National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

How healthy are Americans?

How healthy are those living in the United States? We know that our rank worldwide is not great. But, we must further measure our health to learn more. Hence, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. It is conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS, which) is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

First, look at these relevant posts:

 

NCHS’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

On a regular basis, the NCHS conducts a national survey on our health. Click here to access the program Web site. And click the image to read about the longitudinal nature of survey results.

National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

This brief video shows an overview of the program.

Finally, click on the image below to access data relating to the health issues shown. 

National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey
 

Do YOU Agree with This Scary Finding?

Does your appointment time matter?

Although doctors are human, like other service providers, we hope that they are always on top of their game. Especially when they see us!!! But new research offers some scary insights. Do YOU believe these insights?

As reported in an article in the JAMA Network Open, authored by Esther Y. HsiangShivan J. MehtaDylan S. Small; et al.:

Question: “Are breast and colorectal cancer screening rates associated with the time of day a patient visits the primary care clinician?”

Findings:  “In this quality improvement study analysis of 33 primary care practices including 19,254 patients eligible for breast cancer screening and 33, 468 patients eligible for colorectal cancer screening, both clinician ordering and patient completion of cancer screening tests decreased as the time of day progressed.”

Meaning:  Patients with primary care clinic appointment times later in the day were less likely to be ordered for and receive guideline recommended cancer screening.”

As summed up in a Futurity.org article on this study:

“Examining data from 2014 through 2016 across 33 Pennsylvania and New Jersey primary care practices, the researchers found that ordering rates had far-reaching effects.”

“Among eligible patients, primary care doctors ordered breast cancer screening more often for patients seen in the 8 A.M (64 percent) as compared to those with appointments at 5 P.M. (48 percent). Similarly, doctors ordered colon cancer screening tests more frequently for 8 A.M patients (37 percent) compared to those coming in later in the day (23 percent).

“When looking at the entire sample eligible for screenings at these practices, the researchers tracked whether the patients completed a screening within a year of their appointment. The data showed that the downward trend associated with the timing of the appointments carried over. Breast cancer screening — which included mammograms—stood at a 33 percent one-year completion rate for the entire eligible population who had their appointment in the 8 A.M. hour. But for those who had clinic visits at 5 P.M. or later, just 18 percent completed screenings. For colorectal cancer, 28 percent of the patients with appointments in the 8 A.M. hour completed screenings such as colonoscopies, sigmoidoscopies, and fecal occult blood tests. That number dropped to 18 percent for patients who saw the doctor at 5 P.M. or later”.

Click the image to read the full research article.

Do YOU Agree with This Scary Finding?

 

Medicinal Plants as a Cancer-Fighting Tool

Bring Asian research insights to the rest of the world.

Did you know? Certain plants may help us fight cancer. Read on!!

According a report by the National University of Singapore:

“Researchers found the effects in leaves of the bandicoot berry (Leea indica), South African leaf (Vernonia amygdalina), and simpleleaf chastetree (Vitex trifolia). Three other medicinal plants also demonstrated anti-cancer properties. ‘Medicinal plants have been used for the treatment of diverse ailments since ancient times, but their anti-cancer properties have not been well studied,’ says Koh Hwee Ling, associate professor from the National University of Singapore’s pharmacy department. ‘Our findings provide new scientific evidence for the use of traditional herbs for cancer treatment, and pave the way for the development of new therapeutic agents.’ The findings, which appear in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, highlight the importance of conserving these indigenous plants as resources for drug discovery and understanding these natural resources.”

“The experiments involved preparing extracts of fresh, healthy and mature leaves of the seven plants, and testing the extracts with the cell lines of seven different types of cancers—breast, cervical, colon, leukemia, liver, ovarian, and uterine. The team opted to examine leaves as they can regrow without harming the plants—making it a sustainable choice, unlike using the bark or roots. The experiments involved preparing extracts of fresh, healthy and mature leaves of the seven plants, and testing the extracts with the cell lines of seven different types of cancers — breast, cervical, colon, leukemia, liver, ovarian, and uterine. The team opted to examine leaves as they can regrow without harming the plants — making it a sustainable choice, unlike using the bark or roots.”

Click the image to read more.

