Monthly Archives: September 2015

Curcumin(turmeric) kills breast cancer cells.

The Effects of Flaxseed on Menopausal Symptoms and Quality of Life

Interesting study showing the benefit of Omega-3 (Flaxseed, Fish oil) on the menopause. Omega 3 also has benefits for the heart, brain and joints.
Holistic Nursing Practice:
doi: 10.1097/HNP.0000000000000085
Features

The Effects of Flaxseed on Menopausal Symptoms and Quality of Life

Cetisli, Nuray Egelioglu PhD, RN; Saruhan, A. PhD, RN; Kivcak, B. PhD

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to analyze the effects of flaxseed on menopausal symptoms and quality of life throughout the menopausal period. The empirical research was conducted in an obstetrics and gynecology outpatient department of a university hospital and involved 140 menopausal women who were divided into 4 groups. The menopausal symptoms decreased and the quality of life increased among the women who used flaxseed for 3 months

What bugs can you catch from your pets?

June 15, 2015 2.30pm AEST

Health Check: what bugs can you catch from your pets?

Household pets are often a great source of joy and have positive effects on our mental well-being. For most of us, this outweighs the risk of coming into contact with the bugs they may carry.

Don’t worry, the risk of catching these diseases can usually be mitigated by washing your hands. Andy Dean Photography/Shutterstock

Household pets are often a great source of joy and have positive effects on our mental well-being. For most of us, this outweighs the risk of coming into contact with any bugs they may carry.

Household pets can host a number of organisms that cause parasitic, bacterial, fungal and viral diseases in humans. These animal-to-human diseases are known as zoonoses.

Bites and scratches from pets can lead to diseases such as pasterurellosis and cat-scratch disease; while psittacosis or parrot fever is contracted when humans breathe in aerosolised droplets containing secretions from infected birds.

But the most common zoonotic diseases come from parasites and bacteria that are transmitted through the gastrointestinal route – by touching the pet or litter tray and then your mouth.

Don’t worry, the risk of catching these diseases can usually be mitigated by washing your hands.

Toxoplasmosis parasite

Toxoplasmosis is one of the most common gastrointestinal zoonoses; around 23% of the United States population has been infected. Contamination can occur if you prepare food or touch your mouth and haven’t washed your hands after being in contact with plants or soil in the garden, a cat, cat faeces, or the cat litter box.

Toxoplasmosis is caused by the single-celled parasitic organism Toxoplasma gondii. The parasite undergoes sexual reproduction in cats and is excreted in faeces as a thick-walled structure known as an oocyst. Oocysts passed in a cat’s faeces are not immediately infectious to other animals. They must first undergo a process called sporulation, which can take one to five days depending on environmental conditions.

Toxoplasmosis in adults is usually asymptomatic. LoloStock/Shutterstock

But cats aren’t only to blame: adults most commonly acquire toxoplasmosis by eating raw or undercooked meat infected with oocysts. Make sure your meat is properly cooked to reduce the risk.

Toxoplasmosis in adults is usually asymptomatic. But people with suppressed immune systems – the elderly, those on immunosuppressive drugs and people with AIDS – are most at risk of flu-like illness from infection.

If pregnant women are infected during the first trimester, it can cause serious congenital infection, so it’s important to avoid cat litter altogether.

Toxocariasis parasite

Toxocariasis is a zoonosis caused by the parasitic roundworms commonly found in the intestine of dogs (Toxocara canis) and cats (Toxocara cati). Toxocara is one of the most common zoonotic infections in children worldwide.

Of most concern to humans is Toxocara canis, which puppies can contract from the mother before birth or from her milk. Toxocara larvae mature rapidly in the puppy’s intestine. When the puppy is a few weeks old, they begin to mass-produce large numbers of eggs. These eggs then contaminate the environment through the animal’s faeces.

Young children become infected by ingesting soil contaminated with animal faeces that contains parasite eggs in areas such as playgrounds and sandboxes.

Most human infection is asymptomatic, in part because the toxocara larvae cannot complete their life cycle in humans. However the parasite can migrate to the liver, lungs and eyes, where it can cause damage.

Hydatid disease parasite

Hydatid disease is caused by small tapeworms (Echinococcus granulosus) that live in the intestine of dogs, dingoes and foxes. This worm spreads from dog to dog, exclusively via an intermediate host which are usually sheep, horses or kangaroos.

