Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The uncontrolled growth of cells in any part of the body is cancer. It is a group of disease. Cancer kills millions of people every year in our world. Few can be curable if diagnosed in the early stages. We can do a lot to minimize the risk of cancer. The hereditary risk factor is only about 5% to 10%. The rest comes from our lifestyle, diet and environment. We see here the many ways to reduce the cancer risks.

It is believed that viruses cause about 10 to 15% of cancers in our world. Cancers can’t be caught like an infection and viruses can only help to cause some cancers. Virus can cause genetic changes in cells which can lead to cancer. The risk is very low to get the cancer from the virus, but there are other factors which can play a vital role and they include:

• The strain of the virus
• The genes of the host
• Host’s lifestyle factors including smoking, alcohol and food
• Immunosuppression caused by malnutrition or HIV infection or AIDS

The viruses are linked to the following cancers and they include:

• Human Papilloma virus (HPV) – cervical cancer and other cancers of the genital and anal area. May lead to oropharyngeal cancer and non melanoma skin cancers in some persons.
• Hepatitis B and C viruses – primary liver cancer
• Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) – lymphomas
• T cell leukaemia virus – T cell leukaemia

There are many cases where the viral infection doesn’t lead to cancer. There is primary liver cancer or T cell leukaemia in people without corresponding viral infection.

Bacterial infections haven’t been thought of as cancer producing agents for a long time. Now we know well that helicobacter pylori can cause stomach cancer. Without knowing their exact role, few of the bacteria are associated with different cancers and they include:

• Salmonella typhi – gallbladder cancer
• Streptococcus bovis – colorectal cancer
• Chlamydia pneumonia – lung cancer
• Mycoplasma – different cancers

Research is going on to know more about the role of viruses and bacteria in cancer. It is in our hands to minimize the risks. A healthy lifestyle is always important. Safe-sex is also important to prevent infections. It is important to go to your doctor if you have any symptoms of viral or bacterial infection.

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Friday, April 22, 2011

It is a good question. I’m getting more enquiries about this at present and it is mostly from young people. There is no relationship between age and high blood pressure. I have seen persons who have the history of high blood pressure in their family have even mastered to live with normal blood pressure in old ages too. Unfortunately very young people do get high blood pressure now-a-days.

You must avoid these risks to avoid high blood pressure and they include:

• Overweight
• Smoking and other tobacco products
• Excess alcohol
• Stress

If you have these risks you can have high blood pressure even in your twenties. It is in your hands to manage this properly.

High blood pressure has no symptoms and that is why the heart attack age is coming down and down. A good lifestyle can give you long, healthy and happy life.

What should I do is the question from many young people. It is not necessary to run every month to your doctor to control your blood pressure. Buy a standard blood pressure measuring instrument and use it according to manufacturers’ instruction. Your blood pressure value must be below 140/90 mm Hg. Today’s instruments are so handy and you can measure at anytime and everywhere.

After 30 you can go to your doctor once in a year to check the blood levels of cholesterol, triglycerides and sugar values. Prevention is better than cure and costs less.

What to do if you have high blood pressure? Avoid the risk factors and reduce the weight. Beta blockers, ACE inhibitors and diuretics are good medicines to control the high blood pressure. If used properly you can live decades without any problems.

Right food and physical activity is important to be healthy.

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Thyroid gland is producing hormones which are important for the functioning of our body. Iodine is needed to produce the hormones. Thyroid gland filters the iodine which we get from our food to produce these hormones. Unfortunately it can’t distinguish between stable and radioactive iodine.

The radioactive problems in Japan make this actual and many have several unanswered questions. I try to answer some of them here.

Can iodine tablets prevent the entrance of radioactive iodine into our body?

No, it can’t.

What is the right time to take the iodine tablets?

We must take it before the radioactive iodine reaches our body. After that there is no big use.

Is the iodine present in the food enough to make the thyroid glands full?

No, in food iodine is present in microgram amount, but we need in milligram amount to fill the thyroid gland completely. Microgram x 1000 = milligram

I’m using iodized salt: is it enough?

No, here also the amount of iodine is very small to do this job. Only special tablets or fluids are good for this purpose.

What are the amounts needed?

Newborns from birth to one month – 16 mg
Infants and children from 1 month to 3 years – 32 mg
Pregnant women – 65 mg
Breastfeeding women – 130 mg
Adults – 130 mg

This is for 24 hours.

Are there side effects?

Yes, there are few side effects, but the advantage is more than the side effects. If there is a nuclear accident it is an emergency and we must take it.

