Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps admitted at the The Kennedy Forum in Chicago last week that he had battled depression for years and contemplated suicide. With his multiple decade athletic career, the most decorated in history, how could an Olympian find life so unlivable?
Other decorated athletes have suffered from depression as well: Terry Bradshaw, Darryl Strawberry, Larry Sanders, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and Oscar de la Hoya to name a few.
Post-athletic activity depression (PADD) may ensue when the high levels of exercise aren’t maintained and the mind isn’t prepared for losing or being surpassed by another athlete. As you will see biology as well as psychology play huge factors in the mental health of an athlete.
Michael Phelps admitted to going into a depression after each Olympics. His workouts leading up to each of the 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympics were illustrated by Arizona State coach Bob Bowman at the American Swimming Coaches Association, and demonstrated thousands of hours and yards swum each week.
Multiple studies have proven that exercise wards off depression. This is in part due to multiple mood enhancing hormones being released during athletic activity such as:
So if after a meet, marathon, playoff or Olympic race ends, does the average athlete keep their rigorous training schedule? Probably not. Hence these hormones that the body has become accustomed to seeing aren’t there at their previous levels, inducing a depression. If someone is at risk for depression, the drop in these hormone levels could, in theory, depress one to the point that they contemplate suicide.
They say winning is addictive and from a psychological standpoint, that’s correct. Once you win you reform a new identity. Those psychologically mature and stable will not find their win their only identifying factor and additionally will understand that you “win some, lose some”. However those who struggled for years to win, especially if the prize is an Olympic medal, may not deal with “lose some” so easily.
Once you own that Superbowl ring, first place blue ribbon or gold medal others look at you as “one of the best”. How much higher can you go? Usually an athlete only has two choices. Maintain their “top” status, difficult to do with aging and younger up and comers vying for their spot, or start losing. Most athletes aren’t preparing for how to lose. They can’t. They use all their waking hours preparing on how to win. So when the loss does come, they’re unprepared.
I believe so. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive degeneration of brain tissue and function from multiple hits to the head. Many who suffer from CTE have mood changes, anxiety, anger and impulsivity. CTE tau protein build up in the brain contributes to this but hormones can play a role as well.
What needs to be studied are the mood changes incurred by athletes after each season or race to see if a “funk” sets in because their exercise regimen is not being maintained.
Moreover all athletes should have access to counseling to thwart depression and suicidality because losing is inevitable for everyone.
White House Physician, Navy Rear Adm. Dr. Ronny Jackson, performed President Donald Trump’s annual physical last week are released the following results:
President Donald J. Trump has completed his first periodic physical examination as President of the United States. I performed and supervised the examination with appropriate specialty consultations and diagnostic testing. The exam was conducted January 12, 2018 at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
The purpose of this exam was to provide the public with an update of the President’s current health status and to ensure the President continues to enjoy all the benefits of good health. This examination focused on evidence-based health screening and disease prevention.
With President Trump's consent, I release the following health information:
Age: 71 years, 7 months
Height: 75 inches
Weight: 239 pounds
Resting heart rate: 68 bpm
Blood pressure: 122/74 mm
Hg Pulse-oximetry: 99% room air
Temperature: 98.4 degrees F
Physical Examination by System (to include studies)
Eyes: Uncorrected visual acuity was 20/30 bilaterally, with corrected visual acuity of 20/20 bilaterally. Visual fields were normal. Fundoscopic exam was normal bilaterally. Intraocular pressures were normal bilaterally. No ocular pathology was discovered.
Head/Ears/Nose/Throat: Normal exam of the head, ears, nose, mouth, and throat.
Dental: Healthy teeth and gums.
Neck: Normal thyroid exam. No noted lymphadenopathy. Auscultation of the carotid arteries normal.
Pulmonary: Lungs clear to auscultation. A screening Low Dose CT of the chest demonstrated no pulmonary pathology.
Cardiac: Heart exam normal. Regular rhythm. No murmurs or other abnormal heart sounds noted. ECG with normal sinus rhythm, rate of 71, normal axis, and no other significant findings. Transthoracic Echocardiogram demonstrated normal LV systolic function, EF 60-65%, normal LV chamber size and wall thickness, no wall motion abnormalities. RV normal, atria grossly normal, all valves normal. Exercise Stress Echocardiogram demonstrated above average exercise capacity based on age and sex, and normal heart rate, blood pressure, and cardiac output response to exercise. No evidence of ischemia noted and wall motion was normal in all images.
