Archive for May, 2014

Younger men may be at high risk for throat cancer

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014



(BPT) – Recently there has been a dramatic shift: Younger men who do not drink nor smoke and are in the prime of their physical health are being diagnosed with throat cancer. The increase is due to a common virus called the human papillomavirus (HPV), and many men don’t even know they have it.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, genital HPV is the most common sexually-transmitted infection in the U.S. and worldwide, with half of sexually-active men and women contracting it at some point in their lives.

HPV is most commonly associated with women because certain strains can cause cervical cancer, but now more men are being affected by this silent virus. The incidence of HPV-positive throat cancers more than doubled between the late 1980s and early 2000s. Experts believe the incidence of HPV-positive throat cancer to eclipse that of cervical cancer by the end of this decade.

“The high-risk HPV strains that cause cervical cancer are the same strains that cause throat cancer,” says Dr. Eric Genden, Chairman of the Department of Otolaryngology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. “Men are much more likely to get HPV-positive throat cancer than women. At Mount Sinai, we are seeing roughly seven men to every one woman with this diagnosis.”

Often the body’s immune system fights the virus and many people never know they have it. Other times, certain strains of the virus thrive and cause cancer.

“For an individual who has had more than five oral-sex partners, the chance of developing head and neck cancer without smoking and drinking is six times that of an individual who doesn’t have that risk factor. That is a startling number,” says Dr. Jonathan Aviv, Director of the Voice and Swallowing Center at ENT and Allergy Associates, who collaborates with experts at Mount Sinai to screen and treat patients with HPV-positive throat cancer.

According to Dr. Marshall Posner, Medical Director of the Head and Neck Medical Oncology Program at The Mount Sinai Medical Center, survival rates are good. “In comparison to throat cancer from smoking and drinking, a patient has a much higher chance of surviving HPV-positive throat cancer,” explains Posner.

Currently there is no test for HPV in the throat, but that could change in the future. Posner and his colleagues at Mount Sinai are part of a national team of scientists researching a blood test for the disease, which would help make screening easier for people around the world.

The symptoms of HPV-positive throat cancer include:

* Hoarseness for extended periods of time
 * Pain or difficulty chewing or swallowing
 * A feeling of a persistent lump in the throat or neck
 * Change in voice (higher, lower, more gritty)
 * Ongoing pain in the ears or neck

If you or someone you know has these symptoms, it’s important to get a quick and painless screening. After a physical examination of the mouth, a doctor will examine the back of the throat, base of tongue, the larynx and the vocal cords with a thin, flexible telescope with a miniature camera on its tip.

“Testing should be accompanied by evidence-driven and patient-centered counseling to best minimize negative psychosocial outcomes as well,” says Dr. Andrew Sikora, Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology at Mount Sinai, who recently published a clinician’s guide to HPV-positive throat cancer counseling in the journal The Oncologist.-

In addition to treatment, some patients typically experience high levels of emotional distress, according to Dr. Sikora. Patients may experience guilt, depression, and low self-esteem, and their loved ones may have fears of transmission or infidelity. Learning to cope with cancer that is caused by a sexually-transmitted infection can be complex. Counseling can help patients heal emotionally while their bodies heal physically.

At The Mount Sinai Medical Center, people with early HPV-positive throat cancer are treated with a robotic procedure to safely remove tumors. Robotic surgery is ideal for small, challenging areas such as the throat, and is far less invasive than many alternatives, which greatly minimizes complications and recovery time. Patients with more advanced cancers have available an array of clinical trials designed to study reducing the amount of radiation patients may receive.

Prevention is important. Posner recommends that you and your children receive an HPV vaccination. To help prevent infection, there are two types of vaccines available for people ages 9 to 26. If you or your children fall into this age group, ask your doctor for more information.

For more information about HPV and throat cancer, visit www.mountsinai.org/oralcancer.

Courtesy of BPT

Address your skin’s needs through a holistic approach to facial skincare

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014



(BPT) – Many women cite a number of external factors that can trigger sensitive skin flare-ups, including harsh ingredients, weather and makeup. What they may not know is that lifestyle choices can also influence the health and appearance of their skin.

Different lifestyle factors, including diet, fitness and stress management can affect skincare in addition to the facial skincare products used. -Simple, a line of facial skincare products that is perfect even for sensitive skin, recognizes this, and therefore, takes a holistic approach to skincare by focusing on the link between all of the factors that impact skin.