When sheep eat the worm eggs from pasture contaminated with dog faeces, these eggs will hatch inside them and form watery “blisters” known as hydatid cysts. These cysts are usually in the offal (particularly the liver and lung), and when a dog then eats them, the life cycle is complete.

Wash your hands thoroughly after handling pets to reduce the rik of infection. tHaNtHiMa LiM/Shutterstock

In dogs, the hydatid cysts burst and tapeworms mature in the gut. There can be thousands of mature tapeworms inhabiting the gut of infected dogs. Each worm can shed eggs which are passed from the body in faeces.

People usually become infected by accidentally swallowing the tapeworm eggs passed in dog faeces. A human acts as an intermediate host in the same way as a sheep, horse or kangaroo.

Hydatid disease in humans occurs when large cysts invade various organs, particularly the liver. Symptoms include abdominal pain and chest pain. In some cases, it can affect the brain, bones and heart.

Bacteria

The most common bacterial infections transmitted from pets are campylobacter and salmonella.

Many animals, including cats, dogs, chickens and rabbits are carriers of campylobacter. Transmission between pets and humans is gastrointestinal (via the faecal-oral route). Children aged under three years are at an increased risk of developing campylobacter gastroenteritis if they live in a household with pet puppies or chickens.

Salmonella naturally occurs in the gastrointestinal tract of reptiles (such as lizards, snakes, and turtles) and amphibians (frogs and salamanders are examples) but they are asymptomatic carriers.

Studies have found that as many as 94% of all reptiles and amphibians carry salmonella. In fact, reptiles and amphibians are estimated to account for 11% of all sporadic salmonella infections among young people aged under 21 years.

Few doctors ask about contact with pets as a possible source of gastroenteritis. Vlasta Handlir/Shutterstock

Salmonella is also common in cats, dogs and live baby poultry. Outbreaks of multi-drug-resistant salmonella have been traced to infected pet rodents.

Reducing the risk

Children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with a weakened immune system are more at risk of acquiring gastrointestinal zoonoses.

But there seems to be a general lack of awareness of zoonotic health risks among health professionals. Few veterinarians and medical practitioners regularly discuss zoonotic disease risks of pets with clients and patients. GPs rarely ask about contact with pet stores, exotic and domestic pets, farm animals, zoos and wildlife centres as potential sources of gastroenteritis.

There’s no need to get rid of your pets, you can reduce your risk of zoonoses by adopting some simple precautions:

  • wearing protective gloves to clean aquariums and cages
  • washing hands thoroughly after pet contact
  • discouraging pets from licking peoples’ faces
  • covering playground boxes when not in use
  • not changing the litter box if you’re pregnant
  • locating litter boxes away from dining and food preparation areas
  • regularly cleaning and disinfecting animal cages, feeding areas and bedding
  • delaying acquiring a pet if you have a compromised immune system
  • regularly taking pets to a veterinarian for check-ups.

Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day?

Health Check: is breakfast really the most important meal of the day?

June 29, 2015 2.46pm AEST

Eating three meals a day (rather than two) makes it easier to meet the body’s needs for many nutrients. Jared Zimmerman/Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA

I’ve used a personal anecdote because it’s likely that eating breakfast – or skipping it – may simply reflect a personal preference for timing food intake. Not everyone enjoys eating first thing in the morning. But your first choice of foods may contribute to an overall healthy diet.

An important note of caution first: any study of breakfast’s benefits is fraught with difficulty because breakfast studies are often funded by the makers of ready-to-eat breakfast cereals. That doesn’t necessarily make their findings invalid, but it means we need to look carefully at how the studies are constructed and the way their findings may have been interpreted.

Nutritional benefits

It’s logical to assume that eating three meals a day (rather than two) makes it easier to meet the body’s needs for many nutrients. But such assumptions depend on what you include in each meal and whether particular nutrients likely to be consumed at breakfast are marginal in your diet in the first instance.

Many ready-to-eat breakfast cereals emphasise their content of added vitamins (usually thiamin, riboflavin, or niacin), even though these are not commonly deficient in diets of people living in developed countries. So studies showing higher intakes of these vitamins in people who consume these products (generally funded by the makers of cereals) are meaningless. Especially since higher vitamin intake merely means any excess is excreted.

Many ready-to-eat breakfast cereals emphasise their content of added vitamins. Jamie Davies/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

Choosing breakfast foods that add dietary fibre is more likely to be useful, since fibre intakes are often below levels recommended for good health. And some breakfast cereals offer good value in the quantity and type of dietary fibre they contain.