Gastrointestinal: Normal exam. No masses, hepatomegaly or splenomegaly noted. Normal optical colonoscopy with no polyps or abnormal findings completed June 2013. Repeat colonoscopy not indicated and was deferred until next periodic physical exam.
Genitourinary: Normal exam.
Extremities/Musculoskeletal: Normal throughout. Full range of motion in all joints. Strong distal pulses and good capillary refill in all extremities. No swelling or edema noted.
Neurological: Examination of cranial nerves, cerebellar function, deep tendon reflexes, motor function, and sensory system all normal. Cognitive Screening Exam using the Montreal Cognitive Assessment was normal with a score of 30/30.
Dermatologic: Normal exam. No evidence of melanoma , basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, or any other significant dermatologic disease.
Total cholesterol: 223 (mg/dL)
Triglycerides: 129 (mg/dL)
HDL cholesterol: 67 (mg/dL)
LDL cholesterol: 143 (mg/dL)
Cholesterol to HDL ratio: 3.3\
Complete Blood Count:
WBC: 5.5 (K/UL)
HGB: 16.1 (g/dL)
HCT: 48.7 (%)
PLT: 241 (K/UL)
Extended Metabolic Panel:
Fasting Blood Glucose: 89 (mg/dL)
BUN: 19.0 (mg/dL)
CREAT: 0.98 (mg/dL)
ALT: 27 (U/L)
AST: 19 (U/L)
Hemoglobin AlC: 5.0 (%)
Vitamin D: 20.0 (ng/ml)
PSA: 0.12 (ng/ml)
TSH: 1.76 (ulU/ml)
Past Medical History
Past Surgical History
Appendectomy (age 11)
• No past or present use of alcohol.
• No past or present use of tobacco.
Rosuvastatin (Crestor), 10 mg daily to lower cholesterol.
Acetylsalicylic Acid (Aspirin), 81mg daily for cardiac health.
Finasteride (Propecia), 1 mg daily for prevention of male pattern hair loss.
Ivermectin Cream (Soolantra), As needed for treatment of Rosacea
Multivitamin (Centrum Silver), Daily for overall health maintenance.
The President’s overall health is excellent. His cardiac performance during his physical exam was very good. He continues to enjoy the significant long term cardiac and overall health benefits that come from a lifetime of abstinence from tobacco and alcohol. We discussed diet, exercise and weight loss. He would benefit from a diet that is lower in fat and carbohydrates and from a routine exercise regimen. He has a history of elevated cholesterol and is currently on a low dose of Rosuvastatin. In order to further reduce his cholesterol level and further decrease his cardiac risk, we will increase the dose of this particular medication. The President is currently up to date on all recommended preventive medicine screening tests and exams.
All clinical data indicates that the President is currently very healthy and that he will remain so for the duration of his Presidency.
At the above height and weight, Donald Trump’s BMI is 29.9 placing him in the overweight category just shy of the 30 BMI cut off for obesity.
His blood pressure and heart rate are excellent for his age, especially in the absence of a blood pressure medication.
His pulse oximetry demonstrating the oxygenation of his blood is excellent as well.
An uncorrected vision test of 20/30 means that without glasses, the president has near perfect vision.
A low dose CT of the chest is not routine during annual physicals in non-smokers, but is reassuring that he most likely doesn’t suffer from lung cancer, the number one cancer killer in America.
His EKG, which evaluates electrical abnormalities of the heart secondary to disease or heart attack, confirmed the ideal heart rate.
His echocardiogram, and ultrasound evaluating heart structures and pump activity, demonstrated no heart failure or issues with the filling or pumping of blood, as well as confirming normal anatomy (valves, wall thickness, etc).
A stress test evaluates for cardiac ischemia, or loss of blood flow to heart muscle during rest and exercise, and was normal as well.
A normal colonoscopy in 2013 suggests his next screening colonoscopy wouldn’t be performed until 2023 unless he had pain, rectal bleed, changes in his stool, or any risk factors for colon cancer.