Simple is launching The Simple Advisory Board, a panel of leading industry experts who offer advice for a complete approach to skincare. Board members are sharing tips to help achieve natural, healthy-looking skin all year long through a balanced, holistic lifestyle approach.

* Dr. Debra Luftman is a Board Certified Dermatologist who believes that healthy skin can have a positive impact on overall health. She also firmly believes skincare does not need to be complicated to be effective.

Top tip: Sooth tired eyes with a cool home remedy

Sometimes when eyes are feeling tired or irritated, the wakeup call they need might be found in the refrigerator! Chill spoons in the refrigerator and place them over your eyes for an instant soothing sensation and an immediate, chilly jolt back to life. Dr. Luftman says, “your eyes will feel cool and look refreshed, the blood vessels around your eyes will shrink and eye circles will appear to vanish!”

* Trainer-to-the-stars, Kacy Duke – whose client list reads like a red carpet who’s who – is one of the most sought-after personal trainers and fitness consultants in the world, in addition to being one of the founders of Equinox Fitness Clubs.

Top tip: Get moving and get skin fit

Exercise can be hard to fit into busy schedules and often takes a back seat to other priorities. On the days when you cannot make it to the gym, find alternate ways to squeeze in some movement so your daily routine can help you pick up the slack. Take the stairs over the escalator, get off the bus a few stops early or jump around the living room to your favorite song. By finding ways to move – even on non-gym days – you promote better blood flow and circulation, which show in the health and beauty of your skin.

* Gita Bass is no stranger to the stars. She’s credited with creating amazing looks for many celebrities on and off camera and is the talent behind numerous editorial photo shoots and advertising campaigns.

Top tip: Take it all off (makeup that is) before hitting the sheets

One of my top tips for a great make-up look is to start with the proper base: prepping your skin. If your skin is smooth and even, then your makeup is halfway done, which makes getting ready for a night out much easier. Just because you look amazing for a special date or dinner with friends doesn’t mean that you can forget about your skin once you get home (even if it’s past your bedtime). The best way to ensure your skin achieves a natural, healthy glow is by getting into the routine of cleansing before bedtime. Overnight, skin needs oxygen to repair itself, and sleeping in make-up can clog pores, causing breakouts and puffy eyes. Gita’s favorite way to cleanse gently and rid skin of impurities before sleep is with the new Simple Foaming Cleanser.

* Ellie Krieger is a “New York Times” bestselling author and host of the Food Network and Cooking Channel’s hit show “Healthy Appetite.” A registered dietitian, Krieger holds a master’s degree in nutrition from Columbia University. Her success can be attributed in part to her unique way of offering real life advice without any of the gimmicks and crash diets that permeate today’s trends.

Top tip: Put tomatoes to the test

Fine lines are a natural part of aging, but you can help combat them with the right diet. Tomatoes, in particular, contain an antioxidant that is proven to reduce skin cell damage, which can often lead to fine lines. Try an easy spinach salad with chopped tomatoes. Go the extra mile and top your salad with almonds or sunflower seeds. The vitamin E found in these nuts and seeds can help further protect against cell damage.

* Dr. Josie Howard is a board-certified psychiatrist with a practice dedicated to general adult psychiatry. She specializes in psychodermatology, an area of medicine that focuses on the relationship between stress, emotional well-being and skin health.

Top tip: Say it with a smile

Any level of emotional stress we experience can readily be detected on our face, whether it is seen through breakouts, irritation, blushing and of course, frowning. When we smile, we look better, less tired and more refreshed. An added benefit of smiling is that our brains interpret this as a signal that we really are happy and content. Moreover, smiling can help others react to us in a more positive way, which can lead to better and less stressful interactions (or a better and less stressful experience). For more information about Simple and tips from the Simple Advisory Board visit www.simpleskincare.com. While there, check out the Simple Sense diagnostic tool to receive a personalized skincare routine that includes lifestyle tips.

Courtesy of BPT

Five super nutrients that help you age well

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014


(BPT) – Parents often use the adage “You are what you eat!” to encourage children to make healthy food choices, but the saying is equally true for mature adults. Providing your body with a variety of nutrients lets you feel your best, and may even prevent disease and help you live longer.

Allison Tannis is a nutritionist, author and professional consultant. She believes that aging well means eating well. She recommends these five super nutrients to help baby boomers and older adults age well and stay healthy.

