Thursday, June 25, 2009

Found this article. Please read and stay safe and aware ladies. - Health Girl

What Farrah Fawcett

Can Teach Us

About Anal Cancer

by Deborah Kotz

April 06, 2009 04:50 PM ET | Deborah Kotz | Permanent Link | Print

As much as I think celebrities should be afforded their privacy—like the rest of us—when they're battling life-threatening diseases, I sometimes blog about their conditions because I see them as teaching moments. Farrah Fawcett is in the news today with reports that she's been hospitalized for complications of anal cancer. She was first diagnosed with anal cancer in 2006. Speculation was running wild that she was "close to dying," but the latest reports say she's suffering from a blood clot that resulted from an "alternative" cancer treatment she had in Germany to fight the cancer's recurrence.

Anal cancer is one of those cancers no one likes to talk about because it's, well, anal cancer. But we really should discuss it as much as, say, cervical cancer. Both are predominately caused by the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus. In fact, a 2004 study of 6,000 anal cancer patients (the majority of whom were women) found that 73 percent of the patients tested positive for the strain HPV-16, one of the strains that the Gardasil vaccine protects against.

What's worrisome is that unlike cervical cancer, which has dropped dramatically since the advent of the Pap smear, anal cancer is on the rise. Incidence rates over the past 30 years have jumped by 78 percent in women and 160 percent in men, probably because more people now have more sexual partners and more people have anal sex (both among heterosexuals and gay men), says Lisa Johnson, a cancer epidemiologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle who led the 2004 study.

Having unprotected sex, either anal or vaginally, raises your risk of becoming infected with HPV. Smoking is also associated with a higher risk of anal cancer, according to information I gleaned from the National Cancer Institute website, possibly because it inhibits immune function.

[Here are 12 other reasons to quit smoking.]

While anal cancer is far less common than breast cancer—1 in 640 women will be diagnosed during their lifetime, compared with 1 in 8 with breast cancer—only about half of anal cancers are detected in their earliest stage, when they're most treatable. Partly for this reason, only about 67 percent of people diagnosed with anal cancer survive five or more years.

There are, though, several ways women can protect themselves, says Johnson. Younger women can get the Gardasil vaccine, which is approved for those up to age 27. By blocking the transmission of two common cancer-causing HPV strains, she says, the vaccine presumably protects against anal cancers, throat cancers, and oral cancers that are associated with HPV infections.

[Here are other things to consider with regards to Gardasil vaccination.]

And don't skip those yearly gynecologist visits. As tough as it may seem, be upfront with your doctor if you've ever had unprotected anal sex and find out if there's any extra screening you should have. Anal Pap smears are available, and though they're mostly used for gay men, women can have them too. Be sure you have an HPV test along with your regular Pap smear. If you test positive for a cancer-causing strain and have had anal sex, talk to your doctor about methods for detecting anal abnormalities before they turn cancerous.

[Read about a new HPV test that's coming soon.]

I hope Farrah Fawcett will recover fully from this latest complication. I'm eager to see the documentary she's working on about her treatment experience. The fact that she has documented and shared her fight with cancer suggests that she, too, recognizes the importance of the teaching moment.

Due to the recent loss of Farrah Fawcett -- I wanted to show you all this article I found by Deborah Kotz on anal cancer. It was written before Farrah Fawcett's death, however it is a big wake up call. Ladies, this tags onto my previous post about HPV and throat cancer. Please be aware of the devastation that can be cause by what we are not aware of. Stay Safe.

-Health Girl

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Swimsuit Shape-Up: Four Easy Moves

From Healthgirl: Found this article in Ladies Home Journal. Enjoy!

Swimsuit Shape-Up: Four Easy Moves
These classic exercises will get your body swimsuit-ready in no time.

Haven't been hitting the gym lately? There's still time to get in shape! Simply do these four classic -- and always effective -- exercises three times a week. They'll shape up your toughest-to-tone body parts in no time. (Combine with three weekly 45-minute cardio sessions for even quicker results.)

Walking lunge (for legs and butt). Begin by taking a giant step forward with your right foot. Lower your body until your right thigh is parallel with the floor. Push off with your left foot, and take a giant step forward with that left leg. Lower until left thigh is parallel to the floor. Repeat sequence as many times as you can, "walking" down a hall, across your living room, or in your back yard.

Squat (for butt). Stand with feet hip-distance apart, abs pulled in. Slowly bend your legs and lower your butt as if you were sitting in a chair. Your knees should remain directly over your feet as you do this. Go down as far as you can, with the ultimate goal of getting your thighs parallel to the ground. Hold for three counts, then return to standing. Repeat as many times as you can.

Push-up (for chest, arms, and back). Get on hands and knees on the floor. Keeping your knees on the ground, walk your hands forward until your body forms a straight line from your head to your knees. Be sure your hands are directly below your shoulders. Slowly lower your chest toward the floor, then return to starting. Repeat as many times as you can.