The Montreal Cognitive Assessment was given to evaluate cognitive function and is not routinely done during annual physicals. This was performed and passed with a 30/30 score. The test evaluates memory, orientation, visuospatial and executive brain function, recall, concentration and language fluency. An example is shown here.
His cholesterol is elevated but his good cholesterol is strong and his ratio of cholesterol to HDL is well within goal.
The remaining blood tests looked very good, especially his HBA1C and blood glucose evaluating for diabetes.
Of note is his Vitamin D level which appears low-normal and could put him at risk for osteoporosis. It does not appear a bone density test, Dexa scan, was performed.
A PSA of 0.12 is reassuring as well although is not recommended as a screening test for prostate cancer.
It's been suggested that President Trump loses 10-15 lbs and increases his exercise activity.
My opinion, for a 71-year-old man with high cholesterol, President Trump is way ahead of the curve. I’m a fan of Crestor, his cholesterol lowering medication, and credit his lipid profile numbers to his use of the statin. His weight is an issue but I think the White House has a bowling alley, chefs who could make asparagus taste like meat, and secret service who wear fitbits. I think he’ll be just fine.
This is a developing story.
When Hawaii residents Saturday morning received this alert (later retracted):
the rest of the country asked themselves, “What would I have done if I received this alert?”
So I think we can all agree we’re unprepared. Some scoff by saying, “Well we wouldn’t survive anyway!” Actually, you can survive a nuclear attack. Here’s how…
Firstly, know your shelters. There are two types:
Blast shelters offer some protection against the blast, heat, fire and initial radiation.
Fallout shelters offer some protection against the radiation from the fallout products.
Many public buildings in your city can act as fallout shelters. These may be schools, hotels, subway tunnels, or below ground pubs. However if your city doesn’t post or have either, you are more likely to be urged to “Shelter in Place”, which we’ll discuss later.
Secondly, make an “Emergency Kit” that has all your important papers, passports, medications, first aid, pet supplies, food and water.
Ready.gov suggests the following:
Consider adding the following items to your emergency supply kit based on your individual needs:
It’s best to get to a building that has a basement. Below ground is obviously safer than above ground. Moreover being surrounded by concrete or even brick is better than stucco.
Mic.com also suggests that the center of a building offers more protection than other rooms as illustrated below:
The farther away you are from the blast the safer, however, you do not want to be in your car in bumper to bumper traffic during an attack either.
If you don’t know where to go, than bunker down. If you have a basement go there. If not find an interior room with no windows and start praying.
There is always the possibility that someone may be in the middle of a picnic when a nuclear attack hits. If that’s the case, and you can’t get indoors, Ready.gov suggests the following:Do not look at the flash or fireball – it can blind you.
These tablets help protect your thyroid from taking up radioactive iodine, as they saturate the organ. It’s an inexpensive pill that will protect one against thyroid cancer but not the other medical sequelae of nuclear exposure such as bone marrow injury and skin irritation.
The false nuclear attack alert Hawaii residents received enlightened the rest of the country on how unprepared the average American is. It’s about time we have a game plan and cities educate their citizens on where and how to protect themselves.
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has issued guidelines on how to limit radiation from cell phone use which may cause cancer.
For years we’ve contemplated over cell phones causing cancer, specifically brain cancer. Each year a study debunks this theory, but months later a report surfaces that reignite the debate. And no matter how many studies disprove a cancer link, we worry because we are 24/7 glued to our phones, or the phones are glued to us. Many of us don’t even own a landline anymore as we find it financially obtuse to pay monthly fees for a wall jack we don’t use. We take our phones with us to school, work, the dinner table, and even the toilet. If it wasn’t for the lack of waterproofing, many of us would take our phones with us into the shower. We are geographically closer to our phones than own children. Something’s got to bite us in the butt……
Earlier this year a Superior Court Judge in California ordered the state to release papers discussing the risk of long-term cell phone use. According to sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com, “The documents were written by the state’s Environmental Health Investigations branch and are believed to contain cell phone radiation warnings and recommendations for public use. But the state refused to hand them over when requested by a director at University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health.” Joel Moskowitz, Ph.D in turn sued the state saying this data should be public record and won. He’s been researching the subject and cited an increased brain cancer risk with cell phone use over 10 years.