1. Omega-3s

“It can be hard to see fat as healthy, but omega-3 fatty acids are potentially one of the most important nutrients for our health,” says Tannis. “Omega-3 fatty acids are vital to the maintenance and function of our eyes, brain and nervous system – parts of us that start to weaken with increasing age. In addition, these healthy fats have great ability to fight inflammation that is the cause of painful joints, cardiovascular disease and even wrinkles.”

How can you get your daily dose of 1 to 2 grams of omega-3s, as recommended by the American Heart Association? Wild-caught fish like salmon, sardines and Arctic char are good sources of omega-3s. Plant sources of omega-3s include flax, chia and hemp. It can be difficult to get enough omega-3s from food sources, so supplements are a good alternative.

“Every morning I wake with the best intentions of eating healthy, but then life can get in the way,” Tannis says. “Using daily supplements ensures my body gets all of the essential nutrients it needs to be at its best. I take Nordic Naturals fish oils, available in liquids, soft gels and even an effervescent drink.”

2. Vitamin D

“Vitamin D is really only available to us from the sun,” explains Tannis. “Sure, there are foods such as milk and orange juice that have added vitamin D. For some, these foods are a great choice, but for others, it can be hard to ensure you’re getting enough of this essential vitamin through fortified foods.”

Older people are prone to vitamin D deficiency, and therefore, may experience muscle weakness or impaired intestinal absorption. Tannis suggests that everyone, no matter their age, consider a vitamin D supplement if diet and sun exposure aren’t adequate. From tasteless liquid drops to pills that combine multiple nutrients, there are a variety of options for vitamin D supplementation.

3. Probiotics

“Probiotics fight inflammation, promote digestive health and much more,” says Tannis. “With age, there is a decrease in the most prominent probiotic in the colon, Bifidobacteria, leaving the colon prone to inflammation, which increases the risk of disease and discomfort.”

Foods like kefir and yogurt are common sources of probiotics, but often it’s not enough to get the full benefits. Probiotic supplements are a great way to maintain and rebuild probiotic levels in your digestive tract. “Seek out one with lots of different probiotic species,” recommends Tannis. “You’ve got hundreds of kinds of probiotics in you. Each probiotic offers its own unique health benefits to your body, so having lots of different kinds in your system can help your body be at its best.”

4. Green foods

“Greens are packed with more nutrients per bite than almost anything else on your plate. They are full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes and more,” says Tannis.

What green foods are the best?

“The best greens to eat are the ones you like – you don’t have to hate your food. Love your food! Choose some greens that you enjoy and then, once a week, try something outside your comfort zone,” Tannis suggests. “If you simply can’t stomach enough greens, there are plenty of powders available, from simple single ingredient products to complex formulas.”

5. Multivitamins

No matter what your age, eating a balanced diet provides your body with plenty of nutrients. “Try to ensure that at some point each day you enjoy foods from each color of the rainbow, and artificial coloring doesn’t count,” says Tannis.

Taking a multivitamin is one way to ensure your body has the minimum amounts of the essential nutrients it needs each day to function properly. If you are considering a multivitamin, look for one that is designed for your age, activity level and gender. -

“Food hasn’t changed, even though it feels that everyone is telling you something new about it,” says Tannis. “Enjoy a well-balanced diet, rich in colorful fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains and fish. Nutrition really can be easy to swallow.”

 

Ask the pharmacist: Expert advice for navigating Medicare Part D enrollment

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

(BPT) – If you’re confused about health care reform and Medicare, you’re not alone. Medicare Part D open enrollment is underway and thousands of Americans are looking for answers.

A new survey from Express Scripts titled, “Fifty States of Confusion,” confirms that seniors are misinformed about how health care reform will impact their Medicare benefits.

“It’s worrisome; one-in-five seniors think they’ll be able to enroll in a health or prescription drug plan through a public health insurance exchange,” says Paul Reyes, an Express Scripts’ pharmacist and host of Ask the Pharmacist radio series. “These exchanges are part of the Affordable Care Act, but are only for uninsured people under the age of 65.”

Although Medicare Part D has been around, with some states offering upwards of 36 different plans, the survey revealed that 60 percent of seniors still think that choosing the right Medicare plan is confusing. And with more than half of seniors falsely believing they’ll be paying more for their prescriptions drugs as a result of health care reform, they are taking matters into their own hands.

“Seniors are skipping doctor’s appointments, delaying medication refills and skipping medication doses,” says Reyes. “These misconceptions may not only cost seniors, but could also lead to decisions that may be bad for their health.”

Whether you are preparing to enroll into a Medicare Part D plan or you’re helping a family member or friend, Reyes provides some tips to simplify the process.