I have heard adults above 40 years need not take iodine tablets: is it right?

In many countries the health authorities say this. But, from our experiences from Chernobyl we know well that radioactive iodine attacks children as well as adults and causes cancer. Adults must also take iodine tablets.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

We know now the problems of radioactivity better because of the Fukushima accident in Japan. We have enough scientific information after 25 years of Chernobyl accident. Based on that, we could predict the hidden dangers of radioactivity.

The hidden dangers include:

• Thyroid tumors
• Leukemia
• Bladder caner
• Liver cancer
• Breast cancer
• Testicular cancer

The risk for tumor developing is far higher in children than adults.

The psychological, social and health problems are also very high.

The reproductive organs of men and women are also seriously affected and the dangers include:

• Reduced fertility in men
• Reduced fertility in women
• Increased stillbirths
• Increased birth defects – heart malformation, neural tube defects etc.
• Negative influence on children’s intelligence
• Negative influence on children’s general health

Adults had more heart attack and stroke. Fear and resettlement ruined many too.

Yes, the hidden dangers are very serious. This is happening in Japan now. Shall we learn something from this accident?

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Friday, March 11, 2011

The uncontrolled growth of cells in any part of the body is cancer. It is a group of disease. Cancer kills millions of people every year in our world. Few can be curable if diagnosed in the early stages. We can do a lot to minimize the risk of cancer. The hereditary risk factor is only about 5% to 10%. The rest comes from our lifestyle, diet and environment. We see here the many ways to reduce the cancer risks.
Apart from the ultraviolet rays from the sun there are many other radiations that can affect our health and can cause cancers. Here we have to differentiate between ionizing and non-ionizing radiations.

Ionizing radiation is high-frequency radiation. It has energy to remove an electron from an atom or molecule. Thus it can damage the DNA and this may lead to cancer. The ionizing radiations include:

• X-rays
• Gamma rays
• High energy ultraviolet rays
• Protons
• Alpha particles

Non-ionizing radiation is low-frequency radiation. It cannot damage DNA as the energy is not enough to remove electrons.

The non-ionizing radiations include:

• Low energy ultraviolet rays
• Infrared rays
• Visible light
• Radio waves
• Microwaves

Low energy ultraviolet radiation is a known risk factor for cancers. In other cases the cumulative effect must also be considered. Lot of neutral research is still needed in these fields.

Radiations from atomic bombs or atomic power plants are ionizing radiations and therefore sure risk for cancers. Workplace ionizing radiation is also risky. It is know that even small doses of ionizing radiation can increase cancer risk. The cancers caused by ionizing radiation include:

• Leukemia
• Thyroid cancer
• Lung cancer
• Skin cancer
• Breast cancer
• Stomach cancer
• Multiple myeloma

Leukemia can occur few years after radiation exposure and the other cancers can result after 10 to 15 years. Moreover, the radiation exposure to a particular part of the body or organ can cause cancer there.

Children are more sensitive and vulnerable than adults as they are growing.

The sources of ionizing radiation include:

• Natural radiation – cosmic rays, radiation in the earth and radon
• Radiation from medicine – CT scans, x-rays, radiation therapy, nuclear medicine tests. Radiation therapy doses are thousands of times higher than the x-rays
• Man-made radiation – Uranium mining, workplace radiations, from the already conducted atomic tests, accidents in the atomic power plants and the atomic waste depots

Tobacco products contain low levels of ionizing radiation. Smoke detectors and some building materials can also have low levels of ionizing radiation.

The whole body scanner in the airport uses very weak x-rays.

The non-ionizing radiation types include:

• Few ultraviolet rays
• Visible light
• Infrared rays
• Radio waves
• Microwaves
• Electromagnetic fields

Cell phones, heaters and all electrical devices emit non-ionizing radiation. Very little is known about the non-ionizing radiation and cancer risk. The non-ionizing radiation cannot damage DNA, but may affect the cells in other ways. Lot of long-term research is needed.

Cell phones and cell phone towers are not good to children below 12 years old. There are many studies to prove this. More long-term research is needed for adults.

Electromagnetic fields from the power lines and electrical devises may be the reason for increased leukemia and brain tumor in children. More studies are required for adults.

Television and computer screens produce many radiations. Here also more long-term research is needed.

Very high levels of microwaves are used to heat foods through microwave ovens. As long as it is used according to instruction there is no problem. High levels of microwaves can lead burns and it is dangerous to eyes too.

More research can only bring more light in this difficult field. It is better to avoid radiations if it is possible. It is always important to understand the difference between ionizing and non-ionizing radiation.

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