Children are the most susceptible with their developing brains. The following recommendations were recommended for both adults and children:
Keeping the phone away from the body
Reducing cell phone use when the signal is weak
Reducing the use of cell phones to stream audio or video, or to download or upload large files
Keeping the phone away from the bed at night
Removing headsets when not on a call
Avoiding products that claim to block radio frequency energy. These products may actually increase your exposure.
Cell phones emit radio waves. These are a form of non-ionizing radiation that provides an energy source through radio frequency. Ionizing radiation is emitted by x rays, cosmic rays, and radon, and have been linked to cancer as it is a high frequency, high energy form of electromagnetic radiation. Non-ionizing radiation include radio waves, microwaves, visible light, UV light, infrared, and lasers. Although UV radiation may cause skin cancer, the other sources are deemed less dangerous than their ionizing radiation counterparts.
One of the more recent studies unveiled in May of 2016 reported cell phone radiation caused brain tumors in mice. Rats exposed to the radiofrequency radiation for 7-9 hours a day, seven days a week, were more prone to develop the malignant gliomas as well has tumors in the heart. This study was not intended to be translated to human risk, but of course it made headlines and scared us silly.
Prior to this, in 2011, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified cell phone use and other radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
However, multiple studies have been done, as descriptively outlined by the National Cancer Institute, and are assuring us that there is no imminent danger by our daily use of cell phones. The NCI also provides recommendations from the CDC, FDA, and FCC stating not enough evidence exists to establish a link between cell phones and cancer.
Although arguments continue over cell phone radiation causing cancer, it has been proven that heat is given off. Many people complain their ear gets hot after lengthy cell phone use and studies have yet to determine if cell phone heat can cause oncogenic changes in cells. They’ve studied if the radiation affects metabolic activity, and a team led by Dr. Nora Volkow, head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, found visible brain activity changes on the side the cell phone was being used. They recommended after this study keeping the cell phone away from the body and using a lower radiation emitting phone.
We wait and see. My suggestion is to not overdo it with our phones. Use the speaker setting when practical so as to not consistently hug the phone to your skull. Take breaks in between lengthy calls. Text when appropriate to minimize exposure as well.
Or do what I do when I talk to my mother, hold the phone 3 feet away from my head. I can still hear her…..just fine……
The holidays flew by us way too quickly and left the wind chill in its wake. Unfortunately with all the hustle and bustle this time of year, we tend to forget how dangerous the weather can be. It would make sense to stay indoors, and for the most part we do….except for New Years. All rules go out the door with this party. The most exciting night of the year can sometimes be the coldest night of the year. And the party ends up outside. And do we don a ski mask, goggles, gloves, galoshes, thermal underwear, winter coat and earmuffs? No. That would make the most unsexy New Year’s outfit.
Throw some alcohol into the mix and this can be a deadly combination. The CDC estimates that 1300 deaths occur each year due to hypothermia. So what is hypothermia?
Hypothermia is a dangerous drop in body temperature and can occur in minutes. Human body temperature averages around 98.6 degrees F. But hypothermia starts setting in at 95 degrees F with shivering, increase respiratory and heart rate, and even confusion. We forget that glucose stores get used up quickly so hypoglycemia can ensue as well, making matters worse, especially in someone who is intoxicated. Frostbite can occur as blood flow decreases to the tips of the ears, fingers, nose and toes. As hypothermia progresses, the shivering and muscle contractions strengthen, skin and lips become pale, and confusion worsens. This can lead to severe hypothermia, eventually causing heart failure and/or respiratory failure, leading to a coma and if not reversed, death.
Someone who is hypothermic may slur their speech, stammer around and appear uncoordinated. This sounds identical to your drunk buddy on New Year’s Eve. Unfortunately, this can be deadly as many hypothermic partiers get written off as being drunk.
So if you suspect hypothermia, call for medical assistance. Anyone you think is eliciting signs of hypothermia should be brought indoors, put in dry clothes, covered in warm blankets, and then wait for paramedics to arrive. It’s important to try to warm the central parts of the body such as head, neck, chest, and groin, but avoid direct electric blanket contact with the skin and active rubbing if the skin is showing signs of frostbite.