* Know the basics: You are eligible for Medicare Part D when you turn 65. Enrollment begins on Oct. 15, and ends on Dec. 7. If you miss this deadline, you won’t be able to enroll again until fall, unless you qualify for a special election period. If you’re eligible (age 65), and neglect to enroll in Medicare Part D on time, you will be faced with a penalty when you do join the program.

* Do your homework: Consider the premium, deductible and co-pays when assessing the overall cost of the plan. Make sure that the drugs you need to take are on the plan’s formulary (the list of covered medications). Also, look at the plan’s network of pharmacies. Some plans, like the Express Scripts Medicare Choice Plan, offer a preferred pharmacy network, which could save you money.

* Care and convenience: Consider a plan with round-the-clock pharmacist access to help you get the support you need and the savings you want from your plan. Pharmacists can identify shortcuts to help you stick to your treatment regimen and avoid potentially harmful drug interactions.

* Making the most of your Medicare dollars: To achieve the most value from your Part D plan, make sure to take your medications as prescribed, use generic medications when clinically appropriate, ask about home delivery and take advantage of the free preventative screening and vaccinations under Medicare Part B.

To help seniors and caregivers make informed decisions, Express Scripts’ developed a consumer eGuide titled “Navigating Medicare and Reform: A Roadmap for Seniors and Caregivers,” available at www.roadmapformedicare.com. Seniors can also visit www.medicare.gov to learn more about the available Medicare Part D plans in their region.

Courtesy of BPT

Surgery insight: What happens while you’re under anesthesia?

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

(BPT) – Preparing for surgery can create anxiety for some patients. It is not uncommon for patients to be particularly nervous about undergoing anesthesia. Have you ever wondered what happens during surgery and anesthesia? You’re not alone. Knowing you will receive the highest quality and safest medical care throughout your surgery can help ease any worries or concerns.

What you should know before surgery

Before you schedule your next surgery, ask the hospital the following questions to help ensure a successful procedure:

* How long does the surgical procedure take?
* What can be expected for recovery?
* Who are all the members of the surgical team? Will a physician anesthesiologist be present?
* What should be done to prepare for surgery? (i.e. eating restrictions)
* What pain medications will be administered before, during and after surgery?
* Who is going to care for me immediately after surgery?
* Who will communicate the status of surgery with the patient’s loved one or caregiver?

Who is providing your medical care?

Regardless of the type of surgery you will undergo, you’ll likely require anesthesia or sedation. It is important for you to know who is administering your anesthesia. As the leader of the Anesthesia Care Team, your physician anesthesiologist will care for you before, during and after surgery. You, like the majority of patients, may be unaware that anesthesiologists are in fact medical doctors.

Physician anesthesiologists have 12,000 hours to 16,000 hours of clinical training and 12-plus years of extensive medical education which covers the entire human body and all of its systems, including evaluation, diagnosis, treatment and management of a full range of medical conditions and needs. Physician anesthesiologists are able to intervene should complications arise in a routine surgical procedure or in an emergency.

Anesthesia is safer than ever because of the work and research of physician anesthesiologists. However, each patient comes with a unique set of circumstances and health risks that require the medical training of a physician anesthesiologist.

Take for example, the story of a woman who was administered a routine epidural during childbirth. Without warning, the patient experienced cardiac arrest due to an amniotic embolism. If it was not for the split-second diagnosis and action of Patrick Allaire, M.D. (Ames, Iowa), who was able to restart the patient’s heart and ensure a successful Cesarean section, the outcome would have been grave. Despite an 85 percent fatality rate during such procedures, both the mother and her child survived.

What is the role of my physician anesthesiologist?

ASA President-Elect Jane C.K. Fitch, M.D. notes that physician anesthesiologists play three key roles before, during and after any surgery. Here’s what you can expect as a patient who will be undergoing surgery:

1. Before surgery, physician anesthesiologists draw on their advanced education and training to diagnose illnesses, ensure you are in optimal shape for surgery and help fine-tune surgical plans.

2. During surgery, physician anesthesiologists manage any medical conditions you have, as well as anything that arises during the procedure. They help ensure you remain comfortable and manage pain.

3. After surgery, physician anesthesiologists address any complications from your medical condition or from the surgical procedure itself, helping you to heal properly.

Many people are surprised to learn physician anesthesiologists also have active roles outside of the operating room. Dr. Fitch explains, “After some surgeries, patients may have issues that require close care. Some physician anesthesiologists specialize in critical care medicine to take care of those patients. Likewise in terms of pain medicine, physician anesthesiologists are able to provide comprehensive pain medicine care, either acutely right after a surgery or procedure, or on an outpatient basis for chronic medical conditions.”

