ignorance and arrogance that almost cost me big time.

About a month ago, I was carrying my 8 year old daughter on my shoulders. We were leaving a family outing and she was griping about being tired. I didn't have to carry her very far, but when I put her down I noticed a weird ache in my jaw and in both arms, as well as a dull thick ache and a kind of puffiness in my hands. It went away pretty quickly and I blew it off as a pinched nerve or something. But when I felt the same thing a week later after lifting a few boxes in my garage I was a bit more concerned.

I tried again to dismiss the incident, but I have to give it up for my family, who INSISTED that I go see my family doctor just to be sure. I saw my Doc, who had just given me a complete physical a couple months ago, He checked me over, gave me an EKG and suggested a stress test just to be sure. I figured what the hell? Better to be safe than sorry right?

I had no idea how good that advice really was.

I took my stress test 4 days later at Swedish Hospital's Cherry Hill facility. A stress test is just you on a treadmill, wired to a bunch of stuff that measures heart function, pulse and blood pressure. Well, the normal EKG they gave me before the test started went completely sideways a few minutes later when they fired up the speed and incline of the treadmill. That's when they brought in Dr. Peter Demopulos, cardiologist.

Dr. Demopulos said that...

All About Organics

Far too often the word organic is misused and misunderstood. I think it’s most important to understand the reasons behind the difference staring back at you on the price tag, and then only you can decide for yourself whether it’s worth the financial, physiological, and environmental costs.

Educate Yourself

Organic standards prohibit the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, fertilizers, antibiotics, growth hormones and genetically modified organisms. Additional organic requirements are set to support the environment, including soil improvements and prevention of soil erosion.

What does this mean for you as a consumer? Potentially a greater chance of a reduction in your exposure to harmful chemicals. As an environmentally-conscious consumer? Hopefully refraining from further contributing to soil erosion, energy use, and water pollution while contributing to biodiversity.

Side tantrum: Just because it’s organic does NOT mean it’s healthy. Organic jelly beans (my favorite) are packed with organic cane sugar, tapioca syrup, and full of fruit juice and natural flavors. Can I consume them obliviously thinking I’m fulfilling my quota of that “rainbow” of fruit and veggie servings for the day? Not exactly. Anything full of sugar (even organic sugar) is not a “healthy” food. I would say the importance of selecting organics is greatest for items in the perimeter of the grocery store (think produce, meats, dairy, eggs). Easy, right?

What’s With the Seal?

The USDAs National Organics Program ensures ...

Healthy Traveling Tips

It’s officially summer and many of us—over 36 million Americans—have embraced international travel recently. For students and families in particular, this is the season for exciting adventures overseas. It may not be very glamorous, but, before heading off with passports in hand, how can we ensure the healthiest trip possible?

Your mother was right: plan ahead

  • Check if your health insurance goes beyond the US border. If not, it is easy to purchase a short term travel insurance policy.
  • Find out as much as you can about your destination’s health risks or dangers.
  • Most diseases are preventable. Talk it over with your doctor or see a travel doctor who specializes in such advice.
  • Be certain you have the needed vaccinations and medicines before heading out.
  • Don’t let ....

Culinary Herbs

Like most bright ideas, this one was sparked while sipping a mojito – why am I not growing mint? Well, this “little project” turned into a full-blown garden last year. So my challenge this year is to share with you how to grow some culinary herbs.

Why Growing Herbs at Home is Great…

  • It’s fun. Trust me, the smell of basil straight from the ground will take your mind on a direct flight to southern Italy.
  • It’s economical. How many times have you purchased a ginormous bunch of parsley, only to use a few sprigs? Having live plants means you can take as little (or as much) as you need, when you need it. One $3 basil plant can save you well over $20. You will waste less, and likely will use herbs more frequently since they will always be available.
  • It encourages creativity. When you have an assortment of plants begging to be used, you might take a handful of each and add it to the recipe. You can create endless combinations of herbs and spices to a variety of dishes.
  • It’s easy. Whether you have an amazing boyfriend that will yank rose bushes to make room for your gardening experiment, a balcony that sees the sun, or just a naked windowsill, you really can grow herbs anywhere.

Getting Started…

One size does NOT fit all: features to consider when choosing your birth control

We are lucky to have so many birth control options available to us. Not all methods will be ideal for all couples, so how do you figure out how to pick a method? Here are some features to consider – but keep in mind that not all features will be important to you in your personal circumstances.

Effectiveness: How well will a particular approach work to prevent pregnancy?

There are some times in life where avoiding pregnancy is more important than other times, so most effective forms should be selected when it is critical to prevent pregnancy.

There are two scales of effectiveness, typical user effectiveness and perfect use rates. Some birth control depends a lot on...

Seasonal allergies

Everyone is talking about their allergies at this time of the year, so I thought it would be a good time to write about seasonal allergies.

Seasonal allergies occur only at certain times of the year and are usually caused by exposure to pollens from plants, trees and grass. They affect a large number of people of all ages and are seen mostly in urban areas. They are uncommon in children less than 2 years of age. Some patients may have similar symptoms year around and this is usually due to exposure to insects (cockroach), dust mites and animal dander (dogs and cats).

Most people do not react on exposure to these substances, but people with allergies hyperreact to these substances when exposed, and they subsequently develop these symptoms.

What are the symptoms of seasonal allergies?
Usual symptoms in children include runny nose, nasal congestion, itching of the eyes, nose and throat and occasionally cough. Sometimes these symptoms may interfere with sleep and thus cause fatigue, fussiness and tiredness during the day....

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