Hot water will be too caustic and can cause burns. Remember, the body is shunting blood away from the ears, fingers, toes, hands and feet to warm the heart, brain and other vital organs. The skin will be in a vulnerable state during hypothermia and frostbite and will burn the under perfused skin.
We’re outside in the cold, not bundling up, dancing, sweating, becoming dehydrated. Add alcohol to the mix, and its deadly. Here’s the scoop on alcohol toxicity.
When it comes to hypothermia, the best thing you can do is prevention. It’s the biggest party of the year so prepare yourself by doing the following:
Wear multiple layers of clothing
Bring an extra pair of dry socks
Avoid getting wet (i.e. falling off a boat, getting splashed with champagne)
Change your clothes if you worked up a sweat dancing
Check with your medical provider if some of your medical conditions (i.e. hypothyroid) or medications (i.e. narcotics, and sedatives) put you at risk for hypothermia
Avoid alcohol intoxication
Keep an eye on your more vulnerable buddies who include children, older individuals, and those with intellectual disabilities.
A Happy New Year should also be a Healthy New Year. So be warm, dry, safe and have fun!!
The work holiday party is one of the most anticipated events of the year. Free food, free drink and for 4-6 hours you can be in the same room as your boss without any risk of being told “you’re fired”. But…..many of us make mistakes, HUGE mistakes, while tipsy and letting our guard down could be the biggest career buster ever. Plus, there are some missed opportunities the office Holiday party offers to make your overall work life better. So let’s get right down to it.
Your superior in any office setting should be the last one you try to cuddle up to. Good management knows there is ALWAYS someone watching and, these days, recording on their phone, so they do not want to be seen in an uncomfortable situation, appearing to be flirting with you. You can complement them, sure, but hands off!
This gets us all into trouble. Yes the alcohol is usually free and a flow’n but this will lead to your downfall. Your guard is down, you become flirty, you blurt out secrets, those that the whole team knows but would be never caught dead saying……and sometimes the clothes come off on the dance floor. Please drink in moderation.
Never, never, never plan on driving that night if you plan to drink. Car Service, Uber, Taxi, designated drivers are a must.
The next morning will be full of regret as it is, no need to cement it in infamy.
Holiday season is swarming with good parties. And chances are there are two other parties calling your name that same night. Make sure you hit the office party FIRST. You can get too distracted or drunk at the other parties such that you never make it across town, safely. Again, don’t drive if you plan to drink.
This is where I take a fall (as you can see above). A microphone is sitting up on the stage, waiting, just waiting for someone to grab it and spout out some one liners. I fear getting close to it until the head boss makes opening remarks. Then I feel the need to interrupt him and “take over from here”. Let your boss have the mic. He/She’s the head honcho, let them have their glory. They’re paying for the party……
Never, never use this opportunity to gossip. That’s what the staff lounge is for. It’s a positive night. Don’t bring negativity.
You may feel protected with all your work peeps surrounding you but one day he/she will get you alone and ….payback. Instead wishing them some holiday cheer…..may bring out the good in the jerk.
Everyone is watching you so your hopes of secretly hooking up is already circulating social media. If you want to begin a relationship that’s fine, but hoping it's on the down low will never happen. People at parties pretend to be distracted, but someone is always watching.
Never, never, never discuss work at the office Holiday party. And please don’t ask for a raise!!! Will never happen. Even if your boss is drunk, he will forget about it by the New Year.
Being antisocial is not the way to go either. Mix, mingle and look like you’re having a good time. Even if you’re not. If you have to leave early due to boredom, blame it on diarrhea. This may be the only party you EVER get invited to.
Even though they may roll their eyes at you as you compliment them (since anyone volunteering for a planning committee in the first place probably isn’t your best bud at work), they secretly enjoy the complement.
This is the only time your boss and team will see your other talents. Sans beer bonging, show off your talents….dance moves, pipes, even fashion sense…. if you’re good.
Don’t kiss up, but as you thank him, let him know you love your job. This will be a take home message that can go a long way.
This is a no brainer.
It’s the holidays! Let’s celebrate!! Truly the most wonderful time of the year!!!