Oats, for example, have particularly valuable forms of soluble fibre, and since they are unlikely to be consumed other than as breakfast porridge or muesli, these foods become worthwhile choices. Oats – and other high-fibre choices – are also satisfying, increasing feelings of fullness and reducing hunger, especially when compared with ready-to-eat cereals.

For teenage girls and many older people, calcium is another marginal nutrient. Yoghurt and cheese are good sources of this mineral, as are milk and some calcium-enriched drinks. So milk with breakfast cereals could be beneficial.

In the United States, milk on breakfast cereal contributes 28% of milk intake for those over 50 years of age and 22% to 26% of the milk consumed by younger adults. A similar proportion of milk consumed by children and teenagers is also added to breakfast cereals.

But the most common nutritional problems in developed countries are related to excesses – too many kilojoules for sedentary people and high intakes of salt, sugars and certain fats. And many popular breakfast items are unlikely to help with reducing these excesses. This includes many children’s breakfast cereals, which may be one third (or more) sugar. Pastries or banana cake (aka banana bread) are even worse because they feature sugar and other refined carbohydrates as well as saturated fat.

Pastries are a less-than-ideal breakfast choice. Mike and Annabel Beales/Flickr, CC BY-ND

There may be problems in defining breakfast, but there’s ample evidence that eating a healthy breakfast has overall nutritional benefits, especially when compared with skipping breakfast.

Some of the relevant studies include this one from Australia (its author previously worked with Kellogg Australia); this one from the United States in children, and these two in adults; this one from Canada (authors supported by Kellogg Canada); this one from Belgium; this one from Korea, where benefits have been shown for the traditional breakfast of rice or noodles with side dishes featuring vegetables, eggs, meat or beans; and this one from Japan (at least for nutrients relevant to bone density studied).

Long-term health effects

More reliable longitudinal studies also show health benefits for regular breakfast eaters. The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study, for instance, checked almost 3,600 participants over an 18-year period and found breakfast eaters were less likely to be obese (especially around the abdomen), or to have metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes.

An Australian study did a 20-year follow-up of a large group of children first surveyed when they were between nine and 15 years old and found those who skipped breakfast (defined as not eating between 6am and 9am) as children had a larger waist circumference, higher fasting insulin and higher total and LDL cholesterol levels – all risk factors for cardiovascular health – as adults.

Many studies show a higher incidence of excess weight in those who skip breakfast. Space precludes listing the many results for this aspect of breakfast, but they are well summarised (with references) in this comprehensive Finnish report that notes a relationship between regular breakfast consumption and lower Body Mass Index (BMI) in Western, Asian and Pacific regions. It also notes a few studies that have failed to find any association.

Traditional Japanese breakfasts have been shown to be good for health. toyohara/Flickr, CC BY-NC

As with all studies in human nutrition and weight, there are many confounding factors. Some studies, for example, show breakfast eaters have higher levels of physical activity or spend less time watching television. The combination of skipping breakfast and late night eating, but neither on its own, may increase the risk of metabolic syndrome.

The US National Weight Control Registry reports eating breakfast is a characteristic common to successful weight-loss maintainers. Almost 80% of the 2,959 people on the register who have lost an average of 32 kilograms and kept it off for six years eat breakfast every day.

Studies show children who have eaten breakfast have better concentration, greater academic performance and more positive learning outcomes as well as fewer behavioural and emotional problems. Here’s a paper with a list of 63 references backing these claims.

As I noted at the beginning of this article, personal preferences and habits vary – and are probably very relevant here. Skipping breakfast and satisfying yourself later with junk foods will lead to poor results. But it’s possible to compensate for a missed breakfast with a nutrient-rich lunch and dinner.

For most people, it makes sense for breakfast to contribute to a health balanced diet without increasing intake of saturated fat, added sugars or salt. Practical choices that fit these criteria include wholegrain breads, grains or cereals (with minimal added sugar), fruit, milk, yoghurt or cheese, vegetables (perhaps tomatoes, spinach or mushrooms), and eggs, legumes, nuts or seeds.

New Address.

I will be at The Morayfield 7 Day Medical Centre, 201-205 Morayfield Road, Morayfield 4506 from Next Monday 14th Sept. The Tel No will remain the same. The exact details and map of the clinic can be found on http://www.morayfield.ipn.com.au.