When seconds count, when a life hangs in the balance, when medical emergencies or other complications occur, you and your family members need to know that there is a physician anesthesiologist responsible for your care. For more information on patient-centered, physician-led anesthesia care, please visit www.asahq.org/WhenSecondsCount.

Courtesy of BPT

Outside the pill bottle: 5 simple, drug-free ways to reduce lower back pain

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

(BPT) – Pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide and one of the main reasons Americans miss work. For example, 31 million Americans experience low-back pain at any given time, according to the American Chiropractic Association, with experts estimating that as many as 80 percent of Americans will experience a back problem at some point in their lives. Meaning it is quite possible you may have symptoms right now.

Dealing with chronic pain in your back, arms or legs can be frustrating and costly. The aches and tenderness can cause you to stop doing the things you love most like playing with your children and participating in your favorite activities, like gardening or golfing, or even doing regular exercise.

“Some people accept lower back pain as a way of life, but it doesn’t have to be that way,” says Brian Elsemore, who has practiced as a registered physical therapist for a decade in Florida and New England. “There are simple things that everyone can do to treat their pain without resorting to drugs or surgery.”

Here are five drug-free steps Elsemore recommends to reduce the pain:

Exercise daily

A body in motion tends to stay in motion, according to Isaac Newton’s laws of motion. This notion applies to the human body and back health as well, so fight the urge to sit or lay for lengthy periods. Exercises that maintain the natural spinal curve and help strengthen the core (abdominals, back and pelvic area) to support the spine are key to eliminating back pain naturally. Even if your back is hurting, increasing blood flow and stretching can help provide relief.

Block the pain signals

Technology called Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) has been used for decades by health professionals to safely block nerve pain in patients. Now, this clinically proven, drug-free technology is available without a prescription in an affordable, portable device called Rapid Relief Electronic Pain Relief Pad from HoMedics. Simply apply where it hurts and the discreet pad that easily fits under clothing emits a controlled micro-electronic current through the skin to block the nerves from transmitting pain signals to the body’s pain center. The result is fast, effective relief for aches and pains without drugs, creams or messy applications. The device, available in versions calibrated for the lower back as well as the arms/legs, offers 15 levels of adjustable intensity and includes one standard lithium battery, one set of self-adhesive, replaceable gels and a travel storage case. At $29.99, Rapid Relief is one of the lowest cost-per-use topical pain relief options sold without a prescription at CVS, Walgreens, Walmart and Amazon.com. Learn more at RapidReliefPad.com.

Stand, sit and lift smart

Being aware of how you use your back throughout the day is important to reducing lower back pain. When standing, particularly for long periods of time, maintain a neutral pelvic position. Be aware of your posture, keeping the back straight when standing and sitting. Stand up or walk around at least once an hour if you’re job requires long periods of sitting. Hunching and poor posture eventually cause soreness. When lifting – whether a load at work or your child at home – let your legs do the work, according to MayoClinic.com. Additional lifting recommendations include bending only at the knees, holding the load close to your body and avoiding lifting and twisting simultaneously.

Evaluate shoes

It’s common knowledge that fashionable high heels are terrible for back health, but it’s not only stylish shoes that can cause extreme pain. Ill-fitting shoes without proper support can shift a person’s center of gravity, causing him or her to walk out of alignment and put undue pressure on the back. To relieve back pain, only wear supportive shoes that fit well. Keep in mind, shoes should never require a “breaking in” period; if they fit correctly, they should be comfortable right away according to the American Podiatric Medical Association.

Sleep well

Sleep is important for overall well-being, allowing the body to recover from daily activities. Inadequate sleep and back pain go hand-in-hand, quickly creating a vicious cycle. To get a good night’s sleep and encourage pain relief, it’s wise to take a few steps before lights out. Start by placing a pillow under your knees if you sleep on your back or between your knees if you’re a side sleeper – this helps reduce stress on the spine. For a firmer, more supportive mattress, place wood supports between the mattress and base, or place the mattress directly on the ground. If back pain still persists, it may be time to go shopping for a new mattress.

“Lower back pain is so prevalent in our society, but drug-free relief is an option for many people,” notes Elsemore. “From proper exercise and sleep to relieving pain using innovations like Rapid Relief, a few simple steps can dramatically improve quality of life.”

Courtesy of BPT