As the California Wildfires roar into a second week, those residents lucky enough to escape the flames worry what consequences could result in inhaling the smoke.
According to the EPA, smoke emanating from forest and community fires may include any of the following:
Carbon monoxide, which competes with oxygen in the blood
Carbon dioxide, a respiratory byproduct
Acrolein – used as a pesticide
Plastics, and those byproducts after incineration
and thousands of different respiratory irritants.
According to the EPA,
Smoke is composed primarily of carbon dioxide, water vapor, carbon monoxide, particulate matter, hydrocarbons and other organic chemicals, nitrogen oxides, trace minerals and several thousand other compounds. The actual composition of smok depends on the fuel type, the temperature of the fire, and the wind conditions. Different types of wood and vegetation are composed of varying amounts of cellulose, lignin, tannins and other polyphenolics, oils, fats, resins, waxes and starches, which produce different compounds when burned.
Some may have no idea they are breathing in harmful compounds that could affect their lungs and heart. However, many may experience:
Racing Heart (palpitations)
Exacerbation of their lung disease including COPD, asthma, chronic bronchitis
Exacerbation of heart conditions such as angina, heart attack, and cardiac arrhythmias.
Increased susceptibility to new lung infections as well as flu
PM2.5 are particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter that are present in pollution and wildfire smoke that can penetrate deeply into the lung linings. Larger, coarse particles 10 micrometers in diameter are called PM10. Both impair lung function as they inflame the lungs and interfere with the work of alveoli that need to oxygenate the blood. Moreover the small particles can use this pathway to enter the bloodstream. Although the direct health impacts of the fine particulate matter is not clearly defined it is believed that increased PM2.5 levels increase the risk of lung and heart disease as discussed above.
Symptoms may begin at levels greater than 55 µg/m3 .
Infants and Children
Those with chronic lung disease, including asthma and emphysema
Those at risk for heart disease and stroke
Those with diabetes
Those with chronic allergies
Avoiding the area of wildfires is paramount. Additionally, the following may be considered:
Avoid outdoors until air quality reports improve. Do not rely on how “clear” the air looks.
Take heed of wind and air quality advisories.
Recirculate the air in your home and car.
Keep windows closed.
Consult with your medical provider to monitor blood pressure, heart rhythm, lung function and refill any medications you may need BEFORE you feel symptoms.
Be wary of facemasks sold as PM2.5 safe as many do not protect against the very small particles. Respirator masks labelled N95 or N100 may provide SOME protection against particulates but not against the toxic fumes such as formaldehyde and acrolein.
A new study suggests intrauterine contraceptive devices (IUDs) may fight off the virus that causes cervical cancer.
Researchers from the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine found the small T-shaped device may stimulate an immune response against the sexually transmitted Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) virus which causes cervical cancer.
IUDs are a favorite among women as they do not involve taking a daily hormone pill and can provide contraceptive protection for years. There are two main types:
The ParaGard IUD is a non hormonal implant made of copper. The copper wards of sperm allowing contraception up to 12 years.
Hormonal IUDs, such as Mirena, release progestin, a hormone similar to progesterone, to the local environment, thickening the cervical mucous to prevent sperm from reaching the egg. Hormonal IUDs may also prevent ovulation. Additionally, IUDs can alter the lining of the uterus such that if a fertilized egg does occur, it may not be able to nest in the uterus without proper lining.
But both IUDs can stimulate an immune response that is both a deterrent to sperm and now suggested to viruses such as HPV.
Vaccines against the HPV virus exist and are given to 11-12 year old girls with the maximum age at which one could receive the vaccine, 26 years old.
If more research confirms this is the case, then those women who have not been vaccinated or are too old to receive the vaccine against cervical cancer may benefit from using an IUD.
The uterus looks similar to a light bulb. The larger top portion being where the fetus develops, and the bottom, narrower area, the cervix. The cervix thins and dilates during childbirth, as you’ve heard in the movies “she’s only 7 cm!” and then after childbirth becomes narrow again. It affects nearly 12,000 and kills 4,000 women each year. It can affect women of any age but is more common between 20 and 50.