Mini-crunch (for abs). Lie on your back, hands behind your head, elbows out to sides. Bend your knees and plant your feet flat on the ground. Using your abdominal muscles, lift your shoulders one inch (only one inch!) off the ground. Hold for two counts, and then lower. Repeat as many times as you can.

Gene Test May ID Younger Women at Risk for Melanoma

With Summer here, I found this article on that I think is interesting. Please make sure to wear sunblock or sunscreen when you go out into the sun.

Gene Test May ID Younger Women at Risk for Melanoma

WEDNESDAY, March 25 (HealthDay News) -- A genetic variation that's associated with a nearly fourfold increased risk of melanoma in women under the age of 50 has been identified by researchers at the New York University School of Medicine.

Identification of this variation in a gene called MDM2 could lead to a screening test to identify women at high risk for the deadly skin cancer.

If confirmed in further studies, the increased risk caused by the MDM2 variation "is higher than a lot of the other clinical factors that we know, such as blistering sunburns, freckling, and family history," study author Dr. David Polsky, an associate professor of dermatology and director of the Pigmented Lesion Section of the dermatology department at NYU School of Medicine, said in a university news release.

"Potentially, we have a genetic test that might identify premenopausal women who are at higher risk for melanoma. And if that's not the case, then we might want to have increased surveillance of those patients including more frequent visits to the doctor, more rigorous teaching of skin self-examination, and other preventive steps," he said.

In their study of 227 melanoma patients, Polsky and colleagues found that more than 40% of female patients younger than 50 had the MDM2 genetic variation, compared with about 16% of female patients older than 50. The difference in frequency of the genetic variation corresponded to a 3.89-fold increased risk of melanoma among women younger than 50, the researchers said.

The study was published online March 24 and was expected to be in the April 1 print issue of the journal Clinical Cancer Research.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: New York University Langone Medical Center, news release, March 24, 2009

Copyright © 2009 ScoutNews, LLC. All rights reserved

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

How to Stick to Your Diet on Vacation

How to Stick to Your Diet on Vacation (and What to Do When You’re Stuck)


I’ll be doing a lot of traveling over the next two weeks, and leaving home is an issue for any dieter. If you’re devoted to sticking to your meal plan, there are plenty of ways to keep track of calories on the road. Books like The Diet Detective’s Calorie Bargain Bible guide you to good choices at popular chains, not to mention websites like CalorieKing and DWLZ, or iPhone apps like Nutrition Menu and the LIVESTRONG Calorie Tracker. Even amusement parks like Disney World are no longer as dangerous as you might think; there are healthier choices at park eateries, like the smoked turkey leg that I love to split with a friend.

But there’s another dieting and travel problem that many people don’t want to talk about: vacation constipation! Sitting on planes and in cars for long periods of time isn’t good for your gut. You’ll feel bloated, and you’re not likely to fit into or feel great in your shorts or swimsuit. If you’ve been eating a healthy diet of fiber, fruit, and veggies and take a break to indulge in mile-high stacks of pancakes, bagels, pizza, and mounds of fries, you might find yourself stopping in a convenience store for Metamucil.

“A lot of people think they can go on vacation and have lasagna, or steak frites, or d

ive into fast food, and just add a salad and think they’ve got their fiber for the day, but that’s not enough,” says Danielle Svetcov, the author of The Un-Constipated Gourmet: Secrets to a Moveable Feast With 125 Recipes for the Regularity Challenged ($16; available in July).

I know. A cookbook about constipation sounds crazy, but Health’s senior food editor, Frances Largeman-Roth, wrote a prologue to Danielle’s book, so I flipped through it. As I read recipes for bourbon truffles, Gorgonzola-stuffed dried fig salad, chorizo and chickpea stew, and fruit compotes with yogurt, I forgot all about crazy. I was thinking yum.



Instead of laxatives, Danielle is a big believer in smart eating to keep your digestive system healthy. In fact, she always travels with a bar of dark chocolate (more on that below) for relief—and we’re not talking Ex-Lax. “I tell people they don’t have to give up the things they want to eat, but they have to decide what they want to splurge on and figure out where to balance it. Maybe you swap the fries for wild rice or Swiss chard.”

It turns out that waist-friendly strategies are also, well, waste-friendly. Here are a few cures for traveler’s tummy from Danielle’s book.

  • Avoid loading up on foods that are low in fiber and can get your gut stuck, like refined white bread, pastas, and pastries. Choose whole-grain and whole-wheat options whenever possible.
  • Spend 10 minutes on your back and bring your legs to your chest one at a time, as if you’re cycling.
  • Go for an hour-long walk at a fast pace, then lie down for an hour.
  • Have 3 ounces of dark chocolate (choose a bar that has at least 65% cacao), and chase it with a hot cup of black coffee or an 8-ounce glass of warm water. You need to sit still for at least one hour afterward for this remedy to work. (If you’re on vacation, now’s a good time to skip the museum tour.)
  • Pour yourself a shot or two of brandy in a warm glass. Slowly eat five prunes (unsulfured is best) and in between bites, sip the warm brandy. Again, you’ll need to sit still for an hour afterward.