Sleep disturbances in menopausal women- A common Problem.

I have posted many blogs on sleep problems in general, and menopause in particular. This is a common problem for all of us as we get older.

Search “insomnia” and or “Sleep” on my web -site for these previous posts. Here is one more:

Sleep disturbances in menopausal women: Aetiology and practical aspects

Maturitas, 05/21/2015

Bruyneel M – Persisting sleep complaints should be addressed in menopausal women, in order to correctly diagnose the specific causal disorder and to prescribe treatments that have been shown to improve sleep quality, quality of life and long–term health status.

  • Sleep deteriorates with age.
  • The menopause is often a turning point for women’s sleep, as complaints of insomnia increase significantly thereafter.
  • Insomnia can occur as a secondary disorder to hot flashes, mood disorders, medical conditions, psychosocial factors, underlying intrinsic sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) or restless legs syndrome (RLS), or it can be a primary disorder.
  • Since unrecognized OSA can have dramatic health–related consequences, menopausal women complaining of persisting sleep disturbances suggesting primary insomnia or intrinsic sleep disorders should be referred to a sleep specialist for a comprehensive sleep assessment.
  • Patients suffering from primary insomnia will be preferentially treated with non–benzodiazepines, hypnotics or melatonin, or with cognitive behavioural therapy.
  • Insomnia related to vasomotor symptoms can be improved with hormone replacement therapy.
  • Gabapentin and isoflavones have also shown efficacy in small series but their precise role has yet to be established.
  • In patients suffering from OSA, non–pharmacological therapy will be applied: continuous positive airway pressure or an oral appliance, according to the severity of the disorder.
  • In the case of RLS, triggering factors must be avoided; dopaminergic agonists are the first–line treatment for moderate to severe disease.

Testosterone reduces heart disease risk in men

Risk of Myocardial Infarction in Older Men Receiving Testosterone Therapy

Jacques Baillargeon, PhD1 , Randall J. Urban, MD1 , Yong-Fang Kuo, PhD1 , Kenneth J. Ottenbacher, PhD, OTR1 , Mukaila A. Raji, MD1 , Fei Du, MS1 , Yu-li Lin, MS1 , and James S. Goodwin, MD1

Abstract

Background:Testosterone therapy for older men has increased substantially over the past decade. Research on the effects of testosterone therapy on cardiovascular outcomes has yielded inconsistent results. Objective: To examine the risk of myocardial infarction (MI) in a population-based cohort of older men receiving intramuscular testosterone. Methods: Using a 5% national sample of Medicare beneficiaries, we identified 6355 patients treated with at least 1 injection of testosterone between January 1, 1997, and December 31, 2005. We matched this cohort to 19 065 testosterone nonusers at a 1:3 ratio based on a composite MI prognostic score. Patients were followed until December 31, 2005, or until they lost coverage from Medicare, enrolled in a health maintenance organization, experienced a MI, or died

. Results:

In a Cox regression analysis adjusting for demographic and clinical characteristics, receipt of testosterone therapy was not associated with an increased risk of MI (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.84; 95% CI = 0.69-1.02). In this analysis, there was an interaction between receipt of testosterone and quartile of risk of MI (P = 0.023). For men in the highest quartile of the MI prognostic score, testosterone therapy was associated with a reduced risk of MI (HR = 0.69; 95% CI = 0.53-0.92), whereas there was no difference in risk for the first (HR = 1.20; 95% CI = 0.88-1.67), second (HR = 0.94; 95% CI = 0.69- 1.30), and third quartiles (HR = 0.78; 95% CI = 0.59-1.01).

Conclusions:

Older men who were treated with intramuscular testosterone did not appear to have an increased risk of MI. For men with high MI risk, testosterone use was modestly protective against MI.

What is cellulite?

Health Check: what is cellulite?

Most women (85%) and a small number of men have cellulite, usually on the thighs, buttocks and upper arms. It’s a normal pattern of fat for people of all shapes and sizes.

The dimpling of cellulite is caused by alterations to the layer of fat beneath the skin. wckiw/Shutterstock

Most women (85%) and a small number of men have cellulite, usually on the thighs, buttocks and upper arms. It’s a normal pattern of fat for people of all shapes and sizes.

The dimpling of cellulite, or gynoid lipodystrophy as it’s medically known, is caused by alterations to the layer of fat beneath the skin, known as subcutaneous fat.