The most common cause is HPV (Human Papillomavirus), especially HPV-16 and HPV-18. This is acquired through unprotected sex, so condom use is encouraged. Thus its one of the most preventable causes of cancer. Additionally, there are 3 vaccines for HPV currently approved by the FDA, Gardasil, Gardasil 9, and Cervarix.
Early cervical cancer may not be symptomatic but as it develops it may cause an odor, pain with urination, pelvic pain and bleeding. This bleeding may occur after sex, a pelvic exam, or intermittent bleeding not associated with a menstrual cycle.
Yes. Early detection is key and can be done by a Pap Smear, explained below. Multiple treatments are available including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and targeted therapy such as Bevacizumab (Avastin®) which prevents new blood vessel growth that can feed a tumor.
Who should get screened for Cervical Cancer?
The USPSTF (United States Preventive Services Task Force) recommends the following:
Screening for cervical cancer in women age 21 to 65 years with cytology (Pap smear) every 3 years or, for women age 30 to 65 years who want to lengthen the screening interval, screening with a combination of cytology and human papillomavirus (HPV) testing every 5 years.
It is the cytology (cell analysis) of the cervix. Years ago, a cytobrush would collect the cells and the medical provider would “smear” it onto a slide, place fixative, and then send it to the laboratory for the pathologist to analyze it. Now ThinPrep® Pap tests are used more commonly as the cells from the brush are placed into a container with fixative, and this vial is sent to the pathologist to spin down and analyze.
In order to obtain the cells from the cervix, the medical provider needs to use a speculum to open the vaginal canal and allow access to the uterus. A woman may be in the lithotomy position…lying on one’s back on the exam table with her feet in stirrups and knees bent. During the speculum exam, the medical provider may take cultures to test for common vaginal infections such as yeast, bacteria vaginosis, or sexually transmitted illnesses such as gonorrhea and chlamydia. After the speculum exam, the provider may perform a pelvic exam with her gloved hand to examine the uterus and ovaries, evaluating for tenderness, shape, size and masses.
An HPV test can be done with the cells obtained during the Pap Smear. The laboratory evaluates the cells to see if the HPV virus that causes cervical cancer is present.
In summary the thousands of deaths that occur each year to cervical cancer can be prevented with simple testing, such as the Pap Smear. Discuss with your medical provider when cervical cancer screening is best for you.
A new study out of India suggests both premature balding and graying are linked to heart disease.
Researchers from the UN Mehta Institute of Cardiology in Gujarat, India evaluated 2000 men (1200 healthy and 790 with heart disease) and found those who began to lose their hair and hair color before the age of 40 had the following risk elevation when it came to heart disease:
Premature balding 5.6 X risk
Premature graying 5.3 X risk
To put this into perspective, obesity was associated with a 4.1 greater risk. So alopecia (hair loss) and canities (graying/whitening of the hair) appeared to be more of a culprit than one of the most infamous risk factors there is.
This study therefore suggests those before age 40, showing early receding hair lines and gray hair, may want to be evaluated for cardiac risk factors.
In April, a study was presented at the EuroPrevent 2017 conference of the European Society of Cardiology suggested a link between how much a man grays or whitens when he ages and plaque buildup within the coronary arteries, the main arteries that supply the heart muscle.
Those researchers looked at 545 men and evaluated them by the degree of hair whitening where a 1 was given to those with all black hair, up to a 3 with equal amounts of black and gray/white hair, to a 5 where they had all gray/white hair. Computed tomography coronary angiography was used to evaluate the amount of atherosclerosis (plaque build up) in the coronary arteries.
Those men who scored 3 or more appeared to have higher risk of plaque build up. These findings were independent of cardiac risk factors such as age, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking and family history of heart disease.
According to lead author in this earlier study, Dr. Irini Samuel, a cardiologist at Cairo University in Egypt stated,
“Atherosclerosis and hair graying occur through similar biological pathways and the incidence of both increases with age. Our findings suggest that, irrespective of chronological age, hair graying indicates biological age and could be a warning sign of increased cardiovascular risk.
More research is needed on cutaneous signs of risk that would enable us to intervene earlier in the cardiovascular disease process.”
She continued, “If our findings are confirmed, standardization of the scoring system for evaluation of hair graying could be used as a predictor for coronary artery disease.”