Medicinal Plants as a Cancer-Fighting Tool
Out of the leaf extracts of the seven plants researchers tested, they found the sabah snake grass (bottom right) had weak effects or no effect against almost all the cell lines they tested. (Credit: NUS)

 

Bettering Your Immune System

Treat your immune system well!

According to the National Institutes of Health:

“The overall function of the immune system is to prevent or limit infection. An example of this principle is found in immune-compromised people, including those with genetic immune disorders, immune-debilitating infections like HIV, and even pregnant women, who are susceptible to a range of microbes that typically do not cause infection in healthy individuals.”

“The immune system can distinguish between normal, healthy cells and unhealthy cells by recognizing a variety of ‘danger’ cues called danger-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs). Cells may be unhealthy because of infection or because of cellular damage caused by non-infectious agents like sunburn or cancer. Infectious microbes such as viruses and bacteria release another set of signals recognized by the immune system called pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs).”

“When the immune system first recognizes these signals, it responds to address the problem. If an immune response cannot be activated when there is sufficient need, problems arise, like infection. On the other hand, when an immune response is activated without a real threat or is not turned off once the danger passes, different problems arise, such as allergic reactions and autoimmune disease.”

“The immune system is complex and pervasive. There are numerous cell types that either circulate throughout the body or reside in a particular tissue. Each cell type plays a unique role, with different ways of recognizing problems, communicating with other cells, and performing their functions. By understanding all the details behind this network, researchers may optimize immune responses to confront specific issues, ranging from infections to cancer.”

The Mayo Clinic notes the following:

“Primary immunodeficiency disorders — also called primary immune disorders or primary immunodeficiency — weaken the immune system, allowing infections and other health problems to occur more easily. Many people with primary immunodeficiency are born missing some of the body’s immune defenses or with the immune system not working properly, which leaves them more susceptible to germs that can cause infections. Some forms of primary immunodeficiency are so mild they can go unnoticed for years. Other types are severe enough that they’re discovered soon after an affected baby is born. Treatments can boost the immune system in many types of primary immunodeficiency disorders. Research is ongoing, leading to improved treatments and enhanced quality of life for people with the condition.”

Symptoms

“One of the most common signs of primary immunodeficiency is having infections that are more frequent, longer lasting, or harder to treat than are the infections of someone with a normal immune system. You may also get infections that a person with a healthy immune system likely wouldn’t get (opportunistic infections). Signs and symptoms differ depending on the type of primary immunodeficiency disorder, and they vary from person to person.”

“Signs and symptoms of primary immunodeficiency can include: Frequent and recurrent pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections, ear infections, meningitis or skin infections. Inflammation and infection of internal organs. Blood disorders, such as low platelet counts or anemia. Digestive problems, such as cramping, loss of appetite, nausea ,and diarrhea. Delayed growth and development. Autoimmune disorders, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or type 1 diabetes.”

Prevention

“Because primary immune disorders are caused by genetic defects, there’s no way to prevent them. But when you or your child has a weakened immune system, you can take steps to prevent infections:

        • Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands with mild soap after using the toilet and before eating.
        • Take care of your teeth. Brush your teeth at least twice a day.
        • Eat right. A healthy, balanced diet can help prevent infections.
        • Be physically active. Staying fit is important to your overall health. Ask your doctor what activities are appropriate for you.
        • Get enough sleep. Try to go to sleep and get up at the same time daily, and get the same number of hours of sleep every night.
        • Manage stress. Some studies suggest that stress can hamper your immune system. Keep stress in check with massage, meditation, yoga, biofeedback or hobbies. Find what works for you.
        • Avoid exposure. Stay away from people with colds or other infections and avoid crowds.
        • Ask your doctor about vaccinations. Find out which ones you should have.”

Other Immunity System Resources from the New York Times

To access the immunity system resources below, either click the image OR click the link of an individual resource.

Bettering Your Immune System
ILLUSTRATION BY SUPER FREAK

 

PLEASE Support My Lustgarten Foundation Walk to Find a Cure Pancreatic Cancer

We need YOUR support to find a cure for this deadly disease. Thanks.

Hello colleagues and readers:

I am a VERY blessed four-year survivor of pancreatic cancer. After this amount of time, I am among the only 5-7% of those with PC who is still alive. The fatality statistics for those afflicted with PC are truly staggering.