Cellulite can be hard, soft or oedematous (swollen). Hard cellulite is seen in young women who exercise regularly. Soft cellulite is more common in inactive women who have recently lost weight. Oedematous cellulite is seen in women who are overweight.

Why do we have subcutaneous fat?

The fat tissue beneath our skin has three main functions. It acts as a shock absorber to dissipate external forces applied to the skin, to protect the underlying muscle and overlying skin. Fat in the feet aids walking, while fat on the buttocks aids sitting.

Second, fat provides thermal insulation and helps regulate and maintain our core body temperature. Underweight people feel the cold more. Overweight people find heat and hot climates more difficult.

Third, fat stores surplus energy when food supply is irregular. Feasting leads to fat accumulation. Fat stores can release energy slowly and evenly to help us endure famine. Fat tissue is an integral part of a very sophisticated energy storage and delivery system that allows humans to get by comfortably with three meals a day, while other mammals such as sheep need to feed almost continuously for 80% of their waking hours.

Apart from these main functions, subcutaneous fat participates in many of the body’s other metabolic, hormonal and healing activities. Fat tissue, for instance, is a major reservoir of stem cells involved in healing and tissue regeneration. Fat contributes to our immunology system that protects us from infection.

Hormones such as oestrogen and testosterone are manufactured in our fat tissue. Insulin and glucagon regulate fat metabolism and body energy supplies.

Compartments of fat

Fat is a liquid at body temperature. Thin fibrous connective tissue, called septae, separate the liquid fat into small compartments of similar size.

Fibrous connective tissue, called septae, separate liquid fat into small compartments of similar size. Cynosure

Septae attach the skin on top to the muscle and underlying tissue below. This produces normal skin contours, brings our skin back into place after pinching and essentially stops gravity sending all our fat to our feet and ankles when we stand up.

How does cellulite form?

Cellulite occurs primarily due to changes in the amount and composition of fat within the fat cells (adipocytes) and alterations in the connective tissue, the septae.

These changes are thought to be caused by alterations in the blood vessels and circulation in the subcutaneous tissue and are influenced by genes and hormones, and exacerbated by a sedentary lifestyle and obesity.

In cellulite, the fibrous collagen walls of the septae thicken and become rigid. The stiffened septae stick together to produce larger and more irregularly sized balls of fat.

Think of septae as balloons filled with water. The balloons change from being similar in size, soft and flaccid to become irregular in size, thick, hard and inflexible.

This feels lumpy rather than smooth, and when we apply and release pressure, it does not recoil as readily as skin elsewhere.

What causes cellulite?

Oestrogen is the most important hormone involved in the production of cellulite, and explains why it predominately (but not exclusively) affects women, it begins after puberty and gets worse during pregnancy and with oestrogen therapy.

Many women of a healthy weight have cellulite. Lets Go Out Bournemouth and Poole/Flickr, CC BY

While obesity contributes to cellulite by increasing the fat volume caught within the irregular-sized fat lobules, cellulite is structurally and mechanistically different to obesity. In obese people, the fat cells (adipocytes) enlarge and swell with fat, but the cells do not increase in number. The fibrous septae remain thin and supple and there are no structural changes in the skin.

Cellulite is more common in Anglo-Saxon women than Asian or black women. Mediterranean women are more likely to develop cellulite on their hips while Celtic women may develop it on their lower abdomen.

Reduced muscle activity and muscle mass associated with a sedentary lifestyle aggravate cellulite by affecting the blood’s circulation to the heart and the circulation within the fat tissue.

What if your cellulite bothers you?

Weight loss will reduce the fat content within the lobules and improve the appearance of cellulite. However, the fibrous walls remain.

To date no-one has come up with an effective strategy to prevent cellulite, or stop it progressing. Medical creams and tablets to soften the thickened fibrous septae have so far proved disappointing. Massage alone will not break the fibrous septae.

There’s no evidence that massage or creams work. Fuschia Foot/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

A number of non-invasive laser devices, acoustic wave therapy and radio-frequency devices have produced minor and short-lived results. Multiple treatment sessions are required which can make these approaches expensive.

Liposuction, using a thin tube to suck out fat, may reduce obesity, but is only partially helpful in cellulite.

Subcision, a surgical technique where a tiny blade or laser cannula cuts the fibrous septae, is the treatment of choice for those looking for an invasive treatment. However it can be expensive and causes short-term bruising.