According Cancer.net:

In 2019, “an estimated 56,770 adults (29,940 men and 26,830 women) in the United States will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  Incidence rates are 25% higher in black people than in white people. It is estimated that 45,750 deaths (23,800 men and 21,950 women) from this disease will occur this year.”

“While pancreatic cancer is the ninth most common cancer in women and the tenth most common cancer in men, it is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in men and women.”

Here is the link for Team Joel: https://events.lustgarten.org/team/232854

This year, I will be walking on October 6, 2019 in the annual Lustgarten Pancreatic Cancer Research Foundation walk on Long Island. If you want to walk with me, I welcome you to Team Joel.

Whether or not you can do the walk, please make a donation. 100% goes directly to research. Not administrative expenses. A donation of ANY amount would be greatly appreciated. 😊

At Lustgarten, “Thanks to separate funding to support administrative expenses, 100% of your donation goes directly to pancreatic cancer research. We are the only pancreatic cancer organization that can make this claim. The Lustgarten Foundation meets the highest standards established by Charity Navigator, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance, and GuideStar. In fact, we have received a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator for ten consecutive years, which only one percent of charities evaluated have achieved. We are a fully accredited charity with the BBB Wise Giving Alliance and have a platinum transparency rating with GuideStar.” 

Thank you. You have my full gratitude.

Regards

Joel, a very lucky pancreatic survivor striving to give back!!!!!

P.S.: You can also click on my image to go to the Team Joel page.

PLEASE Support My Lustgarten Foundation Walk to Find a Cure Pancreatic Cancer
 

Getting a Better Night’s Sleep

Sleeping myths!

We’ve written before about the importance of sleeping. [See Are YOU Sleeping Well Enough.] Now, we consider some myths about sleep.

As  Sandee LaMotte writes for CNN:

“What you believe about sleep may be nothing but a pipe dream. Many of us have notions about sleep that have little basis in fact and may even be harmful to our health, according to researchers at NYU Langone Health’s School of Medicine, which conducted a study published in the journal Sleep Health.”

“‘There’s such a link between good sleep and our waking success,” said lead study investigator Rebecca Robbins of NYU Langone Health. ‘And yet we often find ourselves debunking myths, whether it’s to news outlets, friends, family or a patient.’ Robbins and her colleagues combed through 8,000 Web sites to discover what we thought we knew about healthy sleep habits and then presented those beliefs to a hand-picked team of sleep medicine experts. They determined which were myths and then ranked them by degree of falsehood and importance to health.”

 

Click here to learn about 10 very wrong, unhealthy assumptions about sleep.

New Hope for Those with Pancreatic Cancer

Mayo Clinic providing new options.

For those who follow this blog, you know that I am a VERY fortunate pancreatic cancer survivor. Since my cancer was diagnosed early, I was able to have a successful Whipple surgery. For most, the outlook is not as positive.

But, new research presents greater hope for the future. As Erika Edwards reports for NBC News:

“Historically, doctors have given pancreatic cancer patients chemotherapy or radiation hoping it would cause the tumor to shrink or pull away from the artery or vein it’s ensnared. Dr. Mark Truty, a surgical oncologist at Mayo Clinic, believes that’s the wrong approach. ‘You’re going to be sorely disappointed if that’s what you’re expecting’, Truty told NBC News.”

“About a third of pancreatic cancer cases are found at stage 3. Truty estimates about half of his pancreatic cancer patients diagnosed at this stage seek his care after other physicians said their tumors could not be surgically removed. His team’s approach to treating stage 3 pancreatic cancer is different from most other oncology practices”

“The Mayo Clinic approach works like this. Patients are given extended, personalized chemotherapy until levels of a tumor marker in the blood called CA 19-9 fall to a normal range. Then if a PET scan shows the tumor is destroyed, doctors move forward with radiation and surgery.”

“Among 194 pancreatic cancer treated this way at the Mayo Clinic, 89 percent lived longer than the expected 12 to 18 months. The approach has pushed average survival to five years after diagnosis, according to a study by the Mayo Clinic.

To learn more, watch the following video. Note: The beginning of the video may be a downer. But the overall video is hopeful.